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Lotus Belle Tent Review – It’s No Shrinking Violet

Quick overview

Starting at £660 for the 3m and rising to the top of the range 5m Hybrid deluxe at £2190.

The 5m Belle Outback Deluxe (retailing at £1890 when I purchased it) has 18m2 of usable floor space. Two doors; front and back, with additional fly sheets. Mesh windows rather than the standard PVC window panels. Extra flaps between the ZIG groundsheet and walls to keep out bugs.

 

Pros  

  • Size and space
  • High quality materials & product
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Packed down size (3 large bags)
  • Cost

Review

For those of you who know us well, you’ll know how much we love our canvas tents. We became converts about six years ago and love the sense of calm and homeliness that canvas camping seems to imbue. And I have to be honest, I love to make mine into little palaces; with carpets, organza drapes and fairy lights, the whole nine yards. (Don’t ask nick what he thinks when he’s carrying it across a campsite though!)

I decided back in 2014 to start looking for a replacement for our 5m bell and emperor tents, mainly because taking both tents with me to my hobby events (live action roleplay) was quite difficult; especially putting them up and down on my own.  What I REALLY wanted was something that gave me the space of the emperor but the manageability of the bell. I wasn’t sure if such a thing existed but I started looking anyway.

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet and in no time at all, I came across a beautiful picture of a curvaceous beauty that looked like a cross between a flower bud and a romantic Bedouin tent.  It was a great surprise to find that this unusual piece of canvas was actually designed in the UK by an equally passionate canvas camper, named Hari Seddon.

This was my first introduction to the Lotus Belle; a range of 3m, 4m and 5m tents with their unique 2m high curvy sidewalls. This distinctive feature means you can stand up all the way to the side of the tent without bending down; something you won’t see on any other bell tent, which as a rule have a 0.6m high wall as standard.  I have to say, I was slightly smitten and could see straight away that these tents had the potential to fulfil all our needs. So, I began to investigate further.

Once you’ve gotten past the beautiful shape, the first thing that hits you is the price.  These tents aren’t cheap; starting at £660 for the 3m Bud and rising to the top of the range 5m Hybrid deluxe at £2190, but then they are not exactly your average bell tent. Yet despite the price AND despite my continued search to find something similar, I kept being drawn back to these flower-shaped creations. By about mid-way through 2015 I had convinced myself, Nick, and my bank balance that buying one of these beauties would be a good investment. I was also pretty convinced that it would be great for taking the dogs camping too.

Online videos (see links below) convinced me I could handle the canvas sections and put it up myself, while online photos had me imagining how I could make it look as stunning on the inside as it was on the outside. I got in touch with Hari and started to ask lots of questions; could I manage it on my own?, how easy was it to dry? and so on. As 2015 drew to an end, I was finally ready for our new adventure.  So I pressed the “place order” button and was on my way to owning my first Lotus Belle.

I opted for the 5m Belle Outback Deluxe (retailing at £1890 when I purchased it) which would gave me 18m2 of usable floor space and two doors; front and back, with additional fly sheets for those hot mozzie-ridden evenings.  The tent also came with mesh windows rather than the standard PVC window panels which I’ve always preferred; but that might be a throwback to the bell tent designs.  The tent also offered extra flaps between the groundsheet and walls to keep out bugs, something that can be a bonus, if like us you are setting up your tent for more than a day or so and don’t want the little critters seeing you as a new home.  Time could not pass quick enough for it to arrive.

 

‘Kid in a candy store’ does not get anywhere near how I felt when it finally turned up. The first thing you notice is…its huge! The whole thing arrived in a large black bag, looking like someone was hiding a body.  And its heavy too, the website says the 5m weights 66kg compared to the 30-40kg of a bell, although I suspect the lotus actually weighs more like 70-75kg with the pegs, poles etc.

It comes packed in the three sections; groundsheet, wall panel and roof with collapsible wall poles, wooden centre pole and rebar pegs separately. Typically, as with most tents, the guy ropes were separate and needed to be put on (which I did in the living room one evening, completely covered in canvas).  It was fairly clear that setting this up in the garden was just not gonna happen, so a quick chat with our good friend Liz at Valley Farm gave us access to one of the paddocks.  On a rather warm early spring day we headed over to begin the epic setup.

The design of the lotus means that you can set it up and store it in one of two ways; either with the groundsheet and walls separate or fully connected. If you go for the connected version then it is recommended you take the wall poles out each time as the sheer weight of poles, wall and groundsheet would just be unmanageable for a single person.  If you opt, as I did for the separate wall and ground sheet arrangement you can permanently leave in the wall poles. This, I think is the better option as trying to put the poles in, in a gale or in rain would be a total nightmare.  However, it does leave you with fully erect wall poles (at 2m long) plus a significant piece of canvas.  Hari has solved this problem however, by supplying a banana-shaped bag for the whole thing, which is very generous in size.  The instructions provided, ensure that in any weather you can get the canvas down and packed quickly, even on your own. I would however, recommend you have a good-sized car with a large boot to lay it in, as it takes up a considerable amount of space.  I have a Toyota Surf, a large 4×4 and it will only just go in with the back seats down.  That aside, being able to get the groundsheet down and pegs out before getting the canvas in place is definitely the best way to set up the tent, especially of you’re on your own or like us, someone has to set up whilst the other watches the dogs. Hari has clearly spent significant time on the set up instructions and the lovely hand drawn laminated sheets are easy to follow and clean and great if it’s a wet day.

The one thing you notice straight away is the quality of the canvas (360gsm) and the way the tent has been put together.  As engineers I guess we notice this more so, but it is quite obvious that serious attention has been paid to every detail.  The seams are double stitched and unlike typical bell tent canvas the lotus uses a poly cotton material which feels like canvas on the outside but has a slightly rubberised feel on the inside surface. This adds an additional layer of weatherproofing over the basic canvas bell tent, something that you will certainly be grateful for on wet windy nights.

The groundsheet too is heavy duty 540gsm PVC and is thick and comfy enough for you to walk around with no shoes on and not feel the ground underneath.  The wall poles are steel not aluminium, adding strength to the tent. The centre pole comes in three sections with a little wooden plate for it to rest on so it doesn’t damage the groundsheet.  Our only issue was the lack of finish on the centre pole which we found to be a bit rough. We were also concerned about the wood taking up moisture and splitting over time, something we have taken up with Hari and she is looking to make sure the 2017 tents will be suitably pressure treated and sealed. The roof section is very quick to get up and the tent has a fantastic heavy-duty Velcro fastening between the top of the wall and the roof, which also has a 4” wide strip of net (similar to the door netting). This not only acts as a deterrent to insects but also enables the tent to breath and flex in the wind, meaning that the whole structure stays solid even in the gustiest breeze.

On your own, set up can take a while and I have over the year developed my own routine, which saves me time, but it can still take me 40 mins depending on the weather.  I have done it once with help and it took 15mins, so if you are thinking of taking this on a family holiday then you will have it up in no time.

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a little creased straight out of the bag.  Lotus Belle shown with awning

While I was setting it up the first time I kept thinking “this is big!, its really big”, and to be honest after 6 setups this last year I still say that to myself every time.  It truly is a monster when it comes to size.  But its beautiful curves and ease of set up means it is a real pleasure and always brings a smile to your face.

 

Conclusion

I would say this is not a tent for the fainthearted.  If you have never camped before or never owned a canvas tent then this is probably not the one to start with (although I am eyeing up the 2 little lotus’; the bud and pearl which might be good intros for beginners). However, if you’re a confident camper looking for a family tent or a static tent for more than a weekend away, this is a fantastic buy and worth the financial investment. It is a home away from home, its spacious yet cosy and won’t let you down in a gale.

We feel extra safe with the dogs in their too, the groundsheet can cope with doggie nails (although we have carpet down) and the heavy-duty zips mean the rascals can’t push their way through and escape. The inside doesn’t seem to pick up the dirt too much even with furry wet muddy bodies barging into it.  So all-in-all a paws up from the Campingtails hounds.

With the addition of an inner and an awning this tent really does become a place you want to stay in night after night. We have loved our first year with the Lotus and are looking forward to next season.

Lotus Belle website

videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfhZ_lyt2so

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSji9ZC_qzs

 

 

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The Glamping Show 2016 Review

Yesterday we visited The Glamping Show held at the NAEC Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. http://www.theglampingshow.com/

This is the second year the three-day event has been held, in response to the growing glamping market in the UK.  Aside from the numerous exhibitors (we’ll get onto those later) there was also a daily programme of seminars and talks from experts in the tourist, glamping and holiday industries, including Max McMurdo, TV presenter and Upcycling guru.

Unfortunately, Nick and I only had an afternoon to visit the event so missed out on the seminars, but we did have a great time looking around the main arena.

This year there were 91 exhibitors, covering everything from bathroom blocks and septic tanks to hot tubs and tent decorations, alongside the online glamping website companies and glamping lifestyle magazines.

It is quite clear from the number of glamping structure manufacturers that glamping is no longer the quirky niche phenomenon it was just a few years ago. Indeed, it has definitely hit the mainstream now and is a growing sector of the UK tourism market.  We were there on the Friday which is one of the two trade days and it was very clear from the number of people on the site that business was doing well.

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Our main reason for being there was to find out what types of accommodation were available and what we felt would work for us in our dog secure site. The three main types are tents, pods and Shepherd’s huts although it was clear from the number of pod manufacturers that these seem to be the most popular.  It’s hardly surprising, as a basic pod (with just beds and space for sitting and/or cooking) offers the camper just that little bit more than being exposed to the elements. Of course most manufacturers can offer just about anything when it comes to interiors; it’s really down to your imagination…and a deep pocket!

We were really drawn to the shephard’s huts, especially with the foldaway beds, larger kitchens and wardrobes, which gave the cabins a much greater sense of space.

There was also a good range of tents on offer. Our good friends at Lotus Belle were showing one of their pretty 4m tents, as well as BCT Outdoors who had a number of different designs from modern yurts (with aluminium poles instead of the traditional wooden slats) to space-age looking bell tents with windows in the roof and no centre pole.

In all, the Glamping Show goes from strength to strength, it provides a centre for manufacturers and glamping owners to meet, share experiences and look at the latest equipment and accommodation. It has certainly given us a lot of food for thought, but we’re not going to give the game away just yet, we want to keep our accommodation choices a surprise for you.

 

Dog Walks

#1 Magna Park: Where Countryside Meets Commercial

We came across this walk purely by accident. It was a rather wet day in January and we were taking the dogs on a popular circular walk across the fields around Bitteswell.  One section of the walk takes us partially down a concreted farm drive before crossing back over the fields. The drive runs parallel to a large hedge that gives way to a well maintained fence beyond which there is a large lake. For some time, we had assumed the lake belonged to the farm, but always said what a nice walk it would make.

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On this particular day as we walked down the lane, we spotted two people with their dogs on the opposite side of the fence. Of course our two did their usual barking routine, but over the din we managed to speak to the couple who told us that “no the land didn’t belong to the farm, it was in fact part of Magna Park”.

Now for those of you who live outside the East Midlands, Magna Park was the biggest logistics hub in Europe, indeed it is still considered to be one of the largest and is set to expand in the next few years (if the planners and council get their way).  The site is over 500 acres of warehousing, commercial logistics units and road networks and is already as big as Lutterworth, the nearby town. Whilst its siting has been controversial and like marmite, you either love it or hate it, the planners have done their best to landscape the site and, as it turns out, create the lake and surrounding woodland we had admired at a distance.  It became clear from our talk with the couple that access to the site was open to the public and it was a popular place with local dog walkers.

So when we arrived home I scouted the place out on Google Maps and sure enough found that there were extensive paths and large rides criss-crossing almost a quarter of the site.  Since that day we have been periodically exploring the site; finding peaceful glades and long tree lined routes.

 

Our walk always begins along a dead-end lane which is just off the site (at the top of the Farm drive I mentioned earlier). From there we cut through the hedge and turn immediately left into the well maintained grass way that runs parallel to one of the main roads through the site. As it is usually Saturday or Sunday when we go, the site is eerily silent, with only the odd truck coming onto the park. To me it often feels like it’s one of those post-apocalyptic movies where everyone has left and the landscape is reclaiming it for itself.

Now, depending on the dog’s keenness and mine and Nick’s energy levels we follow one of the many rides up and over the very steeply banked earth that must have been moved there when the site was first cleared. These rides are now well established and densely packed with trees and shrubs. From there we just meander the many paths, generally trailing after the hounds who are as high on wild scents as two moggies on catnip.  Sometimes we stay close to the road, following the path through overarching hawthorn, rhododendrons, birch, and bay.  Despite the site only being 28 years old, the woodland has been planted and maintained to give the appearance that it is significantly much older. There are often little gems which pop out, like irises and phormiums, which add a splash of colour to the green.

All paths it would seem lead to the lake, which sits in a dip between the two hilly sides of the site, and is fed by a small stream that takes most of the runoff from the heavily concreted site. Never-the-less it is a pretty place, surrounded by rushes and water irises and all manner of plants I have yet to identify.  The wildlife is also in abundance, of course rabbits in their hundreds but we have seen dragonflies, ducks and water fowl and even water voles; one of which I nearly stood on by accident as it shot through the grass in front of me one day, scurrying towards the water. It stopped mid-run and I was able to carefully pull back the grass to see it.  We’ve even been privileged to see a barn owl, and a number of different types of hawkes. This site always surprises us and as the seasons have changed we have seen just how beautiful the site is.  I am looking forward to seeing it in the Autumn and Winter months.

Love it or hate it, large commercial sites such as Magna Park will continue to encroach on our landscape, eating up great swathes of countryside. But it would seem that it is possible to marry the urban with the hedgerow and we must encourage planners to create large outdoor spaces around these kind of industrial sites. We will continue to walk these woodlands as long as we are here in Leicestershire and we encourage you to go out and find wild places in your towns and cities.

Why not do it this weekend and message us with pictures of your walk.

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

Following on from our review of the Ruffwear Webmaster harness we thought we would give you a review of the other one we use – the Ruffwear Front Range.

Overview

Ruffwear is an American dog product company with offices in the UK and Europe, selling in most large pet shops.  We picked this harness up as an alternative to the Webmaster for our other Beagle, Bob.

The harness is a typical webbing-based design with a padded fabric covering which comes in four colours; Twilight Grey, Orange, Alpenglow Pink & Pacific Blue.  The harness is made to a pretty high-spec and is fully adjustable.  It’s priced in the mid-upper end of the market, but it’s fairly obvious as soon as you open it up that there has been considerable attention to detail in the design of this harness.

RRP : £39.95

It’s main features include:

  • Comfortable, easy to fit and put on
  • Four points of adjustment
  • Padded chest and belly panel
  • Two lead attachment points
  • ID pocket stores dog tags
  • Reflective trim

Details

The Front Range is a 2-point harness that incorporates adjustable chest & rib straps.  The harness is fitted over the head and has two sturdy clips on either side of the rib straps.  The main adjustments are either side of the shoulders and on the rib straps.

The harness is lightly padded and the chest piece is wide enough to provide good support for the front of the dog – this extends all the way under the ribs and up the sides where it meets the rear straps; extremely good for Bob who is very broad chested.  It features the same aluminium ‘D’ ring as used on the Webmaster and whilst it doesn’t have the very handy upper grab handle of that model, there is a second attachment point on the chest piece for a double-ended lead.  There is also an ID tag pocket on the top of the harness that is a great idea as it stops the tag from getting caught – the pocket closes with Velcro and has a loop to attach the tag.

 

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Bob in the Front Range and Daisy in the Webmaster

 

In daily use, the Front Range is easy to adjust and put on the dog.  Bob is not a fan of harnesses in general but tolerates this one better than others we have tried.  He’s not as much of an ‘escape artist’ as Daisy so this more conventional harness is perfectly OK for him.  That’s not to say it would be easy to back out of – the adjustability and general good fit means he’s not only comfortable but secure.

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Bob having a rather good time at Bradgate Park

 

As with the Webmaster, we have had issues with the fabric loop that retains the aluminium ‘D’ ring fraying.  Although this one has lasted around 10 months so far, it is showing serious signs of wear in this area.  To reiterate the comment from the previous review – what we’d really like to see is a more conventional stainless steel wire ‘D’ ring instead of the sharp-edged aluminium version to eliminate the problem.  Please, Ruffwear – if you could sort out this issue, it would make a good product, great.

In conclusion

Notwithstanding the D-ring quality/manufacturing issues, the Ruffwear Front Range is certainly one of the best standard-type harnesses we’ve used. It’s made from high quality fabrics and is easily adjustable.  Ruffwear’s customer service was very good and quick to respond to any questions we had.

You can find the Ruffwear Front Range on their website: http://www.ruffwear.co.uk/dog-gear/harnesses/front-range

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruffwear Webmaster Harness

Today we thought we would give you a review of the Ruffwear Webmaster harness.

Overview

Ruffwear is an American dog product company with offices in the UK and Europe, selling in most large pet shops.  We picked this harness up from a local shop after hearing about it from other dog owners.

The harness is a typical webbing-based design with a fabric covering which comes in two colours; red currant and twilight grey.  The harness is made to a pretty high-spec and is fully adjustable.  It’s priced at the upper end of the market, but it’s fairly obvious as soon as you open it up that there has been considerable attention to detail in the design of this harness.

Ruffwear Webmaster Harness
Webmaster harness (with invisible dog)

 

It’s main features include:

  • Efficient, easy to clip sheltered strap buckles
  • Anatomical design
  • Customisable fit with five points of adjustment
  • Secure design
  • Foam padded chest and rib/belly straps
  • Two lead attachment points
  • Reflective trim

Details

The Webmaster is a 3-point harness that incorporates fully adjustable chest, rib and belly straps (the rear two having quick-release clips on the side and an elasticated section for extra comfort).  The harness is fixed at the chest piece and side so that the front right leg has to be lifted through when it’s put over the dog’s head.  Not as complicated as it sounds and actually our dog got the hang of it very quickly.

The front chest piece is padded and the rib / belly straps have non-padded covers to stop any rubbing occurring – a feature that we really liked as this can often irritate the dog.  There is a (very useful) grab handle on the top of the main body and two lead attachment points – the main one is an aluminium ‘D’ ring in the middle of the harness and a strong fabric loop at the back.  The materials all have a quality feel to them and the double stitching also gives you the added confidence that it’s a hardwearing product.

This all sounds great, but how does it perform in real life?

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Daisy modelling the Webmaster harness whilst destroying the biggest stick in the park. Plenty of room around the neck and sits well across the body

One of our beagles, Daisy, is what you might politely call an ‘escape artist’.  She’s an average weight beagle but when she’s in full sniffing mode it’s like adding another 10Kg, so any leads and harnesses we use have to be really up to the job.

She has also wriggled out of a couple of (correctly fitted) harnesses that we’d tried before so this Ruffwear really had something to live up to.  With the extra strap under her belly and across her chest there is very little if any, chance of her backing out of it, yet the elasticated adjustable straps allow for a good level of flexibility and comfort when she’s sitting or laying down.

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Daisy on a cold Pendine beach in Wales with Bob (and Helen !)  The harness coped very well with wet sand and surf

Although we liked the Webmaster harness for Daisy, it didn’t fit our other beagle, Bob. He’s a much bigger Beag’ and the problem was (being a little delicate here) the rear belly strap was rather too close to his ‘undercarriage’ to be comfortable, and no dog (or man for that matter) wants that!  In the end we went for a different Ruffwear harness for him – the Front Range – it is more conventional in its fitment but retains a lot of the features of the Webmaster albeit minus the belly strap.  We’ll review that harness in another blog.

Despite us really liking this this harness, we did find one rather annoying issue, which has resulted in us going through several of these harnesses very quickly, so it needs mentioning.  Over time, the aluminium ‘D’ ring started to wear the fabric loop that attaches it to the harness.  On one occasion, the ring wore though the fabric loop in less than 10 days, the other started to fray and split after 3 months.  Now, Daisy likes a good sniff and run out like any dog, but even we were surprised at the speed at which this feature failed.

We contacted Ruffwear UK about this and they sent us two replacement harnesses immediately (Ruffwear’s customer service is excellent by the way and very helpful).  It turns out that the failure was being caused by rough edges on the inside of the aluminium ‘D’ ring rubbing against the fabric loop and essentially grinding it away.  We’re happy to say that the replacements have faired much better and are only beginning to show signs of wear after 8 months of abuse from Daisy.  That said – it’s worth keeping an eye on the fabric loop for signs of wear if you buy one.  What we’d really like to see is a more conventional stainless steel wire ‘D’ ring instead of the aluminium version to eliminate the problem completely.

Cost-wise the harness retails at £64.95.  It may seem like a lot of money to spend on a dog harness but we reckon the investment is well worth it.  Of course hindsight is a wonderful (and sometimes slightly annoying) thing and with the amount of money spent on trying other manufacturers products (only to find they either didn’t fit properly, weren’t escape proof or were just too flimsy for an active dog), we could have easily bough two Webmaster harnesses for the money.  The street price is however normally between £40-£50, so we recommend you shop around.

In conclusion

Notwithstanding the D-ring quality issues, the Ruffwear Webmaster certainly is one of the best harnesses we’ve used and very suitable for an active, houdini-esque hound like ours. Its made from high quality fabrics and is easily adjustable.  Ruffwear’s customer service was very good and quick to respond.  All-in-all a great product.

You can find all the Ruffwear products on their website: http://www.ruffwear.co.uk/dog-gear/harnesses/webmaster-harness

From Summer Fruit Pick to Messy Pudding

Sometimes it’s just nice to head out on the spur of the moment.

We’ve been meaning to visit this little farm close to where we live for a while, but like many ‘best laid plans’, it often got side-lined for other, seemingly more important tasks.  But yesterday it popped into my head for no apparent reason and, with nothing else planned we hopped in the car and headed the few miles down the road on our impromptu adventure.

Malt Kiln Farm is a typical English small-scale fruit and veg producer that offers PYO at this time of year. As we drove down the rough farm track passed the rather lush green field, it was clear lots of people had had a similar idea to us, despite the heat and humidity of the afternoon.

It’s been years since I’ve been strawberry picking and as we walked up to the small shed to pick up a couple of punnets, I actually got a little tingle of excitement inside; just like when I was a kid.  I think on occasions like this my husband thinks I’m a little nuts, but the anticipation of not only picking juicy, ripe fruit, but finding that seemingly hidden treasure of berries no one else had found, always gets me excited even now.2016-07-16 13.57.18

I never know where to start when I go picking fruit.  Do you head to the farthest point way from the crowds, in the middle so you don’t have to walk too far or just hope the nearest bushes still haven’t been raided by earlier visitors.  I made a beeline for the middle – I am far too impatient but wanted to find those unseen stashes.

It somehow developed into a competition between me and Nick as to who could find the most perfect fruit and it didn’t take long for the punnet of Tayberries to be half full.  I love the bigger hybrids of raspberries, I find they are juicier and have a slightly tarter taste, so much so that as I’m writing this my taste buds are beginning to tingle.  To say I didn’t pop a few in my mouth as I added others to the punnet would be a total lie.  Realising that two people can only eat so many berries I finally agreed (if not with a slight pout) that we had better go pick a few strawberries instead.

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Oh the strawberries! Row upon row of small deep green bushes lay out before us.  You only had to lift the thick leaves to find fistfuls of little red gems underneath; the place was groaning under the weight.  I have to say I felt slightly greedy stuffing them into the punnet and giving it a shake down to see how many more I could get in, but it didn’t take more than a few minutes before it was full.

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It’s impossible not to lift a punnet of strawberries to your nose, breathe in that gorgeous fruity aroma and not be reminded of jelly at parties, sweets on the way home from school or home-made jam at your grandma’s house.  By the time we were heading home the car was full of it and I was reminiscing about old times.  Five minutes in the house and a handful were washed and sampled, in fact Daisy and Bob were climbing over each other to get a taste; not all fruit can be fed to dogs but in this case strawberries are a firm favourite.

And so it was only fair that a cold bottle of Prosecco was cracked open with a couple of strawberries dropped in for good measure while we enjoyed the last of the afternoon sunshine.

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It seemed only fitting that after a nice dinner I should make a dessert with our haul, and of course that had to be Eton Mess, or at least our version of it; Messy Fruit Pudding.  I like to think this is a more superior version of this well-known sweet, but everyone has their own opinion don’t they.  So for those of you who live to experiment, here’s our simple recipe.

  • 2 scoops Madagascan vanilla ice cream
  • 2 scoops fresh strawberry ice cream
  • Crushed meringues (as many as you like – we use the mini ones as 2 is enough per person)
  • Chopped fresh strawberries
  • Whole tayberries
  • Cornish Clotted cream

Layer up the first five ingredients, starting with a scoop of the two ice creams on the bottom. Once you have your bowl well and truly full, take a good dollop of the gorgeous clotted cream and plop it on the top.  Trust me, clotted cream makes all the difference to this pudding, especially with the tartness of the tayberries.  Take a big ol’ spoon and enjoy.

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What a great ending to what started out as a quiet day.

 

Telling Tails about Camping

You know that feeling you get when something just feels right?  well that’s the feeling I get when I go camping.

Theres just something about being out in the open, the sound of the trees rustling and creaking, the chatter of bird song and the dappled sun playing on the outside of your tent as you lay sleepily awake in the morning. Don’t get me wong, it’s not a perfect idyl; there’s the mosquitos and the cold nights and often as not, the rain, but I can deal with all of that just knowing that I feel right.

My love of camping and the outdoors did not start as it did for many, with the obligatory family holidays under canvas, mine began just growing up in rural Yorkshire and a father and grandfather that loved to take me walking in my little red wellies across the fields; telling me about the seasons and showing me the trees and animals and making whistles with couch grass or a bow and arrows from willow wood. All these things made me feel at home.tent3

so I guess it’s no surprise that I found my way into the brownies and girl guides, then adventure holidays and Duke of Edinburgh awards and finally to live action roleplay (something I’ll explain in another blog); all with camping and the outdoors at their centre.

And that love of the outdoors really came to the fore when Daisy and Bob came into our lives. Two truly insane Beagles, both rescues and both with very distinct and sometimes difficult personalities.  To say they have become the centre of our lives is an understatment, but they are precious and frustrating and entertaining and loving and stubborn and I could not imagine a time without them.  They are driven by their noses and enjoy nothing more than exploring…and eating everything they find!

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It became clear very quickly that finding ways to entertain them and enjoy a relaxing holiday was going to be tough; Daisy can’t be let off the lead and trying to finding anywhere that was truly secure for a Beagle proved almost impossible.  On the odd occasion we found a ‘dog friendly’ place it usually meant 3 foot high walls or a rail fence or even just a hedge around the place, clearly not enough to stop a scent hound.  Holidays just be came a stress; not the relaxing time we had envisaged.

One particular holiday evening when the dogs were asleep and my husband and I were finally enjoying a glass of wine I said, “I know we’re not alone in this, there are other dog owners like us. What we need is a place that caters for dogs, that knows what they can be like.” He nodded sagely and the conversation moved on.

I didn’t really think much more of my whinge over wine until a few weeks later when it dawned on me that what I actually wanted was was an outdoor space the dogs could enjoy with all the comforts that a holiday cottage could provide and yet be simple and practical. what we needed was a camp site.  I mulled this over in my mind for a number of weeks before I mentioned it to my hubby.  At first I think he thought it was just a passing flight of fancy, but the more I talked about, what had now become known as ‘My Dream’, the more it began to take form and the more my husband whirled the pot of ideas.

And so it was that the dream of creating a unique glamping site was born; with luxury tents in a relaxing outdoor space, enclosed in a way that gave dogs their freedom and owners their piece of mind. The story of Campingtails had begun. It felt right.

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We realised it was not going to happen over night; that all good things come to those that wait, or at least those that have a dream, and so we have set out to share our journey with you. Sharing all our highs and lows, our adventures and mishaps and be part of realising our dream.