When I was 20, I worked in France on a campsite for Keycamp in Brittany, and had absolutely no qualms living in a tent for three months. Obviously, it helped that I spent the whole three months rolling into bed at 3am drunk (I never used to suffer from hangovers then), slept like a baby then woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed and cleaned the caravans like a pro, organized the karaoke nights like they were a New York gala, and trimmed the hedges like Alan Titchmarsh on speed.
Now though, I like a bit of luxury. I like nice hotels in nice places, with nice food. That’s not to say I still haven’t retained a bit of an outdoorsy side. Naturally, I spent the few weeks in my run up to my camping trip with my two best friends from school getting excited and telling everyone a million times how excited I was.
I also did some exceptional pre-camping shopping. I mean I didn’t have a torch, and I only ended up with a camping chair because my Mum bought me one, but realistically I got myself an Octopus kite and a Ladybird headlamp, so what could go wrong?
We went to Debden House on the outskirts of Epping Forest. By this point, I was actually prepared and had a tent and everything. It cost us £20 each for two nights, and we had two pitches. The first port of call was packing the car. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get enough camping stuff for three adults and two kids in one car, but in my friend Lindsey’s words ‘it will be fun, it will be like Tetris’. It was NOT fun and it was not like Tetris. Especially when we went to Tesco shopping and the girls proclaimed ‘we don’t need bags’.
Setting up was pretty painless. We had a gazebo for our pitch, and as you can imagine a couple of drinks down, two tents and a gazebo and two really excited kids to occupy is a challenge. We smashed it, but only because the gazebo was getting on our tits so much we just taped it together. Good idea right? More on that later.
The great thing about Debden House, is that you can have pitches with a camp fire and BBQ. We built a fire on both nights, obviously on the first night I couldn’t help collect firewood because I was ‘guarding the stuff’. Do a bit of planning ahead, and you can get a pitch like ours which is right next to Epping forest. Great turnout when you need wood, not so good when your mate loudly proclaims how many murders there’s been in there.
Debden House is by no means a raving place, but with a fire and some good tunes you can occupy yourself. It’s quite well known, but it still isn’t swathed in swanky facilities like some of the bigger campsites in Europe. None the less, I’m the sort of person that absolutely cannot go without a shower. Saturday morning I thought I’d chance them. I’ve been in some campsite showers in my time, so I prepared myself for the worst.
The showers, actually were not that bad. They were big walk in ones with a stool so you didn’t get all your stuff wet, and they were surprisingly hot. Seeing as I was suffering from a slight hangover, I felt amazing after. I celebrated this by saying to the girls every ten minutes ‘that shower was life changing’. Next on was the scavenger hunt for the kids. See, proper prepared I am. I set it out like bingo and they had to find things or take pictures of things.
Now listen to what I’m about to tell you to your ears (well eyes because you are reading).
DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND A POXY BIRD WHEN YOU ARE ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR ONE??
I honestly thought my scavenger hunt would last a couple minutes, god was I wrong. When you don’t have a specific need for a bird, you see the little twats all the time. If you have no interest, you end up absolutely balls deep in them, watching them fly around thinking they are all better than you and that. When you REALLY need to find a bird for a scavenger hunt, they disappear off the face of the earth.
By the time we eventually finished this, and more wood collecting, it was night time again and time to sit round the campfire with marshmallows, proper old school.
There’s only a certain amount of that Saturday night that I’m willing to divulge to the entire world on my blog, but let’s just say there was a dirty toilet situation that really, REALLY made me learn my lesson about not listening. The weekend absolutely flew past, and before we knew it, it was Sunday morning, and we were having an epic battle with a sellotaped gazebo.
I’m gutted we couldn’t stay longer. Other highlights included climbing a tree and falling in a ditch. I would 100% go again, and if you are looking for somewhere local that’s still a bit out of the way, I’d recommend Debden House to anyone. Just take your torch with you to the toilet.