I can’t lie, I like my luxuries and as much as I love the outdoors, I’m a big fan of creature comforts. My brother and friends have tried and failed to get me to go camping for years. With my 7 year old son now at Beavers and likely to join Cubs at the end of the year, I know it won’t be long before he’s asking too. I recently went totally outside of my comfort zone, proving that you are never too old to try something new. Monkey and I headed off to Tamworth in Staffordshire for our first camping experience with Ready Camp.
Now I admit that the Ready Camp experience is more glamping than hard-core camping. There will be friends of mine rolling their eyes, telling me that it’s not camping unless you are arguing over tent pegs and getting soaked to the skin as you battle with ropes as you try in vain to erect your tent. But I’ll hold my hands up now, that’s not an experience I want. I want stress free time away from home, I want to arrive somewhere, unpack the car and get on with our adventures.
I’ll be honest I was quite anxious as we drove up the motorway, the rain started to fall and I wondered how our first camping experience with Ready Camp was going to go. I knew a few other people who were going to be enjoying the weekend away too, which was nice to know. But I had no idea if anyone else would be totally novices like ourselves.
The Tamworth campsite contains 10 Ready Camp tents as well as pitches for caravans and tents. The site manager was very welcoming and provided us with an access code for the entry barrier and information about the site in general. Tent 5 was to be our home for the weekend. Parking for one car is close to the tents and I found it easy enough to unload.
Our tent had a patio area with awning, a living/dining area with a large wooden table and chairs and a 2 seater sofa, kitchen area with 2 ring electric hob, toaster, kettle, fridge with icebox and microwave, and two bedrooms which could be sealed off. The main bedroom had a double bed, storage areas and a lamp, the second bedroom has a three person bunk bed and a pull out mattress so you could sleep 4 easily in that bedroom space. It also had its own storage and lighting.
We brought our own bed linen, pillows and duvets and sleeping bags had been provided. I don’t believe that this is standard, so it’s worth bringing some extra blankets for colder nights. The weather forecast wasn’t looking great so they were going to be much appreciated on our stay. The Ready Camp tent does come with an electric heater, which I also found useful on a chilly day.
The kitchen was well stocked with utensils, pans, crockery and glasses and I didn’t need to bring anything other than a tea towel, dish cloth and washing up liquid with me.
There’s a water carrier provided with water tap close to the tent, a large washing bowl so you can carry your dirty washing up to the sinks and a dustpan and brush so you can keep your tent tidy. We learned quickly that grass gets everywhere, so shoes at the ‘door’ policy is a really good idea.
It was literally a case of making the beds, filling the kettle and sitting back, to relax and enjoy a cup of tea. That’s my kind of holiday break.
After a tea break we explored the amenities on the site. The washing up area features a number of sinks and is only a short walk from the tents. Next to that can be found the toilet and shower block, which were spotless throughout our stay. I have a bit of a water phobia and struggle with fixed shower heads, but I did spot that in the family shower room there was a loose shower cord, great for kids and phobic people like me!
I didn’t bring my laptop away with me, but it was nice to know that each tent had its own electric sockets, so I could charge up my phone. I also have to say that the wifi was excellent on our site.
There’s also a lovely wooden play area between the amenities block and the tents to help keep children amused.
But in fairness, most of the time we were on site, my son was running around the open space, making up games and having his own adventures. Our first camping experience with Ready Camp was all about my son running free.
The site itself was lovely. I had no idea what to expect but there was plenty of land for my son to run around safely, some mown pathways making up a nature trail and views across a yellow field of rapeseed. It was tranquil and relaxing.
So far so good. What would my son make of our first camping experience with Ready Camp?
Any concerns I may have had for him were soon allayed. Within a matter of minutes my normally shy child had made friends, he actually used that word himself, and was running around with sticks. The boy who struggles to make friends and finds new situations overwhelming at times, was in heaven. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful that was to watch during our stay. He left my side, formed relationships with children he didn’t know, had them all collecting sticks and he had fun, so much fun. It was a revelation and made me instantly see the advantages of a campsite style holiday for kids, especially for an only child.
We had some fun organised activities planned by Ready Camp for the afternoon, we got to meet Katy Hill, the brand ambassador and try our hand at tipi decorating, which Monkey loved. We also had some visitors of the feathered variety.
After some BBQ food and day full of fresh air I had a tired son on my hands, who was actually asking to go to bed. We took a wander down to the toilet block to brush his teeth and then he headed to bed. He always goes to sleep with the light on at home, so it was really handy to have a lamp in his bedroom within the tent.
A friend popped over to share a bottle of wine and have a catch up, and before too long all was quiet from my son’s room. My friend could check on her older boy easily and it was nice for both of us to have a little company in the evening.
I had been worried about leaving my son alone in the tent while I went to brush my teeth and go to the toilet. Clearly a tent doesn’t have a door to lock, but I’d heard friends who’d been to festivals had managed to lock their tents. So I’d brought the padlock I used for a suitcase with me. The front of the Ready Camp tent has a three-way zip and I managed to lock the three zips together. I also decided to lock us in overnight. I know the site was secure, it was more about making sure my son didn’t wander off in the night in a confused state.
So sleep, did we sleep in for first night ever under canvas? Well, my son slept in until 7.30am so that was rather wonderful and a big success. Me, I made, what I’ve been told since, is a classic rookie camping error. I didn’t bring earplugs with me. Not to drown out any noise from neighbouring tents, there wasn’t any to drown out anyway. No. I hadn’t bargained for quite how loud the dawn chorus could be when you’re not protected by double glazing. It was wonderful to listen to, especially as I could hear owls as well, but at 4.15am I could have done with some way of reducing the noise level. So my top tip – ear plugs. But other than my nature alarm call, I did sleep well. The bed was really comfy and the added bedding kept me snug, and the whole experience was so much nicer than I’d expected. Old dog and new tricks, not here.
There’s something rather wonderful about unzipping a tent and being straight out in a field. It did add to the occasion that the sun had finally decided to make an appearance. Cooking breakfast with the tent flaps open, listening to the much quieter birdsong, with my son chatting away. It was lovely. To my surprise I’d really enjoyed our first camping experience with Ready Camp and my son had absolutely adored it. He didn’t want to leave at all.
Ready Camp have sites across the country and offer stays for 3, 4, 7, 10 or 14 nights from as little as £25 per night depending on the time of year. I’d certainly consider trying a longer break with my son at one of the sites as Ready Camp has shown me that you can enjoy the benefits of an outdoors style holiday, but with a few creature comforts thrown in for good measure. Have you tried a Ready Camp break? I’d love to hear your site recommendations if you have.
disclosure: we were given a complimentary stay and our travels costs were covered in exchange for an honest review.