Monday, 29 September 2014

what makes a good camping weekend?

We are back from our last camping trip of 2014. And what a weekend it was! Camping is good for the soul I think and these are the essential requirements for a good camping weekend:

A small group of good friends

Lots of children
A quirky campsite that welcomes groups
Dry weather
Campfires and plenty of wood to burn
Food & drink

After a long drive through the middle of nowhere, diverted by badly signposted road closures, rattling along the tiniest of country roads with our squeaky trailer and entertained by squabbling children we arrived at Balloch o'Dee campsite in the Galloway Forest Park. Mind you, we did ok considering that some of our group took a detour to England.... There was some stunning scenery along the route, making the journey enjoyable rather than tedious.

Balloch o'Dee was a new campsite to all of us and it was well worth a visit. It is on the quirky side, lots of animals roaming free, pony riding in the morning, a trampoline, play saddles, wilderness to explore and finally, a shower block illuminated by candles and fairy lights, decorated with a large number of rather intriguing items. Candle light is very flattering for campers actually. The toilet and showers are unisex, which is a little weird but ok.

It is a bit strange to find a pony licking out the empty pot of tomato soup, but funny, too.

We usually camp with friends. It is sociable, fun and it is great to have help for pitching our ridiculously huge tent (and theirs). This weekend we pitched around a large fire pit complete with tripod for cooking. This I used for drying towels and children's clothes. In a way, we created our own little village complete communal kitchen and shared front gardens and uninterrupted view of the surrounding countryside.

We are a well oiled group, having several shared camping trips under our belts. There is no need to feel awkward when the carefully coiffed heads turn into messy bed heads or are moulded into helmets by nights wrapped up in sleeping bags, blankets and hats. It doesn't matter if you don't take a shower every day because we all share Eau de Camping with a note of smoke and fustiness. The camping routines are simple and centre around the campfire: gathering wood, keeping the fire going, toasting marshmallows, keeping warm. A bit like cave people I guess, except the marshmallows. Some go for walks, other for bike rides and others still prefer to read a book, or do nothing much at all. Everyone eventually gravitates back to the fire to enjoy a coffee, or a bottle of beer, depending on the time of day, to discuss worldly matters and being a bit silly, too.

Like the adults, the children have their own routines involving mostly exploration of the campsite and the immediate surrounding countryside. There is always something to do and like the adults, the children are drawn to the campfire, poking sticks into the flames and being a bit careless. This weekend had the added attraction of pony riding (free of charge).

Food is important and there is always plenty. It is simple, BBQ on day one, curries on day two etc. Fried eggs, bacon, tattie scones and black pudding for breakfast, soups and rolls for lunch. Cakes and cookies, crisps and nuts in between meals. There is even the occasional apple and a salad or two.

The campsite is in a low light zone and the night sky is absolutely amazing. It is a shame to miss out on all those stars in the city. Clear skies in late September unfortunately bring with them cold nights. Big tents don't get cosy like small ones do and sleep doesn't come easy when limbs are shaking and teeth are rattling. The first night was quite frankly torture, even with my fancy down sleeping bag and generous fat insulation. I put more and more clothes on as the night progressed and eventually, I wrapped myself in my woollen blanket and worked myself back into the sleeping bag. I couldn't move but at least I got some sleep. My bladder did for once not terrorise me. Apart from the real hardy ones, everyone was cold in that first night. The second one was better. Generally, sleep comes more easily the longer the camping trip lasts.

We stayed all day Sunday and packed up towards the evening. On the way home, we enjoyed a fish and chips dinner in Girvan on the way home, followed by a few minutes of frolicking on the local playground. We arrived home at about 9 pm, exhausted but happy. Today was a Bank Holiday in Glasgow. We call it September weekend. It was good to have a day of recovering, washing and sorting through photos.

I'll leave you with a photo of all our children. They had a great time, too. Even the teenager. It is amazing what 24h without Wifi can do! It was great to see Sam happy and joining in with the fun.

What did you do last weekend?

Now of course I have to prepare mentally for my trip to Turkey on Friday. I am exited and nervous but I have been assured that all will be well when I am away and that the bathrooms will be spotless upon my return. I am tempted to leave a list of essential things to remember, football, ballet, homework, feeding the children etc. But I won't. Have a great week! Cx


  1. It looks like such a fun trip for everyone! It definitely does seem like a quirky place, the horse licking out the pot made me laugh. I'm so glad you all enjoyed yourselves. The kids look very happy and relaxed, especially Sam. Thanks for sharing your camping adventures. I hope you have a good week.

  2. What a lovely holiday, a real memory-making holiday! xx

  3. That sounds like the perfect weekend! Wish I had been a stowaway in your trailer. Thank you for the link to the campsite off to check it out now, sounds like my kind of place............

  4. Lots of memories made to reflect on of your last camping trip of the season. Sounds like lots of fun was had by all. Enjoy your trip to Turkey.

  5. That looks so much fun, a perfect holiday for children x

  6. sounds like such a lot of fun. I had a weekend away with friends without our children, and no phone signal to check up on them either. so relaxing!

  7. What great fun you had and pony riding for free? Perfect! Enjoy your trip, don't worry about what's going on at home too much!

  8. I've never done it, but camping with a group sounds like so much fun. I imagine it really encourages solid bonds between people.

    Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time in Turkey; hope to read all about it xxx

  9. I used to camp every year but haven't done for a while now. Last weekend I was at Yarndale - part of the journey home after a 2 week holiday (including a week on Skye). Once I get myself organised I'll do a few posts about my time away. Thanks for sharing about your camping trip - it seems to have been enjoyed by all.

  10. It looks like a fabulous way to spend a weekend. And what a great camp site.

    Enjoy your time in Turkey x

  11. What a fab camp site. We have found a similar one in Bodmin. The kids love it there. We were hoping to camp this week, but Betty had wheel trouble and was jacked up on the drive most of the weekend. Marc was underneath, swearing like a navvy. I love the photos of your kids, Christina. They look so happy.
    Leanne xx

  12. Haven't camped for many years- your weekend looks like so much fun Christina. Good luck getting organised for your trip to Turkey- how exciting! X

  13. That's not fair! A September bank holiday in England is needed too! hehe. What a gorgeous place to camp, it sounds like a super site, my kind of camping! Lovely collection of photos and memories :)

  14. Sounds like a wonderful campsite, I'm glad you had such a lovely time. CJ xx

  15. Looks like you had a fun weekend! What is it with kids poking sticks into fires? Mine would do exactly the same! I hope you have a lovely relaxing time in Turkey, all will be well at home, you'll see. I had a fantastic time in Germany this weekend, haven't posted about it yet but I will! xx

  16. I hope that your trip is as good as your camping was!! It looks like great fun in a beautiful setting! xx

  17. I love all of the animals there - what fun! It sounds like a really wonderful time, despite the cold nights. However, I think it is better to be cold in a tent than too hot - that is just miserable!

  18. I wish I liked camping. You make it sound like so much fun. Have a wonderful trip on Friday and don't worry about home. It will be good for all of you!

  19. What a great finish to your summer of camping adventures! I love that there was a pony who would come clean out your pots and pans! A couple of things I have learned about staying warm when camping are to never, ever go to bed wearing any clothing items you have had on during the day. It might seem like they are dry, but will actually be slightly damp due to sweating during the day, which chills you during the night. The other is that what you have between you and the ground is almost more important than how warm your actual sleeping bag is. Air mattresses are horrible - there is no way to warm up the air in the mattress, so it leaves you sleeping on a cushion of freezing air all night. Insulated camping mats are the best. Have a great time in Turkey, and I'll be looking forward to seeing some pictures and hearing about your adventure when you return!

  20. I love your camping weekend, it looks like it was just the best time. Everyone looks happy from all the fun and fresh air. A great way to end the summer I would say. My weekend was so baring compared to all your excitement, but I'd like to keep it that way.


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