Have you ever sat outside on a mild, still summer’s eve, gazing up at the blackest sky, peppered with bright twinkling stars and watched a meteor shower? Wrapped up in a fleece or a blanket because it’s grown chilly, but you don’t want to leave the beauty of the night sky, away from the light pollution and noise of everyday living? Have you ever woken from a blissful sleep, breathing the freshest air throughout the previous day and opened your ears to the sounds of sheep bleating in the distance, and magpies tittering over your head? These are just some of the fond memories I have when I think back to my childhood – of summers spent camping on a secluded site, surrounded by pine-trees and secret paths into the woods throughout. Squirrels would announce the arrival of morning by pelting acorns onto our caravan roof, and crows would caw out to each other as the sun came up. Anyone who has ever been camping will be familiar with these endearing examples of the experience of camping. Admittedly, it’s a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it – but I’m of the opinion that if you have the right gear and the right company (and the right frame of mind – luxury lovers look away now), camping can be an unforgettable experience for a fraction of the cost of a package holiday. The thing with this type of break, whether it be a weekend, a few days/week away or a fortnight’s pitching over in Europe, camping actually forces you to slow down. There’s something about being surrounded by nature that puts less emphasis on the clock, and more focus on feeling everything around you. The breeze in your hair, the birdsong reminding the world that it’s time to snuggle down for sleep. The smell of sausages cooking on the barbecue, and the sound of children’s laughter as they spin in the grass before landing in a tangled, giggling heap.
I wouldn’t call us ‘seasoned campers’ but we’ve been a few times to know that we love it. As it’s all about the Staycation this year, we decided to upgrade to a larger tent to accommodate our 2.4 children family (The 0.4 being the hubby, obviously). Having found a lovely looking campsite in St. Neots, we took the plunge and joined the Caravan and Camping Club for access to certified and listed sites, as well as club sites.
For a two-night stay in a beautiful place closer to the Home Counties, St Neots Camping and Caravanning Club site lives up to its 4 and 5 star reviews. A river runs along the back of the campsite, perfect for fishing enthusiasts (although fishing is only available during the season). It’s also a great site for walkers – a short (buggy-friendly) walk through a path that runs alongside the river takes you into the town of St Neots and The Green Corridor. We took the walk into town and enjoyed a lovely stroll by the water and through parkland – very popular with dog owners (and dogs of course) and children, and our own youngsters were delighted to spot three play areas on the way into town. On the campsite itself, the toilets and showers are cleaned daily to a high standard, and they also have a family room for parents with younger children – including a changing unit and a baby bath. On our arrival, one of the site managers walked us to our pitch after checking with us whether we would require the use of the parent and child room, and subsequently led us to a pitch that was close enough (without being too close) to the facilities to make our life easier. Not only this, but he made a conscious point of placing us at the furthest point away from the river (although I think Mr C would have preferred a spot a bit closer to the water – and I’d have been forever chasing our youngest away from the edge) for the safety of the children. The staff were more than accommodating, and as their slogan suggests (The Friendly Club), extremely welcoming and friendly, having plenty of time to engage in conversation with our chattiest child whilst trying to supply us with the site information. The site is open to members and non-members, with electric hook-up and shop (although the opening hours are limited), and everything else you might need is only a stroll away.
Despite the fact we have so many other sites to visit (a whole country to explore, and more!) and intend to make the most of our club membership and new tent, we’ve already decided we’ll return to St Neots Camping and Caravanning Club Site.
If you’ve never tried camping, give it a go. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Part of this blog post was written as a review for WikiPlacesForKids.com – the site to go to for parents and kids who need some inspiration – or just that much-needed hour out of the house!