Life in London

Camping near London - First Timers Camping Guide

FIRST TIMERS CAMPING GUIDE #Camping #CampinginEngland #BritishCamping #CampingintheUK

City Girl Going Camping

I am a city girl through and through. I was born in the city and kept travelling from one city to another. My outdoor adventures are a recent interest that I am doing more of lately to stay fit while travelling. I am not against the outdoors, I just never had a chance to go. My Saudi family didn't do much in terms of the outdoors and my other friends were all city kids until the past couple years, when I started making more connections with outdoorsy people. So when the idea to go camping was brought up, I agreed right away. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew it was something I should finally try.

Since it was my first camping experience, I didn't want to venture too far from London just in case I could not survive it and wanted to go back home. So we looked for a camping site on Pitch Up until we found Evergreen Farms, which seemed like a nice option. It was an hour train from Victoria Station. We gave them a call and discussed what they had on the site and other relevant information. They seemed nice and it was such a lovely place to go camping in near London.  

Reality of Camping

The campsite had lots of pitches in various fields and woods to space campers out. Our pitch was around the Oak Trees, which we loved. The site also had two eco/compost toilets that were 5-8 minutes walk from the tent. They were looked after well. The site allows lighting a fire and wood can be bought from them. They also provide 25L of water, which was great. I felt like everything was organised well upon arrival.

First task was to put the tent up, which took about 10-15 minutes. It really helps when you have an expert camper with you. It is not too hard to figure out, but it will take you slightly longer if you had no clue how to set it up.

Second task was getting the air mattresses, pillows and sleeping bags all in order.

After all of that was set, we put the rest of our stuff in the tent and closed the zips. It was a very safe campsite, but if you are worried about safety, you can always lock the tent zips together. 

Camping is not only about staying in the campsite, it is also about the nature walks around the area. Being in East Grinstead gave us a chance to do a few woodlands walks that were quiet and pretty. There was a few historic sights around that were cool to visit as well. 

In the evening, we started the fire. By "we" I mean I was watching the process happen rather than doing much related to lightning the fire. It was satisfying to watch. When the fire slowed down, we cooked dinner on the grill! We tried to be very aware of what we wanted to eat and we packed exactly what we needed and nothing more.        

Fire in Campsite in England

Watch my camping weekend in this video: 

Packing for your first camping trip - Camping Essentials

Packing for your first camping trip - Camping Essentials

Buying the camping gear and equipments was the most confusing part to me! There are so many details I kept googling and asking about! Even something as a simple sleeping bag! It might be a good idea to go in person to Go Outdoors, Decathlon or Sports Direct to buy everything, but if you are like me and think shopping online is the way to go, you can use the links below. 

  • Tent (sleeps 2-3 people)
  • Camping chairs (stools are fine)
  • Sleeping bag: the recommended shape is a mummy so you are snug and not cold. If you want to use it in the summer, it’s better to buy a 1-3 seasons. The more seasons the sleeping bag is prepared for, the hotter it gets and the bigger it becomes. The one I got was three seasons one. 

If you are buying all the camping accessories it might be a little much, but if you plan to go campaigning few times a year they will be really worth it. n this video, I share all the things I packed with the prices: 

Camping equipments for a comfortable camp

Camping Cooking Equipment 

For some reason, when I was looking up checklists online, a lot of them failed to mention the cooking aspect of the camping experience. Campsites differ in terms with what's allowed in cooking. Luckily, the place we went to had a prepared pit on the ground to make a fire and that's where most of the cooking took place. It was really handy to have the little camping stove though for a tea and eggs in the morning before getting the fire ready.

On the first night, we set up fire and the grill to make the steak we brought with us in the cool bag, which kept cold and fresh for a good few hours before we cooked it. 

Inside your Camping Bag

Since it was my first time camping and I was not sure if I would do it again, I did not want to invest in an expensive bag, so I settled for a basic Quechua camping bag and it worked really well I thought. It wasn't this exact one, but it was very similar to these two! I put all my clothes and other extras inside it then put the bigger items like the mat, sleeping bag and chair on the outside of it. 

Camping Extras: 

I saw a few good suggestions when I was looking at the Camping for Women lists such as packing earplugs for noisy nature and snack bars. I had to pack two types of tea on top of that too! They were small things and are not hugely important, but they are great to have. I packed some makeup essentials too (oops!

Booking.com

Budget for camping in England: 

  • Camp site: £75 for three nights for two people = £37.50 each 
  • Train from London Bridge to East Grinstead (if you have a student rail card, the train fair will be cheaper) = £26 return with the railcard. 
  • All the equipment and tools I got because I haven't camping before were £140, but they will last for a few future trips. 
  • Food: This really depends on what you would like to eat. I went fancy for my camping food so it was £40 you can do it much cheaper than that if you plan to eat noodles. 

Over to you: Where are you planning on going for your first camping trip? 


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The unspoken etiquette of the London transports

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I am writing this post because of sheer frustration with some of the commuters I meet on a daily basis hence the angry tone of this post. I actually wrote most of this on a number of frustrating train journeys. After getting annoyed with others on the tube, I express it all by noting how courteous people need to be. Mastering the art of London transports needs time, practice and care for your fellow Londoners. 

The London transport system can be very confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it then your understanding of the city gets much better. This little guide will give you few pointers that you should be reading before you even get to London. I am hoping this guide will make you a pro London commuter. 


Nine Unspoken Etiquette of the London Transports

1- Know your route

Before you set off to use the public transports, make sure to actually know the route you will be travelling through as in check Google Maps or City Mapper and TFL. Get a clear idea and go. It might help taking a screen shot of the route or right down the stop names if you get easily confused and you probably will be if it’s your first few times. I think it took me a month to understand the system. I still make mistakes and get lost, but it’s only the odd time every few months when I am distracted. 

2- Scan & get a green light

Make sure you have money on your Oyster card and have it in a separate sleeve away from any other magnetic cards so you get a green light when you scan it and Wizz through the barriers. If you get a red light, the army of people behind you won’t be happy. Sometimes even when you get it all right, you still get a red light but these errors are beyond our control. 

3- Stand on the right, walk on the left

I don’t know how many times do people need to hear the poor automated message getting replayed over and over before they fully understand this. To be fair most people adhere to this, but you still get the odd people who do it anyway. I don’t mean the  tourists who might not get it yet, but I am talking about some locals who like to challenge the little rules that ease life. 

4- Don’t cause traffic

Using your phone while you walk isn’t a reason to slow down, but if that happens please stand on the side. Finish your text or whatever then carry on walking. The path is for serious walkers and if you want to stroll and have a chat the underground is not the place for you. Being slow because you are on your phone is super annoying to the people behind you who might miss their next train. Thoese little seconds here and there add up!

5- People can’t pass through you

Ok. I am sure you all learnt about body mass in physics class back in school, so if you stand in the middle of the door, people won’t be able to go pass through your body. You aren’t a gosht so stop acting like one. If you want to get in, stand on either side of the door to let people out of the tube FIRST then you can get in. It won’t leave without you. Pushing everyone to get on first before people get off is just bad manners. 

6- Just sit down or get out of the way

This is not a fun bus ride from school days. It’s a transportation system and everyone getting on it is probably tired and grumpy. Under no circumstances would anyone wait for you to reserve a seat for your bestie who is riding with you. Just grow up and let everyone sit in the available place and if your friend is quick enough she will get her seat too. I got the death stair for sitting when another girl was trying to hold the seat for her friend. The tube isn’t the place to bond & as girls they should understand that I might have been on my period and not able to entrain their behaviour physically or emotionally. 

Booking.com

7- Move along the carriage

This is another message that every train driver has to announce about 50 times a minute. Just do it. When it’s busy people want to pack themselves in like sardines & you just standing in the middle and not moving along the carriage is inconsiderate. I sometimes have to jump over people who aren’t willing to move so I get some space. 

8- it’s probably safe not to smile

Ok, I am joking. You can smile if you want, but everyone just looks awkward if you even catch their eye. I like to always have a book with me and just read it to avoid awkward moments. I do politely smile sometimes because I think my London commuting face is a bit scary lol. 

9- Everyone wants to get somewhere

No one rides the tube just for the sake of it and everyone one is in a hurry to get home for dinner or whatever commitments that people have, so, please be nice to your fellow commuters. There is no reason to be rude. You can make the journey pleasant for yourself and others by being considerate and polite. 

Happy tube-ing everyone and God help us during rush hour in this heat. 

Over to you: Do you have any more advice to make the London commute more pleasant? 

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How can students live a cheap life in London?

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Although London is a very expensive city, being a student in London gives you a lot of perks that can make your time in this city really pleasant and even more affordable. Any full time student can take advantage of all the ideas listed below including mature students who are over 25. This applies for international students too. Most of these tips and ideas have changed the way I live in London for the better. It’s actually tempting to be a student as long as possible! 

 


Get London transports for cheaper in London

Before we mention anything, let’s talk about transportation and how you can actually get to places for cheaper while living in London. As soon as you enrol for your full time course in London, fill your student oyster form, have a personal photo ready and get it verified with your university or institution. Having your ID oyster will give you a third off of weekly, monthly & annual travel cards, which makes getting around so much more affordable. 

Travel by rail for a third less than everyone else

The transport discount isn’t only limited to London, you can also apply for a rail card if you are 16 to 25 years of age or if you are a full time student even if you are over 25. This process can be done online and you will have to pay £30 per year. This gives you great national train discounts so you can explore so much of the UK for reasonable prices. For example, my open return ticket to Manchester is £54 unlike the regular £84 ticket that adults have to pay. My Cambridge ticket with a same day return is £16.50 instead of the £30 adults pay. I really love this discount. I usually use this card for the train mostly, but having this card also gives you other offers on popular attractions such as: 

Shop until you drop with student discounts

When you enrol in your full time course, make sure you get a confirmation letter from your university because you will need it as prof to apply for the NUS card, which gives you lots of discounts on selected stores in person and online. You have to pay an annual fee of £28. This card is also handy as a proof if your student ID doesn’t have an end date. Another account you need in your life as a student is Uni Days and it’s similar, but completely free and only requires a university email to get started and approved. It’s really handy.

Pay less for food as a student in London 

A lot of the main stream restaurant chains like pizza express, Zizzi, GBK offer student discounts either through via uni days and the NUS card or via their own apps. You can also get 10% off your groceries at the co ops with the NUS card. 

Restaurant Discount Card for Students
Booking.com

Always ask about student discounts! 

I went to get my hair cut in Rush and randomly asked about student discounts and they had one!! This actually happened a few times. Sometimes places don't advertise or have a clear sign. Doesn't hurt to ask! 

Enjoy London museums and galleries as a student

Yes most London museum and art galleries are free in London, but even the free ones have changing temporary exhibitions and those always require a ticket. As a student you get it cheaper than adult tickets. So unleash your inner art critique because there is so much you can see and enjoy! 

 Victoria and Albert Museum 

Victoria and Albert Museum 

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Over to you: What other advice do you have for students to live cheaply in London?


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