Last weekend we took a trip to North Norfolk and experienced Glamping for the first time. We were all really excited and couldn’t wait to get there. I had planned to pack everything up that we needed on Friday whilst the boys were at school and Mark was at work. Thankfully as the majority of things we needed would be provided I didn’t have to worry too much. All I needed to pack was clothes for us and the boys (Mark sorted himself out), food and a torch! I couldn’t mess it up!
We picked the boys up from school and headed straight there, we knew the way and were familiar with the roads. A couple of days previously I informed Beckie (the owner) that we were planning on arriving at 6pm. We were a little anxious that we wouldn’t make it in time, the single carriage roads and farmland we were guaranteed to be stuck behind a tractor or in rush hour traffic. Thankfully, however, we were fine and made great timing.
Bumblebarn Bell Tents
The glamping site we were calling home for the weekend was called BumbleBarn Bell Tents. Having looked online and reading more about the site I was feeling really excited. Staying on a site which claimed to be “Back to Nature” sparked the inner hippy within. Reading all about the natural cotton bell tents, coir mats and compostable toilet just made me incredibly eager to get there and explore. I had such high hopes. I think it is safe to say there were some reservations but that was all Mark. The idea of the compost toilet didn’t sit well for him but he was happy to go along fresh minded and see what it was like.
We arrived and was greeted by Beckie and her son Freddy. We were shown to our bell tent and went on a quick tour of where everything was. She made sure we were happy and comfortable before leaving us to unpack and settle in. Walking inside the bell tent and it was everything and more. We were used to camping in a tent where space was somewhat cramped. The bell tents were big and considering there was “proper” furniture in there it didn’t feel like it was a squeeze.
Inside the Bell Tents
Each of the beds, (1 double, 2 futon beds and an added extra airbed) were all made up using duvets and pillows and all in matching bedding. The walls of the bell tent were decorated in bunting and the pole was wrapped in lights. It really was beautiful and all 5 of us were excited. As well as the beds there were 2 bedside tables, one housed the kettle, water jug and tea, coffee and sugar. The other had a box of tissues from Who Give’s A Crap (renowned for their environmental benefits), a jar of fresh flowers and a guide about Sheringham Carnival.
Also inside the bell tent was a cool box to use as a fridge, bin, oil heater, a small chest (to store your belongings), battery powered lantern and a welcome guide. The guide was a great read! Mark even commented on how well it was written. Inside was pretty much everything you needed to know from how to use the toilet and gas powered shower to how to safely use some of the cooking appliances like the dutch oven and pizza stone. As well as things to do in the area, which is surprisingly quite a bit! We were impressed with how many National Trust sites there were within a 40 minute drive of the campsite.
The Honesty Shop
After a read of the welcome pack and unpacking the car we took a trip to the honesty shop. One thing I did forget to pack (amongst numerous other bits) was milk. Inside the honesty, shop is what you would expect to find. There was a shelf which had the items for sale, which were all vegan friendly, natural products. For me this wasn’t a problem, Mark, however, loves his milk and he was adamant that the Oatly Barista which was stocked in the shop simply wouldn’t be up to scratch. He since changed his mind, and although we are now home we have a carton in our fridge! Little steps.
As well as items to buy there was also a leaflet display for local things to do, book and toy library as well as spare blankets. Beckie mentioned that we were free to use the communal fridge part of the fridge freezer and the freezer was stocked with ice blocks and ice -cream!
The boys were all eager to play, they had been cooped in the car for a couple of hours and they just wanted to stretch their legs. The mud kitchen and tipi tent were loved by both Oliver and Arthur and Jack loved the big inflated exercise ball. We did pack our own toys but they were kept in the car and not once did the boys ask for them. So there was plenty to keep them occupied.
The website mentioned that being a back to nature campsite there was going to be long grass, poisonous plants, tree roots and that was to be expected. Horticulture is not my strong point so other than stinging nettles other plants go thoroughly over my head. Maybe as a little suggestion to photograph any poisonous plants in the welcome pack would be a great idea. That way at least they would be aware of which ones to keep an eye on.
One of the other things the boys loved was the horses. In the field next to the campsite was the home to several horses. Oliver had fun running alongside them and all 3 boys were just mesmerised sitting there watching them. There is lots of other wildlife about too such as owls, foxes, dragonflies, and rabbits.
As it was nearing 7pm the boys were, of course, wanting to eat some food so we went to The Hive. The Hive is an ex Italian military tent and it is the focal point of the campsite. Everywhere you read, whether it is the website, welcome pack or their facebook page, Community plays a big part of BumbleBarn Bell Tents. It is one of the reasons they wanted to set the campsite up.
“The idea really began when we had some friends over to camp last August and we sat round the campfire late at night putting the world to rights with our kids all asleep in our tents just behind us. I wanted other people to get that experience.”
The Hive has everything you need to prepare and cook your meals and I mean everything even down to weighing scales and a lovely herb garden growing. Inside the tent are 4 wooden picnic tables, 2 gas powered hobs, pots and pans, cups, glasses, and cutlery. Along with BBQ utensils and recipe books! Outside The Hive is the dedicated campfire kitchen. With enough space for all 4 bell tents to use their own if they wish or come together to cook. There are appliances such as Dutch Oven, Pizza Stone, BBQ, as well as being able to have an open campfire for cooking too!
When we came back from the beach on the second day the boys were really tired. We had eaten whilst we were out so although we didn’t make use of the camp kitchen that night. However, it was lovely to witness the community vibe for ourselves. A couple who didn’t seem entirely confident of using one of the appliances was shown how by another family. Both families came together to cook and eat their meals with each other for company.
I have already mentioned the compostable toilet and I think it is safe to say it is something we hadn’t come across before. Mark had his reservations about using it and in all honesty, it wasn’t what he was looking forward to using. However, once you see it and use it, it really isn’t as bad as you first thought it would be. Space inside is a bit of a squeeze but as we weren’t using it to read a book it was more than fine for it’s use.
The actual toilet seat is one you would expect. The inside is half porcelain with a small drain and the other half is where the bag is placed for your…um poo! When you use the toilet the wee goes into the drain which is then fed underground. When using the toilet for #2, all you need to do is place some wood shavings to cover everything. We were Surprised there wasn’t a smell after it had been used. Only poo, paper, and wood shavings go into the bag compartment and Beckie empties it twice a day.
Gas powered shower
The shower cubicle is a decent size and what I love is that the shower hose isn’t in a fixed position. Arthur has only just become used to showers and hates it over his eyes but this wouldn’t have been an issue. You would need to provide your own shampoo, although if you are like me and forgetful, the honesty shop does stock some. Also, as towels are provided for each guest you don’t have to bring your own but as you only get one, you may want another for your hair.
The boys were really quick to fall asleep on our first night and woke around 8am Saturday morning. I was expecting lots of noise overnight as of course we were sleeping outdoors but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. There were sounds of the horses galloping in the distance and the sounds of the local kennel dogs barking. It wasn’t a disturbance though but you knew they were there. The website does have a disclaimer stating that there are local kennels, a children’s activity centre, quarry, and garden machinery centre so to expect noise. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be and we all had a great nights sleep.
When we woke up on Saturday we decided we were going to go off and explore. Thanks to the welcome guide we decided we were going to and make use of our National Trust membership and explore Blickling House. As we were members parking and entry was free, and it was lovely to spend a couple of hours looking around the estate. There were little activities for the boys to do along the way and we made sure to visit the small RAF museum they have there too.
You can’t travel this close to the seaside without a visit. Sheringham Beach is literally a 5 minute drive away from BumbleBarn and is a really lovely beach. Parking was pretty reasonable too. We parked next to The Mo, Sheringham Museum and it only cost us 1.30 an hour and parking between 6-8pm is free. There is plenty to do around the beach, not only visiting the museum (reasonably priced too), there are fish and chips shops, restaurants, amusements, independent shops as well as chain ones too. It really is worth a visit!
*We were given 2 nights stay in return for an honest review. All opinions and photos are my own*