Days out diary - child friendly and family activities

Family days out camping holidays with young children Family days out Disneyland Paris, France Family days out Thomas land and children railways Family days out butterfly farm Family days out Lake district cruise on Lake Windermere Family days out Magna Science and Technology Centre Family days out Wookey Hole Cave

Testing my new Tent

I bought a new tent earlier in the year and we're looking at putting it to use soon. This will be the first time we've been camping since we've had kids - so looking forward to it with a little bit of apprehension.

It's an Easy camp Go Taranto 600, 7 birth tent. At least the picture shows 7 people, but I think perhaps they are stacked vertically :-) . I put the tent up tonight as a practice for the real thing and to make sure there was supposed to be just one bag and I wasn't missing some minor component like the poles.

As I lugged the bag outside it brought back fond memories of previous tents.

Insert pole A into the funny looking metal widget thing. Put pole D into the bottom of pole A and connect pole C at right angles to the thinky-me-bob.

Which of course all went fine except you picked up pole F instead of pole A which should have been obvious due to it's notch being 8mm higher up, but 3mm lower than pole J. So having assembled a frame that looked more like a cross between a boat and a hang-glider you had to take it all apart and start again.

Of course there are none of these problems with new fibreglass poles with shock elastic to keep them together, or are there? I set to work finding the instructions. Having thrown bits of tent, poles and pegs across the garden I was about to give the shop a ring and ask for the instructions when low and behold they were printed on the back of the label telling you the model of the tent. At least I think it's the instructions, although it's on less than a sheet of A4 with almost half of the page showing the name of the tent again and the rest split into 3 different languages. In fact it's eight steps of which two actually have a second sentence.

Well at least it should be straight forward then, no need for an engineering degree. Well I was right on part of that - I've got an engineering Masters degree and that didn't help!

The tent takes two people to assemble it, which is of course accurate, as long as those two people both have 3 arms with a reach of at least 8 feet.

The instructions basically consisted of "poles are colour coded against the tent - stick them through the tent and peg it down". Actually there was a little bit more than that as it tells you to put the groundsheet in the living area and to use the guy ropes and pegs to secure the tent against the wind. Well I am enlightened.

I would like to say that those instructions included details of how to pack the tent up, but I think I may have missed that bit. All it said was "When unpacking the tent, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with how it should be repacked." [actual words]. Well sure, perhaps I should have taken my own notes on how to assemble it when I first saw it in the showroom as well.

Of course the final challenge still remained. How come no matter how tight your roll a tent it always ends up twice as big as the bag it has to go into? I'm sure they must run over it a dozen times with a steam-roller when they first pack it up.

At the end of the day I guess it wasn't too difficult to put together, but a few more instructions would not have gone a-miss. I'm glad I had a chance to practice on a calm sunny evening, as I'd hate my first attempt to be during bad weather.

First challenge completed, the next is how to get the kids into the car once I've got all the camping stuff inside, but that's one for another day :-)