For the past few months we have been slowly gathering camping equipment. I have researched to the point of a swimming head for the best type of gear to get within our budget and for items that will make the camping experience as comfortable as possible with consideration to J’s needs particularly. I opted for an Outwell Nevada M tent as this has many good reviews as a good family tent and got it at a reasonable price in a sale back in March. Its amazing the amount of gear you could get sucked into buying…I tried to keep it practical and to the minimum that would give us a comfy experience. Him Outdoors did a stellar job of packing the car.
River Dart Country Park is somewhere we visited back at the beginning of May as my brother was staying there. You can read my first impressions of it over here. When a friend announced she had booked a weeks holiday there for August, I jumped at the chance for our first trip to coincide. Our first break in two years. To get to River Dart from Exeter is a reasonably pleasant drive down the A38. Nothing too taxing for a newbie like me!
MoneySupermarket.com got in touch asking if I would like to take part in their £50 Road Trip Challenge. Absolutely perfect and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Having only passed my driving test a month ago I am keen to get in as much driving as possible. The first part of the road trip entailed me dropping off Cybil, Myrtle and Bette the three hens to Moon Ridge Farm for a little holiday of their own whilst we were away. So great to know they are well taken care of up there!
Our main concerns in trying to camp with J is that we need an electric hook up for two reasons, the first to be able to blend his food down as he cannot eat any lumps and the second to plug in his feeding pump for overnight milk which he has for ten hours. When it came to booking there were no electric pitches left close to our friends so I asked if we would be able to use a plug socket in reception to blend J’s food down and also to charge his feeding pump if needs be. Yes and yes came the answer. Absolutely perfect! I feel very much after having such a tough start with J that things are kind of evening out in some areas to the point where we want to instill as much normality as we can. So this trip was our first experiment.
We were blessed with glorious sunshine pretty much all the time for the three days we were there, with rain at night which really was no bother. J loved playing on the swings and we also discovered a mini zipwire with seat in the toddler area which he really loved. Happy child = happy parents! We enjoyed good company with friends and met some new lovely peeps. Lots of lovely kiddoes running around and all in all a great first trip. J napped every afternoon which was a bonus as it meant he was awake til 10pm every night, allowing us to have some social time.
On the final night as Him Outdoors signed to J it was time for bed, J poked him in the eye, very hard. To the point e was in agony and still is two days on. So the morning of packing everything up it was raining very hard. We survived the packing in the rain. Eager to get back to Exeter to go to A&E we jumped in the car ready for the off and….nothing….the car battery was flat.
Rule number 1: do not charge your phones off the car battery.
The warden came to our rescue with his tractor for a good jump-start and off we toddled home. Thank god I passed my driving test otherwise we would have been properly stranded. So back to Exeter and down to A&E. J has poked through the first layer of his cornea! No wonder it hurts so much. It’s all healing well but Him Outdoors will have to use eye drops for the next six months to ensure the wound doesn’t open up again. Yes really.
Rule number 2: Do not let your child poke you in the eye.
The only other drama though not as dramatic as the one above was our new Campingaz stove that had been gifted to me by my folks for my birthday was faulty and the grill knob snapped off on the first day which was really annoying because we now can’t turn off the gas on the grill. So when boiling the kettle you also have to light the grill otherwise gas is just coming out. Not good. I have emailed the company it was purchased from today so I am hoping they will replace it in good time for our next trip in less than two weeks.
Rule number 3: Properly check your gear before you go…
Rule number 4: Get a decent sleeping bag. Not a Gelert one that is on offer in Trago Mills for £11. The zip wouldn’t stay up and the material is so slippy it kept sliding off me in the night. Not good!!
To sum up our first road trip I think it’s fair to say overall it was a success with a few little clangers in there. Yes okay the eye thing is more than a little clanger I know. Him Outdoors is convalescing and we hope for a speedy recovery. I continue to do the driving in the meantime.
We love River Dart Country Park. It is perfectly geared up for families with so much to entertain the children. The amenities are excellent and I discovered there are even freezers in the laundry room to put your ice blocks in for refreezing. The staff are so accommodating and have the jump-start from the tractor was pretty cool! We are so glad we have done this trip because it now adds to the things we can do with J and we know we will not be held back by the medical stuff. J loved camping and loves being outdoors as a general rule of thumb. He settled well at night and I think he just found it all very exciting!
Apparently somewhere along the River Dart is a naturist area for wild swimming…clearly it is not within the Country Park but some might want to seek it out and at least you wouldn’t need to worry about the clothes thing…