Sunday, 18 September 2011

Birthday Camping

I have been camping again.
Not my own choice this time, but the choice of youngest son who requested a camping party for his 7th Birthday. Ahhh, a boy after my own heart, how could I refuse?  He has taken on board my love of the outdoors! We decided to keep it small and only invited 3 - one couldn't make it, one was happy to come to the party but not sleep over and only one was willing to embrace the whole experience. I was happy with that!
I'm so glad I didn't let the weather reports put me off! There were severe weather warnings for heavy rain over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If it had been correct, the party would have been a wash out!

I decided to go a day early and set up the Izmir on Friday while the boys were at school. It was a glorious afternoon - at the last minute I decided to forego EHU and go right down by the lake.
I chose a spot right amongst the trees - just incase the bad weather hit, it was nice and sheltered.
So once set up, I took the dogs for a blast around the woodland walk, then returned to the tent, made myself a coffee - an hour of peace and quiet, sat in the sunshine - ahh, one of those moments that are to be savoured as they don't come along very often!
All too soon it was time to go and pick up the boys from school.
We had tea, hubby went to work on his last night shift, D had football practice so it was 7pm by the time we headed back to site. It did rain while I was at home, but it had stopped by the time we got back to camp.
Got the lanterns lit, firelog in the firepit, got the boys showered and into PJs and dressing gowns, hot chocolate all round and we had a cosy evening by the fire. Another one of those blissful moments - just the three of us, cupping steaming mugs of hot chocolate, watching the flames, under the stars. Sounds a bit Enid Blyton doesn't it?
We had some rain throughout the night and the wind got up, but nothing the Izmir couldn't cope with. We were all warm and cosy inside.
I didn't have the best nights sleep - a couple turned up after dark and pitched a tiny tent just the other side of the trees. No problem with that, but they were still chatting at 2am and sound seems to really carry through a tent! Also a group in the next field were partying until the wee hours. Again, not a major problem as we were well away from them, but just enough to stop me going straight off to sleep again.
Saturday dawned wet and windy, so after letting the dogs out and making more hot chocolate, we all went back to bad to read for a couple of hours. Once the rain stopped, the dogs were walked again, then I pitched the second tent ready for our guests. D was very helpful - holding poles together for me and helping me to gaffer tape them together!

Once up, I festooned the fairy lights over both tents and set them to recharge in the sunshine.
Unbelievably there was no more rain, the weather stayed dry and sunny if blustery.
Party guests arrived and instead of ball games, we spent the afternoon kite flying!
My boys find it a little boring now, but their guests loved it! I keep a wooden box full of tent toys and games that always comes away with us and ensures that there is always something to do in adverse weather - luckily there were two kites in there.

I love kite flying - there is something uplifting and exciting about those brightly coloured bits of cloth swooping and soaring in the wind. These are very simple kites which fly in even the slightest breeze and are very easy for little hands to manage.
After that it was time for tea. We barbequed on the Cobb - sausages and burgers on buns to suit the boys, lots of ketchup, all shared with the hounds.
I took some homemade cakes and let them decorate their own using chocolate spread and plain white icing, plus loads of sprinkles and chocolate stars.
Even the strawberries got dunked in the icing!
Then there was some tree climbing
And finally we lit the fire and did toasted marshmallows and played charades. The wind dropped and the evening was still and calm. We even had some clear sky and managed to do a bit of star gazing.
We were a bit nervous of letting the boys all sleep alone in a seperate tent, so little M and his friend slept in their tent with Dad and D joined me in the big double bed. They did try to stay awake, but very quickly succumbed - they were exhausted!
A and I had a peaceful, grown up, 10 minutes by the fire before A also had to turn in (well he had just finished his night shift). After another 10 minutes on my own, I was also ready for bed. This time nothing kept me awake! And having little D in with me meant I had a built in hot water bottle! Poor A didn't fare so well - a big man on a narrow camp bed and his quilt kept falling off (his own fault as he doesn't like sleeping bags!)
At 7am I was wide awake and refreshed. Let the dogs out and admired the rising sunlight over the lake.
Breakfast this morning was sausages done on the Cobb followed by pancakes. I used one of those pancake mixes where you add water and shake, and did those on the Cobb as well. They were all eaten, but I didn't get to try them myself - should have bought two! Worked very well, even if they didn't brown as much as they do in a frying pan.
The weather stayed gorgeous while we packed up both tents. Got home about 2pm, then the heavens opened and the threatened downpour finally hit. Perfect timing! Not a wet canvas in the house - just the sort of camping I love.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Manky Cabanon

So are you wondering what happened to my summer project? The old cabanon tent that I'd bought for £35? Lovely looking tent! We used it for a 4 day camp at our local site. Didn't bother with the bedroom inners after all as they were too small for our airbed!

It certainly looks nice from a distance doesn't it?

Nice and spacious inside, although there wasn't really room to cook in there once we'd spread our beds everywhere, so the cooker stayed outside!
I was given a lovely wardrobe unit by my friend. Much neater than bags of clothes all over the floor, and ideal in a frame tent. Won't be much use in the pyramid though!

 But look a bit closer and you'll see the problems! Oh look, is that window taped closed with insulation tape??

Ooh yes, nice!!

Because the insect mesh was so perished it crumbled at the slightest touch. I had to tape the window down to stop a gale whistling through the tent!
 And is that a large repair down the side of the window? Yes - it is cotton webbing used to patch a large tear, but the fabric is so perished that it is tearing where it has been sewn!
 I think one strong gust of wind would have shredded the tent!

 Another hole? Yes, but a large piece of gaffer tape rendered it waterproof.
 Somehow we missed getting this canopy pole into it's pocket. Which lead to another hole as the canvas ripped when we tried to sort it out.
It was mostly waterproof. Except around the bottom edges where it soaked through and wet the airbeds.
To cap it all, when we were taking it down, the poles bent. I think they had been bent and straightened in the past as it didn't take much at all to bend them!
So sadly, the now renamed Manky Cabanon has been recycled. The poles were claimed by a colleague of my son who wanted them for some project or other.

The Canvas walls are too weak to be used for anything else so will be binned, but the roof material is still good and strong so will be utilised for windbreaks.
The curtains have been sent to a friend so she can use the curtain hooks for her newly acquired Cabanon.
The inners have been cut up to make smaller groundsheets and the roof lining made a great dust sheet for decorating. And I have all the clips and guyropes in my spares box, so nothing has gone to waste.
So worth a punt, but sadly not to be and at least it wasn't a complete waste of money, after all we got 4 nights accomodation out of it!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

 Well the babies are growing nicely! They moved out of the dining room into the greenhouse until I could sort out a run for them. They have been sleeping in the dog crate in the greenhouse but go out into a run on the lawn during the day. They enjoy this tray of compost!
I finally managed to find a house that I liked. The wood looks nice but all those gaps and cracks are a haven for redmite so it needed modifying.
 Several coats of undercoat, polyfilla and gloss, a roosting bar added, and it is now habitable.
 They can move out of the greenhouse at last!
 Don't look too impressed do they?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

New Babies!

  Of the chickeny kind that is! Meet Miyun, Liulimiao and Changping, the Pekin Babies: (they will be known as Mimi, Lulu and Ping for convenience sake!)
Here they are on arrival - looking a bit stunned!
I am down to only 5 large girls at the moment so definitely needed more! A friend found out about a supplier who was selling up and getting rid of the last of his stock at a discount price - well it would have been rude not to, wouldn't it? I have been thinking about getting something different for a while, and one day I would still like to do some hatching under a broody. Pekins are supposed to make good pets and are more friendly than hybrids. Not bad layers, but prone to going broody. They sound ideal!

I still need to sort out housing - at the moment they are living in the dog crate in the dining room. I am planning to split the large run into two and give them their own quarters, but they will have a couple of weeks indoors, in quarentine, first! The oldest (Mimi) is 10 weeks old, the other two are only 8 weeks. They are so tiny! And cute!
 They have adjusted very quickly and have already trashed their quarters! They bustle about cheeping and scratching. I'm not sure what colour they are yet - Mimi, the largest, looks to be too dark for a lavender but too light for a blue. Lulu is darker still, but has lots of white feathers on her chest. It also looks like she may develop white feathers round her face. Possibly a mottled or splash? And Ping the tiny one looks like an explosion in a paint factory! Black, white and buff feathers in no discernible pattern. I am keeping my fingers crossed that she may be a Mille Fleur as it is such a pretty colour.
 I have ordered a small wooden house for them and am hoping it will arrive today as I have a day off so I can get on and start building them a run!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Family Holidays

 When we started camping it was as a means of enjoying cheap family holidays. At the time I didn't anticipate that it would also give us a lot more holidays! We have just returned from our 4th 'holiday' so far this year (OK, some have only been a couple of nights, but that is still a break isn't it?) And we have at least 3 more breaks planned, no doubt we will find a few more through the summer as well!

Anyway, this time we had a whole eight days in Wales, and for once the weather was wonderfully kind to us. We have now sold Connie the Conway (she took too long to put up for short breaks and I needed a trailer to get all our gear into. No room on the drive for trailer and trailer tent!). We have bought a bigger canvas tent (more of that later) but for Wales, it had to be our favourite tent, the canvas pyramid.
 We camped at Nantcol Waterfalls - a stunning site, near Llanbedr, with the Nantcol river running through it. The day we arrived was wet, and the roaring waterfall was a bit of a pain initially!
 But the damp didn't stop the boys doing what boys do best - getting wet and building dams.
 They spent hours in that river. And we could see them from the tent, so very relaxing for us.
 When they weren't in the river, we were on the beach. Harlech and Barmouth have stunning beaches, and we had the perfect beach weather.
 There was a lovely walk up from the campsite alongside the falls.
 And stunning views from the top.
 We did the obligatory train ride up Snowdon only to find the peak in the clouds!
 We did lots of relaxing round the campfire.
 Met some adorable baby pygmy goats. The boys even managed to catch one for a cuddle.
 We really wanted to visit Shell Island, but were reluctant to pay £5 just to have a quick look round. Then we got talking to a local lady who told us that the beach at Llandanwg, which was opposite Shell Island, was even better, and free! She was right - it was beautiful! Lots of rock pools, very quiet, lovely soft warm sand and lots of shells!
 We used the proceeds from the sale of the trailer tent to extend our normal tent equipment. A pop up tent from decathlon made a very useful kitchen area and removed clutter from the front of the tent.
 At the end of the week we were joined by some friends from the UKCampsite forum. Cue lots of sitting around the fire and nattering.
 Watching the sun go down and drinking wine. It was bliss.
 There was no rush to leave the site on the last day so we went for a walk, following the river downstream this time. I came across this tiny cave and mushroom. It reminded me of Iggle Piggle's cave - from the children's programme 'In the Night Garden'
 It was a glorious week and an area of Wales I would love to go back to - there was so much more to be seen!

Onto my 'new' tent! It's an old Cabanon frame tent that needs a bit of TLC - it needs new mesh windows and springs and rubbers replacing. May also need some patching. But for £35, it will be worth it!

 It has these lovely, migraine inducing, curtains and roof trim. Quite by chance I spotted an advert on preloved for a set of inners and curtains in more modern colours, for the same tent. Hm, although the more I look at these retro curtains, the more they start to grow on me! Watch this space, it is to be my summer project!