We’ve been camping. Three times this year. Twice on our own and once on a scout camp. Each time has been good ending with plans for the next trip away. Not going far. Twice in Kent and once in Essex.
The first week away was in Easter when there’s always the possibility of the weather being miserable. We were lucky enough for our week at Tanner Farm near Goudhurst to have been the start of 5-6 weeks of dry and sunny weather. The site was very well kept. Its a caravan club site. The pitches were a good size. Most people were staying in caravans when we were there. The grass we camped on was as well tended as a lawn. The toilet / shower / wash up blocks (there are two of them) were clean with plenty of hot water. There was a shop for bread, milk and other essentials. We spent some days just knocking about on site and a couple of days visiting near by spots like Bewl Water and Bedgebury Pineteum.
Both places have changed a lot since we last visited a few years ago. Bewl Water is now privately owned and set up for outdoor activities. Costs a fortune for a family of six just to park. Not good starting with the feeling of having been fleeced before setting foot out the car park. There’s a decent play park for the kids with a very long slide, great walks but other than that you’re going to be digging deep in your pockets to pay for the other activities and buying anything in the cafe. Bedgebury was a better destination. £8.00 to park there. The walks have been made accessible for all which is of course a good thing but it’s lost a bit of the overgrown appeal it once had.
The boys loved being able to spend all day messing about on site, playing football, exploring, climbing trees and building dens. The farm is surrounded by arable fields with the River Teise running along one boundary. There was a few lambs, pigs, goats and horses the boys enjoyed looking at. The lambs were only a week or so old. Middle sons had a go at feeding them milk from a bottle. Night time was a bit cold. No camp fires are allowed. After wrapping the kids up in several layers of clothes and blankets there was little to do other than keep warm till we went to bed to.
The second trip away was with the 13th Medway Scouts, Cubs and Beavers group. We went off to Belchamps in Essex for the 50th Anniversary Camp. Went up on Friday afternoon, stayed overnight and returned home late Saturday evening. I was travelling to Scotland on the Sunday so we needed to be back. Two of the boys stayed in tents shared with other cubs. Elijah stayed with me in our teepee style tent. We were lucky with the weather again in that the clear skies and sunshine that started with our time on Tanner Farm continued. Saturday was activity filled and included things like shooting, archery, rock climbing, abseiling as well as all the usual inflatable climb on’s and side show attractions. The boys loved it.
Finally on Monday just gone we arrived back from a 4 night stay down on Kingsdown International Camp. The ground is located at the far end of the White Cliffs between Dover and Deal. This place was great. A big site, pitch where you like, camp fires allowed so long as they’re off the ground and you’re free to collect and burn as much wood as you like. The views here over the English Channel were great. The weather was lovely for the first 3 days. Once again the boys had a lot of fun running around exploring the place, climbing trees and playing in the woods. The toilet / shower / wash up block was basic but adequate for our needs. It was kept cleanish. It was a bit of a shame that not everyone felt the need to clean up after themselves. Only takes a few lazy, selfish ones…
Whilst we were down that part of Kent we took the opportunity to go and visit the Bonehouse of St Leonard’s Church in Hythe. Perhaps not an obvious place to visit with a young family! The boys to their credit showed a suitable degree of reverence on sacred ground and were not in the least bit phased by the thousands of skulls and bones on display.