Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

A family travel and lifestyle blog


Glamping at Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans Part 2


If you are a regular reader to my blog you may have come across part one of our glamping trip and you will know that we had an amazing time on our recent getaway. Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans has so much to offer all ages and with such an exquisite location in the heart of the Wye Valley I just couldn't do the place justice in one post. The first instalment mainly covered the accommodation so in this second part I wanted to share what we got up to on the site, the facilities and exploring the local area.

Camping Deli


Firstly the site is small but perfectly formed and even with all the caravans rented out it wouldn't feel crowded. All except one (Elsie) is off-grid and doesn't have electric so at night you surround yourself with the beautiful flicker of tea lights and fairy lights, with torches being provided should you fancy a night time walk. This doesn't however mean you cannot charge your phone, near the small parking area is a wall plug just for that, along with a honesty fridge for basic supplies and local produce as well as wood bundles for the fires.

camping kitchen

natural childhood

When it comes to keeping clean the toilet and showers are located in the sheltered wooded area and keeping to their low impact ethos the showers are solar powered (and nice and warm). They have a normal toilet but also a composting toilet which is great for those who want to embrace the off-grid lifestyle which we did.

The wooded area was also an instant favourite with the kids and you can see why, there are logs to climb and dens to build, in fact they use this area during the school term for a forest local school. There is a fire pit with enough space for a group to sit around and cook a stew or roast marshmallows, as well as a rope swing which my boys spent a lot of time on. This area is pretty sheltered and even though we had fantastic weather during our stay I imagine in light rain kids could still run around here completely unaffected. There is also a large communal mess tent which is perfect for wet weather or communal eating. Inside the mess tent is a long dinning table which was beautifully decorated with flowers, as well as a big comfy sofa and a box full of toys and board games, as well as a large gas camping stove.

blonde boy

forest school

Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans is also all about disconnecting from the stresses of daily life and reconnecting with loved ones, family, friends and nature and there is all you need on this site to do that. If you want to get active there is a tennis court waiting to be played, you can also hire bikes or bring your own and a few meters down the road is a dirt track through a farm down to the River Wye. For those ladies who rather indulge in a bit of pampering and relaxation Mad Dogs also offer a service called Pamp and Glam which is just amazing! You can wake up to birdsong and walk over to the lotus tent for a Swedish Massage, Hot Stone massage or one of the many other treatments offered, I did this and it was a truly wonderful and relaxing way to start the day.

Pamp and Glamp

Mad Dogs is also a great base for exploring the local area and less than 10mins down the road is Ross-On-Wye, the nearest market town and such a picturesque town at that. We spent a couple of hours here one afternoon wondering around all the independent shops and you will also find plenty of cafes and traditional country pubs as well as a pretty market square and plenty of walks, which we did a long the River Wye spotting swans, fish and wildlife. Another day trip was spent running around The Kymin in Monmouth, a National Trusts property which offers up some fantastic views across Monmouthshire for the 18th century Roundhouse.

Market town


National Trust

We had a fantastic break away at Mad Dogs, we completely embraced the lack of wifi and mobile internet and in fact we prefer short breaks like this because there is no distractions except those you find in nature. This place saviours all those wonderful simple pleasures and is a great spot to disconnect, relax and recharge and we highly recommend it.

Thanks to Mad Dogs for inviting us to review this unique glamping experience 


Feel cool in Cashmere

autumn style

Cashmere is one of the most recognisably classic material the fashion world has to offer. It’s never  really goes out of fashion: velvet comes and goes, lamé has made a recent and surprising comeback, but at any period and during in any trend, cashmere is a reliable hallmark of quality and comfort used by the best designers to create luxurious and aspirational clothing and accessories, whether that’s soft, warm scarves or hardwearing but still luxuriously comfortable pullovers.

Finding a good piece of cashmere can be challenge though. The fact it is a classic fabric and an indicator of quality when it comes to clothes means that some labels use it badly in order to grant their designs cache. I know we are currently in summer but that also means is a good time to get in there early with warmer jumpers and scarfs for the winter. 

dog print

Here are some tips to help identify a good piece of cashmere, that could make the difference between snapping up a unique piece for your wardrobe and missing out a defining part of your new outfit.

Look at the Label

Look into the designer behind the piece: If they offer lots of other cashmere clothing, it could be a good sign that they know how to make the most of it as a fabric. If they don’t, this could indicate they aren’t very experienced with it and may not be offering the best cashmere clothes. 

heart jumper

As an example, let’s look at Chinti and Parker’s cashmere jogging pants. If you just saw this item, you might question if it was a good idea: you might not be expecting this style of clothing to be made in cashmere. Looking at the rest of Chinti and Parker’s site, though, you’d find a carefully chosen Athleisure line, and a dedicated cashmere shop, which indicates they have a lot of experience designing with cashmere in different styles and a strong leisure wear sense as well, making this a great buy.

Touch It

If you’re shopping offline, make the most of it. Make sure you’re touching an item before you make a decision: good cashmere should be soft, indicating it’s not been undermilled. If you buy undermilled cashmere, you’re not getting it at its best. If it’s as soft as cashmere should be, give a gentle stretch. It should spring back into shape easily, showing it’s not been overmilled either and is a truly high quality cashmere piece.

cashmere jumper

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How to pack safely for a cross-country road trip

summer adventures

We are heading on a mini road trip later this month to Luxembourg, taking in a few sights a long the way and also hopefully fitting in some camping. When it comes to travelling longer distances in a car, camper or RV you need to take certain things into account, especially if you have children, having a clear plan of what you do and do not need is key. You don't want to overload your vehicle which can be dangerous but equally you need to know you have all your essentials including provisions if you are delayed or break down. I have started to put a list together of what we are going to need and thought I would share a few tips about how to get ready for a road trip, safely and efficiently.

Just light backpacking or inter-railing, you can apply a lot of the same rules to when you hit the road in your vehicle. This article - packing tips for travelers is a great place to start and can apply to most trips. Even though you will have a little more space you may still want to keep your clothes rolled up for backpacking trips, keep your inventory down to save space, and have a volume you can handle when washing at available facilities. Packing aids that minimize space taken up in suitcases, and dual-purpose garments such as jackets that turn into travel pillows, can be of use as well.

road trip

Pack as Lightly as Possible

If you’re going away for a fortnight or more, this might not sound like a possibility. There are many ways you can pack efficiently to improve your experience and the vehicle’s fuel economy. Such packing efforts come in many forms. Take what you need and just a little more, this can be applied to water, take enough of you and your family and to fill the car but don't weigh your vehicle down with it. Also, consider food. Taking only the groceries you need can reduce the clutter and weight on the vehicle. As you travel, you’re likely to encounter local supermarkets. You can purchase items needed before arriving at campsites that may or may not have everything there.

Putting snacks in plastic containers and bags can reduce the space needed for them as well. In fact, pre-making meals and putting them in bags can save even more room in terms of storage and the amount of pots and pans needed for the trip. You won’t have to store as much or wash as many dishes if your planning on camping. Most kinds of meals can be bagged, even barbecue items.

road trip

Proper Packing vs. Safety

As Geico’s RV safety tips suggest, overloading is one of the major causes of accidents. It can lead to tire blowouts, driving mistakes, and loose items colliding with people while the vehicle is moving. Making sure the  Car, Camper or RV is balanced, and everything is secured, is an important step of every trip.

There are a few reasons to properly pack a vehicle. If it's lopsided, it won’t likely be steady on a slippery road. Poor packing can reduce the amount of available space, so travelers leave behind stuff they need at home. It's also a good idea is to check the vehicle manual, which should identify how much weight each axle can bear. Spread out heavier items along the vehicle’s length or perhaps invest in a well distributed roof box.

Make a Checklist

You need a few different checklists - one for packing and personal must haves as well as a car health checklist and I shared one a while aback, the essential checklist before going on a family road trip that covers the basics you need to look at when it comes to making sure your vehicle is in top shape  before leaving. When it comes to food, clothing and personal possessions  the list of items may seem obvious, but the excitement of preparing for a long trip can leave you forgetful. If your planning on camping or doing a self catering break than items such as crock pots, frying pans, stackable containers for cereals, snacks, and dry foods should be written out. Also include clothing, laptop, chargers, prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, heating pads and ice packs, first aid kits, and individual foods. Knowing what you’ll take, will make it easier to organise everything and pack it safely. 

I find packing in advance, giving your self enough time and being organised are always the first steps to ensure a calmer and less stressful trip. If you have just purchased a camper or RV than check out this article on a few few feel good ideas for your next family vacation Are you going to be heading on a road trip this summer? 

cross-country trip

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