Thankfully, places such as Home Farm exist. Home Farm Glamping is only half an hour away from London – inside the M25 – yet feels like a world away. Twenty minutes on the tube from King’s Cross St Pancras, another ten in a cab, and we’re there. No getting lost, no motorway service stations. Just half an hour since the bustling chaos of central London and it’s the open space of rural Hertfordshire. It feels like we’re deep in the countryside, but in moments we could be in the city. Easy.
Run by Jess Gibbs, herself a city dweller and former lawyer, Home Farm has a focus on enabling its guests to ‘reconnect and disconnect.’ Switching off from the world and switching on to the self. Switching off from the pulls of work and urban life, and in to the open space in which you find yourself.
Jess grew up on her father’s farm and still loves London. But she found herself missing ‘being outdoors, with space to breathe and think.’ Although the business was initially prompted by her father falling ill, now she would not have it any other way. She appreciates the importance of balance in life, and seeks to bring that to everyone who stays at the farm.
That’s basically what glamping is. A way of rethinking camping, hanging on to the connection with the outdoors, only without the inconvenience and the discomfort that comes with it. So you can get a food and drink shop delivered to you. They arrange yoga classes, creative workshops and fishing permits. You can have a campfire supper cooked up for you, or give it a go yourself. Simple things in a simple way.
It was quiet for our stay, a Monday in May, but immediately on arrival we could see why things will soon start to hot up. The location for a start. There’s gorgeous views over the fields on one side, and woodland around the other sides. In May time the bluebells are blooming, but there’s hints of rhododendrons starting to peek through around the trees. Clear paths mown in the long grass guide you around the meadow, and take you between your tent and the big barn, that houses the communal area, kitchen, ping pong table and plugs. Of course, there’s no need to head there, and every tent has its own sitting area, fire pit and BBQ.
credit: Home Farm Glamping
The large wild flower meadow sleeps a total of up to 51 guests in the 3 traditional Mongolian yurts and 9 bell tents. The word tent is deceptive. Each is fully carpeted, containing a double bed with a proper mattress and thick luxurious duvets and pillows, bright rugs and cushions, and a somewhat eccentric collection of books in each. Given that I always judge people and places by their book shelves I was pleased to see this – and approved.
One of the things that puts many people off camping is the sanitation. People like to be able to pee and wash in peace, and remain fairly clean after. The pine clad sheds contain lovely bathrooms complete with showers, real toilets and heated towel rails – something I don’t have at home – running on a generator system for piping hot water.
Jess says that people do embrace being outside of their comfort zone. We have full mobile phone reception and probably could just get sushi Deliveroo-ed. But it’s more fun to make a fire on which to slowly cook jacket potatoes whilst we chat into the night. Our little welcome kit contained all our cooking and eating utensils – and marshmallows for toasting, much to our delight. They taste far sweeter than any gourmet dessert once we’ve toasted them on our little barbecue.
Fearing that I’d be freezing I requested extra blankets, but the tents are surprisingly cosy and warm, and what with the plump cushions and soft duvets, I slept better than I have in years. Whilst there are tents and fairy lights offering a soft glow, the lack of activity meant that we started to drift off quite early. Our eyes dropped with the daylight, and began to open again as the bright sunrise lit up our white tent. Listening to the changing wildlife activity at dawn and dusk is one way of getting in touch with nature – and all the while from your cosy bed!
Once the sun rose, we were ready the day ahead. There’s something about the smell of a fresh morning in the fields that is truly magical. We have the morning off, so enjoy a rather leisurely breakfast consisting of eggs from the farm across the road, bacon sourced from Jess’ favourite butcher and honey made on site.
credit: Home Farm Glamping
But if we had to rush back, it wouldn’t be a problem. Home Farm is the ideal place for a mid week mini break. Rather than going to the same restaurant after work, people are popping on the train with a bottle of wine, tucking into a campfire supper before sleeping under the starry skies in luxury canvas. Waking up in nature and being handed a bacon roll and a cup of coffee for the quick commute into work in the morning certainly feels like a good way to start the day.
So next time you fancy doing something different at the weekend, why not head to Home Farm for a night of reconnection and rejuvenation.