We’ve never been keen on the idea of camping. We did it, once, on our obligatory Duke of Edinburgh hike, and it ended terribly. How we managed to walk in an eight mile circle and lose our tent poles is still a complete and utter mystery. It was an experience never to be repeated. Since that fateful day, we’ve steered well clear of camping and instead stuck to warm hotel rooms, where tent poles are not a necessity.
Yet there’s a new camping craze that’s been on our radar for a few years and that’s glamping. Yes, that’s right, glamorous camping! Sounds much more enticing doesn’t it?
In the UK, there’s one glamping website we’ve become mildly obsessed with and that’s Canopy and Stars. Think dreamy tree houses, magical wagons, candle-lit yurts, and tiny bolt hole hideaways that are perfect for a hibernation weekend. The website offers every form of accommodation you could have dreamed of when you were ten, but with the added glamour and comfort to meet the needs of the not so nimble and young. So, having deliberated about booking a glamping break for some time, the time finally came last week, when I (Claire) put my camping prejudices aside and agreed to a birthday weekend break in a shepherd’s hut in the Cotswolds.
As it was a last minute booking, I hadn’t thought much about my weekend trip until 5pm rolled around on the Friday night and it was time to make our way to a little village called Painswick in the Cotswolds. By the time we arrived at our shepherd’s hut (aptly named ‘Under the Walnut Tree’) on the beautiful grounds of Painswick Lodge, it was gone 10pm. We were kindly met by the son of the owners, who led us down a little path, lit by a torch, to our shepherd’s hut that sat quietly under the stars. Opening the door to our little hut was like opening the door to a wonderland. Small but perfectly formed, the hut provided the comfiest, cosiest, most amazing bed tucked in a nook; a little kitchen; pull out table; log burner and mini bathroom. After a long week at work, lighting the log fire and climbing into my bed felt so good. I was already wondering why I’d waited so long to ‘glamp’.
Waking up on Saturday morning, cocooned like some kind of hibernating squirrel in my bed, I peered out the window that sat at my feet, to see a group of hot air balloons slowly drifting above the misty fields. It was complete magic.
Once we were up and about, we set off to nearby Stroud to take a stroll around the famous Stroud Farmers’ Market, which is said to attract local celebrities such as Lily Allen, (ooohhh!) The market is much more than your average market; with stalls selling art, clothes, shoes, food (amazing food), flowers and incense sticks. We spent a good two hours having a wander about. We came away with a picnic of vegan falafel wraps, salted caramel peanut brownies and fresh, organically made apple juice. Growing homesick off my little hut, we took our hoard back and waffled down a delicious lunch, followed by a Saturday afternoon nap, whilst the wood burner kept us nice and toasty.
Now, I won’t lie, actually managing to detach yourself from this bed is very hard. If I’d had my way, I would have spent the whole weekend in it, watching the horses (and foals) in the nearby fields and drinking endless tea. However, after quality time in the hut, we decided to pop up the road to a nearby Bird and Deer Park, which was said to house miniature donkeys and goats that you could feed. The only other thing I love more than my bed is baby animals, so I was out the hut in a shot once we’d realised what was waiting for us. This place is great if you’ve got children. It’s lovely for a wander in the sunshine, and the tame deer are a treat!
Sunday morning was a lazy one and as the chickens clucked, the cows mooed and the swallows dived outside, my reign in the bed continued. We were also treated to more hot air balloons! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a chilled Sunday and living in a little cosy bubble made it even better. Unfortunately, my grumbling tummy meant that I, once again, had to extract myself from the bed as we made our way to Painswick for a spot of breakfast.
The rest of the day was spent having a snoop around the farm that the shepherd’s hut sits on. Our hosts, Fiona and Malcolm, were so welcoming and let us see all of their horses. I also fell in love with their dogs, especially Thistle and Daisy! In warmer weather you can ever have a swim in their heated swimming pool, followed by a BBQ overlooking the fields. Perfection.
Reluctantly, as the day passed, it was time to pack up our home in the shepherd’s hut and face reality. Bitterly, I admitted that it was time to go home. It really was a perfect weekend break and I couldn’t recommend a glamping holiday more, especially Under the Walnut Tree! Take a look at Canopy and Stars for more inspiration.
My love affair with my nook bed is not over, I’ll definitely be back!