The romantic idea of camping with my children was shattered on our first trip two years ago. After two wet nights in a small space with Milla, then 2 and Monty 3 months old it only took a bad shower for me to call time and start packing the car.
Fast forward two years and Mr Kat is asking me if I’m crazy when I tell him we’re taking the children camping. Milla is now 4, Monty 2 and Betsy a mere 10 weeks old. He reminds me about the last time, he says ‘What if the showers are bad?’ I say, ‘It will be different. There are beds.’ He rolls his eyes and phones his friend who lives down the road from the farm, ‘Just in case.’
I have been dreaming about Feather Down Farm Days since I first read about them a few years ago. They have brought old fashioned safari style tents, filled them with necessary luxuries and placed them at hand selected farms accross the UK. It seemed to me the perfect marriage of back to nature and restful comfort for a family holiday.
Telling our children about the holiday felt a bit like recreating those adverts for a certain theme park. There was cheering, rushing around and squeals of: ‘Cows! Tractors! Bunk beds!’ their excitement built with each passing day and retelling of the amazing fact that we were being allowed to stay on a farm. What can I say? They’re children of simple pleasures.
The welcome at Boswarthen couldn’t be warmer, from a comprehensive information pack to the friendly advice you’ll at home from the moment you arrive. While you’re on a working farm and there are limits it’s also clear that every effort is made to help you enjoy your stay. Adrian and Madeliene are passionate about farming and the local area; you could not ask for nicer hosts.
The tents were beyond amazing – they are spacious, well equipped and have beds. Not only do they have beds but they have a flushing loo and running water two small yet massively significant additions to the camping experience. I’m all for authenticity but if I can spend a little more time relaxing rather than trekking back and forth with water containers all the better.
The wood burning stove was another massive plus point as both a heat source but a method for cooking. I’d been a little apprehensive about it being unguarded to the children but they understood the danger with little guidance from us – when it’s hot, you feel it from a metre away! We cooked delicious farmhouse breakfasts using produce from the honesty shop, made hot chocolate and warmed our toes.
We went during a chilly spell in May and as our friends had been to another Feather Down Farm the week before we’d been reminded the nights would be cool. We took winter jumpers, coats and thermals to put under pyjamas. I put Betsy in her normal sleep suit but had her in two baby sleeping bags which kept her toasty warm. We checked tent temperatures overnight and the coldest it reached was 14°C in the master bedroom with the bunk beds and cabin bed being 2 – 3°C warmer at all times. Despite the cool temperatures we were all snug under our duvets and slept soundly. In fact our children slept later than they ever have at home giving us a lie in each morning.
The setting was breath-taking with views of St Michael’s Mount to the front of the tents and heathland behind. The hedgerows were bursting with bluebells and the fields filled with lush spring grass. Our children were thrilled with the freedom of just roaming around the camping field and once they had cast their eye around the tent they were wading through the long grass to the sandpit. Monty could have spent his entire holiday playing in the sand and chatting to the rooster.
On the farm you’re not confined to the campsite but welcomed to come and see the working farm. We watched the milking, saw the calves being fed and even had a look at the handsome bull. While we visited there were calves being born and if you want to watch they will come and get you no matter what time. Adrian took a gamble and figured we wouldn’t mind missing one midnight arrival and he was right, we were enjoying a blissful night of unbroken sleep. Milla and Monty were in absolute heaven on our last day as they were bringing in the silage and the farm was buzzing with tractor and harvesters.
Off the farm there is plenty to see and Boswarthen has the advantage of being in one of the nicest spots in Cornwall. Just outside of Penzance it is spoiled by the abundant coastline surrounding it on three sides. You could well go to a different beach every day of the week and still have not seen half of them. Most notable are St Ives, Hayle, Sennen and Marazion each of which have good facilities and places to buy food.
Because there really was so much to see I thought I’d make you some videos so you could take a look around for yourself. Of course as soon as I had the camera out Monty decided he wanted in on the action…
Bambino Goodies tour of Feather Down Farm tent above and tour of Boswarthen showers and honesty shop below.
If I had to sum up our experience in one sentence it would be this: simply the most relaxation and fun we have had as a family. Even after one night we felt restored and what more could you ask from a holiday? Glamping is getting back to nature and all of its benefits but with beds.
My top tips:
- Pack warm jumpers, blankets and even thermals for everyone – even in warm weather nights can be cold outdoors once then sun has set.
- Take slippers and warm socks – again, the evenings and mornings can be cold on your feet whatever time of year.
- Make sure you factor the time it takes for the stove or BBQ to heat up into your cooking times.
- Use the farm shops – not only are you supporting the farm you’re visiting but you’ll find delicious produce in there.
- Enjoy slowing down and switching off.
Tents sleep 6, facilities differ between farms. Prices are from £405 – £845 per week, £225 – £539 mid week and Â£279 – Â£589 for a weekend dependant on the time of year. The season runs from April until October half-term. We stayed at Boswarthen for three nights in May 2011 as guests of Feather Down Farm Days.
All images copyright Kat.