November the 5th is usually the time for bonfires and fireworks, however 2020 has been a very unusual year and we find ourselves in the grip of a second wave of Coronavirus. The government have quite rightly decided to advise another lockdown and we have sadly had to postpone all our bookings in our shepherds hut for the next 4 weeks until the 3rd December 2020. Our yurts are now taken down for the winter and will be put back up around Easter 2021 all being well. We are very hopeful that these current measures will ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed and we hope all our guests will stay safe and adhere to the rules. Whilst we are unable to accept guests at present we are really happy to take bookings for 2021 when we are hoping that the pandemic will be under control and a vaccine may be available. So if you fancy booking early to beat the rush and would like to stay in 2021, please give me a call or email and we can get your staycation holiday booked in.
The summer has flown by since our reopening at the beginning of July. We have had around 700 guests over the summer months and we have been lucky that everyone has embraced social distancing and our stringent cleaning regimes. Last weekend we managed to deconstruct 3 of our 4 yurts and put them away safely for next season. The shepherds hut however is still fully booked until November and some lovely guests have been enjoying the mild October weather and enjoying the spectacular colours developing in our trees. We have over the past years planted around 800 trees at the camp, all British native species and this has in turn attracted some interesting wildlife, bats, birds, butterflies and moths, insects and amphibians. The covid pandemic is entering into its second wave and we are wondering how this will affect the local people, the economy and really hope that our guests will stay safe, and adhere to the rules. Fortunately rural Devon has been relatively unscathed by the virus, however we are not taking this for granted and have our own QR code which our guests are asked to scan on arrival. This will assist in the governments track and trace initiative. October has been a beautiful month, with light frosts and some misty cool mornings.
Since we reopened at the beginning of July we have been totally inundated with requests for bookings. This is brilliant from a business perspective and we have already welcomed some lovely guests for their staycation. Our newCovid measures seem to be easy to follow for our guests and our new app delivering our welcome pack by text and email has been well received. If you are planning or thinking about coming to stay with us then please ask for your welcome pack - it will be automatically be sent to you once you have booked, but if you would like more information before booking we are happy to send this over to you. In the meantime the weather has been great, with lovely warm sunshine, perfect for evening camp fires, star watching and comet watching, with a comet named Neowise in our skies during the clear nights this summer. Swallows have fledged and are busily learning how to fly - what amazing aerial acrobats they are.
The camp has been closed since the 23rd March 2020 due to the corona virus pandemic. But good news is on the horizon and we are eagerly waiting news from Boris Johnson the prime minister about the reopening date. We are optimistically anticipating that we will be able to reopen from the beginning of July and we are now accepting bookings once again. Its already getting very busy with lots of guests booking in for their staycation. We have been busily making some changes to the camp so we can accommodate the best practices for cleaning and hygiene regimes. We have added an outside sink and kitchen area to our canopied area on the field. We have added hot water to all the hand basins and we have added an additional shower. We have touchless soap dispensers and paper hand towels too. Its been quite tricky to judge what measures we should be putting in place, as there has been no clear guidance from the government as yet. However we feel that we have made the best choices on all the information we have. Also its really easy to socially distance in a 3 acre meadow! Other changes are the introduction of a welcome book via an app, and a new way to find our site by using another innovative app called what3words. Check out the details on the page about directions. Looking forward now to meeting up with guests - hope the weather stays as gorgeous as it has been for the last 3 months!!!
So I realised that its been a while since I updated my blog on this website, and so much seems to have happened in a very short time space. We started with a very very wet February with rain virtually every day with storms and some minor flooding in our lake field. Followed by March and the pandemic arriving, a virus called Covid-19 from afar bringing sickness, death and misery to many and eventually on the 23rd March the government ordering a complete lockdown - everyone to stop socialising and to stay away from all our friends and family. This was rather shocking and of course disappointing as we had spent the best part of a fortnight preparing our fields, rolling, harrowing and putting up our yurts ready for what was going to be a very busy Easter period. However move on one month, and all our guests have been postponed by us until the lockdown is over, and we are all waiting patiently following the social distancing rules and shielding the vulnerable in our household. Our guests have been lovely and very understanding, and have accepted that we are offering alternative dates in the future once lockdown is over. In the meantime the camp is looking lovely in the spring sunshine, with lovely warm days, cooler evenings, lots of star watching and great weather. We have also spent time tending our allotment, growing veg, fruit and flowers, and also hatched 14 adorable little chicks in our incubator. Their father Solo is very fertile and their mothers were a combination of ex commerical layers and a few old girls from previous successful broods. The chicks are doing really well and amazingly it only takes around 16 - 20 weeks for them to become fully grown adult birds. We are still accepting bookings for late summer, and of course in 2021.
Happy New Year to all our guests - old and new. I realised that I have not updated my blog since November, which is due to being very busy. The winter months are quieter as our yurts are taken down and stored in the barn and then put back on their bases for the Easter holidays. However our lovely little shepherds hut has been very popular through the Christmas and New Year period and guests enjoy sole use of the facilities during this period. The weather once again has been very mild with plenty of rain and wind and our fields are looking a little muddy. Horses are notorius for poaching the fields and our 4 old horses are wintering well as the warm temperatures are welcomed by our geriatrics. Our lake has been overflowing and the resident swan is still on the lake. The ducks have been getting frisky with each other and there are small signs of spring in the flora and fauna. Lots of people have been making bookings this past week and we look forward to welcoming them in the coming months. Last year was a bumper year with around 1000 people staying with us in 2019. Lets hope 2020 will continue to be as popular! Last night we had the first full moon of the year - coupled with a partial lunar eclipse and a clear night a spectacular sight to see. Living in a rural location is wonderful for star gazing!
This autumn has been one of the wettest in a number of years, with lots of rain and relatively mild temperatures. Happily our yurts are all stored away safely in our barn until Easter next year, but we still have our shepherds hut which is available all year round. Last weekend was no exception with guests staying despite the monsoon weather and enjoying the peace and tranquility with the cosy log burning stove and long autumn nights. The stove in the hut is very efficient and will keep our guests warm through the night and days. Guests are making the most of the local amenities with Bens farm shop just a couple of miles away and Totnes hosting its weekly markets. The grounds nearby of Dartington Hall with the Cider press shopping centre and deer park are always popular for winter walks, and Christmas shopping ideas. The neighbouring field which is a plantation for the local Christmas tree farm has seen much activity with the trees being harvested in time for the December rush. There has been a small amount of flooding into our lake field over the past couple of weeks with the river Hems breaking its banks at high tide. The resident swan seems very settled on our lake at the moment and has the company of several mallards, moor hens, and sea gulls. The owls have been noisy as well recently - its always good to hear them at night.
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.
Liz Jeffery - owner of Hemsford Yurt camp