Another year, another camping trip is complete! This year, I was so exhausted from our first camping trip of the year, I had to sneak away from work on Monday afternoon for a sneaky nap (although that might have had something to do with the minimal sleep I had the night before we left at a work awards dinner!).
Sleep deprivation aside, our fourth family camping trip was a great success! Last Friday afternoon, coordinated by our friends Jess and Jonathan, four families – including seven children under five – headed South of London to the beautiful St Ives Farm near Edenbrige for an outdoor adventure. It promised a relaxed and peaceful site – but I must admit, so close to Gatwick and only an hour south of London, we were a little skeptical. But we were wrong – it was a stunning location. Surrounded by agricultural fields and woodland, the views were glorious and we felt truly isolated. It was the best campsite yet, with relaxed camping fields, fire pits and plenty of space to spread out.
Our tents overlooked golden fields (Matt said he had Sting’s “Fields of Gold” in his head all weekend – poor man) and the children adored running along the paths that ran through them.
Here’s Sophie wandering along after the boys:
And further along the path, Dan with Aria, Fred and Alex:
Even after the boys were showered and ready for bed, they headed into the fields in their PJs!
I quickly relaxed into my camping chair, took off my watch, packed away my phone and just enjoyed watching them run free!
It was quite an elevated spot and the sky was very dramatic all weekend – we loved these clouds, and thought Arlo looked pretty dramatic against them – future model?!
On the first night we were there, poor Sophie wasn’t on the best form – still suffering from the end of a midsummer cold. So she snuck off to bed early while the boys enjoyed the campfire. Thankfully, a sleep (mostly on me) left her feeling much better on the Saturday morning. I love how snuggled up she is with her bunnies and pandas!
Up with the dawn, we were ready for an excursion by early Saturday morning – so we headed to nearby Hever Castle. We’ve been a few times and love visiting – and were excited about showing our friends the brilliant water maze and grounds. We had a lovely picnic in the shade of the trees and then let the kids have a long run around and play to burn off some energy. Sophie was looking much happier!
Here she is defending the castle against attack!
While we did do the main maze, the real highlight was the water maze – perfect for the very hot weather we were enjoying! Sophie wasn’t too keen on getting wet this trip, but she still had a fab time dodging the fountains:
The boys got drenched – here’s the gang exploring:
I love their funky pants!
Even the grownups got involved!
Before heading back to the campsite, we all had possibly the biggest ice creams we’ve ever been served – Alex was very impressed with his chocolate cone!
Back at the campsite, we had two lovely evenings together enjoying some delicious cooking and great company:
The addition of fire pits to this year’s camping was a big success and I think will become a pre-requisite as we choose sites in the future. The boys were so excited at being so close to a real fire, and Alex embraced the idea of stories around the campfire – sharing surreal tales of dinosaurs he invented for the occasion!
Once the children were tucked up, we made the most of the fire to roast marshmallows – yum!
As with every trip we’ve done, the children thrived in the freedom and space of the site – although they also enjoyed cramming themselves into small places, like the car boot and the tents!
But we managed to get all the children in one shot – sheltering under the picnic bench on our pitch!
And here we are – survivors of our fourth annual camping trip! All a bit wet and tired – but grinning from a fabulous weekend! Here’s to next year!