Yes, you’re right, utter madness. Camping in November? WHAT were we thinking?
I think I can pretty much sum up our week as hard work, cold and utterly relentless – but the most amazing family experience we’ve every had.
Featherdown Farm holidays are all about switching off, going off-grid, back to basics. Living like the Waltons.
And we loved it. Really, really loved it.
Featherdown Farms invited us to visit during the summer holidays, but we just didn’t have the time to take them up on their offer to review their breaks. And so we plumped for the autumn half term; end of October, creeping over into November.
We just needed to get away as a family. We needed to chill out and reconnect and be together.
For me the best gauge for how good a holiday was is whether we would pay to go back again.
Featherdown Farm holidays are not cheap. And despite the ‘glamping’ label it finds itself with, this was about as far removed from glamorous camping we’ve ever been. And we’ve camped a lot.
Sure you get duvets and actual beds and a dining table and chairs. And a sort of fridge coolbox thing. And a flushing loo.
But, you are in the middle of a farmers’ field. There is no electric hook up and that means candlelight, no phones or gadgets, no heating. Nada.
Heat comes from the stove in your tent. For which you have to fetch the wood every day.
There is running water, but any hot water comes from heating the huge kettle on the stove once it has reached a certain heat.
Food is basic and, again, comes from cooking on the top of your stove.
You do everything by candlelight. And let me tell you, cooking and indeed washing up by candlelight is near impossible.
But here’s the thing.
We played Monopoly for four hours straight. Sat right there at our farmhouse table and laughed and gnashed teeth and accused each other of cheating and played it right through from beginning to end.
We played card games. Endless card games. Taught each other new ones, played old favourites.
We took it in turns lighting and stoking the stove; newspaper, kindling, logs.
The children took themselves up to the farm’s ‘honesty’ shop to fetch provisions and extra candles. They had to write down what they had taken, together with the cost, so we could tot up how much we owed at the end of the week.
We went for long walks. Got lost. Moaned a bit about being lost. But kept on walking; over fields, down country lanes, over stiles, through trees. And then we came back to our tent, lit the stove and sat around it with a hot chocolate and rosy cheeks.
The children slept in the cabin bed together, despite there being enough space for them to have their own rooms. They locked themselves in their little nest, made up games, sang songs, read to each other, giggled and made my husband and I sit and just smile at each other.
We spent a week (Monday to Friday) at Readyfields Farm in Nottinghamshire.
The farm is home to a huge troop of Bloodhounds as well as sheep, cows – and donkeys!
Unfortunately, the time of year we visited meant we didn’t really get to experience much farm life. It was too darn cold!
So, as always, I’ll let the photos do the talking as they can reveal much more of the story than mere words:
Inside the tent
Out and about
So would we go back?
It’s not cheap to stay there. Plus you have to work – make your beds, fetch logs, build fires (although I think husband turned that into a new hobby), clean up after yourselves.
But yes, absolutely we’d go back. Maybe next time we’ll try it in the warmer months though!