If someone had said to you over Easter ‘how about a spot of camping?’ you may well have used an expletive. If someone had said to you ‘how about a spot of camping with a double bed, wood burning stove and flushing toilet in your tent?’ you might have felt a little more inclined to brave the cold.
We fell into the latter category.
We did meet with a few raised eyebrows when we told people we were off on a family camping trip for a few days during a week when the temperature at night was dropping below freezing, but it’s amazing how much warmer you feel when you sleep in a fur hat. Besides, what is living in the UK about if it’s not ridiculously cold camping holidays?
Our mini break was definitely more glamping than camping though – even being able to stand fully upright in a tent feels like luxury when you have camped at festivals – but the safari style tents at the Featherdown Farm sites throughout the UK are well equipped with everything you need for a home away from home. Our tent had a cosy wood burning stove, dining table and chairs, running water, a toilet, and a whole range of beds, complete with duvets, pillows and bedding.
So well equipped are they, that pretty much the only thing you need to remember to bring are the marshmallows for your campfire. Expect you don’t even need to remember those, as the farm had a brilliant honesty shop selling all sorts of essentials, including marshmallows, beer and wine.
We stayed at Hillside Farm on the Gower and were immediately made to feel very welcome. Despite only having opened for the first time this Easter, everyone on the farm seemed very much at home with the idea of visitors, and went out of their way to be helpful and accommodating, even bringing us a selection of hot water bottles! Belle had a tour of the farm, where she learnt about sheep herding, and she really enjoying getting up early to go and help feed the baby lambs. April really is a brilliant time to go if you are a fan of small fluffy animals.
We also really loved the little extra touches that made the holiday feel even more special, like fresh flowers on the table when we arrived and the interesting collection of quirky bits and bobs that decorated the inside of the tent. All of the tents were named after local landmarks or legends. Ours was called ‘Helvetia‘, after a ship that was wrecked on the nearby Rhosilli beach. The remains of the Helvetia are apparently one of the most photographed locations on the Gower.
Belle’s favourite part of the tent was the little cubby hole she got to sleep in. Essentially it is cupboard, but it was warm and snuggly for her, and opens onto the living area and onto the main bedroom, so it great for small children who want to feel close to their parents at night. It also meant we could do lots of ‘come on Belle, time to get in your cupboard’ jokes. Our family holidays really are wall-to-wall hilarity.
The Gower is absolutely stunning, and we really enjoying exploring the local beaches and doing a spot of kite flying while we watched the surfers braving the water. There are some great attractions in the area too. We are National Trust members, so made the most of this with a visit to the Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall near Neath and to Tredegar House near Newport on the way home. Both were brilliant, as always. You can always rely on the National Trust for a lovely walk, a kids treasure hunt and a nice cup of tea.
Quite a lot of the Gower peninsula is owned and cared for by the National Trust too, and we had breezy but beautiful walk at Rhossili bay, which was only a few miles from the farm.
The only thing we could think of that would have improved our stay, apart from a heat wave, would have been a little calor gas stove. The wood burning stove did take a long time to get going, and it would have been nice to have been able to pp on a stove for a quick cup of tea when you woke up in the morning or if you got home late in the evening and didn’t want to make a fire. We have had these before when we’ve stayed in yurts and it has been really handy. If we go again, this would be something we’d take with us.
All in all though, despite the cold, we had a really lovely time – a massive thank you to everyone at Hillside Farm for making us feel so welcome!