I've been sourcing bits and pieces for my bell tent holidays for a couple of years now, and I've loved doing it! It's taken up loads of my time and it's become a great hobby. So I thought I'd share some of my 'best buys' and tips and hopefully people can add to this - I'd love that.
1. Sourcing the tent
Buying my bell tent was tough as I wanted to get it at the best price and the right size for my family. Initally we decided on a 4m bell tent, but after spending a night in one with just my husband (which was a great size for the 2 of us), I realised with all our clobber and 2 small boys the next size up was a must, so went looking for a 5m.
soulpad and bell tent uk have some great tents, and you can find used ones on ebay but they all go for about the same price. The best priced ones, and great quality are found on a dutch website called Obelink. However, the only thing they don't ship to the UK are bell tents. Bugger. Why not? Well it seems they have an agreement with one of the bell tent sellers here in the UK ( no names mentioned) as they supply that company with them in bulk.
A 5m bell tent from Obelink, basic ie groundsheet not attached is £249, compared to belltent uk of £379
There are 2 ways around this as the price difference is substantial. Either plan a camping trip in Holland and pick one up first, or get a dutch freind to send it on. I did the latter and the postage was just under £20, so still much cheaper! A saving of £110
2. 4m, 5m, basic, delux or ultimate?
The whole reason I wanted a belltent was for the headspace and general feeling of loveliness! The 4m bell tent is perfect for a couple or a couple with a small child. As soon as another comes along, the 5m is definately worth getting! We have the basic, which means that the groundsheet is not attached to the tent. I LOVE this option. I'll write another post on why, and the pros and cons of both later.
3. Carpet anyone?
Oh yes, now I have a great tent, it needs to be comfortable! We started with rugs on the floor as the bell tent carpets are expensive. This worked ok, but I was always slipping on them and they move around alot. So upgraded to general tent carpet which was cheap, but still wasnt happy as it was - well - ugly!
You can get bell tent carpet from greens or belltent or soulpad, the cheapest coming in at £70 for a 5m one, or a half moon coir type more expensive at around £110.
The very best option is pet bedding, believe it or not. It fantastic, like walking on shag pile! its durable, easy to cut to size as it comes in a roll and is the best value, at about £50 to carpet the whole tent. It's light too! Here is an ebay seller - it comes in loads of colours too if you fancy a hot pink or purple! http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VET-BED-PROFLEECE-5-GRD-48x30-WHELPING-VETBED-10-COLOURS-/140672827393?_trksid=p4340.m185&_trkparms=algo%3DDLSL%252BSIC.NPJS%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUCI%252BUA%26otn%3D10%26pmod%3D120637678797%252B120637678797%26po%3D%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D5741253756364308606
I love a camp fire but loads of campsites are pretty strict about this. Getting a firepit is a good idea as this doubles as both a bar b q and campfire in the evenings. If you can get a tripod, you can hang your pots on it to make great stews and roasts - but don't get these online unless you want to pay a premium! We got ours from a local blacksmiths for £15. Loads more on cooking later...