For some reason people look down on glamping, thinking it rather pretentious and not quite proper. It's as if they think camping is only the real deal if you spend two weeks on a miserable campsite in the pouring rain surrounded by screaming children and a chemical toilet that makes the Somme look like a birthday party.
At Bleak House we beg to differ. Glamping is where it’s at, a lovely way to spend some time enjoying a life outdoors while experimenting with unusual places to stay. With options ranging from tipis and yurts to domes and shepherd's huts, you get to do something out of the ordinary without having to actually own a tipi, yurt, dome or shepherd's hut. And the best part is that you can just turn up and start having a holiday, rather than spending hours wrestling with a tent you have borrowed and haven’t the slightest clue how to put up.
The only problem with glamping is that you generally have no idea what what will and won't be provided in your new home, despite the seeming rigour of the online inventory. Something as basic as not being able to light the fire or open a bottle of wine can send you into a tailspin. Over the years we have honed a list of items we always take with us, just in case. These are the things that you should pack alongside your people and pets to ensure you have all the necessary necessities to make your stay comfortable and endurable. And if they serve a purpose for glamping they are also pretty damn good for holiday cottages too.
Ok matches of any description are a good idea. It’s just our French matches look the part as well as doing the job. You’d have thought that most glamping establishments would provide something in the fire lighting department but if they don’t you are up shit creek without a BBQ. And many are the times that I have had to light the fire in a holiday cottage with rolled up paper ignited from the toaster. Take matches.
You’ve got a penknife that never gets used for anything more than opening Amazon parcels. Well this trip is what it’s been waiting for, with all those whittling opportunities that await you. We love Opinel knives from the Savoy region of France but our heads have been turned recently by a Taylor’s Eye Witness pocket-knife available from The New Craftsmen. Of the two, Opinel knives are far more reasonably priced and sold by Fforest General Stores, the online shop of one of our all time favourite glamping venues, Fforest farm near Cardigan.
It is a lesser-known rule that all self-catering accommodation in Britain must provide entirely blunt knives that would have trouble cutting through butter during a heat wave. And one of life’s less endearing frustrations is trying to cut onions up for your hot dogs with the culinary equivalent of those rounded scissors you used to be given at Primary School. So show one of your Global Knives the edge of your sharpening steel before you leave, wrap it up carefully and take it with you.
The presence of a cafetière in your accommodation is like a middleclass game of Russian roulette. Will there be one, won’t there be one? The reality is that there might be one but you bet it’s a one–cup pot which means teeny tiny cups of coffee for you and your partner or trying to make a second round of coffee while the damn thing is still red hot. Take a cafetière with you and end the speculation and burnt fingers.
This is a bit obvious but nonetheless essential. Glamping isn’t about a whopper of a rucksack you can put all your packing in – you take your normal bag for that – after all you aren’t inter-railing. What you need is a rucksack you can pack for a day at the beach and stuff full of swimmers, towels, books and a picnic. And that’s the job the Bleak House rucksack was built for. It looks gorgeous, is as comfortable as your favourite jumper and is built to take anything you throw at it or in it.
Hunter Chelsea Boots
These are a new discovery. Half Chelsea boot, half Hunter welly they are perfect for summer glamping. They slip on easily for a dash to the showers and keep the dew off your shoes as you pad round in the grass trying to make coffee. Plus they don’t take up as much room in your over-packed car as proper wellies.
This goes without saying but we go without taking one almost every trip. Write down a reminder now to take a bloody torch, with working batteries. Any one will do but you still can’t beat a Maglite in our book.
Spiral Dog Stake
A must if you have a dog and you don’t want it to spend his time nosing into other people’s yurt when you let him out at six in the morning (or weeing on all the guy ropes as our dog likes to do). These stakes keep your dog tethered but on a long line so you don’t cramp all of their style. They are as cheap as chips and stop the dog stealing the neighbour’s chips, just search for ‘dog tie out stakes’ on Amazon.
Your fellow glampers won’t necessarily thank you for blasting out dance floor classics as the evening draws in but the half bottle of Rose you just quaffed is telling you otherwise. Take a portable speaker and share your spotify playlists with the world. We always take our B&O Beoplay A2, with its smooth lines, leather handle and 24 hour battery life, it not only looks understatedly stylish but it's practical too.
Candles are a rather nice touch when you are off to the wilderness. As the light goes you want to be able to see the burnt food you are stuffing your face with. Either take a lantern you can put a candle into like this one from West Elm or, if you are feeling properly brave, take an oil powered Hurricane lamp like this one from Fforest.
Travel dog bed
We swear by the Glastonbury. It’s a portable dog bed that serves a multitude of purposes. In the car it keeps the sand off the seats, on the grass it keeps the dew off the dog, in the dome or tipi it keeps the dog off the bed. With it’s waterproof backing and fleecy front, it rolls up neatly when you go out for the day.
Although this list might sound rather onerous, the truth is that it will all fit inside the Bleak House rucksack, with the exception of the dog bed. It is a small package of goodies to bring a little extra style to your stay and remove a whole host of frustrations and let you concentrate on having fun.
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