Last time we went camping we vowed: "never again." It was April and, although the day time was lovely and balmy, at night temperatures fell to freezing point. We had some pretty miserable nights and decided to only venture under canvas as fair weather campers; i.e. not in the UK!
So, off we went to Africa, pretty close to the equator so we knew we were in with a chance of some decent weather. Little did we know that we'd only have the wall of our tent to separate us from the lions and hyenas of the Serengeti. "It will be okay..." said our guide "...they'll think the tent is a rock".
You see, the most dangerous animal in Africa isn't the lion or hyena, it's actually the buffalo. A few days later, as I clambered out of my tent to be greeted by several pats of steaming buffalo poo, I decided that camping was off the cards for good.
And then I received a brochure from a company called Feather Down Farm Holidays which offers glamping style camps on various farms across the UK. The thought of a flushing loo, wood burner stove and a proper bed won me over and so we booked (April again), hoping that the weather this time would be kind. Despite a bit of rain and wind, and night time temperatures of minus two (more about that later) we had the most wonderful time. The sun showed its face most days and we were lucky enough to enjoy breakfast each day outside in our PJs as well as a trip to the beach at Littlehampton.
Little M had the best time and would have happily stayed "forever". She enjoyed playing with the other children, even gate-crashing another family's hot tub (some of the tents come with 'frills' like the tub and an outdoor shower) so she could splash around with the two older girls she had befriended. She loved the little lambs and even had the chance to bottle-feed one. The chickens, she wasn't so bothered about, even when one decided to keep warm by our wood burner: a distant relative cooking away on our stove (sorry chicken).
Everyone on the farm was very friendly, Farmer Will helped us settle in and Lucy gave us a grand tour
of the working farm. Our tent was really well equipped and even has its own kitchen sink which provided a steady stream of cold water. We had no problem with the wood burner although, we did use our little camp stove in the mornings so to get our caffeine fix pretty quick. M absolutely loved sleeping in a cupboard - such a magical experience I don't think she'll forget. We didn't hear a peep from her in the night which was one of my main worries.
At night it did get very cold but we were prepared and, even when the thermostat hit minus two degrees, I felt warm and toasty thanks to two hot water bottles, four duvets, one blanket and a fleece jumper. Every morning we were woken by the dawn chorus and a hunger for a cooked breakfast of sausages, bacon and fresh eggs - all produced by the farm and sold from the honesty shop. The shop stocked quite a bit apart from fresh fruit and veg, but who cares about fruit when there are marshmallows that can be toasted on a real camp fire.
So, would we go camping again? Thanks to Feather Down Farm, absolutely yes!
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All photographs are copyright Jess Morgan Photography. Jess Morgan Photography specialises in the natural-light photography of babies, toddlers, children and families in West London and Surrey (Richmond upon Thames, St Margarets, Twickenham, Teddington, Hampron, West Molesey, Kingston upon Thames, Surbiton, Kew, Chiswick, Barnes, East Sheen, Putney, Fulham, Wimbledon, Dorking, Esher, Weybridge and Cobham)