I was looking around for some cool camping kit today and stumbled upon a couple of things at Gelert which instantly caught my eye. One is this collapsible Fold-Away 2 litre silicon kettle. As much as I love my enamel kettle (sigh), the handle gets super hot and you can never quite tell when it’s boiling. Nothing too tragic, I know. But this little baby whistles when it’s ready! So no more checking and no more wasting gas. The silicon handles and lid are heat resistant and you can take the lid off for easy cleaning. This also means you can use the pan for something else, like whipping up scrambled eggs for two after your cup of tea. £19.99 from here.
Their other product which tickled my fancy was their new Beech Double Chair. If hitting the outdoors brings out your romantic side, this is perfect. Extra-wide with extra-padded seats, it supposedly folds and unfolds easily and it comes with its own carry bag. £124.99 from here. There’s even a single armchair as well if you wanted to get a whole living room vibe going on ….
These Uashmama paper bags (pronounced Wash Mama) are designed and made in Tuscany by Le Sorelle, a business owned and run by four Italian sisters. They created these incredible paper bags that feel like leather, wash like fabric and flatten for easy storage. They’re brilliant to take camping as, not only can you use them for loads of things, they look fantastic! You could store extra blankets or coats, fruit and veg or even as little planters to brighten up a table. They now come in small, medium, large and extra large. The larger bags have straps, so could even be used to pack your clothes or shoes. You could even use one as a snazzy laundry bag. Uashmama bags are designed to be rolled so you can alter the height to suit the contents. I love the gold and silver ones. To clean them, all you do is unroll them and hand wash in warm water using a mild soap or detergent. Easy. The paper is made using a virgin fibre from cultivation (so not through deforestation). The manufacturing process is similar to leather where the paper is stretched and tanned making it durable to withstand washing and daily use. How brilliant is that? They also sell a ceramic bread warmer which you can put on a grill over your campfire, pop in the bottom of one of the bags and presto! Warm croissants or bread for breakfast. That’s some nice campfire style.
Yes, yes, I said crockery. I don’t like paper plates and plastic cutlery. I could explain why, but it would descend into a bit of a whinge. So, I have a collection of enamelware, which I take on every camping trip. Plenty of my friends have also succumbed to the allure of an enamel mug or two (does anything else really say ‘camping’ like enamel?). As the days go on everyone’s collections become communal which is great. But this does mean we all lose or gain random pieces. Plenty of people rely on a blob of nail polish, but I find it chips off as fast as painted nails on an East End night out. And microchipping is possibly excessive. What to do …?
Porcelain pens: The. Answer. They work, are cheap and are available online. Just write your name, or draw a picture and leave it to dry for four hours. Heat fix in an un-preheated oven for 60 minutes at 190 degrees C, then cool down fully in the oven (some may work differently, so check first). Voila!
Enamelware, never to be lost again
I love lights: tiny fairy lights wrapped around the branches of trees; tea lights like lines on highways stretching along tabletops; lit candles over lunch. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the chances of me camping with nothing more than a head torch are seriously slim.
The first time I went camping I bought lights from very serious online camping stores. They were great. But it’s all function, function, function. But I went into this camping thing with visions of a romantic kind of gypsy camp—hanging lanterns shining a cosy glow around a campfire-oasis. Distant little lights casting a bit of magic in the dark.
I can’t remember how I discovered my three large solar-powered lanterns from Ikea. Did I make a special trip just for them or were they an impulse purchase while buying a chest of drawers? Whatever happened, they are now things I would never camp without. They’re flat when they’re not hanging up, which is perfect. I went for white, but it’s up to you. Pop your tent near some trees or hook up a line of bunting, and you’re away. Or use those cute little ground hub lights (above) to light a path from the campfire to your tent. Can you imagine how beautiful that would look?
I’ve had mine for three years now. I even hang them at home when it snows because they make everything look so beautiful. My friends borrow them for their Summer garden parties. Sadly, they only seem to do them with a 30cm diameter these days. The first three I bought are around twice the size. But they have introduced other pieces that would be just as lovely, like these skinny pendant lights:
I also have a thing for eating around a table. When you’re camping with lots of people it really pulls you all together after the madness of getting kids to air-bed and eating in random spots around a campsite. It gets everyone talking and focuses them on dinner. Now I’ve never used these, but why not? Who couldn’t love a more formal table lamp appearing out of context at a campsite? Anyway, all these are from Ikea. Just so you know.