Switch Off and Enjoy Yourself – Digital Detox Breaks


Glamping northumberland 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?!)


Why Northumberland

Why Northumberland?

A blog post by Phil 

Last week saw the return to our screens of Tales from Northumberland with Robson Green (ITV1 8.00pm), a series which sees actor Robson Green return to his home turf tonight to lead viewers through a unique part of Britain that remains close to his heart. With this in mind, I thought I’d share my own thoughts on Northumberland and why I think that it is such a fantastic place to visit.

I’ll start with a bit of a confession. I’m not a native Northumbrian. I spent my early years in the suburbs of South Tyneside and, despite it being almost on my doorstep; Northumberland wasn’t a place I knew a great deal about. I associated it with farms and coal mines and strange accents and unpronounceable place names like Ulgham, Bellingham and Wark (pronounced Uffham, Bellinjum and Walk). I had an awareness that there was a big county up here, with open countryside, castles and a coastline; but it wasn’t until I moved up here in 2005 that I began to appreciate just how diverse and fascinating a place it actually is. It may sound like a cliché (and I try to avoid clichés like the plague), but there really is something here for everyone. 


Seahouses, Northumberland, glamping



There are all sorts of landscapes to take in, from the mountainous Cheviots to the forest of Kielder to the stunning 30 miles of beaches including the beautiful Druridge Bay. There are historic market towns such as Alnwick, Berwick, Rothbury, Hexham and Morpeth to visit. There are thousands of years of history encapsulated in features such as Hadrian’s Wall, Alnwick Castle (used as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films) and Bamburgh Castle, the venue for our own wedding in 2012. Some of the darkest skies in the country at Kielder Observatory, or coastal nature reserves at like the Farne Islands, Coquet Island and (of course) Druridge Bay.


Druridge bay, Northumberland, sunrise, glamping

Druridge Bay, Northumberland


So whether you’re a cyclist or a stargazer, windsurfer or walker, whether you want an adventure or a relaxing escape, whether you’re a biologist or historian or if you just want a nice pint and some home cooked food in an old fashioned country pub there’s plenty of good reasons to come to Northumberland.


Bamburgh, castle, beach, Northumberland, camping

Bamburgh castle



I couldn’t even begin to list everything that there is to see and do in Northumberland in one blog, much as Robson Green couldn’t fit everything into one programme (or even series), so I’ll spend the next few weeks sharing my thoughts and experiences to help you all to realise that Northumberland is somewhere that you really must visit.

You can see a fantastic video of the Northumberland Spirit at www.druridgebay.com and can get more information about the county at Visit Northumberland.

#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



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





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





#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.


4 onions

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

Olive oil

Bottle of beer (optional)



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!




#NECOASTHOUR Weekly networking for businesses on the Northumbrian Coast


You may have heard of #twitterhours, or you may not! To be honest Twitter is fairly new to me; it has taken me a while to get comfortable with it. Maybe because I like images and stories I am more of a Facebook fan.

What I’m not so keen on with Facebook is getting to know just too much about people’s rants, ramblings and the often queasy depths of the details of lives that are put in haste into the public domain. Twitter is more succinct I feel. It is easier to get a message across in a few more thought out words. I like it when businesses use it to let you know what they offer, in 140 more interesting characters.

I am also a Localite, if such a word exists (if not I will stick a # in front of it and claim it) and like to know what is going on around me, so the idea of Twitter Hours appeals to me. There are already highly successful Regional Hours out there, I’m a big fan of #northeasthour, and if you’ve not tried it I thoroughly recommend popping in.

The Northumbrian Coast is a unique place full of fabulous communities and entrepreneurial spirits who live and work there and towns like Amble are bursting with new eateries and fabulous little niche businesses and I want to know about them so we can connect our guests to those places to eat, shop and enjoy. I’ve wished for some time that someone would start a Twitter Hour for our coastal areas where guests can research a hashtag before they arrive and see what is going on, and where residents and businesses can connect and get to know each other. Nobody did, so I have.

I don’t know whether it will work or not, but on Tuesdays from 8-9pm we will have a chance to find out. So if you have an interest or a business offer in our coastal areas (and by coastal I include the surrounding towns) or if you are a guest or resident interested in what’s happening, just Tweet a Tweet using the #necoasthour hashtag, or just type that hashtag into search between 8-9pm on Tuesdays and see what’s happening. See you there.

You can follow #necoasthour on Twitter and Facebook as @necoasthour.

Blog by Alison, of Alison and Phil at The Bells of Hemscott.

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!

An idea

I’m a seasoned camper and I love nothing more than getting away from it all and enjoying the smell of the grass, the dew in the fields in the morning and the space that comes with camping. Or at least I love the idea of it, as I haven’t yet found anywhere as good as my own doorstep. As for the grass, dew and space, well we’re usually pitched next to the noisiest group on the campsite, the dew is pouring rain, and the grass… Well I suffer chronic hay fever so if you see a very glam Bell Tent this summer shaking with sneezes, pop by and say hello!

For a few years now I’ve gone away with friends on little camping expeditions, husbands at home, girls together with good food and wine and the children all excited to toast marshmallows on the fire (I don’t have children but for this purpose I borrow niece and nephew who come along enthusiastically in the promise of the marshmallows and campfires). the kids have never actually gotten to the marshmallows as the mothers and aunts are so keen to get the wine flowing that they are usually tucked up in sleeping bags and sound asleep before we realise that we forgot the marshmallows and guzzle them while they sleep.

Last year was different. We were all a bit busy and disorganised and that camping trip never came to be. A last minute plan came together that some of us would camp for the night on our farm, beside the pond, in a secluded field. We launched ourselves there, 4 adults and 5 kids and a dog, by transport consisting of 2 quadbikes and a trailer, and enough camping gear and marshmallows to keep an army of campers happy for a whole summer.

We had the best time we had had from anywhere we had ever stayed. A bottle of Glenmorangie sealed this. The kids loved the open fields, the two girls loved going to the field toilet (honestly, they kept asking each other if they were ready to go again, strange) the men loved the fire and the beef stew we had cooking in the pot, the dog, well he enjoyed the lovely stew that he thought we had cooked just for him while we were distracted by said Glenmorangie, and the women felt smug that we had created this happy day. That night, after Mrs Farmer had delivered fruit crumble and white sauce to the needy campers, in the dark fields by the campfire and moonlight a idea was born of glamping holidays that were affordable, rustic and fun. We also realised that next morning that bins would be a good idea, our rustic heaven looked like a hurricane had ripped through.

So that’s where we are, we took a decision on Bell Tents as we love the space they offer and they look great. We have decided to trial the campsite for 28 days this year before we make any more decisions about the way forward. Initially we thought we’d go for August but following feedback from various sources we have changed that plan to open on selected weekends between the end of May and end of August. There will be up to six tents, all adequately spaced out in a huge field. As said field if off grid we will have long drop loos (if you’ve never seen one of these google them, they really can be very pleasant to use and don’t smell – we’d much rather go down this route than the portaloo cabin one). There will be hot gas powered showers too. With up to 6 in a tent, a whole weekend away costs as little as £26 each.

The camping field(s) are tucked away on a quiet part of the farm away from roads and vehicles and overlooking wildlife ponds that are teeming with life, including our resident swans. The no car policy helps keep the fields quiet and safe to run around. We’ll ferry guests gear from the car park to the tent though, part of the fun of glamping is bringing too much stuff!

Existing Bell Tent owners are welcome to bring their own tents and a space will be set up for them too.

Next to the farm is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach where you can run for miles, often without seeing other people. We also have a holiday cottage for relatives and friends who prefer something a bit more ‘sturdy’, see here for more information about the cottage and surrounding area.

We’ve never blogged before, so please bear with us, we hope to keep you updated of our progress throughout the summer. If you are interested in our campsite please see here and we are on Facebook at @bellsofhemscott and @druridgebayholidays for the holiday cottage, and also on Twitter. Pop by our Facebook pages now for a chance to win a free weekend stay.

Bye for now, Alison and Phil