The Brilliant Campfire Grill.

Campfire grill

There is nothing like cooking over a campfire.  It can’t be done quickly, it takes time and patience to build up the fire to the right heat to get some good cooking heat.  Like all the best stuff to do with camping, campfire cooking means slowing down and getting in touch with your primal side.

Once your fire is ready for cooking the next challenge is what to cook on. Continue reading

Kent and Sussex Campsites

My mental image of the south east of England, particularly the areas of Kent and Sussex, is rather a domestic one.  This is the area that I grew up in, and while I always appreciated it was a pretty area, I would have never imagined it as a holiday destination.  However, I have noticed many rather fine looking campsites in the area and I am being forced to re-assess my opinion.  Check these out: Continue reading

Campfire Campsites near Beaches!


Today is the 4th January.  It is high time planning for this season’s camping commenced!

Although we enjoyed our holiday in Cornwall last year we were frustrated that we had to pack up the campervan in order to get to a beach from each campsite. This is less of a problem if you are in a tent, but still isn’t the ideal being able to walk to a nearby beach, not worry about parking and be able to pop back if anything vital has been forgotten?

So, I have been researching campsites that appear to fit that ideal and I will be visiting some of them over the coming summer to see if they live up to expectations. Continue reading

Campsite Review: Cornish Tipi Holidays, Nr Port Isaac, North Cornwall

Top Village

Where: Cornish Tipi Holidays, nr Port Isaac, North Cornwall

How Much: For camping, £45 per night

Campfires: Yes, in dug pits surrounded by stones.

Wood: Yes, sold by the warden. Also it is possible to collect wood in the woods, ask Oggy for good places.

Types of camping: Tents, campervans and Tipis (different prices)

Facilities: Showers, toilets, outside washing up areas, lake with row boats and life jackets.

The Review:  Continue reading

Campsite Review: Wo-Wo (Wasbourne Manor) Campsite, Sussex

Camping with friends at Wo Wo.

Ok, lets get the negatives over with the toilets and showers in the central reception area are in portacabins and up quite steep steps.  A bit tatty and not very many of them.  There are also composting toilets and portaloos dotted around, usually in a reasonable state. It took us a little while to discover these different toilets as there where none in our field. But that aside, lets move on to the good stuff!  Continue reading

Campfires? Yes please.

There are a few parameters that a campsite must fulfill for me to want to camp there. The most important to me is the ability to have a campfire. The fire is the focus of the camp. It provides warmth, light and a place to cook (even though the campervan has a hob we prefer to cook over the fire as often possible). Part of this blog will be our ongoing efforts to optimize over the fire cooking, recipes, equipment etc. CampingDad is especially keen on this stuff!

Love getting a small cooking fire going in the morning.

The other really cool thing about campsites that allow campfires is that they often fulfill some of my other parameters for finding a good campsite. I say no to to club houses, restaurants and bars, tents and caravans in regimented lines (urgh). Yes to large pitches and especially those who let you choose where you pitch. Yes to views, lovely tumbling rivers and streams, ropeswings, woods, good walks from the campsite. Ahh, makes me smile just thinking about it.

CampingDad thinks I am a bit too militant in always demanding a campfire so I try to keep my mind open to sites that look lovely but just don’t allow campfires (but why??). I do try, really.

Campsite Review: Thistledown Farm, Gloucestershire

No1 in this year’s editon of ‘Cool Camping’ and with very good reason. Campfires, check. Loads of fire pits and deliveries of wood . Ropeswings, check. Stream and ponds for the kids to splash around in, check. But Thistledown farm has even more to offer. Set in 70 acres of pasture and woodlands, the site was designed as an eco-education centre. As a result there are nicely made paths, woodland trails, friendly educational signs, loads and loads of space and an overall emphasis on eco friendliness. The main part of the campsite is in a valley of undulating pastureland, the grass is lush and green, the composting toliets and heated showers are in attractive wooden structures with lovely touches like sinks carved out of wood. The whole area is car free, campers must park their cars near the top of the valley and heave their gear down the hill in wheel barrows. The owners do offer lifts (for a fee) in their small all terrain vehicle if they are not too busy. The thought of this may be off putting to some, however, the tranquility of the camping area is a fair reward for the extra hassle.

Carless camping area – spaaace!

No really, a LOT of space!

No really, a LOT of space!

A fabulous attraction  is the stream, small lake and a few ropeswings dotted around the woods.  In my experience these simple pleasures can proved hours of entertainment – the kids enjoy it too… This is a great spot for making and sailing some ‘Mini Rafts’.

The amusements...

The amusements…

An area called the ‘Elderflower Orchard’ is reserved for small campervans and those who choose not to lug their stuff down the hill. This area has portaloos and a standing tap and is a couple of degrees less idyllic than the carless camping area. However, even this is substancially better than many other campsites. The toilets are very well looked after and even the standing pipe, providing UV filtered water, has been thoughtfully designed with a proper soakaway to prevent the area under the tap from becoming a mud bath.  Campers in this area have full access to all other areas of the site. And as an added bonus it is slightly cheaper.

Fire pits and small trees, resided over by large wind turbine and again lots of space!

Thistledown Farm

Campfire fun!

Perhaps the best feature of Thistledown is the size and number of pitches. Pitches, based on fire pits, are very widely and randomly spaced, absolutely no straight lines or tripping over your neighbours guy ropes here. Unless you want to, as groups are permitted and can easily camp together.

The area is beautiful, leading directly from the farm is a deciduous woodland with lakes and streams,  teeming with wild flowers and wildlife and an interesting manor house (  Nearby can be found neolithic barrows, panaramic viewpoints and the foodie haven of Nailsworth. A little further afield lies the National Arboretum of Westonbirt and within an hours drive the Georgian World Heritage city of Bath.  An area very much worth exploring.

Thistledown Farm

Wild garlic in the beautiful woodland of Woodchester Park NT directly behind the campsite.

Beautiful old boathouse on the lake in Woodchester Park NT.

In addition to the great lay out, facilities and area, the owners are friendly, helpful, non-intrusive and so obviously full of enthusiasm.  It takes real passion to create and maintain a project like this and the ideas are still flowing.

If you love camping with a campfire have a look at these:

Portable Fire Braziers’.

Debden House, Borough of Newham, London

What an unusual place. Yes, officially in London, but surrounded by Epping Forest, not an area I had visited before. Epping Forest is massive (as I discovered when I got lost in it, but that’s another story). The campsite itself is pretty huge with several different fields. We stayed in the ‘Campfire Field’ (surprise!). We were camping with a large group of friends and for this purpose Debden house was very good. The pitches are absolutely enourmous, we had about 4 tents, 2 campervans plus day tents and gazebos galore and they all fit in one pitch. Each pitch has a large fire pit and backs onto the open forest. So far, so good! The forest is an amazing place to explore, just keep your wits about you almost everyone seems to have a lost in the forest story there!

However, there are down sides. It was rumoured that there was free firewood at the gates of the field but in reality it was a scraggy great heap of left over builders rubbish. Very little of it suitable for burning and really ruined the look of the place. The site is run by the council and the staff were, pretty disorganised and at times unhelpful. You are close to metropolitan London and you can tell. The rubbish both on the site and in the forest was a sad sight to see, people left pitches in a poor state, there was glass and metal on our fire pit. The toilets are far from most of the fields so many people used the woods.

A real shame because it offers a brilliant facility for those poor coutryside starved Londoners and Epping Forest really is magnificent. Because of this and because of its astoundingly large pitches and fire pits it is a good place to meet up with a group of friends – just watch out for booking confusion, be ready to stand your ground.