24 hours in a shepherd's hut / late summer glamping

So easy to get to, off the M40 near Banbury, and then a few miles drive and here we are, in the middle of the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside ... to Chipping Warden and to Blackgrounds Farm Shepherd Hut Holiday for a quick 24-hour-getaway and to make the most of these last - and unexpectedly hot (proper hot! 31 degrees hot!) - days of summer.

Stopped for a Bloody Mary and some lunch at the very friendly pub, The Griffin, in the village, and then on to the farm. A proper, working farm, and as they train racehorses there are also the most beautiful horses in the fields.

Pauline, the owner, has been really friendly and helpful (and patiently answered my billion questions), and in person lives up to that too. It's all just lovely.

There are five huts, two right on the river and three further back in the fields, each totally private.

I love 'Orchard Hut' ... yes, it's in its own orchard. Apples fall off the trees constantly, sometimes making me jump and once landing on my head.

Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut
Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut

The hut itself is cosy and so cute - like playing house. Everything you could need - and a wood burner for when it does get cold. The Shepherd's Huts are available all year round and I'll definitely be back to experience it in super-cosy wintertime. 

There's a fridge, table, a George Foreman grill (presumably for bad weather days) and even towels are provided. The bed is supremely comfortable, and the view ...fields down to the river with horses just outside the door ... stunning. There are also fairy lights and candles to light - so pretty when dusk comes.

Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut
Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut

There is a picnic table, a gas barbecue outside, an incredible big fire pit, a stack of logs snug and dry under the hut. A huge hammock.

And an outdoor 'African-style' bathroom - with a HOT shower too. Gorgeous.

Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut
Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut

It was hot enough to brave swimming in the river. It started raining in the night and that was the last properly hot day of the year, so such perfect timing. The river swim was very cold but very beautiful; well worth it.

Cooked steak and kebabs. Made my 'signature' tomato and onion salad and a green salad too. Tore bits off the baguette to eat. Drank wine. 

Kept the fire going 'til the small hours before closing those stable doors on the hut and having the best sleep in the incredibly comfortable bed.

Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut
Rachel Redlaw shepherds hut

It was magical.

In the morning it was raining and it felt like 'real life' had returned, but for 24 hours this was a total escape from all reality, living outdoors, yet with all comforts.

I can't wait for my next visit.

Just two things to note:

1. there's no shop in the village although there is one a couple of miles away in the next - so do bring all your provisions.

2. the only thing I'd do differently on my next visit is to bring our bucket barbecue or to use a disposable one - there was one there - as a gas barbecue to me is just like cooking indoors - none of the outdoor cooking barbecue flavours. But that's a personal preference only and did have a great dinner using the outdoor gas barbie!

A weekend camping in Oxfordshire

The weather's been a bit iffy so far this summer, a bit changeable, well ... just a bit 'British summer' really, but the forecast for this weekend was sunshine, so a spur-of-the-moment decision was made, Friday quickly booked off work, and a weekend camping planned.

it did mean several hours Thursday evening spent searching campsites within 90 minutes of so of London ... but in turn that means I now have a new shortlist of great-looking campsites to visit. 

The 'within 90 minutes' is a new rule (to add to: big, lots of space and no crowding; predominantly campsite as opposed to caravan park / motorhomes; campfires allowed. And possibly it's a new rule only for this trip - but when the weather's beautiful and you end up stuck for 4-5 hours each way in the car for one weekend, it doesn't always make sense.

Last year's camping trip to North Devon, was absolutely stunning, but ... it felt a really long way to go for one full day there and, as it poured down, packing up in the teeming rain and then a long drive wasn't the most fun.

It was still well worth doing and I'd love to go back - read more here - but this trip was all about ease. 

So this year, we set off on Friday for Britchcombe Farm camping, just the other side of Oxford and set in the most stunning English countryside close to the beautiful Chalk Downs and historic Ridgeway path, with the famous White Horse Hill just above the farm.

Rachel Redlaw camping white horse
Rachel Redlaw camping in Oxfordshire

There are five - I think - different fields available for camping and just so much space.

That's what I really love about camping, being outdoors all the time of course and also having a sense of space, just gazing at the sky or the trees, lying on a rug, watching the clouds pass by. 

Other facilities at Britchcombe Farm - there's a tea shop open weekends, a warm welcome, free range eggs and local honey to buy in the on-site shop (which I didn't get to visit this time).

There are spotless portaloos in each field and a water tap, with toilets, showers and washing up facilities at the main farm entrance.

The only thing I think could have been improved on was the showers - I was in one that was freezing cold but then realised there were two that relied on the tank and three that were electric and therefore hot. Once I moved round and tried one of the electric ones it was fine, I just do love a good hot shower and think there could have been more.But that's the only (tiny) thing I could even fault at all.

There's also fridges and freezers to cool ice packs and store food.

I only wish I had more photos of the utterly gorgeous countryside - rolling hills and fields of pretty cream-coloured cows and some noisy sheep - but my phone died the first day and the portable chargers didn't really work, so I had an enforced 'digital detox' too, which was actually rather lovely not to even have the choice!

Gorgeous woods and hedgerows and some sort of magnificent hawk / falcon / bird of prey - just  to lie back on your rug and watch him glide on the airways and hover overhead was amazing to see. 

There isn't a supermarket all that local (that I found) so I'd advise bringing the majority of what you'll need (although we did stock up in the Waitrose in Wantage about 10 miles away through the prettiest ever tree-canopy-covered roads).

There's something so special about sitting outside making dinner, drinking a favourite Bloody Mary, listening to the sound of groups of kids having adventures and seeing the campfires start to be built.

Rachel Redlaw Bloody Mary
Rachel Redlaw camping campfire

Camping food on this trip was steak on the barbecue with salad and garlic baguette (just decided to try it and it worked better straight on the barbecue than wrapped in foil).

Bacon and eggs for breakfast on the camping stove.

Delicious pork belly slices and fish wrapped in foil with lime juice, chillies, garlic and a little fish sauce (based on this recipe) again all cooked on the barbecue.

So good! 

Rachel Redlaw camping steak barbecue
Rachel Redlaw steak campfire barbecue camping
Rachel Redlaw breakfast cooking camping camp stove

Home again now, everything smells of woodsmoke and my skin feels hot from being out in the sun so much.

Totally re-charged by nature ...

Britchcombe Farm is a brilliant campsite, beautifully natural, within easy reach of London, with the most stunning countryside and extremely good value.

I'm actually planning another quick visit before the end of this summer, it was so easy and so lovely.