Archive | camping RSS feed for this section

Keycamp

8 Nov

A while back, the lovely PR people from Keycamp asked me if we’d like a free holiday.  Of course I said yes, I mean you’d have to be daft not to wouldn’t you?  Where would you like to go they said.  Somewhere in the Autumn half term, not too cold, accessible by public transport, near a beach and with interesting things to do, I said.  Don’t want much do I?

They suggested Vilanova Parc, in Spain.  Not too far from Barcelona, twenty minutes from the beach by the regular bus service, local markets, five pools, a  jumping pillow and a junior disco.  Perfect I said, and off we went.

It was exactly what it said on the tin.  Apart from the weather, which was unseasonably cold, a fact I can’t blame on Keycamp.  The accommodation was spotlessly clean, had three bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, veranda, barbecue and a very welcome, welcome bottle of wine.  The Keycamp staff were cheerful, helpful and a constant source of swimming pool noodles, ping pong bats and snakes and ladders.  The parc was beautifully landscaped and maintained, had the advertised five pools, including, thankfully, one heated indoor one, two playgrounds, a restaurant at which we ate delicious rice with squid ink, and child friendly patatas bravas, a jumping pillow, a supermarket selling Dutch biscuits, and crazy golf.  Personally I think you can’t go wrong with crazy golf.

I’d never really stayed anywhere like that before.  I suppose it had similarities with some of the campsites in New Zealand and Australia, but they were a lot smaller.  This was as large as a small town, which meant I got lost a few times, but having an ATM, onsite medical help and a proper supermarket was something we never got in the Antipodes.  Mind you, in the Antipodes, we didn’t always have running water, but that’s another story.

The kids loved it and didn’t want to leave.  They made friends with other kids and sat swinging their legs on fences watching French boys smoking whilst playing football.  I can’t pretend I wasn’t faintly horrified, but that’s what holidays are all about when you are not quite a teenager.

And with the kids so busily occupied, I read three books in five days.  Result.

 

How much?

27 Mar

with a view like this, does it matter that the accommodation is a bit grotty?

I remember a conversation with a friend, many months ago, before we went on our trip, sitting on a park bench in the sunshine as our children climbed and swung and balanced on stuff.  If it’s not rude, she said, can I ask how you can afford all this, how much is it costing, must be at least a hundred thousand pounds.  I laughed.  She was imagining nine months of her type of holiday strung together, proper hotels next to the beach, taxis, meals in restaurants.  I won’t pretend a nine month holiday was cheap, but it wasn’t anything like as expensive as she was imagining.

We never stayed near the beach, except for when we camped.  We usually stayed four blocks back, in the highrise without a decent view, five to a slightly too small room with the youngest child on a lilo.  Or we stayed in the guesthouse at the far end of town, too quiet for most tourists, not close enough to the restaurants.  Or in the condo that was next to the beach, but the beach you couldn’t swim in because of the crocodiles.  Often our accommodation was slightly depressing, damp, cramped, with a whiff of the ageing surfer who chats up young blondes in the lift.  But we got to visit the same beaches as the people who’d spent a small fortune.  Got to see the same turtles.

We mostly didn’t eat in restaurants, except in Asia where they’re really cheap, instead we shopped in budget supermarkets and ate a lot of sandwiches.  I love food, and sometimes it was a bit sad that we weren’t eating as well as we could have, especially in Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.  But it was worth sacrificing a few decent meals for months of wonderful experiences. And we didn’t have the wardrobe for smart anyway.

We shared.  Shared meals, shared beds, shared train seats.  Nothing was wasted, or at least we tried.  We asked for deals, particularly for the children, and people often obliged.  We went in a helicopter, they went free. We rode elephants and camels, they rode half price. We didn’t do stuff that was too expensive, our bank managers thanked us.

Budget travel isn’t rocket science.  Spend your time on the internet comparing prices, book everything yourself rather than through a travel agent, ask for discounts, share your chips.  It’s often deeply unglamorous, but it’s always worth it.

 

How to build a den in the woods

19 Apr

Yesterday we spent all day on Wimbledon Common. It was a gorgeous sunny day but bizarrely, we had acres of woods all to ourselves. Not that I’m complaining. What did we do with our day in the woods? Build a den of course.

5 highlights of 2009

8 Jan

The lovely Kelly at A Place of My Own has tagged me, asking me to write about my 5 highlights of last year.

2009 was a good year in our family.  No huge revelations or major excitements, but it felt like we finally made it out of the long dark baby tunnel into a new and exciting world of pre-schoolers and school age children.  We got out and about, we ventured abroad, and we washed a lot of pants.  So, without further ado, my first hightlight is…

Getting enough sleep

Many years ago I was a nanny for a brief period, including caring for a newborn baby boy.  He was a ‘good’ baby, who drank his bottles when he was supposed to, slept well and rarely cried.  It was a piece of cake.  So I thought I knew what I was doing when Eve came along.  After about 10 minutes, it became abundantly clear that I was as clueless as every other new mother.  Add in a few sleepless nights and I realised that I had been deeply deluded about caring for newborns.  Nothing, but nothing, is a piece of cake when you don’t get your full eight hours.  I kept thinking, ‘if I could just get four hours, five hours, six hours without being woken, I’ll feel better’.  It took me many months to accept that I would never sleep in the same way again and for the six years that I had newborns, teethers, growth spurters and early wakers I stumbled through the days in a fog of scratchy eyes and memory loss.  2009 was different.  Gradually, without my noticing, all my children started to regularly sleep through the night and regularly wake at about 7am.  I feel different, in a good way.

Starting  a blog

After two years of reading other people’s travel blogs, I finally took the plunge in February last year.  I have enjoyed it more than I could have ever predicted.  It has become an almost daily pleasure, writing, tinkering, thinking about my blog.  It’s re-ignited an old love of words and I hope that one day I can do something more with it.

Our first camping trip

I am a fair weather camper.  I really, really don’t like being cold or wet and I’m not too good at sleeping on the ground.  As we have not been anywhere warm, like Australia, in the last 8 years, the children have never been camping.  Until this summer, when we spent a gorgeous, but perishingly cold night in a field in North Yorkshire.  We splashed in the stream, built a huge, smoky, eye-stinging campfire, toasted marshmallows and told ghost stories.  I hope we can recreate the experience on our trip, but with warmer weather and hammocks.

Switzerland

Last summer we had the most yodellingly fantastic holiday in Switzerland, a country I have always suspected might be right up my street.  Every cliched view I had previously held was blissfully right and we spent two weeks enjoying a soundtrack of clanking cow bells whilst hiking through flower-filled meadows, marvelling at the efficiency of their trains, swimming in lakes with picture postcard backdrops and eating a Matterhorn of cheese and chocolate.  For a rash of posts and some gorgeous photos (if I do say so myself) click on Switzerland in the category cloud on the right.

Catching crabs

2009 was the year I learnt how to catch a crab.  Goodness knows how I’ve survived so long without this knowledge, but I now feel confident in any crab catching situation.  It was a lot of fun.

Recipe for happiness

14 Aug

DSC_0321

Ingredients:

  • 3 small children
  • 1 slow moving, shallow stream
  • 2 cheap fishing nets
  • 1 bucket

Method

  1. Remove children’s shoes and socks
  2. Mix the ingredients together
  3. Leave for as many hours as you like, or until the children are hungry

 

Repeat as often as you want happy children

This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby. For more pictures, click here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,818 other followers