Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Glamping It To The Max....

The other day I was having a little nosey on Facebook and reading down the home page, when I saw a status update that caught my eye! "Glamping to the max. Bell tents a go go!" As you can imagine,  my eyes popped out on stalks and I immediately wanted to know more. So I clicked on said friends page and to my delight I was greeted with snap shots of beautiful bell tents, towering tipis and bunting galore that made my heart go all a flutter....

For many years now,  a group of fabulous friends gather at  Romney Farm Campsite in Kent, for what's known to them as 'Mellis Fest',  a birthday celebration and a good excuse to have a jolly good themed knees up under the stars. This years party theme was Cowboys 'n' Indians, and Heather, good wife of  birthday boy Mellis, decided to glamp it up to the max by hiring one of  RedTipi's amazing tents and mark the occasion in style. It was a completely hassle free way to go glamping,  as all they had to do was just turn up on site and move into their weekend retreat as everything else was done for them. She opted for the wedding package which included, 

The tipi being delivered to the location and set up  
A king size futon made up with thick duvet and pillows
Floor coverings like rugs and sheepskins.
Candles and lanterns to gently light the Tipi
A fire in our purpose built fire bowl, or wood burner.
Chilled champagne (Bolli no less) and glasses
A discreet chest containing all you need to make tea/coffee in the morning.

If you would like to hire a tipi, here are some of the places that do just that. Tipi hire cost starts from £560 for a weekend..

Heather and Mellis weren't the only one to camp in style, Mani and Amanda bought along their rather beautful bell tent. These tents were originally used as military kit in the 19th century, but now they are THE most desirable tent of the land. Uber chic and pleasing to the eye, especially when decorated in an abundance of bunting and fairy lights,  they make you just simply want to dive in and snuggle down!

Surprisingly enough they really aren't as expensive to buy as you may have first thought, starting prices from  £299 for a 4metre diameter with separate ground sheet, check out the websites below for more information... (hire and to buy)
Hotel Bell Tent (hire only) 
Out In The Open (hire only)
Canvas and Cast (to buy)

Melis Fest finishes in style with a day of frolicking on Camber Sands dunes. A stunning stretch of beach that has miles and miles of golden sands when the tide is out. Not too far from the historic town of Rye, where you can tread the enchanted cobbled streets, take in the beautifully preserved historic houses of the Tudor and Georgian times or just simply treat yourself to a scrummy cream tea at one of their many quant tea rooms.

If you have a glamping weekend you would like to share, please contact me at

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Thai Green Curry

Serves 2

According to my good friend Pae, the secret to cooking an authentic Thai Green Curry is to simply add sugar!

 Before you get cooking under canvas, can I just point out that in the ingredients list you will notice that I have put a '1 1/2 mugs of rice'. That is literally a tea/coffee mug, that you will have with you in your camping equipment, not a special measuring cup.

This is my very special camping mug
that has many uses.

1 1/2  mugs of jasmine rice 
3 chicken breasts diced
400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
2 heaped tbsp thai green curry paste
olive oil
25 fine trimmed green beans
2 tsp of sugar
chicken stock cube

meat chopping board
sharp knife
saute pan
wooden spoon

  1. Start to cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
  2. Heat a small swirl of olive oil into the sauté pan, add the chicken and cook until it has all turned white, take off the gas.
  3. Stir in the thai green curry paste until all the chicken is coated. Add the coconut milk and replace back onto the heat, and cook until it starts to lightly bubble. Don’t worry if the coconut milk is solid when it comes out of the tin, just break it up in the pan and as it heats up it will melt. 
  4. Crumble in the chicken stock cube, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the green beans and leave to cook (preferable simmer if you can turn your gas down) for 10 minutes. If you can’t turn the heat down, then keep stirring.
  5. Serve on the rice.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Day Trip For A Camping Virgin

My lovely friend David recently decided that camping with his three year old daughter was without a doubt the holiday for them, but his only problem was he didn't have a clue as where to start, let alone  which tent to buy! So he called on me for some expert camping advice....

We jumped in the car and took a short trip out of town to a fabulous camping shop, Camping International, which is based in Gillingham, Kent. As David has never done this camping malarky before I thought it was important for him to check out some of the different varieties of tent that are on offer. 
As we all know, these days everything we need is simply at a click of a button and we can view every single tent available throughout the world online, but to really get a feel for a tent and to make sure that it is the right one for you and your family, it really is a good idea to have a good nosy around them.

Now it has to be said that I am not a big fan of dark green or blue tents. I have owned a blue one in the past and I found it really depressing, especially on a miserable day, the tent felt moody and enclosed. So when it was finally time to upgrade, I was really keen to buy a tent that was light and airy. 
My husband and I spent many hours visiting camping shops, the reason for this is that they all have different varieties on display. Funnily enough, it was at Camping International that I spotted our future holiday home, the Sunncamp Family Vario 600. The minute I stepped inside the door I knew it was 'The One'. It was love at first sight, and what made this tent so special was the amount of windows it had, two in the roof, two down each sides and two at the front,  and if that wasn't enough to make me squeal with delight, it was made from a lovely light green/grey coloured material. Perfection. However the one draw back was the staggering amount of money they wanted in exchange for it! Deflated and heartbroken we left the shop, but I wasn't deterred from my Husband clutching his wallet and shaking his head,  a quick browse on the internet when we got home and I found it cheaper online at Springfield Camping, puppy dog eyes and a promise we would camp for the rest of our lives,  she (not sure why she is a she) was delivered within a couple of days! 

My tent is now sooo last year, although I wouldn't trade her in for all the tea in china and you can still buy this make online but their latest equivalent seems to be the Sunncamp Constellation 800, with extra features!

Other things to think about when buying a tent is how much head room you have! My Husband is 6ft3ins and David is 6ft and if you are planning on camping for a long period of time, ducking your head regularly becomes a right old pain in the neck!

Carpet?!? who'd ever heard of carpet in a tent... bit extravagant isn't it? My husband thought so at the time we bought ours, but he certainly hasn't regretted spending that extra £40 since! It really does take the cold and dampness away from the ground and gives your tent and tootsies a real warm and homely feel.

Footprint in camping terms means its a ground cover that simply helps protect the floor of the tent from abrasion. When you pitch a tent and then get in, your bodyweight and tossing and turning during the night grind the fabric in the ground, wearing off the waterproof coating and in time perhaps even damaging the fabric. With a footprint down, it takes the abuse instead. 

There may be a couple of things that will put you off buying a larger tent, try not to be too daunted by the size of them once you step inside.  I won't lie to you, it will take a couple of trips to get the hang of erecting it and to feel comfortable with what goes where, but it really isn't rocket science, as long as there are two of you, you'll be fine. My advice would be to get as much space as you can afford, because a week feels like a very long time if you get a tent that you can only wiggle a couple of sleeping bags into!
The second thing that may put you off is how expensive it can all be to buy and if thats the case then I may just have the answer you are looking for. Once you find the tent of your dreams,  Google it , this will show you who has the best price for it and if that still seems too much to fork out then the other two options are eBay and Gumtree, you will be suprised at what camping bargins you can find on there.

David decided to go for the same tent as me and after trawling eBay, he found a lovely 2nd hand one that had only been used twice and it also included the footprint and carpet!  He was the winning bidder at £275!  He has saved at least £200! BARGIN!

I asked David if he had anything he would like to share with any camping virgins out there and this is what he said...

My main comment would be how surprised I was that camping can be glamping. It is not about roughing it but enjoying it - in comfort and style!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Chocolate Fondue

Serves 2

This is a very quick,  yet deliciously indulgent pudding! Well worth every calorie. You can change the dipping ingredients to suit your fruit fancy!

10 cubes of milk or dark chocolate
4 tbsp double cream
15 strawberries washed, culled and halved
1 banana peeled and thickly sliced

forks or toothpicks

  1. Half fill the saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
  2. Pop the chocolate in a mug and then carefully place the mug into the saucepan of boiling water.  Stir the chocolate occasionally with a teaspoon until melted.
  3. Add the double cream and mix well until smooth and creamy. Take the mug out of the water (carefully as the handle may be hot)
  4. Serve with fruit.