Choosing the right tent can be a bit of a challenge! There is more out there to choose from then ever before and while it would seem rather silly to complain about having too much choice it can lead to much head scratching. Luckily help is on hand with this short but hopefully useful guide.

Over the years we have seen a lot of equipment brought along to Swiss Farm, we have watched grown men (and women) weep at the sight of the mass of poles and canvas laid out before them. We have seen the look of utter bemusement on faces at the prospect of erecting what was sold to them as ‘easy assembly’. We have also seen the smug looks of those with ‘pop up’ tents who, within minutes of arriving on site are sitting with their feet up sipping a nice chilled beer and watching their neighbors wrestling with a marquee.

So, first things first, what ever your needs, don’t pay too much attention to the number of berths advertised as these are always very optimistic. Visit a retail outlet or camping exhibition where you can actually get in a tent and see for yourself. If comfort is important then look to see if the bedroom will be able to fit that super delux air bed you intend buying.

Family tents:

  • If you are going to be sharing the tent with older children or friends then maybe think about having bedrooms at opposite sides of the tent. Paper thin walls leave nothing to the imagination! You may wish to have younger children in an adjoining bedroom with a zip between the two.
  • Living space is important! You will need enough space for all of you to be able to eat, move about and store all your belongings. A family tent should be tall enough to stand up in at least in the living area.
  • Make sure you will have enough help to erect the type of tent you purchase. The instructions should tell you this information.
  • If you plan to use this tent for your main family holiday then it may be worth spending a little bit more and purchasing things like (and I am not kidding here) fitted carpet for the sitting room, and porch/door extensions. The carpet will give a cosy feel to things and will add to the warmth of the tent. The porches and extensions will increase the space for boots and cooking gear which will make your trip much more enjoyable.
  • If you are just going to use your tent for the occasional weekend break then keep it small and easy to put up. There are now pop up tents that join up in ‘pods’. Why waste your short weekend sweating needlessly.
  • Make sure it is waterproof. It has been known to rain from time to time on camping trips (even in Oxfordshire) It may sound obvious but some cheaper tents really don’t keep the rain out.
  • With the Outwell Montana 6, you can add on porches and extensions for added comfort and semi outdoor cooking. This type of pole tent can be put up with one person but two is preferable.

Whatever you choose remember- Practice putting it up before you set off!

We would love to see you at so once you have chosen your kit why not visit our beautiful campsite in Henley on Thames (Oxfordshire). We are perfectly located for trips to Windsor, London, Oxford and touring the South East of England!

My next blog will be for choosing a backpackers tent.

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Top 10 camping tips for the beginner

Thinking about your first family camping trip?

Maybe your children have been nagging you to take them camping? Perhaps enough time has passed since your childhood camping experiences for you to have developed warm fuzzy feelings about nights spent under canvas. Maybe you are keen… maybe not. The good news is that camping has come a long way in the last few years, mainly in response to the raised expectations of the average holidaymaker. Although ‘rough camping’ is also gaining in popularity, many more people prefer the relative simplicity of camping but with some for the more essential comforts thrown in.

Camping is just a bit different to other holidays… Yes it can be more challenging and yes the first night can seem like hell. You may have turned up to a wet campsite in the wind and rain only to find that you have forgotten the nappies, toothpaste, tent pegs and the bottle opener, the children are wingeing and you are tired and not just a bit stressed by the journey and from packing and unpacking the car. Don’t despair! The morning will soon be here and when you awake, you may just find that the sun is out, the park is alive with the sounds of birds and children having fun, the cooked breakfast is the tastiest you can ever remember having and more importantly you are on holiday!

Here are my top 10 camping tips for the novice camper

1) Choose the right tent. You don’t have to spend a fortune but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you are planning the family two week holiday on a campsite then don’t risk having a miserable time because you have bought the cheapest tent in the shop. Make sure you choose one with a spacious living area for wet days.

2) Practice putting the tent up in your garden before you head off. This serves two main purposes, firstly to check that all the parts are there and secondly so that you can see how it works. (Putting up a new tent in the rain for the first time is not a lot of fun!)

3)Test out your camp bed and sleeping bag in your sitting room. Perhaps let the children sleep in their bags a few times before you set off to get them used to it. Make sure they are comfortable and warm enough. (Put the air bungs in a safe place an remember to get a decent pump)

4)Choose a campsite close to home for your first trip. If you forget something you can always pop home. A great website for choosing your campsite is
Drop in and have a look at the campsite before you book so you know what you are going to get. Websites are no substitution for having a look around yourself.

5) Don’t try to cook anything fancy on your first night on the campsite. Have something easy to heat up or better still pick up a takeaway on your journey or eat out. There is enough setting up to do without worrying about cooking!

6) Make a plan in case of wet weather. Do a bit of research on the area you are visiting and make a few plans for all weathers. Although it can be fun (and quite cozy) sitting out a storm playing board games it can soon lose its appeal. Make sure you pack some out door games as well as board games.

7) Make a plan for keeping your food cold. If you have opted for basic camping (without electric hook up) then you will need to have a cold box. Most good campsites will offer a re-freezing facility where you can either swap your defrosted blocks for frozen ones or put your blocks in the parks freezer and collect them once frozen. Take a few packs so you always have some to exchange. You will need to leave about 8 hours for your blocks to freeze (longer when it is busy and people are in and out of the freezer with their warm blocks.)

8 ) Go out of season if you can. If you have pre school age children then why not avoid the crowds by going camping just before or after the holidays. Even mid week during the holidays are a little quieter.

9) Relax and don’t take anything too seriously. There are bound to be the odd little ‘issue’ however these may just be the family memories that get relived over the sunday lunch years from now. Whoever remembers the uneventful holidays anyway?

10) If you get stuck or don’t know the correct etiquette for something when you are on the campsite then don’t be shy… ask a fellow camper. Campsites are generally friendly places and we have all been newbies at one stage or other. The park warden or reception staff should also be happy to answer questions.

Have fun and come and visit us at Swiss Farm Touring and Camping

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The Oxfordshire based Swiss Farm touring and camping park has recently launched their new website on the 5th January 2012.  Owned by the Borlase family since 1946, the park has established a reputation for offering one of the best quality caravan and camping experiences in the UK.  Nestled on the outskirts of the beautiful market town of Henley-on-Thames, famed for hosting the annual Henley Regatta, Swiss Farm is only moments away from the river Thames and its first class facilities and friendly welcome from the Borlase family keeps visitors returning year after year.

The business owner Joseph Borlase says, “We are delighted to have launched our new website prior to the Spring and Summer season.  We have planned the website to showcase our park, providing lots of clear information and images of our facilities to give our visitors everything they need to know before they book online.  Our booking system is fast and efficient and through our local events and promotion calendar, our customers will be kept up-to-date with regular postings about what’s on at Swiss Farm and the surrounding area.”

Indeed the revamped Swiss Farm website sets the scene for what looks like the perfect family holiday.  With Brits choosing more and more the ‘staycation’ in the UK over travelling abroad for their annual getaway, idyllic camping spots like Swiss Farm offer the opportunity for a great value holiday, where families save on the accommodation costs by camping, freeing up money to be spent on visiting local attractions and eating out. With it’s fantastic location on the river Thames, Swiss Farm offers it’s visitors excellent on-site facilities including a heated outdoor swimming pool, licensed bar, fishing lake, on-site shop for food and camping supplies, a children’s play park along with the chance to see it’s farm animals, where you can stroll the green fields to view rare breeds of Berkshire pigs, Sussex cattle and sheep.  The Swiss Farm camping location and facilities will appeal to both families and couples seeking peace and tranquillity whilst having access to a wide range of local attractions available on the doorstep.

Joseph comments, ‘We have a loyal base of customers who return year after year, simply because they love the ambience at Swiss Farm; they can expect clean facilities and we maintain very high standards about keeping noise levels to a minimum.  The Royal Henley Regatta is a big attraction for many of our visitors and we recommend booking your campsite for Henley-Regatta months in advance to avoid disappointment.’

With events like the Henley Regatta, the Henley music and food festivals and huge attractions like Legoland and Windsor Castle close by, Swiss Farm visitors can be as active and energetic as they like.  Or perhaps they’d prefer to simply stroll the Thames each day, wander the shops and enjoy the pleasures of Henley-on-Thames, whilst returning to the peace and quiet of the great British outdoors camping on the grassy green slopes of Swiss Farm Camping.  To book online, simply visit and click Book Now to go through the secure booking system.

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Swiss Farm Camping Welcoming Visitors Since 1946

It was in 1946 that the Borlase family took over Swiss Farm, which was bought from the Fawley Court Estate. The land was mostly put to dairy cattle and maize, but there were still campers making the journey down from London to stay in the countryside. In those early days the campers would stay in old ex-military Bell Tents on the farm and have their belongings stored inside one of the farm buildings between trips, which allowed them to travel down by train.

Harold Borlase handed over the management of the farm to his son Stephen in 1968. Stephen had big plans for the farm, and started a poultry business with 25,000 chickens, alongside pedigree Sussex cattle and even strawberry production. However, farming became less profitable, and the Farm was just not big enough to remain profitable . But keeping on a cool business head, Stephen turned his gaze to the tourism side of the business, which had only been a small form of income, but he saw a big future for it.

Working day and night, Stephen put together comprehensive building and landscaping plans that would make his vision a reality, and got to work on it. In the almost 30 years that followed Stephen continued to build and expand on the farm’s facilities, turning it into a top attraction for holiday campers. In 1997 Stephen passed the business down to his son Joseph who, being as ambitious as his father, set to work on a new set of goals that he wanted to achieve with the farm, and make it the best camping experience around.

More recently some of the goals that Joseph had have been realised, in 2008 new all-weather pitches were introduced, for those who camp whatever the time of year. The car parks and roads were re-surfaced and from then until 2009 all of the facilities in the campsite were refurbished and look brand new, featuring upgraded water and electrical facilities for happy campers.

For 2010-11 Joseph has continued his dedicated work on the site, landscaping more of the area for trees, flower beds, and of course more camping pitches. The most recent facilities added to the farm are the improved bar, convenience store and new reception. Joseph has further plans for this year and 2013 which are sure to see the farm become the best camping facility in the Cotswolds, why not ask him about them when you get there?  Visit to book your perfect camping holiday online now.


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