So, the school holidays were quickly approaching and along came the usual talk from the other parents at the school gates as to what their plans were for their annual summer getaway.
We didn’t actually have anything planned, but we knew that we wanted to take the boys away somewhere where they could just be themselves, boisterous, noisy and full of excitement, and not be restrained by their surroundings. so this, of course, ruled out any 5 star luxury spa hotels and the like!!
We also didn’t want to travel too far. With the children still being so young, we felt it unfair to strap them into an aeroplane for several hours on end when they really had no comprehension of what was going on.
So a staycation it was to be then!! Now I’m a big fan of camping and I love that being closer to nature thing, but with three little ones in tow, I knew that this might be a bit of a challenge, especially with a travel cot. That’s when we stumbled across Meadow View bell tents.
Now Meadow View Bell Tents are still essentially camping, but of the luxury variety of what is known as “Glamping”.
What is it with going on holiday though, that makes normally perfectly sane people turn into OCD crazed monsters? I mean why did I have to clean the house from top to bottom within an inch of its life and was it strictly necessary for everyone to have brand new socks and underwear. Well quite simply the answer is yes! I mean what if we were broken into while we were away, I wouldn’t want any would be robber to think that I was a slovenly housewife and what would happen if complete strangers saw us in our smalls in the communal shower room, well they’d be treated to a glimpse of my whiter than whites that’s what!!! (writing this down has made me realise that perhaps this is a bit on the loopy side, but admit it, you do it too)
The day before we were due to leave, I’ll admit I was little bit on the stressed side. I was trying to pack for our four night, five day trip away which required packing enough clothes to last an entire month and needed outfits to accommodate every given circumstance that the weather might bless us with. The boys being boys, well they’d need at least two outfit changes a day due to dirt, food and little toilet accidents. I drew the line at packing anything for hubby. Well he is an adult after all and I am not his Mother. In hindsight, he clearly needed help in this regard though as he managed to forget to take any sort of jumper, coat or sunhat and only 1 pair of jeans. Idiot! You’d think he was an absolute amateur and not a seasoned traveller who has been to Australia, Peru and Nepal to name but a few…..
My stress levels were further not improved when Rudy decided to unpack the toiletries case and squirt vast amounts of shampoo and conditioner all over the hallway and stairs carpet.
When hubby arrived home from work that night, he found me to be a gibbering and completely stressed out mess. He reminded me that holidays are supposed to fun and relaxing affairs and he warned me that I was in danger of making myself ill again with an IBS flare up if I wasn’t careful. Warning heeded I decided to call it a day and settled down for an evening on the sofa with a hearty dinner of pie and mash. (thank you Mr freezer and my genius foresight to batch cook and pre-make meals)
The next morning we all awoke early all full of excitement. We loaded up the family truckster with enough kit for a family of 20, did a head count and made our way down to Dorset. Smiles and laughter all round.
It was a beautiful sunny day when we left home and as soon as we were in our car, we switched into holiday mode. Roll on the good times……………
Now our journey time should of been no more than two to three hours long, but five hours later and we still weren’t at our destinations end. The problem being the great British weather. Somewhere along the journey the heavens had decided to open and pour down with absolutely TORRENTIAL rain. This was no ordinary amount of rain either. It was raining so hard and so fast that the roads were being flooded and had to be closed. We continued on our journey hoping that things would improve. They didn’t!
Once we reached the New Forest, hubby suggested that we take a pit stop in a break in the rain, lets the kids run off some steam, us stretch our legs and get something to eat.
The universe was hell bent against us however and had other ideas. We tried several eating establishments only to be told by every single one that there was “no room at the inn”. I was really beginning to despair. We were cold, hungry, tired and BORED. Tempers were starting to fray. Fun holiday mode had given way to moods as black as the clouds above us.
Hubby and I had a hushed and rather heated little chat with the outcome being that we decided to head straight to site. It was obvious that we weren’t going to be able to find anywhere to stop and eat. Silly of us to think otherwise really. It was raining in the school holidays; of course all of the pubs were full to bursting point. Hubby called Alex an Meadow View Bell Tents and told him that we were on our way and that according to our Sat Nav, we should be with him in around 30 minutes time.
Snacks and drinks dispensed, we set off once more. The rain continued. It was literally coming down in sheets and making driving conditions very difficult.
Things got ever worse, the roads that we were being told to take were closed due to flooding. There was diversions in place, however the diversions just kept taking us around in ever increasing circles. Hubby laughed a nervous mad laugh bordering on hysterical and I tried my hardest not to cry. The children were having a competition as to who could scream the loudest and for the longest……….
Alex from Meadow View then phoned us obviously somewhat concerned as we had now been a lot longer than the anticipated 30 minutes. I explained to him our predicament and he provided us with alternative route details. Whilst I had Alex on the phone though I questioned him as to the condition of things on site. I mean we were meant to be camping for pity’s sake. Was our tent even there anymore or had it been washed away with the flood waters? Alex sought to reassure me that everything was ok, but I was less than convinced.
Hubby and I talked things over once more and I raised the possibly that I felt that we were not being left with much option other than to turn around and go straight back home again.
Hubby concluded that the best thing for us to do would be to go to the camp site and assess the situation for ourselves. He too was fearful that this little holiday of ours was going to be a no go and was in fact going to be a complete disaster. I tried my best to gently explain to the little boys sitting behind me that their long awaited for holiday might not be able to go ahead. They were obviously really upset at the prospect. I told Beau that we would go to the camp site and check it out, but that we had to be realistic and that if the tent was swimming in water, then I’m afraid that we really wouldn’t be able to stay. Beau being a kid though was quite excited about the prospect of staying in a floating tent; I, on the other hand, was most certainly not.
When we finally arrived some 5 hours after we left home that morning, Alex was there to greet us. True to his word, it had actually stopped raining and there was a glimpse of blue sky to be seen.
Alex said that he would drive us to the meadow where our home for the next few days was situated. He confirmed that as it had been raining, that he would not be able to drive over the ground, but we in our 4×4 should be ok. Not exactly a good start then !
Furthermore, we were advised that out of the five bell tents available that ours was the one situated right at the bottom of the field which was sloped down in that direction. Well that settled it then; the tent was definitely going to be flooded.
We drove down the field and the further we went, the more my heart sank.
On arrival, the first thing I noticed was that the tent was a lot smaller than I had imaged. From the outside the tent looked so small that I was sure that there was no way we were all going to fit inside along with all of our paraphernalia. Furthermore, it looked as though we’d need to crawl inside it and would not be able to stand up inside it at all. Not at all what I had envisioned in my head.
However, I was wrong and I was to be pleasantly surprised. The bell tent on the inside was in fact incredibly spacious. It housed a double bed complete with luxury white bedding for the hubby and I. Two Z-beds for the two older boys and a travel cot for the baby (that Alex had kindly set up for us following a panicked call to him on the M25 when we realised we had in fact left ours at home)!
Most importantly of all though, the tent was not at all wet in the slightest!!!! the fact that it was raised up on a wooden platform meant that any water that there was had effectively drained away before it had had chance to filter into this lovely little den.
Once inside the tent, we were shown that there was an area with a vintage wooden crate that housed every conceivable kitchen utensil, crockery and cutlery item imaginable; another wicker basket that housed spare blankets; a small table and seating area and a log burning stove, complete with a box of fire lighters and a sack of logs. There was also a wicker shopping basket full of books and games to suit all ages. Now being in a tent in the middle of a field its important to point out that there is no electricity so entertainment of the electrical variety cannot be relied upon. This to me came as quite a thing of bliss however. I was looking forward to switching off from the electrical world for a few days and connecting with my loved ones on a more basic level.
Immeasurably cheered by this latest turn of events, we decided to unload the car, have a change of clothes into something a bit warmer (apparently we’d left home in the height of summer and arrived in the middle of Autumn and hubby was really regretting not packing a jumper now) and then head down to the local pub for something to eat and drink. Alex had also left us with a little black folder containing information on the local area including places to eat along with money off vouchers.
When we had had our fill and were all warmed up with full tummies, we headed back to the tent once more. It was still quite early but we were all shattered so we lit the stove and settled down for the evening. Now I had mistakenly thought that the stove wasn’t going to be all that effective considering that it was within a canvas tent, but once again I was happy to be proven wrong. Within what seemed like only minutes, we were ensconced in warm, womb like fug. The boys curled up and drifted off to sleep and hubby and I sat around the fire, chatting, playing cards and drinking wine. Pure Bliss.
The next morning we were woken to a soft sunlit peeping in through the canvas and the sound of chirping little birds. I decided to take the brave step and head off down to the communal shower block and to beat the morning rush so to speak.
Now this part of the trip was the one that I was dreading the most. I am so particular when it comes to toilet facilities that I was sure that these were going to horrify me. However they did not. They were modern, functional and clean. I still wore my flip-flops in the shower and never once actually sat on the toilet seat, but hey that’s just me!
Once showered I returned to base to find hubby outside in the canopied kitchen area cooking sausages for all. Things were certainly looking up.
On the outside of our tent we had a kitchen area, complete with a two ring camping gas stove, a picnic table and a barbeque.
Day one of our hols saw us going to my husbands favourite pub of all time, The Square and Compass, followed by a trip to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. It was a gloriously sunny day and a far cry from the torrential rain of just 24 hours previous.
That night we enjoyed a Chinese take away camping style that was delivered direct to our door. Whilst we sat out and ate, the boys played frizbee and chase in the meadow. It seriously was the stuff of idyllic childhood memories.
The next morning we were up bright and early once more and took a trip to Peppa Pig World. This was mostly a treat for Rudy as he is a huge fan, but we all had a fabulous day with there being something for everyone to enjoy including little Sonny.
On our final day, the weather took a turn again, but not nearly as bad as the day we arrived, so we decided to put on our wet weather gear and head out into the forest.
On Beau’s first ever holiday some years previous, we had brought him here and he had had his photo taken on a tree stump. We made it our mission to find the exact same tree stump and recreate that original photo. We may just have started a new family tradition there!
After much fresh air, running around and exercise, we enjoyed a meal on our final night in a local pub and then headed back to camp. I was quite glad that the weather was damp and a little chilly as I really wanted to get the stove alight again and sit and chill with my loves.
This really was a most wonderful holiday despite the somewhat rocky start. Ever since we returned home, we’ve been dreaming of being back there again. It was so chilled and relaxed. The children could be children and there were no adults stressed out by jobs or housework chores and the lack of electrical devices was such a silver lining as we were all forced to talk and reconnect with each other. It was a complex detox for the soul.
Sleeping under the stars is so soul rejuvenating and awakening that I would totally recommend it. However, my good mood is totally enhanced by the luxury bedding, full size double bed, log burning stove and fully functioned kitchen totally operated by my lovely husband. So would I do it again…….. Hell yeah! I might feel a bit differently if we’d been in a standard cramped tent, cold and wet and I bet, thoroughly miserable though……..
Thank you so much Meadow View Bell Tents for having us, we hope to be able to visit you again soon.
And as to you lovely lot, as always, thanks for reading.
With much love,
Mother and 3 Sons xxx