Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Nostalgia Took Me Camping


Heads up; this is a pretty wordy, photo heavy post, so before you settle in for the long haul grab yourself a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit ;)
When my sister and I were kids, our mum used to take us to Stoneywish Nature Reserve in Ditchling, East Sussex, it was awesome! they had old tractors in giant sandpits, vintage gypsy wagons, teepee's and so many friendly animals! In the summer when we were bored out of our minds it was a bit of a no brainer for mum, she would drive us down there and just let us go run about in the sunshine, she would sit at the cafe with a cup of tea usually accompanied by one of her friends and we were able to have some good old fashioned fun with make-believe! Its a little changed now, but still a lovely place to go on a summer day for a picnic!

My sister discovered last year that they also have a field dedicated to camping! The facilities are basic, there is a tap with drinking water, and toilets, but there aren't any showers or electricity supply for camper vans. So it's definitely a one night kind of place. At the end of the summer last year Genevieve and Bonamy decided to give it a go, and loved it! It was areal shame they only discovered it at the end of the summer and they've been gunning to go back since. they invited Ciarán and I along, and since it was my childhood playground nostalgia kicked in and I couldn't refuse!

First things first, we had to get ourselves a tent, and since neither of us have been camping in a long time we figured it would be better to borrow a tent rather than buy one, so first on my list was my little brother Louie, who as always, came to my rescue and said of course we could borrow his tent, and yes a double airbed does fit! (I was not interested in sleeping on the ground, if that makes me a pansy then so be it!)

So we packed up the car with everything we would need for the one night and more! But most importantly we packed our little bucket barbecue! We fired up Bridget (my car) and drove on down to the countryside!

We arrived late afternoon, chose our pitch and set up camp! Gen and Bon's tent went up no bother, but Ciarán and I had a little trouble. We realised very quickly that knowing what the tent should look like once up would have been very helpful, so we figured the best thing to do was to put all the poles in, and hope it would begin to make sense.


Bon very quickly realised we needed help, and I did what I felt was most helpful, which was photograph the whole fight between the boys and the tent (for a while I thought the tent was going to win). They eventually got a handle on it, and as hoped the tent began to make sense.


Once the tents were up we set about making home, our airbeds were pumped up and big fluffy feather duvets thrown on top, it looked so cozy I almost got straight into bed! But we got our picnic blankets out and the trusty bucket barbecues. While they were heating up we topped up our camping cups with some wine and sat back to soak up the last of the evening sun.


As soon as it was hot enough, our homemade burgers went on the barbecue, and we gobbled them down! We had them with fresh guacamole, sour cream and a tomato chutney, and bit of cheese, some obligatory salad leaves, and to top them off a couple of nachos! I have had a burger like this at a burger joint in Oxford called Atomic Burger, and as I no longer live in Oxford I sometimes get cravings for these amazing burgers and have no choice but to try to replicate them. These burgers came pretty damn close to the real deal, and really hit the spot! The homemade burger recipe came from the Jamie Oliver Ministry Of Food cook book. Honestly they were bloody brilliant, and I can't see myself buying pre-made burgers ever again, it was so simple and pretty damn cheap for the amount of burgers I made! Give it a go!




Once all the burgers were gone, Gen and I took a wander to watch the sunset with our wine and had a good old sister natter.




By the time we got back, the boys had foraged for some wood, and our barbecue bucket had transformed into a fire pit to keep us warm.



We sat around the fire chatting and just allowing ourselves to unwind with no phone signal and nothing to worry or distract us. The wine was finished off and Gen whipped out a bottle of home made Krupnikas, which we warmed on the fire, as I understand it, this is a sweet honeyed vodka from Lithuania. It was absolutely delicious, and I fully intend on making some myself maybe as Christmas presents, or just to have for occasions like this one. 




We stayed out as long as our drooping eyes would let us (and the impending dampness), and eventually as the fire dwindled and the chilliness set in, we clambered into our tents and snuggled down under our duvets to sleep.


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