Tag Archives: Holiday

In defence of the 24 hour holiday

Have you ever found yourself looking at a weekend to-do list and feeling completely overwhelmed by life in general?

That was how I felt last weekend.

Confronted by a list of life admin, household chores, budgeting tasks and wedding to-dos, I felt a clammy weight settle in my stomach, and a heavy fog of despair descend. Life is busy at the moment. And not entirely easy. It feels like a bit of a constant juggle where nothing ever gets done properly, just as well as can be in the time we have. Time gets stretched here, a food shop lasts an extra few meals there, a quick wipe around the sink serves as a sticking plaster for our hideous bathroom, and I feel like I’m constantly late for everything.

The sensible thing of course, is to make yourself a list, and methodically work your way through it, striking off tasks and replacing the dread with a warm glow of satisfaction at how you’ve managed to transform your tangled, sweaty cobweb of a life into an organised, peaceful sanctuary so slick you’re considering instagram-ing your (empty) dish rack.

I’ve got another solution. OK, it’s not so much a solution in that we still need to do a food shop. But it did help me get a bit of a perspective, a much needed rest and a break from the pressures that from time to time can mount up on us and make us feel like we’re crumbling under the weight of us.

The 24 hour holiday. As far away as you can reasonably get in a few hours. I promise, it’s worth it. And it’s amazing what you can cram in.

At 3.30pm last Saturday I was calling round places in south Devon, trying to find somewhere with a dog-friendly, last minute room available. At 4pm I’d found a yurt in a field near Totnes, with availability, but no dog friendliness. At 4.15pm I’d burst into grateful tears when my parents said they’d look after the dogs, at 4.30pm we’d dropped our two hairy hounds off for their night away, and by 5pm we were on the road, overnights packed, and on our way to Devon. At 3.30pm on Sunday, feet coated with sand, faces tinged with sun, tired, happy, more relaxed than I can remember, we got in the car to head home.

In a mere 24 hours we’d:

  • Got ourselves down to a Mongolian yurt in an idyllic buttercup-filled meadow in south Devon, overlooked by a Shetland pony and visited by a springer spaniel/collie named Grace.
  • Munched on delicious, hearty vegetarian food at Totnes stalwart Willow, washed down by organic English ale
  • Lit a fire in the brazier by our yurt, opened a bottle of red, and sat chatting and stargazing, enjoying the peace of the Devon countryside – and actually spending time together that wasn’t working out finances or delegating chores.
  • Woken up to the sound of birdsong, sunshine streaming into our cosy little circular yurt-bedroom. Opening the door to let some air in meant being greeted by a sea of sunlit buttercups, and a confused swallow who flitted in and then out again.
  • Explored the quirky little town of Totnes, eaten freshly baked slices of pizza, sipped delicious coffee, people watched, visited the beautiful Bowie gallery and discovered the Own Art scheme (which everyone with an interest in art, but non-sympathetic bank balance should know about)
  • Rambled round a charity shop and bought books to take to the beach (and some £1 records)
  • Trotted down to Bantham Beach (on the recommendation of the super friendly lady in the Bowie gallery) – a wide stretch of holiday-worthy sand with its very own Gastrobus selling delicious-smelling burgers, cakes, snacks and drinks
  • Paddled in the warm water, collected shells, walked down the beach and flopped down with our charity shop books for a peaceful beach read

Not bad for 24 hours. And nothing like getting as far away as possible from the grinding pressure of everyday life to give you a bit of perspective on it all.

Oh, and it cost us a grand total of £150 all in. Accommodation, food, parking, the lot. Top tip – set your budget and get it out in cash to stop yourself accidentally going over…

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Romance ahoy! A weekend in a Gypsy Caravan

Romantics, lovers of nature and the glorious Welsh countryside, golden scooped out bays, laden blackberry bushes and crystal clear sea views – read on.

Read on too, those who love a good nod to the environment – eco-chic-ers and glampers etc. 

A couple of weeks ago, the two of us plus hound took a trip to one of right-on eco agency Under the Thatch’s most whimsical properties – a darling gypsy caravan in an orchard (with rather luxurious barn conversion with kitchen/lounge/bathroom close by).

Under the Thatch rescue quirky, tumbledown buildings and abodes – from cottages to shepherd huts, circus wagons, gypsy caravans and even a boat – restoring them with an emphasis on local, low-impact materials and labour, and giving them a new lease of life as holiday homes. Have a browse through their gloriously gorgeous and ever-growing list of properties here

Meanwhile, here’s a review of our trip.

WE’D set out to arrive before dark.

But as with all the best laid travel plans, we’d failed, and found ourselves negotiating winding, Welsh lanes in the pitch black, me clutching two phones – one with the map open, the other featuring email directions.

Tempers fraying, remarks curt and bearing a distinct tone of warning, we barked communication while the dog whined pitifully in the back, bladder full and belly empty.

But grumpiness turned to relief as we drew down a shadowy track, finally spotting lights, and were greeted by Mandy, the friendly B&B owner at Morfa Isaf Farmhouse.

“That’s good timing,” she chirped through our hopefully wound down window, directing us to our meadow and gypsy caravan.

“I’ve put the lights on for you,” she added, and all three of us experienced the wave of relief any traveller feels on reaching their destination, unfurling achey bodies out of the car and breathing in fresh, clean night time air.

The gypsy caravan by the sea is one of Under the Thatch’s most winsome properties.

A grass-green and cherry-red, bow topped wagon, it sits prettily in its own private little meadow, with views over the blackberry-laden brambles straight out to sea.

Worries about getting chilly in September were soon put to pasture by the incredibly efficient tube heating and thick, sheep’s wool insulation. And with a high, snug bed, windows framed by patchwork, floral curtains and a heart motif that would have been shmaltzy anywhere else, it was love at first sight for us and the caravan.

The temptingly snug interior

The temptingly snug interior

The meadow backs onto a converted barn, complete with well-equipped kitchen where we rustled up a late, and very welcome, dinner, and a bathroom – which proved the only slight disadvantage; dehydrated from our long drive, followed up with a couple of glasses of red, we made it through the first night, but had to take a little night time visit to the other end of our field during the second – it is quite a serious commitment to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Waking up in the morning, the ribs of the bow-top made for such a pretty bedroom I tried to carry on dozing with my eyes open just so I could carry on looking at it – which didn’t prove very effective.

And catching September sunlight gently filtering round the curtain, the dozing didn’t last long – drawing the curtains to the view we’d missed the night before made our late arrival worth it.

Overlooking the sparklingly fresh, expansive Ceredigion coastline, the location couldn’t be more picturesque, and after a few false starts trying to find our path, we scrambled our way down to the caravan’s ‘secret cove’, a golden sweep of sand carved into the steep cliff, seemingly inaccessible unless you know the way, and half-lapped over by gloriously clear water.

The secret cove

The secret cove

We couldn’t resist a dip, and stripping down to our undies there was no chance of our privacy being interrupted – so we leapt in like seals, dragging the reluctant water-hating hound away from the seaweed she was busy killing.

September sun glinting off the glacier-blue water, smooth, silken sand, and no one but us and the hound – it knocked some tropical locations I’ve been to into the proverbial cocked hat for enjoyability and a pristine beauty that left us giddy.

A walk along the dramatic coast path took us to nearby Llangrannog, where we treated ourselves to ice creams from the practically famous Patio Cafe – they’re recommended by Rick Stein, and made for a perfect holiday treat.

And laden with produce and kindling from the nearby Llwynhelyg Farm Shop – “Oh yes, we’re a food county,” the lady behind the counter proudly informed us – we hunkered down by our campfire for the evening.

A couple of locally brewed ales and some chunky slices of Welsh fruit cake bara brith for dessert later, we tucked ourselves in for another cosy night.

The weather was even kind enough to let us enjoy another breakfast outdoors – farm eggs with local mushrooms and spinach on seedy, brown bread, before a wander over fields and through woods – it is such a pretty area.

It was with a sigh and the kind of heavy heart that means you’ve had a darn good holiday that we said goodbye to our pretty little home for the weekend.

A happy pair

A happy pair

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