Feast in the Woods May 29 2014
In a secret location somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a group of friends and I went back to basics with Pop-up Camping over the Bank Holiday weekend. "Now what's this?" I hear you cry... I'll tell you what it is, it was an incredible weekend called, "Feast in the Woods".
"Feast in the Woods" is a bespoke and rather intimate mini-festival for one weekend. It's all about being at one with nature and mingling with like-minded strangers.
If you can't do without modern day technology, then this isn't for you because it's all about good old fashioned human interaction...
This brilliant idea was inspired by Rebecca Cork of HoneyWoods Camping. I asked Bec how did she came by the idea and she said that she wanted to do something that she would enjoy going to and with her knowledge of event organising with a charity and her love of outdoors, Pop-up Camping was born.
Here, you can relax in a small community of 100 people and let your children run where wild things are. You can even bring your dog (although spaces for poochies are limited). It's a simple life of good food, fine drink, good food and more good food! You can sit around the camp fire, chatting and sharing experiences with whoever you happen to be sitting next to or you can join in with the outdoor activities be it a dog competition, coffee tasting or playing Chinese Whispers... For which I confess... It was me who changed it half way through and probably why I was picked to do a forfeit when someone else lost another game we played! I think it's called Karma folks, ha ha!
Digby won 1st Prize in the Dog Competition - *And me having to do a forfeit! (*Courtesy of Amanada Thompkins)
And if you fancy a drink, you can stomp down to the Cider Barn and get some award winning cider down your neck by Virtual Orchard or for those of you who don't drink, some freshly pressed apple juice that is so pure and crisp, I can still taste it now.
The Cider Man
You can hire bell tents (sleeps 4 adults) or you can bring your own tent. Space is limited so it's advisable that you don't bring a big tent. You can set up your abode around the camp fire or in the wood itself. You can also bring a camper van if you dare and park up next to the campsite. There were three pristine VW Camper Vans all in pretty ice cream colours.
The first night was spent in a wonderful Indian marquee with a variety of curries bubbling away made by the fair hands of Indiana Joe Baba after an eclectic day of rain, thunder and outbursts of sunshine. I was worried the food was going to be too hot and spicy for my pallet but it wasn't, it had a slight kick but it was all very delicious.
Having curry banquet fit for a King - And Indiana Joe "Chai Wallah, Chai Wallah" Baba
After, there was a short talk by Guyrope Gourmet on the history of food riots in England during the 18th Century. I didn't even know there were any food riots in England, I'd only heard of one and that was in France where Marie Antoinette supposedly said, "Let them eat cake" and as a result, lost her head!
Even though I had a good sleeping bag and was sleeping on a camper bed, the night air was bitter and I was cold... Even worse, I had to get up in the night and traipse across the campsite to go "The Bogs", shining a torch dressed in pyjamas, bed socks and Birkenstock sandals (mmm sexy) without tripping over tent pegs and string! As I found out the next morning, I wasn't the only one who had to get up and tackle the obstacle course in the night, my friend Zoe did too!
The Bogs! (Courtesy of Dave Brothers)
The next morning, the sun was shining and breakfast was being cooked for me by my besty Emma. Eggs, bacon and fresh bread. I had the idea of toasting the bread on the camp fire which was a bit difficult if you didn't like burnt toast. After the washing and drying up, a few of us went to the marquee tent for a spot of Sunday morning coffee tasting with Arabicca and Robusta beans.
As lunchtime turned into afternoon, the sun was still on its best behaviour and stayed out to join us for a BBQ by a small lake nearby. It was a beautiful sight to see, the BBQ sizzling away, a hill full of daisies and a lake with kayaks, children and adults laughing and swimming. It was a beautiful day, spent with wonderful people. My friend Dave said he wouldn't have missed it for the world and I think that just summed up the day.
Steak Kebabs with Halloumi made by Emma and me...
A lady offered me some Kangaroo meat that she'd just cooked on the BBQ... I'd never had Kangaroo before so I was intrigued as to what it tasted like, it tasted just like beef. Then a young lad offered me some Ginger Biscuit Tiramisu that his mum had made in their tent that morning and Chocolate Brownies that had gone gooey in the sun, all washed down with a cup of Indian Chai. I don’t normally like Chocolate cake etc but by golly, these tentmade Brownies just tempted me onto the dark side and they were yummy, scrummy in my tummy! Now that's generosity and getting into the community spirit!!
Seed Balls - And Kayaking in the lake
A tray of seed balls containing wildflower seeds were being handed out. They were made up of wildflower seeds, clay and compost all rolled up into one. You take a seed ball, make a wish, then throw it into the wilderness so it scatters and wherever it lands, wildflowers will grow. What a lovely simple idea to naturally brighten up the countryside.
The last night saw us all sitting around the now roaring camp fire. I think I was sitting a bit too close as my face felt like the top layer of the skin had peeled off! I shared Emma's homemade flapjacks with Britain's Fittest Fireman (he came 20th out of 6000!!! Or so I was told, unless it was another Chinese Whisper!) and the very charming George from Bristol.
The evening ended giggling in the Cider Barn sitting on haystacks with Emma, Lou, Dave, Susan and Susan's son Ben. Feeling rather weathered and very tired I think we must have all hit the sack before midnight!
Susan and Andy's tent could be seen from Space!
With a better night's rest, the last morning saw us all up bright and breezy packing up to go home before the threat of rain came. Any rubbish consumed by campers had to be taken home and disposed of to ensure we kept Britain Tidy! As we said our goodbyes to friends and strangers, friends Andy and Susan (Sandy) found they couldn’t move their car. They had parked up on the grass when it was raining and consequently their car had got stuck in the mud! No burley men were able to shift it but luckily Emma’s Freelander did.
From the moment of arrival, everyone's kids went feral and never seemed bored. They climbed trees, threw sticks for dogs and searched for Fairies in the woods. It was truly a magical time for them.
The Kids Play Area - *And the walk back to the Bell Tent Village (*Courtesy of Louise Barnett)
As much as I was looking forward to having a nice hot bath, I was going to miss the little Bell Tent Village that had become our home for the weekend. Not only did I get to spend an incredible weekend with my lovely friends but I got to mingle with like-minded strangers who I didn't even know the name of and they didn't know mine...
There's a quote... "The older I get, the more I realise how rare it is to meet a kindred spirit." Well, if you were there this particular weekend, you would've realised that this quote isn't quite true. My friends and I are already eager to book next year so if this is for you, maybe our paths will cross and I’ll see you next year…
The lovely Bec of HoneyWoods Camping
Five go down to Devon April 12 2013
Early on a Grey cloudy Saturday morning, we set off from Bristol to Devon for a 5k Obstacle course at Escot Park in East Devon. Now had you had told me how horrendous the whole experience was going to be, I definitely wouldn't have signed up for it but the Devil came and took me on this particular day when my friend Emma asked me if I would like to do it. "Yeah, alright." I said enthusiastically, "It'll be fun...!" Famous last words...
For six months I trained, I ran 3 times a week, I worked on my upper, I was getting fit and feeling fitter too. I'd even talked the girls at work into doing it with me, that's how good at selling I am!
The big day arrived and it had been raining non-stop for 24 hours... Good start. Set in beautiful surroundings, Escot Park is a privately owned estate and Emma, Treena, Danielle, Jackie and myself were about to embark on something that I am not likely to experience ever again!
The warm up had us rolling around in mud with the Southwest Military Fitness shouting commands at us so we were covered in mud before we'd even started. After the initial shock of the warm up, we were off on our little adventure across the wet, cold, rolling muddy countryside. Are you getting the picture, I wasn't enjoying this?
Don't be fooled by the happiness on my face, behind that painted smile, I was crumbling! (And that was before the ice skip!!!)
For 1 hour and 33 minutes, I ran, swam, climbed and fully submerged myself in a skip of ice. I was literally in the skip for seconds and already my body had gone numb and because of this, I was unable to lift myself out and had to be dragged out by Emma. I was so cold I couldn't even string a sentence together, my speech was slurred. Now I know why the people on the Titanic died so quickly in the water after it went down, it was awful! I would have given up there and then if it weren't for my team giving me encouragement to carry on, I wouldn't have given up out of pride and stubbornness but I came close.
After rolling over 6ft hay bales and running over hot coals, as we were nearing the end of what I'd imagine Army Bootcamp to be, Jackie turned to me and said, "I tell you what Linda, never again." And I managed to raise a smile only to be met by an 8ft wall to climb over at the finishing line! It was one for all and all for one as we all crossed the line together, no one better, no one worse than the other. We showed strength and comradery that day, we were truly united as a team.
How many people does it take to get one person over an 8ft wall? Only one looking at him hopping over like it was easy!!