Saturday, 3 September 2011

Camping Fun

We like to go camping at least a couple of times every year. Usually we have our annual long weekend 'Strickland Camping Trip' with the wider family at the start of the summer, and then take a week off at the end of the summer holidays.

Last week we camped in Dawlish Warren, South Devon. We found a lovely uncommercialised traditional campsite, 10 minutes walk from the beach, with clean facilities and a play area for Eden. 

We first took Eden camping in June 2010, when she was 6 months old. We had a fair few 'you're brave' comments at the time, but apart from upgrading our small 2-person tent, to a much more comfortable 6-person tent, we didn't have to make many adjustments. We bought a small travel steriliser for her bottles, switched to organic baby food jars for the week, took along her bumbo, and bought her a toasty warm long-sleeved fleece sleeping bag and we were pretty much sorted. Needless to say with all the fresh air, she slept really well once it got dark (she's always been a light sleeper needing quiet and darkness to sleep). 

This year as Eden's reached toddler-hood, she's loved the freedom that camping offers her! She can toddle about inside and out of the tent until her heart's content, and she spent many mornings on the camp site doing just that while Luke and I were able to relax and even do some reading!

Eden was happy with the slower pace of lazy days while we were away and we stuck to a loose routine where we could, so just like at home, after lunch she went straight down in her travel cot for a nap. Afternoons were spent on the beach, building sandcastles and paddling in the sea. And eating lots of ice cream as a special treat! 

We took a couple of trips out to some local attractions. Typically, on the one day we forgot to put the toddler carrier in the car we went to the highest waterfall in England (Canonteign Falls). Eden was a little precarious on Daddy's shoulders up the 90 victorian steps, but the hike to the top viewpoint was worth it. 

We found a 'hidden gem' in nearby Shaldon, a small village next to the sea, buying lunch from a local bakery and eating it watching the boats. 

The village of Shaldon is a bit off the beaten track, not particularly advertised to tourists, with no tacky gift shops and amusements. We visited Shaldon Zoo, with a wonderful collection of monkeys and other animals - all of them were very active at 10 in the morning (even the tortoises), and looked very happy in their enclosures. We also walked through Shaldon's smugglers' tunnel finding a sheltered beach on the other side. 

Many of my early memories as a child are of being outdoors; playing football on the campsite, making friends with a fellow camper's pet dog, visiting pony centres, playing on the beach. Eden's 21 months now, maybe still a bit young for first memories, but nevertheless I want to provide her with lots of experiences of being outdoors. Even last week, with all the stimulation she was getting, her language and communication with us really developed, she said her first 3-word sentences (in the bed, on the chair), and she did brilliantly keeping up with her potty training despite the extra potential distractions that camping and days out could have been.  

Above all, watching Eden have such a fabulous time was a real joy, just what memories are made of. 

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