Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Camping at New House Farm - part 1

Earlier in the year, we decided to invest in a canvas bell tent and after much research and thinking settled on a 4 metre PIG (pegged in groundsheet) model from Soulpad in Norfolk. As Norwich indie geniuses Bearsuit said it's got, "more soul than Wigan Casino." A number of factors pointed us towards Soulpad rather than their competitors. They're the only company we found doing pegged-in groundsheets, which appealed to us as they provide adequate weather protection whilst allowing the sides to be rolled up on hot days and also keeping the weight down versus zipped in groundsheets. The 4 metre model seemed the right choice space-wise, since there are only two of us normally, and at a push it would fit a couple more in.

After receiving the tent (which arrived super-fast - great service), we decided we better go for a test erection (oo-err missus) somewhere, so went for a single night's camping with Daz and Jen on a sunny weekend in May before the awful weather truly hit us. I'd been researching campsites (UK Campsite reviews are a good source) and suggested New House Organic Farm near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.
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It seemed to tick most of the boxes for me - very basic facilities (standpipes for water, a couple of composting toilets, no showers), fires encouraged (in fire pits - plenty dotted around the site), wood for sale, organic meat for sale and importantly, no massive list of rules to be followed. It's also just about an hour away from home, which I was also looking for, aiming to have a go-to place if we just decided to pack the car up and get out into the countryside after work on a Friday.

This first visit we set off quite early on a Saturday morning, got the tents set up and then went for a bit of a random walk, using Ordnance Survey maps from the Backcountry Navigator app on my phone. We walked over some very pretty fields on a roundabout route to Carsington Water. In trying to make it a circular route we came a bit unstuck on the way back - the map showed paths that petered out, ending in hedges, so we ended up doing a fair bit of back-tracking and finally followed a road back to the campsite. Unfortunately this was all in blazing sun, we didn't really have much water with us, and I think Jen got a mild touch of sun-stroke.

Back at the camp we bought masses of meat from Bob the farmer and a bag of wood and drank a load of home-brew whilst grilling the meat and feeding the wood into the fire-pit. During all this at the bottom f the field was a 50th birthday 'festival' in a large tent that we quite enjoyed watching happening. The dog from the tent next to ours was happy that we put the grill on the floor after the barbecue was done with and kept visiting to try and clean it of meaty, greasy scraps for us.

(continue to Part 2)

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