Tag Archives: holidays

Carry On Glamping

My hubby is buying camping gear again.  He is studying the screen of his iPad as if his life depended on it, scanning the various deals on Ebay and bidding against other Dad campers looking for the best price in portable gas cookers or enamel mugs.  It has become an addiction of his ever since I begrudgingly agreed to ‘give camping a go’. Apparently, sleeping in a home decked out in waterproof material in the Great Outdoors is fun! It will reconnect us with nature, he says, make me appreciate the peace and quiet around me and help us embrace back to basics living.  I, however, envisage a weekend of living like a survivor from The Walking Dead, looking grubby all weekend, not bothering to change out of my pyjama’s during the day and trying to make a family meal out of a can of beans and a pack of sausages.

When the whole camping holiday idea was put on the table last year it was laughed out of the room by me and my 7-year-old daughter.  Sleep in a tent? Wee in the woods? My daughter won’t even use a public toilet without moaning about the state of the facilities.  However, with two sons aged 7 and 11 with a reason to behave like Bear Grylls on holiday, not having to wash much and being allowed to wee in the woods, us girls were outnumbered and the camping gear started arriving in the post.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, for hubby’s birthday in April, I booked us 5 and our golden Labrador Chester on a ‘Glamping’ holiday.  It would be 3 days in a “luxurious home from home canvas retreat”, basically a posh tent with wooden floors, proper beds, working toilet, a shower and a kitchen.  This is how camping is meant to be done, as if I am a member of royalty on safari in Africa.  If I could hack this and actually enjoy myself then I would definitely slum it on a normal camping holiday after.

Out of Africa and into a Chicken Farm in Suffolk!

Out of Africa and into a Chicken Farm in Suffolk!

There were 5 tents situated in a large farmers field on a working chicken farm.  Thankfully, a free range egg farm, with about 3,000 chickens happily scratching about in a neighbouring field.  The tent was love at first sight with oak wood floors, thick canvas on the outer walls with huge tapestries hanging from the inner walls. The tent was decked out in shabby chic furniture and the beds were beautifully made with plenty of hanging space for our clothes.  It was, however, definitely back to basics as my eldest discovered whilst trying to plug in his iPhone.  There was no electric hook-up and our only source of heat was the Aga in our lounge area, but we did have running water which was a bonus.  I was already picturing myself in a scene from Poldark, making pies for the Aga, trying my hand at needlework in front of the fire and taking a turn round the room with hubby in the evening.

In the tent next to us, we thankfully had neighbours consisting of a family of five like us with children of similar ages to ours and even a dog for Chester to harass.  Kids being kids struck up a friendship with each other after about 7 minutes whilst us grown ups just waved and made a bit of small talk about the weather.  Despite my fears of the children moaning constantly about being bored, they instead become feral quite quickly and proceeded to build dens and climb trees and introduce themselves to the farmer all within the first few hours of arrival.  All was hunky dory as we settled down for our pasta evening meal that I had prepared on our two gas ring stove (planning on cooking my Poldark pies on the Aga tomorrow, might even bake some bread).  Hubby had got the Aga fire burning to its maximum capability and we hoped that soon the tent would warm up nicely for our first nights sleep.

After an hour or two, we realised that the heat output generated by the Aga was not really going to warm up any part of the tent and that it was mainly for show.  As the kids started to shiver and put their coats back on in the tent, I realised then that all was not well, that in fact there was quite a strong breeze coming through the gaps in the lovingly sanded wooden floors and that the sheer size of the tent meant that any heat generated was never going to be distributed.  As it was only 7.30pm we couldn’t really go to bed to warm up, so brought ALL of the quilts into the lounge to play Scrabble.  As a westerly breeze blew through the lounge, we wrapped the kids up with hats and gloves and starting to unpack our clothes so we could wear all of them.  Chester, who normally will happily sleep at our feet, climbed on top of our quilts and moaned.  The dog was even cold, this was not boding well!

We sent the kids to bed in as many layers as possible and wished them goodnight whilst trying to laugh off the fact that they could actually see the breath leave our mouths from the cold environment around us.  I was now refusing any offers of wine as I was too cold to visit the loo and against medical advice, was dehydrating myself in a bid not to have to undress at any point.  Me and hubby took our turn around the room, however, we had to do it with the throws from the couch wrapped around us and it was more of a shuffle and a shiver then a pleasant stroll.  Luckily, hubby had brought hot water bottles which was the only reason I didn’t cry when inserting myself into the freezing cold bedding.  We prayed for a sunny morning and hoped we would make it through the night without frostbite.

The Children earning their keep!

The Children earning their keep!

The following morning, we were all up bright and early.  Our neighbours had literally moved into their car so they could put their heater on.  Thankfully, the sun came out and we were able to defrost a bit. We headed off to the local supermarket and as well as our planned shopping list, stocked up on firelighters and even managed to find some long johns in the sale section. We spent all day out and about visiting the Suffolk coast and basking in the sunshine, trying not to think about another cold night in the tent.  When we returned ‘home’, Chester point blanked refused to enter the tent as if the tent had transformed into the vets.  Our host, the farmer, walked over to see us and in true British fashion we told her how settled we felt and how well we had slept, with no intention to complain, stiff upper lip and all that.  She told us of a dog friendly/child friendly pub in walking distance that we could visit that evening and with the promise of a real open fire we decided it was the best bet.

After trying to persuade the local publican to let us sleep in the pub and despite being joined by my daughter who was too cold to sleep alone and Chester who looked like he was silently weeping, we made it through our last night. As we packed up on the final day, my last glimmer of hope was that this might have put hubby off the whole camping lark.  We weren’t campers, we couldn’t even glamp! Unfortunately, it had made him more ambitious to see it through with the reasoning that normal camping is warmer!  So, in 3 weeks time, we will be taking our Ebay purchased tent and accessories and sleeping in a different field and apparently doing that whole embracing nature thing again.  Oh well, at least I have my long johns now!

We’ll Keep a Welcome in the Hillside

I apologise for neglecting my blog for the last two weeks, this is mainly due to the surge of activities brought on with the Half Term hols, but also because we have been on holiday in Wales. Me, hubby and the kids, along with my parents, decided to holiday in this pleasant land as we really like the country and because we have friends that moved there and we haven’t seem them in years.

Now we have a dog I set about searching for dog friendly accommodation and along with our not so Spring like weather, find one which had a capable heating system and preferably a woodburner! We found a idyllic holding of four converted barns on a plot in West Wales, this meant we had the use of two cottages side by side and plenty of surrounding fields fit for our dog. The holiday was booked and as usual my packing was left to the last minute as I desperately tried to dry out clothes on the radiators an hour before leaving and debated whether to pack clothes I haven’t worn in years just because ‘I might get a chance to this week’.

After we crammed our car and my Dad’s car full of all weather clobber we set off on the 5 hour journey to our holiday home. It soon materialised that achieving it in 5 hours was a little ambitious with three children with seemingly weak bladders and a car sick dog (who knew). Still I always find Service Stations an interesting experience and if I ever get round to writing my book I will definitely scour them for characters as you see all walks of life in them.

It's lovely isn't it?

It’s lovely isn’t it?

The cottages were lovely and apart from an bit of an overbearing landlord who lived next door, we settled in quickly. The countryside was stunning, the empty beach was nearby and our days were filled with outdoorsy activities without me having to nag the kids to ‘get some fresh air’ as they willingly wanted to explore. It was a shock to my system though and a realisation that either I live in a very polluted place or find it hard to relax, as while I was on this holiday I seemed to contract Narcolepsy. Of an evening I felt compelled to check to see if someone was crouched in the corner of my bedroom shooting tranquiliser darts in my direction, as no sooner had my head hit the pillow I was out cold. Thankfully this was also the case for the kids after their active days we had undisturbed nights.

All weather beach days

All weather beach days

The nicest thing about our week away was seeing the children so happy. With zero Wifi connection and useless mobile reception my eldest was on Bin Weevils cold turkey for the week. At first he struggled with the lack of computer time but as his addiction slowly waned he rediscovered simple pleasures alongside his siblings. We hit the beach in many layers to play hide and seek in the sand dunes or go crabbing and eat ice-creams even though I was unable to feel the tips of my fingers without gloves on. We went for long country walks feeling like the dwarves from The Hobbit as we stumbled across waterfalls and spotted wild seals and dolphins as we scrambled across rocks. My youngest son was a miniature Bear Grylls as I constantly removed him from trees and begged him to stop doing ‘wild wees’ as it became the only way he wanted to go in the end.

As the week drew to a close, we were all disappointed to be leaving to go home. I haven’t slept nearly as well since coming back, the kids are back to begging for more TV and computer time and I have a mountain of washing to deal with. But none of us are pining as much for our holiday home as our dog Chester. As a energetic 1 year old Labrador he flourished with the ability to roam our surrounding fields to his hearts content. He developed a love of sheep that was weirdly touching at times and he was introduced to ice-cream. Since we have returned, he walks around our garden and looks at me as if to say ‘Is this it?’. As we all slip back into our former routines I swear he looks longingly out of the window wishing he was back there. I will leave you with his personal highlights.

Holiday Romance

My Holiday Romance

I have never seen waterfalls in Essex

I have never seen waterfalls in Essex

Best Holiday Ever!

Best Holiday Ever!