Wild Living with Piri Allergy at Woodsmoke

Now if you follow me on social media you can’t fail to have noticed that we spent a good chunk of our Easter holidays camping in the Lake District with Wild Living Expert, Ben McNutt.

I won’t deny that prior to the trip Dave and I were more than a little apprehensive.  We’ve never camped as a family before.  In fact mine and Dave’s camping experience basically comes down to a couple of nights at Leeds Festival which isn’t really comparable.  We were worried that we would be cold, that we wouldn’t sleep, that we’d all be grumpy and nobody would have any fun at all . . .

However, we also know that when it comes down to the kids enjoying something, a good chunk of that comes down to our own attitude.  If we’re positive, having fun and getting stuck in then they will too right?  So we pulled our socks up, packed every hoodie we owned and hoped for the best!

Usually when we’re going away we don’t tell the kids much about it beforehand, preferring to just tell them “We’re going on an adventure” but this time we decided that they needed a little bit of background information – expecting to stay in a hotel and then finding we were staying in a hut in the woods with a self-composting toilet might not have been the best surprise . . .

Our week long trip started on a very sunny Saturday afternoon in the Easter holidays when we drove up to the Lake District to meet Boss Ben for the first time.  Boss Ben is a wilderness skills instructor and he normally runs expeditions and survival camps for adults.  A family of five complete novices is not his usual clientele.  (I should point out that it was Ben & Chloe who nicknamed him Boss Ben as it made it much easier to distinguish between Bens in conversation!)

Our home for the week was a beautiful but basic 110 year old boat house . . . this isn’t something which has been converted into a luxurious little cottage, it is literally just a hut but it provided us with the warmth and shelter that we needed as first time campers.  Being able to light a fire in the hut first thing in the morning certainly made getting out of our toasty sleeping bags a little easier.

The purpose of our Woodsmoke trip with Piri Allergy was to really immerse ourselves in nature.  To feel the benefits of getting outdoors and doing.  It would be all too easy to spend the spring & summer tucked up indoors with the windows shut, doing our best to avoid all contact with allergens – but that’s not fun is it!

Saturday evening was spent building a fire, enjoying campfire tea of bangers and mash and climbing a nearby hill to enjoy some incredible views and a beautiful sunset.  Ben loved clambering the hill and swinging off bits of tree – you could already see he was going to enjoy the physical activity that the week had to offer.  The sky was clear and the sunset a real treat but it was obvious that the kids weren’t as enthralled as we were and Ben was keen to get back to camp!

Our first night’s sleep wasn’t amazing but it was a hundred times better than I had anticipated.  Our sleeping bags were super cosy & the blow up mattress made life much easier for Dave & I.  We shall ignore the stupidly early start from three very excited children which I suppose was to be expected.

After a delicious cooked breakfast we set about learning how to make our own string from natural materials.  I was impressed by how focused all three children were on the activity, especially as it was very fiddly!  Once we had made our string we turned it into bracelets which Chloe and I wore for the rest of the week.  Obviously Amy found twisting the string very tricky so gave up quite quickly but had great fun learning to tie knots!

Taking advantage of the lovely weather, we went for a walk looking for animal tracks in the mud as we went.  Now I must admit I thought that once we’d seen and chatted about a few paw prints that the kids would be more interested in running about and climbing but I was SO wrong.  Once they’d started to look for tracks we couldn’t stop them, every few metres we were stopping to investigate someone else’s prints and before long they were identifying whose paws had made the prints and, with the help of Boss Ben, working out which direction they were travelling and sometimes being able to tell if the animal had been moving really quickly.  Boss Ben even showed them how to identify various animals poos . . .

After lunch we chopped wood for the campfire & the fire in the boat house . . . it’s amazing how much wood you can get through – collecting sticks to start the fire and chopping wood was a daily activity.

Once we’d stocked up on firewood and enjoyed a game of hide & seek (something which was to become a firm favourite for the week), we hunted out some sticks for the obligatory toasting of marshmallows.  Boss Ben showed Ben, Chloe & Amy how to safely peel the bark from their chosen twigs before putting a point on the end for sticking marshmallows on.

Having made enough sticks for the marshmallows we set about making our own beads from twigs.  I didn’t even know you could do this but if you find the right stick (I can’t remember which tree they needed to be from) you can basically saw them down into sections and scoop out the insides to make beads – if you’re being really clever you can thread them onto the string we had made earlier in the day however ours was a little too thick so we used some that had already been made instead.

The task of lighting the fire for the evening fell to the kids . . . using a flint & steel to create a spark and light a piece of cotton wool before using this to light the campfire.  Ben thought this was ACE!

Once the fire was lit we retreated to the boat house to watch Boss Ben prepare a whole salmon for cooking on the campfire.  I had been quite nervous about this activity as I really wasn’t sure the kids would enjoy it (if I’m honest I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with it myself!)  Much as we all know that our meat was once alive, skinning a whole fish is a sure fire way to hammer the message home and Chloe really wasn’t sure about it at first, explaining that she felt very sad for the fish.  Once I’d got over my initial squeamishness I was just enthralled watching Boss Ben work methodically to prepare the fish for our dinner and watching it being cooked over the campfire was pretty special.  Who knew you could eat like kings whilst living in the woods?

Although we were all absolutely stuff from our dinner, there’s always going to be room for toasted marshmallows isn’t there?

Boss Ben advised us to keep the kids up a bit later so that they saw it go really dark, allowing their natural melatonin to kick in which combined with a full day of fresh air & activity should mean they fell asleep quickly and, crucially, stay asleep a bit longer in the morning.  Of course they had a right old time playing out in the woods after bedtime, especially once Boss Ben had attached some glow sticks to string for them to play with.  And, as expected, they went to sleep very quickly and even manage a bit of a lie in so they were well rested for their morning of activity with ecotherapist, Beth Collier.

I will be writing lots more about our adventures at Woodsmoke with Piri Allergy but in the meantime keep an eye on the Piri Hub, my instagram, youtube for more updates!

Getting outdoors with Piri Allergy this summer

*This post forms part of a paid collaboration with Piri Allergy* 

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39 Comments

  1. May 7, 2017 / 9:17 am

    How picturesque is that?! It sounds like you all had such a good time, and so educational! I wouldn’t mind camping if I got food like that and a good nights sleep. Maybe I should be keeping my little boy up and outside in the hope he sleeps better too! x

  2. Halina Vie Choufleur
    May 7, 2017 / 9:21 am

    This looks awesome! Total adventure time. My son would absolutely love camping out in the woods. I might have to try the staying-up-until-dark one weekend night…anything to make him fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer, ha

  3. May 7, 2017 / 10:26 am

    Looks like you all had an amazing time.
    We love camping and go a few times a year

  4. May 7, 2017 / 11:41 am

    I’m always up for an adventure but camping would be really hard work for me! Well done for embracing it head on, you look like you had a great time! xxx

  5. May 7, 2017 / 5:23 pm

    I love this so much, in my head I hate camping even though I have never been but this looks just idyllic getting back to nature and having that family time, what a wonderful experience for the children x

  6. May 7, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    WOW Colette this looks like an amazing camping trip and experience. I love how you don’t tell the kids before your trips just that you are going on an adventure. When mine get slightly older that is what I want to do keep it fun and mysterious along the way. Great photos too babes.

  7. May 7, 2017 / 9:27 pm

    How amazing for the kids! I bet they are so proud of themselves. I have always wanted to light a fire with a flint.. 35 years on this planet and I’ve not done it yet! Impressed with Ben’s glowstick creations too… I’m going to copy that (until Leo whacks someone in the head.. okay, maybe next year!)

  8. May 7, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    I was following your trip on Instagram and was so jealous. It looks like something I would love. My kids just love the outdoors and this type of holiday would totally suit them. My eldest is learning how to light a fire with cubs and now has a little survival tin. I’m really struggling with hay fever at the moment and actually stocked up on piriton the other day!

  9. May 8, 2017 / 8:59 am

    I’d absolutely love to do something like this – was in the scouts when I was younger and loved camping and being outdoors all the time x

  10. May 8, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    It sounds like you all had an amazing adventure! Like you my camping experience stretches to festivals (which is the part of festivals I hate most) but I think I’d like it staying in a little boat house.

  11. May 8, 2017 / 8:39 pm

    Wow this looks amazing! Definitely something I would love to try at some point!

  12. May 8, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    I LOVED the video. What a true adventure you all had. I can not wait to see more. We use piriton. I suffer from allergies and the husbeast has hayfever. Thankfully the kids are pretty robust!

  13. May 8, 2017 / 9:31 pm

    Oh, wow!! This just looks like the best adventure holiday ever. I would love to do something like this with my 2, but Nathan is the sort of man who likes his luxuries so I don’t think he’d go for it ?
    Louise x

  14. May 8, 2017 / 10:00 pm

    Some fantastic photos there, and that fish! Yum! So glad you had a good time – I’m a complete camping noob!

  15. May 8, 2017 / 10:56 pm

    This sounds like an amazing holiday!! I would love this SO much. I like camping anyway, but proper camping in the woods, doing lots of outdoor activities. Perfect!

  16. May 8, 2017 / 10:56 pm

    This sounds like an amazing holiday!! I would love this SO much. I like camping anyway, but proper camping in the woods, doing lots of outdoor activities. Perfect!

    • Colette
      Author
      May 9, 2017 / 10:17 am

      It was incredible, a really eye-opening experience for us all x

  17. May 9, 2017 / 8:09 am

    It sounds like you had an absolutely awesome week and one that your children will definitely remember. I look forward to reading more :o)

    #TriedTested

  18. May 9, 2017 / 10:31 am

    Goodness this looks like a lovely opportunity to get back to basics for a good old fashioned holiday of family fun. Gorgeous photos #TriedTested

    • Colette
      Author
      May 9, 2017 / 11:30 am

      It really was back to basics. We had pretty much no mobile coverage or screens bar the kids using their tablets in bed for half an hour in the morning so we could stay warm for a bit longer!

  19. Becca Farrelly
    May 9, 2017 / 10:44 am

    Wow, this looks amazing! I really love this type of holiday but I don’t think I could do it now, I’m far too into my ‘home comforts’ now! Looks like a great adventure!

    • Colette
      Author
      May 9, 2017 / 1:13 pm

      I totally thought the same until we did it – Obviously I’m not going to say I’d shun a luxury beach holiday for camping in future but it definitely broadened our horizons and we’re going to be camping more this year.

  20. May 9, 2017 / 10:50 am

    Wow this looks like such an amazing experience with the children – can’t beat getting outdoors and burning off some energy with real life experiences! #TriedTested

    • Colette
      Author
      May 9, 2017 / 1:12 pm

      We all slept so well thanks to the fresh air and activity!

  21. Jodie Melling
    May 9, 2017 / 4:40 pm

    What a great holiday this looks like loads of fun.

    My last time camping was at Leeds festival too, I miss it being good, it all looks a bit boring now. It didn’t get much better than 2003 with Metallica, System of a Down, and Blink 182 for me.

    Jodie x
    #TriedTested

  22. May 9, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    You certainly did go on an adventure! What an absolutely brilliant experience this sounds, and looks, to have been. Really rather jealous! We love camping, and we do stay in our tent, but on a campsite with all the amenities we need. Or think we need – going fully back to basics sounds awesome. Kate x #triedtested

  23. May 9, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    Good for you for being game enough to give this a go, and you’re so right, having a positive attitude totally rubs off on the kids! They clearly had an amazing time and what fab things to learn. Just brilliant xx

  24. May 9, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    What a great post! We’re looking to maybe go camping in the summer so this gives me hope! #TriedTested

  25. May 9, 2017 / 7:30 pm

    Oh wow! It looks like such a great experience…..
    I haven’t been camping for about 20 years. lol
    #TriedTested

  26. May 9, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    This actually sounds like so much fun – though a challenge! I think beach holidays can certainly be fun when well deserved but it’s always great to get stuck in and go on a actual adventure like this one x

  27. May 9, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    It looks so much fun. The food looks great as well. #triedandtested

  28. May 9, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    Outdoor adventure is so important for kids and adults alike, not only for our physical health but also our mental health #TriedTested

  29. May 9, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    We are hoping to camp this year just for a few nights. Matthew is learning camp craft at Beavers and it is doing wonders for his confidence. Looks like you had a great Easter break 🙂 #triedtested

  30. May 9, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    What an absolutely brilliant adventure in a gorgeous spot. I bet the kids loved spotting animal poo 🙂 #TriedTested

  31. May 12, 2017 / 8:39 pm

    The idea of camping makes me shiver but I reckon I could cope in a lovely little hut like that! #triedtested

  32. May 12, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    Sounds like you had a fantastic adventure that will be remembered for a long time. I have experienced what it’s like to ‘be [so] cold, that I wouldn’t sleep’ on a racecourse at a festival once! So understand you packing so many jumpers and the relief of lovely warm sleeping bags. #triedtested

  33. May 12, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    This looks amazing, what a wonderful adventure. I would love to go camping, but my husband is having none of it. I don’t think I could take three kids on my own though. What a fab time. xx

  34. Nicola
    May 22, 2017 / 7:43 am

    What an amazing trip! Feel inspired to head outdoors soon for an adventure – thank you! 🙂

  35. June 5, 2017 / 9:55 am

    Oh this looks so fun! I’m not sure I’d brave camping yet with a toddler!

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