Please feed the animals
Ivor Baddiel enjoys an eco-conscious, child-friendly holiday down on the farm
ASIDE FROM 40 years in the wilderness, J e ws are not the keenest of campers, preferring in the main the comforts of Marbella and Tel Aviv. But, thanks to Feather Down Farm Days, that might be about to change. Feather Down Farm Days bills itself as, “the most unique holiday experience in Britain”. A lofty claim when, essentially, it is camping on a farm, but having just sampled its formula, I can report that it is indeed a unique experience and, furthermore one that is exhilarating, relaxing and — crucially in this day and age — eco-friendly.
The organisation hit the UK last year, when nine farms offered the experience, and currently there are 13 on its books, stretching from Cornwall to East Lothian.
While the set-up on each farm is essentially the same, being working farms, each offers a different experience in terms of what is actually going on, and of course, the areas they are situated in have their own specific charms. For our Feather Down Farm Days, we ventured off to Pettywood Farm in Lincolnshire.
The sight that greeted us on arrival was what I imagine a prairie homestead looked like — eight, rectangular brown structures, each about the size of a garage, spread out in a semi-circle, with chimneys poking out from the roofs.
These were the tents, but, having spent a goodly chunk of my youth under canvas with Habonim , I can assure you they were unlike any tents I had ever inhabited.
Each has a wood floor with a large main dining/cooking area dominated by a wood stove. There is a dining table and chairs, a cool-chest (a camping fridge) and a couple of large, rather comfy deck chairs, all apparently 1930sstyle Dutch farmhouse furniture. At the back is a toilet, a master bedroom, a bunk bed and a canopy bed, which is essentially a bed in a cupboard and a huge favourite with the kids.
The overall impression is most pleasing: it is clean, comfortable and, gratifyingly, I didn’t have to erect it myself. But, having drunk it in, the first job was to get that wood stove going.
Each tent comes with a starter pack of logs and coal, but as any seasoned firestarter will tell you, you need kindling to get a fire going, and that meant grabbing the hatchet and attacking those logs. And boy was it sat-
Solace of the lambs: Art Jubb-Baddiel does a spot of feeding at Pettywood Farm in Lincolnshire