Lucie Loves… Travel & Lifestyle // The Year of the Staycation | Camping in Kent… pics from our GO Outdoors GO-cation
“Do you fancy coming camping with me?” I uttered, holding my breath, half-expecting that he’d reply with: “Naa, not for me, love.”
You see, it was a blog invitation unlike any other. A #GOcation, in fact. Usually, I’m put up in some swanky hotel. (One of the perks of blogging that I’ll never take for granted or get tired of – especially after working in the public sector, and having experienced some right hovels in my time, trying to save pennies). Nope, not this time. This time, I was swapping the plane journey for a coach trip, and the cocktail bar for a camp fire. Eek!
But… I have a fear of putting up tents. Duh-duh-durrrr…
It must be something to do with all of the poles, pegs and guide ropes that you need to navigate your way around, whilst maintaining your composure, and trying not to row with your fellow tent putter-uppers.
When I told my little brother that I was off camping he laughed so much.
“If there’s two things that I wouldn’t ever put together it’s Lucie + Camping.” He chortled, with my mother joining in with him.
So, that’s where I thought my chap could come in handy… Not that guys are better than girls at putting up tents, or anything remotely un-feminist like that. He’d just told me once that he was “a bit outdoorsy”, so I took that as “Yeah, I can put up a tent…” and got ready to delegate the task to him.
Needless to say, when the coach pulled into the field in the heart of the Kent countryside, and the rabble of bloggers and press piled out, and made their way, with overnight bags, down the country lane towards the campsite… I was relieved to find that the GO Outdoors team had already pitched all of the tents and set up everything for us, and that the weather was hot enough to wear my Hunkemöller bikini top and do a bit of sunbathing outside of our pre-erected tent. Phew!
“When did you last go camping, Lucie?” Asked the friendly PR girl. I looked at her blankly. I honestly couldn’t remember… I think I stayed in the tent part attached to a VW Camper Van back in 2009 (or was it 2010?) at Secret Garden Party Festival… but apart from that… the last time I ever really went camping must have been back in High School – over 15 years ago! Jeez, that makes me feel old.
The popup #GOcation campsite was so cute, and all part of the GO Outdoors initiative to get more people enjoying staycations in the UK and all that mother nature has to offer. There was a bushcraft skills class set up, for those who wanted to learn how to create a campfire from scratch, using traditional methods. There were a range of bikes at our disposal, from the vast selection available at GO Outdoors – some with the springiest suspension I’ve ever seen.
We decided to chill out for a bit, and lie on the grass outside our tent. I learnt the rules of cricket – (gotta love old square leg) and discussed just how much relationships in 2017 are different, from when our parents and grandparents were dating – social media and the internet have a hell of a lot to answer for. It was so nice to get away from London for the night – even if it was only a couple of hours down the road. Being surrounded by beautiful countryside and good company, is so good for the soul.
After a while, we tried out a few of the garden games and were immediately transported back to our youth. Giant Jenga, Swingball, Badminton, Tennis, and garden croquet… We were definitely better at some than others. But either way, it made us both laugh – especially at how terrible I am at tennis. Later that evening, we were invited to listen to live music around the campfire, and found ourselves munching on cheese toasties and sipping Pimms as the sun set. Kids laughed and roasted giant marshmallows, with us adults soon tempted to join in the fun too. Turns out there’s quite a knack to getting one golden brown without burning off all of the hair on your arm.
And… as luck would have it, our tent – the Airgo Stratus 400– didn’t even have poles after all! Can you believe it? It was an inflatable tent. I guess the name should have given it away… Now that’s what I call camping… 2017. It was really spacious, and had two bedrooms and a large living area, with lots of pockets to store our essentials. e.g. Gin and Nikes. When my parents go camping they always take an inflatable double bed. I reckon you would probably call that glamping.
So did this experience make me want to go camping again? Yes, it did actually. It made me appreciate the simpler things in life. When you strip back all of the unnecessary gadgets and gizmos, and entertainment that we usually rely on. It’s refreshing to go back to having a bloody good conversation, a sing song to 90s hits by a roaring fire, whilst grinning from ear to ear, as you watch the sun go down with someone special, it’s magic.
Later this summer I’m off to the Scottish Highlands for a week with my parents, who are both massive fans of camping (and regularly shop at GO Outdoors.) We’re off to explore Achmelvich, near Lochinver, and more wild and undiscovered parts of Scotland. Maybe I’ll take a tent? Who knows… Stay tuned! I’m keen to drive the North Coast 500… has anyone done this before? If so, please share your tips.
Thank you for having us, GO Outdoors. Your team were wonderful hosts.
Photography © Lucie Kerley