Love a duck, a glamping experience in Hampshire with Boris

Lesley Bellew got more than she bargained for during her first glamping holiday with unexpected night-time visits from Boris and a dance troupe

The full cast of Riverdance spent the night practising on the roof of Mary’s Place, my super-posh glamping cabin.

Mary's PlaceWell, that’s how it sounded as the rain clattered down so hard that I gave up trying to sleep and opened the double doors to watch the moonlit deluge – until my privacy was invaded by Boris.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also glamping in the same week as me but this was another Boris, a Khaki Campbell duck and his posse of Aylesbury ducks named Quackers, and rather unfortunately, Crispy and Wrap.

Even they had endured enough of the storm and on hearing me rustling about in my sumptuous bedding, came my way on an earlier-than-dawn food raid because they were obviously tuned in to what might be in my breakfast hamper.

Boris and his posseThe solar lights had pretty much given up the ghost by this point so I scrambled out of bed to find my lantern which gave me enough light see off Boris and his gang because there was no way I was going to risk letting them spoil the plush cream carpet or trounce the silky cushions.

Not exactly a romantic night under the stars but my first glamping experience on the wettest night in August was certainly memorable.

Earlier in the day I had made the most of the  two-acre tranquil lakeside setting, leaving the world behind while watching  a heron fly in for its supper under the willow trees. I had also fallen for feeding the aforementioned ducks in the sunshine before walking into the pretty village of Broughton, in Hampshire’s Test Valley.

The Tally Ho! Inn made for a welcoming stop with decent beer and the landlady let me borrow a book on the area saying she’d collect it from the glampsite the next day. A warm touch and even better when I read that I only had to cross the road to see a rare late 16th century dovecote tower set among the graves of St Mary’s Church. Broughton Down Nature Reserve, a chalk downland rich in butterflies, was now also on my radar in this lovely part of the world.

Table dressed for dinner in summerhouseOn return from my meandering alongside Wallop Brook I found dinner was served in my private summerhouse by the lake, adorned with blue and white fairy lights, a beautifully dressed table with candles, colourful glass and china and a vase of wildflowers.

Host Kate McAllister, a former air traffic controller, was now putting her art degree into full use by creating a magical setting at her imaginative Boho-luxe glampsite.

With dinner supplied by a nearby food delivery company that prides itself on quality produce, I spent a couple of hours working my way through seared tuna with avocado, mango and sesame; spiced pulled pork with sea salted crackling and red cabbage slaw and a giant pistachio and raspberry eclair with pink chocolate washed down by a decent Merlot. No cooking over the campfire for me – but there was the option had I so wished.

Wild Billy'sIt’s all about privacy at The Meadow Glamping site where guests can stay in Wild Billy’s gypsy caravan, an original late 19th century showman’s wagon, or my cabin, Mary’s Place, in a separate area of the glampsite, with access to the grass tennis court, and for an extra charge, a heated swimming pool (subject to Covid-19 restrictions). Amanda, a tarot card reader, can also be booked by anyone who wants to know their fortune. Perhaps she could have forecast the thunder and lightning.

Creature comforts also included an upmarket shower for each property;  guests walk through a mini-woodland path to reach the sparkling facilities. Each unit also had a separate, scrupulously clean compost toilet nearby and although I was slightly hesitant, pouring wood shavings from a hessian holdall down the toilet was not so bad!

The Meadow Glamping in Broughton, HampshireSo with the Riverdance troupe in retreat I settled into breakfast thinking how nice it would be to spend another couple of sunny days glamping in the heart of Hampshire with time to sit round the firepit on the outdoor sofa, light the barbecue and take the rowing boat for a lap round the lake.

I wonder if our Prime Minister felt the same about his glamping holiday?

More information

There is availability at The Meadow Glamping, Broughton, between the cathedral cities of Salisbury and Winchester, throughout September and October 2020. Prices from £105 per night in Wild Billy’s and £115 per night in Mary’s Place, with a two-night minimum stay. Bookings for 2021 are now open at 2020 prices.

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Lesley Bellew

Cruise & travel journalist

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