This was my first experience of glamping (albeit on the cheap with our own gear). I managed to pick up a four bed Coleman for £35 at a car boot sale and I could have got it for much less if my companion had managed to curb his enthusiasm!
We stayed at Ashurst (site owned by New Forest National Park) which has great central facilities: clean loos, hot showers and recycling facilities. This picture shows my blue family tent next to my sister’s glamorous canvas palace!
The main advantage of having such a large tent is being able to bring proper beds, pillows and bedding. My sister has a range of full sized inflatable furniture including a double bed. Oh yes, she also has a (stand at) outside kitchen, rugs, fairy lights…you name it. And she manages to cram it in to her little red Fiat 500!
Pitches look out over common ground where the ponies wander whilst waiting for you to prepare your breakfast, lunch or tea (have I mentioned I’m a northerner?). For their safety, please try to leave the ponies alone as they are wild, untamed animals. There is plenty of natural food for them to forage so be firm…there’s no way they need your bacon sandwich!
The whole place seems magical and it is surrounded by (mostly flat) bike trails so I will have to re-visit to explore at length. We had a lovely slow drive through the unique landscape of the common land on our way to the seaside. There is a maximum speed limit of 40mph on unfenced forest roads and the drivers are urged to take special care at night to protect the free roaming animals.
Lepe Beach has a cool new restaurant called The Lookout with views over the Solent and loads of sheltered picnic areas. There is a mile of golden stone and sand (we built cairns and invented a game involving throwing stones). Kids can’t get in to much trouble here as the sea is puddle deep. Don’t forget to pack Crocs or jellies!
Another spot for a day out is to Burley which is a hub for cycling and famous for having witchy inhabitants (a great place to go for October Half Term: aka Halloween?).
At the end of a slow day sight-seeing you can let the children roam free. My children loved spending time here and managed to find a witch (their crazy aunt) on a treasure hunt in the woods.