15 questions with… The Edwards Family
Where do you live?
Caversham, Berkshire, UK
What’s your age bracket?
39 ish – two kids Charlie 8, and Annabel 6
Have you always been a camper?
No, but my husband has. He was a hard-core scout when he was a teenager, but he had never done any camping with the family or us as a couple. I’m not sure why, maybe because I was a reluctant camper!
What kind of camping holidays do you go on?
Our first camping trip was this year and we were supposed to be in France at an amazing highly rated campsite with a pool and bakery on site. However, Covid restrictions meant we had to cancel last minute and find what we could in the UK. So, our experience so far has been a very British affair, a 6XL tent in a field!
Why do you love camping? Do any specific moments spring to mind?
Going back to basics. Waking up in the morning and going outside for the obligatory loo visit and first cup of tea – hoodie on, still in pjs and meeting fresh morning air! When you have kids, it feels so free and safe and they get to have experiences that are just not like their everyday lives. They get to play, stay up late, not to have to worry about things, develop skills and imagination with nature. One morning we woke up really early and there was dew on the grass, and it was so quiet and peaceful, lots of animals were out, red kites were swooping around our tent and rabbits scampering around, the kids loved seeing the wild nature literally just outside the tent.
Where are your preferred places to go camping?
This year we have stuck to the UK. We camped on the edge of the New Forest. We had quite a limited choice because of Covid, and I felt the campsite was very basic. There wasn’t anything particularly special about it as there was nothing else to do on the site but I wonder if we had had an amazing campsite we would have been able to hang around there a bit more. We’ve also camped near Birmingham and then in Ireland.
What do you look for in a campsite?
Having been a novice camper we have now camped in three sites. As well as the New Forest we went to the Pink Moon festival, just outside of Birmingham. It was so lovely as there was a small farm, a playground and a massive open campfire, a cafe and a bar. They also had Mexican and Pizza vans on site. So I would say our top priorities in a campsite are:
- Clean facilities
- Nice clean showers with hot water
- Something onsite for our kids like a playpark or something like a farm, train etc
- Bonus feature is onsite catering or café so we don’t have to cook for every meal!
What have been your favourite camping holidays in the past?
We have never camped before so ask me next year!
What potential camping trips are you most looking forward to?
We plan to explore the area along the coast such as Devon or Cornwall. Depending on where we are at with Covid, I would like to go across to France or beyond and find a fabulous campsite with really brilliant facilities. I would definitely consider camping in the lakes of Italy.
Do you have any camping trips booked this year? If so, what and where?
No more plans this year.
How do you feel about camping this year, given the Covid-19 situation?
I felt safe because certain campsites were quite strict with their COVID instructions and their cleaning routines. I actually think it is probably quite a good holiday for Covid-times, as a lot of time is spent outside, and you are bringing and using all your own equipment so there is limited contamination.
Would you choose camping over a hotel or apartment this year in light of Covid-19? Why?
I would choose camping over a hotel. I felt happy and confident camping during COVID, as we cooked our own food, we spent time in our own tent, away from other families and slept using our own sleeping bags. When the kids were running around and playing with other children, they were all outside in the fresh air; socialising and having fun.
What reassurances have you seen from campsites regarding improved health and safety this year?
There was definitely a structured cleaning regime, they would close the toilet/washing blocks at certain times throughout the day for deep cleaning. We were offered an alternative facility to use. Also, when we used the washing up and shower facilities, all the sites had all blocked off certain cubicles, so you could definitely socially distance. At the Pink Moon festival, we were actually given our own portaloo, with a pad lock so only our family could use it, which was a great idea!
What are your top pieces of advice to those that might be new to camping?
Definitely do a weekend test run with your tent first before going on a longer holiday. We learnt how to put up the tent, worked out if we were missing any key essential items and we worked out the mattresses weren’t quite right for us. So, we came back feeling like we had fine-tuned our kit. We then decided to purchase a carpet for the inside of the tent and better bedding!
What are your favourite bits of camping kit and why?
We went all out on the 6XL tent and beds! We bought two single inflatable bed bases, which had the slats that go across and then the inflatable mattress goes on top. It revolutionised my sleeping!
Also, we bought three little camping lap tables, they folded up really small, so they didn’t take up much room in the car. They were brilliant for when the children wanted to do some drawing or colouring or if they wanted to have snacks and drinks. They also came in handy as counter space in the kitchen we set up in our tent porch – pretty much home from home!
Any last tips/ camping hacks?
- Definitely find somewhere flat! We learnt the hard way as we braved dreadful weather and a substantial pool in the tent!
- We put all our belongings in transparent plastic boxes. We have our kitchen utensils in a couple of boxes, a box with all the washing up equipment and a box only for the torches and batteries. All our boxes are ready to go and when we unpack them from the car, we put them straight in the garage already to go for next time.
- If you can, get a tent with blackout sleeping pods, they are amazing, and our kids sleep in every morning!
- Bring a hot water bottle! The last camping trip was at the end of the Summer season and the temperature dropped, we brought the extra duvets and blankets but forgot the hot water bottles and it was chilly!
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