Family Camping Checklist:  What should we take?

Just sitting here thinking of a couple of friends who have gone camping for the first time with their kids, the weather couldn’t be worse for them this week.  We’ve text a few times, the gazebo has collapsed in the wind, a tarpaulin has taken flight and they’re currently hiding in the Children’s Play Barn.  Bless them, but their spirits don’t seem to be ‘dampened’.  Hopefully it brightens up for them this afternoon.

Camping in the Uk when it's raining

This year we were incredibly lucky, we went camping for a total of 14 days in a row, taking in 4 camp-sites (Hurley Riverside, Wo Wo, Stubcroft Farm and Eweleaze Farm) and only had two days of rain which is a miracle in the UK.  We normally go to Canada every summer and this is the first time in 7 years we didn’t, the flight prices just got too much, hence the extended camping trip.  Personally, I love camping, I can sit by a fire drinking beer and my daughter gets a chance to be a ‘kid’ running feral with all the other children on the site.

We love Camping!


We are fairly well kitted out for camping and have most things.  Anyone who is in to camping knows it’s all about the gear.  In some ways, mostly financial, it’s a good thing we are limited on space in our car.  I’ve been quite skilled at ‘Car Boot Tetris’ which is similar to ‘Fridge Tetris’ which I play at Christmas.

However, if you’re thinking on embarking on a Family Camping Trip there are a few essential items you should put on your check-list, that will make it more enjoyable.

 10 Things You Need to Take Camping

Corkscrew Bottle Opener – it’s now acceptable to buy wine with a screw top but if you get caught out, it’s not impossible to get one with a cork open without a corkscrew, if you have a tree and a tea towel, but it does make it a lot easier.  You can also get a beer bottle open with a cigarette lighter or if you’re my Auntie she can do it with her teeth, but again, it’s easier with a small bottle opener and costs less at the dentist.

Camping Essential Corkscrew


Can Opener – I really wish I could find my Swiss Army Knife then getting into a tin would be a doddle.  However, if you think a bit ahead and try to buy tins with a ring pull you won’t face this conundrum.  I also try to buy pre-sliced buns etc.

Bungee Cords – I swear the people that manufacture tents and sleeping bags have seriously warped senses of humour.  Stuff sacks!  You are kidding me.  Apparently, we have an over-sized tent bag, if over-sized bag means it just fits without the zipper bursting open then they would be correct.  We carry a couple of spare bungee cords which allows us to cinch the tent a bit tighter so we can get it back in the bag with minimal arguments.  Plus, they are great for make shift clothes lines etc.

Bungee Cords for Camping


Insulated Coffee Mugs – Beer o’clock is a moveable feast when camping but until then it’s coffee for me.  Boiling a kettle on a camp stove can take ages, especially if you watch it, the Insulated Coffee Cups, first reduce the chance of spilling and lets you enjoy the coffee before it’s turns into an Iced Cappuccino.  These ones have a narrower base so they fit in the cups holder in the car.  And when you are all coffeed out you can sneak a beer into it, no one will be the wiser, and it stays cooler longer.

Insulated Coffee Mugs

Rock Pegs – when you first buy a new tent, check out the pegs if they are the thin ones with the hook at the top, throw them straight in the bin, they are completely useless and after a couple of whacks with a mallet (see below) they bend and are rendered completely useless.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  Rock pegs can penetrate the hardest and rockiest terrains.  However, they can be a bit tricky to get out but you don’t have to worry about your tent or gazebo taking flight.

Tent Pegs for Hard Ground

Mallet  – we are now the proud owner of three mallets;  a wooden one, rubber one and a plastic one.  When I first opened the plastic one, I really thought it would shatter after trying to hammer in the first rock peg, but I was pleasantly surprised at how strong this Tent Peg Mallet was.  The best bit about it is the other end can be used to pull out the stubborn rock pegs with a bit of persuasion and on occasion levering.

Tent Peg Mallet

Bin Liners – take a whole roll if you can, they are great for dirty laundry, make shift rain ponchos, covering wet chairs, wrapping up wet boots and of course for rubbish/recycling.

Dry Shampoo – Face it!  Showers don’t tend to be brilliant at campsites and on occasion you may have to queue for one.  So, if you miss a day or three, a blast of dry shampoo can fool you into thinking you are slightly less filthy.

Walkie Talkies –  prior to this camping trip we bought a set of Walkie Talkies for our daughter, thinking we could keep one with us and track her down if need be.  However, I found another use for them…. scaring the h*ll out of other kids on the camp-site, you can scan for their frequency, then the fun begins.  No, I did not say things like ‘I’m watching you’.  Hours of fun!

Solar Powered Fairy Lights – there are no real reasons to cover your tent and gazebo in Twinkly Lights but they’re soooooo pretty and if you have a few too many beers, you can always find your way back from the loos in the dark.  Not bad for highlighting evil tripping Guy Wires (or is is Guide Wires?) in the dark.

Camping Fairy Lights

I’m sure there is a few things I have left off the list.  What are your must have camping essentials?



What to take camping for your dog?

We’ve just returned home from 2 weeks of camping in the UK, we tried out 4 different sites which I will write about soon.  In October last year we got a dog, so we find camping perfect for us as a family.  I can sit in a field and drink beer, my daughter can run feral with other kids and our dog gets to spend loads of time with the family and outdoors.

Camping with a dog

A lot of campsites will allow well-behaved dogs, we did find that some do charge a bit extra, but it’s a lot cheaper than putting them in kennels while you’re away.  However, the majority of sites will require you to have them on a lead at all times, which is understandable as they can get into all sorts of mischief.  This is our dog on the naughty step after nicking Prosecco from another site.

Camping with pets

We did find a couple of sites that had areas (paddocks) to run your dog and a few dog friendly beaches.  You might also want to check that certain breads are not banned from sites as we did see this as well.

We’ve taken our dog camping a few times now and these are a few things that we recommend that you take with you.

13 Things to Take Camping for your Dog

Folding Crate and Bedding:  We have a folding canvas crate that he sleeps in at home, it folds down flat so easily slips in on top of our camping gear in the car.  The crate is not only a safe and familiar place for them but can also keep them secured at night.  We also found that he used it during the day to get some rest but do be careful if you are blessed with good weather as tents, like cars can get incredibly hot.  Also take their bedding as temperatures can drop at night.

Ground Peg, Flexible Lead and a Karabiner:  As they will be on the lead a lot of the time I would recommend getting a ground peg and a flexible lead, this gives them a bit more freedom.  We find the easiest way to attach them is using a large Karibiner, which will also come in handy when you get home.  We use ours a lot in pubs and parks.

West Wittering Beach with Dogs

Dog Shampoo:  After two weeks our dog started to get a bit smelly, but to be fair so did we, in hindsight we wish we would have brought his dog shampoo with us.  He also went into the sea a few times, a local farmer claimed the sea water is good for parasites etc, but I can’t imagine it would feel nice.

Food and Water:  This one is fairly obvious but do take enough food for the time you will be away, especially if they tend to have a brand that is not readily available in all stores and store in a water proof tub to avoid soggy food and other animals getting into it.

Travel Water Bottle:  As mentioned before we do take food and water for him, depending where you are a lot of places will have water bowls for dogs but not always.  We tend to keep a travel water bottle in the boot of the car at all times.

Towel:  Definitely take a towel that is dedicated for the dog, unless you fancy sharing yours with your pooch.

Poo Bags:  Take a plethora of poo bags with you, you can never have enough.  Plus, they also come in handy for other things.

How to camp with dogs

Tennis Ball and Ball Thrower:  These don’t tend to take up a lot of space and are an excellent way of running your cooped up dog when you get a chance.


The only downside of taking an adorable dog camping is that you will have every other kid at the camp-site at your pitch from morning till night, but it was a great way for our daughter to meet other kids.

Did I miss anything?  If so, please do leave me a comment.


Summer Holiday Camps for Kids

Outdoor Holiday Activities for Kids near St Albans

I really didn’t think this one through.  On Sunday we arrived home after two weeks of camping; playing in the woods, tenting it and building fires.  So, when I checked my diary and realised I had booked my daughter in for a Bushcraft Survivor Course with Wild Child Activities first thing on Monday morning, I wasn’t sure how she was going to take it, but she absolutely loved it.  It probably helps that she is obsessed with Bear Grylls.

Summer Holiday Camps near St Albans

Wild Child Activities is based at Phasels Wood Activity Centre in Kings Langley (near Hemel Hempstead).  They do an exciting selection of Holiday Activities for kids 7+ including Archery, Animation, Fencing and Residential Camps for kids 8 and over.  I’m all up for getting kids outside. Upon dropping her off, I was rather impressed with the facilities.  The Centre is set in 95 acres of rolling meadowlands, woodlands and fields in Hertfordshire.  It’s only 20 minutes from St Albans, access is via Kings Langley and the return journey takes you along the A41.

I’ll leave the 7 year old to tell you more about it.

So how was it?

‘It was really good.’

What did you do?

Forest School for Kids

Water Filtration

‘We roasted marshmallows, made dens and then played games.  We had to try and clean water by ourselves.  We got a trouser leg and one big pot of clean water, they asked us to put mud in it and all stuff icky like leaves, we had a tipi thing and we tied the leg of the trouser to it, we then tied a knot in the bottom of the trouser leg and we poured the dirty water in it and clean water dropped out of the bottom of the leg.’


‘We played a game of Man Hunt which was different to normal.  Two teams go off and hide and then they have to try and spot each other without getting spotted first.  If you are spotted you lose.  It’s a good game.  We played 4 rounds.’

Den Building

‘We were given a piece of rope and a sheet, so then we had to try and make a den, we could use all the materials that were all around us in the woods but we were not allowed to pick things off the trees.’

How come there were so many adults?

‘Two teams always stick together, there are three adults.  Two of them go into the woods and one stays with each team and the third stays at the base camp getting the fire and everything else ready for when we came back.’

Would you do it again?

‘Yes, because I enjoyed it and I found it interesting.  My favourite bit was playing the games, because we got to go into all the parts of the wood except the boundary line.’

How many kids were there?

‘There were 10 children in the group.’

Did you meet some nice kids?

‘Yes, I was the youngest and the oldest person was 10 or 11.  I worked well with another little girl, we worked as a team when playing Man Hunt and Den Building.’

Residential Camps for Next Year

We will definitely be looking to book more sessions next year.  I’m particularly interested in the Residential Camps but she won’t be 8 years old for a few weeks.  The Residential Camps include two full days of outdoor adventures and Bushcraft Activities and an overnight stay in a Bell Tent Village.

Summer Camp for Kids

We had the opportunity to stay in a Bell Tent during our Camping Trip and fell in love with them.




Now We’re Cooking with Gaz!

Best Camping Stoves

I absolutely LOVE camping and do get rather excitable about it.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m Canadian or what………..

Canadian Camping

A big part of it for me is all the kit, you’ve gotta have the kit!  We have tent, self-inflating mattresses, chairs, fair lights, windbreak, folding table, sleeping bags, marshmallow roasting sticks, washing up bowl, crockery and of course a bottle opener and corkscrew.

Two is always better than one!

CampingGaz Cooker

When we first got back into camping, I quickly popped out and got a little camp stove, it’s absolutely fine, but only has one burner and runs on Camping Gas Propane Cartridges which are a bit pricy and don’t last long.  As the Slow Cooker Queen I’m used to cooking with one pot, but I’d much prefer two, especially for those much needed Fry Ups in the morning.  I don’t want my bacon getting cold while I cook my eggs.

Stroking my new cooker! #camping @MountainWHouse – via @mediocre_mum

Recommended Camping Stoves

So, I was over the moon when Mountain Warehouse sent me this sexy beast – A Kampa Alfresco Double Burner With Grill for review purposes.  It has a double burner with grill, ignition, a sturdy metal case which also acts as a windbreak and for £39.99 I think it’s great value. Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but will be soon.

Win and Insulated Picnic Hamper from Mountain Warehouse

The generous folks at Mountain Warehouse are offering one of my readers a chance to win a 36 Litre Four Person Insulated Picnic Hamper (£29.99).  It has everything you need for the perfect picnic; cutting board, napkins, plates, cutlery and most importantly a corkscrew and wine glasses!!!

Insulated Picnic Hamper

Simply use the rafflecopter form below to enter.  Full terms and conditions are at the bottom of the form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy camping.

This competition is listed on Loquax, Prize Finder and Competition Hunter.