We were recently featured in The Telegraph as part of a glamping feature! Check out the excellent article written by Anna Tyzack featuring pictures of our bell tent at Chafford Park Estate in Sussex.
Full article here....
Bacon butties (but no werewolves) in a bell tent
By Anna Tyzack
Chafford Park near Tunbridge Wells sounded ideal for a Friday night camping trip with the children: just 30 miles from our home in London, in what looks like the middle of nowhere. We could stop at the farm shop in Groombridge for provisions en route, before watching the sun set by our bell tent.
At least that was the idea. The reality was that we sat in standstill traffic and the farm shop was closed by the time we arrived. Determined to cook over flame rather than go to the pub (my husband’s suggestion), I ended up in the local Waitrose, panic-buying sausages, wine and marshmallows – plus plastic plates, cups and kebab skewers just in case of no crockery. Thank goodness I did. Our bell tent was beautiful, with a double bed and three singles plus a coffee table – and nothing else apart from a vase of flowers and two wooden chairs, which the boys immediately started fighting over. We sent them off into the trees to find firewood, while we lit the barbecue and unpacked.
Kathryn, who runs Brighton Bell Tents, which manages the site, warned me that it would get cold at night, so I brought most of our clothes with me. The boys spent the next half-hour careering around the fields, finding sticks, and showing me several “enormous” spiders. When the sausages were ready, I put them in toasted baps with ketchup (the only useful thing I remembered to bring from home) and they ate them hungrily and quietly before sitting down next to the barbecue and toasting a whole packet of marshmallows.
After a last game of tag, it was bed, each of them wearing two pairs of pyjamas. “Why no bath?” the youngest asked, looking confused. I explained that camping rules mean fewer baths. “But I’ll get bed bugs,” he said, which is what I threaten him with when he refuses to get in the bath at home. “I’m scared,” Hector, the eldest, complained, cuddling his teddy. “Are there real werewolves in East Sussex?” No, I told him, although you might hear an owl.
By the time I emerged from the tent, it was 9.30pm and nearly dark. I had been looking forward to this moment all day; my husband and I sitting back and watching the stars with a glass of wine, but we were shattered – and resigned to a broken night’s sleep – so we cleared up and headed to bed.
And as it happened, the boys slept like logs and I was the first to wake, just before 7am. On a usual Saturday morning, they boys would demand cartoons first thing. But instead, they pulled on their wellies and skipped off into the sunlight to gather more wood for the barbecue.
We ate bacon butties for breakfast, then headed off on a walk around the estate, which dates back to Tudor times, has a working oast house and fields of horses in the shade of ancient oaks. None of us was particularly keen to leave our canvas home – one night, we decided, was not enough – but we eventually had to pack up, which is the part of camping I always dread. But the upside of a short stay in a pre-pitched tent is that the debris is minimal. “I love camping,” Alfred, the middle child, said as we drove back to London. “When can we go again?” The time has come, I think, to buy our first tent.