Camping it up

OK – don’t panic! We’re not taking frugal living to extremes in this photo and having a holiday in our back garden, although I’m sure that might be fun, not to mention thrifty. This was us checking yesterday to see if DJ’s trusty (and dusty) three man tent is in proper working order. We’re off on a camping trip soon to Devon for a friend’s birthday and DJ pointed out that we don’t want to get down there and discover then that there is a huge hole in the roof or that we don’t have enough tent pegs. Luckily the tent was intact, despite having had to accommodate three strapping (and no doubt smelly) men in it on its previous outing on a walking tour a few years ago. It’s roomy but I have no idea how they all fitted in there. It must have been cosy.

Now, I have to admit that I’m a bit wary about it all. I’m not really a happy camper. While I like to save cash and think camping is a great idea in theory, doing so, especially in the UK with our temperamental weather, isn’t my idea of a relaxing holiday. I have a dodgy back which doesn’t appreciate sleeping on hard, stony ground. Plus camping brings back memories of coming home hot and smelly from three days without a shower at Glastonbury, stinking to high heaven. Although, that said, I am looking forward to spending time with our friends. And, when I heard how much it’s going to cost – £7.50 a night for a pitch – I cheered up a bit. That’s pretty hard to beat for a night’s stay somewhere unless you are being put up free by friends or family.

I enjoy the outdoors too (although occasionally from the safety of a warm pub) so I am keeping an open mind and preparing to be converted to the camping lifestyle. I am also praying that the weather here improves. It has been so cold down here lately. On Tuesday afternoon I walked back from town wearing gloves, a scarf, my winter coat and the furry hood pulled up and I was still freezing. On the bright side, at least by holidaying in the UK and not flying anywhere we won’t have to worry about ongoing disruptions from the Icelandic volcanic dust or British Airways staff walk-outs.

The other weekend, while we were travelling along the A12 during the bank hols, we spotted a number of motor-homes and caravans being towed home. I must be getting old because I found myself wondering whether a small motor-home might be a good alternative to camping, especially if you have a family and money is tight. A former work colleague once told me that he and his wife were thinking of getting one because you could take off anywhere and have instant accommodation without worrying that the kids were screaming and annoying other guests at B&Bs etc. Other friends who like music festivals but have had enough of roughing it and camping have also splashed out.

DJ admitted that he’d occasionally thought about the merits of them from a fishing point of view. You could park your motor-home by the fishing spot, not have to get up at the crack of dawn to fish, plus have a warm hiding place and an on-the-spot source of tea and food if the weather turned. Sounds good!

But on the other hand, I wonder how much it would cost to run, insure and maintain versus how much one or two holidays a year might set you back. After all, you’re essentially paying for second vehicle and unless you’re using it regularly for trips away it might not work out to be that much of a saving. I would also worry about manoeuvring and parking it as I have enough problems parking our Micra sometimes. It’s obviously something that requires some serious thought and research. Maybe you’ve got some insight you can share?

Do you enjoy camping? How much money does it save you on holidays each year? Do you own a motor-home or caravan and is it worth it? Leave a message as I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

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5 Responses to Camping it up

  1. Michelle says:

    Dear PiperI am getting in touch to offer you the opportunity to review our ethically focused MagBook, The Green Living Guide, on your blog. The MagBook contains ecological advice on going green through making simple yet significantly changes, and thorugh the process helping to save the earth, and money!The copy of the MagBook I would provide you for this would be free of charge, and I am willing to provide images for use alongside the review.If you could get back to me and let me know if you are interested in this offer I would be very grateful.YoursMichelle

  2. Flo says:

    Dear PiperYou are a city girl from the core out with no outdoor activity bones in you. Don\’t even think about camping and motor homes. If it\’s a choice between camping or no holiday, stay at home she says laughing. You\’re too like my mother. I\’m the opposite and have done my share of camping and even backpacking and enjoyed it greatly. Of course there is extreme camping. Just think though, some people walk all 80 odd miles of Hadrian\’s Wall from one end to the other carrying tent, pegs, food and clothes. Others merely walk from hostel to hostel carrying just clothes. Sound bad does it? Ah well not as bad as canoeing round some of the Canadian side of the Lakes with tent, clothes, food and kit to carry and having to carry everything plus canoes over some of the rapids. Grandson has done both and says that the latter was distinctly only for the great unwashed. He and parents went to stay with his Canadian grandfather\’s family at the end and were told to strip and leave their clothes at the door – they went in the washing machine in the outhouse!!!! Nope, stay home or do hotels or just maybe borrow a caravan on a static park but nothing very extreme. Flo

  3. Fran says:

    Hi PiperI\’ve got your book \’The Frugal Life\’ and really enjoyed it – I laughed out loud in parts, especially when you talked about your chickens. I\’d love chickens, but how do you get rid of the poo (because doesn\’t it smell awful until its rotted down well)?I used to love camping as a child, have recently started camping again and still love it. The best tip I can give you for enjoying camping as an adult, is to insulate your back well from the cold ground. Thin roll-mats aren\’t good enough – you\’ll need either a really good air mattress (the cheap ones deflate overnight or are uncomfortable), or lots of thick layers. Camping is idyllic when the weather is lovely and utterly grim when the weather is wet and cold. If you\’re going to make a habit of camping, then I suggest getting a bigger tent that you can stand-up and walk around in – at least then you won\’t get cabin fever so easily when it rains. My sister got her huge tent for nearly half the RRP as it was ex-display. Camping can be lovely just for weekends-away, as there will probably be campsites quite local to you. Many campsites now cater for adults only, if you\’d prefer peace and quiet.

  4. Kerri says:

    I\’ve done my fair share of camping, first with the Girl Guides and a number of seriously acient, and heavy canvas tents, spending several weeks practising how to make your \’bedding roll\’ to stack in the day and keep everything dry and off the ground, then numerous years and many a festival – Reading…Glastonbury etc. Like you Piper, coming home stinking to high heaven and covered in mud. My best friend who now lives in Oz had a great big \’family tent\’ it was pretty old but we\’d always take it to Glastonbury, you could stand up in it and it had a separate sleeping compartment so all muddy and wet attire could be left in the \’living area\’ and we\’d be dry (if not all that snug given cold nights) in the sleeping part. I always rememeber wanting to come back to Glasters as a VIP in a nice cosy motor home and being very envious. As I\’ve got older, the camping has stopped, in fact I have a tent that is off to a car boot tomorrow. It\’s a great tent (2 man) but it\’s just a bit small and I don\’t use it. The problem with me is that I like my home comforts these days, I like a comfy hotel bed, a nice hot shower, a toilet I can get to without putting my shoes on in the middle of the night and risk beaking my neck tripping over guy ropes, and a plug for my hairdyer and straighteners. I do have some friends tht are trying to persuade me to hit Latiude festival this year but right now I\’m just not that into camping. I was checking holiday deals yesterday and found a 5* All Inc in Turkey for less than £200. Personally I\’d rather save up the extra and do that. If you don\’t already have the kit, even camping adds up by the time you have tent, sleeping bags, cooking equip, portable bbq, food, etc etc etc. Though of course you could borrow some of this if friends have items or bag some on Freecycle.Perhaps I just need to toughen up and give camping another go… next summer….perhaps lol!

  5. piper says:

    Fran – thank you for your kind words about the frugal life book. Glad it made you laugh! The chickens say hi btw! And thanks also for the suggestions re the air mattress. Will try that. I\’ve never really noticed a problem with the chicken poo. It collects in the eglu chicken coop & then we take out the tray and put it in the compost bins. They\’re right at the bottom of the garden so if there\’s a smell, we don\’t notice it. The only problem really is during the summer when they run free around the garden a bit more and are free to \’go\’ where they like. DJ has occasionally stepped in it and walked it into the kitchen which is nice. Kerri! I do sympathise. It sounds like you\’ve done your time of camping, so I wouldn\’t feel too bad about giving it up for a bit! Especially as you\’re recycling the tent anyhow via a car boot – then it\’s not going to waste, is it? Know what you mean about trying to find the loo in the dark. I\’ve tripped over those tent ropes hundreds of times at Glastonbury!

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