Why I love safari tents

This year we decided to change over from Bell Tents to Safari Tents,so we spoke to the good people at Clear Sky safari and lo and behold we had ten safari tents up an erected!

So why change? Well, the Bell tents were lovely, they were cute and pretty and quite spacious for a tent, however we had a few problems with them. Firstly because of the pitched sides we could only stand upright in the centre of the tent, so whenever we changed the bedding on the air beds at the side of the double bed, we had to kneel squat, or bend, and as we are not getting any younger it was quite hard work!

Secondly at the end of the season the Bell tents had to come down which involves taking out furniture, beds, and duvets and put them all back in again at the start of the next season, safari tents can stay up saving a lot of time, and most probably my marriage!


Thirdly they have a wooden floor which is much easier to clean, and covered decking which is great for when there is the occasional rain shower.

So Bell tents, we had a brief affair, but Safari Tents are a match made in heaven!

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Girls weekend breaks in worcester – top five things to do

Worcester is somewhere that you may ever have heard of, but there is plenty here to do for a weekend break 

1. Shopping – There is some great shopping to be had in Worcester. There are all the major chain stores or course, and a fab variety of independent stores that you don’t see anywhere else. The city is lovely and compact so easy to cover without getting sore feet, and pretty with cathedrals and rivers.


For bigger shops hop on a train to Birmingham and in 20 minutes you can be there, but I prefer Worcester every time!

2 Eating – new restaurants are popping up all the time in Worcester. Opening this year is the new cathedral square development 


That plans to have a Yo Sushi,  Ask, All Bar One, Byron hamburgers, Cosy Club, and Miller and Carter – I am getting hungry already!

3 Day spa- just down the road from Canvas and Clover is The Elms luxury hotel which has a Spa. You can book a day spa package and spend the day in the pool and hot tub or have a beauty treatment or two

4 Go Ape or Quad biking – so girly spa treatments aren’t for you, there is a Go Ape course at Wyre Forest around 20 mins away which is really good fun if you aren’t afraid of heights, or try Peachley Quad trekking just down the road for some off road fun


5 Walking – When I meet up with my friends we like to go for a long walk to justify all the food and drink we later consume! there are walks all over Worcestershire but one of the prettiest is the Malvern Hills 


And best of all it’s free!
There are loads more things to do of course, come to Worcester, stay at Canvas and Clover, and have fun!

Glamping – the healthy holiday

It is a new year and yet again I am determined to make myself, and my family healthier. We are eating more fruit and vegetables, I have joined a gym, I have stopped buying crisps and chocolate snacks for the lunchboxes, and I am now wondering, one week in, how long it will last!

I know as a physiotherapist, the huge importance of regular exercise and a healthy diet, but practicing it in the real world with all its temptations, and claims on my time is another story. It has led me to think, how healthy is glamping, and can I do anything to make  it healthier?

Eureka do a great blog post :the ten health benefits of camping, so I will go through them for all of you who haven’t seen it:

  1. Fresh air – research shows that some time spent outdoors can lower blood pressure, improve digestion, and give your immune system an extra boost.
  2. Socialization – research shows socializing can delay memory problems and extend your life span.
  3. Improved mood – research shows – spending time outside in the sun can even out levels of melatonin in the brain.
  4. Reduced stress – this is related to higher levels of serotonin and increased oxygen, but I think that not having to put the tent up and make the bed helps enormously with this!
  5. Exercise – like it or not it is good for you and the endorphins it produces make you feel good. You may complain about trekking across a field to get to the toilet or fetch the wood, but you will feel better for it.
  6. Sunshine – if you are lucky enough to get some, it is great for vitamin D production which is really good for our health.
  7. Improve your sleep – many of our glampers report a really great nights sleep on the double beds, which makes you feel really refreshed.
  8. Good food – Our local butcher produces great quality burgers and sausages, and we have some local farm shops that do great fruit and veg – a perfect combination (obviously there is the toasted marshmallows for an unhealthy treat!)
  9. New experiences – studies show that new experiences help to keep our brains healthy, whether that be making a fire, or balancing on a barrel!
  10. Meditation – there are many physical and social benefits to being free of TV, tablets, wifi, xbox etc. If only for a few days chatting, singing, playing charades, engaging with nature, and each other

All we need is the sun, and  a healthy happy holiday is assured!

 

 

How to be a green glamper!

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We are very proud to have been awarded a Green Tourism Gold Award, in fact we are the only campsite in the West Midlands to have been given the award.

Glamping does lend itself quite nicely to being an eco friendly holiday. Our tents are in a field with no electricity, so lighting is by lanterns and solar lights which is atmospheric, and pretty, but also eco friendly. A balance needs to be considered though between an eco friendly no electricity existence and the needs of a modern glamper who wants hairdryers, and plugs for charging phones! We have electricity to the shower block where there are hairdryers and plugs for straighteners, and plugs for charging phones. This allows a balance between facilities and eco friendly minimalism.

We try and encouraging recycling by having separate bins in the sheds to allow sorting of rubbish, and we have a compost bin with instructions on what to feed it. We use locally sourced apple juice and biscuits as a complimentary gift to our guests, and  stock fair trade products in the shop.

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Bugingham Palace – when the flag is flying the Queen (Bee) is home!

We encourage bugs, bees, birds, anything that moves really! If you are not used to being at one with nature, the noises, particularly at night can be a bit disconcerting, but nothing compared to I’m a Celebrity!

To be truly green you should arrive by public transport, which can be a challenge in rural areas, certainly here we are a 30 minute walk from a bus stop. You should recycle, conserve water by not taking super long showers, buy local produce to cook on the barbecue, and use minimal electricity. It is really easy to do all that when glamping for a couple of days, so why not go green next year, and help preserve the planet by glamping!

 

The end of the journey, or just the beginning?

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When I started the blog in October 2014, the title was, ‘Canvas & Clover – our journey from a beautiful field to a gorgeous glamping site’. Well in many respects the journey is over, we have had our first full season, and have created a gorgeous glamping site. We have however got loads of things we are planning to do for next season to make it bigger and better, so in many respects really, the journey has only just begun!

What have I learnt?

  1. It’s a lot of work – I really underestimated how much work is involved in cleaning the tents and sheds and making them up again for the next guests. To do one tent, or two is ok, but ten tents is a handful – more staffing is required for next year.
  2. It’s fun – I really enjoyed meeting so many lovely people that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. My son loved playing football with the children, my daughter enjoyed showing guests to the tents. Fish and chips on a Saturday from the van was a much loved activity!
  3. Things go missing – Towels, washing up bowls, scissors, nothing expensive but a steady trickle of things that need replacing. I like to think that it is accidental, but a published survey of holidaymakers seems to indicate that it is not!
  4. The work doesn’t stop when the guests go – Although the last guests have left, we still need to wash, waterproof, move furniture, build bases, update the website…. the list just goes on!
  5. Believe to achieve- Many times we thought we couldn’t do it, there was so much to do it was overwhelming, it would have been so much easier to have given up but we didn’t. It taught me that we are all capable of achieving things if we work hard and persevere.

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Talking of achieving, we only went and won an award as well!

 

 

The final countdown!

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From the branding, the naming of the business, the design of the tents, the marketing, tweeting, blogging etc.- it has been a real learning curve. As a physiotherapist by profession, I feel I have a good deal of transferable skills in communication, organisation, and communication, but as I have discovered, I was also lacking any knowledge at all in many, many other areas!

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So time is ticking, I am working all hours still painting furniture, ordering apple juice, cleaning toilets, planting herbs. It is going to be quite a race to the finish, and I expect the children will have to look after themselves for the next month or two. But hopefully in the longer term it will be worth it, and we will have a business we can all contribute to as a family which will not make us rich, but will give us a much better work life balance than dairy farming ever has.

Wish me luck………….

 

 

 

The history of glamping

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If I could talk to my teenage self complete with demi wave and ‘choose life’ t-shirt and tell her what the future held, I would say: “You will be married with two kids”, yes, that sounds good. “You will have a long career as a physiotherapist”, yes that’s in the plan too, “oh, and you will be the proud owner of a glamping site” – what on earth is that?????!!!!!

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According to Wikipedia the term ‘glamping’ first appeared in the UK in 2005, and is a combination of ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. It is not clear who actually started using it first, but like it or not, we are stuck with it now. Glamorous camping has been around for a lot longer than the terminology, Mongolian tribes lived in yurts, and rich Europeans and Americans stayed in Safari Tents whilst on Safari.

Glamping is hugely varied which is one of its attractions, there is something for everyone, whether it is a treehouse for a romantic weekend for two, or a shepherds hut in the middle of nowhere. The things glamping sites should have in common are amazing views, and comfortable beds, they are generally ecologically friendly, and often allow you to connect with nature in some way.

I wanted somewhere eco friendly, that could be a place to create memories with family and friends away from the x-box, PlayStation, mobile phone. I wanted the traditional ‘camping’ experience that kids love, without the arguments about putting up tents in the rain. I wanted a chance for children and adults alike to experience stars twinkling at night, and birds tweeting. Hopefully I have achieved all that, and Canvas & Clover can become part of the history of glamping.

Family entertainment without a TV – a few ideas!

When we went glamping as a family a few years ago, I was a little concerned as to how I was going to entertain the children without a TV. This probably indicates how, being a working mum with two children, I had become reliant on something to help me keep the children amused. As it happened I needn’t have worried, we played charades which the kids loved, and the kids ran around making up their own games which I loved. I made a mental note to do more of this when we returned home, and then promptly slipped back into my old lifestyle and forgot all about it.

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Apart from charades (which is a great game!) here are a few more ideas of things you can do:

1.Twenty questions: If its too wet to play outside, Decide on animal, vegetable, mineral, and try and guess what the other person is thinking about. We play this just with famous people as well.

2. Next letter: Choose a subject eg animals or food, the first person names something beginning with A, the second with B and so forth. to make this a little harder, play ‘I love my love’ eg I love my love with a D because his name is David, he comes from Denmark, and I shall give him a Dalmatian.

3. Bring a pack of cards, you can either play snap with young children, construct a card tower, or learn a more tricky card game with older children.

4. Make up a story: Start off a story with a couple of sentences, then the next person along adds to the story with another sentence, and so on and so forth going round the group until you have an entire story.

 

 

 

 

My families top tips for places to visit in Worcestershire

 

People have been enquiring about staying and asking what there is to do around Worcestershire, so I thought that I would ask my family what their top recommendations were:

  1. West Midlands Safari Park

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Bens choice was the Safari park, it is not too far away so he doesn’t get bored travelling there, there are plenty of animals to see as you drive round, then there are rides and slot machines to enjoy. It really is a full day out with loads to do. What is quite exciting is the plans to build a massive indoor water park there to be open in 2017.

2. Go Ape at Wyre Forest

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Emma’s choice was Go Ape at Wyre Forest. When the kids were little we would go there to play on the play area and walk in the woods. Last summer we went on Go Ape Junior and the kids really enjoyed it. It was just scary enough to be fun but not too scary that they burst out crying!

3.Laser Quest

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My husband’s choice was laser quest which is at Malvern in the same building as a small ice rink. You can just turn up and piggy back on whatever game is booked next if there is room, or book the whole place for a large group of you. He likes it because you can run around shooting people and he is pretty good at it, I mostly hide in a corner and get shot! A good way to burn off some energy on a rainy day.

4. Witley Court

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I chose Witley Court an English Heritage property because it is just down the road, there are plenty of walking trails and often in the school holidays they do treasure trails for the children. There are a couple of great play areas, and the grounds are beautiful to have a picnic and sit watching the fountains. You can also do an audio trail around the ruins which is really interesting.

That’s our top four, but there are a lot of other things to see and do. Roll on the warmer weather!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four reasons to build your own cob oven

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Cob is clay mixed with sand and straw, and has been used for building all over the world for centuries. I have booked Matthew Lloyd from the fabulous cob oven company (www.coboven.co.uk) to run a course at Canvas & Clover in June 2016 for anyone interested in building their own, and here’s why I think is a fab idea:

  1. It is eco-friendlyNo energy hungry cement is used in the mixture, and no machinery is required for construction. It is a sustainable method of building that connects us to our environment. The base can be made with old materials found around the farm, and recycled bottles. It also uses none fossil fuels and the wood we use is always waste product/sustainable wood.

2. It’s cheap

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There are a number of ready made wood fired ovens on the market for £1,500 onwards, building your own oven not only saves you a ton of money but is unique, and can be personalised to you.

3. Its tasty

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As well as making beautiful pizza, the oven should settle to 250 degrees and hold for several hours so is perfect for roasting – chicken, fish, lamb, kebabs, the only limit is your imagination! Food cooked in a wood fired oven has a smoky flavour, crunchy topping and fluffy crust, and it cooks really quickly – pizza is done in around 2 minutes or less so no complaints of ‘when is tea ready I’m starving’!

4. Its social and fun

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A cob oven can be a focal point in a garden and a great reason to invite friends over. I think that food just tastes better when eaten outside, and outdoor cooking might even tempt my husband to get involved, as cooking in a fire is infinitely more manly than cooking in our kitchen!

So a Cob Oven is the way to go in 2016, I think Friday night is going to be pizza night from now on.