I love camping, I may have mentioned it before , and can't understand friends who mutter darkly about their own loo when we suggest a holiday under canvas.
More people however, are seeing the light which is great. Children love camping and let's face it, if they're happy everyone is.
But if you're new to tent living, knowing what to take can be tricky. While you don't want to pack the kitchen sink, there are a few items that will break or break your holiday.
So, apart from the obvious, what else do families need to take?
Here's my top ten:1. Warm clothes/blankets
It always surprises me how cold it gets in the UK once the sun has gone down. Cold children make for unhappy, whiney children so ignore what your partner says (if he's anything like mine) and pack those fleece blankets. And hats. And hot water bottles (if it's particularly late or early in the season). Handy to have on a "might need" basis, miserable if you haven't and do.
2. A large frying pan and saucepan
Don't rely on those nifty, compact camping pans. One of the nicest things about camping is the morning fry up, a pleasure that will be seriously diminished if you have to take it in turns for a rasher of bacon.
3. A large flask
Having to boil the kettle for a much-needed cup of tea is a pain, particularly if it's bucketing down or windy. Fill up your flask in the morning and it'll see you through most of the day (unless you don't leave the campsite and are a particularly heavy tea drinker).
4. A chair for everyone
Even the smallest bottom will appreciate its own chair. They're handy for when the grass is damp and means you can get away with not having a table if you're good at balancing plates on your lap.
5. Kitchen essentials
Salt and pepper, grater, a sharp knife and a chopping board make all the difference to camp cooks. We nearly always leave one of these behind and always regret it.
6. Head torches
Children love these and they are handy for those late night trek to the toilets that you will inevitably make. Just teach them to try not to shine in people's eyes, they are blinding.
7. A decent bed
We've tried air beds (a pump that plugs into the car is a must for speedy set-ups) but find they're ok for children and flatly miserable for adults. This year we've got camp beds. Getting a good night's sleep is the difference between a fab holiday and a tolerable one. Proper pillows are a must too.
8. Games and cards
Let's face it, it's going to rain. I'm not a pessimist, just prepared. Card games, bingo, pens and paper plus books are vital if you're going to have a cosy afternoon with the wind drumming on the canvas or one where you're biting each other's heads off.
9. A washing line
No, I'm not advocating doing any washing on holiday, although some sites do have laundry facilities. But you'll need somewhere to dry those wet towels and flannels and the inside of your tent is not the place.
What camping trip would be complete without these to roast over the campfire/barbecue (we use a special bucket with legs for our fire)? Add some chocolate and biscuits and you'll be making great family memories as well as s'mores.
Do you like camping? If so, what vital equipment do you take to ensure a great holiday?