Wednesday, May 23

I Like Camping

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FIRST STEPS

So your thinking of trying out camping, yes you could head off into the
great unknown, but without a few basic trial camping trips that would
be utter madness and dangerous.
Where ever you are in the world, chances are there will be camping sites
somewhere near you, excluding the obvious   of   course.   There   are   many
camping sites advertised on the Internet and in local directories.
 The traditional format after choosing where to go, is to pull up – pay a
fee and you are allocated a camping area. Just a note, if they are very
busy you may not have too much choice in where you are allocated.
It is always wise to check the site’s availability well in advance in case
you are required to pre book, especially in the peak holiday season.
The basic necessities such as toilet, shower, fresh water will usually be
nearby.    More    often  than   not   there   will  be  heaps   of  other  facilities
available, but this will vary greatly. I’ve even heard of a site that has it’s
own    cinema!     What    facilities  they   have   is   particularly  important   for
example, if you don’t intend to do a lot of cooking, you’ll need to know if
there are cafes or restaurants on site or close by.
Should      you   be  thinking    of   camping    within   a   reasonable   distance     to
home, it’s a good idea to drive out and check over the site that way you’ll
avoid any nasty surprises.
Different   sites have different rules especially regarding open fires, pets,
children and noise levels, again you will need to check prior the leaving
home.

EQUIPMENT

This is really most important it can make or ruin a holiday if not correct,
so well worth getting organised and double check everything. It’s quite a
good idea if possible to allocate different tasks to family members.
With   some   equipment   there   are   three   options,   buy,   rent   or   borrow,   to
keep the costs down, it really depends on your budget and whether                      or
not it’s just a one off trip.

TENT

Tents are often available to hire locally or on site, but perhaps you could
borrow from a friend. The main factor whether you borrow, hire or buy is
to keep in mind the size. Is it totally waterproof with adequate ventilation
for the number of occupants?
Always     try   to  allow   enough     room    for  each    person    and   their   gear.
Ventilation   is   essential   unless   you   want   to   wake   up   in   the   morning
surrounded       by   serious    dampness,      so  the   tent  will  need    to  have    a
waterproof outer layer with an inner liner, together with a ground sheet.
Believe   it   or   not   modern   tents   today   are   so   simple   to   erect,   it’s   even
possible for one person to manage this. I do however highly recommend a
trial   run   in   your   back   garden,   especially   if   you   borrow   or   buy   a   tent.
There’s     no  guarantees      when    you    arrive   on  site   as  to  the   weather
conditions, wind and rain can play havoc to an experienced camper let
alone a novice, so do try to practice putting the tent up.

SLEEPING BAG

This unless you already have will be on the ‘to buy’ list. Not available to
hire and personally most people wouldn’t lend such an item. These days
sleeping bags are not expensive, that is unless you are planning to take
your   trip   in   the   middle   of   winter   when   a   more   substantial   bag   will   be
needed.Unless     you   are   extremely     hardy   an   inflatable   base    mattress    will  be
required,   kids   are   normally   quite   happy   without   or   just   with   a   rollup
rubber mat, but us older beings do benefit from a thicker mattress.
Pillows   are OK, but a little bulky to pack try just taking a pillow case,
this   can   be   used   to   store   extra   clothing   and   be   utilised   as   a   pillow   at
night.

LIGHTING
If your a good sleeper and comfortable moving around in the dark then
over night lighting is not important. For most especially young children
(in a strange environment), some form of lighting will be essential.
When I started camping my children were aged over 10 years and I found
the   simplest   and   economical   form   of   lighting   were   T  lights   (they   burn
approx.   6hrs.).   These   MUST   how   ever   be   placed   in   a   VERY   SECURE
container. Two of these gave enough light to enable someone to get up
safely    and   find   the  torch   by   the   tents  entrance     should    nature    call.
However   if   there   are   younger   or   lots   of   children   then   a   manufactured
battery   overhead   light   will   be   required.   On   the   point   of   safety   I   would
NEVER use an oil or paraffin burner light.

COOKING

To me camping isn’t camping unless you can light a camp fire (sorry to
say not all camping sites allow this always check1st.) The next best thing
is a BBQ, but saying this, it is a holiday and you might want to escape
the   cooking   and   washing   up,   in   which   case   check   if   there’s   a   cafe   or
restaurant near by.

CAMPFIRE

If you intend to light a camp fire you will have to pack firelighters and
possibly some charcoal. You can send out volunteers to collect wood and
kindling – lots of it, especially if the weather has been very dry.
Before building your fire do remember to check wind direction, the last
thing   you   want   is   sparks   or   smoke   blowing   into   your   tent,   or   anyone
else’s.To be honest there are several ways to build a fire, but safety must come
first. Always start off with a small fire and build up as needed. I like to
use   bricks     or  stones   laid   out   in   a   circle,   this   contains   the   fire   and
enables you to place a metal mesh over the top once the flames have died
down, to cook on. A very useful gadget is the two handled mesh clamp.
Simply      place   your   food   between     the   mesh,    close   and    away    you   go.
Potatoes   are   great,   but   the   foil   is best 3 or   4   layers   thick   because   the
heat can even through foil burn your spuds.

Avoid   cooking   large   pieces   of   meat   i.e.   chicken   quarters   to   avoid   raw
meat   inside   and   burnt   on   the   outside.   Burgers,   sausages,   bacon,   fish,
steaks,   chops,   kebabs   are   perfect   for   cooking   on   an   open   fire   or   BQ
served up with a fresh salad and heated bread (wrap in foil & heat for 5
mins.) Wonderful.
When you have finished cooking, you can kick away the stones and enjoy
a tranquil evening around the fire – we never did sing camp fire songs, so
I apologise there are none included here *s*.
If   leaving   your   fire   early   always   remember   to   put   some   earth   over   to
extinguish, NEVER use water.

GAS BARBEQUE

Instant, easy and great flavour. OK not quite back to nature, but almost.
I do suggest you pack a small portable gas BBQ. They are not expensive
to buy, or maybe you could borrow one, but ideal and perfect for cooking
breakfast   and   boiling   the   kettle   on.   Cooking   methods   are   basically   the
same as for an open fire.

COOKING & EATING UTENSILS

BBQ forks skewers etc.
2 Handled cooking mesh
Kettle Frying Pan
Plastic cups & plates
Cutlery etc.
Bowl
Can Opener
Scissors Sharp Knife
Chopping Board

KEEPING FOOD FRESH

The simplest solution is to use a mobile fridge, which can plug into the
car. However these can be expensive, unless borrowing. I usually take a
couple of cooler boxes and each morning when I make a trip to the local
shop I pick up a bag of ice, this divided between a couple of boxes will
keep   all   your   food   fresh   for   24hrs.   It   is   important   with   fresh   produce
such as meat, milk etc. to keep them well chilled. Sorry Guy’s you’ll need
to bring your own cooler for the Beers *s*.

TENT LIVING AREA

If you are going to use a family tent, there should be a reasonable area
just inside the entrance to both store outdoor gear such as boots, coats,
rucksacks etc, with enough area should the weather turn bad to all eat &
relax in. It’s doubtful you would be able to set up a dining table for six,
but hey, this is camping. If tent bound, grab your sleeping bag roll it up
into a make shift seat.

Two areas you must allocate.

1. TORCH, be very strict about where the torch lives, make sure it is near
the   entrance   and   everyone   knows   it’s   whereabouts,   should   the   call   of
nature come in the night, or there is an emergency.

2. Designate an area for wet or muddy boots & coats. It’s a good idea to
always take shoes off when you enter the tent, this does avoid dirt being
carried around the tent.

BAD WEATHER

Don’t    get   caught    out  with   bad   weather     –   it’s   usually   forecasted.   Be
prepared, pre cook earlier to eat later in the tent, or else if you have an
overhead canopy outside you can place the BBQ just under at maximum
distance   from   the   main   tent.   Choose   food   that   will   cook   quickly,   i.e.
burgers,   this   will   limit   the   time   the   BBQ   is   lit   and   avoid   unnecessary
smells & smoke entering the tent.
Don’t look on the downside when you get a touch of bad weather, there’s
something quite cosy about being snuggled up when the heavens open
outside.

FIRST AID & SAFETY

No one wants to think there will be any mishaps, but unfortunately they
can occur. the saying comes to mind ‘Be Prepared’. It can save a lot of
grief, pain and misery.

Essentials, which can all be easily placed in a plastic container:-

Small general First Aid Kit, to include plaster, bandage, antiseptic etc.
Large crepe bandage, for any sprain or joint dislocation.
Pain killers
Antihistamine for bites or allergies
Insect repellent
Burn cream
Diarrhoea medication

Mobile cell phones are great & I’m sure most people will take one, but I’d
recommend   that   you   do   not   leave   the   phone   switched   on   permanently
this will preserve battery life should you do need to make an emergency
call.

That’s it folks, so go on, get out there, it’s truly a wonderful experience.
Escape   from the pressures of life.   I guarantee   you will remember it for
many years to come. *s*.

Why not check out my web site for more ‘How To’s’

 bye bye ^_^

 

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About Author

Thomas Neal was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He was a bookseller before shifting to publishing where he worked at a literary development company, a creative writing website for millennials, and as a book reviewer of adult and young adult novels. He lives in New York City and is obviously a voracious reader. He has just released his debut novel and working on his second already!

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