To Upgrade or Not

We have had our existing tent for about four years and it is serving us well so far. I have always been a fan of Vango tents thanks to my parents mainly as that is what they always seemed to have. My experience of them is that they are durable and adaptable and they have such a large range that you will easily find one to suit. Obviously there are many tent manufacturers out there now and the range can be mind boggling. I think like with many things you tend to find something you like and then go back to the same supplier / manufacturer / brand time and time again. We started out with a Vango 500 from the Icarus range and then four years ago we went for the 600 What drew us to this was the fact it had three rooms, we already had one kid and were pretty sure another would be joining the family so three rooms made sense for us.  The thing we have to have when camping is space. I found with my parents especially that space was always lacking and that is one of the things that can lead to major frustrations on a trip away. Now we like to have enough space to spread out a bit and to keep our supplies and equipment close at hand. This is an Icarus 600:

Vango Icarus 600

One of the reasons I went for the Icarus is the matching canopy that was available, although we haven’t actually bought that yet and now am not sure if we will. The extra space that gives would be great but I am starting to consider changing the tent rather than adding to it.

I think we all have our own checklist as it were when we buy a tent but to sum up I would put them in this kind of order:

1. Where do you go camping and what kind of terrain / weather are you expecting?

If you go camping on a steep mountainside in the middle of winter then you will want a tent that is easily portable but also sturdy enough to stand up to fierce weather and secure enough to stay put. If you only go to well equipped campsites that you can drive into then the tent doesn’t need to be so portable as it will be travelling in the boot of the car rather than on your back. And if you are a fair weather camper then the tent can be a little less robust.

2. How many of you are there?

This is pretty obvious – if you go camping alone then the size of tent you require will be a lot smaller than if you camping with the family or three or four friends. Size will also be determined by the amount of time you go camping – longer trips require more supplies usually.

3. Ease of pitching

Find out how easy or time consuming the tent is to put up because depending on who you have with you to help this could turn out to be a nightmare! I do remember a few occasions with my parents when the holiday almost started in disaster because my Dad couldn’t get the tent up and my Mum wasn’t much help to him. I can laugh about it now but back then not!!

I always like to look at the additions that you can buy as well, such as the canopy mentioned before. I like to find a brand I like and then stick with it as much as possible.

I’d be interested to hear what tent you use for your family and if you can recommend the next step up from an Icarus 600. I quite like the 1000 pictured here


vango icarus1000 canopy



Camping isn’t my only passion. I am also a closet golfer. I say closet because I never get the chance to play as often as I would like. I get to go swing the clubs maybe once every few months if I’m lucky. I live too far away from the golf course and with work and the family the time never seems to crop up. My wife thinks I’m happy with this but secretly I would be out on the course at least twice a month if I could. I used to think I would like to own or manage my own golf course and who knows, one day… Having said that, I’m not very good at it, maybe because I don’t get the chance to play, but what I really love the most is being outdoors, being on the greens, hearing the sound the club makes when it connects with the ball and then the walking, oh the walking. I would probably be happy enough to walk around a golf course without even lifting a club but I understand that defeats the object. To sum golf up, I find it to be a very relaxing pasttime and one which I will strive to fit more of into my life.

I actually have a cunning plan to do this, and I am looking at campsites that are close to golf courses so that I can combine a family camping trip with a few holes on the greens. Having looked into it there are a lot of campsites that fit the bill including South Cliff camping which is near Bridlington, home to Bridlington golf course.


Situated on the east coast of the North Riding of Yorkshire, Bridlington looks like a place that has something to please all the family. The beach – not just for summer days, but for bracing walks and shell collecting in the winter too. There is a train to take you along the promenade. You can visit the famous Sewerby Hall and Gardens which even contains a small zoo in the grounds. There are seaside amusement parks if that is your bag and also a leisure centre with pool, slide and wave machine. With a theatre and a museum, and did I mention the golf course I am pretty certain that Bridlington is going to be going on my list of places to visit.

List of places to visit so far:

1. Bridlington

If you have a hobby that is less than well received by the rest of your family then think about how to combine everyone’s interests to keep everyone happy.

Kid’s Activities

Travelling with kids can be challenging and keeping them entertained can be a job in itself sometimes leaving you needing a holiday when the holiday is over!

Read some of our top ideas for things to do with the kids when on a camping adventure. The whole point of camping is to get away from technology and immerse into nature so get back to basics and old fashioned values and have fun for the kids and adults too.


1. Build an outdoor den

I know, you already have your tent but venture off the beaten track and use natural materials that can be found all around you and get the kids to construct a makeshift wigwam out of sticks and foliage.


2. Play hide and seek

Outdoor areas are great for games of hide and seek. Set boundaries beforehand so everyone knows where they are allowed to go and make the most of the outdoors as your own adventure playground.

3. Set up a treasure hunt

Make up clues and hidden symbols to lead the kids to find the treasure at the end of the path. Don’t make it too difficult though or they will get frustrated. A trail that lasts for about thirty minutes is about right.

4. Beach fun

If you are camping near the water then take the kids fishing or crabbing. Pack the equipment you will need or buy it / hire it at your location. If you are on the beach then build sandcastles and recapture your youth.

5. On your bike

Most places have bikes for hire or take your own on a cycle rack. Cycling is a great way for you all to explore your new surroundings and if you hire bikes with baskets on you can take a picnic with you for sustenance along the way.

6. Nature trail

See how many different species of living creature you can find – be it birds, insects, butterflies or bugs. You could incorporate a drawing or painting competition.


REMEMBER whatever you do to take care of and respect the environment around you.

DO NOT litter, take all your rubbish away with you, especially in the case of non bio-degradable items.

Do not pick flowers or rip off tree branches unless you really need them.

The countryside is your playground but leave it as you found it so others can enjoy it after you.

Campers Must Haves

So, in deference to the name of the site I must of course include a list of the essentials that I think you need to have when you embark on a camping trip. Whether a first timer or not some of the following items will help to make your experience a whole lot more enjoyable.

There have always been things that I wish I had with me when on previous trips and I have also asked friends and used the internet to help me compile the list that you will see here. If you can think of anything else do let me know.


1. A tent

It might seem obvious but the right tent – not any old tent – can make your whole trip, just as a bad tent can break it. You need to make sure your chosen accommodation is weatherproof and large enough to accommodate everyone plus their belongings. Of course you can really splash out on a tent but the basic requirements are that it is secure and will stand up to whatever weather situation you are expecting, and that it is sizeable enough to not make you all feel like you are in a tin of sardines. Don’t skimp on this part. The right tent could last you for years, and some can be expanded with canopies so please make sure that you put the time and effort into researching this part.

2. Comfortable bedding

You have your tent sorted but what are you going to sleep on? Whatever kind of holiday you take, sleep is important to us all and bad sleep makes for bad moods and bad holidays. Invest in some lightweight sleeping bags, and some blankets that can be used for layering. Take some pillows – so many people don’t even think of taking their own pillows. You can take normal household ones if you have room or you can buy inflatable ones. You will need to use your judgement depending on the time of year and weather conditions but like the tent, your sleeping apparel could last you a long time so don’t skimp.

3. First aid essentials

If you were a brownie or a scout then you know you should always “be prepared”. Take a basic portable first aid kit with you, you can keep it in the car if the car is near the pitch site. Make sure you have the essentials such as plasters, bandages, antiseptic wipes, thermometer and so on. I find anti-histamines very important to ward off any allergies caused by grasses, pollen, and insect bites. Talking of which – insect repellent and bite ease spray is a must, don’t let the bugs feast on you. Remember sun tan lotion if the sun is due out!

4. Entertainment

There will come a time, especially if you are camping with kids, that you want some simple easy and free entertainment. When not exploring the local area or cooking on a camp fire there will be down time when a pack of cards or a portable chess set will be a treasured addition and will while away some pleasant relaxation time. We try to limit time spent on phones and tablet devices so good old fashioned fun with a pack of cards is perfect for us. Look up some games to play before you go away, or how about practising some magic tricks.

5. Emergency contact numbers and a backup mobile phone

Camping is an adventure, a get away from it all, but remember safety is paramount. You have your first aid it for basic ailments but what if you needed more than that? Make sure that you have local contact numbers for doctors and rescue organizations should the worst happen.  We like to take a fully charged phone with us that is only ever used in emergencies. Imagine the one moment you really need a phone and the one you have is low on battery. A cheap pay as you go is perfect for this and while we have never yet had to use it, it’s great peace of mind knowing it is there.

On top of this, always make sure that someone knows where you are at all times, just in case of accidents.

6. Sensible clothes

No matter how fashion conscious you may be, it will only take one camping trip to make you realise that comfort is more important than vanity. Pack appropriate clothes to keep you warm and dry, and if a lot of walking is planned then take proper walking shoes or boots and plenty of socks. If rain is forecast then waterproofs are an absolute must.