It was the August bank holiday weekend, and I really wanted to be like those families who head away spontaneously for a night – we’ve never done that.
The budget allowed for this to be a one-night-only event, so options were limited.
We considered a self-catering house, but this seemed like a recipe for cooking, tidying and nagging in someone else’s house instead of at home – fine for a week long holiday in a setting with lots to explore, but not great for a single-night trip we figured.
So maybe a hotel? Neither of us were convinced about driving to another part of the country for a night with five in one room, waiting till the kids are asleep to put on the TV and watch the same programs as we do at home.
Then I remembered that a friend had mentioned glamping – for anyone not already familiar with this term, it’s “glamorous camping”. It’s camping for people like us who are not campers – who don’t own a tent, a cooking stove, a sleeping bag or a torch.
In fact, the idea of camping with three small children fills me with dread.
“The only thing better than camping is not camping”
– I read this on Twitter once and thought “yep”
But glamping, that’s a little different….we figured it might be a risk; it might not work; it might not be comfortable, but it would have the wow-factor for the kids – it would be something different, something for them to remember.
So a bit of googling and a few phone-calls later, we were booked into a Boutique Camping site near Mullingar. Yes I know, not the centre of tourism in Ireland, but it looked gorgeous on the website and was only an hour and a quarter away.
Well, an hour and a quarter if you don’t misunderstand the directions and drive 30km past the turn-off. But anyway. The journey home was only an hour and a quarter.
We arrived around 4pm, the kids very excited, full of chat about what to do if you have no fridge – “I think it means you have toasted marshmallows for breakfast, lunch and dinner” guessed Emmie. That should save on cooking then – a proper mini-break.
We were staying in a yurt – it definitely had the wow-factor. Deceptively large on the inside, it had beds, a wood-burning stove, and a couch (as you do). There were lanterns and little candles dotted all around the floor – it was extremely pretty, and a far cry from the tents I remember from childhood camping trips on Achill Island.
“Wow” we all said. “It’s just like a hotel” I said. “I’ve never been in a hotel” Clara said. Oh dear. Anyway, moving on – we started to discuss dinner plans.
My husband and I had had a conversation about whether or not we should book somewhere for dinner, and one of us had said that there would be no need, and we should wing it. Maybe eat in the campsite, maybe have a barbecue or maybe eat out. As it turned out, there is nowhere to eat onsite unless you book in advance (which we knew, but we didn’t book) and a barbecue probably wasn’t going to go well as we hadn’t brought any food with us, so eat out we would.
We tried to look up the number for a restaurant that the very helpful campsite owner had recommended, holding our phones high in the air to get an internet connection. No go. We finally got through to Directory Inquiries – saved!
We asked for them to send a text with the number, which of course they always do. But this time they didn’t. Or there wasn’t enough coverage. Back to holding the phone aloft. Eventually we got an internet connection, a phone-number, and made a phone-call. To a booked-out restaurant.
We desperately asked the girl who answered the phone for another recommendation which she kindly gave us.
Cue repeat of Directory Inquiries, phone-in-the-air, booked-out restaurant routine.
Time to give up and order pizza.
After an outdoor tea on the picnic table beside our Yurt, we went for a walk; hunting for giants and bears and fairies. The kids got stung by nettles much to their surprise, so we found dock-leaves to take the sting away. They’ve never encountered nettles before and while I don’t wish pain on them, perhaps being stung once is a rite of passage.
We got back to the yurt around 9 o’clock, the girls were asking when they could toast marshmallows and I was trying to convince them that the non-toasted variety were just as good. They were having none of it and our trip was in danger of losing buy-in from it’s small participants.
Then all was saved – husband went to drop some plates back to the campsite kitchen and on the way discovered a campfire with just enough embers left to do some now critical marshmallow toasting,
We headed over to the campfire and introduced our kids to “proper camping” activities – as dusk fell, we toasted marshmallows and ate every one of them. We played chasing, we took photos, we told stories of childhood camping trips, and we laughed properly – now we were finally having some real fun.
The kids went to bed tired and happy, and fell asleep very quickly in spite of the fact that five of us were together in one tent.
Though to be very honest, the last thought I had as I blew out my candle and lay down to look at the domed roof and the night sky above it was “What the hell am I doing in a yurt?”
Was it good? Yes, it was great actually. Would we do it again? Yes, but with a good dinner plan and an earlier arrival. And an extra bag of marshmallows.
We stayed in a Yurt which we booked with BoutiqueCamping.ie – a luxury camp-site in the village of Castletown Geoghegan .