Wimbles Farm was the perfect conclusion to long, wonderful summer. After our first family camping trip at Samuel P Taylor in July, I wanted to be in a tent one more time before September. When searching for a campsite, my filters were: firepit, picnic bench, toilets, and running water..in that order!
I also considered the driving distance from London because I knew a bank holiday might mean sitting in traffic on either end. Wimbles Farm is in the South Downs, about two hours from London, and perfect for a naptime drive. The South Downs is also a 25 minute drive from the pebbly beaches in Southern England so neighboring Eastbourne, Brighton, and Hastings day trips could be a breeze. ‘Wimbles’ offered the perfect combination of a small hut for my mom, and a grassy pitch for our tent, newly gifted from Grandad and Mamo. The firewood was stacked when we arrived, and the owners of the campsite invited Sachi and Saya to pick tomatoes and apples from their farm.
We enjoyed ‘barrowing’ gear to our site, and then spent the first afternoon eating our weight in blackberries as the brambles were the natural dividers between campsites. I shared my childhood memory of picking berries along the road, and eating them with milk and sugar at Grandma and Grandad’s kitchen table. I imagine it was Grandma Fran making sure there were ripe berries within a toddler’s reach at our campsite, just smiling down at the purple -stained little fingers at Wimbles this weekend.
While prepping for dinner, the girls created a soft play area in the tent, and I broke in my new Swiss army knife whittling roasting sticks. Corey attempted creating the first fire in preparation for dinner, yet I couldn’t stop myself from overrunning his smoking logs with my fire-building prowess! Building fires is one of my joys in camping, and I got a little carried away.
Everyone got into the spirit of roasting hotdogs while Bachan used the hut’s little stove to make pesto pasta with peas. We finished off the pack of ten franks and then moved to a round of roasting ‘Epic Giant American Style Toastin’ Marshmallows’ (Yes, this is verbatim from the package of white and pink! marshmallows). As you can see, I bought something that could resemble a graham cracker as these don’t exist in the UK. Let’s be honest though, the graham is the lowest priority when making s’mores- and I definitely sourced Hershey’s chocolate. (When I finish this blog, I’ve made a note to myself to Google ‘How Brits make S’mores without Graham crackers…biscuits?). Bedtime was reminiscent of our nights at Samuel P Taylor. So much excitement. Not much urgency for sleep.
We woke to a misty morning- a definite reminder to always have a rainfly in the UK. The sun was just coming up, the ‘cock-a-doodle’ was singing, and we combined yesterday’s blackberry haul with our corn flakes.
We ventured to Beachy Head, only to realise the hiking trail down to the beach wasn’t in Sachi’s best interest so we re-routed to Eastbourne’s pebbly beach and played in the surf and scouted for rocks. After a packed lunch, we walked the pier and Saya’s vote for ice cream cones only made sense on a sunny day by the seaside.
Afternoon naps for toddlers are even better in tents! We all got some rest and then enjoyed an afternoon of watercolors, jenga and football.
Since it was Sunday, it only made sense to go to a pub, and the Middle House in Mayfield is a gem. Established in 1575, the pub has four restored, huge fireplaces with dark carvings along the mantle, creating a sense of cozy even when unlit on a summer evening. The owner has since added onto the back side of the property, and re-designed it as a chic hotel-looking restaurant. The menu has a mix of both traditional and modern, and we enjoyed it all! Roasting marshmallows over Corey’s fire on this last night was picture perfect. The girls read every book in their camping bags before bed, and the adults sat around the fire until the embers started to fade.
Our final morning, we packed up after more cereal, blackberries, and pesto pasta (we were eating up the leftovers to make the coolers, or cool boxes as they’re called, lighter for the trip back home). The plan was to drive half-way, stop for lunch at a National Trust site, but with the girls taking early naps in the car, Corey drove directly back to London and we treated ourselves to Gokyuzu as we had the car for a few more hours.
As I reflect on the number of times we treated ourselves to a meal during this first family camping trip, I’d summarise it was camping with sprinkles of glamping. Either way, it was the best first family camping trip in the UK and I can’t wait to go back to Wimbles!