Friday 15 May 2015

Glamping at the Bells of Hemscott: The Shepherd's Hut

For a rather long time now I've been secretly researching quirky staycations - tree houses, gypsy caravans, wigwams - you name it I've probably googled it!   Why have I been doing this in secret?  Well!  I've always thought that Simon probably wouldn't be happy about any of these ideas, he's a guy who likes his home comforts.

So when the Bells of Hemscott invited us to spend a night glamping at Druridge Bay I was SO excited and Simon, seeing how happy I was to be asked, and being supportive of New Girl in Toon couldn't really say no!  

Giddy at the thought of finally being able to do something I'd been dreaming about for so long, we happily headed up to Northumberland in our little hire car.  I had my fingers tightly crossed that we'd both enjoy our first ever experience of glamping and that I'd be able to convince Simon that this kind of experience is fun.

The Bells of Hemscott opens weekends over the Summer between May and August offering a "Wild Glamping" experience with a choice of bell tents in their "canvas village" or, if you're a little nervous about sleeping under the stars or just fancy somewhere cosy to snuggle, the Shepherd's Hut.

As this was our first experience of glamping we spent our night in the Shepherd's Hut, new for the 2015 season it's the perfect little escape if you're looking for a romantic night away with your other half.

I completely fell in love with the Shepherd's Hut the moment I clapped my eyes on it.   This was literally what I'd been dreaming of, and as we unlocked the door and stepped inside I may have let out a bit of a squeal!

Small but perfectly formed our home for the evening consisted of a sofa bed (complete with cute cushions and cosy throw and the added bonus of duvet and pillows), a mini table and chairs, a small stove to make hot drinks, candle holders and twinkly fairy lights round the window.  I was very much in my element.

Simon began the experience a little confused and found himself wanting to turn the TV on every time he sat on the couch, only to remember that not only was there no TV, but no electricity and no phone signal.   I may have secretly sniggered to myself every time he went to find the imaginary remote control!

It wasn't long before he got over it and we had a really lovely afternoon snuggled up on the couch together under a duvet reading.   It's not often life stops for long enough for you to indulge in a trashy magazine and I loved every second of my relaxation time.

If you're not a big fan of sitting about doing nothing then panic not!  The Bells of Hemscott offers the best of both worlds.  Our camp site felt like a peaceful retreat in the middle of nowhere yet we were actually a very short drive away from a tea room, farm shop, ice-cream parlour and local shops.  We did a little run out to the local village of Ellington to stock up on essentials (Jaffa Cakes and Wine!)

It's also a perfect location for exploring Northumberland, we spent our afternoon at Craster, a beautiful little fishing harbour 40 minutes north of Druridge Bay.  But there's plenty of other places to explore that are even closer including the popular towns of Amble, Warkworth and Alnwick.

We split our time between cosying up in the hut and running about in the fresh air outside whenever the sun made an appearance. 

As with any British holiday the weather was a little unpredictable and we had typical Spring rain showers followed by bright sunshine.  I wasn't too phased by this, the Hut kept us completely dry and I rather enjoyed being cosy in our little hideaway listening to the rain outside.

After one particularly horrible downpour we were thrilled when we opened the door to the Shepherd's Hut to reveal the most clear rainbow I've ever seen.  

I had my wellies on in a flash to skip about outside taking photos.

You can't really complain about rain when you're left with a beauty like this!

With the rain taking a break we decided it might be a good time to explore our back garden so we hopped over the little fence, across the dunes and on to the beach.  

We had a huge stretch of beach all to ourselves and all we could see for miles was clear sand and blue sea.   It certainly beats any back garden I've ever seen.

Taking advantage of the blue skies we thought it'd probably be a good time to get started on our dinner.  The Shepherd's Hut has its own little outdoor cooking area and fire pit complete with deck chairs and makeshift table.

This is where Simon truly found himself in his element.  What is it about men making fires?  He happily selected some nice bits of wood from the stash left for us at the front door and set about making a fire.

Despite the wet weather and our limited experience at building a fire, the Bells of Hemscott made it super easy for the beginner providing us not only with wood but fire lighters, matches and newspaper (I don't want to hear any of you saying we were cheating!)

Our dinner for the night was Camp Stew, prepared before and heated up over the fire - super easy and a great idea if you don't want to cook anything from scratch.

Call us big kids, but we're not the best at being patient so decided to toast some marshmallows over the fire while we waited.  

Personally  I think it'd be a crime to build a fire without toasting its success with a marshmallow kebab or two.

Being delicate little flowers and not wanting to get our bums wet on the deck chairs we headed back into the Hut for dinner.  Our Hut came complete with plates, bowls, plastic glasses and cutlery. 

Despite the cloud the sky above our hut was beginning to turn a gorgeous pink colour and  I can only imagine how perfect the sunsets must be on a clear night.  A romantic stroll along our back garden beach definitely would have happened if it had been dry enough.

As we began to lose the light we switched on the little fairy lights in the Hut and lit a few candles.  Our little home looked beautiful by candlelight and feeling toasty in my Winter PJs under my Giraffe Onesie I was feeling blissfully happy.  This really is one of the most romantic ways to spend your evening.

I joked to Simon that the Shepherd's Hut would be a rather amazing place to be proposed to, but after an awkward pause and with no ring appearing it was time to pack away the table and change our sofa into our bed for the night.

I will admit this took a bit of team work - when I say team work it mostly involved Simon getting annoyed at not being able to put it up straight away with me standing at the end of the Hut holding cushions and trying to calm him down. 

It wasn't long before we'd worked it out, and feeling a little silly about how easy it had been once we'd engaged our brains we settled down for the night.  I was prepared for a cold night and so had packed sensibly with lots of layers and cosy socks.  I was the perfect temperature and was surprised at how well I slept.   Simon said the next morning that he'd been a little cold but as he was muttering about me hogging the duvet I think that may be my fault rather than the Shepherd's Hut!

Throwing open the door in the morning to be met with beautiful views across the dunes, gentle moos of cows and gorgeous fresh air I was in a very happy mood.  If only every morning could start the same!

I was gutted to leave and was rather reluctant to hand back the key to our little home.  If I had this much fun on a rather damp and chilly day in April I can only imagine how amazing the Bells of Hemscott must be on a warm Summer's day. 

I'm making it my mission to return to experience it for myself and, having decided I've passed "Glamping Level 1" I think I may be ready to move on to a tent!  Let's just hope I can convince  Simon!

We were invited to spend a night at Bells of Hemscott free of charge but all other expenses were paid for ourselves.  We really did have the most amazing time!
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