Showing posts from April, 2017

Tom's Field again

'I've done a poo but I've locked the door,' was the first sentence I heard anyone speak today. It was followed, somewhat randomly, by 'what happened to woolly mammoths?'

I was showering under pleasantly hot water in the men's toilet block at Tom's Field in the New Forest when I heard these words. It's our second visit to this unique slice of countryside on one of the most tranquil and laidback campsites you're likely to stumble across.
The kid's dad told him, rather unhelpfully, woolly mammoths became extinct. I'm not sure how the poo/ door locked situation resolved itself.
Back at Cleopatra, in the adults only end of the campsite, I put the kettle on for coffee and dressed for a day of hiking. We'd got an unexpected upgrade to a pitch with a view over the rolling hills upon arriving the night before. When checking in, I was asked the standard campsite-checking-in question, 'Have you stayed here before?' And on saying '…


We found a gem of a campsite in the Cotswolds, just outside the village of Charlbury. Cotswold Camping is a small, independent site spread over four modest fields, with modern facilities and immediate access to country walks and village pubs.
We arrived at 2pm on Friday and we were met by the husband half of the owners. He didn't refer to any paperwork and just asked if we'd booked. We'd booked and paid through Cool Camping. He let us choose our field and camping pitch. We spent a few minutes mulling our options, which basically consisted of establishing which of the existing camping units looked like they had children and then finding the furthest point away. The weather forecast was proven wrong and with the sun in the sky we left Cleopatra alone in her field with a wigwam-type tent and went for walk to the nearest village with pubs.
The walk to Charlbury was about 30 minutes, following a public footpath across farmland. During the latter part I think we were both a lit…

Sandwich toaster

Easy campsite meals or cheat's camping? We have never done so before but we brought the sandwich toaster with us to France for easy breakfasts. You can't light fires here and I don't like traveling with gas cylinders, so whatever we cook is going to be heated via electricity, so I thought I'd see how we got on...
It's been a triumph. Tasty breakfasts and one midday snack prepared and cooked in ten minutes with minimal washing up.
As we were eating our way through a 1.8kg catering-sized tin of SPAM at the beginning of the holiday, the first three breakfasts were SPAM and cheese. Very tasty. 
I dreamed up goats cheese and plum for the fourth day and that was gorgeous, though a squeeze of honey might have taken it to the next level.

We decided to use some of our traveling larder for day five and I made sardine and gherkin toasties. This seemed like an amalgamation of British sardines on toast and Scandinavian cold fish and pickles. These will definitely be made again…

Simple pleasures

I had the urge to make plum and goats cheese toasties for breakfast and they were delicious. We ate them at the picnic bench in the sunshine under a cloudless blue sky. A group of ramblers assembled at the top of the hill a while ago, heading off in the direction we walked on our first day. If they stick to the route we took, they'll be back in about four hours. 
We've got nothing more energetic planned for our day than laying in the sun, enjoying the beautiful French mountains that surround us, the only sounds being the birds in the trees and ducks on the lake. We might crack open a few beers in the middle of the afternoon. Later, we'll walk the 20 minutes into town to visit the weekly night market where I'm hopeful we'll be greeted with the scent of gently cooking street food or some other delights. This is about as chilled as life gets. Simple pleasures.

Pitch swapping

We've moved pitches. A couple of nights ago the wind was quite strong and though it died down to nothing yesterday the forecast is for similar today. So we did a little recce and determined that the other side of the lake was more sheltered. We asked in the site reception if we could move and they said it was fine. 
So here we now sit, above the lake, out of the strongest gusts of wind coming through the valley and still under cloudless, blue skies. We're enjoying it so much here that our plan to spend four nights here and four somewhere else went by the by. We're here for the full, chilled-out duration.

Huttopia Diuelefit

Dieulefit is a market town in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of south east France, nestled in a valley away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It's as good a place to plop a campsite as any, and Huttopia Dieulefit, sitting a twenty minute walk uphill from the town, feels remote and yet connected if you desire. Situated as is it with mountains all around it's fantastic for hikes and whichever way you set off you'll be in for a rewarding view. A walk into the pretty town along quiet country lanes is equally pleasant and you'll discover cobbled streets, pottery and art shops, two small supermarkets and a large Super U supermarket. Get there early on a Friday for market day, you can't fail to find it for the locals heading there with empty shopping baskets ready to fill with fresh local produce from a wealth of tempting stalls.
The Huttopia Diuelefit site itself is picture perfect. It has its own azure-blue lake, clear as can be, and next to this a similar-siz…

Easter in Diuelefit

A week at Easter can be two completely different kinds of camping trip depending on the weather. We were hankering for sunshine and so left booking a campsite until one week beforehand to be guided by the long-range weather forecast.
The best weather was in the south of France and so we had the usual scout around for suitable sites, limiting the search to this area. Many French campsites are still closed this early in the year so many promising sites had to be discounted.
In the end we decided on our favourite chain of campsites, Camping Indigo, a part of Huttopia and now rebranded under the parent company's name.
What Huttopia does that so many other sites don't, is fit in to the landscape. The sites are all in beautiful locations and the pitches are dotted around between the trees. You're part of nature. So many campsites take a piece of land, remove what was there and carve it into soulless pitches separated by privacy hedges.
Not many Huttopia sites were open at Easte…