Switch Off and Enjoy Yourself – Digital Detox Breaks

 

Glamping northumberland digital detox


Digital….Detox….

Those are 2 words that strike fear and hope in my heart. Fear of being without my iPhone and iPad (not to mention laptop for an length of time (and by that I mean over 2 hours) and hope, that I can rid the overwhelm that my daily digital digesting affords me.

There has been a lot of coverage in the news recently about our increasing appliance reliance especially when travelling. The Daily Mail reported that for most people, it has become a travel essential, and that a ‘digital detox’ revolution is taking place -a chance  to embrace the holiday free from modern technology and reminders of homelife.

They state that half of Brits admit to checking work e-mails while on holiday, while a third regret spending so much time on them. As a result rural getaways are becoming more popular in ‘digital detox’ revolution, many with no signal and no Wi-Fi, offering a chance to leave smartphones and tablets firmly switched off and enjoy the sights and scenery.

Glamping northumberland digital detox

Frances Booth, writing for Forbes Magazine says ‘Day to day in the digital world, we face near constant demands for our attention. And if we don’t let ourselves recharge and reboot, this can mean we quickly burn out or become inefficient’.

Booth recommends that by doing a digital detox, we give ourselves chance to step back temporarily. When we return, recharged, we’re more productive and have a different perspective. We’re also likely to have at least one great idea while we’re ‘not thinking about it’.

She also suggests that it ‘gives us chance to get back intune with our own rhythms and the rhythms of nature, rather than trying to keep up with the pace of the digital world. It lets us dictate how we spend our own time, rather than spending all our time answering other people’s demands’.

Telford Teacher, Martin Scott, head ofthe Old Hall School in Wellington, planned a digital detox week to try to wean youngsters off their favourite electronic devices.

He is trying to encourage them to find alternatives to technology – such as talking to each other or playing cards. Scott says “When we take school trips or holidays, we don’t allow mobile phones,” he said.“We’re hoping to challenge children to live without their mobile devices for a week.

Digital detox glamping northumberland

The Huffington Post challenged readers to get off their phones for Valentines Day “Valentine’s Day is all about being with your partner, showing them you care,” says relationship expert Susan Quilliam. “One of the key ways you can do this is to give them your full attention. And, while phones are wonderful 364 days a year, they’re also a distraction, bringing in the outside world and taking thatfull attention away from the relationship. 

Here are our suggestions for a digital detox:

· Switch off all mobiles, smartphones,tablets, laptops, and computers for a certain length of time.
· Spend your screen-free time doing whatever you enjoy. A digital detox is also a chance to recharge and rest.
· A digital detox should ideally be around 24 hours long as a minimum. It can be 72 hours or more if you want to build up to that.
· If you are going off grid, leave your devices in the car, that way you will have them for emergency phone calls but won’t be tempted to check them all of the time. Or Use that really old Nokia that is lurking at the bottom of the drawer, you know the one, has a phone, basic text and the Snake game, and is perfect as an emergency camping phone as it has a battery life of over a week.
· Take a camera! One of the biggest reasons for people taking their digital devices is that they need it for their camera. You can buy standalone cameras that don’t have a phone on them! Even better, try out some old style film cameras for a bit of fun (remember that feeling of getting your prints back from Boots after your hols?!)

#FoodieFriday – Chilli con Campfire

Chilli con carne, great made with minced beef for a quick, filling camping meal. But replace the mince with stewing steak, cook it in a Dutch Oven slowly over glowing embers and, oh yes…

Chilli campfire Glamping camping food Dutch oven

Chilli con campfire

 

What

Onions 1 per person

Stewing steak

Tin tomatoes

Beef stock pot made up with water

Smoked paprika

Smoked (or not) garlic

 

Smoked paprika chilli campfire

Paprika

 

 

How

Brown off the onions, and then the steak.

Add the garlic, 1 clove bashed and the paprika to taste (I used a tablespoon), the tin of tomatoes and the stock. Simmer for at least an hour over embers with the lid on.

Add the kidney beans and simmer for another half hour.

Chilli campfire Glamping camping food Dutch oven

Add the kidney beans

 

Season, and serve with nachos, sour cream if available, or with a baked potato from the campfire.

Open beer and Enjoy!

Chilli campfire Glamping camping food Dutch oven

Enjoy!

 

 

 

#FoodieFridays – slow cooked pulled pork

 

Campfire cooking barbeque pulled pork 

Who doesn’t love pulled pork?! And it is amazing cooked over a campfire, just remember to start early as the longer this is cooked the better. We love it for sandwiches the next day, but make sure it is stored in the cool box safely.

Ingredients

4 onions

1 each of coriander seeds, peppercorns, smoked paprika, sea salt, honey and/or maple syrup

Olive oil

Bottle of beer (optional)

 

How

Slice and brown off the onions, I use a mix or red and brown ones…

 Campfire food pulled pork

Mix a tablespoon each of coriander seeds, sea salt, peppercorns and smoked paprika and crush with a pestle and mortar. For camping you can make this before you go, or buy ground….

 

Campfire cooking pork rub 

Add a glug of olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup or honey (I use one of each!)…

Campfire rub meat 

By now the onions are almost caramelised so bash a few cloves of garlic, or smoked garlic, and throw in the pan…

 Pulled pork campfire cooking

Score the meat all over and rub the marinade in, and put the meat in the pan.

 Pulled pork barbeque

Put the lid on the pan and roast over the campfire for 3-4 hours. Make sure it isn’t too hot so this is best done over embers and charcoal. 

Campfire cooking pulled pork

I add a bottle of beer halfway through to get lovely sauce and keep the meat moist. This stops the opinions sticking too.

If cooking in a conventional oven roast on high for 30 mins before putting the lid on and roasting on about 170 or gas 3 for 3-4 hours.

 

Who are we?

We are Alison & Phil, owners of The Bells of Hemscott Wild Camping and Beachside Glamping. We love outdoor cooking and created Foodie Fridays on our campsite. 

For news and offers please sign up for our monthly Newsletter and check us out on Facebook. Anything you would like to see on our blog? Please leave a comment!

 

 

 

#foodiefriday Huevos Rancheros

HUEVOS-HEMSLEYHEMSLEY_WEB-455x330

We love this recipe when camping. Huevos Rancheros is a simple one pot meal and if you are staying on a farm make sure you get hold of some freshly laid eggs with beautiful yellow yolks.

This version is based on a recipe by Hemsley and Hemsley.

We hope you enjoy, let us know in the comments what your favourite camping recipes are and we may feature them on our blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 2 red peppers, halved lengthways then sliced into strips
  • 2 cans tomatoes or 10 medium tomatoes approx. 800g
  • 200ml water
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 eggs
  • a little cayenne or fresh red chilli to your taste, depends on the strength of your chilli
  • 1 small handful of strong cheddar cheese
  • 1 large handful of fresh coriander

How

  • Fry the onion, garlic, spices and bay leaves for 5 minutes until softened but not browned
  • Add the red peppers and fry for a further 5 minutes
  • Add in the tomatoes, stir, season with salt and pepper and bring to a medium simmer for about 10 mins until you have a thick sauce
  • Use a spoon to make 4 holes in the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each one. The eggs will poach in the sauce and cook in 4 about minutes for a runny yolk.
  • Season each yolk with sea salt and black pepper, spoon over guacamole (optional) and sprinkle with grated cheese

Changes for 2015

1411 Changes

2014 was an incredible year for us. The Bells of Hemscott was born early in the year and we didn’t have long to get it up and running so that we were operational for the summer. This led to some hectic weekends and no sleep for the summer!

We did learn a LOT though, and through feedback and guest participation on our facebook page we have made some changes for 2015 that we hope you will like.

First things first, we are moving the campsite. We noted that it was a longer walk from the farm than some of you may have liked so we have decided to move the campsite right into the sand dunes. That’s right, you will now wake up to the sound of waves on your doorstep and fresh sea air.

We will have more tents next year. There will be 6 Bell Tents, each in its own little area separated by small sand banks from the other tents. Another area will house 3 Bell Tents around a central campfire that can be hired individually or the three together for families to book together.

We are making some changes to our set up too. All tents will be equipped with a double air bed, double duvets, pillows and a bedding pack. We will ask guests to bring their own bedding for children (we can supply airbeds). Guests wishing to bring their own bedding will benefit from a discounted price. We will also be doing a reduced price for out of peak season.

A new Shepherds Hut arrived last month and will be an ideal get away for couples, we are already getting enquiries for the Hut so we expect it to book out quickly.

Other changes will include more covered kitchen areas for rainy days and undercover dining areas which we will update you on soon! We will also be responding to demand for Wild Camping pitches where you can bring your own tent for the weekend.

Bye for now, Alison & Phil

For news and offers please sign up for our monthly Newsletter and check us out on Facebook. Anything you would like to see on our blog? Please leave a comment!

Introducing Foodie Fridays

Foodie Fridays are all about great food, shared around a campfire with good company. We share with you some of our own recipes as well as some favourites that we think will work well on a campfire.

One pan meals are ideal for camping, who wants to spend time washing up?! We love this recipe from Good Food Magazine (March 2006).

recipe-image-legacy-id--513559_10

Ingredients
2 lamb steaks, approx 140g/5oz each, or 4 lamb chops trimmed of excess fat
1-2 tsp harissa paste
1 tbsp olive oil
handful dried fruit and nuts
85g couscous
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
100ml/3½ fl oz hot chicken stock or lamb stock (from a cube is fine)
handful mint leaves, torn

Method
Rub the lamb with half the harissa paste. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the lamb for 3 mins on each side for medium-rare, or a little longer for well-done. Lift the meat out of the pan and tip in the remaining harissa, the dried fruit and nuts, couscous and chickpeas, then stir to coat in the paste. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the stock. Stir briefly, return the lamb to the pan and cover with a lid or tightly-fitting foil for 10 mins until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork, season to taste and fold the mint leaves through to serve.

Closing the doors

This time last year the concept of ‘The Bells of Hemscott’ hadn’t even been born. I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to run a campsite but couldn’t fathom how to make that a reality, especially as both of us have full time jobs to hold down too. An idea was born from a camping trip up the fields in our own farm (that one was down to luck and sheer lack of organisation in getting away anywhere) and it made me realise the possibilities. 

So late last year I filled in my forms and sent them off to one of the large ‘club’ campsites with the hope that they would accept us as a ‘Certificated Site (CS)’ and we could set up without the need for planning permission. A few weeks later a couple of officers from the Club came out to do an assessment and were very positive about our chances, especially when they saw the vast empty beach next to the farm. They left us with a list of what we needed to do, and some information about the Club and its members. And that is when I started feeling like my feet were immersed in ice.

Do’s and Dont’s. I understand in clubs there have to be rules, and don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of our own, but I wanted a site that was a bit different and not all about EHUs, pitch sizes, layouts and membership cards. I wanted the type of camping I read about as a child (I confess that I was a avid Enid Blyton reader as a child and have adult longing for canvas, picnics, campfires and lashings of home made lemonade – only these days a dash of gin in it works well). I also did not like the idea of having to get guests to sign up to become members for £40 before they could stay for a night or two. I understand that these sites work very well for others but it wasn’t really for us, so we thanked them but advised that we could not proceed with our application.

Then I stumbled upon glamping and I was sold. This was the type of camping that I longed for so we took over a field on my parents farm and in March got to work for our opening in April. To be honest it was all a bit of a rush, but it was important that we were open for the summer of 2014 so that we could ‘trial’ the site. I remember explaining to a friend the terror that was plagueing me of us getting our first booking as that meant we were committed and had to buy all of the kit, and my fear that we wouldn’t get any more bookings and we’d spent our savings on a solitary weekend. Sensibly I thought we would just buy 2 or 3 tents, fill them with bookings and as we filled those keep adding tents until they filled. Simple. Not so. Our very first booking was for 5 tents at the beginning of April. Which in an odd way took the pressure off, we were committed. I needn’t have worried though as a few blog reviews that you can read here, here and here, as well as a mention in The Independent as one of the best exclusive use campsites in the UK saw to it that we were well past our predicted bookings for the season. I had started this blog at the beginning of the season to write about our journey and chart the story, but as life and running a campsite took its toll the blog fell by the wayside. 

From April to August was a blur really. We didn’t really have time to reflect on the site as we threw ourselves into running it, whilst working. August was the most difficult month as we were really busy and hit hard twice by storms, one of which blew our showers over and the other took a couple of tents (fortunately the worst happened on a Sunday morning between changeovers so there were no guests on the site). It is incredibly difficult seeing the fruit of your labour suddenly threatened and all you can do is watch and hang on for dear life. But we got through. A few lost bookings and a couple of written off tents could have been far worse.

When we closed the doors we did breathe a massive sigh of relief, but it was tinged with a hint of sadness that it was over for the summer. But we’d done it and if we learned one thing it would be that those doors would definately be open again next summer.

Since closing we had a much needed holiday to Croatia and started to consider all of the feedback we had received and started the planning for next season. We are in the process of testing ideas out with past and future guests to help make the site better for 2015 and we look forward to sharing those ideas very soon. If you stayed with us in 2014 and have any feedback that will help us please drop us an email, or join in the conversation on our Facebook Page.