John Traynor has a wealth of knowledge about all things outdoor, he is a regular contributor to our magazine website and an experienced tent camper.
Fit for royalty
With over 50 years of camping experience, opting for a ReadyCamp holiday felt like a bit of a betrayal of self-reliant principles or, rather, habits. Friends were more brutal with “You’re past it” being the least offensive comment. The reality is that I’ve always been keen on comfort whether backpacking, cycle-touring or camping with the family.
Plus, as I’ve also enjoyed holidays in cottages, caravans and campervans, a canvas cottage near Chipping Norton - ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’ aka ‘Chippy’ - seemed a reasonable choice as a base camp to explore the area and host visiting family and friends. It was just a case of trying something different and embracing change.
After the warm, no-fuss welcome at Reception that’s a Club hallmark, we found our luxury tent as spick and span as expected. Within 15 minutes, the car was unpacked, luggage stowed and tea being poured. What a contrast to many times pitching a tent in the rain in the Lakes and North Wales. A cottage is exactly what our home for the week felt like with the bonus of an airy feel, open aspect and the wonderful scent of canvas.
We were up and out exploring earlier every day during our week, felt more organised and certainly had a more social time – with family, friends and other campers. With umpteen cafes, bistros, pubs, interesting food shops and brilliant beers available, self-discipline was challenged. Diet? Yeah, right!
Friends with a young child stayed over rather than pitching for one night and we didn’t feel we were falling over each other. Sitting on our decking in the evening with glasses of wine in hand making plans for the next day, we felt like royalty on safari. There were no herds of wildebeest grazing on the veldt but a stunning dawn chorus to rouse us each day.
Pluses – travelling much lighter than on our usual camping jaunts; space; convenience; very comfy bed; not pitching and packing in the rain though the weather was superb when we arrived and for most of the week; immaculate shower/loo block; pure joy of a full-size fridge.
Minuses – just a twinge of guilt at enjoying glamping so much.
Would we do it again? Absolutely – we were seduced by space, comfort and facilities.
As well as following the advice/info offered by the Club, we took:
iPod and speaker dock – played softly
Barbecue tools; for use with disposable barbecue
Two camping chairs; didn’t need them as the tent had four comfy Outwell chairs
Extra clothes hangers
Portable TV/DVD – for a holiday boxed set binge (it didn’t happen – too busy/too tired!)
What we’ll add to the list for the next time:
Large plastic glasses – we bought 4 @ 50p each in a charity shop
As Club members, we paid £296 for a Monday-Monday holiday at the Chipping Norton site; by arriving on Monday, we had time to find our feet and make the most of the whole following weekend.