I received a copy of The Sunday Times Travel Section from early July, which a mate had sent me as it had a top 20 small campsite list. This look liked it had been lifted from Tiny Campsite guide, and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I saw their Camping Manifesto: it just looked like they were trying too hard to adopt an attitude that’s not likely to be shared by their readers, or by the journalist, and seemed a little disingenuous given they’re part of Murdoch‘s empire. It’s hard to see why you’d pay for this content online as you can check out the Guardian Camping Guide for free and find a whole host of sites on the Cool Camping Directory. There’s also The Independent’s Top 50 Campsites from 2006 (1-25 and 26-50) with input from the likes of Cool Camping and Alan Rogers Guides, and a more recent one they put together last year here. Then there’s Mumsnet Camping Reviews, UK Campsite Directory and the list that Cath and Math have put together here.
Less than 24 hours to go before I head off as the advance party on our two night trip to Stubcroft Farm in East Wittering, and I’m glad we upgraded our Renault Clio to a Grand Scenic as we are a very long way from Matthew De Abaitua’s more utilitarian, perhaps even mystical, philosophy about essential camping kit. I’m beginning to wonder whether we have chosen the right site, because I’ve met another two other people who’ve been to the Scotts Farm site in West Wittering, and although they admit that the site is a bit soulless they say it’s got great facilities and it’s very close to the beach. At the same time, you can pitch you tent away from any larger groups in the field they have at the back and you are pretty much guaranteed to get a pitch any time other than busy bank holiday weekends. Stubcroft Farm is beginning to sound a little more formal with the pitches being numbered, so although the venue looks more charming it doesn’t seem as chilled as one of the new bread of ‘cooler‘ sites like Wowo, nor does it seem as relaxed about where you pitch your tent as one of the more commercial and formal sites like Stubcroft Farm. Anyway, I’ll have more feedback on Monday, and in the meantime I have a check list to finish and it seems to be getting longer and longer (I’ll be continuing to update this post with more stuff until I go, I’ll print off and take it with me for packing).
Nice thing about this blog is I’m finding out something new every day, which is great because as far as tents go my experience has been a bit limited. I can remember the Vango Force 10 we used on Duke Of Edinburgh Award type expeditions we used to get sent on in the Scottish Highlands in my early teens. Think we were probably using the Mk1 back then and they are now up to M5. Then there was the cheapest tent me and a mate could find for an InterRail trip in my late teens: we later found out that we had picked up a kids one by mistake and it had cowboys and indians painted on it, and to add insult to injury it was too short so our feet were stuck out when we slept. Even we thought this was funny until it rained. More recently we borrowed one of the earlier 4 pole versions of the Halfords Family 4 Man Tent Pack. It was when one of the couplings snapped on the thinner poles during heavy rain that we realised that price might not be everything and we might need something a little more substantial next time, and that’s when we opted for the Bell Tent.
Follow-on from an earlier post where I attempted to kick-off a new Pop-up camping movement after one of Ivan and my planning sessions at the Five Ways Deli (where we spookily we keep turning up with similar t-shirts), I thought I’d better look into some of the issues. So I had a long chat with Paul Ackers at Natural England, the government’s advisors on the natural environment. I have to say that my head is spinning because setting up campsites, temporary or otherwise, is by no means uncomplicated.