Posts tagged ‘Camping’

August 30, 2013

The Bivouac

I promised a review of The Bivouac, and finally, here it is!

The Bivouac is a selection of yurts, log cabins and a bunk barn, just outside Masham in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, with a cafe and small shop. Just along from the site is a folly known as Druid’s Temple and it’s also along a long-distance walk route, so attracts plenty of day visitors as well as overnight guests.

We stayed for four nights in ‘Foxglove’, one of the yurts. All the yurts are situated together in a field close to the cafe, toilets and lovely shower block, which is handy when you’ve got small children. Despite it being the height of the summer holidays, some of the yurts were empty and so it was relatively peaceful – even though they’re not exactly soundproof! We had decent weather most of the time which was a bonus too, as it meant we were able to sit outside once the kids were finally in bed, and enjoy the stars, and on one night, watch the lightening flash across the sky in the distance, which was fascinating to watch – until the rain arrived in the middle of the night and woke us up!

Inside the yurt was lovely and welcoming, from the chalkboard with our name on, to the cosily made up beds, rustic-chic furniture and giant beanbag. I loved all the tea light lanterns dotted around the place ( it was off-grid, so we needed them!) and wood burning stove, complete with enough logs to last our stay. It has to be said that one yurt with four people in can get a bit overwhelming. Anyone with small children knows what it’s like to try and get them to bed, and when there are no doors to shut and bedrooms to creep away from whilst crossing your fingers that they’ll go to sleep, it can be tough. But they did love sharing a room!

Our time at Bivouac

Our time at Bivouac

Walking to Druid’s Temple was an easy, short walk, and the thunderstorm we’d had overnight provided sufficient mud for my obsessed son, with the ‘hedgehog hunt’ map keeping my six year old daughter entertained. Druid’s Temple itself is a fascinating, eccentric folly, and we enjoyed looking around it and playing at monsters!

We also paid extra for them both to attend a drumming workshop one day, which they both enjoyed. If there was one problem, it was the sole tyre swing. Which my kids both loved. And you know what one swing between two kids leads to? Yes, endless arguing over taking turns. A few more pieces of wooden, sympathetically integrated play equipment would have been great, although I did appreciate the low-key feel of the place and they did find friends to play with, which helped enormously. I was very happy to see them go off and play in the field and use their imaginations instead of relying on being entertained. That feeling I had of being comfortable with letting them wander a bit was lovely and refreshing too – no ‘cotton wool’ parenting for me!

Once they’d found friends, the kids did settle down from the first day’s over-excitement, which meant, joy of joys, that I was able to go for a shower on my own! The shower blocks in Bivouac are far removed from many camping shower blocks, with warm flooring, interesting slate tiles, hairdryers and wooden doors and luxurious smelling handwash and lotion. There was evidence of lots of environmentally friendly practices being used as well, which was impressive. I’m planning to adopt some of their ideas at home.

We mainly cooked for ourselves, using the gas stove provided in the yurt, but we did eat in the cafe one evening and the food, from superfood salad to burger and chips, was all really great; obviously fresh, interesting to eat, but not too expensive. They have a weekly ‘community supper’ which sounds like a lovely idea. I was happy to see that they had ‘plain pasta with parmesan’ on the kids’ menu too, proof that it’s not just my girl who loves that! Someone who works there clearly understands what many young children will and won’t eat.

The Bivouac is a wonderful place to stay. I’d happily go back for a return visit, though next time I might make it a romantic yurt stay for two, instead of a holiday for four! I think it would make for a lovely, relaxing adult-only holiday, as well as being a great place for kids to leave a bit of the modern world behind and play. I’d also love to stay in one of the wooden cabins, as they looked interesting, with eclectic furniture, more cooking and washing facilities and hidden somewhere nearby is a hot tub! Something for my next visit, perhaps…

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August 14, 2013

Three Good Things: Week Five

Hello and welcome to week five of Three Good Things!

One: My tomatoes.

My first good thing this week is the first home-grown cherry tomato of the year. Earlier this year, I sowed a whole packet of seeds that promised to be a new variety of tomato that was small enough to sit on a windowsill. The grand plan was for me to grow them all and then share with the folk who come to the Sage and Thrift cookbook swap.

Things didn’t quite go according to plan when most of the seeds turned out to be some mysterious brassica (they all look the same at seedling stage!) and only three tomato plants. So I didn’t have enough to give any away. However, the two plants I still have left are doing really well. They’re petite, study and have a healthy crop of fruit that has just started to ripen. I ate the first tomato very ceremoniously yesterday and it was lovely. So, I’ll have a go at growing these again next year and hope that I get the tomatoes I’m promised! The mystery brassicas, by the way, have been planted on the allotment and are romping away. They may well be brussels sprouts…

Spot the first ripening tomato!

Spot the first ripening tomato!

Two: Scones in the Lake District.

I had a camping microadventure last week, and I’m going to blog about it separately, but there are a few things that really stood out for me. And one of them was this moment. At the risk of sounding like an Enid Blyton character, food always tastes especially nice when eaten outdoors. And when I feel as though I’ve really earned a treat by doing some exercise, it’s absolute heaven. So these freshly-made and still warm scones, eaten after climbing Castle Crag in The Lake District, were truly a high point of this week!

Giant cream tea...

Giant cream tea…

Three: Borrowing a tent.

The last thing that has made my week is a tent. Or, rather more specifically, the loan of a tent. Without which I couldn’t have had the microadventure that has given me lots of happy memories, made a huge improvement to the way I am feeling and set in motion a plan for the rest of the year. As I said above, I’ll tell you more about the trip later this week, but for now, huge thanks go to my marvellous, tent-lending friend Lyndon, without whom I wouldn’t have woken up  here…

Beats waking up at home...

Beats waking up at home…

Now, do go and see what Three Good Things  A Hell of a Woman, Mummy Plum, Asbestosbitch and Nyssapod have chosen this week and let me know what yours are!

Three Good Things is taking a break here next week, as I’ll be spending the week in a Mongolian Yurt at Bivouac. Hopefully, I’ll have lots of adventures to share with you on my return though…

July 10, 2013

How to have a ‘Micra’ Adventure

Last week, I was surprised with a night away staying in a tipi. Or, more correctly, a Tentipi, which is a Norwegian designed tipi that has completely revolutionised my understanding of camping, due to the bloody incredible wood burning stove inside. Which means that, despite the wind and rain we faced on Sunday, we were toasty warm and making mugs of tea inside. I loved it. Loved it.

Not that I don’t like camping, I do. I just don’t like getting cold. But I do love camping –  I just need layers and layers of clothing! I love the sense of adventure and of having a bit of freedom. Of having life’s issues reduced to working out how to keep a roof up over our heads, cook dinner and spend time with our loved ones. The important stuff.

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One of the things that I really loved about the time in the tipi – even more than the stove – was re-aquainting myself with the truth that adventures don’t have to be far-flung, lengthy, or cost a fortune. Adventure is on our doorsteps; we just have to look for it. It’s all a question of attitude. So, with that attitude in mind, I’m getting a ‘Micra Adventure’ kit together so we can jump in the car and set off for places unknown. The utterly inspiring Alistair Humphreys calls them Microadventures, but given that Silvertrim (ancient Micra) is likely to be our vehicle, unless we walk or cycle, I’ve changed the name to suit. Micra Adventures are hidden in all the places in the UK that I don’t know, from secret woods to city centres, coastal paths to open moorland.

Even though my wish-list of places to visit across the globe will never diminish, there are so many places I’ve not been to in the UK and it seems a shame not to take the opportunity to see them, as most of them are so much more accessible over a short period of time than anywhere abroad. We have some of the most wonderful habitats, natural places, heritage, cities and landscape of anywhere in the world and it’s short sighted not to appreciate them because they’re more ‘known’ to us than places further away. It also means that we can escape the 9-5 much more readily than if we had to make complicated plans and save up lots of money.

So, tipi shopping is the next point of order, and getting the Micra Adventure kit ready so that we can leave at the drop of a hat, off to make our next discovery.

Is there a place to camp in the UK that you recommend? Let me know!

August 30, 2011

Camping without the glamour.

Camping in Yorkshire, even in mid-summer, requires a certain amount of fortitude. Which, sadly I do not possess. Still, on Friday I found myself bound for North Yorkshire (only an hour away from home) for a long weekend’s worth of camping with my husband and the kids, planning to pitch the tent and stay for three nights. You know what they say about God laughing when you tell him your plans?

As we drove past the lovely forest cabins (with hot-tubs), past the caravans, past the premium pitches with hard standing and electric hook-ups, down to the standard pitches, the sky was already looking ominous. Roughly thirty seconds after the tent was put up, the heavens opened. For fourteen hours…

The children were terribly excited about the whole thing and by bedtime, had tired themselves out enough to fall asleep without much hassle. Unlike me. Freezing cold and unable to sleep, partly because of the knowledge that if I needed the bathroom in the night I had to get changed, put on wellies and a raincoat and trudge up through the quagmire of a field to the toilets, I lay awake in the tent, listening to the never-ending rain. As the night got colder, I added layer after layer of clothing. By 2am, I was wearing socks, leggings, two vests, a t-shirt, a sweater, a blanket and a pink fluffy hat borrowed from my daughter with rabbit ears and a pom-pom tail. David, also still awake, looked at the darkening pool of water above us – even though the tent was pitched fine, the sheer amount of water meant that it was struggling to stay watertight. He got up to try and disperse the water off the  tent. Which he did. Straight onto my head. As I lay in bed (now also wearing a towel) David recited tales from the adventures of Scott and Shackleton. Amazingly, I managed not to kill him, and by 3am, I was feeling distinctly warmer, thanks to the addition of my two year old son, who had woken up and would only settle back to sleep in my bed.

The following morning, ridiculously feeling like a survivor of some extreme expedition (the Scott tales must have lodged firmly in my brain) I watched as car after car failed to drive off the field, surrounded by groups of watching men muttering under their breath about how they would do it if they were driving. The idea of being marooned on the campsite field was making me pretty cross, so I was staggeringly grateful that David was the only one who managed it without a tractor pulling him out.

I asked Eve what she thought of camping in the rain. ‘Rubbish’, she replied. ‘Do you want to go home?’ ‘No!’ So another night was on the cards.

The day was much sunnier, and as we drove over the top of the purple heather-covered North York Moors and towards the sea, I was reminded that although Yorkshire on a bad day can be horrible, on a good day, there is truly nowhere on Earth more beautiful.