Keeping Cosy Under Canvas

Last time we slept under canvas was only last week and it was a little chilly to say the least.

We kept the stove ticking over and were toasty and that's because we've got a few little secrets up our sleeves.

But we're happy to share so you can keep cosy under canvas too!

Keeping cosy is all about ensuring the extremities are warm. That's head, toes and nose and we know how to keep them covered.

Fluffy socks are a must. Keeping the extremities warm means that we are able to fall asleep more quickly and are less likely to wake in the night as a result of being chilly.

A wooly hat is invaluable, especially if you're a little less blessed on top like one of our own camping crew! Don't let valuable body heat escape from up top!

And as for the nose...well, there's nothing else for it except to hide it under your duvet or sleeping bag!

Sleep on a sheepskin.

This deserves a post on its own. It's an amazing natural material that's a body temperature regulator. It breathes with your skin and is warming when it's chilly as it traps the cold air and keeps it away from your body.

Just try it and you'll never look back, if you struggle for space in the car it's worth thinking about what to sacrifice to squeeze in the sheepskin!

Always think about above and below. So just like sleeping on a sheepskin, think about what else you're sleeping on. A raised camp bed or purpose made sleeping mattress is perfect. Ditch the blow up....the air inside it will go cold and it will sag.

Instead invest in a good quality thermarest. You'll feel on top of the world each morning after a cosy nights sleep on one!

And finally a cosy blanket is essential.  Keep well covered above and if you're too hot kick it off.

There'll always be a reason to snuggle down under a traditional Welsh wool blanket.  Ours are the perfect size for throwing round your shoulders if campfire stories are in order, or tucking round your sleeping bag to guarantee a cosy night under canvas.

If you've got any more tips of your own let us know; we're keen to try and learn!

Perfectly fitting a Life Stove

You’ve taken the plunge and chosen your stove.

Excited at the prospect of cosier nights under canvas now is the time to get set up.

It's a good idea to do this before you go camping. Make sure you’ve got plenty of time and it’s a dry day so you’re not rushing.

 

There’s comprehensive instructions on our website so follow these and you’ll be up and running in no time.

We've put together below a few top tips on stove fitting from the Life team that are sometimes missed in the instructions, especially if keen campers skim read!!!

Before you head off invest in a good quality fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide alarm. Hopefully neither will ever be needed but it's always best to be safe.

Stock yourselves up with some dry wood. It's always handy to take a bag with you just in case you arrive late and the camp site don't sell it. We recommend Certainly Wood for their Kiln Dried Kindling and Eco Firelighters too.

We suggest installing the flashing kit when the tent is down. This is purely because we are a small team, literally, and can’t reach the stove hole properly on the outside when the tent is up. If you can and you’d rather install with the tent up that’s fine too!

We recommend pushing the silicone through the stove hole from the inside and attaching the second ring on the outside. This means any excess canvas will protrude outside the tent not inside close to the hot flue pipe.

And, use washing up liquid to help ease the flue through the flashing kit to avoid splitting it.

Always stand your stove on a heat proof mat. You’d be pretty disappointed if a spark flew out of an open door and burnt a hole in your groundsheet. Or if the stove got so hot it burnt the groundsheet underneath it. It’s unlikely but better to be safe than sorry!!

Be sure to light a small fire in your stove the first couple of times. This is for 2 reasons. One it will cure the paint and burn off any fumes. And two it will allow the flashing kit to gently expand around the flue without cracking.

And finally always make sure that your stove and flue are completely cold before packing away.

Remove any excess ash from the stove body and tray, we always take a dustpan and brush with us when we head off on a trip. Then gently twist apart the flue pieces to dismantle. When removing the final piece of flue from the flashing kit it's always a good idea to use a blunt instrument to release the silicone from the flue pipe before easing out gently.

The flue piece pack perfectly inside and the handy storage bag means the stove can be neatly packed away until you need it again!

4m bell tent with stove hole

Life Outdoors in a 5m Bell Tent

 

Perfect for a family camping trip or garden chill out space our 5m tent is the most popular and versatile of all our Bell Tents.

It's available in traditional sand or cool grey and comfortably sleeps a family of 5 with all the camping gear or even a family of 6 if you add on an awning for extra storage.

Fill it with friends in the garden. It can seat up 10 of your best buddies on floor cushions and low chairs. And if you invite a few to stay over, it can sleep up to 8 for an odd night with no gear to clutter the space.

 

Fancy keeping extra cosy under canvas! Our Fire Retardant tents are treated with a solution during manufacture so that they are totally safe to use with one of our wood burning stoves.

Remember there's one less bed space when you have stove so then they comfortably sleep 4 and are total luxury for 2!

Want to be sure this tent is definitely the one for you? Check out our handy size guide.

 

 

Head of the Life HQ team is Emma. Her personal favourite for a balmy summer camp is the 5m Bell Tent in grey.

"Every summer I head off to the Pembrokeshire coast with 2 girlfriends and all our kids. I love the 5m tent, it's perfect for me and my 3! I always include an inner with 2 rooms so my daughter and I can hide away from the teenage mess in our own compartment!"

 

"Our favourite campsite in recent years has been Little Haven Campsite in West Wales. It's part of The Greener Camping Club and with lovely large pitches surrounded by long grasses, it feels really private. They're very friendly folk and allow fires; you can borrow a pit if you don't have your own. Plus it's only a short walk to local pub!

If you look carefully you'll see our tents on their website!"

 

 

We're always on the look out for super snaps where you've kindly tagged our tents.

Our friends at Great Oaks Glamping have got 2 of our 5m Bell Tents in their glampsite overlooking the stunning South Downs National Park and we are loving the pics on their instagram feed.

Less than an hour from London, it's a perfect country escape and definitely one to add to our wish list for this year.

Tasty Campfire Treats!

As life in lockdown continues we've been cheering up the damp days by not only making cakes but practicing our favourite campfire treat recipes too.

Make in advance, they all travel well, won't fall apart on a bumpy journey and will last a few days in an airtight container.

Perfect fodder for treats round the campfire after a busy day walking, running, swimming, cycling or just chilling!

Packed full of oaty goodness these fruity flapjacks can't fail to impress and as they're super easy to make it's a win win for us!

You'll usually find the main ingredients in your store cupboard and then just add the fruit that takes your fancy. Our favourites are cranberries, apricots and crushed pistachios for a little crunch!

Melt in a pan over a low heat 250g Unsalted Butter, 250g Soft Brown Sugar, 4 Tablespoons Honey and a pinch of salt.

Stir in 350g Oats plus 150g or your favourite dried fruit chopped and 100g of mixed nuts or seeds. Place mixture in a lined tin about 20 x 30cm and pop into a hot oven at 150°C for 35 mins or until golden.

We prefer our flapjack chewy and gooey but leave it in for an extra 5 minutes if you prefer it firm.

We can't resist these tasty apple cookies. You don't even need to make them in advance, just pop the ingredients in your cool box and make them up as you sit around the fire.

Thinly slice an apple. Spread each slice with your favourite nut butter. Ours is crunchy cashew!

Then add toppings of your choice. Delicious with chopped nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips. The perfect combination of a crisp bite into a gooey centre!

If you are making them before you go pop another apple slice onto to stop them sticking together.

If you can keep these sweet sensations a secret for longer than the car journey we'll be amazed. Super simple to make and who doesn't love Nutella (or Nutoka in our house as Aldi use sustainable palm oil)!

Cut a puff pastry sheet into squares. Pop a dollop of Nutoka into the centre of each one and add a sprinkle of orange zest. Brush the edges of the pastry with water, fold diagonally and press to seal.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200° for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

While they're in the oven mix icing sugar with the juice and zest of an orange and once the Nutoka pies are cool drizzle with the icing.

We challenge you not to to love them!

Garden Camping, Sowing the Seed!

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve all been getting used to being at home.

At times it feels like you’re the only one going mad, getting lost inside your head and reeling with frustration as a teenager or child asks you another pointless question when you’re doing your very best to keep on working! And if I hear ‘Mum’ called one more time I swear I’ll explode.

But then you just need to get into your WhatsApp group, hop onto Face Time or House Party and speak to a few friends to realise that we’re all in the same strange and surreal boat.

As a family we are all finding our way spending so much time together. As families go we get on, we do stuff together but we all know how to enjoy time alone too and it’s this that’s seeming to be compromised in these lockdown times. 

So as we're all getting irritated with each other, this weekend we’re going to do what we love best and get out the camping gear. We usually meet up with other families and it's a festival type affair but this time it will just be us.

We'll try to relax and enjoy the time together - no bickering allowed!

Putting up the tent in the garden means we can all hang out and be outdoors. We’ll cook over the campfire, toast the mandatory marshmallows and absolutely have to sleep out too. It’s also a good excuse to give the tent an airing, check it over for any little marks and if it does rain we can check out whether it needs re-proofing or not (more on that later!).

And then, it will be there in the garden to be our extra space. It can be our head space, exercise space, maybe a work space or teaching space,  a chill out for the teens a play space for the kids. Even an isolation space.

We'll see how it evolves so watch this space!

TLC for your Bell Tent! Cleaning and Proofing.

With so much time on your hands during this strange lockdown time why not treat your tent to a bit of TLC!

First of all, drag out your tent and dust it off!

Spread out your tent, pitch it as you would do normally and make sure it's completely dry. Inspect the tent for dirt or marks and decide if you need to clean these off.

If you are able to remove the dirt with a clean stiff brush and no solution, then do so. If not, it's important to use a specialist tent or outdoor equipment cleaner for this process as you don't want to compromise the functionality of the fabric.

We recommend 'Storm Wash'. They are the experts and advised that their Wash product suits 100% cotton canvas tent cleaning. Use it as per the hand washing instructions for light marks and dirt, or neat for a deeper clean. Always then rinse the canvas, before applying any proofer.

Mould and fungus can grow on natural materials of they are stored damp. It is essential that you never put your tent away damp.

If you have opened up your tent to discover mould or mildew, it maybe possible to remove small patches yourself using specialist cleaner or do try to have it professionally cleaned. This has varying levels of success. We recommend Wash and Waterproof, so please contact them directly for pricing and specific advice.

In order to reproof your tent it needs to be pitched in an open sunny area and the day needs to be dry and mild. We recommend Storm Canvas Proofer as it is a specialist reproofing solution that is designed for heavy weight canvas and ensures the canvas retains flexibility and repellency.

Apply the solution to either the whole of your tent or the effected areas with a brush or roller. Full instructions can be found on the Care page of our website.

Even if your garden isn't big enough to put your tent up you can spread it out and fold into halves or quarters to inspect each section. It maybe that some of the dirt can be cleaned off in this way.

The tent's then ready for re-proofing in a friend or neighbours garden or even the local park, when we're free to roam once again.