Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Summer Essentials: Happy campers!


We are just back from a 3 night camping weekend and wow, this is the life guys! Fresh air, open spaces, yoga in the sunny campsite, good food, beers with family chatting into the early hours, kids playing all day and night with their cousins... I've found my new favourite family activity.

What really made the weekend was our fantastic tent* courtesy of O'Meara Camping in Crumlin (link to our tent on their website here). Before we left I was worrying about being physically uncomfortable at night, too hot/cold, getting rained on, the airbeds deflating, all of which have ruined previous camping experiences for me. But this was like a 5 star luxury camping experience, thanks to the top of the range equipment from O'Meara's and the great tips we got beforehand about setting up the beds. I'll share some here which helped.
  • Inflate airbed and cover with picnic blanket and duvet, then put sleeping bag on top, with optional extra wool blanket on top, this ensures no coldness from ground travels up at night. The airbeds* we used are on O'Meara's website here.
  • Sleep in a hat. I did, and was glad of it, the kids didn't want to, so I'd lay a hat on top of their heads once asleep
  • Make the bed before it gets dark! And fix it every day too, I don't do this at home, but it really helped the comfort factor while camping.
  • Keep kids and shoes out of bedroom in daytime. It was a big draw for them, to go in and bounce on the airbeds, but unless they were reading or playing quietly they weren't allowed in there. This kept the bedding clean and prevented us having to pump up the airbeds more than once in a 3 night stay.
Other great camping tricks I learned along the way:
  • Cover your pot or pan while cooking on stove. I had brought a cake sandwich tin along (holding pizza for our first night dinner) which doubled as a good lid and sped up the cooking time.
  • Build walls around your stove to shield from wind. Saves time and gas. The stove* we used was this single burner here
  • Don't boil water on stove on a wonky table while sitting right beside it, it's gonna spill on you. I'm fine thanks.
  • Bring comfortable chairs for sitting in at night. I didn't think this was important, thought we could just sit on picnic blankets, but I'd forgotten about late-night chats when the kids are asleep. We had two old deck chairs, but will invest in better camping chairs with high backs to shield off wind.
  • Bring a windbreaker. I didn't realise how essential this is, but camping in Ireland can get windy, so the windbreaker will shield your outdoor space, making cooking, eating and sitting outside way more comfortable. Also gives you a little privacy in a crowded campsite.
  • Bring bin bags.
  • Use hanging tent bulbs. Lanterns are good outdoors on the table at night, but bulbs light up the tent even better.
  • Bring warm socks.
  • And warm shoes.
  • Doc Martens are great for stamping in tent pegs,
  • Don't lose your tent's assembly instructions.  You won't remember the steps, no matter how simple it seemed on the trial run, and tempers will flare.
  • Bring a book.
  • Bring loads of water for cooking, washing and drinking. Campsite water will come in a tank, probably full of dubious chemicals.
  • Almond milk won't need refrigeration like cow's milk does. 
  • Remember your french press for morning coffee, and the sugar.
  • Bring salt and pepper, we forgot.
  • Bring a small dustpan and brush, we forgot that too. 
  • Use baby wipes to wipe up spilled jam and tomato relish inside the tent. Keep your honey in a plastic bag. Wasps love sugar!
  • Plastic crates would be great for carrying cooking and eating equipment to and from the campsite and washing area. Would double as seating with cushions too. We must get some.
  • I saw some people with collapsible wheelbarrows/wheely trolleys for bringing stuff to and from the car. Must get one too. What happened us was a frustrated Dada tried assembling the tent alone, while a frustrated Mama with tantrumming toddler on front in sling tried carrying stuff from the car to pitch. Not a great start to the weekend! One run with a large wheeled thing would have made it a lot easier.
  • Bring your first meal pre-cooked so you can relax and eat when your camp is set up. Don't forget the alcohol to toast your success!
  • I also brought roasted beetroot in a lunchbox which kept really well for a couple of days and added interest to my meals. Any cold salads, pasta, couscous etc would be great. 
  • One evening we boiled up a huge pot of new potatoes, tossed in butter with beans for dinner, the leftovers got fried in a small frying pan for breakfast with eggs.
  • A small pot just for boiling water is really handy and quick for making tea/coffee. A Thermos flask would be great to keep leftover tea/coffee warm until you fancy another cup. 
  • We also made hot chocolate with almond milk, water and hot chocolate/cacao powder for the kids one night. The simple treats are sometimes the best!
  • We had a cooler box but in the end it wouldn't fit in the car with all our other stuff! We did ok without it, the butter didn't melt, the cheese lasted fine, the only issue was chilling the beers, so we bought ice and borrowed space in our cousin's cooler box.
Our camping meals were: hot dogs, boiled new potatoes and beans, fried potatoes and scrambled eggs, tomato and cheese rolls, cereal, pizza and chips (takeaway). Drink beer, you don't want a wine headache while camping!

We were glad our pitch was near bushes, and trees, so pretty sheltered from the wind. And the early morning sun didn't touch us, so we slept until 8 or 9 most mornings.

Ireland is a joy to camp in, few insects at this time of year, no mosquitoes, no extreme weather conditions. We had some wind and drizzle, but the tent was well equipped to deal with them, and we slept like babies every night. We got some midge bites, but they were barely noticed until we saw the little red bumps the next day. A few wasps annoyed us but nothing major. No ants either, just some of these guys on our groundsheet when we were packing up on the last morning!
The previously unknown-to-me Devil's Coach Horse beetle, about an inch long.

I really loved our tent's little details like inner pockets for storage, which held our toiletries, phones and charger, coins and keys, stuff you don't want on the floor in case it got wet. It also had great windows and ventilation, with window covers for privacy and lots of hanging loops for lights inside. The inner bedroom tent comfortably fitted our two double airbeds, and the four of us with lots of room to spare, for another child or two!


We opened up the front awning of the tent one sunny day, which gave us a great sheltered living area but with fresh air and more light.

I lived in the one pair of black jeggings, black vest top, striped navy and white long-sleeved tee and babywearing fleece all weekend, sleeping in it, sometimes swapping the jeggings for leggings in bed. I also lived in my Docs for warmth, and once wore my Converse on a sunny day, but regretted it that night when my feet were cold sitting outside. Our HUGE wool Foxford blanket (charity shop find) was so cosy to sleep under, and it kept me warm sitting outside at night too. I used black kohl rather than liquid liner on my eyes, as the "smoky" eye look is way easier to maintain than a perfect winged liner!

Despite the fact that we brought one single action figure and two books per child, they were never bored. Not once did they mention video games/cartoons, or missing having a screen to watch. They were totally entertained with the outdoors, their cousins, and used sticks and rubber mallets/hammers for their games. Apart from the toddler missing home and having some melt-downs when over-stimulated at the festival, it all went very smoothly. I think camping and the skills associated with it are a wonderful educational opportunity for children, building their confidence in their physical ability, problem-solving and essential life-skills. But above all, it's good old-fashioned fun!

We are hoping to grab our stuff and go camping again a few times before the weather gets too chilly. Maybe some of the dedicated family campsites close to Dublin, and work our way up to camping abroad next summer for a longer length of time.

If you are in need of any camping equipment or advice, I can testify that O'Meara really know their stuff. They are an Irish family business running for nearly 50 years and have a really warm, personable touch. They are located off the Crumlin road, and have an online shop and delivery service too.

http://www.omearacamping.com
O'Meara Camping phone: 01 4534070
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OMearaCamping

Are your family into camping? Any other tips to share?! Please add them below,
Nee x

3 comments:

  1. I want to go camping now after reading that!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have read your article post. Your life story is very nice. Thank's for sharing tips. It's amazing place to go for trip & I'm really impressed to see this wonderful picture of this place.

    ReplyDelete

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