Thursday, 29 October 2015

A Weekend at The Wood Life

You might question the wisdom of booking a weekend away in a tent at the end of October. But when the tent in question is of the safari variety, and comes equipped with a wood burner and proper beds furnished with thick, cosy duvets, as well as a nice big awning sheltering the outdoor space, the idea doesn't seem quite so crazy. 

So last weekend we found ourselves rocking up at The Wood Life, a woodland camp located just a few miles off the motorway, close to Exeter and the South Devon coast. Armed with a car stuffed with blankets, wellies and all-weather clothing, we were prepared for the quintessential British camping experience involving lots of rain and never quite feeling warm enough. The Wood Life is a bit different to normal camping, though, so we needn't have worried too much - with the aforementioned comforts at our disposal, we were warm, dry and comfortable throughout our stay.

The Wood Life gets rave reviews on sites such as Cool Camping, and has been rated one of the UK's top luxury campsites by The Guardian. Booking out of season proved a pretty budget-friendly way of experiencing its charms and enjoying not just the full glamping experience (cosy, vintage-y interiors, warm showers and roaring campfires) but also the joy of having an entire wood to ourselves. Compared to a half-term stay at, say, Centre Parcs, the Wood Life is much kinder on the wallet. And you get the sort of privacy and tranquility that I don't imagine comes as standard at the big-name family resorts.

For our work/school/life-weary party of four, arriving in the middle of a secluded wood, with just a few sheep in the field next door for company, proved a pretty heady experience. As Amanda - the site owner - showed us the ropes, our two boys ran about the place like kids in a sweet shop, acquainting themselves with the tree house, woodland dens and tree swing. If you live in the city I don't need to tell you how refreshing it is to see your kids mucking about outdoors with abandon, all thoughts of iPads and phones put to the backs of their minds as they get stuck into collecting firewood or making a den. 

There's so much room on site and not having to share it with anyone else offers an added joy, particularly if you find city life claustrophobic sometimes. 

On the subject of space, you may be equating the idea of a tent with overcrowding. Safari tents are different. They are BIG. There's none of that stumbling over each other and tripping over things every two minutes that you get with a standard tent. You get a sofa, dining table, kitchen area, complete with sink, gas cooker and gas fridge. There's a vintage dresser filled with cutlery and crockery, maps and hot water bottles, and a chest stuffed with board games. Oh, and did I mention the wood burner that keeps everything toasty and warms up cold feet?

The tent sleeps four, with one double bed and two singles arranged in separate sleeping compartments. Yeah, they're proper beds. And much warmer and comfier than huddling up in a sleeping bag on a camp bed.

A charming play house-style bathroom houses a compost loo, basin and wood fired shower. It's super-cute and functional too - my favourite kind of bathroom. You do need to get a bit of a hang of the shower and load it with firewood in plenty of time to reach the desired water temperature. And while you might not be able to have a lingering shower, you're having a shower in a PLAYHOUSE. LOOKING OUT ACROSS THE WOOD...a bit nicer than my average morning.

One thing to note about the tent is that there's no electricity - torches and paraffin lamps provide the lighting. It can make checking that you've cooked the sausages enough a tad challenging, but I quite liked living in a cosy half-light for a bit. Obviously, coming in the summer would brighten things up indoors - October just doesn't provide much in the way of natural light. Remember to bring your car phone charger, but leave the iPad behind...

As the weather was unseasonably mild during our stay we were able to enjoy al fresco breakfast and dinner by the campfire. Snuggled up with blankets on the decking or sitting by the fire, toasting mashmallows, we were never cold and stayed outdoors till 10pm each night. We were pretty happy with that.

Locally there is a fantastic pub, the Ley Arms, just a short walk or drive away. It's cosy and friendly and serves great food and Devon ales - highly recommended. You'll find a general store in Kennford Village where you can pick up essentials, and there's a Sainsbury's superstore in nearby Dawlish. We also visited the farm shop at Powderham Castle. 

For places to visit during your stay, take your pick of beaches, towns and countryside - I'll be doing a separate blog post on what we got up to soon. In the meantime, if you're looking for your next adventure in the UK, visit the Wood Life website here to start planning...(you can also check out some indoor photos of the tent - it was too dark inside for me to capture anything useful!)

More photos


No comments

Post a Comment

© Bristol Bargainista. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig