Like many people, our Summer plans were halted by Covid-19. We were meant to be travelling to Puglia, Italy but our holiday was understandably postponed until next year. Still keen to make the most of our time off, in a safe way, I decided that we should go camping in the UK. I think it’s a great and cheap option so I was really looking forward to it. My boyfriend was not so keen on the idea but I promised him that we’d have fun.
I discovered a campsite, just up the road from us in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. It had a few decent reviews and a toilet/shower block which was my one ‘must have’ feature. The reviews on the website were really positive so we took the plunge. I booked and Sam drove us up there a few days later, deciding to only pack essentials and not pay extra for electric. We turned up right on time and were directed to a large grassy area, by a tall hedge. There was a couple next to us but the other campers were at least 20 metres away from us which was amazing. I’ve been to a lot of campsites where you get placed on top of each other so I was pleasantly surprised with this location.
Sam decided to pitch the tent and set up the chairs, table and airbed himself whilst I chilled out. I didn’t mind very much as I got to sit down in the sunshine and read my book. He was very proud of constructing everything by himself and it made me happy to see how pleased he was.
After munching on some chocolate orange brownies that I baked for us, we set off to find some provisions for the evening and explore the local village of Fenstanton. Cutting through a beautiful golden field, we got there in about 10-15 minutes and it was quite straight forward. Fenstanton has all your essential shops and pubs but they were all closed due to Covid. There was a convenience store, fish and chip shop, kebab place, bakery, butchery and even a dog groomer. We decided to continue our walk and come back later for food as the weather was gorgeous and it was only about 1pm. The next village across was Fen Drayton, home to vast houses on large plots of land, all looking as if they’d featured on Grand Designs at some point. I love imagining what it would be like to live in a beautiful country house, surrounded by land. We headed up to the nature reserve, glistening, blue lakes, sparkling in the sun. It was really lovely but stupidly, we both forgot to pack water which meant that we started to feel delirious and parched. Deciding to head back, we popped into The Three Tuns, Fen Drayton’s local pub.
This was exactly what we needed. A huge pub garden, friendly service and veggie options. Winning. I had an aubergine burger and Sam had scampi and chips. There was a climbing frame, umbrellas and lots of picnic tables so we felt super safe. I was impressed that we could order the whole menu from our phones and didn’t need to go near anybody else. We were so dehydrated that we ordered multiple drinks and enjoyed the sunshine before heading back home to our campsite, armed with snacks from the local Nisa. I had brought Carcassonne with me, my new favourite table top game. Luckily, it wasn’t windy so we were able to play a couple of rounds before it got dark and time for bed. I just read my book by torchlight until I fell asleep.
The first thing we both did after waking up was to jump in the shower. I was so impressed with the hygiene in the campsite facilities. My shower had it’s own changing room cubicle and a window, adorned with a very classy black and sequined curtain. Both the temperature and water pressure were excellent. Then, we visited Barker’s Bakery in Fenstanton. Unfortunately, they had run out of the vegan sausage rolls that we saw advertised in the window, so I had a large pink sprinkled doughnut instead, which appeared to come straight out of The Simpsons. I wasn’t disappointed.
We grabbed some cappuccinos to go and drove to St Ives for the day. St Ives is the home of Oliver Cromwell and his statue. We were surprised that it hadn’t been torn down yet. The parking was completely free which was amazing and we walked through a farmer’s market to get into the centre. After strolling up and down the high street, we crossed the gorgeous bridge and set off on another long walk. Over lockdown, we have loved getting our steps in and recording it all on Strava so I was looking forward to trundling by the River Cam with my backpack and taking some pretty pictures. The weather was beautiful, we were in fabulous moods and had a great time. There were plenty of canoes, kayaks and river boats floating past us, fish swimming and dragonflies bouncing around.
When we arrived back into the town centre, I was in desperate need of more caffeine so we stopped at a cute Italian restaurant on the river. There was romantic music playing, outside tables and lots of cute dogs to spot. It was like being in English Venice. I began to get peckish so Sam got us some ‘proper chip shop chips’ that were encrusted with salt and vinegar. We ate them as we walked back to the car, stopping off at a mini Antique fair on the way for a quick browse.
Everyone loves a classic garden game during a camping trip. As a family, we have always brought Swingball or a football with us but we decided to play boules. It was surprisingly fun because I didn’t suck at it. My boyfriend is great at absolutely everything and it felt good that I was a worthy opponent. We played a few rounds before it got too dark and time for bed. Sam was able to enjoy a couple bottles of red wine which he bought in St Ives, whilst I read my book. We had to wrap up warm so I’m so glad that I decided to pack a fleece despite melting during most of the weekend. I also managed to watch 13 going on 30 on my tablet under the duvet whilst Sam fell asleep.
In the morning we had to pack away and go home. We had such a great time that Sam wanted to extend our trip but I didn’t feel prepared and hate unplanned changes. Basically, I’m a brat. We agreed that we’d definitely have to come back as it’s such a convenient location and we couldn’t fault the site/staff. Unfortunately, we didn’t end up having time to return as a couple but I ended up booking for the following weekend with my friends and had the best time too. There’s always next year!