Over the last three years, the family holidays have been spent in french campsites. These are pretty excellent in many ways, particularly for the children who love the swimming pools and water slides. The adults enjoy the wonders of french food and I for one just love searching out the best boulangerie’s. What we didn’t do was bring our own tent as (a rather posh) one was already set up and ready for us. It even has a fridge!
All things being equal, we may have carried on going to France for years to come. That is until our eldest child started school and we were confronted by the doubling of the cost in July and August. What to do?
We wanted to keep all the things we liked about camping in France but do it a bit cheaper. This meant two things – buying our own tent and holidaying in the UK.
I’ve owned and been interested in small, lightweight tents for many years and it has been particularly hard to change my priorities round from the needs of mountain camping to family camping. My thinking on tents has traditionally been, how light, compact and windproof a tent is rather than how much space, headroom and number of bedrooms there is. Every part of me railed against the weight and size that family tents just come in. Luckily Deborah, my wife, was there to overrule me when it mattered.
We were in the shop and there were two tents on special offer. I was all ready to go for the snug, though (to me) still roomy Outwell Nevada when ‘the authorities’ (Deborah) stepped in and made us get the much bigger Outwell Cleveland. I was very skeptical about it at the time, but the value of a big space has been proven to us now. Go big, but beware that the packed tent bag more or less fills the boot of our smallish car and weighs almost 30kg!
After trawling the Cool Camping website extensively we settled on a campsite in Dorset (near Weymouth) that seemed to fit the bill. Eweleaze farm is only open for one month a year but they really aim to make the most of it.
It is situated right on the coast (with beach access) and is spread over several fields. They have a variety of farm animals wandering around and best of all an on-site bakery, patisserie and cafe. I can’t say that the coffee was anything special but the croissants and fresh bread were top-drawer and a definite bonus!
There were a million kids, with an informal congregation point of ‘the hay bales’ in each field. There is no playground but this doesn’t seem to matter that much and most children just made their own fun. The only slight downpoint to the place is the precarious, steep single track that you have to drive down to get to the campsite. If you have a sports car, this is not the campsite for you.
We had one day of rain but were otherwise fairly lucky with the weather which is obviously quite crucial when camping. I’d also say that there is lots of things to do in the area. Weymouth is lovely if you want a proper town and a sandy beach. There are a number of forts and castles around if that is your thing plus boat trips and walking.
Contrary to our worst fears we thoroughly enjoyed our week of family camping in the UK. The kids had a wonderful time and still talk about it months afterwards and though not totally relaxing the grown ups had a good time too.
See all the photos from the trip on flickr.