Well we survived. We are out the other side of our glamping experience at Camp Bestival. I thought I should share the 10 things I learned glamping there.
Two nights and three days in a tent. In a field. With a queue for the loos and a queue for the showers. We did it. And even managed to do breakfast both mornings on a tiny one ring gas stove, and live to tell the tale. So I thought I would share with you my tips for surviving but first of all I wanted to say a big thank you to Hotel Bell Tent for, well being there really. If we hadn’t been able to book with them I am not sure I would have been brave enough to do a Festival without access to loos. And plug sockets. You will recall our 10 hour round trip to hire a camper van for Reading Festival (ten miles up the road) a few years ago for those very reasons.
We arrived at Camp Bestival mid afternoon on Friday having followed signs for the last ten miles (clear instructions that say not to follow sat navs as there are road closures). And then wander down the hill to get our passes and wrist band for the “Boutique” camp site. There are a number of tent companies in this area, some with tipis, some with cloud houses, even some Airstream caravans, but we decided to book with Hotel Bell Tent as they sounded fabulous. They even have a “Reception Tent” and bell hops in purple t-shirts to help you carry your stuff from the car park and show you to your tent.
They also have a Pamper Tent and a lounge area. Both have plug sockets which proved vital for those of addicted to our phones. And for children awake at 5.30am who snuck off and watched things on ipads. I would also like to take my hat off to the family who brought an electric kettle to boil that first cuppa of the day rather than waiting for their stove to do the job. Genius.
The tents themselves are huge. They quite comfortably accommodate a family of four, though we had one to ourselves as the teens didn’t come with us. This is ours at the end of our stay so please excuse the dirty floor, it was immaculate when we arrived. How on earth they keep the outsides clean after using them at Festivals is beyond me.
But what did I learn whilst spending time in this tent?
- Take a duvet to put on top of the air bed, so that you sleep on that, either in your sleeping bag or under your second duvet. When the air temperature drops at night it means the air temperature in your air bed will also fall and it can mean you get cold, quickly. Putting a duvet on top of the air bed will give you an extra layer of insulation and keep you warm. (I can claim no credit for this, it is Mr B’s idea)
- Take a blindfold. Everyone talks about taking ear plugs (and in fact Hotel Bell Tent had a supply of them in Reception) but when the sun rises at 6am you might not want to be awake then. It will also stop you seeing torches being shone into your tent as drunken revellers try and find their own tent at 2am
- Take flip flops with you for the showers. No matter how “posh” they are they WILL have bits of grass, mud and the soap suds from the occupant three showers before swilling around in the bottom of the shower tray. Or worse. I cannot tell you the conversations I had with one family (who shall remain nameless) about people peeing in showers.
- Also take your wash bag stuff in a bag you can hang on the hooks in the shower, and if possible is waterproof. The shelves get very wet and quite grimy so unless you want all that on the bottom of your bag, far better to hang it up
- Hand sanitiser is a must. It had run out at the compost loos on site in the Festival arena, and was in limited supply in the posh loos too.
- Test your equipment before you go. We took a camping stove. In fact we took three. One was a small solid fuel type thing that I had seen because I read that no naked flame stoves were allowed and this sounded perfect. It needed four fuel blocks to boil a kettle. So I bought 96. And he first four set fire to the grass and did little else. We also had some small propane canisters that we took along. One with the cooking stove bit attached to the top of it. But it was so tall it was unstable and we couldn’t use it. En route Mr B had bought a small stove that attaches to propane cansisters. But not with the attachments we had. So we had a cool bag full of food and no way to cook it. Thank heavens for the camping shop on site where I snapped up a camping stove kit for £18 which was superb. But probably only £8 if we had tested everything before hand and bought it in Argos rather than on site.
- Don’t stop en route to buy a second box of wine. One is enough for two nights. Your dreams of sitting outside the tent in the evening drinking a cool glass of Chardonnay will be shattered. As you will be when you have spent all day on your feet in the sun. Fuelled by Pimms and Strawberry Martinis. When you eventually get back to your tent you will collapse into bed. And then have to lug two wine boxes back up the hill to your car at the end of the weekend.
- Take a book. You WILL be awake early as you hear other people around you and you might not want to get out of bed at 6am. Or if you do and decide to brave the showers and loos, and come back to your tent with coffee to nurse our hangovers will you will then sit on a folding chair and realise it is 7am and you can’t read your Kindle as the battery is dead and you don’t want to drain the precious battery life from your phone.
- If you are lucky enough to have access to charging sockets, as we were, take a double adaptor. That way your families four phones won’t take all the sockets. You can double up and not feel quite so guilty.
- Possibly the most important tip: Take something to identify your tent as yours in the dark! Believe me, they will all look the same when appear back there after a day out, and you will, undoubtedly try and get into somebody else’s unless you have a distinctive array of bunting hanging up. I thought I was being really clever when I hung a glow stick on our front door. Smug even. And then when we got back at 1am on Saturday morning I realised I hadn’t activated it so it wasn’t glowing.
A further freebie tip would be to think about food before you go. Relying on food stalls can be expensive, and taking tins can be a bit dull. With some forethought and planning it is really easy to make delicious food even when camping. Over on the Minimalist Meals blog there is a whole page of suggestions for things to make in one pot whilst camping
So there you have it.
Enjoy it! Embrace the fact that your clothes will be crumpled. Your hair won’t look as good as you would like it to be. That you don’t need to do your usual full make up routine. Remember that nobody cares. They are all there for the same reason: the Festival! And if I can do it, believe me, anyone can.
PS we paid for our Hotel Bell Tent weekend. This isn’t a review of them, we just loved the experience so much that decided to chat about them whilst sharing my tips for a happy camper.