Sometimes you need to just get away from it all so camping close to home is ideal for a budget getaway, spending some time together, unwinding and getting back to nature.
Friday after school we headed off to Town Farm Camp Site for the weekend. We'd tried to book in last summer but it's pretty popular in June and July, especially since featuring in the Cool Camping guide so if you fancy going do book up early.
If I'm honest, the main reason we wanted to stay here was because I'd heard you could walk to an amazing Pick Your Own farm from there and I loved the idea of spending the afternoon picking your own food then taking it back to camp and cooking it over the fire - the most minimal of food miles possible and as fresh as you can get.
We've actually been to Grove Farm Pick Your Own before and it's fabulous - it's not just strawberry picking. Grab a fork and a spade and dig your own spuds, pull your own carrots, snap your own rhubarb and pick your own spinach.
Sadly, the appalling spring weather meant it wasn't open yet (it's likely to open end of June now) and it turns out you can't actually walk there across the fields, although it is just a few minutes drive.
Still, we made the most of the weekend anyway and completely loved the campsite.
Set in the foot of the chalky Chiltern hills, this is the closest bit of 'mountainous' scenery to where we live. Nestled just at the foot of Ivinghoe Beacon there's loads to explore on foot.
Despite the ominous looking clouds to start, it soon brightened up so we headed off five miles across fields and through forest to Ashridge National Trust Estate which is stunning to explore. There's a visitor centre, shop and cafe there, and brilliant walks to be had through the forest. Most weekends the memorial tower is open and for a fee of £2 per adult and £1 per child you can climb the spiral staircase to the top. They'll lend you binoculars and a guide and on a clear day you can see The Shard and Wembley Stadium.
We discovered College Lake, a fabulous nature reserve just a few miles up the road from the campsite and well worth a visit.
There's so much to do nearby from exploring the windmill; the pretty villages of Ivinghoe and Pitstone; the canal; the fascinating zoological museum at Tring; Whipsnade Zoo and Wendover Woods.
On the campsite itself there's a well equipped children's playground, table tennis table and hard tennis court. There's acres of space to run around and play ball games, fly kites and play tag. There's always new friends to be made on camping trips.
Us grown-ups were happy to sit and relax, watching the swallows skit and swoop by, with the sound of lambs in the background from nearby fields.
Town Farm allows camp fires which is always a big bonus on a camping trip - it's just not the same without toasted marshmallows, and it keeps the chill off while sipping G&T in the evening. They hire out fire pits which double up as BBQs and which you can book in advance and sell kindling, starter packs and sacks of logs. The service was excellent and a jeep would come round each evening delivering wood to your tent.
I have to say, the facilities on site were probably the best I have seen in a UK campsite. Not only were the toilets, showers and washing up facilities always spotlessly fresh and clean, but they were really thoughtfully put together too. How many times have you had to balance on one foot to get dressed in the shower because the floor is soaking? Or find you have nowhere to hang up your towel or clothes when you take them off?
The shower cubicles were large enough so if you have young children they'd be able to come in there with you. There was plenty of space, well fitting shower curtains, rubber matted floor to prevent your feet from getting soaked, a handy chair to place your wash bag on and hooks on the door. The toilets had soap and mirrors and in the main toilet block, electric hand driers.
There's even outdoor showers for the brave (or exhibitionist?!), although in all seriousness they are ideal for washing grubby, muddy little feet and perfect on boiling hot days to cool off.
There are washing machines and driers on site and communal fridges and freezers handy for re-freezing your cool packs if you don't make use of the electric hook-up.
But by far the nicest part of the washing up facilities was watching the nesting swallows flit in and out above your head while they feed their young. We were actually in a different area to this wash-station, and although ours was clean, new and warm, I actually preferred to walk down to the open sinks in the old barn just to watch the birds in the rafters!
The camp site has two main fields as well as hard-standing areas for caravans and trailers. They thoughtfully put large groups together in the front field, and those wanting a quieter experience like couples and small families can opt for the back field away from the road and the noisier groups - although they do have a no-noise after 11pm policy.
There is a little noise from Luton airport, but not enough to disturb and I have to say, even though it was a busy weekend this is one of the most peaceful campsites we've stayed on. Even the birds delivered only a gentle chirrup in the mooring instead of a deafening dawn chorus!
This area around the Dunstable Downs can be windy (as was evident by the amount of people who'd brought kites along!). It's popular with hangliders and it was quite breezy on the Saturday - a windbreak would have come in useful. However, on the Sunday we were blessed with glorious sunshine and not a hint of wind or cloud.
All the staff we came into contact with were extremely helpful and there was always someone around if you had any problem at all. We had a really great weekend and we'll definitely be back again.
Town Farm Camp Site
Facilities: Pitches for tents and caravans, electric hook ups available, male and female toilets, showers, disabled shower and toilet, washing-up stations, washing machine and tumble drier, chemical waste disposal, play area, fridges and freezers, tennis court, local information maps, open fires and BBQs allowed, dogs on lead permitted.