Budgeting for Ireland – food and travel

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Cliffs of Moher

Our 3 1/2 weeks in Irelands are coming to an end as we fly out to Munich tomorrow.  I don’t think that there has been a day that we haven’t loved.  This country and its people have blown our minds.  From its incredible beauty and history that is everywhere to the kindness that has been shown to us from every person that we have come into contact with.  In our 23 days here, travelling 3000 km, we don’t feel like we even touched sides with what there is to see but here are some of our tips and suggestions to travelling as a family on a very tight budget in Ireland and things we found were unexpected costs.

Car Hire

Get a bigger car than you think you will need

As a family, it is preferable to have your own transport to get around especially if you want to be outside of the main cities.  We underestimated our luggage to boot (trunk) space.  I had booked a petrol polo and we had to upgrade to a Golf 1.6.  Being 4 in the family and travelling for 4 months, we have packed extremely lightly.  We have 3 medium suitcases for all 4 of us and each of us have a day backpack.  In these bags are 1 terms worth of school work as well as 3 sleeping bags and then our clothes….I think that is pretty darn impressive!  We only JUST fitted our bags in and when we did the food shop it was extremely tight.  Make sure to use the wheel well as there is an amazing amount of space there.  We stored most of our groceries in that area.

Go for Diesel

I had booked a petrol car and when we upgraded the agent suggested we change to diesel.  Diesel is cheaper in Ireland and you also get more kilometres to your tank.  We managed to get just under 1000ks per 50 liter tank.  We used 3 tanks for our entire trip so our fuel cost was around 195 Euros for 3 weeks.

Travel time and Distances

We had grossly underestimated the time it takes to travel anywhere compared to the distances you are travelling.  Everything takes MUCH longer than you would expect.  We weren’t on the highways much as we were doing as much of the coastal and village areas as we could.  This means that you are on tiny lanes a lot of the time and they take a lot longer.  Therefore a general rule of thumb is that it will take an hour to do roughly 50km.  Also, there is so much to see wherever you go and being on holiday, you will stop to take a pic and appreciate, which adds even more time to the above.  So we spent a lot more time getting places than we expected and were really grateful for having over 3 weeks here.

So if you have less time, rather stick to a smaller area as it is really stressful suddenly trying to cover ground in order to tic off the big attractions.

Money spent on transport

R2,750 = 175 Euro – 3 tanks and we covered nearly 3,000kms

R6,150 = 390 Euro – 3 weeks car hire through dollar

Car insurance is an extra cost.  You will have to choose what is best.  We went for full comprehensive which added a whack on over and above our rental, but the lanes are very small and we had quite a few close calls.  It was a once off charge when we fetched the vehicle.  The other option is that they hold 1,800Euro deposit on your credit card that you get refunded but if you have an accident, scratch or dent you don’t get that back….which freaked us out.  So insurance is really your own personal call.

Food Budgeting

Money Spent on Food in 23 days

R6,400.00 = 405 Euro – Groceries bought over 22 days at supermarkets for a family of 4.

R1,660.00 = 105 Euro – Eating out twice for lunch, 1 breakfast, 1 afternoon tea and cake

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The pretty town of Kinsale

Eating out is expensive.  Due to travelling on the South African Rand, our exchange rate is terrible(Rand16 to Euro1), and also because we are travelling for so long we really have to be careful and watch our budget.  We had booked self-catering places through AirBnB, so we rather cooked at home in the evenings.  Yes, I would have loved to not have to cook, but when you are looking at a minimum of 10Euro per person for the cheapest meal option, eating out it is not viable as a family of 4 for this length of time.  So we shopped and cooked and this kept the cost down hugely!  And we ate well too and had treats etc.  Groceries and especially meat are cheaper than back home in South Africa.

So when we picked up our car we went to the supermarket on our way out of Dublin, we bought all the basics (and put them in the wheel well ;).  Also, due to not being very hot, when we moved from place to place food didn’t ever spoil and we didn’t have a cooler bag for our milk, yogurt and cheese etc.

Supermarkets for the win

img_7643We found the larger supermarkets were really great, especially Lidl and Supervalu.  If we had a choice, we would go to a Lidl as the prices were better and they had amazing specials.  Also, if you drink wine, it is very expensive in Ireland as they have a very high alcohol tax.  Lidl had the best prices for wine by far!!!!  It was nearly half the price of anywhere else.  We found that supermarkets were very accessible and we could pop past one at least somewhere along our daily route.  Thank goodness for google maps ūüôā

Picnic lunches

Out of our 23 days on the road we have picnicked for for roughly 20 of them.  Simon and I were just discussing that doing this took us to some amazing places.  Being out and about, instead of staying in the town to eat, we would drive to the local park, find a stunning forest or go to a pretty beach or eat at the walls of a ruin.  This made us see things that we probably would have missed staying to eat in town.

Every day we would just grab our picnic bag (a cheap shopping bag) and pop in our cheese, salami, mayo, tomatoes and then go past a supermarket or petrol station (a lot of them have good bakeries) and buy yummy baguettes.  This also meant that whenever the kids suddenly lost the will to live due to hunger we could literally eat before we got hangry.

If you are going to picnic, a few things we bought which makes it easier

Utensils – we went to the cheap Dollarz store and bought a set of plastic Knives and Forks set and a little sharp Knife

  • Pencil case – we used this to keep all the utensils in and the kids got them on Emirates
  • Tupperware – bought a cheap Tupperware to put boiled eggs in or cheese etc
  • Kikoi/lightweight towel – made it easier to setup/sit on and we kept one in our backpack

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I will post a few more of our experiences in Ireland.  We are in the middle of our 4 month trip around Europe, so writing is secondary to doing school with Jesse and Livi, keeping in touch with our business at home and being present in the day.

Lots of love

#familyonamissiontoseeireland

Off to Europe – Italy

Helping with Camps in Italy

For the last 5 weeks, our little South African family of 4 have been in Italy at my aunts farm just outside of Rome helping her with her summer camps.  For the last 19 years my aunt Sara has run camps for kids between 8-11 years old, giving them 6 days of amazing farm fun.  They camp in tents, walk rivers, ride tractors, learn to ride horses, spend a night at an Etruscan Antiquities Center, and in general have good clean outdoors fun.  She has 16 kids at a time and do 3 camps in a row between the months of June and July

The grounds that the camps are held on are amazing.  The castello has been in my uncles family for over 200 years and if I remember correctly was built between the 11th-15th century and is situated just 60km from Rome.  On their amazing property Etruscan tombs have been found which date back over 2500 years along with an old Roman road.  I spent a wonderful summer there when I was 11 and have been back many times over the years and it never fails to amaze and is the most magical place, especially as a child.

How does this tie in with us?

15 years ago Simon and I came and ¬†helped with the camps, and this year my aunt didn’t have anyone to assist her. ¬†So we got chatting and decided to take the opportunity to come over and help her and give our kids a different experience and a chance to learn and immerse themselves in a different culture and interact with kids from another country. ¬†We have then further taken the opportunity to stay longer and travel Europe and Ireland for the next three months. ¬†So we have traded in our 4×4 and overland trailer for aeroplanes and suitcases and some new and amazing family adventures. ¬†We have rented out our house for 6 months to help fund this amazing trip, friends have kindly taken our beloved animals (thanks Elaine and Winks) and Simons fabulous cousin is helping to look after our business back home (thanks Bev).

The last 5 weeks in Italy

I think we are still recovering! We arrived early June and had 10 days to see family, go into Rome for a few days and play tourist, and then setup the camp and get ready for the kids.

Looking after 16 kids plus your own 2 is hard work. ¬†Throw in the fact that Italian kids go to bed late……very late, and you have exceptionally long days!!! ¬†We would start getting the kids into their tents around 10pm (which they thought was way too early), and they then woke up just after 7am. ¬†I don’t know how they function! ¬†It must be years of training.

The language barrier is also quite difficult and exhausting. ¬†Our Italian is pretty broken and majority of their English isn’t great, but there was always one little translator who was an angel. ¬†So you have hard work and looooong days and it is exceptionally hot too. ¬†All that aside, the experience was great though but I think I will be happy not to be sleeping in a tent for the next while.

We had nightly joys of the most ginormous toads waking kids, a cat that would come into camp around 2am and then ‘hunt’ our tent straps, the rooster that thought 3am was a good time to crow, Antsy the donkey hee-hawed at around 5am, kids that had sweets in their tents (when they weren’t allowed) and then climbing into bed and finding ants had invaded, the nightly hunting sessions for grasshoppers, caterpillars an any other insect that freaked them out due to the fact that they hadn’t zipped their tents shut, even though we had told them a million times and the list goes on and on…..but hey, it makes for great memories.

How did the kids handle?

Jesse and Olivia participated in the first camp completely as part of the group of kids as we only had 12 the first week. ¬†The second two weeks they assisted us as well as participated where possible as there were 16 kids each week, so the camp was full. ¬† It wasn’t always easy for them and nor for us, as they got the dregs of our patience and our time due to the fact that we were working and looking after the other kids was our priority. ¬†But they were troopers and learnt to be a bit more self sufficient.

¬† And now…

Our family journey begins in earnest! ¬†We packed up a few days ago and caught our first flight en route to Dublin. ¬†We will be spending the next 3 1/2 weeks exploring the green isle. ¬†We have rented a car, booked airbnb’s and have no plans further than that. ¬†We will also have to start our term of homeschooling this week, which will be something new. ¬†The kids school has been incredibly supportive. ¬†We are missing the whole of the 3rd term, but will do our best to keep up with Maths and English, after that this journey is the most incredible education they can receive.

After Ireland, we are heading to Germany to cycle the Rheine and then renting a camper van where our no plans journey continues.  We will be heading back to South Africa at the end of September.

So come along for our journey.  I will endeavour to post whenever possible, but follow Instagram an our Facebook as that is more of the day to day

lots of love

the van Nierop family – Simon, Tammy, Jesse and Olivia

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Desserts on the fire – Malva Pudding

We left Cape Town late so couldn’t make it to the Karoo and found this beautiful spot in Ceres called Petervale farm.¬† A magical spot for kids!

Who says that all you can have while camping in remote beautiful places is chocolate or toasted marshmallows? Both are a winner, but sometimes there is nothing better than a yummy hot pudding.¬† I am by no means a chef or cook extraordinaire but the reason I do these cooking posts, and pretty much all our camping posts, is to hopefully inspire.¬† There is so much more that can be done than what we may have experienced that one really bad camping trip.¬† So with all my blogs, I hope to show you that the average family, like us, can do some amazing things.¬† And that camping doesn’t mean limitations to what we eat either.¬† That you don’t have to be a whiz, but you can do some delicious simple meals and puddings.¬† So this brings me to this post.

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En route to the Tankwa we found Bushman painting just off the road

One of my favorites is malva pudding. It is a true South African winner of all things yummy, gooey and tasty. Think hot sticky toffee pudding but creamier. So I got to thinking after baking bread (beer bread recipe) and apple crumble on the fire (crumble recipe), why not other puddings? It’s creature comforts like these that can just make your trip feel a little bit like home and bring you that comfort.

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So on our last trip to the Tankwa Karoo, I roped in my friend Wendy to assist with my first attempt at Malva Pudding on the fire. She is a cook extraordinaire, so always good to have someone like that as your sidekick. It was pretty chaotic with trying to braai dinner and keep hungry kids at bay. It is not a great pudding to do if you are setting up camp due to having quite a few elements to oversee.  It would work better if you have time, so a spot where you are in camp for a few hours before dinner would be ideal and also when someone else will be overseeing the dinner.

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At the top of the Ganaga Pass in the Tankwa Karoo National Park

What you will need:

A fire with lots of coals

This is because it will need 45-60mins on the fire and you need to rotate coals. Also helpful to heat some rocks in the fire that you can put them around the side of the pot furthest from the fire to heat up the sides of the pot.¬† Also have a few smaller stones so that the pot is slightly off the coals which helps to prevent ‘hotspots’ and burning.

You will need a few slightly higher stones to rest your pot on.  Be careful to only put a few coals underneath Рyou will need less than you think.

A dish that can go on the fire

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When cooking on the fire a flat bottomed cast iron pot is pretty ideal.¬† They are very heavy, so not always the most ideal things to take along.¬† We always take our cast iron bread pot as it isn’t too big and our flat bottomed aluminium pot which works as my larger dish for rice, pasta etc.¬† So far I have found that cast iron is definitely the best way to go on the fire.

For this attempt the cast iron bread pot was too small, so I used our aluminium flat based pot.  It gets hot a lot quicker, so you have to watch the coals and keep rotating it regularly.  It is also a lot thinner, so can tend to burn very easily.

Your favorite Malva Pudding Recipe

I use one a friend of mine suggested but I wasn’t going to type it all out, so here is one I found if you need one (recipe link)


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 tablespoon smooth apricot jam
  • 1 ¬ľ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb of soda (5ml)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (30ml)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (15ml)
  • 125ml milk

The Sauce

  • 250ml cream
  • 125ml butter
  • 125ml sugar
  • 125ml water

INSTRUCTIONS

Set oven to 190¬įC

  1. Beat castor sugar and eggs until fluffy then beat in the jam until a creamy consistency
  2. Sift dry ingredients into separate bowl.
  3. Melt butter in a small pot on a medium heat and add the vinegar and milk
  4. Now add the above mixture (butter, milk, eggs) to the sifted ingredients and mix well. Now add the eggs mixture and combine well.
  5. Pour into an ovenproof casserole dish that takes about 2 liters.
  6. Bake at 190¬įC for 45 mins until the top is nicely browned.
  7. Melt all the sauce ingredients together in a small pot over a medium heat and pour over the pudding before serving, preferably while it’s still hot.
  8. Serve it with ice-cream or custard or both.

Making and Mixing

Camping brings its limitations on what you can take along.¬† So a large mixing bowl and whisks and various measuring cups aren’t exactly top priorities. img_1322

I generally keep a 125ml measuring cup and a rubber whisk in my camping kit.¬† Ironically somehow my whisk had grown wings and disappeared, which was almost an epic fail as I hadn’t checked till we started prepping.¬† Nothing worse than lumpy mixture…eugh!¬† And it is not like shops are right around the corner either. For your mixing bowl, you can use your general cooking pot to mix if you don’t have space for a plastic one.¬† Wendy was a she-Gyver (a better version of McGuyver) though and we used her shake mixer which worked a charm. This trip was only a week away, so we had more space in the trailer which enabled me to bring along my little scale to make my life easier.

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Another staple I now take along is baking paper.  There will invariable be a spot or two that gets a bit burned, whether it be with bread, potato bake or your pudding.  And cleaning these pots can be a pain, especially if you have limited water.  So lining with baking paper make a messy job so much easier to deal with.

Side note: if you crunch the baking paper up into a ball before using it to line whatever dish, it is then so much easier to manage.¬† You can then fit it in to the edges etc and it doesn’t keep curling out of the dish¬† ūüôā

Ready, set and cook

Your batter is prepared, your coals are ready and your dish is lined.¬† ¬†Pour your batter into your pot and pop it on your small stones over some coals near the fire.¬† If you have some larger warm rocks, put those on the outside and then pop some coals on the lid.¬† You will need to monitor and change out the coals underneath and on top and rotate the pot so that alternating sides are near the fire.¬† Again, you need far fewer coals underneath than you think.¬† You can always add more heat as you go rather than starting too hot.¬† It will take roughly an hour…well mine did.¬† Don’t forget to prep the sauce so you don’t have to scramble when it comes off the fire.

A great time to put it on is just before you start braaing.  It will then be ready after supper so that when you finish eating dinner you can take it off the fire and pour on the sauce, put the lid back on and eat when ready.

Eat and Enjoy!!!!

I hope you are in a beautiful place with an amazing view and fabulous company and that this brings a little bit of home with you.

Good luck and let me know if there are any other amazing recipes that are easy and yummy that can be done on the fire.

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The kids were just SLIGHTLY stoked to have pudding while camping

This recipe and the Breakfast in the Bush were cooked on our trip to the Tankwa National Park.¬† A truly incredible place with limited to no cell reception, beautiful vistas and stars that feel like they are right within reach.¬† I can’t recommend it enough.¬† We bush camped for a night and felt humbled by the beauty that surrounded us.

I hope you experience God’s beauty and majesty this year while adventuring and exploring this amazing place we get to call home.

Some pics from the Tankwa xxx

 

 

 

Breakfast in the Bush – yummy eggs

Bullets and Beans

Last month at the amazing Desert Knights Mountain Bike adventure I got to meet the wonderful Marion Sieberts. IMG_0755

If you have done the Mapangubwe Wildrun (now that is one for the bucket list) or many other amazing wild sporting adventures, then you would have eaten her delicious food.

Anyway, on the morning at the Orange River, she opens up the Pooitjie pot on the fire and this aroma comes out that has us all salivating.

It didn’t look like much but oh my word it was so yummy.¬† After getting this simple but delicious recipe that she dubbed Bullets and Beans, I had to try it out the next week when we were camping in the Tankwa Karoo National Park.

I had a very hard to please crowd, my kids and their friends.¬† The joy of dealing with kids is that they are ruthless with their critique and opinion and are very bad at faking it if they don’t like the taste of something.¬† So to say I presented a breakfast with baked beans and boiled eggs in it with slight fear and trembling would be putting it mildly.¬† My mum is from the UK, so I grew up with baked beans on toast as a staple Sunday night dinner but my kids are not such huge fans.

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Our beautiful bush camp in the Tankwa Karoo National Park

Anyway, as we were in the middle of the Karoo bushcamping in this exquisite valley and it was Simon’s birthday, I got up early and quickly put Bullets and Beans together.¬† It had to be quick and easy as the temperature was about to rise over 40degrees celsius and we still had to pack up camp.

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I had boiled the eggs the night before, so that made the process quicker and easier.  At Desert Knights, Marion had served boiled eggs for breakfast the day before and then used the leftover eggs for the Bullets and Beans the following morning.  So when camping remotely or moving camp daily, its little things like these that makes your life easier.

If you have a bit more time, making fresh Irish soda bread in the pan would be an absolutely delicious accompaniment (recipe here).  Otherwise, wraps would also work well as they travel brilliantly for those really remote trips. (overland shopping list guide).

We just did it with normal toast as I didn’t have a lot of time.¬† Well, the kids absolutely loved it!¬† The leftovers were even eaten for lunch the next day!¬† So Bullets and Beans will be added to my quick yummy breakfast camping list along with flapjacks, vanilla oats and the usual bacon and eggs.

So here is the recipe for a really easy yummy breakfast!

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Marion’s Bullets and Beans

Ingredients

1 onion

celery (I forgot mine and still was delicious)

1 tin tomatoes

1 tin bakes beans

eggs (depends how many you want)

Onion flakes (I used from Woolies)

Method

Chop up onion into small pieces and fry until lightly golden and translucent and add your celery¬† (you can add garlic too, but I forgot…yes this as well)

Add tin of tomatoes and let simmer while you peel the eggs, giving the occasional stir.

Once peeled add baked beans and eggs to the tomato mixture.  As needed to taste, add salt and pepper and some fresh herbs if you have and like.  I had some leftover bacon bits, so we added this to the mixture which was delicious.  You can pretty much do anything!

Serve on toast and adding the crispy onion once dished is the not to be missed final ingredient.

I doubled the above quantity for 7 and we had some leftovers which the kids gobbled for lunch the next day.

So, it doesn’t look or sound like much but it is yummy, wholesome and easy.¬† Give it a try next time you are camping and want something a little different.

Happy travels!

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Desert Knights – a Namibian mountain bike adventure

 

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Photo courtesy of Desert Knights Gallery

Being spontaneous has its rewards.¬† I got offered the amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to go and partake in the Desert Knights¬†mountain bike adventure in Namibia!¬† Frankly, when I got the message I thought it was spam, but I had nothing to lose by responding and hey, presto, it was genuine!!!!¬† It’s an event I had looked at previously and thought looked like a bucket list must.¬† Who doesn’t want to cycle through the desert during full moon and canoe down the Orange River?

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Photo courtesy of https://tfcaportal.org/desert-knights-2

 

The event takes place in the Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and combines 5 days of cycling and 1 day canoeing down the Orange river.  I have been lucky to spend a few holidays in this region and absolutely love it (read here). So we start on the Namibian side  of the park in Hobas and end on the South African side in Sendlingsdrift.  What is so unique is that the event takes place during full moon and most of the cycling is done from late afternoon and into the night.  How incredible to cycle to the Fish River Canyon and watch the moon rise over this iconic and beautiful place?  Or to camp in the dry river bed of the Gamkab Canyon?  As you can tell, I am beyond excited!

Our route area map

Having only gotten my entry a week ago, one week before departure, means that I haven’t had months to prep and train.¬† But here is another bonus, this is a tour, not a race.¬† You are supposed to enjoy the scenery, stop and take pictures and generally just appreciate the area that is truly a magical place on earth.¬† Luckily I ride regularly and am pretty fit….well here’s hoping.

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Photo courtesy of Desert Knights gallery

So I am off tomorrow and we start on Friday.  It has been a bit of a scramble getting my bike together as I was waiting on a part from the UK, but all is sorted in the nick of time as well as having to have the clutch replaced on our Toyota Fortuner.  But all was packed this evening and I am ready to get going early tomorrow morning.  Hopefully the sun will be shining and I will get to see some of the flowers through the Namaqualand en route which will be a treat.

This will be a solo mission, Simon and the kids will sadly remain at home holding the fort.¬† But a solo adventure isn’t always bad, it is good for the soul to have time to think, meditate, appreciate and rest and this is something that the silence of the desert does bountifully.

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Photo courtesy of Jacques Marais Media

If you would like to follow my adventure on this event I will be posting to my personal Instagram page and to our Family On a Mission page.

Here is to a Bucket List Must!

Epupa Falls – Namibia

Jesse and Olivia could not say the name without laughing hysterically!  For them this was up there with toilet talk.  But they were also beyond excited to see the waterfalls featured in the animated movie, Zambezia.

Epupa Falls is one of the most incredible places to visit.  Situated in the northern most region of Namibia in the Koakaland on the Angolan border.  It is fed by the Kunene River and is 0,5km wide and drops down in a series of waterfalls that spread over 1.5 km.

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Epupa Falls taken close to the town

Getting there

The road to Epupa is pretty amazing.¬† Like most roads in Namibia it is gravel, but it is well maintained and a 4×4 is not necessary.¬† It is possible to get there without having to do a whole overlanding long trip, like we did.¬† You can fly into Windhoek and rent a standard car and drive up.¬† It is far more accessible than I expected.

Taking the trip from Windhoek, you will need to look at overnighting en route.  It is never worth pushing distances in Africa just in case something goes wrong.  A great place to overnight is around Etosha.  There is a new camp on the northwest side called Olifantsrus that has camping and chalets that friends stayed at and raved about.  We spent three days on our way up in a Game Reserve called Erindi and then overnighted in the town of Opuwo before getting to Epupa.  If you decide to rather push the distance and stay in Opuwo, we stayed at the Opuwo Country Lodge.  I would forgo staying in Opuwo unless necessity requires it as it is not a great town.  They have a good campsite, though you definitely need to book during school holidays.  We stayed the night on the weekend, so there was lots of music and partying going on in the surrounding area.  The road up to the lodge was a bit tricky and the area you go through not great.  The lodge area is well fenced and there is security.  The hotel itself has an amazing view.

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The view from the hotel

Fuel and Food

We did our major food shop in Windhoek, as you can get pretty much everything.¬† Fuel is something you have to plan for as you always want to have a bit more that needed just in case a petrol station doesn’t have, which is possible.¬† You are pretty much guaranteed to get good diesel at Kamanjab.¬† We filled our jerry cans at this point.¬† When we got to Opuwo we just topped up the main tank.¬† This is due to not always being able to get 50pp diesel there.¬† At the main garage in Opuwo there is also a decent Shoprite if you need to get some basics you have forgotten.¬† I had forgotten flour to make bread, so could get a local brand there.¬† Click here for my yummy beer bread recipe.¬† There was also cash machines and banks if you need access.

Culturally

Just before reaching Opuwo, you will start to see Himba people.  If you have children, it is a good idea just to show and discuss with them what to expect.  The women are completely topless at all ages.  When we got to the garage to fill up diesel, our car was inundated with Himba women trying to sell their wares and then also young kids from different tribes begging for sweets and money.

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Olivia watching the children

My son found it very overwhelming and our friends son, who was 12, didn’t know where to look.¬† So discussing their culture is a good way to prep so that the children know what to expect and can be respectful.¬† I love showing them such diverse cultural differences.¬† It shows that diversity is beautiful and that respect is a human right regardless of how different we are!

Himba Women

Himba women riding to get water

If you do stop to take a picture, you will have to ‘pay’.¬† They want sweets or medicine, which you don’t want to give as they are both addictive.¬† Supplying fruit or food is better.¬† Also paper and pencils or pens are great, especially for kids.¬† Be mindful of giving things in plastic, as the packets/bags/wrapper will most likely just be thrown onto the ground and not disposed of properly.

They are also a nomadic people, so you will see shells of villages and camps.

Himba hut

Outside an abandoned Himba hut

Epupa itself

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Our first Baobab just before reaching Epupa

Epupa is like a little green oasis.¬† The campsites and lodges are all along the river right above the start of the waterfall.¬† We stayed at one of the most furthest along campsites called Epupa Camp.¬† Don’t get confused by Epupa Falls Lodge, we went there and then panicked as they were full and didn’t have our booking.¬† We then worked out we were in the wrong place.¬† It is a quieter campsite a bit higher up the river.¬† They have both camping and little chalets.¬† The main area has a bar and a swimming pool and wifi.¬† You can sit and have a drink and a dip in the pool or walk across the bridge to a little island.¬† You can’t swim in the river because of crocs and must just be wary when walking along the river bank.

The campsite was treed with date palms.¬† There was a shower and loo ablution stand per two camps with a donkey boiler.¬† The staff would light the donkey boiler morning and night, though the mornings tended to be a bit tepid as needed more time.¬†¬† The showers don’t have a roof, so you shower at night looking at all the stars.

 

Just beware of monkeys, don’t leave any food out unattended.¬† They are so quick and if you turn your back for a second, they grab and run.

If you need any washing done, there will be local ladies at the gate to the campsite in the mornings.¬† You give them your washing and your powder, though I would supply the powder per wash as they pretty much used most of what we had budgeted for the whole holiday.¬† The rate charged depends on how many garments there are.¬† You also buy firewood at the gate from the locals.¬† Make sure that you have lots of change as you have to pay exact amounts.¬† This goes for pretty much all remote places throughout Namibia.¬† So often we wanted to buy wood etc but only had large notes and the local didn’t have any change.

With regards to safety, always beware of petty theft.¬† So don’t leave things unnecessarily out and unattended.¬† Walking through the town to the falls was very safe and we didn’t feel worried at all.

Activities

IMG_8110The falls itself is free to access.¬† We walked from our campsite and you can stand right on top of them.¬† There is even a walk down to the bottom of the valley.¬† If you want to go to the view point, you will have to pay money.¬† It wasn’t a lot and the best time of day is definitely later towards sunset.

Epupa Falls

Above Epupa Falls

There is a village tour and also a river rafting trip.  Both are organized through your place of accommodation.  We did the river trip with the kids, which was such fun.  You get driven roughly 8ks up the river and then you paddle back down.  The rapids were very mild, so very safe with the kids.  We saw crocodiles and birds and had our snack and cooldrink on the Angolan side of the river.

We spent 3 nights at Epupa, but I could have happily spent more.  It is tranquil and beautiful and so culturally rich!

Dreaming Big – is it reality?

I was given a gift bag and on it had the wording, “Dream big, live the life you have always imagined!”¬† Simon and I have had a dream for our family for a while, and that is to take our kids sailing for a few years.

But the birth of the dream to the actuality of it sometimes seem insurmountable. They say that the ideal time to do this is before kids reach ‘teen’ years.¬† Obviously this is not the rule, but it seems to be the average guideline.¬† Jesse is turning 10 in June, so this ‘ideal’ deadline is creeping up.¬† Then there is the very real monetary factor.¬† We aren’t rolling in it.¬† We work for ourselves with our event flooring company, and at the moment the industry is not doing well.¬† That means that all that we have saved has been thrown back into the pot to keep going.¬† So 2 steps forward and 3 backwards!¬† Simon has his coastal skippers, only to find out that it is only valid in the UK and not recognized in South Africa.¬† So if he wants to get his Yacht Master off shore, he has to start from scratch again.¬† And this is only a few of the ‘hurdles’ in getting from here to there.

This isn’t including trying to buy the boat.¬† We don’t want a complete fixer upper, as this takes time which as stated above, is limited.¬† But obviously the nicer the boat the ‘nicer’ the price which brings us full circle and back round to the hurdles.¬† How do we go about buying a boat that is roughly going to cost us over a million Rand?¬† Selling a kidney and half a lung seem to be the easiest options at the moment!¬† Just joking….I think.

So how do we go about accomplishing the life we have imagined?  What do we give up?  Do we sell our house and buy a smaller apartment that is then paid off so that there is no debt?  But if we sell our house we move out of an amazing community we are knitted into.  Do we rather rent it out hoping that our tenants pay on time etc?  Do we keep our business and try run it from abroad?  This then gives us a monthly income.  But at the moment we need to sell the business in order to use the capital to fund the dream.  If we keep the business this then means you are constantly trying to keep in touch with clients and overseeing things.  Do you rather sell it and thereby not have anything you are constantly having to watch?  If we sell it, what are our alternatives?  Do I look at doing online freelance work?  Does Simon go back to doing yacht deliveries?  (which he did before we were married)   This can then be done when we are in various ports and also from home in Cape Town when we come back, keeping a possible option of income.  Which homeschool system will be best and easiest?  At this moment our kids are beyond on board with the dream, but when time comes will they truly be happy to uproot and say goodbye to friends and family?

So at the moment we have more questions than answers.  We have more what ifs than we wills and definitely more against us than for us.  But we will continue to dream and work towards this goal and I will keep you posted on what we decide to give up, trade in and sell.

But this I do know, even if we don’t accomplish this exact dream – we have not failed.¬† For it is far better to dream and maybe fly than to never try¬† for fear of falling and failing.¬† We will always have each other, and for that we are rich!IMG_2508

Clothing guideline for an Overland Trip

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I am not a khaki and strops and socks kinda girl, no sirree!!!!! ¬†Neither do I need to blowdry my hair and wear full make up but don’t deny me my mascara and nail polish and cute tops. ¬†Just because you have to be practical doesn’t mean you can’t do pretty.¬† My husband does not subscribe to the same.¬† As long as he is comfortable he couldn’t care less, neither could our son.¬† My daughter on the other hand as been spotted in a leotard and tutu in the desert with leather gloves and takkies!

Like any holiday or weekend away, we always tend to take way too much. ¬†The one trip I took my knee high Timberland leather boots! ¬†Yes, they are comfy but flip packing those things was a pain in my b-hind. ¬†So over the years I’m starting to get better at packing for both myself and the kids. ¬†(I do check my husbands packing and tend to shove a few extras in without his knowing. ¬†Once he went with two t-shirts and some board shorts¬†and hardly anything else! He froze his ass off)

When you don’t have the luxury of wheelie bags and a 32kg limit but rather an ammo box measuring 235(h) x 395(w) x 505(l) for 20 plus days of travel with both hot and cold weather, you get clever. ¬†Thank God for the micro down jackets which have come out in the last few years that pack away into tiny bags. ¬†They have made my life soooo much easier.¬† So we each have one crate for clothes and then there is a shared crate for shoes and toiletries and another for the families towels etc.¬† So for a family of 4 there are 6 crates that are allocated for personal and then the rest are food etc.

This is all my clothes on my list below in one crate – it can be done!!!!

So here is my do or die live by list for roughly 15 days.  You will need to hand wash whenever you have available water.  If you want a food packing guideline, click here

Clothes for The Pink Puff (Olivia)

  • 3 shorts – no cuff turnups as sand gets in them and usually comes out in the car.¬† Half of the Namib desert seemed to end up in our car due to cuffs and pockets.¬† Try to keep to darker colors as they don’t show the dirt so much.
  • 3-4 leggings – I tend to pack more as they back up as extra PJ bottoms. Track pants are bulky to pack.
  • 6-8 tshirts and vests
  • 3-4 light long sleeve tops
  • at least one skirt or dress for the pink puff is essential
  • 2 warm hoodies – no zips because if they need to sleep in them if it is cold, zips are uncomfy.
  • 1 wind breaker –¬† we use the lightweight ones from Kway
  • 2 pj’s – one short and one long.¬† I am very strict that they are not allowed out of the tent till they have changed as they then get played in and filthy.
  • enough panties and socks so that if you are not in campsites you have enough to get by till you can hand wash again
  • 1 swimming costume
  • 1 buff/head band that can be used as a scarf or head band
  • Hairbands & clips – if your daughter has long hair, plait it!¬† This keeps it so much more manageable.¬† They will stick their heads out the windows of the car and if you can’t necessarily wash it that often it becomes a nightmare to deal with.

Clothes for Jesse (Boys)

  • 4-6 shorts (he gets so much dirtier)¬† Board shorts are best as they wash and dry quickly and sand doesn’t get into them like normal fabrics
  • 2¬† tracksuit pants – can double as spare pj’s
  • 6-8 tshirts
  • 3-4 long sleeve light weight tops
  • 2 warm hoodies – again try for no zips
  • 2 pj’s – one short and one long.¬† Again, they have to change before leaving the tent.¬† I set their clothes out the night before.
  • 1 windbreaker
  • enough undies and socks¬†so that if you are not in campsites you have enough to get by till you can hand wash again
  • 1 buff/head band that can be used as a scarf or head band
  • 1 broad brimmed sunhat
  • when Jesse was little I would take waterproof lightweight rain trousers, as they kept him clean when playing (you can get them from Cape Union Mart)

Shoes for kids

  • Crocs or strops: You want something a little more covered than a slip slop but easy to put on getting in and out of the cars and that they can also shower in
  • Wellingtons/gumboots or hiking boots: shoes that cover the ankle if they are mucking about in rocks and bush where scorpions and snakes may be, so it covers the ankles.¬† My kids don’t have hiking boots so we take gumboots and takkies (trainers) but space could be minimized by just having hiking boots

Examples of some essentials for the Kids

Splash Pants from Kway               Jesse lives in his Keen strops       Lightweight Kway Jacket

If you need a basic guideline on kids and their toys/entertainment when overlanding, then please click here.

For the Hubster:

  • 3 pairs boardshorts
  • 1 pair cargo shorts
  • 1 pair long trousers/jeans
  • 5-6 tshirts
  • 1 lightweight long sleeve shirt (great for keeping the sun off)
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 light down jacket
  • 5-6 pairs underpants
  • pj’s – simon takes a long light weight pair of pants that can be layered with socks and the fleece top and then just sleeps in his jocks if hot
  • couple pairs socks – at least one warm pair and preferably dark
  • takkies/boots
  • slip slops/strops – needed for shower and in and out the car
  • beanie
  • cap/sunhat

For Me:

  • 2 pairs black leggings – I take my Nike full length ones.¬† I can then run in them if I want otherwise they are so comfy for evenings etc.
  • 2-3 pairs shorts – cutoff stretch denim is my go to as they are hardy and don’t get as dirty but they are a pain if you want to wash as take a while to dry.¬† ¬†Stay away from a turnover cuff as sand sits in it.¬† Short gym leggings are also versatile.
  • 6-8 tops
  • 1 shirt – I find they are great to keep the sun off and cool and an easy extra layer
  • 1 light weight dress – sometimes you just don’t want to wear shorts and t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie/fleece
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 set light weight PJ’s – I layer with hoodie if cold
  • 8-10 pairs panties – on a hygiene side, panty liners are a must
  • 1 swimming costume
  • 2 sports bras – they are much more comfortable to travel in and dry quickly
  • 1 scarf or light sarong
  • 1 cloth bag to put all your underwear and socks in.¬† It helps keep the crate tidy.
  • Paez shoes – these I swear by.¬† Lightweight, they keep your feet clean and easy on and off and they don’t smell.

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    My faithful Paez.  I swear by them!!!!

  • Trainers/takkies/hiking boots – I just take my trail running shoes.¬† I can walk in them and also try get a run in where possible
  • Slip slops for the shower
  • Buff – I take a couple as they are great to keep your head warm, a scarf and then I also use them to keep my fringe flat when I am drying it ūüėČ
  • cap/sunhat

For the Trailer:

  • 2 sheets – we put them both on the bed at the same time.¬† You can then swop them round by putting the dirty one at the bottom.¬† You then don’t need to pack them into a crate.¬† Also, they are tan color so don’t get as dirty.
  • 1-2 pillowcases – can do same as the sheets or just use one and turn it inside out when needed
  • Micro fibre towels – get the biggest size as they are just nicer to use. They really pack small and dry quickly.¬† I don’t love them but its functional.K-Way Trek Towel XXL
  • Fleece blanket each – these are used in the car and also to line the sleeping bags for very cold nights.
  • Kikoi/sarong – these are great for a multiple of uses.¬† If its hot, to sleep under, and as a second towel.¬† Once when we were in the Okavango, it was stinking hot and there were flies everywhere and we couldn’t sit in the tent as it was stifling.¬† We would dip the kikois in the water and then just lie under them.
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My aunt and brother hiding under a kikoi from the heat and flies

Good intentions can go awry!

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Grace – our pretty little Holiday 23 who we co own with great friends

It was fathers day a while back and Simon’s great passion and joy is sailing. ¬†We are lucky enough to be co-owners of a beautiful little Holiday 23 which is based in Saldhana. ¬†For two 6ft plus adults and 2 growing kids, it can be a little cramped but it is our stepping stone starting point for our long term family goal, but generally I come away with bruises everywhere each time we go. ¬†I am a clutz at the best of times, put me in a mall space and it is disaster waiting to happen!

Anyway, the kids and I planned an overnight journey to Grace (our boat) for Father’s Day and my mum in law, Caroline, was coming along for the day. ¬†We were going to head out into the bay for a bit of a sail, drop anchor for some lunch and then return to the club for the evening so Caroline could head back to Cape Town before it got too late. ¬†Got to love good intentions! ¬†Thirty minutes into our outing, motoring along as there was no wind, we get yelled at by a stranded jet ski couple who’s motor had cut out. ¬†A 20 minute detour later taking them to Slipway Restaurant where they could get help, we set off again.

Just as we are getting somewhere the kids start to grumble that they are now getting hungry. ¬†We decide to stop at a close little bay for lunch where they could have a kayak while I prepare and then maybe play on the beach after lunch for a bit. ¬† Just as we drop anchor a rolling swell starts to come through which means in about 3 minutes after sitting down to make lunch, we are now slightly queasy and uncomfortable. ¬†By now Jesse, our son, has started saying that he has a bit of a sore tummy. ¬†He’s not the greatest eater at the best of times, so I don’t really believe him (remind me of that later.) ¬†Lunch doesn’t go down overly well. ¬†Kayaking gets shelved as the swell is crashing onto the little beach and it was a guaranteed promised soaking if attempted. ¬†Being winter, not so much fun. ¬†So after packing up and motoring out the little bay we now discover the wind has disappeared completely. ¬†Oh well, back towards the harbour where en route I somehow manage to lose my Paez overboard. ¬†Thankfully it floats a charm so I am able to fish it out with the boathook.

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Shoe fishing!

By this stage, Jesse had mentioned a few times that his tummy was sore but was still asking for treat snacks, so I still didn’t believe him. ¬†Back at the club, we pulled up to the hard (the permanent jetty you can moore your boat onto for a bit) and the kids went off to play. ¬†The rest of the afternoon was relaxed and because the club was so quiet we decided to sleep on the hard for the night and not go back to our mooring. ¬†It means the kids can come and go without having to paddle from the boat back to land etc. ¬†With no more mishaps, dinner was uneventful and the kids went off to bed.

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Good old Woolies, a winner for dinner when you don’t have much prep space! ¬†Rotis with yummy indian…yum

Now a Holiday’s layout is pretty clever for the size. ¬†Simon and I sleep in the main cabin and there is a loo literally next to the bed (obviously there is a little wall) but it is ‘open plan’. ¬†And by open plan I mean the space is not enough to swing a cat nor stretch or actually even stand up straight if you are over 6ft. ¬†The kids fight over the quarter bunk and the ‘couch’ and take it in turns. ¬†That night Olivia was in the quarter bunk and Jess on the couch.

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This is the layout of Grace.  Simon and I sleep in the forpeack (the front pointy bit) and the loo is right there as you can see!

30 minutes after everyone was in bed we suddenly hear the trawlers leave and then we remember why we shouldn’t sleep attached to the jetty. ¬†The boat was rocking like it was a bucking bronco. ¬†And then the rattles started. ¬†Now my husband HATES a rattle. ¬†He will pull our cars dashboards apart to find a squeak or rattle and if he can’t find it he starts to get a wild look in his eyes and a nervous tic. ¬†Now when we went to bed it was so still we didn’t think to secure the boat hook pole and various other boaty things (yes I am a complete boating terminology officianado….not!). ¬† I think for the next hour or so Simon was in and out of bed and back up to deck to find the latest rattle, knock or noise. ¬†All of which are amplified when inside the boat. ¬†Finally we seem to have sorted them all out and are just drifting off to sleep when Jesse bolts upright, runs to the loo, says he doesn’t feel well and proceeds to vomit…..everywhere. ¬†He is standing right in front of the toilet, it is literally right below his face and yet do you think he manages to actually get his aim right? ¬†Nope, he misses! ¬†A lot! And my husband is one of those that if someone is vomiting he starts gagging too. ¬†Put that together with the fact that your face is inches from this delightful spectacle your son is providing…not a good combo. ¬†We opened up the forward hatch above the bed, gulped fresh air and proceeded to put our big girl panties on.

Between trying to change child out of clothing, clean up the mess, wash down the area and crying with laughter because hell, what else could we do?! ¬†You then look across at the partner and friend and realize amidst the calamities of what life throws our way, joy is found in the small things. ¬†That even when things don’t go as planned, hell they went completely sideways, to realize that the planned outcome isn’t the important thing but the journey in getting there. ¬†So choose to find the humor in your unusual situations you may find yourself in, look out instead of in, build memories to last a lifetime, don’t get upset when things might not be according to plan and look around at all that you have! ¬†Life is good and wondrous and messy and beautiful, seize it!

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Simon celebrating Father’s Day after our ‘momentously’ awesome evening

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Shopping for an offroad trip

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Packing our trailer is like a tetris game sometimes.  Writing lists of what is in each box and sticking it on the top of the ammo box lid really helps

So I was chatting to friends of mine who are heading off to Namibia for their first time doing something slightly wild and untamed. ¬†Going to these wild and rural places is amazing but so often when we don’t know where to start or what to bring it can turn into an overwhelming experience. ¬†So here are some of the things that I would recommend especially when travelling with kids.

You need to have a rough idea of distances and times to be covered each day. ¬†The one thing which has made a HUGE difference is that on the days that you are having to cover quite a large distance is to have a meal already made. ¬†This worked so well for us because as we arrived at camp my husband would setup and I would prep supper for the kids and it would be ready within 10-15 mins. ¬†You then weren’t having to set up camp and then start to prep meals on fires etc and have children who were moaning and unhappy. ¬†We took along a bolognese so only had to cook the pasta, a chicken curry so just cooked rice and just froze them before hand. ¬†Always have a few backup ‘easy meals’. ¬†I take a few pesto’s that can be put on pasta or soups that only need to be opened and heated. ¬†Again, problems can arise like wheel issues or engine problems so that you can be delayed getting to your destination. ¬†In places like Namibia and Botswana there aren’t exactly restaurants you can just pull up to en route.

It’s also good to be prepared to make some bread. ¬†If you don’t have time to knead and leave then try my¬†Beer Bread on the Fire¬†as it is quick and easy to make. ¬†Irish Soda bread in a pan¬†is also a winner. ¬†This can be used for lunches and breakfasts and doesn’t need a lot of prep time.

Don’t forget to zip loc or wrap anything in paper bags or cardboard. ¬†We opened our trailer once to find flour everywhere when the bag exploded due to driving on rough roads. ¬†An oil lid also popped off once and a Jimmy’s Braai sauce also exploded….cleaning those was no funding the residue and smell lingered for ages! ¬†We also bought milk in cardboard cartons and they started to leak due to rubbing along the bottom of the crates. ¬†The next time we put a layer of bubble wrap and paper and it was much better. Also labeling your crates with a basic list of what is inside can be a huge timesaver.

When kids have to be in the car for lengths of time they seem to snack ¬†incessantly. ¬†I would make a ‘lunch box’ each morning before setting off. ¬†Bars, biltong, a sandwich and fruit. ¬†You can’t always stop when they expect lunch so this holds them off for a while but takes a bit of planning as you have to make sure you have enough for the whole trip.

So below are some essentials I take along. ¬†It is a pretty basic list but its a good start to then build from. ¬†Let me know if there is anything you would think is an ‘essential’ that I should add as well ūüôā

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Before we modified our trailer all the food had to go into crates.  It was a permanent game of shuffle

BASIC SHOPPING LIST

Condiments: salt, pepper, olive oil, cooking oil, fresh garlic, liquid stock sachets, dried rosemary, basil and thyme, mayo, tomato sauce and butter if possible, jam, peanut butter, nutella (can be used for smores), bovril/marmite, honey, mustard, pesto.  We forgot all spices our first trip and food was pretty bland! Nothing like a pooitjie with no spices. I like to take along some smoked paprika, chilli, curry powders so that we have the option of a curry or a tagine on the fire.

Lunch aids¬†(when you can’t get bread): pre-packed wraps – we use the Woolworths ones as they last long, they can also be used for bacon and egg breakfast mornings when bread may be finished. ¬†Dry biscuits like provitas and rice cakes are good backups and snack fillers if necessary.

General Food Goods: Rice, flour (either decant into a tupperware or double wrap), couscous (can be used for salads or supper base), baking powder, baking soda, oats, marshmallows, teas & coffee, sugar, bottled beetroot, olives, sundried tomatoes, vinaigrette, tuna, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, corn, tomato paste, longlife cream, longlife milk, coconut milk, custard, marshmallows, marie biscuits (for smores), tinned apples (Desserts in the Desert), jelly (a winner with the kids but have a tupperware with an airtight lid)

General Items:¬†Rubber gloves, leather gloves (for collecting wood), dishwashing liquid, handy andy, hand washing powder, dish sponges, wire pot scrubber, kitchen cloth, dish towel (they get so dirty so pack a few extra) double thick black bags (often you have to take your rubbish along and you don’t need them breaking), smaller bags for rubbish, extra thick tinfoil, plastic wrap, kitchen towel/serviettes, wet wipes, zip loc bags various sizes (great for leftovers as they then fit in spaces in the fridge as containers can be restricting), a few tupperwares

I am a firm believer in not skimping on the good things because when you have those added ‘luxuries’ a hard day just becomes that much more palatable and good food should never be compromised on!

Shop, be adventurous and enjoy