So a few weeks ago we bought a smaller pop up tent and second airbed, loaded up the car, and headed off to Ashurst in the New Forest for a night's camping. It's where we stayed before, one of the closest campsites to us and has good facilities. When we arrived we drove around the site a couple of times looking for the perfect spot, finding a great space at the far edge of the campsite with a view out across the open land behind us and forest in the background.
We split up with an adult and a child in each tent. The children loved setting their beds up with their pillows and sleeping bags, and getting all their teddies ready. We let them go running off by themselves across the field, and they absolutely loved the freedom.
There is a footpath that leads from the campsite, and a short distance away there are fallen trees to play on and walk across. We spent ages here, and also found a geocache.
For dinner we headed to La Pergola in Lyndhurst just down the road. It was perfect for us, pizza to eat and a playground to keep the children entertained. It's very popular though, we arrived soon after six and the only seats were outside, but I can see why, the food was delicious. Then we had a quick drink at the pub next to the campsite while the children played in the playground there, before heading back to our tent.
We got the children ready for bed and then headed out for a pyjama walk with our torches. In retrospect it wasn't the best idea as Harry managed to step into a puddle and soak the bottom of his onesie, meaning that he had to sleep in his clothes as I'd only brought one set! They really loved the experience though. Then we finished the evening playing football in the open area behind the tents while the sun set, it really was quite idyllic!
The next few weeks we couldn't stop thinking about how much fun we'd had, but we knew that our tent set up wasn't really practical. The airbed didn't really fit into the smaller tent, and it has no inner lining meaning that everything was wet in the morning. Ram is always keeping his eyes open for a bargain, and was delighted to find a family tent at a reasonable price - we snapped it up, and found ourselves the new owners of an Urban Escape Atago 5 man tent. We were a little daunted by its size at first, but we practised putting it up and then chose another weekend when the weather was looking good (I'm afraid that we are fair weather campers!) and headed back to Ashurst.
Our new tent is fantastic! It was so nice to be able to stand up inside and there was loads of room for all our things. The tent has two bedrooms inside, and even the smaller one easily fitted the double airbed. Our camping experience was definitely improved!
We had another pleasant evening watching the children run about, this time very much enhanced by our fold up chairs and some Pimms from the Co-op down the road. It's such a nice time of year with the long summer evenings, camping is a great way to make the most of them.
We'll definitely be back, and we already have a few more possible weekends pencilled down in the calendar. Perhaps next time we might even manage to stay for two nights!