We recently returned from a 4 night camping trip. We are fairly enthusiastic campers, going about twice every year for between 3 and 5 nights. We know a wonderful campsite in Gloucestershire which has two large car-free fields that are carefully managed to give an amazing feeling of privacy and serenity. There are also decent showers and loos, and an onsite cafe serving great coffee and cake, and lunch and dinner on some days. The children love it because they have much more freedom than they ever do at home- there are loads of places for them to explore in the surrounding woods, including a shallow pond with tadpoles and various rope swings. As it is mainly families who camp there, they often meet a little tribe of similarly aged children to hang out with.
There is a naturally slow pace to life while camping. Meals take a while to prepare and cook over a fire or gas stove. Washing up involves lugging a basin of dishes up to the washing up hut. Phone reception is poor, so there is little temptation to be noodling around on the internet. Fire building and maintenance can engross two adults for a whole evening.
We now have a repertoire of camping meals, and our favourite this trip was camping nachos. This basically involved cooking a sauce with beef,, onion tomatoes, pepper, sweetcorn, mushrooms and kidney beans, and serving on nachos with grated cheese, sour cream and some guacamole, made from some slightly worse-for-wear avocados. As it’s a one-pot wonder, there is minimal washing up and no need to coordinate different bits of dinner (unlike the BBQ with fire-baked potatoes night).
We now have quite a bit of camping kit including an enormous tent and add-on porch. Every time, I wonder if we need the porch and if the whole thing isn’t a bit too big. This trip however, we needed the porch. It was evidently monsoon season in Gloucestershire, and we ended up having more than one meal huddled in the porch, plates on knees. Owing to the risk of killing everyone with carbon monoxide fumes, dinner was cooked by one unfortunate huddling under a raincoat, getting absolutely soaked. We managed to light a fire each night for at least a few hours though, so it wasn’t a complete washout.
In at least 12 outings with the behemoth tent, we hadn’t yet had to pack it up wet. However, this trip more than made up for it. We broke camp in the rain, and the tent was so waterlogged, we could barely lift the bag it was packed away in. When we got home we had to try to hang it up. It ended up hanging down from the loft, all the way to the ground floor, where it remained for 3 days until it was dry and could be packed away. My husband was threatening a trip to put it up in the local park to allow it to dry, but happily, it didn’t come to that. I’m not sure that the park warden would have been pleased.
The wet tent hasn’t managed to put us off though, and we are hoping to manage another trip in the late summer to encompass some blackberry foraging.
Camping Nachos- serves 4 adults (and probably a couple of children)
1 onion, chopped
500g minced beef
1 small can sweetcorn
1 can kidney beans
mushrooms (about 10)
red or green peppers (2)
1 can chopped tomatoes
Salt, pepper, chili powder (if desired)
Sour cream (small carton)
Grated cheddar cheese
For Guacamole- 2 avocados, 1 lime, 1 clove of garlic chopped finely, 2 tomatoes, salt, pepper
2 bags nachos
In a large frying pan over a camping stove, fry the onion till softened. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and fry till browned. Add chilli if desired. Add mushrooms and peppers and continue to fry till softened. Add the canned tomatoes and allow to simmer for 10-15 mins. Add sweetcorn and kidney beans and allow to heat (5 mins). While this is cooking, mash avocados with fork, add garlic, salt and pepper and the juice of half a lime. Mix well, and then stir in finely chopped tomatoes.
Put nachos on a plate, add beef sauce, a spoonful of sour cream, a spoonful of guacamole and sprinkle over some grated cheese.