Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Barn Farm Campsite, Birchover.



Last weekend I went camping at Barn Farm in Birchover. While sat there in the rain I realised I’m being too hard on myself. I may not be able to be out there every day, but I WetTarpBlognever had time to do that. I may not be able to go to the lakes at a moments notice, but I do perhaps feel I’ve been avoiding going out to some places because I felt like they would be boring to you.

It’s a bit stupid and it’s not true. If it was, why would there be so many people out there this weekend. Family's, DoE groups, Lone backpackers, Teenagers, middle aged caravan owners and older.

We were there because this is what we enjoy. The first day we were there, it was wet. Really, really wet by the time I was in my sleeping bag. but it didn’t matter. The tarp I’d thrown between the two tents kept us mostly dry and my son had his first taste of real freedom, being allowed anywhere on (quite a big) site, as long as he told me where he was going first. I barely saw him except when he was hungry.

He’d come running past with several friends he made, in and out of each other’s tent’s (if he turned up in you’re tent, even for just a few minutes, thank you. You made his weekend).

There was one family In a dark blue transit van. Inside someone had made some caravan style bed/bench seats out of chipboard, with a caravan awning on the side. It may not have look like a bought caravan, but it did look damm comfy (if a bit darker). I applaud anyone who tries stuff like this. Without backyard tinkerers there’d never have been a caravan industry for people to buy from anyway.


The site itself is a big one. 4 fields, each one a good size. This did mean that the toilets were often in demand, but you rarely had to queue for more than a minute or two.CamppBarnFarmBlog

The showers are hot (and surprisingly, free). The busy toilets are cleaned regularly and I’ve never known them be out of loo roll. They’re building a small shop (not yet finished) and there’s a laundry and games room for the kids. There’s two pub’s close by, both of which have a good reputation for their beer and a small village shop that carries the usual essentials.

If you want a walk, there’s a several stone circles and standing stones nearby (I wanted to visit these, but with the weather being so unpredictable we skipped these for the sake of the kids and went to Bakewell instead). The Limestone Way  also runs fairly close to the village.

There’s also Matlock as well as Bakewell, nearby for shopping. There’s the heights of Abraham, or If you like old houses (or it’s forecast to chuck it down all day) Haddon Hall is only a short car ride away..

A word for those with camera’s.. one of the alpaca’s has a ‘stealth cloak’ and is therefore unphotographable, coming out only as a silhouette Winking smile



So, Yes, I like this site. It can be very busy and finding it in a car is a navigational pain in the ass, but it’s worth it.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

I’m ending my Hiatus.


I’ve not been posting for a while. Partly because imageI’ve been really busy. The kit I've acquired I’m not yet discussing, because… That’s part of a story I’m going to tell later in the year. It’s a bit of a secret for now.

My son’s been away with his granddad, so I’ve been a bit down. I haven’t had time to go out, or take photos.

I have done lots of planning, for future trips. But only in my head, in the car, at lunch at work, or while I’m laid in bed unable to sleep (I’m a bit of an insomniac) But these are half formed, and would be boring to hear about.. I’ve heard nothing on the grapevine, nor seen a revolutionary piece of kit.

In short, There’s nothing been happening. How do I make that interesting?


I am however going away this weekend with my son. It’s gonna be great to get back under canvas (ok, laminated plastic thread), stretch out with the cool air on my face. I always wake better in the morning in a tent. I’m also borrowing a tent, so I’ll give my opinions on that as well.



I liked the last quote, so I’m gonna give you another..


“It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.”
Charlotte Bronte

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Hmm.. I’m having a bit of a lull.

I’ve not managed to get out recently, I’ve not got time to review kit in the evenings and my muse seems to have left me.

Don’t worry though. I’ll be doing to review on a popular piece of kit over the next couple of days and there’s a particular walk I want to (and will be) covering soon..


I’ll leave you with the words of the American Playwright, Thornton Wilder:

" It’s when you’re safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure. When you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home. "

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Is more expensive gear better?


Years before, a lot of kit was just old army gear. There was a small, elite market, but this was very expensive, often custom made. The preserve of the well off, going to the alps, or further afield. Slowly, through the last half of the century things slowly got better. LitchfieldCombat1Blog

When I used to camp in the 80’s I had a Litchfield combat 1 (a small, one man ridge tent). It has a cotton inner and that woven plastic floor you find in family tents now. It weighs a whopping 3 1/4 kilo’s (and that’s without pegs). But It’s double skin and it’s bomb-proof. There’s no porch, in fact the front door is part of the inner, made of nylon. The fly just covers the edges of the door, but it does it’s job perfectly.

When I was in my mid-late teens in the 90’s, my mate bought a dome tent. It had lightweight poles and the fabric came from NASA. We decided to go out one weekend. I took my old steel-poled ridge tent. A duvet to sleep on and a caravan sleeping bag I’ve had as long as I can remember. This was everything I used to take with me, that wasn’t in my pockets. I’d roll the tent and duvet in the sleeping bag and tie it off with an old belt to carry it with.

When we pitched up it was a bit windy, and raining. While we were in the pub, we could hear the rain on the windows increasing. By the time the pub had kicked us out, It was horrendous. The rain sounding like a drum and base track on the fly. The tent snapping in the howling winds. I laid there thinking that it wouldn’t be long before my tent was ripped away from me and I would have to hide in my mates car.

We had also, perhaps unwisely, decided to take our girlfriends with us.. It turned out that being in a tent in a gale is not an aphrodisiac for most women..

When I got up in the morning, It was glorious. The clouds had gone, the sun was out and it was shaping up to be a cracking day. There was the sound of shuffling from my mates tent and his head popped out, squinting into the morning sun. I said something about how the weather had improved. “yeah, it got better around 6”.. “why did you get up at 6?” I asked.. He hadn’t.. He was still trying to get to sleep. The tent with it’s high spec, lightweight features flattened completely in the wind, slapping him in the face. Before popping back up when the wind dropped, showering him with condensation.. Mine may had been noisy, but I (and my girlfriend at the time) had slept.


Is It really fair to compare an older, heavier, less roomy and less expensive tent in this way? of course not. But I still do.. How often do people tell you that for ‘x’ feature, you have to make a compromise?

There are compromises in everything that is outdoor related. It’s lighter - but isn’t waterproof. It’s smaller - but won’t fit anyone over the age of 11. It’s more economical - but takes an ice age to do a job. It’s really cheap - but badly made, heavy, not waterproof and an awful colour


This is where common sense comes in. If something is smaller, lighter and more economical, it may well become a worthwhile piece of kit. But if it disturbs your sleep, or makes you uncomfortable I just don’t think it’s worth it. Sometimes it really is worth justifying the extra cost and sometimes there is a genuine bargain to be had.

I also tend to have the heaviest pack. I’ll be the one that adds a tarp, so when we’re sat around in typical English weather, there’s something to sit under. I’ll take extra chocolate, or cooking spices, or a bigger cook set. Maybe it’s taking a small cook set, when no-one else bothers. I know these things slow me down, but I’d rather be half an hour behind and have a brew in the sunset, than be watching it from the car park, getting ready to go home.

So be proud when you are the one with the heavy bag.

You will be the one with the iPod to listen to, the book to read (and a lantern that you can actually see your book by). You are the one with the thicker, softer sleeping mat. You are the one who will sleep, not the one who gets slapped in the face by his kit……