Chorleywood camping in sub-zero temperatures

On Friday I was at a work conference in London and so we booked a campsite easy for me to get to after the conference had finished and that Tony could get to at a similar time after he finished work. We chose North Hill Farm in Chorleywood, about as far west as the London Underground would take me.

As it turned out, I received the very kind offer of a lift from the conference right to the campsite and arrived around 5.30pm. I knew Tony was only five or ten minutes away from arriving himself and that was blessing since it was pitch black. After stumbling around in the darkness I hadn't managed to find a sign for the campsite reception during my wait.

North Hill Farm is a five pitch Certified Location with the Caravan Club so there wasn't much to the campsite bar the already-pitched vans and motorhome. I found the loo and shower but there was nothing else. The other side of a fence was a huge house with lights on and so I assumed this would be where the reception was but I needed a torch to find a signpost or at least a gate so I could go and find out.

We knew our pitch number and so normally I wouldn't have bothered whether I booked in or not, but this site operated its electricity via pre-pay meter cards and we needed electricity to cook our dinner.

Tony's arrival in Cleopatra produced the much-needed torch and I was able to find a sign for reception and a gate allowing entry into the grounds of the big house. One hurdle out of the way it was time for the next one - nobody was answering the door bell or the phone! It was a brass bell with a rope and so I rang it harder and harder until finally a lady came to the door.

I paid her £40 for our pitch for two nights but she seemed reluctant to sell me electricity cards, saying there may already be enough on the meter. I hadn't looked but I doubted it. It was cold and so we'd be plugging in our oil-filled radiator. Also both our cooking methods required electricity, as did our espresso machine for the morning. I asked for two cards of £1.

Back at the meter, the display read 41p. I topped it up with both of our cards and we readied Cleopatra for our stay.

We've added four things to our campervan paraphernalia recently and the latest got its first outing this weekend. It's a silver-screen insulation wrap around for the pop-up roof. We bought it ready for camping in the Alps in December but it came in very useful this weekend. With our CaliTopper over the top of this insulation screen the combination did a grand job keeping the heat from escaping as temperatures dipped just below zero overnight.

We woke up to rain and so we decided we'd take advantage of our close proximity to a Tube station and hop on a train to London for a day of shopping. We enjoyed coffee at Belugo Cafe in John Lewis Oxford Street and a buffet lunch in Chinatown, but we didn't buy anything apart from one Christmas present.

We arrived back in Chorleywood at 4pm, bought alcoholic supplies at the Budgens supermarket and settled in for another cold night inside Cleopatra. She was lovely and warm with the combination of her built-in diesel heater and the electric radiator. Plus we've now got an electric blanket in the pop-top roof bed.

After such a cold weekend I'm a little more optimistic we can survive December in the Alps - our campsite says the temperature rarely drops below -15C!

Oh, the other new additions to making our weekends a little more comfortable? Firstly we have bought a (yellow) Nespresso coffee machine. We were using a cafetiere until now which did the trick for the first cup of coffee each, but then it needed emptying and washing which was a pain. Now we can make coffee after coffee without the wait or the clean up!

Secondly we've bought giant Lego storage blocks for some of our stuff. It keeps clutter hidden and looks very cool indeed.

Finally we also bought an outdoor storage box for our muddy shoes and to keep cold food in during the winter. I didn't check the measurements of it before I ordered it and it turned out to be absolutely huge. But it fits in the living space while we're driving and then goes straight outside when we arrive at our destination. It's proving useful at weekends, and during the week it sits by our wheelie bins for the postman to leave parcels inside.

You'd have thought that having camped through all seasons now we'd have everything just right. Cleopatra is getting her winter tyres this week. Maybe then we'll put away the credit card!

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