Jess of the diary fields
Jess and Jasper go glamping in Dorset
Published in July ’14
The farmhouse B&B has really taken off this year; we have had guests in almost every weekend since the beginning of May. Before Lily came along, I regarded weekend bookings as an imposition on our social life. Frying sausages and exuding bonhomie to one’s bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed guests requires considerable effort, particularly when one is feeling fragile after a gaudy night and only a few hours sleep. The never-ending list of jobs to be completed each morning makes one think of cleaning out the Augean stables… and Hercules didn’t have to do it with a hangover.
Having always dreaded the inexorable decline into middle age, I am relieved to find that the transition from party animals to boring married couple has been surprisingly painless. Whilst we used to relish the prospect of ‘pulling an all-nighter’, Jasper and I are now content to curl up on the sofa with a decent bottle of wine and a good movie.
I recently remarked to Jasper that the only weekend that we didn’t have guests booked in to the B&B, for the foreseeable future, was the last weekend in June.
‘We should go Glamping,’ he announced.
I stared at him, agog.
‘Glamping?’ I queried. ‘Are you serious?’
‘Why not? I think it would be great fun. I’m bored with going to the same old places with all the mod-cons, going to bed and watching telly until we fall asleep. Glamping would be something different, don’t you think?’
I pictured the scene – the two of us ensconced in a plush tent by a river, cows lowing in the fields, larks singing overhead as Jasper and I lazed in hammocks while our food cooked on an open fire.
‘This one looks perfect,’ he said, handing me the newspaper.
I grew giddy with excitement as I read about the luxury safari-style tent, set in lush green pasture, just a 20-minute walk from Chesil Beach.
Jasper’s sister Tori had invited Lily to London for the weekend with her cousins. It would be the first time that Jasper and I had been away on our own since Lily was born… I booked it immediately.
The big day arrived and I was up with the proverbial lark, carefully checking that I hadn’t forgotten to pack anything for our expedition. Jasper wandered downstairs – a few hours later – just as I was lugging two hefty suitcases out to the car. He eyed them – and me – with a look of amused curiosity.
Having programmed the trusty Sat Nav, we set off. The weather was perfect: the sun was shining in a cloudless sky and warm air blew through the windows as we bowled along; we could taste the salt on the air as we drew nearer to the Jurassic Coast.
Finally, we crested a hill and there was the sea, framed magnificently in the V of an emerald-green valley.
Five minutes later and we had arrived at our destination; it was more beautiful than we could have imagined. The tent, nestled into a grassy hillside, looked straight out to sea. It was enormous, and within lay a wood burning stove, a squashy sofa and an exquisitely beautiful super-king-sized bed with crisp white linen and goosedown bedding. Outside were a table and chairs, two sun loungers and, best of all, a wood-fired hot tub: perfect for star-gazing.
I put a couple of bottles of Sancerre to chill in the gurgling brook that ran through the meadow, and Jasper stoked the campfire.
The afternoon drew on, and we reclined idly in our hammocks until dusk brimmed the shadows. I was dozing when I heard the rustle of a newspaper, shortly followed by an exasperated sigh and a succession of derisive snorts. It could mean only one thing: Jasper was reading the Daily Mail.
‘Listen to this,’ he tittered: ‘”A man miraculously escaped with minor injuries after being trampled by a bull when he tried to outrun the angry creature during an afternoon ramble.” What sort of idiot tries to outrun a bull? You have to run towards it to show it you’re not scared. Any fool knows that!’
He continued tutting while throwing more coals on the fire. We dined on sea bass and new potatoes beneath the stars. We sat by the fire looking out to sea. There was something mesmerizing about the way the waves danced and shimmered under the light of the full moon. And the silence, such profound silence… We both started at a noise behind us.
‘What was that?’ I hissed, as my notoriously fertile imagination shot suddenly into overdrive. We listened intently. There was a rustling noise coming from behind the tent and it was getting louder.
My mind played out a duelling-banjo-accompanied scenario wherein Jasper and I were chased through darkened meadows by psychotic in-breds wielding axes and chainsaws.
A great hulking shape loomed out of the darkness. Two horns shone in the gloaming. My shoulders sagged with relief. ‘Phew! It’s only a bull.’ There was no reply.
As I picked up my phone and crept stealthily towards the refuge of the hot tub, I turned around to see Jasper’s rapidly departing back. His legs were a single white blur as he bolted down the meadow towards the gate as though the Devil himself was snapping at his heels. ◗