More Camping Upgrades
It's hard to believe that it was just a month ago when we were fully booked for Easter - and night time temperatures were dipping down to -4.
Having been welcoming hardy winter glampers since January, we were confident that everyone would have a great and cosy time with log burners, hot water bottles, fire pits and of course the sauna getting plenty of use - and so it proved. However, some consistently milder weather is now very welcome!
Since then, the three bell tents are now up and running again too, with smart new flysheets to make them just that bit more comfortable in any frost or rain. We have upgraded them further this season with their own decks, oak bed-heads, electricity for charging phones or laptops and an uplighter behind the bed. All this makes them a considerable cut above the standard glamping bell tent and the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
Another recent development is low-level LED lighting on all of the paths to every tent. These come on as you walk past and illuminate the wood-chip path or boardwalks as you make your way through the woods, without lighting the whole place up like a fairy cake. We were trying to strike a difficult balance between safety, environmental impact and aesthetics, and it seems to have worked out just as we had hoped.
Having had a long time away from teaching, it's been fantastic to be fully back as a tutor on our courses.
The season has started off with a busy range of activities including the two hour Whittling, Shrink Pot and Spatula Making sessions as well as the more in-depth Spoon Carving, Green Woodworking and Pole Lathe, and Bowl Carving courses. As ever, a great time was had by everyone, with all the guests taking away something that was fun and informative to make and that they can be proud of for many years to come. Some bits of tree have been given a useful second life too.
We are currently taking bookings for these and all the other courses for the summer and autumn seasons. Don't forget that now you can book a course for any available date that suits you, as long as there are two of you booking together, so now is the time to mention it to a friend or partner and get your 'break with a difference' booked up. You don't have to stay here to be on a course any more than our campers have to learn to whittle - though it does make a good combination for those that are keen on both.
The only course that is held over a fixed time is the five-day chair making course in September / October. Preparation for this one is already underway: the ash stems have been selected, felled and transported back here, while the Wych Elm bark will soon be harvested up in Herefordshire.
The ash comes from nearby Hooke Park, where they are doing some thinning as part of their long term woodland management plan. It will now be cut to length and sealed on the ends prior to being carefully stacked off the ground, out of the sunlight and wind so that they stay rot-free but fresh for the coming months.
Invasion of the Green Slime
However welcome this warm sunlight may be, it has resulted in our annual battle with blanket weed. As soon as it warmed up the fishing pond went DayGlo green overnight - literally! While it wasn't a surprise (it happens every year), it is still quite a shocking sight first thing in the morning!
This year we did get our barley straw sausage in the pond in January as recommended and this is now rotting down nicely and producing the desired tannins. However, it's not quite up to stopping it altogether on its own and so we've now also installed a water pump to oxygenate the water. We've also been busy clearing off the surface with our oversized comedy 'rake on a rope'.
The prompt and intensive effort did pay off: within a couple of days it cleared completely - a great relief for us and no doubt for the trout. Unfortunately, I doubt we have seen the last of it so we'll be keeping a close eye out for the tell-tale green bubbles appearing on the surface.
Most weekends in the coming months are almost fully booked for glamping already and one very noticeable trend for this year is an increase in whole site bookings by people who came on their own last year and are now coming back with friends or family.
These group bookings are the only time that children are welcomed to the woods (usually it is adults only) and there are a few groups coming back for the 3rd time this year. This is very gratifying for us, and it's always nice to welcome back our 'regulars'.
Another thing we've noticed is that during group bookings the wood fired pizza oven rarely goes out! It's good to see everyone enjoying mucking-in and producing pizzas as a social event.
If you have a particular date that you would like to reserve for a group booking do please get in contact early as just one single booking for any given date will, of course, block that date for a group booking.
If you have a special date in mind for next year we are now taking group bookings for 2014 and are offering these bookings at the 2013 prices - all we need is a 25% deposit with the balance being payable 60 days prior to arrival. Also, don't forget that if you fancy a special celebratory private dining experience at nearby River Cottage HQ / Park Farm, you can get a 15% discount when you are staying at Crafty Camping.
In The News
Nobody was more surprised than me to find my portrait peering out from the front page on our favourite 'Living Woods' magazine this month. I just hope that their readership hasn't dipped too sharply!
Inside is an in-depth interview that I did on renting woodland and alternative uses for woods other than shooting or clear felling. Thank you for all of the kind correspondence since.
We were also delighted to be named 'the best example of Glamping' in Conde Nast Traveller.
A big thanks to Sophy Roberts for this excellent feature.
On A Bike
Finally for this newsletter, after lots of requests and subsequent research I am pleased to be able to announce that you can now rent either electric or push bikes while you're staying with us, which can be delivered directly to you here in the woods. Bikes are the perfect way to explore the local area and to find your way to the local shops and pubs. Contact details are now included in our pre-arrival information packs - pre-booking is recommended.
And that's it for this month - it's time to leave the office and do something more practical out in the glorious sunshine. I'm looking forward to catching-up with lots of returning course and camping guests in the coming weeks : don't forget to book-up via our live availability and booking system on the website if you have a specific date in mind. As always, once they're gone, they're gone.
Guy and the team