Tyddyn Du Campsite

We left finding a campsite for late May Bank Holiday 2015 a bit late, and with our groups normal requirements for a site allowing campers, tents, dogs, fires, toilets showers and not being to regimented about pitches – it was a bit of a challenge.  To add to the challenge we wanted to find somewhere no more than 3 hours away from any of the group and considering we are scattered around Somerset, Dorset, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire we failed dismally on this requirement.

After  8 hours in the car heading towards Tyddyn Du Campsite  in Gwynedd, North-West Wales and with still an hour to go due to horrendous bank holiday traffic my stomach sank and tears welled up as I realised we had forgotten all the sleeping mats.  There was nowhere to stop; the last Tesco was about 45min back through horrid traffic and there were certainly no camping sites en route, so we just kept going.  I was slightly panicked.  We used to be tough and could sleep straight on the ground and thought we could possibly do it again (if we ensured plenty of grown up juice was consumed before bed), but the thought of the kids being uncomfortable and not sleeping and thus keeping us awake was tear inducing.  On we went, what else could we do?

The advantage of camping with mates who all have big vehicles and are seasoned campers is that they often have extra stuff and between them all we managed to sort out an assortment of sleep mats, airbeds and extra duvets for us to sleep on.  I don’t think they quite realise how grateful I was – sleep is very important to me.  Ask my other half –  I become evil without sleep.  We have now got a proper checklist as next time we forget something like this, we may not be so lucky.

Anyway the 9 hour drive was well worth it.  Tyddyn Du Campsite is an awesome site, on the banks of the Mawddach Estuary between Barmouth and Dolgellau, with stunning views of the mountains.  If it wasn’t for the cold breeze we could have been anywhere in the world, it certainly did not feel like the UK I know.  We pitched at the bottom near the river and it was the most bizarre ground I have ever experience.  You could feel it vibrating if someone jumped up and down, it was like it was floating but despite the rain it didn’t flood.  The facilities though basic were clean and the showers hot – what more do you need!

We had a brilliant time visiting the beach in Barmouth and having a bit of a mooch around town, visiting Fairbourne’s Miniature Railway http://www.fairbournerailway.com/, chilling, drinking, eating chatting and just doing the stuff campers do when they camp.

We left wishing we could have stayed another few days as there was a load more to explore.  Would love to visit Tyddyn Du Campsite again.

Lesson Learned:

Use a check list – you don’t want to be 8 hours away from home and realise you forgot the beds.

What a set up!

Petruth Paddocks

Petruth Paddocks

Pitching a tent in the rain is no fun for anyone and especially not our tent.  We have a Coleman Fucking Huge 6 man tent that is big enough to park a car in it (we did the first time we pitched it) there is no way it can be pitched by one person and requires a gazillion pegs..  Anyway pitching in the rain is what we did the weekend after our trip to Britchcombe Farm.  We were at Petruth Paddocks in Cheddar to celebrate one of our friends 40th birthdays.  Sods law it stopped raining soon after the last peg went in.

We had a corner of the field with the tipi in it for our group; the ground was flat, grassy and despite the rain easy to pitch on.  The bathroom facilities were of the porta-cabin variety they were clean and perfectly adequate.

Jules, Petruth Paddock’s owner was very friendly and happily chatted to my 3 year old who was very interested in the flower bed he was creating outside the toilet block.  Jules came around in the evening with his quad bike and trailer selling wood, firelighters and even marshmallows. He loaded the kids into the wood trailer and took them bouncing, screaming and laughing around the field to continue with deliveries.

There is plenty to keep you busy in cheddar hiking, climbing, exploring the caves, eating cheese, playing some crazy golf, visiting the coffee shops/tearooms and roaming the village.  We however left this to the rest of the group who taking our oldest disappeared for the afternoon whilst we cooked chilli for 19 in the potjie.  Before this sounds like we are complaining about cooking whilst the others explored , we aren’t.  We took it in playing on the old Land Rover in the next field with our youngest whilst the other kept the campfire burning, ensured the food cooked, read a book and had a glass of vino. Not much to complain about.

Lesson Learned:

Pitching our tent is a bitch – when we can afford it we WILL be getting a new one.


Boys doing the cooking
Britchcombe Farm

Britchcombe Farm

Britchcombe Farm

Our first camping trip for 2015 was to Britchcombe Farm.  Being May Day Bank holiday, the bluebells filled the roadside woods leading to the camp site; we were pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous countryside so close to Swindon.

We were greeted by the down turned faces of our friends who, having arrived early had unraveled their tent to have the undeniable reality dawn on them that their canvas bell tent had not been packed away quite as dry as they thought it had been.  Mold had gone to town on it over the winter leaving such bad holes that the tent could not even be erected.  Luckily they had a pop up tent for their 5 yr old to use and they could sleep at the back of their van, but they were not happy bunnies.  A harsh reality but a lesson learnt by all – Always dry your tent thoroughly before packing it away.

Britchcombe Farm campsite was great, we stayed in the bottom field and as there are no designated pitches managed to section off enough room for our group of friends.  Fires are allowed and a Land Rover came around every evening selling wood.  There were porta loos in the field we were in and they had plenty of toilet paper and hand sanitizer and were kept clean, so no complaints there.  The only gripe will be that not all the showers, which are next to the tea room & reception, seemed to have hot water.  I put Kirra and myself through the coldest wash ever whilst friends in the showers at the other side of the café had lovely warm water. .

The walk up to the White Horse was quite a steep ascent, probably made to feel steeper as we had our youngest in a pushchair and had to either push or carry him up.  The view from the top of the hill was epic and the boys had great fun following the train as it moved along the countryside.  The horse itself was a bit of an anti-climax as from close up it doesn’t really look like a horse but it certainly does spark the question of why they build it.

The kids loved playing in the field, making pretend fires, “brewing cider” and generally messing about.

The adults enjoyed making fire, eating, drinking and generally being merry despite the wind and rain which inevitably joined us.

I nearly forgot The Teapot Tearoom and Garden and Britchcombe Far we had live music on the Saturday afternoon and then went for a relaxing cream tea on the Monday after packing up and before heading home. Definitely a bonus having a tearoom on site.

Lesson Learnt:

Always dry your tent thoroughly before packing it away.

Campfire Food Sausages and Beans

Cowboy Food: Sausages and Beans

What could be better than cowboy food-sausages and beans, when camping, well not much and this is a great recipe easy to prepare and enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

What you need?

  • Pack of sausages
  • Tin of baked beans
  • Tin of mixed taco beans/kidney beans
  • Onion
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoons Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Garlic (chopped/crushed)
  • Olive Oil

What do you need to do?

  • Fry sausages & onions until they are golden brown
  • Add garlic and fry for a minute
  • Add beans, chopped tomatoes & chilli
  • Simmer for approx. 20minutes

With what should I serve this?

Perfect to eat with crusty bread or corn bread but also goes well with baked potatoes


  • Cook in advance and just reheat on the campfire or camping stove – perfect when arriving late and still needing to pitch and eat.
  • If you need the sausages to go further, slice them and add back to the beans, it’s an illusion but it works.
  • Leftovers can be used at breakfast on toast/ bread or with a fry up.
Campfire Desserts Chocolate Orange Muffins

Campfire Chocolate Orange Muffins

Many of you may have seen a recipe  for chocolate orange muffins made on a campfire before, but have you tried it?  If not, you really should – they are worth it.  I saw it a little while ago in a camping recipe book, I can’t remember which, and we finally gave it a go a couple of weeks ago.

Our kids love cooking marshmallows over the fire but are very quick to pass them over for us to eat, for some reason I have not yet quite understood, they don’t like marshmallows.  Anyway I am trying to find an alternative campfire dessert they will enjoy. These were delicious and an easy campfire recipe we will definitely be trying again. They are great on their own but go rather well with ice cream or vanilla yoghurt.

I made a slight error in cutting the orange in two and filling both sides but in hindsight slicing the top third of the orange and filling the bottom two thirds would have been better.  The photo for this post is not mine, but next time we have a fire I will attempt to get our own ones up.

Campfire Chocolate Orange Muffins

What you’ll need….apart from the campfire

  • 4 Oranges
  • 1 Box Chocolate Chunk muffin mix (the recipe we used required water, oil & an egg)
  • Heavy duty foil

What you need to do…

  • Cut off top third of oranges and scoop out the insides as best you can, leaving only the rind.
  • Make the muffin mix as per the premix purchased.
  • Divide the mixture between the oranges (about 2/3rd filled)
  • Replace the top of the orange.
  • Wrap in heavy duty foil (double wrap if using regular foil)
  • Throw in into the hot coals.  Turn every few minutes.
  • Cooks in 10-20 minutes.
  • To check its cooked poke a skewer through the orange skin and it should come out clean.


Campfire Cooking

All about the food

Food is an important part of any camping trip…

A happy belly equals a happy camper, its keeps you warm, it helps a good night sleep and it lines the belly for the usual evening of liquid consumption.  The trick is to ensure you have packed enough to satisfy pre-bed, post beer cravings but not so much that you end up having overspent and having to throw food away.  Unless you have a huge car and a large budget prudent packing is required.

I wouldn’t say we have the food aspect of camping dialed, owing mainly to the fact that we have a 3 and 5 year old that change their likes and dislikes as often as their underwear (which any parent of a 3 year old boy knows is frequently).  Every camping trip involves trying something new and as far as I recall no one has ever gone to bed hungry.

We plan to share some great new and old campfire recipes and will probably throw in a few for cooking on gas as unfortunately the English weather doesn’t  always allow for campfires and neither do too many campsites unfortunately.

Camping check list

Get your (poop) together

Camping doesn’t have to be a nightmare, you just need to get a bit organised.   If organisation’s not your style, then perhaps its right up the alley of someone in your family unit, preferably someone over the age of 6 or you’ll end up with a car full of teddies and sleeping under a duvet hung over two dining room chairs.

After years of just lobbing everything in the car and arriving somewhere to find we forgot the camp stove, sleeping mats, kids jumpers and our daughter’s favourite teddy we figured we should maybe  do a check list.

At this point I might offer you a kit list or check list in return for your email address. I’ll find somewhere else for that because while there are a great many lists available for free in exchange for your email address, I really think you’re better off being a bit of a geek for an hour or so and making your own list.   My list won’t be much use to you unless you really need my daughters Hello kitty blanket, or my son’s Dinosaur teddy.

Figure out what you need to get done like putting the tent up, cooking, sleeping, dressing, washing, playing etc. List everything you could possibly need under each heading so you can decide in the moment what stuff to take for any given trip. You may want to leave the rod behind if you’re desert camping, and not forget your pack-a-mac if you doing North Devon in August.

Once you’ve got your list, dig out that laminator you bought from Maplin years ago (it seemed like a good idea at the time), and laminate it, this way you can use a felt tip to tick stuff off as you load up, saving time and taking a bit of the stress of trying to remember everything. Better still, screw the laminator and do it on your ipad.

Now getting your gear together should be relatively painless, and you can stop your 3 year old painting the carpet without forgetting your pants and socks.


So out of sheer boredom and frustration with our 9 to 5’s, selling boring corporate stuff to boring corporate people my wife and I decided to start a website/blog/online magazine type thing about the thing we love doing more than anything else.

Camping is a marmite thing; you either love it or hate it.   Are we sane to love it?  We spend hours searching the net for a field with a toilet, so we can spend several hours banging our heads inside an under stair cupboard searching for small but expensive duplicates of stuff we’ve already got or to find the one thing we couldn’t possibly do without, that was last seen sometime before the millennium bug almost ended civilisation.

After  this we have to spend another hour or so wrestling all this gear into a car, possibly followed by a similar feat of spatial engineering with one or more children, all so we can enjoy listening to “ Are we there yet?”,   harmonised beautifully by our offspring.   I make that 10 hours exactly, and we’ve only just arrived at said field. Oh and just realised we’ve forgot that one thing we couldn’t do without.

Now we get to spend the next hour, or two (if we’re lucky), fighting with our nearest and dearest because all one of us wants to do is sit on the grass and have a beer in peace, and all the significant other wants to do is ‘nest’, and all our kids want to do is stop us doing either.

At some point, we’ll get to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors, in the dark and if life’s really carping on us, rain too.

The point is you gotta love it, or you wouldn’t do it.  Like most good things in life, there’s a level of sacrifice that you must endure, because it makes the good bits that much sweeter, and because you know it’s worth it.

If any of the above sounded familiar, read on…we hope to entertain you and share some cool/fun/interesting/etc stuff. We’ll let you know when we’ve figured out the etc.