Feather Down Farms Days Review – Dolphinholme
Oh we were all so excited about Feather Down Farm. We do love the idea of an Enid Blyton-style family holiday and family glamping (albeit less than an hour away from home!) looked like it would hit the spot.
We arrived mid-afternoon and transferred everything to our tent via wheelbarrow. I’d been a bit worried that we’d look like total hicks with our cardboard boxes of food (I told David to just take everything we had that we might be likely to eat) and various carrier bags, but everyone else seemed to have done the same – there was no fancy luggage on show.
The farm was pretty much as expected, but I did think the tents would be slightly more isolated – from the main farm and from each other – but they’re actually lined up and out in the open, facing a large and very picturesque field full of hay bales.
David spent much of the afternoon wrestling with the fire while the boys investigated. We discovered the goats and the trampoline and then Joe fell off the picnic table and belted his head on the metal frame of the tent: the worst possible place he could have landed (children are brilliant at that, aren’t they?). After a trip to the farmhouse to clean his wound, he seemed fine and was back to bouncing on the trampoline in no time, while the other kids admired his bloody curls (we didn’t leave him like that – we wrestled him into the shower not long after).
Harry loved the cupboard bed and while both boys were disappointed we wouldn’t let Joe sleep in there too (too scared of any more injuries), they were both fast asleep in minutes. With wine and books, David and I sat out front on the deckchairs provided and felt… exhausted.
By ten that night we were freezing. The fire wasn’t working properly and I think we’d both underestimated how little protection from the elements a tent provides. I went to bed fully dressed and covered by two duvets, but when I woke at midnight and went to check on Joe, I was surprised the chattering of my teeth didn’t wake him. I honestly can’t remember ever being so cold in my life. And I’ve been in New York in December. I was cold to my bones! The rest of the week it wasn’t so bad, mainly because once I got into bed I didn’t get out of it again until morning.
On Tuesday morning John, the farmer, gave us a tour of the farm and it was wonderful – so brilliant for the children to learn about it as a working farm. I also highly recommend getting a rabbit to take care of – but only if you don’t mind all the children dropping by to play with it. It was a valuable exercise too – Harry had asked for a rabbit for his birthday, but his reluctance to hold poor Happy Bunny (and absolute refusal to help clean her out) ruled that out for at least another year.
We’d taken Laura’s warnings about the fire on board (you can see those in my Top Ten Tips For Glamping post here), but still couldn’t seem to get it to stay lit without filling the tent with smoke. David was too stubborn to ask for help and so we tolerated a couple of smoky mornings before I stormed off and got it fixed (there was a little switch thing at the back that closed the chimney). After that we had no trouble at all: hot tea, hot water for dishes, eggs for breakfast and pasta for dinner – ace.
I’d been slightly concerned about the shower block – I’m way too old for communal showers – but it was fine: clean with hot water and, one morning, a small boy (not mine) singing “I love rock and roll” in the next cubicle.
On the last night, we made our own pizza base from a mix bought in the honesty shop (which was brilliant), topped it and then joined most of the other campers to cook pizzas in the outdoor oven. Fantastic for socialising with the other guests (most of whom brought along many bottles of wine, as well as pizzas).
So was it the Enid Blyton holiday we wanted? Yes and no. It absolutely was for the boys, but the problem with a tent – however glam the glamping – is that you can’t lock it; so when Joe wanted to go out, he just went.
And he wanted to be outside ALL THE TIME!
So while the other parents were relaxing, secure in the knowledge that their kids were off playing happily somewhere, we were chasing Joe round or “supervising” him on the trampoline.
It was exhausting.
We’d love to go back – but in a couple of years when we can bid the boys a cheery goodbye first thing and then not see them again until mealtimes.
(we first reviewed this kind of glamping holiday a couple of years ago – and we get so many hits from people looking for for info that the lovely people at Feather Down Farm Days thought we might like to bring the review up to date with a new family on a different farm. There are loads of locations throughout the UK to choose from, just go browse their sumptuous site and see for your self)