Growing up our family did a lot of camping. My Dad was an ex-scout and scout leader and loved the outdoors, and consequently shared this passion with his whole family. You could say it is in my blood, as according to family stories I have been camping since I was a baby! From my own memories I remember camping and walking in the Yorkshire dales, around the southern coast, Wales and the Lake District (lots in the Lakes). We went on many an adventure most school holidays, and whilst at times I whined as I became older, as a younger child I only remember how much fun it was. I loved exploring the mountains, the dales, swimming in rivers and cooking on little stoves. It was peaceful, beautiful and exciting, and a wonderful time with my sisters and family.

I have since becoming a mother of older children, contemplated time and time again over how much fun it would be for us all to go camping and create equally adventurous memories with them. Whilst I personally (and Nathan too) would always opt for a hotel or Airbnb over camping any day, there was something inviting and exciting about the prospect of getting into camping as a family and embracing the outdoors more than we already do. I thought that being in the outdoors together and camping in a tent would be enriching and the ultimate adventure – Camping is fun isn’t it? But I also thought it is such a cheap way to travel and so would enable us to see and do more in the world too. And so this last Friday we went for it – Our first family camp to the Peak District!

The Peak District 

The Peak District is such a stunning part of the UK. Located in central England it is home to a lot of wildlife, little English towns with famous produce (Hello bakewell and its tarts!) and has such lovely breathtaking scenery. It is a great spot for cycling and walking and also offers a lot of history too. It has been on my radar for a while because I wanted to visit either Buxton or Bakewell, as well as fulfill a bucket list goal of Chatsworth House with my very own Mr Darcy!

And so we decided on the Peak District and made Bakewell and Chatsworth our little weekend thing! We planned on one night camping and then a day at Chatsworth and home again on Saturday. We chose to keep it super basic as being first timers we didn’t want it to become a stressful thing and as it was also rather last minute, we were somewhat clueless. We booked one night at a little farm between Buxton and Bakewell which cost us £17! It had everything you needed – A simple field surrounded by animals and dry stone walls, and a tap, toilets and shower which were really handy too! The weather was dry (thankfully) and it was, aside from hyper kids, a really positive experience!

We arrived about 7pm and the tent was surprisingly easy to assemble and get up (I soon got back into it and took charge!). By 7.45pm the tent was up, the car unloaded and the beds all made up. As I say, we only went basic and so literally had the tent, sleeping bags/bedding, clean clothes and some snacks for brekkie the next day with us – It was just right!

After setting up camp it was lovely to be able to take a stroll down the lane in the evening sun and explore a little corner of the countryside. The kids loved seeing the sheep, goats and cows, and I loved the scenery, dry stone walls and feeling relaxed and free. I am constantly reminded in these moments how peaceful I feel when in the outdoors and how good for my mind and emotions nature is.

The kids took a while to settle that night due to crazy levels of excitement! But other than that we all slept really well and taking an airbed for Nath and I was an absolute dream! Camping in the Summer is enjoyable as it wasn’t even that cold, and it was beautiful to wake up to blue skies and the morning sun.

On Saturday morning I awoke about 6.30am which is unheard of for me at home! Blurry eyed I stumbled to the tent door and opened it back, then laid back down. It was so beautiful to just lay there and stare out onto the hills, sheep and a fresh Summers day. I had the words of “Be Still, My soul” running through my mind and I realised in the ordinary family moment just how much peace and joy I had – it was really great!

The kids soon arose with eagerness to get out and explore and we found that breaking camp was just as simple as building it. By 9.15am we had already packed up and left, and were in Bakewell (about 10 minutes away). We wandered its cute little streets, popped into a couple of charity shops and sampled some good old Bakewell tarts and then headed over to Chatsworth house for a day. There we had lots of fun soaking up it’s beauty and history. The whole little trip was exactly how I had imagined (minus a few nutty kids here and there) and it was all so lovely and quintessentially English!

Camping for the first time worked well for us and gets 2 thumbs up from us all (except Mr Smith that still needs converting!) and I am already planning our next one! This time we want to build up to 2 nights and try and cook outdoors!

I can’t help thinking about all of the incredible places we can go as a family around the UK and Europe on a budget if we can master the ropes of camping! How many more mornings we can greet the sun and be at one with nature. How many mountains we can show and take the kids up, and how many moments can be spent snuggled in a tent together and building family bonds away from everyday life!

This trip was so enriching for my soul, so fun for our family, and a wonderful little adventure filled with beauty! Roll on the next camping adventure we can’t wait for another!

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This week has been incredibly busy, very adventurous and ultimately very blessed! We have seen and done loads together and on some days this has been pretty nuts, although mostly enjoyable too! We have been all over from Rock Pooling on Filey Brigg to museums in Leeds, and even down to the Peak District on Friday night for our very first family camping trip! We have made many lovely memories in and amongst all of the craziness and have also being able to tick off lots from our Summer bucket list too. I am hoping that the rest of the Summer holidays is set to be just as fun and happening as this week has been.

The highlight for me was certainly being able to go to Chatsworth house yesterday. I have wanted to go for such a long time and it didn’t disappoint!

Grateful For 

On Tuesday the youth I work with at church had their annual girls camp. I remember them well from my own teenage years, and as a leader, it meant that I too had the opportunity to go! I only went for one day as anything more wouldn’t have worked with the kids, but as anticipated it was jam packed and a lot of fun! We hiked 9.5 miles and then cooked dinner on a fire. In the evening we gathered round a fire and sung songs, read a few bible passages and shared our faith. It was incredibly peaceful and uplifting and since that special moment in the evening sun and around the fire, I have been even more grateful to be LDS/Mormon as I have felt really uplifted and just thankful for my faith!

I am also grateful for our first family camping trip – It was a lot of fun. And I am grateful for the positive effects I am feeling from my NLP therapy already!

Succeeded At 

This week has actually felt really successful and I have accomplished a lot of little (and some big) things that I have needed to. On Monday (before we went rockpooling) I succeed at attending an interview for Uni (more on this later as it unfolds) which has made me feel really excited. I successfully completed a 9.5 mile hike on Tuesday and I successfully found some new bargainous sandals to see me through the summer (which I love). I succeeded at putting up a tent and building a fire, and finally I succeeded at coming to a decision about my blog!

Ethan Succeeded at growing a nice stash of tomatoes, to which I felt incredibly proud of. He has been so dedicated in nurturing and watering his 2 tomato plants, that it was absolutely wonderful to see them. Homegrown tomatoes – how fab!

Found Beauty In 

There were so many beautiful and majestic moments in my week this week. From the scenery of the 9.5 mile hike I did on Tuesday on girls camp, to the beautiful calmness of the Bay and Filey Brigg on Monday, and Chatsworth House on Saturday. I have found beauty in people, beauty in family moments shared and beauty in nature and historical buildings!

It was beautiful to see the kids playing and looking for crabs with cousins, and it was beautiful to drive through the Peak District on Friday and Saturday. I found beauty in the sunsets and I found peace, stillness and beauty looking out of the tent doors early Saturday morning whilst we camped.

This week truly has been a beautiful one!

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Most of my childhood half terms and school holidays were spent around the UK on the most wonderful camping trips. At least when it was sunny they were wonderful. I also have the odd memory of complete washouts, feeling freezing as the rain beat down on the tent and falling head first into mud when the car got stuck in the field we were camping in! Overall though I have seen some great sights from the hills, mountains and cliff tops of England. I have heard hundreds of ghost stories, been on dark walks, cooked on a several fires and had fun playing with siblings and cousins. It was an ordinary part of my childhood and adventures I hoped I could relive with my kids.

With this week having been half term, I was determined to spend it away from Leeds and go somewhere fun, relaxing and picturesque! We hoped (after resining to the fact we wouldn’t be going on holiday) to maybe taking a trip to the Yorkshire Dales or Lakes, but for several reasons this didn’t pan out either (sad times)! We have however had a brilliantly fun packed week, with everything we hoped; a balance of relaxing mixed with adventure! The 1st part of the week was spent with Naths family mostly chilling, and after a pit stop at home and re- packing of bags, we headed to the Yorkshire coast where the kids camped out in my sisters garden, toasted marshmallows, had a BBQ and several fun days out to beautiful spots! Megan only lasted about 10 minutes in the tent, and ended up indoors with us. Ethan on the other hand absolutely loved sleeping outdoors in his sleeping bag with cousins, torches and grandparents…

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Whilst warmer weather would have made it all the more enjoyable, a trip to Whitby with its quaint streets, history and lovely views of the sea, sand and boats was great. Its a place I love and something I have wanted to do for ages. It was at times rather blustery, but the kids had so much fun, enjoyed some chips and an ice cream and it was overall a lovely day out!
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The next day, after another camp out and incredibly late night, the kids and cousin crew headed with Granddad to a beautiful bay between Scarborough and Whitby for some rock pooling. The weather was rather chill, and I spent most of the morning sat on a rock, observing the fun and giggles from a distance, but the scenery was beautiful and the kids generally loved it and were shocked by so many crabs, baby eels and star fish…another great coastal adventure followed by a picnic, was in their eyes perfect to wrap up their coastal mini break.

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Sometimes the things we hope to do or places we hope to be in don’t always pan out. But then the alternatives are just as fun, adventurous and memorable. I love that my kids are having similar experiences and Ordinary moments in their childhood like those I grew up with. I love raising them here in Yorkshire and being able to take them on coastal adventures with their cousins and Grandparents, and best of all…Their (Ethan’s) very 1st camp out!
It was, without a doubt, a brilliant half term over here for the Smiths…even if we are all absolutely shattered and I am struggling to move!

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I come from a family where despite being 4 girls all a couple of years apart, we were raised like boys in scout troop! When I finally started wearing make up somewhere around the age of 16 my friends didn’t believe that our idea of a fun evening growing up wasn’t painting nails and experimenting with make up, but was sat with exercise books learning ordinance and survey symbols and map reading! (True story)

Every Saturday included a hike, every holiday a tent and many trips to A&E for me!

We did raft building, hiking, mountain climbing, camping, backpacking, cycling and cliff jumping…to us it was normal, we all owned rucksacks, sleeping bags and wetsuits…our dad was a life long scout and very out-doorsy and when we hit teens we whined like no other about it all, but looking back it made life an adventure and we have a tonne of tales to tell and beautiful spots to remember.

I wanted but never expected I would have a son, so that I could pass these things on, I knew my daughters too would have fun like we did, but there was something about a boisterous son that I imagined would be in his element coming into our family, and with his love of life and the out doors Ethan fits perfectly into that dream.
InstagramCapture_e088b578-873b-47e5-912c-2788c8e447b4For many it may not seem like a big thing, but for Ethan his 1st sleeping bag is like a milestone in life, it is the key to more adventures and new experiences, an opportunity to bond with his Granddad and sleep in a tent! He was kindly sent it from  Planet Camping and it hasn’t left his side. He immediately wanted to call Granddad (my dad) to tell him all about it and plan a camping trip ASAP so that he could test it out. He carries it around on his back and sleeps in it at night pretending he is in a wood or by a hill side. He just LOVES it!
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The pattern is the 1st thing he loved, the robots are great and right up his street. He was going slightly nuts about the “Awesome Robot sleeping bag” for a few days!
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The bag is excellently designed to be a backpack, so very easy for a 5 year old boy to carry around from place to place, and I am so impressed that something so obvious as making it this way would be so useful as a parent and for him to be independent!
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From a parents perspective it is very well made and designed to a high standard. The “mummy” design means that it can go over his head to keep him warm at night (we loose most heat from our heads and this design is good for cold nights in a tent).
WP_20160216_09_48_19_ProNext it is made from “hollow fibre” which is excellent for retaining heat… whilst it is a synthetic material, it acts like wool and so once he’s snuggled he will keep warm all night. Another feature is the tubing on the zipper, this again adds to its ability to retain heat! Okay I am sounding super geeky now but coming from the back ground I have its kind of normal conversation! But overall what you need to know it that its a brilliant sleeping bag for an adventurous little boy and you can see it (and others) here on their website. To him its comfy and looks great with a design he is into and as a parent you know wherever they are they will be warm and cosy!
InstagramCapture_317887ac-f6b5-4bd7-8507-50cdcb92515fI am so excited now the kids are good walkers, water lovers and fuelled by adventure that we can start to take them to the places we enjoyed as kids. That we can have regular camping trips and sleeping bag snuggles!
InstagramCapture_b2e71aaf-f26b-473e-bc92-8a23cda6715eThank you to Planet Camping for this amazing Robot sleeping bag…This boy is living the dream!

NB: We were sent this sleeping bag in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and pictures are my own! 

 

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