Author Gareth Bates is hoping his first book will get youngsters off their games consoles to have fun exploring the outdoors - with help from a cow named Colin.

Gareth, who produced the book with illustrator Ben Somers, says Colin the Cow Goes Camping is aimed at children aged from three to nine years, but hopes adults reading it with their youngsters will enjoy it, too.

Gareth, 41, said: “I've done a fair bit of reading with Maya, my young niece, and some of the books that I read were quite boring, so I thought we can do better than this.

“Taking my life experience with families and fun stuff, and knowing a friend called Ben who's the artist, I thought, let's go for it and create Colin the Cow.

“The whole process of writing the book took me about five months. There were a few tweaks here and there but we got there eventually.”

Gareth, who lives in Colchester, set the book in Dedham Vale and used his experiences at the Rushbanks campsite on the Essex/Suffolk boarder at Wissington, which he has been running for eight years with his brother James.

He said: “We are a family-friendly. At the campsite, we’re dealing with kids all the time.

“So I just thought – let’s keep these guys entertained and make some really fun stories.

“The book is kind of for kids, but it's also a little bit for adults as well to try and give the adults a bit of entertainment.

“It's mainly for the three-year olds to nine-year-olds category, but then we want that thing where when parents are reading it and also get some entertainment because it can be a very slow process, reading with young children."

The book is also accompanied by a Colin the Cow colouring book with games and puzzles inside - and there is a colouring competition, offering the chance to visit Colin's home at Rushbanks Farm and to win a three-night camping trip and canoe adventure.

The book is available from and competition entries should be emailed to by September 26.

Gareth said: “My dad is a farmer with Hereford cows. We run a separate campsite where we have canoe hire, paddle board hire and campfires.

“We offer nice campfires with marshmallows in the evenings and it's just trying to get that kind of fun atmosphere there.

“I'm a big fan of Latitude festival, and tried to put this camping vibes and festival atmosphere into my book.”