OVER the years my family and I have been lucky enough to travel the world and stay in differing kinds of accommodation from barges to castles.
Never have we tried out camping and now we are hooked. It helped that we had a fantastic and I mean fantastic, tent!
The Tigris 800XL is a family tent with a difference, you can actually escape from your family! It took us an easy 20 minutes to set this beauty up and then two more minutes to divide it up, so we had one half and Ruaridh (5) and Flora (2) had the other!
My husband Kenny was a wee bit daunted when he first took a look at the tent which came packed in a big trendy green bag.
But the excellent instructions and easy assembly meant we were soon enjoying its facilties. And if you look at the gear section of the travel reviews, you can see just what this tent boasts.
And where better to test out the tent than in Scotland, home to unpredictable weather. For once it was beautiful as we pitched up in lovely Rosemarkie on The Black Isle.
Only a 20-minute drive from Inverness, The Black Isle is renowned for its warm welcome and impressive views over the Moray Firth.
So what’s there to do then once the tent is up ? Well with two little ones, the beach is a must. And Rosemarkie beach is a gem. It’s got lovely coral coloured sand and is relatively empty, except for the odd walker or two.
There is a lovely beachside café to provide the essentials and some easy, but spectacular views to enjoy. A morning can be simply spent searching for shells or stretching out and taking in the scenery. And then pop into The Groam Museum, a haven for pictish fans.
The island has a wealth of gems to visit to, from The Black Isle Wildlife Park, crammed with all the creatures you could want to meet to Hugh Miller’s Cottage in Cromarty, a haven for fans of the eminent geologist. A trip to Chanonry Point, just a stone’s throw from Rosemarkie means you could see one of the regular dolphin visitors to the water and watch them play.
The big city of Inverness is a must. There is something about a city with a river running through it, it’s just magical.
The Inverness Museum, which is free admission, tells you the story of the city, culture of the country and has plenty of exhibitions to offer.
Just five miles away from the city is Cawdor Castle, home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor. This fairy-tale castle has links to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and is a romantic’s dream. It’s breath-taking exterior prepares you for the extra special interior as you wind down the stone staircases and glimpse into a life of luxury. Then it’s a stroll round the magnificent walled gardens, before heading of one on of the nature-trails. And if history is your thing, there’s Culloden, the scene of the last bloody battle in Britain which saw 1,200 dead in one hour in April 1746.
Or further afield is Urquhart Castle on the banks of the Loch Ness and an impressive stronghold, with great views and which can be reached via Jacobite Cruises.
Rain is no problem when you have such gems as The Highland Museum of Childhood in Strathpeffer. Your offspring will enjoy playing with old style toys and dressing up as you reminisce with the impressive collection of Victorian and Edwardian goodies.
If the weather is kind, there are so many walks to enjoy, from a stroll to see the winged creatures at Fairy Glen to Reelig Glen just outside Beauly, which gives an easy trek through a mixture of old conifer and broadleaved trees.
With only a week to enjoy, we only had a taster of what is on offer. Fingers crossed next summer brings the sun out again!
Factfile: For more information on:
Cairngorm Reindeer Centre: www.cairngormreindeer.co.uk
Visit Scotland: www.visitscotland.com/surprise
Cawdor Castle: www.cawdorcastle.com
Reelig Glen: www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
Hugh Miller’s Cottage: www.nts.org.uk
Jacobite Cruises: www.jacobitecruises.co.uk
Groam House: www.groamhouse.org.uk
Inverness Museum: www.invernessmuseum.com
Highland Museum of Childhood: www.highlandmuseumofchildhood.org.uk
Urqhuart Castle: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
Tigris 800xl, from £500. For more information on stockists and tents for individuals, couples and families, log onto www.vango.co.uk
I always fancied camping, but what put me off was all the tent pitching and lying on hard floors!
But these days tents are big business and the Tigris 800 xl is pure luxury! Its easy to assemble, even for the beginner, with special coded flexible poles and a lovely high front pole to make sure you have a welcoming front door!
It’s the space though that wins the prize as it’s a roomy tent, just over 6ft and big enough to fit eight people in or two adults trying to escape two noisy children.
The excellent all in one flysheet pitching means you don’t have to put anything down before you set up and it has big windows and doors and is easily divided to create two rooms.
There is some good ventilation and lots of hanging storage too, with areas to allow cables through and privacy curtains to keep the neighbours out.
It has been wind and rain tested and comes in trendy colours and to sum up “its better than our house mum!’’ said five-year-old Ruaridh.