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A weekend in North Devon

(2 Posts)
DontCallMeBaby Tue 16-Aug-11 10:54:54

Just because I feel like sharing ... and because so many recent camping purchase decisions have been assisted in some way by Mumsnet. wink

We got back yesterday from a longish weekend (Friday to Monday) at Cherry Tree Farm in Croyde.

The campsite ...

Was lovely. Our recent camping experiences have been on two big sites with lots of caravans, and most recently at Camp Bestival, so entirely different to both of those! I just felt it was a completely different vibe having only tents and campervans on site. There were two amenities blocks, one with loos, showers, wetsuit rinse and (open air) washing up, the other with loos and (covered) washing up. We were in the top family field, equidistant from both, which was really handy. Although this was the furthest point, pretty much, from the beach, it was still only a ten minute walk to get there - although further to get along the beach to the area flagged as safe for swimming and body boarding (which was also right by the Ben and Jerry's ice cream van, yum yum). Between the field nearest the road to the beach is an open field for playing - no playground or anything though.

With mostly tents on site I could let me new-found tent-geek come out and play, unlike on the very caravanny sites! The top family field ended up as Invasion of the Montana 6s by Sunday - ours plus three others. There were two 5m belltents, some frame tents, trailer tents, campervans including proper VW ones (one with flowers painted on the bumper), a variety of other Outwells, the Vango we'd considered ... I did enjoy my tent-spotting.

Our new gear ...

The tent. Montana 6 with no add-ons (the only one I saw that was unadorned by porch or awning). No problems putting it up, even though we were being closely observed by the only other Monty family in the field at the time, which was a bit embarrassing. It was our first proper pitch - we've had it up once before, but it was at our friends' house and he insisted on helping. I SO enjoyed staying in it. Our old tent has no living space, so being able to spend comfortable time indoors was brilliant. As the weather was unpredictable we had to leave it completely closed up when we went out on both days, which was okay on Saturday, but on Sunday it did get REALLY hot inside. Cooled down very quickly when we got back and opened up all three doors though. Also took it down without difficulty - knowing that it's a notoriously difficult tent to get back in the bag gives me a real sense of achievement when we manage it!

The coolbox. Coleman Xtreme 36. Did us proud - loaded it up with four normal icepacks, frozen Capri Suns and milk, and a bag of ice, and did nothing else to it all weekend. There was still a little ice left on Sunday night, and by Monday morning the water was ice-cold. We know now to get take spare ice packs if going for longer - we couldn't get ice, and didn't want to take the packs out to refreeze until they were totally defrosted and it was a bit too late. We started off with it full to bursting - three bottles of wine, four of cider, three Cokes, three Capri Suns, a chicken breast, two pints of milk, packet of ham, packet of bacon, some cheese, veg, a melon ... Worth noting it was in the tent when it got so hot that DD's and my vitamin tablets melted in my toilet bag, but still kept everything cold.

My SIM. Outwell Comfort 7.5cm. The valve on one of the airbeds bust at Camp Bestival (fixed with duct tape) so I had an excuse to buy a SIM. I seem to be super-cold at the moment, so it's MINE. I loved it. My hips really hurt on an airbed for some reason, and they didn't on this. Plus DD and DH's airbeds needed re-inflating after two nights, and the SIM of course needed no such thing. I still had to listen to the airbeds squeaking (and rustling, due to having foil-backed mats between bed and sheet) but at least I wasn't on one of them).

The lights. Vango 48 LED light, and 300 lumen lantern. The latter has been used before, and is ace. I can't remember the brand but there are several brands on Amazon, all the same thing, but different brands and different prices. It's great, but while I THINK you can hang it upside down and remove the top for a broader span of light I can't work out how to do it. The Vango light is terrible. Had all sorts of problems with it when we first got it - the packaging says 3 batteries, and it's 4, the light itself indicates you put the batteries in one way round, and it's the other, I had a replacement sent by the supplier because the hanging loop was broken, and the replacement light itself didn't work. In use, it WOULD actually be great, but the crappy quality that has dogged it even before first use means that the connections to about 18 of the LEDs are dodgy, and they go dim/off at intervals.

The field kitchen. Vango Como. Didn't go with us. Sob. DH moved it out of the way to get at a cupboard at home, then forgot where it was and didn't pack it - when we got home he said ' you can see how I missed it'. Well, yes, if I'd put it there, it would be understandable, but you put it there on the morning we packed the car ... oh well. Not actually sure how we will fit it into the car next time anyway.

The tablecloth. This is really important! I finally got some use out of my sewing machine, and hemmed off an offcut of stripey Cath Kidston fabric into a tablecloth. It made our blue plastic Tesco table-n-chair thing look SO much more civilised.

Highlight: Getting the Monty and up down with no arguments whatsoever (mind you, DH and I have never argued over flatpack furniture construction either, staying cool in the face of crap instructions is one of our strong points).

Lowlight: Discovering on intermittently rainy, overcast Saturday that Watermouth Castle doesn't open on Saturdays (WTF?!)

DontCallMeBaby Tue 16-Aug-11 10:58:30

PS a tip re the coolbox - don't forget to put the drainage bung in, otherwise you will wake up on your first morning to small rivulets of icey water running across your groundsheet, and a panicky conviction that your expensive new coolbox is leaking. blush

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