Yesterday was the first day of Autumn here in the Netherlands and what a great summer we’ve had! Normally, I spend my autumn posts talking about what I love about the autumn but I’m pretty sure I’ve done that to death and you get the point, so instead I’ll spend this post looking back on what I loved about the summer.
One thing my husband and I have wanted to do for years was start camping. We never got around to it though because other things always got in the way. Either we had other holiday plans or didn’t have the money for it, or just got too lazy to look into it.
This year I put my foot down and said WE ARE GOING CAMPING!
After a lot of research on some camping forums and equipment websites I came up with a list of thing we needed to find the right tent for us:
- It needed to have a sewn in or zip in ground sheet to minimize the creepy crawlies, mice and whatever else might decide to visit us in the night.
- It had to have a decent amount of space outside the sleeping area for us to spend time inside in the case of rain or when we want to let the dogs be loose in the evening. The weather and our dogs are too unpredictable to not have ‘living space’.
- There needed to be a big enough sleeping area for us and our dogs crates. They are crate trained and we’d sleep easier knowing there was no chance of escape at night.
- It needed to have a ‘luifel’ or canopy so that if it’s raining we can cook or sit outside without getting pissed down on. Again, unpredictable Dutch weather. It also provides shade for the times when we are camping in more sunny areas.
- Plenty of windows for good air circulation.
- Cotton or Polycotton for less rain noise than polyester, also more breathable to keep heat down.
That was pretty much all we required and once we knew what we were looking for we headed out to the shops to find it. We looked in every camping store in the city, as well as any in the surrounding area but didn’t find ‘the one’. Then a Dutch girl on a UK camping forum I joined mentioned that she thought she knew the perfect tent for us. It was in a shop about 1.5 hours drive from here, but we decided to go check it out anyway. She was right, it was perfect and we went home with it that day.
It’s a Basecamp Ambato V and we absolutely love it. The above photos are from the day that we did a test pitch on the grass behind our building. It took us a while and it was almost 30 degrees so I was starting to wonder what I’d gotten myself into! I still loved it though, and was really excited.
Once we had the tent, I started looking for good deals on some camping equipment. Shopping!!
I found a fantastic deal for a gas cooker and a stand to put it on for only 25 euro on Marktplaats. It was an older couple who was selling the stuff for their son, who had bought it all brand new and then found out his wife was pregnant with their 4th child. Oopsie! So we got about 150 euro worth of goods for 25 euro, pretty sweet!!
It has 2 gas thingies and a grill that sits on top of it, and with one small pan and one small pot I’ve been able to cook pretty much anything we’ve wanted to eat while we were out.
We considered getting a barbeque as well but in all honesty, the food comes out just as nice on this thing and it saves us having to lug around something else.
We also got one of those little disposable BBQ’s at one point, which was useless. We won’t be doing that again!
We got all the standard camping stuff, something to sleep on, a folding table and we already had chairs. It was sort of fun doing all the research and finding the best deals. The only really big expense was the tent, although even with the cheaper prices on some things, it all adds up!
We went camping twice this summer, the first time about 45 mins outside of Rotterdam at a small mini-camping called ‘t Vogelnest. It was a small campground run by a nice couple. Their spots were pretty big and the people staying there were mostly 50+. We thought that would be a good place to start out because we were worried about the dogs if there were a lot of children running around. It was their first time camping as well and we didn’t know what to expect.
You can see Xander in the photo above with the useless disposable BBQ. It cooked the grass beneath it more than anything we put on top of it!
We arrived on Friday afternoon and left on Sunday morning. We learned a few lessons during that trip.
- Don’t bother with disposable BBQ’s
- Cheap foot pumps are useless!! (ours broke and had to be duct taped to hell, held together and pumped by hand for ages to get the bed blown up)
- A weekend is not long enough.
By the time we got there, set up and got to relax, it was time to make dinner. After that was done and the dishes were washed etc the evening had flown by. On Saturday we just chilled out most of the day and before we knew it, it was Sunday morning and time to go home. Way too much work for the amount of time we got to enjoy it.
We then planned another trip at a campground a little further away called de Pluimpot. This campground was a little bigger, had more children and was really close to the beach. We planned to go on Thursday and return on Monday, giving us a little more time to enjoy ourselves.
What an adventure that trip was! We arrived on Thursday and set up at the spot we chose. It was on the edge of the campground closest to the water. It had a lot of trees and shade so we thought that would keep us cool on the warm days. Boy were we wrong! It just so happened that for the next 2 days we had a mixture of VERY high winds, rain and thunder & lightning storms. I was miserable! What we thought would be a cool spot in the sun turned out to be a freezing spot in the rain… ugh! Even when the sun did come out, we didn’t get any of the warmth from it because we were shaded by the trees.
I spent the evenings inside the tent with tons of clothes on and blankets wrapped around me, unable to get the damp cold feeling out of my bones. I was having fun, because I was camping, but was hating it at the same time because the weather was crap and I was so darn cold all the time.
On Saturday it warmed up a bit, but you’d never know it on our spot. The rest of the campground was bathing in the sunshine while we were sitting shivering in the shade. At one point I took my chair to a nearby empty plot and sat in the sun to warm up. It was then that I’d decided I had enough. I spoke to Xander and told him that we had to either pick up and move to a sunnier plot, or pack up and go home. We both agreed that we didn’t want to leave after only 2 days, so we moved everything across the ‘road’ to a sunny plot. It was a lot of work but it was SO worth it, the rest of our trip was so enjoyable, even during the rainy periods.
Excuse the photo quality, it was taken on my mobile… but as you can see, the whole family were enjoying themselves in our new sunny spot. It was heaven! It was that day, when we were all sitting out relaxing, that I knew we’d made the best decision ever when we decided to start camping.
We also knew we’d made a good decision in our choice of tent when we sat inside on rainy days without having to worry about what to do with the dogs. They were perfectly happy to chill inside and snooze. Spoiled little things.
In fact, we enjoyed it so much we ended up staying for two weeks!!
I spent most of my days sitting out in front of the tent reading. I read TEN books in two weeks, and I have never felt more relaxed. I know that sounds silly coming from a housewife, but even we have stuff plaguing us all the time. Stuff that needs to be done around the house, bills to pay, social engagements to keep, laundry needing to be done… but camping is absolute bliss. Not a care in the world, I love it more than I can even explain.
We did learn some things on this trip too though…
- Have something for heat if you are going to camp in NL outside of July / August.
- A tarp would be handy for the really sunny spots so I don’t need to use my towels to create shade when the sun is in front of my canopy.
- Time goes by really quick when sitting outside reading, sunburns when camping suck!
- Bring LOTS of books, because if you are a reader like me you’ll go through tons! (I actually drove to my friend Penny’s one day to get a load of books from her because I ran out and her house was closer than mine) Thanks Penny!
- Bring games, they can really keep you entertained on the rainy evenings inside the tent.
- Smores taste just as good when the marshmallows are roasted over a candle.
- A duvet will not keep you as warm at night as a sleeping bag would.
- Cuddling in bed to stay warm in the tent is awesome!
- A port-a-potty may be in order in the future because there were a few times where I came frighteningly close to weeing in my pants after my 100 meter dash to the toilet in the middle of the night.
I think the look on their faces say it best … WE LOVE CAMPING!!!!!!!!!!!
So, summer is over and I’m a bit sad about that, but autumn brings a lot of other things to get excited about… Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas… but most of all…
MY MOM WILL BE HERE IN 3 WEEKS!!!
Happy Autumn Everyone!