Dreaming of chipboard: Camping in Solothurn

My childhood holidays involved British campsites and, many times, wet weather. You'd be forgiven for thinking I'm a hardy camper. Trouble is, with my travel writing exploits, I have become accustomed to spa and design hotels ... So when faced with the idea of a press trip to stay on a campsite I was nervous. I haven't actually been camping - properly - for about a decade. But it being a press trip and all, I didn't actually have to go near a tent.

Our visit was to TCS Camping Solothurn, a tranquil site on the banks of the River Aare and just minutes outside the beautiful Baroque town of Solothurn in Central Switzerland. With the turquoise river on one side, and meadows leading to the edge of the Jura foothills on the other, it was a gorgeous scene. The campsite is modern, with spacious and clean facilities, a playground, restaurant, shop and bathing areas.

Our accommodation for the night was a cabin - one of the "glamping" options, which also include pods, safari tents and circus wagons. It looked like something out of a Sylvanian families set from outside; inside, it was nothing less than a temple to chipboard. I mean, there was chipboard panelling absolutely everywhere ... Arty Swiss interior design? I'm not sure.

Chipboard aside, it was cosy for a night (though I am now dreaming of chipboard) - and anyway, we planned on spending the rest of the time outdoors. We wandered along the riverside path by the campsite, stopping for a paddle - when Tim got attacked by a naughty child with a water gun! Then we hired electric bikes - it was a total revelation!

We set off from the campsite beneath blazing sunshine, riding into a warm headwind. On an ordinary bike it would have been hell. On these so-called "Flyers" it was effortless. I felt like a Tour de France sprinter (at least with the electric assistance mode set to high), speeding along the country paths, the wind in my hair and flies splatting my face. We stopped at little village Altreu, where there is a stork sanctuary, and watched some of these lumbering birds taking off - they looked like something from a children's picture book with their cute-but-awkward dimensions.

Our route then took us to Büren, a medieval town on the river, with access via a magnificent covered wooden bridge. Here, we enjoyed ice cream and listened to the notes of a saxophone drifting down on the wind from a local wedding. That evening at the campsite we dined in the brand new restaurant Pier 11. It was a chic affair, all decking and lamps, and attracted a stylish deck-shoe-wearing crowd who'd sailed into the campsite's harbour. I enjoyed a vegetable terrine, while Tim ordered chicken filled with chorizo.

As we settled down beneath our chipboard ceiling, a storm raged outside - and I can honestly say I haven't slept so well in a long time. TCS Camping Solothurn is a great get-away-from-it-all retreat, whether you want to be active, sit around and read, or go wildlife spotting. The following morning, we pottered around Solothurn. It has 11 of everything (it was the 11th canton to join the Swiss Confederation). For me, it had a touch of Innsbruck in the facades lined up along the river. Its imposing St Ursas cathedral was spectacular. We sat outside a cafe on the square below munching Solothurner cake (a light, nutty thing with meringue), people watching and admiring the cathedral's 66-metre tall facade.
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