It’s all booked and the countdown begins for that holiday you’ve all been waiting for the whole winter long. Then you look at the weather report for that Bank Holiday weekend and slowly the excitement starts to deflate!
No longer are you anticipating sitting around a glowing camp fire sipping on some wine and tucking into some char grilled food, instead you envisage being soaked from head to toe and sleeping in a damp sleeping bag, in damp clothes and being kept awake all night from the wind and rain on the canvas roof above your head. Not really the ideal relaxing getaway you had planned!
On the Wet Side
The U.K is famous worldwide for its rubbish unpredictable weather! So why is it that about 1.2 million of us in the U.K venture outdoors on regular camping trips each year?
Even if you have planned a camping break in the summer months in the U. K you will still need to make sure you have packed your wellies and waterproofs! We turned up at a campsite in the middle of August ready for our holiday one year and found ourselves pitching our tent in what can only be described as a bog – don’t worry we thought, ever the optimist “were on holiday its sure to brighten up tomorrow!” 2 nights later whilst the tent finally gave up its protective shield our holiday was well and truly over as we decided enough was enough and to head home early.
I’m sure if most people were asked “what puts you off most about camping?” the answer would be the unpredictability of the weather?
On the Bright Side
Although the stigma attached to camping might sometimes be negative, once you have purchased your tent and camping stove and head out to the campsite you will no doubt feel totally liberated at the prospect of your freedom. I believe that no matter how bad some camping trips may be with regards to the weather; if you just experience one glorious sunny day you will want to pack up and pitch your tent every bank holiday to come! There is nothing more humble than waking up and unzipping your tent to a glorious fresh dewy morning, sipping a hot cup of tea and just taking in the peaceful silence that envelopes you.
Scouts Moto: Always Be Prepared
If you find yourself with a camping trip booked and a pretty dull weather forecast on the horizon planning is a necessity. Making provisions for the weather is a must and can really make a difference if the raindrops start falling!
Here are some tips that might make it all a little easier.
Bin Bags/Carrier Bags:- These can be used to put wet clothes in or footwear, they can also be used to keep kindling dry and even used stretched over your head to run to the shower block and back!
Waterproofs:- We take a large golfing umbrella when we go away that we leave stood in the ground at the entrance of the tent for emergencies. Be careful if you are at a coastal site with high winds though as you might find yourself whizzing through the air like Mary Poppins. Wellies are great and a definite must when camping – to avoid mud and water getting into the tent we have a pair of flip flops inside the door and leave the wellies outside with a bin bag over. A simple waterproof jacket can be a lifesaver if you’re caught in a storm, once used try and hang to dry off ; if this isn’t possible place in a bin bag but folded so the inside stays dry.
Dry Time:- If you’re lucky enough to have a window of sunshine unzip the tent fully and get some ventilation whipping round. Peg out your damp sleeping bags and blankets using a washing line. Some campsites have dry rooms or tumble dryers which are great if you don’t have a break from grey skies. There is nothing worse than crawling into a damp sleeping bag!
Sensible Pitching:- choosing a pitch on a site that is on higher ground will mean you are less likely to wake up to a small pond in the middle of your tent. We found that packing an extra groundsheet and placing this first before pitching the tent can hold off the wet ground from seeping through the seams. Another tip is to pitch nearer the toilet block – those regular dashes to and fro can be a nightmare if you have a long way to go. If you find yourself having to pitch in a slope or at the bottom of a hill, try and face the door towards lower ground so your tent doesn’t fill with water.
Protection:- Using your car as a dry place is great, get the hot air blowers on and warm those cold toes! Keep your clothes in the car to stop them from getting damp. If you have a collapsible gazebo (and your campsite allows) use it for cooking outside. They can be a great asset and are popping up on most pitches these days as more and more campsites are allowing them – do be careful of high winds though as they can take off pretty swiftly!
Entertainment: – Personally I love laying on an airbed all snug and cozy reading my book while the rain patters on the canvas roof above. Try and pack things like a portable DVD player or Laptop that you can charge in your car or at the campsite and then snuggle down to watch hours of films – eat chocolate and drink tea! You could always venture to the nearest pub and sit by the open fire with some brandy if it all gets a little too much!
The Golden Rule! DON’T TOUCH THE INSIDE WALLS!! Most people know this but try and make sure that you don’t touch the inside canvas and that you also don’t have any equipment pushed up against the walls i.e. airbed and pillows (found this little lesson out the hard way!)
At the end of the day just remember YOU ARE ON HOLIDAY – when you book a camping trip try not to have any pre-conceived ideas that it’s all going to be sun tans and BBQs and pack for rain or shine therefore you won’t be disappointed if mother nature decides to have a shower!