Tuesday 27 August 2013

Gone Glamping

For this past bank holiday weekend we went glamping in East Sussex. It was so much fun! (Okay, well, we are a family traveling with kids, so naturally it included a few tantrums, whining, spills, and general disagreements, but I imagine that's a given. But the weekend tilted on the fun side of the scale.) I had been looking around on the Cool Camping web site for a few weeks to try to find something that suited all our needs, mainly to be fairly close to London, near a train station, and with things to do in walking distance. It's not easy to find glamping sites that meet those requirements and are available on a holiday weekend with fairly short notice (I started looking about 3 weeks before the holiday weekend). But I happened to get a booking with The Original Hut Company because they had a cancelation. Lucky us!

They have six shepherd's huts and a campsite. Four of the huts are in a little wooded area next to a very pretty apple orchard, and the two others are near the campsite along the river Rother, about a 10 minute walk from the other huts. All of the huts are cute and cozy, and we were very comfortable in ours. Our hut had two single beds, one of which served as seating when the bed wasn't made, and then the dining table converted to a double bed. The bedding was comfortable too. I love lots of pillows, and there were plenty, six total for our hut. They also have baby cots and high chairs for the wee ones, and each hut has a fire pit and picnic area.
The photos above are from our hut. But I couldn't resist peeking into another one before the guests arrived. It was very nice too.
And we had a glimpse of the huts near the river.
The four huts are in close proximity to one another, which isn't a bad thing if you don't mind getting to know your neighbors a bit. Two other families staying in the huts had young kids and Lois had a blast playing with them. And I think the closeness of the huts is ideal for group gatherings. They have a large, covered communal area tucked into the woods behind the four huts, which would be great for big group dinners.
And the shower was great! The water pressure was perfect and the water was super hot. And as far as camping toilets go, theirs was the nicest I've seen. 
The owners Anna and Nick are super nice and helpful. We didn't bring much food since we were already carrying so much (and because we didn't drive). They have a little farm shop with some basics like eggs, bacon, butter, milk and a few other things, and they even brought us a little bit more food and a bottle of wine when we asked if they would. How nice is that? We did not go hungry! The kitchens are well stocked too. We did some cooking inside and some outside. And we picked blackberries. There were tons of blackberry bushes! And of course we roasted marshmallows as well, some out on the campfire and some inside on the wood stove. I forgot to mention the wood stoves...each hut has one and ours kept the hut nice and warm.
They had bowls and cups for tots too.
Our hut was cozy day and night. 
Isn't natural light so pretty?
The location was great for us since we didn't drive there. We booked a cab ride from the train station to the campgrounds and from there we were able to walk to a few places. The first day we walked to Bodiam Castle and the second to the Kent and East Sussex Railway, which took us to a nearby town called Tenterden. You can also hire a boat or charter a ride with the Bodiam boating company, but we didn't have time to do that this visit. The river Rother runs right at the bottom of the campgrounds, so we had a few really nice walks near the campsite and along the river.
Bodiam Castle was stunning, and more impressive in person than I was expecting. On the grounds of the castle people were reenacting various medieval activities that would have taken place at the castle, such as wood carving and jousting practice.
And even though it was pouring rain, Lois pounded some knights with paintballs and had her first archery experience. 
The steam train ride was pleasant enough, but quite pricy for what it was. I think if I went on it again, I'd like to have the Pullman Dining experience for dinner or lunch. And I'd definitely bring more activities for Lois. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I assumed pretty country scenery would be enough to keep her happy for an hour. Parent fail! She was whiny and bored of sheep and cows within about 30 seconds. We bought some games at a bookstore for the train ride back. We took the train to Tenterden, which seemed like a nice town. We got a few old fashioned glimpses and stumbled upon a beer festival in a really nice pub garden. I saw bunting, and I always follow bunting! It usually leads to good things.
And last but not least we celebrated Ellie's first birthday!! Happy birthday to our sweetie! She fell asleep before we got the cake all sorted out, but I don't think she would have minded.
So that's our glamping adventure! We look forward to going back to The Original Hut company and I'm now driving Andrew nutso with all my big ideas of owning a shepherd's hut one day! You might also notice there are no iPhone photos here. I did take many with my phone but as I've mentioned lately, I'm trying to get back in the habit of photos with a "real" camera. What do you think? Do you prefer the real deal or iPhone photos? 


Unknown said...

Sooo magical!!!


beachhutcook said...

Looks perfect. Our beach hut and indeed our home is only a short drive further down the A21 from where you stayed. I love East Sussex. It's been our favourite county to live in so far.

Annie said...

That camping experience looked like a fabulous time, and Happy Birthday to your sweet baby. Your older daughter is a lovely little girl too!

Claire (@Kurea_San) said...

What a great back to nature get away. I'm always on the look out for places like this that are accessible from London without a car. Happy Bank Holiday weekend!

Leigh said...

Thank you! I'm glad you all enjoyed the glamping tour :)

Rosie Monk said...

Hello, this is such a lovely blog ive read the whole thing! Glad you had a nice time & it was lovely to read about it as I was the girl changing the flowers as you were leaving! :)

Thrifted Treasure said...

Looks absolutely beautiful! I am dying to bring my boys camping and next time we visit the UK I would love to go to this place :-)

Julia said...

Oh, what fun!! I love this post! The evening, candlelight photos are amazing... so nice and cozy! I think I prefer the real deal with the "real" camera. The iPhone camera is maybe a bit too convenient. I use mine way too often, and am not always pleased with my photos. I need to get back in the habit of using my real camera again.

Katie Evans said...

Wow - looks lovely and very tempting! Belated happy birthday to little Eliie!

Connie said...

Oh my goodness . . . your blog is a true breath of fresh air. I am over the moon excited to have found you. Wonderful!!!
Your newest blogging sister,
Connie :)
P.S. I hope that you have another post soon :)