What a summer! I’m curled up on my sofa after three weeks away from home on a family holiday, a work conference and a group camping weekend. I’m exhausted – but satisfied that we’ve had an excellent break with several hundred photographs to show for it!
I have a huge number of posts to write, but I’m going to endeavour to get on top of the summer write up before Alex turns 7 years old in 10 days… So expect much more regular posting in the next couple of weeks.
I’m going to start with the trip that’s freshest in my mind – our annual camping trip with some of our NCT friends. This year, Helen and Rob were the organising family and they chose to take us to Wowo Campsite in the heart of Sussex.
Here’s the 2017 camping crew – three families in total, with Alex and Sophie joined by their friends Angus, Fred and Aria.
I’ve been eyeing up Wowo for ages in my Cool Camping book so was delighted when Helen suggested it for our 2017 camp. And it didn’t disappoint.
It’s a campsite entirely built around creating a special experience for families. Our pitch was just perfect, we were encouraged to pick a firepit and just gather our tents around it to create our own, private space together. And as we arrived in the early evening, we were greeted by a wood-fired pizza van and fish & chips van. That was Friday dinner sorted (and it was absolutely delicious!).
We had a good first night (although it was pretty chilly as the autumn approaches), and a quiet Saturday morning enjoying sausage sandwiches made from local meat and rolls bought in the wonderful on-site shop.
The site is beautiful – small camping fields, a pretty brook running through it and loads of opportunities for climbing, rope swinging and plenty of imaginary play.
Despite there being so much to do onsite, we really wanted to explore some of the local area and were delighted to find out that there was a National Trust property within walking distance – Sheffield Park. So we set off along the scenic paths to the enormous estate
Alex brought his camera long, and spent much of the walk taking pictures and videos with his friends – taking quite some time to keep up!
I love this picture of the three of them admiring their work:
The Sheffield Gardens were absolutely stunning – and vast. You can just about see the house peaking out in the background of this snap.
The variety of trees was incredible.
The children loved the friendly ducks who confidently waddled among us as we walked around the lake.
As usual, the National Trust had plenty of activities on offer for families. We followed the ‘Extravagant Earl’ trail to find out more about Lord Sheffield who used to host picnics for up to 2,000 children on the estate. While we enjoyed a walk around the lake and gardens, the children searched for top hats and a range of activities based on the picnics. They loved the selfie station:
And found a variety of exotic birds that were loved by Lord Sheffield (he apparently bought a range of birds from London Zoo and brought them to the park by train!)
Alex loved the stencil station and spent ages creating intricate colourings.
And the best stop of all – some ribbon toys! Lord Sheffield made daytime fireworks to shower the children with ribbons and toys!
Along the way, we found some of the most impressive trees, including this enormous giant redwood. Can you spot Sophie?
And the remains of a vast oak – the cross section of which we saw on display, with the last 300 years of world history mapped out in the rings!
Here’s the gang posing on top!
Once we’d completing the challenge, and refuelled with a spot of lunch, we made our way to the nearby Play Trail for some wild fun. Sophie and Angus made quick work of the balancing beams:
And everyone adored the enormous rope swings!
But best of all was the brilliant den building area. Some previous visitors had constructed some impressive shelters, and the children whiled away an hour adding to them to make something quite spectacular!
They all lugged logs to bolster the walls and build more roof:
And decided to brush the inside to get a nice smooth floor (and get very muddy in the process!)
Meanwhile, we put our feet up and caught up on each others’ news in the sunshine!
Reluctantly, as the weather turned a little cooler, we decided to head back to the campsite, but not before getting a shot with the kids and their creation!
Back at the campsite, we gathered around our fire for a delicious BBQ, loving the benches around the firepits.
We’d heard that the site hosts live music on a Saturday night, so we wandered up to the main camp tipi to see what was going on. From 6.30pm there was a little children’s performance with a brilliant singer/guitarist who took requests form the kids and invited them to sing along with her. Alex and Sophie loved it!
Later in the evening, there was a more grown up focused performance (although attended by and very welcome to children) – so we Helen and I took the kids back after tea for more music. It was so fun to sit in a tipi as the sunset, singing along with our fellow campers. Alex was thrilled that his request of “Don’t Stop Me Now” was enthusiastically accepted by the singer, and Sophie was delighted to sing along to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”. It was such a fun way to spend half an hour – and because it was acoustic, didn’t get in the way of the peaceful camping experience.
Back at the camp, we enjoyed toasted marshmallows (of course) and a second evening of chat!
Sunday morning dawned with everyone having a bit of a lie in in their tents – Alex and Sophie didn’t stir until 8pm! Just in time for the crepe van to open to help us muster the energy to pack up!
We had a wonderful weekend and I will definitely go back to Wowo. It’s clearly not everyone’s cup of tea if you’re looking for a remote, self-sufficient experience – but for a fun family group trip, with some really special extras, it was just perfect. I can’t wait to go back!
For our previous NCT camping trips, check out the following posts:
- 2016 – Camping on the Suffolk Coast
- 2015 – Camping near Hever Castle
- 2014 – Camping near High Wycombe
- 2013 – Camping in Pevensey Bay
- 2012 – Camping in the New Forest