Our weekly columnist reviews a family weekend 'glamping' in Wales. There's no mobile phone signal, but she finds a sprinkling of gadgets make the trip a little smoother...
The kids get the hotseats
Our glamping adventure began on Friday when we collected the kids from school and nursery, bundled them into the car and hit the road in an attempt to beat some of the weekend getaway traffic...
And failed miserably. After making slow progress round the M25 we finally made it to the M4 only to discover the wet driving conditions had caused some accidents, one bad enough to actually close the motorway. So we were diverted off the road for a slow-moving couple of hours before finally rejoining the motorway.
At this point we were tempted to give up and head back home rather than arrive in the dark. But we persevered and thankfully the children were amazingly well behaved about the long stint in the car.
The secret to that was a constant supply of snacks and the onboard entertainment. The boys each had a portable DVD player strapped to the headrests in front with a special gadget bag and headphones - though they decided they didn’t want to wear their headphones, and instead create maximum noise. I wonder if it’s too late to get one of those soundproof glass panels, the ones you see in fancy limousines, installed in our car?
Not that it would have helped, with the warning beeps the car kept emitting every five minutes thanks to my eldest knocking over his water bottle and spilling water onto his seat belt buckle which then decided wasn’t fastened - hence the beeps. It did dry out. Eventually.
One Cat Farm
Slightly frazzled we finally arrived a few hours behind schedule at One Cat Farm, a tiny glamping site in Wales run by the lovely Jessie and Lyndon. The rain had stopped, our fire had been lit for us and even better, our snug little den had heating, lights and amazingly comfortable beds.
One Cat Farm
There are four dens on site, and the beds are kitted out with luxury linen on the sprung mattresses. The bed system is flexible and can be arranged to suit families, couples or sharers. There’s a table, stools, simple storage, electric lighting and even a socket. So you can charge up your mobile phone before casting it aside because (a) there’s no signal and (b) you’re getting it away from it all and it feels really nice to spend family time together without checking your phone.
Given the cold nights ahead we were worried we might be chilly in our little den but we were quite toasty thanks to all the insulation, double glazing and electric heater. Outside the den was our own campfire, a picnic table and a hammock that the kids soon took a shine too. There was also a little veranda where you could simply sit and watch the view over the meadows and ponds and try to spot the eponymous 'one cat'…
Ginger the cat
As we arrived in the dark we were keen to explore the site in daylight. It wasn’t long before we met Ginger the cat and his new companion - Mopsy the puppy. My boys were thrilled by both the animals, with Ethan preferring the cat and Logan opting for the dog.
The dens are on a field, at the top of which is the Pig Shed kitchen area, with gas hobs, sinks and a fridge. There’s a dining table and a couple of high chairs and a wood burning stove which meant it was always lovely and warm.
Next door are the washrooms with loos, sinks and hot showers. There are lots of family friendly nods, such as the changing mat, nappy sacks and bin plus a potty training seat for the loo.
I was a bit apprehensive about having to walk across the field to use the loo in the middle of the night (as it often the case for us mums) but luckily I managed to hold on (unlike my husband, who gave in at 6am). And I cunningly brought the travel potty, so the kids didn’t need to worry.
Lunch out and about
We hadn’t been to this part of Wales before but Ceredigion was stunning and One Cat Farm is located in a sheltered valley not far from the pretty seaside town of Aberaeron. We headed there for lunch followed by a trip to New Quay to play on the beach and try to spot some dolphins. Despite the chilly forecast it was pleasantly warm in the sunshine and my husband kept moaning that he hadn’t brought his shorts.
After that we picked up some supplies and headed back to our den to cook dinner over our campfire. Not forgetting to toast some marshmallows too. As well as DVD players we had brought along an MP3 player and bluetooth speaker, so we could enjoy some music, some chat and a couple of glasses of fizz (it is glamping, after all!). And, after all the fresh air and good local food, it wasn’t long until all four of us were fast asleep.
The next day we decided to explore on foot and take a walk to a nearby waterfall. Despite Logan nearly falling asleep in my arms on the way back it was lovely to walk through fields and see all the spring flowers in bloom.
After we sadly said goodbye to our little den, we visited the nearby National Trust property at Llanerchaeron. As well as a cafe and beautiful grounds to explore there are farm animals and we timed it well to see the baby lambs and piglets.
Chilling out at One Cat Farm
Then, sadly, it was time to get in the car and head back home. Thankfully, the roads were much quieter and we had a smooth return trip. Though I must get a cable to connect up the boys’ DVD players so they can both watch the same thing at the same time (as Logan kept wanting to watch what Ethan was, and vice versa). And the idea of that fancy glass soundproof panel thing is becoming ever attractive...
Buy the products reviewed in this article at Argos
For more information, latest rates and to book glamping, visit One Cat Farm online, now
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine to keep up with the latest news
"And, if you are in need of more, friendly, advice, have a read of some of my other columns..." Kirsty McCabe