By: Blonde Two
At the beginning of January (the month of my 50th birthday), I set myself the Get Outside challenge of sleeping outdoors (or very nearly outdoors) for 50 nights in 2018. That works out at about 1 outdoor sleep per week across the year, which means that, at the end of April, with the excuse of lots of rain, 3 nights in a bunkhouse (Gold DofE) and a lovely trip to Lamorna House B & B in Cornwall to visit the South West Coast Path, I am 3 nights behind. I decided at the start of my challenge that my outdoor sleeps are allowed to be campsite camping, wild camping, camper van camping, hammock camping, bivvy camping or any other weird combination of camping events that I or my friends can think of. I didn’t plan for service station camping but what can I say? A girl has to go where the adventure takes her! This month I have survived (it is still too cold to say ‘enjoyed’) two camper van camps and our first night out on a hammocking date (without the reassurance of Six-Foot-Blonde aka Hammocker who is the family hanging expert).
April Wild Camping – #50sleeps #11
Location: Gloucester Services M5 (I’ll try anything once and it was April Fool’s Day!)
Date: April 1st
Reason: On our way up from Cornwall to visit family
Supper: Our favourite lasagne and chips from Gloucester services
Breakfast: Cooked in the camper, boiled eggs, cheese, tomatoes and Mr B2’s homemade bread.
Comment: We have had more uncomfortable truck camps at less salubrious motorway locations before, usually on the way to Scotland, so when a campsite in our location didn’t become immediately available (we wanted to visit Slimbridge Wild Fowl Trust) I was pleased to try out Gloucester Services. At over £20, this wasn’t the cheapest of campsites but the food, loos and showers were all lovely with a great selection of evening beers available to sample from the farm shop. My only concerns were surrounding the issues of camping a well-lit car park. I wasn’t bothered about being able to sleep because, ever since the midnight sun in Norway, we have carried eye masks but I was more than reluctant to risk a van-side wee in a lit car park with impressive CCTV coverage. A quick car park survey revealed a ‘dark zone’ at the back and we positioned the van accordingly. In the end, as the services were only shut between 9 and 6, I didn’t need to avail myself of the floor!
April Wild Camping – #50sleeps #12
Date: April 2nd
Reason: To be as near to my lovely niece and nephew as possible and a surprise visit to Mum’s to avail ourselves of an Easter roast dinner cooked by Not-At-All-Blonde. The surprise worked well, although we were spotted by a very excited daughter as we were crawling up Mum’s garden path.
Supper: Tinned soup and bread cooked in the camper up on the lovely Malvern hills (in the not-so-lovely rain)!
Breakfast: First Breakfast: Homemade chocolate muffins delivered to the camper door. Second breakfast: Freshly baked bread from Mr B2 who got up a lot earlier than I did.
Comment: A sister who has the good sense to buy a new house with a drive just big enough to hide a camper van away is a good sister to have. A great night’s sleep was had although we did discover that the new drive had a slight sideways camber. Great for drainage but a bit squashy for me!
April Wild Camping – #50sleeps #13
Type: Hammock (my first in my birthday hammock!)
Date: April 28th
Reason: It looked like it wasn’t going to rain and I was getting very impatient to use the hammock for an overnight stay.
Supper: Pasta and mushrooms cooked in the camper.
Breakfast: First Breakfast: Hazelnut chocolate with a much needed cup of tea. Second breakfast: Boiled eggs, cheese, tomatoes and bread, plus another cup of tea.
Comment: There was mumbling from both of us as we hung our hammocks but eventually (I had to tie my knots several times and they were still different from each other in the morning) we had rigs that included tarps to protect us from rain, a mosquito net to protect us from bugs (me) and almost the right amount of flatness to prevent sleeping like a banana (will tell you more about that sometime). Hammocks are infinitely more comfortable than the floor but cold spots from underneath are a big issue (even with a sleeping mat) and we had both believed the words ‘spring’ and ‘warmer’ and arrived underprepared in the clothing department. Only two night time get-ups and a lovely nearly-full moon (just as well because we had also forgotten our torches). Woken in the morning by a cuckoo, we had very chilly hands dismantling but happy hearts after our first proper hammock date!