I was so inspired by our recent review of Cool Camping Europe (Second Edition), that I wanted to discover what fabulous camping options there were to be had a bit closer to home.
Living in London, the pull for country life is strong, particularly after a trying week when one's daily routine consists of being squashed like a sardine on an overcrowded tube carriage with a million strangers. So, it was lovely to settle down this evening with a cuppa and the latest edition of Cool Camping Britain (Second Edition), so I could start planning my next rural escape - even if the summer months seem hopelessly far away during the long rainy days of December!
The guide is bursting with recommendations for inspirational campsites across the UK, ensuring that there is something for all camping enthusiasts to enjoy, whether you prefer glamping or more traditional no frills camping.
We've rounded up our top five favourite UK campsites featured in Cool Camping: Britain (Second Edition):
1. Treen Farm Campsite, Penzance, Cornwall
This traditional campsite in Cornwall is low on frills but high on outstanding natural beauty. Some of Cornwall's most breathtaking beaches are within walking distance. Other nearby attractions include the stunning outdoor theatre at Minack Theatre and Land's End.
2. Ninham Country Holidays, Isle of Wight
This family run campsite is perfectly situated for exploring Shanklin, a popular resort town on the Isle of Wight. The site's 230 pitches are divided into two fields, which helps to create a sense of privacy, without any distractions.
3. Glendaruel, Argyll, Scotland
This 22-acre escape in Argyll is perfect for those wanting to get away from it all. There are only 10 pitches for tents and there is also the Little Camping Lodge on site, which sleeps up to four people. Nearby walking trails and cycle routes provide healthy entertainment for the family.
4. Lochness Shores, Inverness-shire, Scotland
This 99-pitch campsite on the shores of Loch Ness rewards its visitors with the stunning natural beauty that surrounds it. From forests to mountains, nature doesn't get much better than this. Offsite adventures include canoeing and river kayaking adventures.
5. Rothiemurchus, Inverness-shire, Scotland
This award-winning woodland campsite is a must for forest lovers and is the best place to enjoy the Caledonian woodland. Offsite activities include archery, hiking and canoeing at the nearbyRothiemurcus Centre.
For more cool campsites, visit www.coolcamping.co.uk. Cool Camping Britain: Second Edition is available from Amazon for £14.86 (paperback).
There's nothing better than escaping the stresses and strains of city life than to make time to relax in the great outdoors. While my own relationship with camping has typically been a bit apprehensive, largely due to a fear of non-existent showers and toilet facilities, even I have come round to the joys of embracing the great outdoors - tent and all.
Coolcamping: Europe (Second Edition) is a gorgeous book featuring a variety of hand-picked campsites and for the more precious amongst us (glamping experiences), to provide a wealth of inspiration for your next camping holiday.
From teepees to gypsy caravans and everything in between, you'll be amazed at the sheer amount of fabulous camping experiences that are to be had when you know where to go. Countries (and their stand out campsites) featured within the guide include: Portugal, Spain, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece.
The guide is broken down into helpful sections including 'campsites at a glance', 'campsite locator' and 'useful words and phrases' in a variety of languages, such as 'sleeping bag' ('saco-cama' in Portugese or 'un saco de dormir' in Spanish) and 'campfire' ('un feau de camp' in French and 'kampvuur' in Dutch), just in case you were wondering.
Each campsite entry is accompanied by a selection of gorgeous images to provide you with a sense of what you can expect to find when you arrive. Each entry also gives you a low down on the site's 'cool factor', an overview of the types of people that are likely to choose that particular campsite, camping rates, food and drink options, details on how to find the campsite and recommendations for offsite day trips.
So, which campsites featured within the guide are on our must-visit list? Check out our recommendations below...
Best campsites in Europe - The top 5 campsite holidays we're lusting after...
1. O Tamanco (Casas Brancas, Portugal)
Rustic charm and a variety of camping options including glamping tubes, tents and yurts, make this campsite truly unique. It's located near the Silver Coast, which boasts fishing villages, castles and monastries.
2.Lima Escape (Ponte de Barca - Viana do Castelo, Portugal)
Located on the edge of the Peneda-Geres National Park, you'd be hard pressed to find a campsite with more stunning natural beauty. Hiking and biking enthusiasts will love exploring the surrounding mountain treks and paths.
3. La Fresneda (Teruel, Spain)
This small but perfectly formed campsite with only 25 pitches is set in a stunning valley. Outdoor lovers will love exploring the rugged canyons and mountainsides as well as the natural rock swimming pools, which are only 15 mins away. Guests will also enjoy the onsite restaurant Bar La Roca, where guests can indulge in local tapas.
4. Forest Days (Catalonia, Spain)
Poised on a beautiful farmstead surrounded by mountains and fertile farmland, this really is glamping at its best. The site features four fully furnished bell tents, each featuring a super kingsize bed, a woodburning stove, an outdoor dining space and a hammock for two. With a campsite this well equipped, you'll never want to leave...
5. Il Collaccio (Perugia, Italy)
Deep in the valleys of the Umbrian hills is where you'll find this breathtaking campsite. This camping complex combines a family-owned truffle farm with a modest hotel, a pool, chalets, cabins and teraces for campers, caravans and tents. There is also an on-site restaurant and lots of activities to keep you busy including tennis, volleyball, table tennis and petanque.
For more cool campsites, visit www.coolcamping.co.uk. Cool Camping Europe (Second Edition) is available from Amazon.co.uk for £15.88 (paperback).
Beside the Sea: Britain's Lost Seaside Heritage (2015) is a stunning retro fabulous coffee table book, highlighting the heydays of the British seaside. From the Victorian era to the end of the 20th century, millions of Brits used to flock in droves to British beaches. Sadly, this trend soon took a nosedive after cheap package holidays abroad became all the rage. This book recounts with nostalgia how holidays used to be all about fish and chips, bracing weather and chilly waters, not tropical holidays to far-flung destinations.
My father who is old enough to remember the 1960s and 1970s, fondly recalls the pool at Portobello, with its stunning classic Art Deco design and seriously high diving board. Apparently, on the rare hot summer days, local poseurs would skip work to don their skimpiest posing briefs and flex their muscles to the delight of the girls who had gone to the pool with their best swimsuits in the hopes of catching a few rays. Heat to the pool was supplied by the nearby Portobello Power Station – though most accounts of the water temperature still ranged from icy cold to sub-Siberian. It is also reported that Sean Connery worked a number of seasons as a lifeguard at Portobello Pool before becoming a full-time actor in the 1950s. Sadly, the pool closed in 1979 and was demolished in 1988. Other key attractions in Portobello included the Marine Gardens (opened in 1909), which featured a roller skating rink, circus, cinema and auditorium as well as a 'human zoo' (yes, this shockingly actually existed), featuring Somalians who were paid to perform mock battles to provide visitors with 'exotic entertainment'.
Other beaches featured within the book include: Blackpool, Filey, Brighton, Mablethorpe, Hastings, Hornsea, Southport, Whitley Bay, New Brighton, LLanduduno, Lee-on-the-Solent, Margate, Redcar, Jaywick, Morcambe, Scarborough, Cleethorpes and Bangor, providing a comprehensive overview of some of the most popular seaside beaches and resorts over the ages.
Overall, this is a fantastic book for anyone with a love of the British seaside or a passion for historical photography.
Beside the Sea: Britain's Lost Seaside Heritage is published by Aurum Press. Available from Amazon.co.uk (£19.99 for a hardcover).
I've always loved visiting Paris, both for its remarkable beauty and for its cultural and culinary delights, amongst many other reasons.
So, I was pleased to discover Bridges of Paris, a unique photography book that focuses on the 37 beautiful bridges that cross the River Seine, collectively weaving a unique and remarkable tale of the city’s history. Photojournalist Michael Saint captured more than 350 original images of Paris and the bridges that lay at its heart, all compiled with love for this stunning coffee table book, which will delight any fan of Paris. The book features glorious portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments.
Interesting themes explored within Bridges of Paris include Paris bridges as destinations, the history of bridges in Paris and how bridges help to connect diverse communities on either side of the river.
Saint James said, “Bridges of Paris is a kaleidoscopic collage that shifts focus from the monumental to the minutia that make up the quotidienne, (daily life) of the beloved French capital." My passion for Paris and my art compelled me to spend a full year living in the city. I was able to develop an intimate relationship with the culture, people and bridges that Paris has to offer. I hope my book helps people experience a new culture with an open mind.”
The Bridges of Paris is now available in hard copy from Citron Bay Press, Amazon.com and select independent retailers.
One of the greatest luxuries of all is having the time to relax with a great book.