Last May, we jumped at the opportunity to try out glamping whilst attending our lovely friends’ wedding in Norfolk. It was our first time doing any sort of camping with the Little Bear, but we suspected she would love it as she is never happier than when she’s outdoors. We were a little unsure of how the logistics of a tent, preparing food, and most of all where and how she’d sleep would work. So we thought that trying a slightly more civilised style of camping initially would be perfect as a test run.
The campsite, Gorsey Meadow, is a wilder style of campsite which we loved. Cars are only allowed when unloading and packing up again, this was great with a toddler as most of the time we could be assured she could run around safely. And she ran around a lot! She was so incredibly happy the whole time we were there. This might just be because she got to have baked beans for breakfast everyday, but I think it was much more because she had space to explore without us needing to helicopter round her all the time – although we were still keeping an eye of course.
The tent was amazing too, it really helped my campaign with Will that we need to buy a bell tent ourselves. Will is more of a traditional camper and his first reaction when walking into the tent was ‘this isn’t camping’. The tents are seriously huge, even well over 6 foot Will could stand up in most of it. There was enough room for the travel cot and a double mattress for us plus room to spare. A two hob camping stove with grill powered by gas is provided along with crockery, washing up stuff, a barbecue, and enough pans to do a complete fry up in the morning (this was very much confirmed as we cooked for the bride and groom the morning after the wedding!). An icebox is regularly refreshed with ice packs to keep things cool. All in all very low stress.
I really love the feel of camping under canvas as well – everything gets a lot less sweaty than in more synthetic tents. The back to nature approach of Gorsey Meadow means there’s no electricity point anywhere – so phones need to be used sparingly or charged via a battery pack. There is also no drinking water so you have to have enough bottled. Both of these things are a bit of a disadvantage I have to say, but I can understand the difficulty of getting both drinking quality water and electricity to a remote field. The fact it still really feels like you’re in the countryside means a bit of a compromise. The very good showers, toilet sheds (both compost and normal) and washing up area all fit in with the environment really well.
The site also has just the right amount of entertainment for kids whilst still feeling wild, there’s a swing, a mini slide and some toys available to borrow. There’s also a shed selling things like big bottles of drinking water, barbecue charcoal and a few other camping essentials.
This is the complete opposite of your mega campsite with hundreds of tents and cars – there are only five bell tents and a few other pitches on the whole site. You can light fires in the permanent fire pits. Talking of fires, the only thing we really wished was included was wood burners in the tents. It was cold overnight in mid-May when we stayed and this would have made it feel much more like glamping! In the end the cold was the only interruption to the Bear’s sleep as when she woke up she, quite understandably, did not want to go back into her cold cot after warm cuddles. She sparked out really quickly when we brought her in with us though and she usually hates co-sleeping.
We didn’t spend much time exploring the area as we were quite swept up in wedding activities, beyond finding a very handy local Sainsbury’s supermarket to stock up on supplies about ten minutes down the road. Gorsey Meadow is in a great location not far from Norwich though – very easy to do either city or rural activities which is quite unexpected from such a wild campsite.
And what was our verdict on camping with a toddler? Well it was a huge hit. I know we will have to do it again as tents are still hugely popular here. Will put up our small one to double check it didn’t need reproofing before a work trip and we couldn’t then put it down again as she was so obsessed with ‘tent house’. I am currently trying to work out if we can save enough pennies for that bell tent!
This is a completely honest opinion of Gorsey Meadow campsite – we paid the normal price of £105 (2017 prices) a night as we were there for a wedding. The nearby Hockering Hall is a lovely wedding venue too!