Paul Naylor discovered the world of glamping on a short break in Canterbury.
The last time I attempted anything remotely close to camping was a claustrophobic experience in a two-man tent in my own back garden three years ago or more.
My kids seemed to enjoy it, but it wasn't quite for me. Yes, three in a two-man tent does not work.
Okay, hardly camping I hear you say, but I made a mental note at the time that if I was to head under canvas again, it would be on a much grander scale.
Fast forward to this year and the opportunity to sample a spot of glamping presented itself.
I'd heard the term banded about, but what is glamping?
The Oxford Dictionary has a wonderful sound-bite, defining glamping as: "likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature – without foregoing any of life's luxuries".
So, with that in mind, me and the family made our way to Canterbury Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Kent.
Part of the Ready Camp brand, tents at Canterbury are ideal if you want to experience all the rustic charm of camping, but with a touch of luxury.
Arriving at the site – which caters for tourers and motorhomes too – we were guided to our tent. Well, I say tent. It was actually more like a canvas bungalow.
Inside, there is a working kitchen. Yep, that's right, no gas camping stove to fiddle with. Instead, a two-ring electric hob, microwave and fridge make the experience way more appealing.
A dining area with good-sized table and six chairs sits alongside a comfy sofa.
Each tent can accommodate four adults or two adults and up to four children. And the bedrooms are made private by utilising a dividing wall, albeit a heavy duty canvas.
The 'master' has a proper double bed and storage, while the second bedroom has a triple bunk with pull-out fourth bed.
It's clever stuff too, with double layered dark canvas providing pitch black conditions. I couldn't even see my hand in front of me. Perfect for light sleepers.
All you'll need to take along is bedding, clothing and food as the tent comes complete with kettle, toaster, pans, cutlery and crockery, cups and glassware. But, as superb as the tents are, it's what's outside that matters to campers.
Step out onto the wooden decking and take a seat to soak up the view. It is blissful.
The well laid out campsite offers a mix of level grass and hardstand pitches. There are newly refurbished toilet and shower facilities, a washing up area, small shop, children's play area and good dog walking.
The campsite lies a couple of miles south of the city. It is within walking distance or you can hire a bike on site. Alternatively, do as we did – catch a bus from outside the campsite.
And Canterbury is well worth investigation. Obviously it is famous for its cathedral, but it has so much more to offer besides. We took a river tour from the city centre, with an informative and amusing guide rowing and narrating a story as rich as any Canterbury tale.
Other notable attractions include the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey, St Martin's Church and the Norman castle – not to mention Canterbury's great boutique stores, independent shops, pavement cafes, bars and restaurants.
We headed to the coast for nearby Whitstable. It really is a pretty little town with its trendy harbour. It was a highlight of the short break, not least because we found our trip was perfectly timed for its oyster festival. Yum.
The more traditional town of Herne-Bay is not a million miles away and has two miles of seafront with colourful beach huts and a pier.
Try glamping yourself. It's the perfect way to get back to nature without turning your back on life's little luxuries.
Paul Naylor stayed at Canterbury Camping and Caravanning Club Site.
For more details see www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/readycamp
Prices are from £20 a night to £65 a night. Please note this is a guide price only and prices will vary dependent on availability and location.
Discover more about Ready Camp and leisure vehicles at the Motorhome & Caravan Show 2015, taking place at NEC, Birmingham from October 13-18. www.motorhomeandcaravanshow.co.uk
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