Did you go for a walk on New Years Day?
It’s a brilliant way to blow away the cobwebs, clear your head and start the new year afresh.
We missed our New Year’s day walk- we had lovely friends over, some of the kids were a bit under the weather and it was rather grey. No regrets, as we had a fun day inside.
However on the 2nd we woke to glorious sunshine. It was beckoning us to go out and enjoy it. The cold kept us in for a bit longer. We tidied and pottered, in the process the Camping and Caravan club magazine stumbled into my hand and I had a mad brainwave: Meaning to go camping since last November, but social events kept getting in the way, maybe now was the time?
My wanderlust was further fuelled by a fellow bloggers TheBoyandMe and Annie Spratt who post fabulous pictures of their outdoor adventures, whatever the weather. I was particularly jealous of Annie’s walks and runs in the New Forest over the past weeks. We love the New Forest and have had wonderful adventures at Aldridge Hill and Hollands Wood sites.
I made the call to the Camping and Caravan club:
–Do you have any sites with electric hook ups available in the New Forest?
(Electric hook up? – you ask. Well, yes. I’m not hardcore enough for winter camping without some heating option! Not with 3 kids.)
The very helpful lady confirmed that they have a 2 spaces left for the weekend at a site call Setthorns Camping in the Forest. That was reassuring: I’m not the only one camping in this weather- the forecast was dreadful rain and then freezing cold.
Mad as can be, I booked there and then. 2 nights from that afternoon. The New Forest awaited!
The Madventurer took the news of us heading off camping in a couple of hours remarkably well and got on with getting bikes ready, arranging gear in Campy and so on. Car troubles meant we left a LOT later than we’d intended. We were supposed to get there before dark and made it just before 9 pm in the end.
When we arrived the site office was long closed, but having spoken to the site manager earlier, he’d left us instructions and a marked map hanging on the reception door.
The beauty of Camping in the Forest sites is they are more back to basics sites than usual campsites. This meant no lighting on the site. Great for your usual stay, but much harder arriving and setting up at night.
The Madventurer was thrown in the deep end when having to set up all on his own, while I put three excited kids to bed. (You can read about how he set up our new Vango awning in the pitch dark.)
Max had slept well on the way down to the New Forest, so his sleep bank was full. He was up early, very early next morning. He was hungry, probably a little chilly after refusing to use his sleeping bag. The others soon followed.
Despite the early wake up call, we ended up having a leisurely start. The quiet, the lack of a decent mobile signal all beckon you to relax.
In the night it had rained heavily and it was still drizzling when the kids were ready to get out of our small caravan. They donned waterproofs. Hugo and Angelina were keen to take their bikes and explore the campsite. Max followed on his balance bike. Very cute!
As soon as we could convince Max to sit in my bike’s childseat we all set off for a small bike ride. Without planning, we were just following whichever way we wanted to go. This meant that we were going up and down quite a bit and the uphill bits were not really gaining the approval of Angelina. In hindsight it would’ve been good to look up some less hilly rides before we set off. We still cycled 3.5 miles anyway.
A quick lunch in Campy and we were off again. This time by car.
At Bolderwood, a 15 minute drive from the campsite, there are deer viewing platforms and the deer are fed between 1 and 3 every day. We got there a little late to see the feeding, but still had a lovely walk. We got to see a couple of herds of deer too along the way.
That evening after a simple dinner of eggs and bacon, with all the fresh air and activity behind us, everyone was in bed quite early. The kids went down at normal time, of 8 pm, with the Madventurer and I alseep were by 9:30 too.
Not surprisingly, Sunday started a lot later. Kids slept till 8:30.
A quick breakfast and we were playing games.
Angelina got Moustache Smash for Christmas and this was our first chance to play it. The game is great fun! Max was too young to understand it and play- he just hogged one of the moustaches. We all laughed a lot. There was no one winner, it sort of rotated between us all, which makes for a great family game in my book.
Our plans to go cycling on Sunday were scuppered by my bike not working. Instead, the Madventurer and I tidied the caravan and started to leisurely pack while the kids took advantage of our fabulous campsite surroundings.
They hurried off to the woods to extend dens others had started, they watched squirrels, listened to birds and searched for bugs (mostly in vain).
Watching them through the caravan window while I pottered, I totally understood what someone meant when they described the Camping in the Forest sites as “a place called away”
At lunchtime the kids asked if we could have a picnic lunch in their den.
As we were huddled up in the den eating hotdogs, Hugo exclaimed:
“Mummy this is the best day EVER!”
We headed home in the early afternoon. Max slept the moment his little bottom hit the carseat. Hugo and Angelina just chatted away all the way home, telling about their adventures, their plans for when we come back and how much they’d like to go camping again.
Was this a good way to start 2015 or what?
Setthorns is a Camping in the Forest site run by the Camping and Caravan club. The site has no toilets or shower block; campers need to bring their own. The site does have electric hook up though.
We stayed in the Oaken …a lower section on a premium pitch.
Our pitch was hardstanding. Most pitches, from what I could make out, were hardstanding in this section of the campsite. They mostly all had a bit of a slant to them.
Despite the rain and the forest location the site wasn’t too muddy and the roads between the pitches were in good condition.
Water taps were relatively close by, with drinking water clearly labelled. The chemical waste disposal point was near the entrance, so not an easy walk up hill with a tank full of s**t. We emptied our chemical loo when we left.
The site accepts dogs, but dogs are asked to be kept on the lead at all times. We had Josh with us. He absolutely loved being in the forest and we could just see how keen he’d have been to explore had he had some of his youth back.
The staff at the site were very helpful, both with preparing for our arrival and helping with suggestions for things to do when I popped in.
The price of the premium pitch with electricity for 2 adults, 3 children and a dog in a caravan with awning come out to just £39 for the two nights in January! And people wonder why we like camping!
For inspiration of others enjoying outdoor family fun check out Fiona’s post and linked Country Kids posts too.