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.
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.
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.
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.
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.