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!!!
This week Devon has had the hottest temperatures on record with daytime highs of around 18 degrees so the birds have been singing, the daffodils are in bloom and we have had frosty and foggy mornings. However all change for this weekend with the onset of Storm Freya. Its a far cry from all the snow we experienced on this day in March 2018. Lovely guests have been staying in our quirky shepherds hut with its cosy log burner and outside fire pit and garden seating area. With Strong winds and heavy rain forecast over this weekend it seems that climate change cant make its mind up whether Spring has had a false start.
Happy New year to all our guests - past present and future! The weather through December has been rather wet, however the new year has become more settled with frost and foggy conditions albeit very still conditions with not much wind. This has not prevented the violets in our garden to come into bloom - along with some intrepid snow drops and a few signs of daffs starting to come through (now flowers yet). The shepherds hut has proved as popular as ever over Christmas with lots of guests enjoying a winter break. The hut is so cosy with the log burning stove lit, and meteor showers around during the winter clear nights. Its particularly nice for our guests staying at this time of year as they have the run of the whole camp to themselves, whilst our yurts are stored away in the barn over winter. Each year we aim to put the yurts back on the field before Easter, this year we are aiming to have them set up for the 15th March.
Close by to the yurt camp is the local farm shop at Staverton, "Bens farm Shop" and last week I was fortunate to go to a wreath making workshop help by Penny Hemmings the head gardener at Riverford Farm. The picture above was my first attempt at making my own Christmas wreath to decorate our front door. I had just a little help but I am quite proud of my first ever attempt! There are still some lovely people coming to stay in our shepherds hut this time of year despite the weather not being as perfect as I would have liked! I am now going to make another wreath to decorate the hut for the next guests so they can enjoy the Christmas spirit!
Its always nice to have a few intrepid guests staying with us during the winter months and this week has been no exception with some lovely guests arriving from Brighton for a brief stay in our shepherds hut, despite not being seasoned campers they loved the quirky little hut with its cosy wood burning stove, and the dark and quiet nights here. The local pub, the Tally Ho Inn has recently had new landlords and our guests find it bracing to walk from the camp to the pub in the winter air. The moon has been a spectacular sight recently, although the fog has descended today. The forecast is for temperatures to drop in the next week with the return of the "beast from the East". We have been luckily having warm mild winter days and nights for a week or so now, so its going to be a bit of a shock. Pictured above was our snowfall in March 2018 - lets hope it doesnt snow that hard again!
Over the past few days the colours of autumn have been blooming - with clear blue skies and chilly nights, with stars to be seen . There has been a touch of ground frost, but the days have been unseasonally warm for this time of year. The shepherds hut has been booked with some lovely guests visiting the area for the first time and enjoying the local pubs, the Tally Ho, the Monks Retreat and the Pig and Whistle. Half term week has the hut booked again, this time with guests returning for the second time. The hut can sleep up to 4 persons and has a cute little wood burning stove which keeps the hut lovely and warm on those cool evenings. The leaves are falling everywhere and next to the camp is a huge oak tree which is spilling its bounty of acorns all across our yard. I am clearing these as much as possible as they are poisonous to our horses. The horses are happily enjoying the sunshine but are now wearing their winter rugs. Lovely time to stay with us - quiet and peaceful too.
Its much cooler now in the evenings, the sun is setting at around 7.00pm and there has been a ground frost over the last few mornings. Its also the time when we take our yurts down and store them in our barn until the spring. We are usually open for yurt holidays from March 15th but this is always weather dependent. We need dry weather to put our yurts up and similarly to take them down. We have taken advantage of the lovely indian summer this week and taken down our yurts for this season. We are still taking bookings for our lovely little shepherds hut (sleeps 4) over the winter period. The hut is cosy with a log burning stove, a double bed and 2 bunk beds and is lovely and snug with a view over our lake field. The weather has been good for the past few days and is set fair for about another 5 days, so still time to have a lovely little glamping break out of season. The local pub has a new landlord and we welcome Kelly and Mike Joiner to the Tally Ho Inn - with new menus and lots of live music all within 10 - 15 minutes walking distance from the camp - lovely!
September has arrived and the nights are starting to draw in. The camp is still busy and this weekend we will welcome the influx of swimmers taking part in the annual Dart 10k open water swimming event. The intrepid entrants get into the water at Totnes and swim down river to Dittisham. In the past 7 years we have been running our camp we have welcomed participants to stay with us every year. This year the river levels are still very low due to the heatwave and lack of rain over the summer months. Hopefully this will be of benefit to the entrants of the swim. Back at the camp the swallows are swarming and looking likely to leave soon for their annual migration back to Africa for the winter, and its getting dark around 8pm at the moment with some glorious sunsets for our lucky guests. The picture above is of the river Dart at Sharpham, home to our local vineyard. The award winning wine is excellent, and this year they will have a bumper crop. Its well worth visting to go on the wine and cheese tasting tour or just taking a leisurely stroll along the river dart in this stunning location.
Wow - what a scorcher - this summer has been sweltering and fabulous for all the guests staying at the camp. The ground however is very parched and arid and we will be short of grazing in the winter because of this. The camp has been full again this weekend, with all our guests enjoying the wonderful clear nights and the sweltering temperatures during the day. Fortunately the south Devon coast is just a short drive away and the beaches are cooler than inland with on shore breezes giving a welcome rest from the heat. The wildlife has been very active with plenty of fox and badger activity every night.
There are several fox cubs in our garden every evening, they come to drink from my dogs bowl and to play with the dogs toys. They are mega cute as long as they are not trying to eat my hens!!!!
When our guests come and stay I always mention our colony of feral cats. Not everyone has the pleasure of meeting our fur babies, but even if you dont see them - we know they are there. The pictures above are of the two latest additions to the feral colony. These two are obviously related to the other group that is living here, as they are marked similarly to the others. The only other feral is Kitty who has been here for at least the past 7 years, and she is ginger and fluffy, so probably not related to these youngsters. My husband thinks I am a crazy cat lady for sure,but I only feed them a little and leave them water in this heat. They do a great job in fending for themselves and keeping the rodent population at bay. In the autumn when there are fewer guest about I will attempt to catch these again, with my humane trap so we can get them neutered and released back into the wild again.
Liz Jeffery - owner of Hemsford Yurt camp