A crisp, sunny autumn morning, the smell of wood smoke in the air and 3,000 acres of woodland to play in, what a wonderful start to the day. Behind me my friend bends industriously over the bio fuel stove, coffee boils and a couple of children phone each other excitedly on proper, old-fashioned army field telephones linked between toilet, camp HQ and the outdoor hot tub.
We are staying in the first English Country House Hideout tents and we are enjoying every minute. The brains behind Centerparcs and Featherdown Farms has done it again and I think he has excelled himself. The basic concept is very similar to Featherdown – there are luxurious safari tents, which come ready made from Holland and are set-up in a variety of large country house estates throughout Britain. It is Featherdown with knobs on though and pretty eccentric knobs they are too. The theme is supposed to be that of the era of Edwardian explorers, the tents similar to those taken on expeditions across Africa. They have filled the tents with essential explorer type equipment – a telescope for viewing the star-filled country sky, binoculars for spying on unusual birds or on your friends as they stalk up on you – field telephones, with a central exchange in the tent so you can keep in constant contact with your field agents (or servants!) wherever you might be i.e. in the outdoor, grass-covered toilet or in the open air hot tub – a wind up gramophone with plenty of stirring martial music for relaxing to with a cup of cocoa and various other wonderful toys to keep little and big boys and girls very happy indeed.
All of this Edwardian fun comes wrapped up in some innovative and frankly quite bonkers, eco ideas. It’s a carbon neutral holiday. If you feel you might need a small lamp for the evening hours then get on the bicycles outside and recharge the mobile battery by pedalling. Feeling a little chilly, hook up the biofuel stove and put the heavy old kettle on. You might need some fire-making skills if you are not going to go hungry – the outdoor, portable cooking hut needs a fire as does the hot-tub which has some Professor Brainstawm type of contraption to bring fire-heated water into a pierced bucket shower to enjoy au naturel or (in my case) not. Sitting in this huge, luxurious wooden tub watching the trees sway overhead while warmed by the water that I have heated myself, is a rare pleasure and of course not a lasting one as I am swarmed by a horde of muddy young boys who find this hot tub probably the most exciting thing they have ever seen.
This next generation of Featherdown Farms is wonderful. It’s very comfortable, yet you are remotely situated in the deep dark woods; the children are having an absolute ball, doing healthy, outdoorsy, educational things. I loved the thick vein of eccentricity running through it and yet also the sense of it all. Bravo, is all I can basically say and that I will be booking another holiday as soon as I possibly can.
- Beyond Glamping (olpro.wordpress.com)