I have a lovely neighbour…….well she is now a friend but she lives 3 doors down from me and is one of the truly loveliest people you could wish to meet. For the sake of her anonymity I’m going to call her …….Bob! (for anyone not aware this is an alias). This year, she absolutely made our holiday. You see I have been mulling the idea of camping for sometime with the Gluten Free brood but when you are already paying extortionate amounts on GF bread and almond milk, buying a tent seems a little extravagant. Bob lent us her amazing 9-man tent to use as we wished through the summer. Thank you Bob!
We had originally planned to stay in a glamping pod, basically a wooden shed with a couple of folding beds, but never one to look a gift horse in the mouth we decided to take Bob up on her offer and camp properly for 2 nights to start off our camping adventures.
We had wanted to spend time at West Wittering Beach so after a quick google search we found Nunnington Farm Campsite. Now the first thing that freaks me out with camping is the fact you cant book for a couple of nights, it’s just a kind of pot luck on arrival – I’m a control freak so don’t find this a particularly relaxing start but I tried to push aside the ‘Monica’ in me and embrace my inner free spirit (I’m sure I have one somewhere).
We arrived just after the stated time of 10am to find there were only 3 pitches left and none with electrical hook up – this was fine for us, quite frankly I wasn’t sure if we could erect the tent let alone power it! Within ten minutes of us arriving at our pitch the other two spaces had gone so it’s a good job anal mummy didn’t let everyone stop for that wee en-route!
Somehow the day of practicing beforehand paid off and we actually put up the tent in the impressive time of 45 minutes! Go us. As a 9-berth it was incredibly spacious inside, though it should be stated that Bob has ruined our chances of getting anything smaller (aka cheaper) because we all loved the space so much. We also lucked in with our pitch as we looked out directly over the kids play area so Boo and Hiccup could have a modicum of freedom from us yet we could make sure they stayed safe.
For me the absolute best bit of this campsite was that it was a 15minute walk from the beach (20 minutes the day Hiccup decided his legs didn’t work!!). For anyone that doesn’t know West Wittering beach, I think it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Sussex/Hampshire area. Long stretches of golden sands, gorgeous beach huts and parking right along the beachfront.
We spent our first day down on the beach, it wasn’t very warm but that never matters to us with the kids, we are more a knuckle down and build some sandcastles kind of family. It was nice to be able to pitch up our tent and then be able to walk to the beach, of course the ulterior motivator here was to tire the kids out so Boo’s anxieties wouldn’t overwhelm the experience. For anyone reading this for the first time, despite being gluten free and a lot of issues clearing up with the diet, Boo still suffers from very high anxiety levels and is currently going through a very rocky patch with her emotions.
As night fell we fired up our new camping stove and made gluten free hotdogs, baked beans and smash! (it’s a long time since I’ve bought a tub of Smash!) Basically everything I could think of that didn’t need a can opener or much cooking ability. Next time I would be tempted to get a bit more equipment and make some nice dinners, but there is something nice about being novice and sitting on the grass (cus we have no chairs) eating dinner with Gluten Free Daddy and the kids.
Bedtime went far more smoothly than me or GF daddy had envisaged. We had about an hour of bed hopping and anxiety over noises but it wasn’t long before everyone was snoring after a full on day in the fresh sea air.
We woke up to Moma Salted Caramel porridge, bananas and brioche while the kids played in the field and a trip to the on site farm tour where the kids are allowed to stroke and feed the animals including goats, sheep and donkeys and even, should they wish, poo pick! this was s firm favourite with the boys.
Then on to lots of beach time, building dubious looking sand art and eating ice cream. It was pretty perfect.
That evening we loaded the kids into the car and drove into Chichester to a GF fish and chip shop ‘La Fish’ which we had contacted prior to leaving home. We ordered 3 large fish and chips …….hmmmm we might have overdone it! It has been 2 years since we had takeaway fish and chips so it was really lovely and not at all greasy. On our last day we only had until 3pm so we decided to head to the crabbing estuary to try our luck. I had no idea you actually needed special kit to catch crabs so we rocked up with our fluorescent nets and a little tiny bucket. Then everyone else started turning up with large garden tubs, ‘proper’ nets, fishing line and bait!!! Who knew crabs like bacon!! It was quite nice to sit on the water egde dredging the silt with our nets hoping to get lucky. Despite our lack of knowledge and equipment we still managed to bag ourselves four crabs which felt satisfying. A quick release back into the waters and it was time for our final picnic and taking down the tent. It has to be said I felt a bit sad we only had the two days and I wished we were staying longer but we had the next part of our holiday adventures to get on with.
My top tips for a novice camper (especially those with gluten free or anxious kids):
* We slept with a child each to make sure they felt safe, this absolutely worked for us as Boo takes a lot of comfort from being within close vicinity to us;
* Plan your meals in advance, we took a large cool bag rammed with frozen water bottles. This meant our food stayed cool in there for the 2 days so even on our last lunchtime we had a picnic. Whilst we were away we ate:
– Breakfasts; brioche with chocolate chips, fruit (lots of strawberries and bananas), Eat Natural Bars,
– Gluten Free Picnic (brioche, rolls, cheese bites, salami, fruit and hummus)
– Hotdogs, Smash instant mash and baked beans
– Haribo Push Up Ice Creams (with Haribo sweets in the handle)
– ‘La Fish’ cod and chips
Our Must Have’s:
These few items probably saved the camping experience for us.
1. Pillow Pets
I saw these to little cuties the day before we went camping and couldn’t resist them, especially as they were in Sainsbury’s for a bargain price of £10. The little cookie and cupcake patches on these are scented, now normally I’m not a fan of scented things as I don’t think they can be very good for kids however these are very subtle and as its only the patches that smell I can unpick them if the scent doesn’t go after a wash. What I loved most about these was that they fold in half, held together with a Velcro strap so they can be a cuddled as a car pillow and then undo them and you have a lovely plush pillow for night-time. Boo loved her cupcake one and as she is very sensory we found the soft plush fabric really soothed her for bedtime. Hiccup equally loved his cookie dog (aka “Ginger”) and has been using it at home as well.
2. Camping Stove
A long time ago I camped at Glastonbury festival, nope not the cool one but the crazy hippy one straight after, I had a two man tent, a pack of cigars (I literally don’t know why!!) and a Sainsbury’s bag full of pre-packaged cold food. It was miserable, every morning I had cold sausage rolls and a can of coke and then the same again before bed. So going away with the kids I was desperate for a camping stove. We bought ours in Milletts sale (see I’m a proper camper!!) for a bargain price of £12.50 and it was awesome. Its only one little ring but we could make a cuppa and do a pan of warm food to get everyone cosy for bedtime. I’m pretty sure it must be in a top ten somewhere because loads of people had the same one I noticed as I was eyeing up other campers lovely dinners!!
Okay, so lets get to the crux of the matter. My biggest fear of camping is the pooing!! I’m the kind of girl that gets serious stage fright in public toilets and I have certainly never dropped the P-bomb in one! Getting up at 5am was on ploy but it wasn’t the only weaponry in my arsenal. V.I.Poo is a spray that basically creates a nice smelly layer over the surface of the toilet. Trying not to be too graphic the theory is that the film covers the ploppyness upon entry and you smell nothing but (in my case) lemons! It cant disguise the noise but at least its got you covered on smell!!