Before Miss MIP came along hubby and I would often spend weekends camping away – it was a quick, cheap and easy way to make the most of a weekend and we really wanted to carry on when Baby MIP arrived. Sadly it became quickly apparent that Baby MIP and sleep were not going to be the best of friends and canvas wouldn’t contain her or her noise so we put it off…..and put it off…..and put it off.
She’s now four and while her and sleep aren’t friends they are at least mild acquaintances that are willing to occasionally be in each others presence. With that in mind we dusted off our camping gear from the garage and started to get excited at the prospect of spending weekends in sunny fields again.
Our tent needed replacing as it had gone to war with high winds in Snowdonia and was utterly defeated so while we were at the Outdoor Adventure and Camping show we brought a brand new inflatable Kampa tent which looked perfect for our needs. I do love a gadget and short of having wifi or bluetooth (maybe the next one?) this tent ticked all the boxes for us.
Then we started to look around for a small and local campsite that we could test the camping water with. We hit the jackpot with the campsite at Watercress Lodges – it was less than an hour away so easy enough to abort Mission Camp if it turned out to be a 3am disaster, family owned, excellent facilities and in a great location. The booking process was easy and with a one night stay for less than £30 for the three of us very reasonable as well.
We packed up the car with a truly stunning amount of kit and drove through the pretty Hampshire countryside to the site.
It was smaller than I expected from the website but just perfect for what we wanted – it meant no over crowded pitches and no noise from large groups. It was in an excellent location right in front of the Watercress Line – Miss MIP ran to the front of the tent to wave at the trains every time they went past even though they couldn’t see her. The bridge just down from Ropley station was the place to be if you wanted to wave at the train drivers and get a ‘toot toot’ from them and that was less than a 3 minute walk away so great for little legs.
The facilities on site were great – spacious hot showers, wheelchair accessible toilets and button operated doors, lots of sink space and hairdryers that were free to use.
Miss MIP mostly cooperated – she was very confused at going to bed when the sun was still up so I think we need to bear that in mind for next time. She woke a few times between 12:00 and 3:00 but Mr MIP and I agreed that was more because it got very cold (6c and one point) and she was waking up in an unfamiliar place. She adored the experience though – especially being able to bounce around on her space hopper without worry of cars, drinking from her special tin camping mug and wielding a mallet to get the pegs in!
The experience also showed us how much older she is getting now – she really wanted to help out and be part of the team and enjoyed the responsibility of the ‘jobs’ we gave her.
Spending time outdoors as a family is so important to us – it gives Miss MIP the experiences that we had as children and the chance to live a bit more ‘free range’ than she is able to at home due to school, her speech therapy and constant assessments on her development. When she is running around outside it doesn’t matter that she can’t meet those targets or isn’t quite the same as some other children – she’s just a little girl playing in the sunshine with her Mummy and Daddy.
In 2017 we are going to spend more time in the outdoors as a family and I feel sure that Miss MIP will only be better for it – and so will we.
If you are looking for that first step camping I couldn’t recommend Watercress Lodges and Camping highly enough. The site is friendly, well planned out, accessible and great for both experience and novice campers. We had a great time and I can guarantee we’ll be back……and maybe in one of these snazzy safari tents they’ve got!
Watercress Lodges and Camping – http://www.watercresslodges.co.uk/
Watercress Line – http://www.watercressline.co.uk/
Kampa Tents – https://www.kampa.co.uk/
Happy Camper Mugs – http://www.poundland.co.uk (brought from Petersfield store)
Unicorn Sleeping Pod – http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk
N.B – I was offered a one night stay for in return for a review of the campsite. All views and opinions are my own and I was not paid for this review
Cover photo credit – Watercress Lodges