I have SO much to write about our wonderful weekend at Howbeck Lodge Farm, courtesy of Feather Down Farms. I simply cannot cram it all into one review so I decided to split each part into sections: Accommodation and facilities; Howbeck Lodge Farm’s local attractions; Howbeck Lodge Farm; Feather Down Farms and children; Hints and Tips and General Information.
I wanted to start with Accommodation and Facilities as I believe this is one of the great selling points of Feather Down Farms. If you’re not familiar with the concept behind it all, Feather Down Farm Days are dedicated towards providing a holiday with a difference. With particpating farms across the country, Europe and the USA, families are invited to experience life on a farm at it’s best. This is an experience most families will never forget and one that children in particular will remember forever. The accommodation certainly helps to make this a memorable holiday!
Glamping. We’d never done it before and to be honest, it sounded a little too much like camping to me. When I was seven I went camping and awoke (cold and uncomfortable) to find a horse’s head inside my tent! Such a rude awakening, and one that has put me off camping for year since. Don’t worry, it was attached to a horse. A friendly horse, apparently- but not being an animal lover, this definitely put me off.
So why was a self-confessed non-lover of animals agreeing to stay on a farm? Well, take a look here:
It really is this beautiful in real life. We were literally speechless as we were shown around our ‘tent’ for the weekend. Our first impressions were impressive.
We were shown to our tent, which was really more of a solid canvas house. The front opens up and you step onto a hard wooden floor which is sturdy and rustic. To the right is a solid wood table with chairs, sitting beneath a chandelier of tea-light candles. To the left sit two large deck chairs. But your eyes are immediately drawn to the centre piece of the room.
There are also little doors to the right at the back of the tent with little love hearts carved into them and we couldn’t resist a peek. Beyond those doors sit the master bedroom, tucked away at the back of the tent with plump pillows and crisp white sheets. A real bed. Outside, the stream rushed over the rocks and children were already down there with fishing nets and welly boots. Like I said, our first impressions were impressive.
Closer inspection of the bedrooms was not disappointing. The master bedroom really did contain a real bed with a real mattress and little lanterns to hold tea light candles. The little cupboard we saw from the main room led into the master bedroom and actually housed a little bed itself, tucked away behind the little doors. The children’s bedroom had a delightful set of bunk beds, again kitted out with real mattresses and duvets. Each bedroom also had storage shelves made from wooden crates, spare bedding and little windows covered in mesh. We were reassured to see a smoke detector in the children’s room and another in the main room too.
The kitchen was impressive too. The wood burning stove really was the centrepiece of the whole room, but the view from the other side was also fantastic. The work top was made from solid granite and housed a stainless steel sink equipped with running water from the mains and everything you need to cook and clean (minus washing up liquid). The area below the worktop was kitted with shelves to house pots and pans and drawers for cutlery. Again, little lanterns hung above the worktop to provide lighting once the sun goes down. On the wall sat a real coffee bean grinder and to the left of the main doorway sat a box of wood for the fire and a large cool box. This is where frozen hot-water bottles went to keep food chilled, in place of a traditional refridgerator. I wasn’t sure about this at first but it turned out to be a really effective way to keep food (and wine!) chilled.
The tent was also equipped with a real working toilet. This was hidden behind a wooden door with a latch and a little wooden heart carved into it. There was a little panel to pull across the heart to show that it was occupied- a really lovely touch. The toilet itself was vintage style but all in good working order- although the seat was very cold to sit on! We were also given a guide to Feather Down Farm Days, a guide to our farm and a local What’s On guide too.
Impressed? We certainly were! Once we’d finished cooing over the tent, we were shown to the shower block and I have to admit that this was where my main reservations lie. I did NOT want to take a shower in the cold. The bathroom was very clean and again, kitted out with beautiful little knitted hearts and hanging wall decorations. There was running hot water, a modern toilet and a mirror to use too. I just didn’t fancy the idea of sharing a bathroom with the other guests of the farm, and in the cold etither. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried as we managed to shower in peace and it really wasn’t that cold either! It was a bit of a military operation getting the little ones sorted, especially as they prefer to take a bath, but we managed really well! There were also locks on each shower cubicle door so privacy was not an issue at all.
We were then shown to the shop, which sat above the bathroom, up some stairs. These were open steps and we had to make sure that the baby kept well away from them as they were also quite steep. The shop was lovely. Again little love hearts were littered all over and bunting was strung across the room, giving it a really cosy feel. There was a little vintage style cupboard, a fridge and two freezers. The fridge was stocked with the basic essentials like milk and butter, and also all the ingredients you need to make a cooked breakfast. One of the freezers was stocked with home cooked meals and cakes and the other was home to the frozen water bottles needed to chill the cooler back at the tent. There was also a table laden with cereals,eggs, jams and cakes, and in one corner there was a range of toys and games that you could borrow and some that were for sale too. The cupboard was filled with jars and tins, coffee beans and sauces. There were also a few baskets, filled with candles, toiletries and washing up liquid. All in all, the shop had everything you needed for the duration of your stay, but the prices were a little higher than you’d find at the supermarket.
Overall, we were mightily impressed with our accommodation and all of the facilities at the farm. That first evening, we settled the children in their beds and sat beside the fire on our deck-chairs, blankets over our knees and wine glasses in our hands and for a long time we just listened.
The sound of the stream below.
The cows in the shed settling down for the night.
The soft pattering of the rain on the canvas roof.
No television. Candle light. We talked and talked and we decided then that we would be back.
My next review will be Howbeck Lodge Farm’s local attractions with a review of Beatrix Potter World.