Last year we were invited to Holmsley campsite, it was our first time camping together just the four of us and it was Archie’s first time too. August has been so busy for us with work and life and everything in between we really didn’t think we would have the option to getaway together.
After talking about it for a little while, last minute Mr T and I decided we should take some time off. It was the night before we left that we decided we would go camping. It is the quickest and easiest way to take a trip and means you can set up almost anywhere in the country. The adventure appealed to us tremendously. We just wanted it to be us and the world at our feet with no set plans but the goal of family time and enjoyment in nature.
We set off after packing the car up in 40 minutes and found ourselves back in the New Forest where we had been last year. We did visit Holmsley last year which was a fantastic campsite and we couldn’t have faulted it at all. We wanted to try somewhere new and opted to stay at Ashurst campsite this time.
On first glance Ashurst Campsite seems much smaller then Holmsley but no means lesser in anyway. In fact we found the staff absolutely amazing, they were so helpful and friendly, it really added to making our trip very special. The campsite was quiet and we were really pleased with all the facilities.
Having taken us nearly three hours drive we couldn’t wait to set up our tent, only to realise on taking our tent out of the car that we had forgotten the tent poles which are kept in a separate bag to our tent. We were in shock to say the least, we couldn’t believe out of everything that we forgot our tent poles. Luckily we found a way to laugh about it. As we stayed at Holmsley last year and had all our tents and equipment set up for us prior to our arrival I thought that the staff might have a spare tent for us.
They don’t usually keep tents spare, but recently two backpackers had left a tent behind after their travels because they didn’t want to carry it with them as it was quite big, and for any unlucky campers that may need it for any unforeseen reason. It felt like they had left it for us all along because who forgets their tent poles when going camping!? Luck was definitely on our side, we were all so pleased to finally set up a tent and somewhere to sleep. The children didn’t even realise the problem, but it was solved quickly so it didn’t matter anyway.
Once the tent was up the children spent some time running around the campsite. Archie did some posing for me, he said he was being a builder. He dressed himself before we left home, like he usually does. Wearing his beloved West Ham top that I really can’t bare very much. He cries to wear it even when it is dirty. Sometimes I just say yes to keep the peace. He has his certain things that he is very attached too, one being his West Ham top and the other his hammer. Wouldn’t have him any other way though even though his football top and hammer obsession does drive me mad sometimes.
We soon set off again to grab dinner, by the time we ate it it was pitch black outside and all we had was two candles, a little torch and Mr T sitting on the ground tending to our bbq. It was one of those disposable ones from Morrison’s. They are so handy for camping, we bought two. I have to say how enjoyable and just lovely it is to have a bbq in the dark while camping. One because we don’t do it everyday and if anything it reminds me so much of my childhood in every single way. We went camping a lot when I was a child and first moved to England, mainly to cornwall so my dad could surf.
The most special part of the evening was sitting around the table outside with our two children eating our dinner, the candles glowing in the dark of the night, their little giggles. I could hardly contain my happy. My heart was full to the brim, my special family around me. I couldn’t have asked for more. I could barely see their faces in the blackness. Archie relaxed in his chair half asleep and happy. Sophia standing up and sitting down looking around trying to make out the horses figures in the dark. We spent some time talking about the fun we would have on our trip and then we settled down for the night. It was rather cold but we slept okay, the children slept a lot better then we did, and Archie didn’t even wake up once! Sophia did end up getting into my sleeping bag early hours of the morning, it was very cosy and very squashed.
When we woke up the next morning we were greeted by cows mooing and horses around the campsite. It was absolutely lovely to have them so close just grazing and walking past. They have a lovely feel about them and it was lovely for the children too. It is not something you see everyday where we live. This is one part of the New Forest I love so much, the wild animals who are in fact very placid and keep to themselves, they have no problems being near to you, we were of course advised not to feed or touch them.
On our first day we decided to hire bikes, something that we missed out on last time when we stayed at Holmsley because we arrived too late. This time we visited, hiring bikes for the day was the first thing on our to do list.
We hired ours from Trax bike hire and they were fantastic we called at 9am which is when they are usually doing their drop offs but they kindly fitted us in and dropped our bikes off at 11.30am. Which we were so pleased with because it meant we could still spend the day cycling. If you do hire from them call as early as possible if you want them early morning. We were given a map, and a puncture kit, bike locks, and helmets. We had everything we needed, and the map definitely came in handy!
We had the most amazing day, ever! The views on our bike trail were absolutely spectacular. They were just breathtaking. The expanse of beauty all around us had a way of making me feel so small in such a huge space. It was a lovely feeling. There was nothing around us just the horses, cows, trees and landscape. There is something about being in the wilderness that just takes you back to what life is really about, just one big adventure.
We did get quite lost and did a full circle three times, only because we chose the off roads rather then keeping to the cycle tracks. (Mr T’s fault!) We must have done over 20 miles. We were riding for just over 5 hours. The children did amazingly well and Sophia peddled with her dad most of the way. Archie fell asleep after two or so hours, which he always seems to do on bike rides. I always worry about his little head bobbing away, so I did walk some of it.
The scenery was absolutely beautiful and I think Mr T was sick to death of me saying how amazing it was! It was so green and so vast, wild flowers, beautiful green everywhere and so many cows and horses roaming free, that was lovely to see.
I have to say we were absolutely knackered after our day, we slept so well on the second night.
One of my favourite parts of the camping trip was waking up in the morning to my snuggly children. Archie woke up first both mornings and on the first day he sat outside with his dad and I all puffy faced and sleepy still. The sun was just rising and the grass a bit wet. It was all just so beautiful and so needed for us all.
I will be the first to admit I have never been a keen camper, but two nights, for my children and to give them the experiences I so loved as a child I would do that any day. And if I am honest this camping trip has completely changed my mind about camping. It was just lovely. I think if you go when the weather is warm enough and you make yourself somewhere comfy to sleep it can only be a good time. Nothing beats taking you back to nature, the fresh air, warm evening fires and your family.
On our last night we roasted marshmallows by the fire, which reminds me so much of my childhood. It is something we did a lot when my dad would bbq. It was our little treat afterwards and I always looked forward to it.
We had such a fantastic time and made some special memories together. We will definitely be visiting again next summer, but hope to be a little more prepared next time!