A few weeks back my boy asked me when we could go camping again. I, in typical parent fashion a fobbed him off with a “maybe in the summer” but then I got to thinking, why shouldn’t we go now? What was stopping us?
The plan was for it just to be a weekend away for me and the boy, but a couple of weeks before we were due to go a certain young madam started making noises that she would like to come to, in a moment of weakness, or possibly madness, I agreed.
So this Saturday at 8am, I, along with both my son and my daughter (6 & 3 respectively) got in the car, laden with a tent, sleeping bags and various camping gear to head to our campsite.
We didn’t have to travel far, this weekend we stayed at Church Farm in Ardley, you can find their website here . We’ve stayed at Church Farm before, and been on day trips and it never dissapoints.
Based on a working Farm Church Farm offers loads for kids, they have indoor and out door play areas, a farm you can walk around, camping in various fields, a farm shop, a butchers shop, cabins for those who don’t want to sleep in a tent, and most importantly, they allow open fires!
Now as my good lady for all her good points absoloutely does not camp, this weekend was just me and the kids. Whilst she had a nice relax at home (actually, she cleaned the house to within an inch of its life) we decided to pitch up in the woods and tramp through the mud to go and see the farm animals.
This was my daughters first time camping and I was slightly anxious to how it was going to go, it was march after all, and not the warmest time of year. I needn’t have worried, both kids loved it, from pitching the tent to playing on the hay bales, exploring the woods and seeing the animals, she loved every minute of it.
As a kid a lot of my holidays were camping, I have amazing memories of holidays under canvas, and I think it’s important that the kids do it. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy foreign holidays, all inclusive hotels with a warm swimming pool, a sea view and an endless supply of free beer certainly have their place and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them, as has my wife, as have my children.
But to me there’s something magical about camping. About sitting round your campfire, about sleeping under canvas (or nylon as it is now), about cooking porridge and bacon rolls on a single gas burner on a freezing march morning. It sounds mad, but I love it, and much to my delight, so do my kids!
The facilities as far as camping goes at Church Farm are pretty baisic. As I said you’re allowed an open fire, but as the wood is a nature reserve they do ask that you either bring wood with you or buy it from the farm shop, if you book a campfire package, a bag of wood and matches are included in the price. The reason for this is not wanting to disturb the bugs and beetles, many of which live in the dead wood.
There’s a tap, and a composting toilet, essentially a hole over a pit where you do your business and throw a handful of sawdust down afterwards. It’s not pleasnant, but it does the job, and doesn’t smell as bad as you’d expect, in march anyway, I imagine in the height of summer it may be a bit nasty.
There was a sodden building labelled “camp showers” but as we were only there 24 hours, and after the toilet experience I decided not to check them out!
The staff at Church Farm couldn’t be more helpful and the Farm shop is stocked with lovely, if slightly expensive treats, local produce and craft beers. I sampled one, for research purposes obviously, and it was delicious.
The Farm itself is lovely and spread out over quite a distance so it’s a good walk with the kids to tire them out with plenty of animals to see. My youngest has a bit of a thing for pigs so she was pleased to see a couple of pig families!
All in all considering it was the first weekend of march and pretty cold we had an amazing time. The kids behaved brilliantly and loved every minute of it, by the time we climbed into our sleeping bags at the end of the day the eyes were all pretty heavy!
Weekends like this really remind me how good my kids are together, don’t get me wrong they can both be a pain in the arse, and sometimes they fight. But generally they’re thick as theives.
With the forecast looking a bit crap for Sunday we had breakfast early and came home to see mummy and chill out at home. Back to the gym tomorrow to get back on the training and back to London at work proper on Tuesday.