When you buy a house that needs a lot of love, you end up with very little cash to spend on fun things like holidays. And as we’ve done that twice in the last 4 years we’ve been a bit short on cash for a very long time! This year though, we took our tent out of storage and drove over to Gloucestershire for some summer camping with our uni friends and their kids. They’d found this beautiful campsite near Minchinhampton (where oddly, I’ve just discovered, my ancestors came from!) that was a car-free environment, so ideal for all 5 kids who were joining us.
As we were spending a few hours in the car, we made use of our National Trust membership to visit Stonehenge (you can read all about that here), and visited my Grandparents, before heading up to Thistledown Farm ready to set up camp.
Summer Camping – Pitching Up
We’d been told about the wheelbarrows we could borrow to take our tent and bags down to our pitch, as our orchard was entirely car-free. We hadn’t been told about the hill! The combination of heavy bags, heavy wheelbarrows and a tired and overexcited 3-year-old was interesting, to say the least! I was dreading carting it all back up again at the end of the weekend.
Hubs got the tent set up while X and I had a bit of an explore. Thistledown Farm strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible, so we had our first experience of composting toilets. I was dreading it if I’m honest. I thought they’d smell! But I was pleasantly surprised! The owners of the site really work hard to keep the toilet block pristine and maintain the compost tank. X wasn’t too happy about having to sit down to pee though, having just mastered doing it standing up.
Summer Camping – Our Tent
We don’t have a big tent – this was a bargain buy many years ago from Halfords. It was the 4 man tent, 4 sleeping bags, two air beds, 2 lanterns and an air pump for about £80 out of season about 10 years ago, and it has done us well! X absolutely loved having a whole compartment to himself, as well a double air bed.
We’d contemplated investing in a “ready bed”, but as X is quite the wriggler these days, we thought it might end up feeling too restrictive for him to get comfy. So instead of sleeping bags, we took our duvets from home. A fact X appreciated when we got there but didn’t enjoy as much in the car on the way down…
Considering the long day we’d had, I was expecting X to fall into bed pretty early – but it was nearly 10 pm before all the kids dozed off! The long summer evening was beautiful, and our friends cooked up an amazing chicken pasta for us all. It was great once the little ones were asleep, and we sat around the campfire with a few beers, making smores with marshmallows and chocolate digestives!
Summer Camping – Adventures
Having absolutely tired ourselves out the previous day at Stonehenge we weren’t really looking for an adventure on Saturday! We went for a walk into the woods, got a bit lost, then decided to visit the Sainsburys in the nearest town to get some bits for our campfire dinner. And then pulled out all the stops and had a Sainsburys Cafe Lunch, ha!
At Thistledown they have an on-site pizza restaurant, but we couldn’t get a table. It’s often filled with locals, so if you’re thinking of visiting, it’s worth booking a table when you book your pitch if you can. We did take the boys up to the restaurant for ice cream, and to have their photo taken on the tractor.
Not surprisingly, the boys were all in bed much earlier that night, so us “grown-ups” sat around a blazing campfire with beer and more smores! I can’t believe I’d never had smores before this trip – they’re amazing!
The next morning it was time to get packed up and head home. We had until early afternoon to get everything away but decided as soon as we were up and breakfasted that we’d get the tent down and be ready to go whenever. There were a lot of people leaving, and we didn’t want to end up waiting forever for the buggies… yep, instead of us dragging our belongings back up that insane hill, the campsite offers the use of little buggies for a small fee. Frankly, I was happy to part with a fiver to save my back!
Once we were all packed up there was just enough time for the boys to have a good run around before getting in the car. X gets incredibly car sick, so him having a nap on the way home was going to be the best thing for all of us!
We had the most lovely weekend, with glorious weather and brilliant company. I can’t wait to do it all again!