That Time We Bought a Tent.

So we got back from a week in Dorset, having stayed in a holiday cottage and a gypsy caravan (cramped, small, creaky). We decided to stop at Go Outdoors on the way home – and it became That Time We Bought a Tent.

That time we bought a tent, we headed to Go Outdoors in Poole. One of our Brownie leaders had done similarly recently, and confirmed that you can join the Go Outdoors membership scheme AND get the most from your Girlguiding discount. So I spent a lot of time browsing.

Go Outdoors has a few branches dotted around the country, so Poole was our destination. Smelly, tired and in need of a good shower and toilet, that was us. I think we looked the part, like we had already been camping. We definitely smelt it! Go Outdoors had exactly what we needed.

Tents on display. Big ones, small ones, wide ones, ones that looked too big. Ones that were definitely way too small. This was the city of tents, the place you can go inside and see whether the tent is for you. Fortunately in my super-tired state of mind they also included the price if you’re a member there (£5 a year, 10% discount on everything). So all I had to do was include my Girlguiding 15%.

We had a lot of extras already like sleeping bags and blow up mattresses, our additional costs were camping essentials like a gas stove and cutlery.

Zenobia 6 tent without the porch, pitched in back garden for idea of size. Bought a tent.

We opted for the Hi-Gear Zenobia Eclipse 6 as it had really good reviews. Plus it has lots of space. While we always try to pack light we never quite do, so space to spread things out was important. Every review mentioned the tent hasn’t leaked either which is a bonus with our unpredictable weather.

My favourite feature was the bedrooms having a blackout element. I get woken up by light coming into my sleeping area, so anything that blocks it is a good thing. Shaun’s was having lots of pockets inside the tent to put things like our toothbrushes (which we then forgot where they were as there are a LOT of pockets!). H just loved having a tent and her own room.

Inside the Zenobia 6 tent during daylight from the bedroom (blackout) area. Gives an idea of space and also the darkness. Bought a tent.

There’s also the logic in putting a tent up. You put the poles in and pin it appropriately and that’s that, right? Which seemed to work for this tent. It probably took us around half an hour to get the tent up, with additional time to set up each bedroom. Someone pointed out to us they never bother removing those bits as they’re all packed together anyway.

A six man tent seemed a lot though. As we had blow up mattresses already, we soon found out that two of those alongside each other took up most of the space. Actually our tent was really a four man tent (for us). Roll mats will definitely make it suitable for six people.

Zenobia Eclipse 6 tent with porch on campsite. Bought a tent.

The final part of our tent was the separate porch. We couldn’t work out if it was important or not, but at £99 with the GG discount to be applied it felt like it wasn’t breaking the bank. As our first proper camping trip would show, it was definitely a good purchase. Cooking in the rain while being sheltered is a good thing – and we weren’t the only ones. Everyone does it. A porch is definitely the right thing to get.

The porch didn’t reach the floor so we removed the front door and used it as an outside space rather than an extension of the tent.

Cooking on a gas stove in the porch area of the Zenobia 6 Eclipse tent. Bought a tent

As we were on our way home from holiday, the car was full. There was no way it would fit in our little Skoda Fabia, so we decided to go to the nearest Go Outdoors the following day in Tonbridge. It takes up almost all the boot space with the porch and additional carpet – but it’s worth it. So much so, that night H and I camped outside (it’s noisy in London, I didn’t enjoy it); then we all went off camping in Sussex/Kent the following day!

So that’s our ‘That time we bought a tent’ story. It just happened, but I think we had reached the end of our tether spending around £100 for so-called ‘glamping’ options. Now we can take our own tent, less stuff, spend £20 a night instead and we only have ourselves to blame if anything goes wrong!

I think it ticks something off the bucket list too.

Then there’s the jetlag.

Jetlag, welcome, old friend. Jetlag sucks. Your body is somewhere in the middle of somewhere else and you just want to do what you need to do. But you can’t because right when you’d happily sit up chatting with others your body is telling you it needs to sleep.

jetlag eye mask

Jetlag. It’s unavoidable, if someone has a miracle cure which works for me then please tell me it. So we’re seven hours ahead of the UK. I’m also a bad sleeper. I picked up some Boots Herbal Sleeping tablets in the hope it might help and I think it has a bit – it gets me to sleep, but doesn’t keep me asleep.

So the times of your flights come into it as well. Usually when we fly to Australia I’ll book tickets for the evening, which means we arrive very early morning in Australia (like 2am) or late in the evening (10pm). Neither really works as I can’t sleep at that point – it’s still only early evening in my body.

Add a seven year old into that mix and it’s fun… no, not really.

This time we flew at 9am in the morning, doing the longest leg from around 1pm to 10pm. So by the time we had landed in Singapore H hadn’t slept, none of us had. She was shattered but had watched several movies in the process.

Fortunately in Singapore there are plenty of seats you can crash out in near your connecting departure gate, so we did just that. Even an hour’s sleep can help.

By the time we boarded our flight to Australia it was 9am in Singapore, but midnight our time. So now the trick is to sleep but not for long as by the time you end up in Perth (same timezone as Singapore) it’s going to be 2pm. You don’t really want to be sleeping in the afternoon, it’ll mess up your sleeping pattern. Quick naps should be okay though…

Apart from if your child is sick, then you’re a walking zombiefield traveller. Jetlag was rubbing its hands with glee by then.

Getting out of Perth Airport at 2pm in the afternoon took us 20 minutes. It was so fast! Probably helped by the fact Shaun and H have Australian passports.

When we got to Toodyay H crashed – no food, just sleep. It had been a hard, long journey. But she slept, and hasn’t woken in the night since (three nights in, so far so good). I think she might have adjusted. Doing the daytime flight seems to be a better option than the others.

When they introduce non-stop flights to Perth later this year I’m definitely considering it. A daytime flight with no stops… could be one of the best flights we have!

As for Shaun and I, we keep waking up, but now on Sunday we slept through from 10pm to 7am which is a better sleep than I’d get a home. The Boots herbal sleeping tablets are working, getting me properly off to sleep. I’m getting more Vitamin D out here which might be helping my dodgy sleep patterns too.

While I don’t think the jetlag has completely gone, it is definitely the best it has ever been travelling here. We’re only seven hours ahead (rather than Sydney or Melbourne who are 11 hours), but it’s still enough it takes some adjustment.

Seven Year Olds and Long Haul Flights

Seven year olds and long haul flights are a much easier thing to deal with than say, a one and a half year old. Or a five year old. We have this happening this week, so I thought it worthy of a blog post.

YUUtuu Spluush Bag, Seven Year Olds and Long Haul FlightsSeven year olds and long haul flights involve careful planning. We have a bag – the Yuutuu bag we reviewed back in 2014. We used it last year when we went to the Netherlands too.

It has a lot of room and it’s very sturdy. It is also cabin bag sized.

So what’s inside?

These days H is more likely to stay awake for as long as possible. I think she might make it to Singapore without any sleep as most of our flight is through the day. This means she’ll be watching films.

However, the first leg of the journey is to Germany. I doubt we’ll have any televisions on the back of our seats, so we need to keep her occupied (if there’s time). So we have one of the Parragon Art Therapy Disney colouring books handy which fits perfectly into the Yuutuu bag. Add some pencils and bingo.

Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books, Seven Year Olds and Long Haul Flights

As well as this she may want to play a game. While I love in-flight entertainment and the wide variety on offer, it’s nice to have other things to do. Thanks to being so small Dobble is coming with us. It has proved to be a hit and one of the games we play a lot. Because it comes in just a tin it packs down small enough to take up very little space.

dobble tin, Seven Year Olds and Long Haul Flights

Finally, H will need something to read. I suggested she starts ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr which she got for Christmas. It has plenty of text so isn’t the easiest of reads (nor is the subject matter really). I thought it might give her something to read which she hasn’t really covered yet.

Add to this her neck pillow which squeezes into her backpack, and I think we’re ready…. seven year olds and long haul flights seem quite easy to deal with actually!