Camping with friends in Cornwall

Back in May we went camping.  It was our first family holiday and first holiday for Ian and I since our honeymoon back in 2010.

Being seasoned campers (well, not really, we’ve just been camping a handful of times), we were mentally prepared for the work and effort that goes into camping.  Not to mention the freezing cold nights and perpetual feeling of being unwashed.

Ian Camping

All of this with a toddler and pre-schooler in tow was a tad daunting, but we weren’t phased.

We experienced a heightened level of trepidation when we considered our actual journey there.  It’s a long way to Cornwall from London.

With our car brimming with everything possible (bar an inevitable number of essential items) we headed off at 5am on a Tuesday morning.  It took us about five hours to get there, a good proportion of which the kids slept for.

Cornwall camping

We met a group of friends with children there and set up camp.  Literally.

A few years back, the thought of holidaying with friends would’ve felt a bit naff, largely due to feeling intruded on when you wanted time alone as a couple.  However, I can’t recommend it enough with this type of holiday.

Cornwall camping

There were five children in total, different ages, but ranging from 18-months to 8-years old.  It was a perfect mix and they all got on brilliantly well.  They provided entertainment and distractions for each other, which is most useful when all you want to do is kick back and enjoy a vat of cider by the campfire.

Not quite a vat of cider, but Red Stripe will do just nicely.
Not quite a vat of cider, but Red Stripe will do just nicely.

Young children can be a huge challenge getting to sleep at home, let alone anywhere else – particularly a tent.  It’s easy to forget how ridiculously arctic the temperatures can be at night, despite the warmth of the daytime.

We made sure that we had some good-quality child-sized sleeping bags for the kids, not to mention fleeces for them to wear, AND fleece blankets to put on top.  After a tiring day of purely outdoor activities, the kids were shattered and although fighting it, were ready for bed.

camping in Cornwall

They needed layers for bed.  We had two double air mattresses to give a good soft cushioning and a space between the cold ground and us when asleep.  We dressed the kids in vests, their normal long-sleeved pyjamas and a pair of socks.  Over the top of that they wore fleece sweaters before we zipped them up in their lined sleeping bags.  Over the top of that we gave them two huge fleece blankets covering them both together.

 Cornwall camping

Seems a bit much, but believe me, they needed it.  If you were to go camping in the winter (you may need your head testing) you would need a heck of a lot more to wear.  Preferably thermals.  This was the end of May, and the weather was really warm in the day, yet freezing at night.

We managed to get the kids to go to sleep surprisingly well.  They did stir a couple of times over the three nights, but overall it was mostly painless.

camping in Cornwall

Catering was a bit rubbish on our part.  I did look on in envy at some of the campervan crews who had huge, portable kitchens on site, putting together gourmet meals.  We didn’t even have a table!

Finley sand

We had essentials such as peanut butter – amazing for energy and doesn’t require refrigeration.  We had tins of beans, tins of sweetcorn, packets of pasta, jars of pasta sauce, boxes of cereal.  We had a little gas stove and a cheap set of pans that we used for boiling water and cooking whatever needed cooking.  We ate out in Padstow a couple of times, so the kids did get to eat something less miserable than our rubbish camping cuisine.  We wouldn’t have wanted to dine camping-style for more than the three days we were there!

Cornwall camping

The site itself was on a farm.  There were animals for the kids to see and interact with, as well as a games room and a little petrol-fuelled railway for the kids to ride on.  They were outdoors all of the time, so were burning lots of energy and therefore getting adequately tired.  They also had their friends with them, so that was extra entertainment in itself.

Fraser looking particularly exhausted on our third and final day.
Fraser looking particularly exhausted on our third and final day.

We did day trips, visited local places and the beach.  And by night, after the kids were in bed, it was wonderful to kick back around the fire, playing card games, chatting and having a drink together with our friends.  It was really quality time spent and totally unforgettable.

Cornwall camping

Camping is a great way to holiday in the UK.  Yes, it is hard work and can feel like you’re ‘roughing it’ somewhat, but that’s the fun and beauty of camping.  Watching the kids spending so much time outdoors and away from the TV was brilliant.

camping in Cornwall

It was great for me.  I didn’t once – not once – think about what was going on at home, Facebook, my blog or anything.  Life is stripped back to basics, which I think is good for us all once in a while.

My focus was on what we’d eat for dinner and where we were going that day.  It is the simplest way of holidaying, and I loved it.  I cannot recommend camping enough, regardless of your budget.

I can’t wait for next time.

And then the fun began...
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11 thoughts on “Camping with friends in Cornwall

  1. Great write up.. v cute pix. I love camping although I’ve never been to Cornwall…hmmm food for thought. I also have envy of other campers’ catering kit when we go. But the most important thing is to get out and about having fun with the kids and having time for a nice glass of wine as the sun goes down. Plus with peanut butter and pubs where can you go wrong x

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  2. We loved camping as a couple, but haven’t yet ventured out as a family. It’s on the list for this summer, and I really hope we manage it. I agree it’s a fabulous way to holiday, and we’re lucky that during the summer it’s generally still in the 20’s over night 🙂 #thetruthabout

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  3. As you know we are off to Weymouth in August but only for two nights. I don’t think it will be quite so cold at night but I’m thinking about getting the kids those airbeds with a sleeping bag incorporated? I really need to source a tent though! 🙂 Can’t believe you didn’t go to Coombe Mill!! Thanks for linking up hon Xx #thetruthabout

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    1. I have no idea about the double airbeds with sleeping bag incorporated. Ian did all the research and purchasing, so he may have come across them. We purchased most of our stuff from Decathlon, as recommended by our friends who do a lot of camping.

      It wasn’t ‘our’ holiday, it was a group holiday, booked by our friends, so although Coombe Mill wasn’t far, we wanted to spend our time with our friends. That was literally it! Oh, and we borrowed our tent. x

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      1. Oh yes of course I wasn’t thinking, you had older children with you so that makes sense. I have been reliably informed that self inflating mattresses are the best idea (and that the ‘Ready Beds’ aren’t the best for outdoor camping) so I’m going to get some of those. We are going to borrow a tent too. Glad you had such a great experience anyway. X

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  4. OMG it sounds like you had the most amazing time! I desperately want to go to Cornwall, and I’d love to go camping but being a non driving family I’m not sure if it’s going to happen. Perhaps glamping will be our middle ground?

    There’s definitely something magical about totally switching off on holiday. We did the same when we went to Greece in May xxx

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  5. Looks and sounds great. Since our kids came along we’ve always preferred holidaying with friends. This summer we’re again going with our oldest uni friends and their three kids – their youngest essentially overlaps with our oldest so we have a range from 3 to 14. It’s amazing how much less stressful – and more fun – it is with four adults and six kids than with two adults and three kids. The kids get to hang out as a gang, while the adults (and the older kids) play board games all night. (Yeah, we’re THAT exciting …)

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  6. Love this, sounds like the best holiday ever, just simply being in the moment. I felt like that in the Dales, worrying about food and walking in the meadows. That, my friend is the real life. Family, fresh air and that feeling that nothing else matters but right there. LOVE this, love you x

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  7. Sounds like a lovely holiday! I went to Cornwall for the first time last August and would love to visit again. I didn’t camp though! Might have to brave it and give it a go as I love the sound of your experience, bar the artic nights, though I guess in August we’d be glad for any cool breeze!

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