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"We had a completely blissful couple of days here. We…"
We had a completely blissful couple of days here. We arrived by car and had to toot the white puddleducks and lambs (^squeal!^) out of the way in order to park on the hard standing. Such a lovely way to arrive - the kids couldn't believe their luck!
Anne, who owns Bouncer's Farm, comes out to greet you, and you grab a barrow to cart your stuff down to the sun-dappled orchard, where the two Gypsy wagons are stationed. There's nothing else pitched there, so you're completely secluded - but (crucially) it's less than two mins from the main farmhouse, where the very new showers and loo (super-clean, and only used by gypsy camp ) are located.
The wagons are just lovely - Anne restored them herself and she's done a bloody good job. They're v. pretty, with patchwork quilts and cushions and pillows and duvets - everything shipshape and bristol fashion (wrong metaphorical range, I know) but still completely authentic and not too OTT. Kids were basically in heaven with the curtained bunks, and little windows etc.
There are two caravans, and you can fit two adults and two/three kids in various combos, depending on size. There's also a fantastic bender tent (authentic design - but carpeted!) with a gasburner (gas supplied), a 19th century copper water-storage-thingy (already filled), and all washing-up necessaries, including washing up liquid and scrubbers etc.
Inside the bender tent there's a sort of handmade-mattress sofa for lounging/snoozing/reading, a Victorian gate-leg table with chairs (and cutlery and utensils in the drawer) and - high point - a woodburner (logs stacked up beside it) which we fired up on the less sunny day of our stay - fantastically cosy.
Outside the bender there's a small fire-pit with a cast-iron tripod, griddle, and kettle - ask Anne for the barbecue rack too. Wood is a tenner a barrow, which seemed pretty reasonable, though as usual you get through a barrow more quickly than you think!
But as well as the loveliness of the wagons, and the fact that everything is laid on, there was lots of other stuff which made our weekend. As well as the sheep (and when we were here, the most adorable black-brown lambs) there are enooormous Kune pigs snuffling around in a big, muddy bit of fenced-off woodland. They come to the boundary to say hello and you're encouraged to feed them your veggie leftovers. Also, three or four beautiful ponies (Anne delivers Sunday papers and croissants to the Gypsy Camp, and the bijou campsite five minutes beyond it, by pony and buggy!). There are two very cute Jack Russells (Monty and Alex) and - joy - the most gentle, beautiful, Irish wolfhound called Connie, who pads around the farm like - well, like a beautiful Irish wolfhound.
My kids are a bit nervous of animals generally (we're from inner Lunnen Town) but by the end of the weekend were frolicking with them all. Anne kept the dogs close to her until she could see that the kids had got their confidence around them.
Best of all was the tiny - and I mean tiny - miniature caramel-and-blonde Shetland pony called Goldie. She's not a Thelwell pot-bellied kind of Shetland - more like a magically-shrunk, completely in-proportion pony that stands as high as your hip. She usually lives with the other ponies up at the farm paddock, but we splashed out twenty quid to have her with us in the orchard for the day, along with a grooming set and a quick lesson in grooming (and being sensible around) ponies from Anne. The kids were completely knocked out by being able to get close to such loveliness - and even the toddler dd of our guests (of whom more in a minute) was completely unafraid. As evening fell, she started doing joyful, snorting, galloping circles on her (quite long) rope -just amazing to see.
Guests - we had some. For a bit more (about twenty-five quid I think) we could invite friends to pitch their own tent or sleep in the bender for a night. Unsurprisingly our mates chose to snuggle up in the bender rather than put their tent up for just one night, so that was another win. Our expanded pack of kids ran wild in the orchard and beyond - they made friends in the camp clearing, three mins away, which holds perhaps 10-15 tents but when we were here only had 4 or 5. Meanwhile, adults drank wine around the toasty campfire - in our private orchard fgs! - and cooked lovely food. This time we did our own thing, but next time we might splash out for one night, and get some of the locally-sourced ingredients for a homemade posh stew that Bouncer's Farm can provide, along with bread and other goodies.
As far as kit goes, almost everything you needed was already here - including working torches in the caravans, and shampoo/shower gel in the showers. The only thing we brought and actually used were towels; oh, and extra blankets on the chillier of the nights - maybe think about bringing wome for stays outside the high-summer season. I'd probably also bring my own torch again, JIC.
All in all, it was fab. The kids loved the novelty of sleeping in a real bed in a caravan, and it's hard to overstate how lovely it is to be in your own special bit of the farm, where the kids can run around within sight but still be far enough away from you to feel independent. And really, with the sun streaming through the apple trees, it's pretty gorgeous to look at. Plus, from where we live in North East London, it took fifty mins to get to Bouncers Farm - so no precious weekend time wasted in a hot car. Next time, though, we're going to come for longer - a weekend was brilliant, but longer would be even better. On the way back home we stopped off in Maldon (where the salt comes from) and had fish and chips overlooking the boats. There's also an amazing sandy adventure-playground/municipal water-park for the kids there (so make sure you take swimmies) - the kids slept, exhausted, all the way back home!Read moreLess
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