My camping essentials!

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As the weather is warming up (well okay, it’s at least sunny today which is a vast improvement) I’m starting to get excited as camping season once again approaches. We’ve got our first trip booked for three weeks time which means that the checklists are getting printed off and all the gear will be getting dusted down next weekend.

I love camping but I have to say, I’m not really a back-to-basics kind of girl. I’m not saying that means I am too high maintenance – I mean I do prefer to have electric hook-up but it’s more to charge my mobile phone or boil a kettle rather than plug my hair straighteners in – but I do like to have a few ‘luxuries’ with me and I am a serious over-packer (aren’t we all?).

So aside from taking everything – including a camping kitchen sink – there are a few things that get packed which I consider absolute essentials.  Of course, I am not going to include things like snuggly warm sleeping backs and comfy chairs, those go without saying, this is just about the little extras that make my life a little more pleasant when braving the great outdoors during the glorious British summertime.

Hair ties

I have them in every bag and every pocket. For some reason when camping hair in my face just gets really annoying, especially when you’re all hot and flustered and having a row with your husband about pitching the tent. Also, camping hair does tend to take on a life of it’s own.

Cleansing facial wipes

I avoid taking a myriad of potions and lotions – some cleansing facial wipes are perfect for a quick freshen up.

Extra blankets

I hate to be cold, have I ever mentioned that? I’m sure I have. I fear the cold. That is the reason I make sure we all have a woolly blanket each plus some to spare.

Ear plugs

The other thing I hate is other people’s noise and it’s never more magnified than when you are on a campsite in school holidays. Ear plugs are a necessity – don’t get those foam ones though, they’re rubbish. You need those clear moldable ones. I’m sure they have a fancy name.

Top Trumps

Never underestimate the power of a Top Trump when it’s raining outside and you’re stuck in your tent – especially without the luxury of EHU.

Dry shampoo

Showers are campsites aren’t often all that.  Dry shampoo is a must.

Torches – plenty of them!

I know taking a torch camping is common sense and probably doesn’t need to be listed here but believe me when I say you can never have too many. Ever. Because guaranteed when you get there one won’t work, the other will have flat batteries and they’ll no doubt be some ultra-rare type.  When it’s dark, you’ll thank me that you have a torch within at all times. A head torch is a great investment.

Warm socks

This harks back to not liking the cold. Especially essential if you’re a nighttime pee-er.

Glowsticks

Not only useful for settling my nervy children in the dark sleeping compartment of our Vango but also useful for attaching to your guy ropes so you don’t trip over when going for your nighttime pee.

Wine

Duh.

That’s my brief list of essentials – what do you consider your camping must-haves?

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Meal Planning Monday (18th April 2016)

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Good morning!

Well the results are in and I have managed to lose another 2lbs this week, which is good news especially as I had a few treats this weekend! Total loss of 8lbs in two weeks – 20 more to go! Yikes.

So this week for me there is no meal plan – I am going away, kids have playdates, everything is up in the air and I’ll mainly be eating lettuce anyhow but don’t let that stop you writing your meal plans and linking them up – everything you need is below!

What is on your meal plan this week?

If you’re new… If you’re here because you’ve just stumbled across my blog today on Facebook or Twitter and you want to join in with Meal Planning Monday then jump right in – the more the merrier! The idea is simple – just write a blog post about your meal plans for the week and share by adding it to the Linky Tool widget below my signature. If you don’t have a blog it’s not a problem, just leave a comment telling us what you are eating.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #mealplanningmonday on Twitter and I’ll Retweet as many as I can!

I’ll not be around next week but I’ll schedule the post so you can get linking!

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Holiday Moan 2016

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Firstly before I start with the whinging – just where on earth did TV holiday programmes disappear to?

As a child, we never travelled abroad so the closest thing I got to it was watching Holiday and Wish You Were Here sat in front of the TV in our brown lounge.   Somehow, it feels like people travel now more than they ever did so I find it really quite odd that there is seemingly no place for these shows in our modern TV schedules. I really do miss them! So much I feel like starting a campaign to bring them back…

I did hear a rumour last year that one of them was being revived, not sure if that is true or not but no doubt if it does make it back onto our screens it will be a complete Z-list celebfest or have some super tacky reality angle that will make me want to throw the remote at the screen.

Sure there are programmes on the telly about travel to far flung destinations but I really don’t want to see a documentary about trekking in Peru or gorilla watching in Borneo. I want to see the best of closer-to-home destinations that are achievable for the majority. Like the Balearics that have a lot to offer, or programmes that show there’s more to Spain than the Costa Del Sol and that perhaps feature hotels that, with a little saving, we could all afford to stay at. That’s what those programmes were about.

Rant over.

Really I started this post to rant about the cost of holidays once again. I did it last year and I am doing it again, so humour me.

Booking a holiday must be one of the largest amounts of money that anybody spends out of their annual family budget but the prices have just gone crazy – I mean, I spend more time pondering over holiday choices and trying to justify costs than I would ever do about a car that I would use every day!

We initially decided not to have a holiday abroad this year – for numerous reasons – we’ve done quite ‘busy’ holidays the past few years, the rising costs, the uncertainty in the world at the moment and so on but now I am madly craving a week in the sun, with a pool and my Kindle and the children haven’t had a week in the sun doing nothing for years. The problem is, I don’t want to pay £4k for the privilege – am I out of touch or is that extortionate in comparison to living costs and wages – and that’s me being mighty conservative.

Okay, so to be honest, I am not looking at the bottom-end of the market but I am not looking at uber luxury either. I’ve stayed bottom-end in Tenerife before and believe me, it’s no picnic, so 4* is the lowest I am willing to go. It’s not even that I am finding that the accommodation is that badly priced. I can find some decent holidays, half-board or all-inclusive for under £2k but when you add in the cost of the flights, and then the luggage, oh and the seat reservations…well the flights for two adults and two children to practically anywhere in Europe in August were coming back at £1,500. That feels ridiculous to me? Two years ago, I got flights for all four of us for £600 to Italy. All the add-on costs that used to be included in your fare really make the bill mount up.

Some of the hotels were coming back at an eye-watering £6k (without flights) bed and breakfast. Who pays that?! Clearly someone does but it’s not me! My husband and I both have good jobs and yes, we could probably afford it and I know this is a First World Problem, but for me my grievance it’s not so much about the cost but the value. Where is the VALUE in these holidays?

So, here I am, back full circle getting the hump with the holiday industry, the airlines and not booking anywhere. I really wish I didn’t even look to start with because all that happens is  I end up feeling frustrated and grumpy!

Would love to hear your thoughts – what are your plans this year? Do you think that prices have gone astronomical? Am I being unreasonably tetchy about this?

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On top of the world and totally off-grid!

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Over Easter we decided to give ourselves a much-deserved week off with the children. We’ve never been away at that time of the year before but we thought we’d take advantage of the Bank Holidays. The trouble is with Easter is it flipping cold, it’s normally very wet and that obviously limits your choices somewhat. We knew we didn’t want to go abroad so we plumped for somewhere that we would never ever go camping – Wales.

When I was a young child we used to go camping in Wales a lot, normally to Barmouth. It pretty much always rained, that is my everlasting memory. As a teenager I went camping in Aberystwyth with my youth club. It was April – I barely felt my legs for the entire time we were there. So yes, Wales, not really that high on my list of camping destinations.

With this in mind I long ago decided that Wales should be done by staying in a hotel or cottage, and I recently discovered a company called Sugar and Loaf whose properties looked rather lush so I snapped one up in the back of beyond. I won’t lie, I was totally won over by the hot tub – I am that fickle.  Now, when we originally booked this cottage back in August 2015, we did so under the belief that wi-fi would be installed. A couple of weeks out from Easter and we were contacted to be informed that this was not the case. What did I do?

Panic of course.

Our whole lives run online and we already knew there was no mobile signal to speak of in the area. The kids reaction was different “You’ll have to pay more attention to us then”. That’s sad isn’t it?

After my initial fear about being totally offline and the general annoyance at being let down subsided, I did actually start to warm to the idea. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad? I got myself organised, made sure I had maps, knew all the details of the things we wanted to do and places to go as Google would no longer be my friend and off we went.

How was it?

Bloody marvellous.

It was SUCH a relaxing week. Yes, of course Wales didn’t disappoint and there was oodles of rain – including a very well-timed thunderstorm during a 5 mile hike through Waterfall Country but there were also plenty of sunny moments and we were even treated to a complete whiteout blizzard which the children loved, what with the mild winter we’ve had. We walked, soaked in the hot tub, talked, played games, read, watched TV in our downtime (me and my 10 year old got proper sucked into Come Dine With Me re-runs most days) and it was totally chilled. There was no getting het up about what anyone had said on Facebook or Twitter, no checking of emails, no work intruding on our personal time and no news! Seriously, we didn’t buy a newspaper or watch the news so we knew nothing of what was going on in the outside world. As the news has been pretty horrible recently, this was a blessed relief.

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Going off-grid really wasn’t as bad as I had imagined, it was quite a tonic. 

I don’t normally buy into the idea of a digital detox – I don’t think it’s necessary at all. Digital is so ingrained in our daily lives, it’s never going to go away, and I would never try and give it up when living my usual life but on holiday? I think I am a total convert!

I think my new theme for our camping holidays this year will be “OFFLINE”.

Have you ever been totally off-grid for a holiday? Leave me a comment below!

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Meal Planning Monday (11 April 2016)

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Howdy partners! (Sorry, I’ve been listening to too much Nashville music)

Hope you had a lovely weekend. Mine was pretty chilled ie we did diddley squat but it’s back to work today so my chill is quickly disappearing. Good news after my weight whinge last week – I got on the scales this morning and I am 6lb down. So pleased with that as my goal was 7lb by 22nd April so I am well in. Only 22lbs to go…  I didn’t have any wine, I totally cut out snacking between meals, cake and chocolate etc and I reduced amount of bread I ate but I ate completely normal meals at night which I find helps me SO much more. I find dieting really depressing so knowing that I have a lovely normal dinner waiting for me in the evening keeps me going.  Just need to find the willpower to carry on now.

So my meal plan this week looks like this (it involves a lot of salad – eating more green where I’d normally shove in more carbs)

Jacket potato with prawns and salad
Pizza with a fried egg and salad
Lamb balti and rice 
Fish’n’chips (homemade)
Tacos
Pulled pork

I need to find something to do with my pulled pork other than baps as I want less carbs. I’m sure Pinterest will throw something up!

What is on your meal plan this week?

If you’re new… If you’re here because you’ve just stumbled across my blog today on Facebook or Twitter and you want to join in with Meal Planning Monday then jump right in – the more the merrier! The idea is simple – just write a blog post about your meal plans for the week and share by adding it to the Linky Tool widget below my signature. If you don’t have a blog it’s not a problem, just leave a comment telling us what you are eating.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #mealplanningmonday on Twitter and I’ll Retweet as many as I can!

Look forward to catching up with you and your blogs this week!

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