June 2018. I had a week booked off work and a personal allowance to walk The Ridgeway National Trail in only five of those days.
…Long story short: I came home, injured, on the morning of day two. With a lot of emotion and feeling going on, I didn’t want to waste my remaining week of freedom and ‘failure’ before returning to work.
I decided to go camping for a few days and, for a change, I’d head south in to Somerset and Brook Farm Campsite near Long Sutton.
Normally, when heading away, I’d choose to explore somewhere new, exciting and somewhat further from home… Dorset, the Peak District and even Exmoor, spring to mind. But I didn’t fancy more travelling, after a haphazard trip to and from Swindon. I could get to Long Sutton in barely an hour. It looked like a flat campsite, close to the National Trust properties of Montacute and Lytes Cary.
I was the only person pitched up with a tent, while the other guests and visitors each occupied their own caravans. A very flat place to pitch and beside a working farm. I met one of the very friendly owners soon after I arrived and had no trouble from there on.
From what I remember now, there was just the one toilet (albeit very clean and functional) available on site. As I say; this farm mostly caters for caravan-owners and would not suit a gathering of toilet-less tents. I think this is a site where you’re instructed to bag up and bin your toilet paper instead of flushing it away (bags are provided). But it was no hassle.
Was there a shower? My memory fails me but I suspect not.
Elsewhere, the River Ivel was only a short walk from the campsite and I was able to spend one of my days wandering without turning on the ignition.
A New Tent
This was my very first outing with a new tent that I’d purchased weeks earlier: the Vango Ark 200+.
This £60 purchase was more or less the same size as my previous Vango “two man” tent – but with a larger porch area, meaning I could stash kit I didn’t want to sleep with and, have a separate space for sitting in and somewhere to fully escape the rain in between entering the tent, closing the door behind me and unzipping the sleeping compartment!
As I say, it is a “two man” tent… Meaning that it’s large enough for one person and their kit but I’m not confident it would comfortably sleep two of me as, being 6ft1in tall, I have to lie along a diagonal.
There’s a mesh section to the top of the bedroom door which can be unzipped to allow for air to enter and exit.
This model is one of those designs where you’re required to pitch and erect the inner tent first, before laying and clipping the outer tent to the outside. I did that this one time… And I’ve not unclipped it since! It is so much easier to pitch both inner and outer as one.
Each of the three poles is colour-coded to match with the corresponding loop on the outside of the tent.
Above the door to the sleeping area, I’m still not sure of why there is an additional loop to hook in to. It’s outside of the sleeping compartment and so, seems inconvenient as a means of holding a light source.
With the option of entering the tent from either the front end or side, I have mostly favoured the side entrance. I’m a little bit concerned by the flat of material beneath the door that doesn’t remain tucked beneath the groundsheet. A strip of tape would fix this. In reality, it has not granted access to any known intruders!
Store you’re cool box in a shaded location during the day (and trust thy neighbour…). I often choose to leave it underneath my car.
Who knows what the future now holds.
My own plans of heading to Dartmoor for an end-of-May camping trip have been cancelled, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. Potentially, many of us are looking at weeks and months of near-isolation… I hope that’s not accurate! Good weather will soon be upon us and it would be great to be able to embrace it.