I’m forever saying that Great Britain is a beautiful place and that I really should make an effort to see more of it, yes it rains for most of the year and the skies are often gray but for a reasonably small country surrounded by stunning coastlines it’s full of mountains, moorlands, lakes, forests, wide open fields and historic landmarks, pretty much all of which you can explore and nowhere will take you more than a day to get to.
Now with climate change being such an issue, what better way is there to reduce your carbon footprint during the Summer months then by opting for a staycation rather than a plane ride?
So earlier this Summer, I found out I was going to be camping on location for a film, now I’m going to be honest, I might have been a Brownie and a Girl Guide but I’m not really known for my camping skills so to test whether I would be likely to survive a full 10 days, I decided to go on a test camping couple of days, somewhere not too far from London, somewhere I hadn’t been before and because the weather was going to be nice, somewhere I could go on a long walk with the dog and after a little research, I decided that somewhere was going to be Dover.
The only times I’d ever been proper camping before were in Canada, Toronto and Montreal with my Uncles and Cousins when I was a kid, I used to Summer over there a lot and I remember there were signs saying ‘beware bears’ and you had to keep all of your food supplies in a separate tent well away from where you were sleeping just incase one decided to come and raid at night, that in hindsight was pretty extreme camping, but I was younger and braver . . .
Other than that, I’d only ever glamped in my ‘My Little Pony’ wendy house, in my bedroom, with my duvet but that probably doesn’t count does it?
Anyway after a little googling, I found a campsite online, Fallow Fields, set on a fruit farm in Sandwich, Kent with well attended facilities, an onsite shop, optional fire pits and most importantly dog friendly so booked up and a couple of days later set off!
On the Sunday we arrived, the tent was put up pretty painlessly and then we went on the hunt for a local pub where we could have lunch and found The Black Pig Country Inn a gorgeous old building dated around 1588, the pub had delightful staff and a really good vegan menu which I’d thoroughly recommend, I opted for the shepherds pie to wash it down, Prosecco . . .
After lunch, we headed back to the camp site and after a spot of sunbathing/napping/sleeping off the lunch, once it was getting dark, the fire pit was lit, I’d packed enough vegan bbqable food to feed an army (I don’t like the thought of running out of food) I do love a bbq, I always have, maybe it’s the Aussie in me, my Dad used to light up the bbq as soon as he thought Spring hit, even if it was still freezing but even then I loved wrapping up in a blanket and sitting next to him watching the bats flying in the garden whilst he cooked, now being a grown up though, I’ve discovered that Prosecco goes perfectly with a vegan burger! In fact with a Quorn Ultimate Burger, Quorn vegan sausages a Vivera steak and corn on the cob, and yes I did eat all that even after the pub lunch!
(Quorn Ultimate Burger, Quorn vegan sausages and Vivera steak with corn on the cob, and yes I did eat all that even after the pub lunch!)
The next morning, I discovered, that in the Summer you couldn’t even have a lie in if you tried whilst camping because pretty much as soon as the sun rises, the tent becomes a furnace so it was an early start, lunches were packed and a vegan fry up (cooked on a little gas stove without blowing anything up) devoured before setting off to start a 12 mile hike along The White Cliffs from Dover Castle to Deal.
I’d checked Dolly would fit in my back pack just incase she got tired although she does frequently walk long distances so I was pretty certain we’d be fine and I harnessed my inner Lara Croft with my ensemble to gear me up and what a wonderful day we had.
At the start of the walk, beautiful sunshine, blue skies and breathtaking views of the cliffs, then whilst walking through the meadows on top to the symphonies of crickets, we spotted numerous types of butterflies amongst the colourful fauna and a crazy bird which I at first thought was a defective sparrow and my friend tried to tell me was an ‘R2D2 bird’ due to the sounds it was making but after a google, I identified as skylark. the first I’d ever seen.
Just before getting down to the beach at Saint Margaret’s Bay, we stopped at The Pines Garden, Tea Room & Museum for a cup of tea and to fill up our water bottles, the ladies at the cafe were very nice and gave Dolly some treats, I was however a little shocked when I looked at my phone to see I had received a message from my network welcoming me to France, as far as I was aware, I was still on this side of The Channel but I was informed that it was a common error and that I wouldn’t be charged for roaming . . .
Then it was on to the beach to continue our walk.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the walk took us around 5 hours including stops, the coast path was well signposted and I could have happily carried on further although I wish I’d worn sun cream but I’m without a doubt going to walk some more of the British coast paths when next Spring comes around.
We’re all guilty of travelling abroad to guarantee hot holidays but it’s a shame because we’re missing out on what our own has to offer, and you know what? Camping? I didn’t hate it, I embraced it. Yes there were some screams when a giant beetle ran in to my shower cubicle but I lived to tell the tale and I also survived the 10 days on the film location afterwards too – I was very thankful there for one of the other actresses and the MUA who came to my rescue every time I screamed ‘spider’, I do believe of course that every being, animal, bird, fish, reptile or insect has its place although I believe that a spiders place is very, very, very far away from my place wherever I might be at any particular time.
What do I miss about camping? The crystal clear skies filled with stars at night, the being outdoors surrounded by nature, hearing tawny owls calling during the night, the sound of rain beating down on the roof of the tent when you’re going to sleep and the smell of fresh air.
What won’t I miss? Spiders!
Would I do it again? Hell yeah!
If you do plan on camping in Dover and doing the same route, do be aware that dogs aren’t allowed inside the castles at Dover or Deal or in the caves inside the cliffs but I was happy to forfeit visiting those to ensure Dolly didn’t miss out on a fun day out.
Fallow Fields campsite is open again from May 7th to September 20th 2020 and their details can be found at www.fallowfieldscamping.com