Submit your own Review for a chance to Win ?100!Submit a review of this site for your chance to win ?100 of Caravan Club vouchers or ?100 of Amazon vouchers, courtesy of this month's sponsor, The Caravan Club. UK Spring Motorhome & Caravan Show 2nd - 3rd AprilHeld in Newark with day visitors, weekend campers, club rallies and trade stands. Please note we are not responsible for the content of external sites & any reviews represent the author's personal view only. These dewdrop-shaped Treetents by Dutch sculptor and designer Dre Wapenaar were originally created to make life a little more comfortable for tree-sitting activists. It’s hard to imagine sleeping in a suspended tree tent without a little unexpected motion. While some of the other tents featured in this post are best for just a couple or maybe three small adults, the AElph Alpha is the tree suspended tent for the entire family. Please note that gratuitous links to your site are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments.
When camping, the number one mundane thing about civilization that you often miss is a simple table. Of the ones shown here, 4 out of 6 have rigid frames and floors that makes them not so much portable tents as treehouses made of canvas. Of the other two, the stingray seems to at least acknowledge this problem with numerous pouches and built-in hammocks. Overall, I suppose I can see something like this being useful for camping in very swampy areas. This weekend my youngest daughter and I spent Sunday morning sowing seeds into pots in the polytunnel for this years plantings of edible plants at our campsite near Lewes. I have selected seeds that will do better in our local conditions. Our clay soil is in stark contrast to the nearby South Downs National Parks thin and free draining chalk grassland, but it does provide good growing conditions for a wide variety of plants.
So far our plant list, to go with the sweet cicely, wild garlic and agrimony that I sowed last autumn is a s follows: Chives, Catnep, Marshmallow, Angelica, French Sorrel, Wild Chamomile, Greek Oregano, Wild strawberry, Stevia, and Globe Artichokes. Most of these plants are probably familiar to the average camper, but the exciting ones are the marshmallow, commonly associated when camping at a campfire friendly campsite with children and a long twig, and Stevia which is a plant that tastes up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and is very low in carbohydrates, although it has only recently been approved in the EU.
Having finished sowing the seeds of these plants we then potted up our 28 Asparagus roots which we will be able to plant later in the summer once there roots have established in the new pots. The campsites unusual edible orchard has just been undersown with a crop of sunflowers and Phacelia. The other advantage to this crop is that it provides a mass of seedheads that most of the birds of sussex are going to bear down on in the autumn. In order to encourage lots of wildflowers into the camping meadow at the secret campsite we need to avoid grasses becoming to dominant in the sward and thus hindering the germination of flower seeds that were dropped and shed from plants in the camping meadow during the summer.
In order to create a varied wildflower meadow at the campsite, we graze back the grass over the winter which helps flower seedling to get established early in the season. In order for the sheep to stay here at The Secret Campsite and not to set off on a tour of Sussex, I have been putting in the fencing posts for the temporary fencing. The fence is powered by a car battery that is charged up using the solar pv system on the barn roof. Secret Wildlife Festival,Glow-sticks, horntails and a sockful of gorgonzolaBelow is Michael Blencowes blog post for the Secret Wildlife Festival that we hosted here at the campsite with Sussex Wildlife Trust. On the Friday morning I turned up with a car load of nets, traps, books, magnifying glasses and a sleeping bag.We pinned big sheets of paper in the  barn (now the Festival HQ) and encouraged everyone to add their sightings over the weekend. The first evening started in the barn with a festival welcome and an illustrated talk about nocturnal wildlife and was followed by Tim leading us on an early evening tour around the wildlife habitats he has created at the Secret Campsite. Everyone then gathered back at the barn for a longer tour; astronomer Neil Phillipson of ViewPoint Optics took us on a tour of the universe.
After the astronomy we gathered for a walk around the campsite armed with bat detectors and tuned in to the hunting claps and clicks of common pipistrelle and serotine bats. An early start this morning (does 06:30 still count as early?) for a group of campers who joined Derrick from ViewPoint Optics and headed out for an early morning birdwatch recording birds along the wildlife-rich disused railway line alongside the campsite. The scrubby habitat here is perfect for common whitethroat, yellowhammer and nightingale. Afterwards Tim filled us all with bacon butties and we headed down to see what Ryan and Rachel had been captured during the night in our small mammal survey. Some of the traps had been sprung by slugs but others contained wood mice which, it would seem, are more popular than slugs. With the sun starting to shine it was the perfect time to start our quest for the legendarypurple emperor. This amazing butterfly lives in the woods around the campsite. With the Emperor’s breakfast sorted out we headed over to the moth trap which had been running all evening.
After the moth trap we gathered around the campsite’s pond and Ryan and Rachel taught everyone the art of pond dipping. After pond dipping we had a bug hunt across the campsite finding caterpillars, butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets, ladybirds, shieldbugs and beetles. In the afternoon some people stayed and enjoyed the sun on the campsite and other joined Ryan and Rachel to do some woodworking; making wooden snails out of wood from around the campsite. Later in the afternoon local herbalist Therri took some campers on a tour of the campsite and her herb garden discussing the various uses of our herbs for health and food. The day started with the children gathering in the mammal traps they had set the night before and opening them and finding a cool devil’s coach horse (15 points). Then we headed over to open up the moth trap. There were a different range of moths from the night before and, just as I said “It looks like we have a lot of rather small moths” I turned over an egg box and found our biggest – the privet hawk-moth.
There’s no two ways about it – people love hawk-moths and soon the privet and (poplar and elephant) were being passed around so everyone could get really close to nature.
Archie was thrilled too – the privet hawk-moth is worth 20 points in the I-Spy Creepy Crawlies book. While clearing away the moth trap some children rushed over to tell me that there was something BIG flying around inside the barn.


After the excitement of the wood wasp we headed off into the woods looking for the purple emperor. This weekend we will be hosting the Secret Wildlife Festival at The Secret Campsite with Sussex Wildlife Trust so hopefully we will have lots more creatures to show off on our blog. I have just been sent a fantastic array of activities that campers staying at The Secret Campsite could do as a way of getting closer to nature. Now that the blackberry season is well underway we have been watching lots of young secret campers with red and purple faces returning from forays into the sussex hedgerows and along the dismantled railway track that leads up to the village of Barcombe, 1 mile from the campsite. Now that I can walk around  without being blown away it was great to see that Spring is showing all the signs of arriving at the Secret campsite  down here in Sussex. I was particularly pleased to see that the wild garlic bulbs which I put in the ground a few weeks ago have unfurled their leaves. Like much of the country, we have had a lot of rain in Sussex in the last few months, so the ponds are full and the streams around the campsite are bursting their banks. It won’t be long before the frog and newt spawn starts to be laid, and we see signs of the moorhens chicks hiding in their nest which is cleverly marooned, out in the middle of the pond. Join The Club from just ?48 per year to enjoy access to over 2,700 sites, exclusive member benefits and site special offers. Plenty of space to put your tent and still have space for playing in - helped by there being no cars on the site. Quiet, but near all kinds of interesting places (Lewes, South Downs, National Trust, nearby Farmshop!). I am reluctant to write a review because I don't want anyone else to visit the secret campsite. Something about summer just makes us want to flee to the hills for some much needed therapy on Mother Nature's big green couch. Soon, however, Wapenaar realized that lots of people might like to experience a night of peaceful sleep in the arms of a big tree. Without the ground to provide stability, the tents often bounce, or rock from side to side. Half tree house, half human-sized birdcage, the Tree Tent hangs quietly in a tree at The Secret Campsite in Sussex, England. Or happened upon a perfect campsite only to find out that the slanted ground won’t cooperate? I really enjoy this time of year as my imagination transports me to the spring and summer when we will be able to start picking and eating plants that we have sown at the end of the winter, and this year we have got a huge number of edible plants that we are looking forward to planting around the Secret Campsite which is in sunny Sussex. The aim with our plantings around the campsite are to eventually have a wide range of edible plants that will be productive over a long season of camping and provide brilliant tastes and flavours to add to a wide variety of dishes from salads and soups  to flavourings for drinks and teas, or just as an exciting plant to nibble on as you explore the campsite. I have further sowings to make in April and May as well as the garden area near to our new campsite shower block which will be sown with big splashes of colourful edible annuals and a surprise tea plant for campers to enjoy in the afternoon.
Of the two plants the Marsh Mallow, Althea officinalis also has a fantastic medicinal rating, and herbalist friends swear by its hidden qualities. You can even use the water left after cooking the leaves as an egg white substitute for making meringues, how about that.
Picking a stalk of fresh asparagus to garnish a salad or to just morishly crunch fresh is a brilliant way to enjoy eating and camping in the countryside, and it always tastes so much better when the plants have been picked seconds before, as you casually stroll around the campsite  only to happen upon another delicious little treat. Phacelia is a beautiful mauve flower that attracts the bees in their droves, all sorts come along bumble bees, mason bees, honeybees.
There is much talk at the moment about the importance of wildflower meadows and the help that they provide to pollinators such as bees and bunblebees who are in increasingly high demand as their numbers continue to fall. We use an electric fence to keep them in which can be taken down once they have finished their work. The weekend event was fully booked and, on Friday afternoon,  over 50 campers arrived and settled in. His Majesty has some rather dirty habits and can famously be lured from his tree-top throne by anything disgusting and smelly. Children (and adults) were thrilled with what we found –young newts, water fleas, freshwater shrimps, damselfly and dragonfly larvae andTHE WORLDS BIGGEST FROG. Soon Archie was racking up the points – I still can’t believe you get a whopping 15 points for a woodlouse! The landowner kindly allowed us permission to visit the wood and (aside from some cool deer skulls) we also found plenty of silver-washed fritillary cruising along the sunny woodland rides. After the evening barbecue there was an tale of high adventure for the Saturday night illustrated talk ‘Dancing with Dodos’.
All over the weekend the sightings sheets in the barn were filled in and I was really impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the children.
It looked as if it was resting and they got a photo of it although the head seems to have moved out of the shot which is in keeping with the Secret campsite. We have also finished putting a roof over the top of the washing up area and installed our new fridge.
The apples are also starting to ripen around the campsite along with sloes, hazelnuts, elderberries, pears damsons and plums.
No cars are allowed on site so it is very safe for children which in turn means relaxing for adults. To explore the back country safely and comfortably, you need the right equipment - and although setting up camp usually happens on the ground, a new trend of suspended tree tents is taking camping to new heights (literally).
Each Treetent measures thirteen feet tall with a 9 foot diameter and is composed of a steel frame wrapped in canvas. Built using only recycled materials, each tent sports a 3 meter diameter spherical frame of aluminum and green ash covered in a tailored cotton canvas. For younger campers, this just adds to the excitement, especially when zipped up inside a Treepee. Besides internal storage, boots, packs, and other gear can be lashed, high and dry and off the ground at various points around the outside perimeter of the tent.


The Secret Campsite is based at Brickyard Farm, and as you might imagine we have heavy clay soil which is not every plants cup of tea.
We can’t start eating our asparagus this summer, but I will enjoy some of them with our campers in 2014.
The problem with sowing sunflowers is that it is like offering a free dinner at the The Ivy  restaurant to the local crow and rook population who then flock over the site eating every last one of the seeds. We put together a packed programme of events over the weekend aimed at wildlife-lovers of all ages.
We opened the trap and were entertained by the camouflaged buff-tip, the beautiful swallow-tailed moth and the extravagant elephant hawk-moth. There was a long list of other species too and I was pleased to see the bright green scarce silver-lines a moth I hadn’t seen in a while.
Some people also saw a white admiral (and found it highly entertaining that I didn’t see it).
Late in the evening a big crowd armed with torches and glow-sticks headed out for a late night walk along the old railway line listening for owls, bats and finding lots of glow-worms.
I thought to myself it would be great to be a young kid again seeing all this wonderful wildlife for the first time. I had always wanted to see one of these amazing insects since I was a little boy – and it was worth the wait!
We also had a reappearance of the adder who has been spotted a couple of times basking under the boards that we put out around the site. If we leave them to establish they will provide a fantastic ingredient to a huge range of delicious dishes in the spring so i’m reluctantly being patient. The pitches are huge, really spread out and set in either a lovely meadow or orchard setting with a flower and veggie patch near the reception.
Sites are well-spaced; each is a circle of mown grass reached by a track and a fireplace is there too. Saw lots of other children playing and exploring safely, but it was also immensely peaceful, with everything on hand you need.
If you're longing to release your inner Mowgli by sleeping amidst the treetops, the six hanging tent designs featured below are the place to start. The interior comes complete with a roomy hardwood sleeping platform and a round mattress that’s big enough for a family of four.
After anchoring the frame to nearby trees, two adults can crawl inside to experience the warmth of 100% wool winter thermal liners, along with a wood stove, water storage and options for renewable electricity.
Too keep you warm, the tent features a thick layer of breathable insulating material is mixed with re-cycled clothing, that’s woven together by quilt-makers in Lancashire. In a matter of minutes, the tent’s two (yes only two!) poles are inserted into a polyester fly sheet and a set of tree straps. There’s also an optional Gear Net that can be installed under the whole footprint of the tent for even more easily accessible storage. Not wanting to have wasted three days worth of soil preparation, sowing and the raking in the sunflower seeds I have covered the whole plot with shade netting. It seems there were a lot of fans of the planet Jupiter in the front of the audience and some folk who were rather obsessed about the destruction of the universe. After lunch we had another wildlife walk and added more species including some fresh brimstones, six-spot burnets and a peregrine to our lists. Totally recommended esp for first time camping with kids - maximise your chances of them getting the camping bug!Location is good in that it is quiet, although not masses to do very close to site. The tent’s special fabric provides a UV protection factor of 50+, pockets on the inside allow for storage and a bag on a pulley allows essential supplies to be hauled up into the ‘den’, and bug nets on the windows allow air to circulate without letting critters in. The interior is accessible through a floor hatch or side door via a collapsible ladder. The Stingray features a reinforced floor and three large hammock sleeping areas. This shade netting was left over from the old Chubbs nursery, famous across Sussex,  that was here before we opened the Secret Campsite in 2012. So this year I decided to up my game with a row of my socks filled with some rather nasty, stinking stuff.  Gorgonzola was Option 1 – it stinks but isn’t that offensive – in fact I had some the night before. As mentioned The Royal Oak is only a 30 min walk from the site where they do some lovely food and are very welcoming.
We booked with friends and all the children aged 18 months to 7 and the adults had a fab time.
This makes the seedbed rather ugly in the short term but, I think it will pay dividends in a few months time when the whole plot bursts into flower.
It looks pretty vicious too but it is harmless (that’s not a sting it’s an egg-laying ovipositor).
Because cars aren't allowed directly to the pitch, it is save and nice for children to wander around. As this was a scientific experiment I had to add just a sock as Option 4 in case anyone suggested it was just the smell of my socks that was attracting the emperor. We all got out of the barn and secured the doors.  Then I bravely grabbed a net and entered – telling the children to send for back-up if I didn’t return in 5 minutes.
As everyone crowded around the windows and watched I managed to catch the wood wasp and put it in a big pot.
The nearest pub is a 25 min walk along an abandoned railway line, turn left and through a sports field. The site is beautiful now and with the amount of work put in will only continue to get even better. As mentioned we only stayed for two nights but having realised how much there is to do in the local area will definitely return for a longer stay.



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