The past couple of weeks have been wet and murky - with fog and rain virtually every day. This has not put off some lovely intrepid guests who have enjoyed staying in our shepherds hut - it has an efficient little log burning stove, and makes the hut extremely warm and toasty during the winter months. The nice thing about the winter months is that guests staying in the hut enjoy exclusive use of the camp site. The blackberries are still in the hedgerows along with hips, haws and sloes. The apples have pretty much dropped from the trees in the orchard due to the windy days, and its not been as productive as previous years. We are looking forward to more guests arriving over the next week to stay during the half term. We have taken down all of our yurts apart from one, and we are still hoping for a few dry days to give us the opportunity to get this stored in the barn over the winter months. We have seen a sparrowhawk frequenting our garden and there is a multitude of fungi in the fields (mostly unedible!)
29th September 2019 has seen the first storm of the autumn arrive with overnight torrential rain and gale force winds here. This has not deterred my intrepid guests with 2 of our yurts and the shepherds occupied this weekend. This weekend has also seen a revival of an ancient tradition of "beating the bounds" - walking the boundaries of Littlehempston parish. Around 40 intrepid walkers arrived this morning and were shown firstly around the camp and then to follow the line of the boundary through our land and onwards to the neighbouring property and Christmas Tree Field. Later on we are attending a presentation in Littlehempston Church to formally mark the occasion with the date being added to the parish records.
September brings cooler evenings and early mornings with early morning dew resting on the grass and getting dark much earlier. The sunshine still feels very warm in the middle of the day, however you know that winter is coming soon as our swallows have left the stables where they have raised 3 broods this year. The swallows gather on the telephone wires that cross our fields and over the past couple of days their absence has been noticed. Its amazing how they complete the trip to Africa and back each year. This year we had around 6 nests in our stables, with them arriving earlier than usual due to the easterly winds in April. Our guests are always treated to displays of their aerial acrobatics and they are quite noisy whilst roosting in the stables and feeding their young. Later this month we are taking part in a "beating of the bounds" ceremony where statesmen of the parish will walk the parish boundaries, which cross our fields. The records will go on file in the church and there is going to be a presentation in Littlehempston church with tea and cakes. I love to know that the ancient village traditions are being upheld.
What an amazingly busy July and beginning of the school summer holidays, lovely warm sunshine and so many wonderful guests. We have truly had a multicutural bunch with travellers arriving from France, Russia, Abu Dhabi, Scotland, and many other areas of the UK - this year will be our busiest ever, with around 1100 guests having stayed here over the spring and summer. The weather has been kind at times with lovely sunshine, and other times we have had amazing storms, high winds and torrential rain. Our yurts are built to withstand all weathers and whilst we always hope its sunny, sometimes its raining and there is nothing we can do about that! I am always very happy to introduce guests to our livestock and recent guests relish the prospect of collecting fresh eggs and feeding our horses. We have some availability left for the end of August but September is looking very busy already!
June has started with some mixed weather, some heavy rain interspersed with some warm sunshine- but some lovely huge ominous skies making for great pictures! Fortunately our guests can always keep cosy with outside firepits, comfy beds, and yurts and the hut with wood burning stoves (apart from the Plym yurt) and a new pavilion to shelter under if the good old british weather lets us down! Its been full at the camp this week with all our accommodation fully booked and the camp buzzing with lovely people enjoying their holidays. The meadow is full of buttercups and wild flowers, and our swallows have fledged their first brood of the year. Nature is wonderful!
Half term week has just been and gone in a flash with a full compliment of lovely guests over the week enjoying the wonderful sunshine and clear nights. The multitude of children that have stayed this week have enjoyed the freedom to roam the 3 acre meadow which is currently full of buttercups and wild flowers. My dog, Gracie has enjoyed the extra attention with the children playing with her throwing her ball and frisbee. When the sky has been clear its given an excellent view of the international space station as it passes over on a nightly basis. I recently joined a facebook page called Meteor watch and this gives all the details of the time you can view the station as it passes over the earth at a huge speed - on a clear night its visible. Also as its spring there are a multitude of birds and wildlife to be seen for those who are quiet and peaceful. The picture above is of one of the foxes that visit our garden on a daily/nightly basis. Its quite unusual for foxes to be seen during daylight hours and this tells me that they probably have cubs and are therefore searching for food more regularly and taking more risks in order to feed their family. I am of the opinion that as long as they are not taking my poultry or attempting to then I am happy to see them. The pair of foxes that visit at night like to hoover up any remaining bird seed or nuts that I put out during the day for the wild birds that visit my garden. These pictures are taking with an Apeman trail camera.
May bank holiday is a lovely time of year, the spring flowers are in bloom, bluebells fill the local woods,wild garlic is rife in our fields and hedges and the orchard is full of apple blossom. This week has been cool but dry with plenty of sunshine and opportunities to see the Eta Aquarids meteor showers at the camp. We have recently relocated the position of the Plym yurt and planted around 100 trees, all native species to surround it and provide some screening and privacy. The spot where the Plym yurt used to be is going to be the location of our new "field kitchen" and this will provide a canopied area for our guests to use when the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy, too busy or any other reason. I cant wait for it to be finally finished - and will post the great unveiling soon! This week has had a couple of nights with no guests in the camp so I took the opportunity to place the pro stalk camera at the camp just to see what nightime wildlife was about. As you can see from the above picture there are plenty of rabbits at the camp, including this one, which is black! Probably an escapee from a domestic pet rabbit.
The School Easter holidays are upon us and it's very busy at the camp. I have taken quite a few enquiries this week from guests asking about bringing their dog. We are unable to accept dogs for quite a few reasons and we hope that our guests fully understand. Firstly we have livestock in fields that surround the camp and if a pet is not used to rural life, then the potential to worry the stock is massive. There are also no facilities for a pet dog to sleep in a yurt. With a wood burning stove, the potential for injury is massive particularly if a dog is not used to a stove. I am a dog lover myself and we own a lovely dog too, so we are very conscious of the needs that dogs can make on their owners. Just this week at a caravan site in Cornwall a young boy has been killed by a pet dog in a caravan - such a sad tale and reaffirms just one of the many reasons why I don't allow pets on our site. I am so sorry to those people that wont come and stay with us because of this, however its one of those things that we are certain about. So please understand the reasons why pets are not allowed to stay at our camp and enjoy your holiday.
Spring has sprung at last - this week has seen the most beautiful sunny spring days with warm sunshine, but cool and clear evenings and frosty and sometimes foogy nights. We have managed to put our yurts back on the field and have been busily populating them with all their furniture and soft furnishings ready for our first guests at Easter. We still have had some lovely guests staying in our shepherds hut and they have the benefit of having the place to themselves before our yurt guests start arriving. Its such a gorgeous time of year with blossom on all the apple trees, primroses in the hedgrows and bluebells starting to shoot up. The wild garlic is also rife in all the hedgerows, it is such a useful plant and the leaves and roots can be used in all sorts of wonderful dishes. The taste is not as strong as conventional garlic but you can be sure its totally organic and a real spring treat.
When I first started accepting guests at our glamping site, I was often asked about trip advisor as many guests were wanting to leave us (hopefully good) online reviews. However a friend who also runs a glamping site was trolled terribly and her opinion was not to go on there because sometimes people can be keyboard warriors and whilst they might be nice to your face are less complimentary once home and on their computer, leaving reviews that were not very nice and no opportunity to address problems at the time people stayed. Hence why we are not on Trip Advisor. So in the meantime technology moves onwards and things change. We still offer our guests an old fashioned "guest book" to share their views, and no one has ever said anything horrible in this - thank goodness. Just recently however Google, in their quest to take over the world have offered internet users the opportunity to "rate your business". All you have to do is set up a free google account. However this has meant that any person can post anything they like anonymously including on my google business page "Hemsford Yurt Camp". Since trolling has become illegal some people get around this by just leaving a 1 star review without actually leaving any text - this means that Google mark it as a hate rating as there is no grounds for a prosecution. My business has recently been subjected to some of these spurious 1 star ratings with no text, left by people who have never stayed here, or even visited our camp. Google don't give the business owner the opportunity to verify that the person making the review is a bona fide customer, unlike the big guns such as Amazon. So the trolling goes on. I can only imagine that the sort of people who feel the need to do such a thing are threatened in some way or have some perceived slight against our glamping site. Its well known that competitors often do this sort of trolling in an attempt to close others down. My husband wonders why this bothers me, I just hope that any guests who stay with us who might have a comment or opinion would offer us the option of discussing and taking on board any critique and so we can, if we need to, make changes. Anyway the fact that my bookings are doing really well this year says that not many people take these ratings into account!!!
Liz Jeffery - owner of Hemsford Yurt camp