Having firstly convinced myself it was a good idea to go camping with a toddler (my own, no less...), I then managed to rope my ol' man along for some multigenerational tent fun!
This was the first time I'd taken the tiddler camping, so wanted somewhere nearby in case it all goes wrong, but (on advice of friends) avoiding the 'back-garden idea' so it's NOT so easy to pack it all in and watch cbeebies!
I'm pretty happy to lug the trailer around packed to the gills, but was grateful for the 8 speed Alfine when the whole shebang was fully loaded, plus panniers and tent on the rack!
The Campsite was only a few miles up the road, so I thought we'd head down a "Byway for all traffic" rather than take the busier road. Big mistake - it would appear the only traffic this was open to was a Moto Trials bike!! Oh well, we just about managed to drag the trailers through the nettels and over felled trees. Annoyingly I got a puncture in my trailer, but thankfully it was in the presta tube, as I only had a presta pump!
Dad's bike and trailer on the only easily rideable part of the BOAT :
Once the puncture was fixed, we continued on to the camp site...
Camp was set up in the beating sun - whilst this happened, Miles seemed to entertain himself by being the feral child of the site - wandering into other tent areas and chatting to the happy campers! Within a few minutes he'd already played with a few different groups of kids.
After a bit of playing and general outdoorsy tomfoolery he'd worn himself out, so atypical for him he opted to have a late afternoon nap. At this time, some friends arrived, and I was cooking tea, so we shared a bevvy and poked the little'un to wake up.
Tea eaten, the kids basically played in the 'special den' they found in the woods for a few hours.
My van envy was further encouraged... As the evening drew on we hung by the campers, toasted mallows, and chilled..
Once everyone (mostly me and Dad) became sleepy, we headed back to the tents to settle down - the Kampa bed was brilliant and really kept a wriggly toddler nice and safe, but I think I need to find a better sleeping bag as he wriggled out of the 'standard' on at about 2am, and was moaning he was cold. I wrapped the extra blankets over him and he seemed fine after that.
A little LED light was most necessary to be reading Thomas books to..
Apart from the old man's snoring in the tent next door (which caused Miles much amusement!) we had a good night's sleep and woke about 7am. Despite being pretty overcast in the morning, the tent was still really light from about 5am, but thankfully Miles stayed down (I was a little bit hung over...)
Breakfast was had in the veranda - Dusty (Museli) and orange juice.
Checking out the bad a$$ dropped splitty going by!
Brekkie provided energy for more playing in the den - this time 'adults' got involved..
..and for feeding to goats at the top of the hill..
Here's another pic of the 'beast' that got us safely to and from our little adventure:
All in all, it was a fun overnight trip, though despite only being one night I'm feeling pretty knackered today!
Like all things with kids, particularly a very energetic and danger seeking toddler, the 'relaxing nature' of camping isn't quite 'so' once you are fetching kids out of piles of stingers, or untangling them from barbed wire, but once I'd 'let my hair down' and went with the flow, we had a great time!
Things I've learnt from this, which (if the wife allows) I'd like to take into a multi day tour with Miles..
-Toys and books are probably as valuable as fancy lights and 'all the gear'
-Bring a pump that will work on ALL your valve types...
-Even if the site's only a few miles away, it's still quite an adventure getting there fully loaded up!
-An alfine is a cracking hub gear, but don't underestimate the LOooooow gearing you'll need dragging tonnes of camping stuff up hills - I think I need to drop about 8-10 teeth on the front chainring as I was only ever in gears 1-4 the whole time. I could have done with several lower gears.
-Bring lots of blankets as my little one for some reasons refused (sub consciously) to stay in the sleeping bag!
-The thing that makes camping with kids most fun and easier for adults, is surprisingly, more kids - they behave better around other kids, entertain themselves more, and a generally happier.
Happy kids = happy adults!!
I really would like to go for a multi day adventure in the next few months - will liaise with local riding buddies and see if i can find any takers as it really would be a barrel of laughs with several dads and kids getting muddy in the Sussex countryside!