Many people have been camping – either with scouts, as kids or even when travelling… I am not one of those people. I had never been in a tent, never slept outdoors, the closest I’ve come is to staying in caravans. My husband had mentioned it several times over the last couple of years but nothing ever came of it.
Until the first weekend in March.
I was having a bad week and feeling really sorry for myself, and my husband asked if perhaps I’d like to go away overnight. That sounded brilliant and just what I needed. He found a place in Wales with glamping pods and suggested we try there. He called back later to say they were fully booked, but that they had camping space…? Of course they did – it was the beginning of March in Britain!
Cue my husband coming home late one night armed with a full array of camping equipment – a tent, two sleeping bags, a lantern, two torches, a gas stove, replacement gas canisters, two ground mats, a mallet and extra tent pegs (“just in case”). Unbelievably he managed to source all of this for a couple of pounds over £100. By my reckoning, that is what we’d spend on one night in a hotel for the two of us, and so we’ve at least broke even if I try it once and hate it.
So I went along with my husband’s plan. The Saturday morning, we’d pack the car and head off for Wales, pitch a tent, go walking, go to a local pub for dinner and back to our cosy tent with a view over Fishguard Bay in Wales…
So, on the Friday night when my husband was at work, I went back to the camping shop and bought a blow up double bed, foot pump and whistling kettle for the stove – making me sleep outside in Winter is one thing, depriving me of comfort or tea is quite another! I went home, packed everything we’d need, got a few munchie supplies like cans of juice, crisps, bananas, some biscuits and also packed a Tupperware box with breakfast – bacon, sausages and eggs.
I packed some thermal leggings and my brother’s old and cosy fleece that I love, and lots of socks! I packed jogging bottoms for my husband to sleep in and our walking shoes (which I found in the garage after much searching). All was ready!
We got up and headed off around 9am, working our way initially towards Aberystwyth before heading south along the coast to get to Fishguard Bay. On our way over we wound round country roads and saw into some pretty spectacular locations. Not far from Aberystwyth we spotted a really pretty visitor centre and decided to stop for a look. There is no way I’d know how to pronounce this but its definitely worth a stop.
Had it not been drizzling and, frankly, freezing cold we would definitely have gone for a walk round the trail as it looked fantastic!
We wandered round and popped into the centre and actually ended up having our lunch – I had a brie and cranberry panini – AMAZING! Anyway, I digress…
We got back into the car and continued on our way towards Fishguard. As we had stopped for lunch already we just drove through Aberystwyth and continued to our camping spot. On our way along the coast we did stop a couple of times to soak in the beauty – it was incredible, and even more incredible is realising that this is on your doorstep. There are points where it could have been Canada or California, it was lovely.
We finally arrived at our campsite at about 2pm. We went into the shop / office and paid £22 for our spot – naturally we had our pick of the pitches as there were no other campers there! The glamping pods we’d originally looked at were full though, as were the static vans (some even had hot tubs). We then got everything out of the boot and stared at it. How were we, two individuals with no real experience between us, going to do this? The answer – with great ease and within 20 minutes! Honestly, I was shocked how easy it was. Our tent had just two poles that crossed and held up the structure, we pushed in the pegs – done! We put the air bed inside and pumped it up from outside – done! A colleague of my husband had also leant us a foldaway table and chairs, something that opens up like a pub bench – that was a lifesaver!
We wandered up to the shop to as we decided that if we were going to go for a full breakfast, bread would be a necessity! When we got there, the lady had told us they’d just sold their last loaf but would we like her to bake us some rolls?! Er, hell yeah! How lovely of her – and the rolls were amazing. I think there is a picture of me enjoying one of them the next morning…
We then set off south along the coastal path and it was spectacular. You could see right across the bay and the water was so still. We hiked for about an hour before finding ourselves on the edge of a cliff with a view straight down to the sea. We sat and caught our breaths for a moment, then turned and headed back.
We decided to head into Fishguard itself to get some dinner…forgetting that there was a big England vs Wales rugby match on. The place was largely deserted so we wandered around and found ourselves in a tiny pub filled with Wales supporters and the rugby on in the corner. We had a couple of drinks (I ordered in my Scottish accent rather than my husband in his English accent!) and watched a bit of rugby. We then set off in search of food, settling on an Indian takeaway (there really was not much choice). We ordered that and took it back to the campsite, by which time it was – I kid you not – completely dark. We set up our make-shift bench and plastic plates and cutlery and proceeded to eat our Indian food lit by torches! It was actually really fun but getting pretty chilly by this point!
We headed up to the main block, got ourselves ready for bed – by this I mean adding a lot of layers and brushing our teeth – and got into the tent. It was quite cold but we read our books (mine was rathering fittingly Wild by Cheryl Strayed) and then went to sleep. We had a bit of a disturbed night but that’s to be expected with our first time camping but got up in the morning refreshed.
We then set up our gas cooker and made cups of tea and the most epic bacon and sausage rolls! We sat and munched on those whilst looking out over the bay, heaven! We pottered around for a bit and then packed up ready to head home. It was much easier than I thought and we were on our way by 10:30am. We drove to Aberystwyth which I can highly recommend on a nice day – seaside town with gorgeous views and a nice little town to walk around. We had the obligatory fish and chips on the front, washed down with some brilliant ice creams and we were done. We got back in the car and made our way back to the midlands after an awesome weekend.
So the outcome? I would definitely go camping. After seeing how nice and well-equipped the main block was at the campsite I’d have no hesitations in going again for a longer period knowing that there’s some home comforts 30 yards away. I’d definitely get a larger tent if we were going for a longer period of time as we’d bought the basics and the tent was just big enough for us both to lie down in for the night (4 man tent, yeah right!). On top of that, doing this trip made us both realise what beautiful locations and wonderful views there are close to home and that perhaps we don’t always need to go abroad to explore new places – there’s some fantastic places right on our doorstep and we should definitely explore them more!