Our top five Bongo essentialsĀ 

We’re holding our breath…. Bernice is due back any day now! Perfectly in time for our half term trip to the Isle of Wight.

To celebrate I thought I’d share our top five camping accessories. I’m not talking about essentials like kettles (we’re campers, not savages…) but a few little Bongo bits that make trips even more of a pleasure.

1. Vango Double Harmony sleeping bag

When this arrived in the post I unrolled it in the living room and thought I’d take the opportunity for a quick quality check. I snuggled down and, my God, I don’t think I’d ever been cosier. I stuck out a hand, grabbed the nearest Bill Bryson and I was sorted until school pick up.

I don’t know what they have done to this sleeping bag, it is nuclear warm. It is also the perfect size for the Bongo pop top. It wouldn’t be a good choice for a “carry everything on your back” minimalist trip to Everest base camp, packed in its generous bag it’s the size of a donkey, but I find it’s unsophisicated square cosiness strangely comforting. It reminds me of Guide camp in the days before double ripstop technology lightweight tents and mummy shaped sleeping bags.

2. The Luminoodle

This was a birthday gift from my all-weather camping in-laws and it’s awesome.

It’s an LED rope light with a rechargeable battery pack. It’s got a lovely bright but relaxing light and it’s easy to put up anywhere as it’s got magnets plus groovy orange noodles. You can drape it artfully around your sun awning or roll it up lit and put it in the bag as a lantern.



3. Outwell Cazal Portable Grill

Everyone loves a banger on the barbie eh? Nothing beats a lovely evening sat outside your Bongo with a beer and barbecue smells drifting along on the breeze (except all the other lovely camping related things that I’ve said that nothing beats…!).

Sausage and beans features heavily (if not solely) on the evening camping menu of the Belmonte family with BBQ corn on the cob if we’re feeling fancy. This barbecue is fantastic, heats up in the blink of an eye and absolutely teeny weeny to store. It folds totally flat with a natty carrying handle. Ours is looking a bit knackered through overuse and a relaxed approach to cleaning (adds to the flavour, yes?)



4. Collapsible bucket

Dull, yes, but so useful. We have two which we use for bins but they have been pressed into action as water carriers, laundry baskets, beer coolers etc. Ours are Outwell again but I don’t want this to see like an Outwell sponsored post (although happy to discuss…..šŸ˜„) – other collapsible buckets are available!

5. Kampa 10cm double self inflating mattress

I add this with some trepidation and to be honest we only use it for tent camping. It inflates by itself and, to quote a good friend, it is 10cm of pure delight. Its phenomenally comfortable to sleep on, add the Vango double harmony sleeping bag and you won’t have a better nights sleep in a tent.

My only hesitation adding this to the list is getting the damn thing back in the bag. The website confidently states “Place the valve in the open position. Roll sleep mat tightly towards valve”. Alternatively, for an easier life, you could wrestle an angry crocodile into submission while playing a game of Twister. Get help, preferably people with muscles. Alternatively disappear for a long walk and hope someone else has put it away by the time you get back!

Let me know your camping essentials! Very much looking forward to getting Bernice back (of course) but also going to the Isle of Wight. Looks like there’s loads of great stuff to do and the weather looking cautiously favourable… Any Isle of Wight top tips gratefully received.

New Bongo year, old faves…

It’s nearly here! We’ve been to the car wash in the Homebase car park, popped the top and nearly broken our necks getting the big awkward plastic box of camping stuff down from the attic. It’s Bongo time!

Thought I would mark the new camping year by reflecting on my top picks from last year before I started the blog.

1. Thetford ForestĀ 

Awesome trip about this time last year. We stayed on the neat and expensive C&CC site only five minutes from the lovely High Lodge Forestry Commission centre. There’s a great trail through the forest and Stick Man trail to keep short campers entertained. We’ve been every year since we bought Bernice and I’m sure we’ll be back in 2017.


2. Ramsgate / BroadstairsĀ 

It was stunning weather in May last year and we had a lovely time rock pooling in Broadstairs. We were wondering why so many people were congregated on such a small stretch of sand when there was such beautiful beaches for miles. The speed of the tide coming in soon put us right…


3. Bedgebury

If there’s one thing I love more than a great campsite it’s a great secret campsite. Bedgebury camping is only open for 28 days over the summer. It’s a large, lush eco campsite with gorgeous views, a little, shop and a visiting chip van. Campfires are allowed in old tractor wheels and it’s the best star gazing that we’ve ever done.

There are rope swings on every tree and SC ran feral with her new pals for the duration of our stay.

It’s only 10 min from another great Forestry Commission centre Bedgebury Pinetum (pronounced pine-EE-tum not pine-tum as I always had done). Too many great facilities to list. Book your stay today!


Happy New (camping) Year to you all!!