GREENACRES CAMPING

Family camping near Glastonbury, Wells and Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK

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  • 2013 - Up and Running!

    After a miserably cold and delayed start Greenacres opened for business on 2-April, despite howling Easterly winds and biting frosts more akin to January.

    A few camping die-hards braved the conditions and enjoyed bright sunshine. Travel was easy too as Somerset was one of the only snow-free destinations in the whole UK!

    At this time of year our grass should be lush and in need of weekly cutting, but the cold has stunted its growth, so we will need to take care with long-stays and  groundsheets for a while. Hopefully Spring warmth will be just around the corner.

    New washbasins at GreenacresWe're delighted to unveil our upgraded WC/shower facilities for this season. New toilets have been installed, all with child-friendly 3-way seats and easy flush cisterns.  New modern wash basins have been fitted in both Gents and Ladies, complete with automatic taps and balanced warm water. In the showers we have lowered the height of some of the buttons to make them easier for children too.

    This week we are finishing the upgrade of the older electric hookup units. There's always something to keep us busy, between answering the phone calls and emails from campers booking-in this season.

    The cold weather has certainly delayed the arrival of our swallows. In warmer Springs they would be just a few days away, but my money says we don't see them before the end of April this year.

    Things are now getting quite busy for the peak weekends and holidays, so if you haven't yet made a reservation, don't leave it too much longer or you might miss out!

     

     

     

  • CHRISTMAS DINNER

    Some more new arrivals at Greenacres Camping today - 6 little turkey poults which will hopefully enjoy the summer and autumn here, growing big and strong in the process.

    The 2-week-old chicks have come from a local organic turkey farm, Six Brothers, where  they specialise in traditional Norfolk Black turkeys bred as nature intended (without artificial insemination). Apparently that's almost unheard of these days. We can vouch for the end result as we enjoyed a Six Brothers organic turkey last December, but Christmas dinner 2011 will be all the more special if its main attraction is one of our own.

    The little birds won't be on display for a few weeks as they need to be kept inside, but sometime in August they should be gobbling around the campsite paddock. Here's hoping the foxes stay away...

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  • 09-May-11 WEDDINGS AND WEANERS

    WEDDINGS AND WEANERS

     


     

     

    Peppa Pig at GreenacresWelcome to Greenacres 2011. I can’t believe I haven’t updated this blog since last August – that’s terrible! The truth is I have written part of a blog on several occasions since, but never sat down properly to finish one – sorry.

    Anyway we are now well into the Spring camping season and catching breath after a very busy April where the sun shone and shone. Temperatures soared and the grass looked quite parched and crazed, more like August than April. Heavy thunder showers in the last few days have now greened things up again and the grass, which had almost stopped growing, is suddenly several inches tall.

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    This year we had a “double header” of Easter and the Royal Wedding/May Day on consecutive weekends, which meant a very busy time and the “Site Full” sign making its first appearance of the year. For the wedding we set up our “Chicken Shed TV” big projection screen last seen during the World Cup. Thankfully the result in London was better than the one in South Africa! Communal BBQ’s later in the day gave that Street Party feel, although it was very breezy.

    The "Greenacres Team" has increased sharply in the past few weeks with the addition of some new animals. This year the lambs arrived four weeks later than in 2010 and we were starting to fear we might miss out. There was no need for concern – 7 little bouncing balls of wool duly arrived and (touch wood) all survived. So this year’s flock are... William, Harry, Lulu, Bugsy, John, Edward (the twins) and our little black lamb Lenny (the cutest of them all). I have to point out that naming is the sole responsibility of our girls! After 4 weeks along the lane at the farm the lambs are now enjoying their new home in the paddock by the campsite, where they will be entertaining the children for the next few months.

    You want EGGS?We have another new flock too in the shape of ten Rhode-Rock chickens. Last year our four feathered “ladies” were daily visitors to the campsite, scrounging bread and laying some very tasty eggs. They had a great summer season, but when the weather turned nasty so did the local fox. One by one the chickens disappeared until we had none left. This time around we have a big new fox-proof enclosure where the chickens will hopefully be able to over-winter in safety. We bought them “point of lay” about 6 months old. Most of them are already laying lovely large brown eggs and spending their days scratching for worms in our garden. It won’t be long before they realise that the tastiest scraps are across the lane! Their names? Jean, Vi, Joanne, Pauleen, Arlette, Jennie, Claire, Joyce, Cathryn and Caroline. Any similarity with the names of some of our regular guests is pure coincidence :-)

    Finally I need to introduce the greediest new members of the Greenacres family. In late March three little Gloucestershire Old Spot weaners (young piglets just weaned from their mother) arrived and moved in to their new “pig pod”. Peppa, George and Wilbur took less than 2 days to clear all the vegetation from their pen. They love to laze in the shade of the trees all day until it’s time to hoover-up their pile of vegetable trimmings or a good scratch behind the ears is on offer. They have almost doubled in weight already. In many ways they’re like boisterous puppies, trying so hard to win your attention, but completely crackers and VERY funny.

    Here’s hoping there isn’t too much mud for them to wallow in this summer...

     

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

     

     

  • 17-Aug-10 RABBIT PIES AND ROUNDERS

     

    RABBIT PIES AND ROUNDERS

     

     

    Demon Bowler Jack meets his matchWe are now into the full swing of our summer season, a time of 18 hour days and rapidly dwindling supplies of toilet rolls.

    Hard work it may be, but there’s a real buzz from meeting new guests each day, plus the even warmer feeling of welcoming back guests who’ve stayed with us previously. Some have young families, others are now into 3 generations of Greenacres camping, dating back to 1976 when the site opened. And I’m delighted to say that Christine Hill, the original site owner, returned for a brief visit, for the first time since she left in 1994.

    Our regulars have been doing their bit rallying the troops – huge communal games of rounders have kicked-off most evenings (do rounders games “kick off”?). Fading light is the best excuse ever for dropping a simple catch! I reckon the age range of our players has been from 3 to 69 – 66 years must be some kind of record, and so fantastic to see everyone joining in together.

    The weather has been simply amazing. After torrents of non-stop rain in 2009 this summer has been just the opposite – almost no rain at all for the past 8 weeks. OK we’ve had our share of cloud and some showers, but much of the grass on the campsite has a distinct straw colour rather than the usual lush green.

    and... ACTION!We’ve welcomed visitors of a different kind twice in the past couple of weeks – a film crew from TV production company Wall to Wall. They are currently in Shepton Mallet, shooting a new BBC1 TV series The High Street, focusing on the changes in High Street shopping over the decades. In a program about the WW2 era they baked pies using the rations available – rabbit, mutton and other “delicacies”. They then wanted a rural setting to film the pies being sampled by “yokels” – and they chose us! Needless to say one (young) member of the family grabbed the limelight – we’ll see if she makes it past the final edit and onto air in the autumn.

    The cameras returned for a longer spell last Friday, when shooting the episode on the “swinging 60’s”, which will feature people camping in a period VW camper van. Actually I’m told it was a 1971 model, but immaculate nonetheless. “The Grocers” – Carl, Debbie, Harry and Saffron - stayed the night and cooked breakfast in the pouring rain the next day. Surely it never rained in the 60’s?

    Sadly the time came for our 4 lambs – Betty, Sophie, Larry and Bambi – to leave us. They grew so quickly and now they're just too big for our young guests play with. So they have returned to the farm. But they come back to the fence by the campsite to visit us each day – I think they’re homesick! The lambs have provided so much pleasure - from scraggy little waifs to finished sheep - they completely won us over and our plan is that there will be lambs at Greenacres for many years to come.

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

  • COME ON ENGLAND!!

    Saturday 12th June saw the debut of "Chicken Shed TV" - Greenacres "big screen" for the England World Cup bid. England versus USA should have been a gentle warm-up for our superstars, but as we all know Robert Green's slippery fingers changed all that.

    Whatever the result, Dads, Mums and children from the campsite enjoyed a great atmosphere for the big game and the technology thankfully all worked.

    We even had half-time entertainment for the children in the form of "Ken the Magic Man" and his amazing tricks. Ken's impromptu performance had the kids captivated - how did he do that?

    The next show will be England v Algeria on Friday 18th. Be there early for the best spot on the grass!

     

  • 7 June 2010 - Sunshine, Shouts and stillness

     

    SUNSHINE, SHOUTS AND STILLNESS

     


     

    Mary and I both gave huge sighs last night as we enjoyed a glass of wine after an amazing roast of local belly pork. The first really busy week of the season is complete and we have just a handful of tents decorating the site, looking lost in the huge space.


    A week of (mostly) glorious sunshine and endless phone calls, with “Sorry no - we’ve been full for weeks...” imprinted on our brains. The Bradbury family returned (see last time’s blog) and our girls gorged themselves on Claire’s famous toasted marshmallows. Now it seems like somebody turned off a light – suddenly the constant shrieks and shouts of excited little voices have all disappeared back to school. We are left with calmness, broken only by the sound of the birds, the cows and the lambs.


    Our four lambs have proven a huge hit with the children. Countless little faces have lit-up as they got “up close and personal” with the soft fleeces, often for the first time. The lambs seem to love it too, all the attention and definitely the extra food! They have grown so quickly it’s hard to imagine they were such scraggy balls of skin and bone only a couple of months ago. But now they are bigger and braver they are harder to contain. They seem less concerned by the electric fence and “The sheep are out again” is a phrase being heard too often. Time to think of a new plan!


    Our chickens are also becoming mini-celebrities. They wander from their Egloo hut to the campsite and spend their days pecking for worms and out manoeuvring the children’s attempts to stoke them. The eggs taste superb too! Superb taste was also on offer here last week in the form of the Brown Cow Organics produce. Judith brought a selection of their goodies down to the campsite, fresh from winning the “Best Yoghurt” award at the Royal Bath & West Show. She seemed surprised to have won – we weren’t surprised at all. Brown Cow will be back in the main summer season.


    So now we have 2 quiet weeks before the start of the Glastonbury Festival rush, which gives us a brief chance to complete the tiling of the showers. As soon as the last campers pulled out of the site yesterday (on the back of an AA truck, but that’s another story) I got to work with a crowbar, hammer and saw. The creative part I’ll leave to the experts, but wrecking-out is such fun! One of the boards was signed by the original builder – “D.Carter, Pilton, 1977” -that’s hardly historic, but ready for an overhaul sure enough.


    Then there’s the important technical challenge of making sure our camping dads (and mums too!) don’t miss out on the World Cup from next weekend onwards. “Chicken Shed TV” will feature every kick of the England games on a big projection screen – just bring your own chairs, cans and some hankies for the penalty shoot out!

     

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

     

  • CAMP WHERE THE "PROFESSIONALS" CAMP!

    Oswald Bailey Staff Camping at GreenacresWhen leading camping equipment retailer Oswald Bailey Ltd wanted to give their staff firsthand experience of camping, they chose Greenacres to host the event.

    The 3-day camping event at Greenacres was organised by the company HR Manager Rachael Williams. Around 50 store staff enjoyed a night under canvas, with a gourmet barbecue and organic breakfast provided by local farm producer Brown Cow Organics. This was followed by a countryside hike through Wookey Hole and the beautiful Ebbor Gorge. The weather was cold, but stayed mainly dry for the event and everyone lived to tell the tale.

    Spectacular, vivid pink sunsets over Glastonbury Tor, the sound of owls, the ever-present swallows and a pair of territorial robins scrapping within a few feet of the barbecue, all added to the countryside feel.

    Rachael said the event was a big success and commented “The site is so lovely, it was perfect for us and there’s so much to do around here”.

    Oswald Bailey have been in business for over 100 years and have more than 120 employees working in 20 shops throughout southern England and the Midlands. They also have an online store at www.oswaldbailey.co.uk

  • ... don't forget the chickens!

    The Greenacres "Security Patrol" wander round the camp site all day, dodging the chasing children. You'll see them scratching for worms and beetles, only returning back across the lane to lay an egg or at bedtime.

    This is free-range at its best and you might be lucky enough to sample their eggs if we have any spare!

  • BETTY

    It really wasn't my fault, but when I was born there was a huge wart growing on my nose.

    My mother was not impressed and refused to feed me, how unkind !

    Luckily I was able to join the group of lambs being hand-reared at Barrow Farm, otherwise I would never have been famous!

    It's fair to say that the girls at the farm were running out of names when they got to me. They took one look at my nose and said "UGLY BETTY" !! Well we can't all be beauty queens, can we?

    The good news is that within a couple of weeks the wart went away, so now I'm just plain BETTY.

    Even if I'm never going to be the prettiest, I decided quite early that I would be the FRIENDLIEST lamb around. I'm usually the first to say hello to the children on the camp site and I really love to be stroked and to nibble little fingers.

    BEAUTIFUL BETTY - THAT'S ME - THE SOCIABLE ONE xx

  • BAMBI

    Hello I am BAMBI,
    but I haven't a clue who gave me that name.

    Don't call me cute, don't try and cuddle me, in fact don't even try to stroke me.... UNLESS I SAY SO !!

    I guess I'm a bit of a loner. Nobody understands me. I get moody sometimes, but that's a lady's privilege isn't it? I was a triplet and my mother chose to keep the other two, so is it any wonder I'm like I am?

    The day we came along the lane to Greenacres I was so excited I nearly jumped out of our transport. Luckily Tina and Mary were on hand to calm me down, although we must all have looked rather odd!

    It took me more time than the others to get used to being at Greenacres and I had a rough few days when I had my injection recently. Anyway that's all in the past and I have decided to be a bit more sociable from now on.

    You can recognise me by my fine looks and thin face. Just be nice to me and I might let you close. Just don't push your luck..

  • LARRY

    I'm LARRY,  the biggest. boldest, brashest and bravest lamb at Greenacres, make that in Somerset, maybe even the whole world!

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    Somewhere I have twin brothers, but my mother could only feed 2 lambs so I needed to be bottle-fed.

    "Orphan triplets", as we're sometimes called, are usually smaller and slower-growing than lambs that stay with their mother ewes, well nobody told me. I'M HUGE!

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    I'm the only boy in the Greenacres flock so it's up to me to look after the others. But they had better not mind about me stealing some of their milk. You see, when I'm hungry I can sometimes get a bit ratty and I like to barge the others out of the way to get to the bottles first.

    But soon I won't be drinking bottled milk any more; now I eat grass and special lamb pellets called "creep" that has all the goodness I need to get even bigger.

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    OK sometimes I can get pushy, but underneath I'm just a big softy and I really like my chin tickling.

    JUST DON'T GO TELLING ANYBODY. OK?

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  • SOPHIE

     

    My name is Sophie and I am the youngest of the Greenacres lambs.

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    I was born on a local farm in the last week of March this year and spent the first few days with my mum in the fields. But unfortunately she died soon afterwards, leaving me alone.

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    I moved to Barrow Farm the next day and joined my adopted brothers and sisters, being bottle-fed. I was quite poorly for a few days, but soon I got stronger and started to grow.

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    We all moved along the lane to Greenacres on 23rd April.

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    I may be the smallest, but I often make the most noise!!

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    My favourite trick is catching midges in the evening. I jump high in the air - it's really funny to watch me - because I often persuade the others to do the same.

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    Alice is my special friend at Greenacres. She usually is the one that bottle feeds me and gives me the most cuddles.

     

     

  • MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB...

    Well 4 lambs actually.

    Today we brought the lambs along from Barrow Farm to graze at Greenacres for the summer. They have a nice new shelter, plenty of lush grass to munch and the chickens to keep them amused (not to mention campers!).

    Mary and our girls have been bottle-feeding them for the past 6 weeks at the farm, along with several others. The little woolly jumpers are now big enough to bring outside without fear of predators, although we have an electric fence in place to help keep them safe. Two of the lambs were orphaned when their mothers died, the others triplets that the ewes were unable to feed. Bottle feeding will continue for a while yet, although now just twice a day.

    I'm sure that their antics will keep us all amused in the months ahead.

     

  • 13-Apr-10 SPRING IN OUR STEPS

     

    Spring In Our Steps

     

     

    Just 2 weeks in to the 2010 season and already the weather has been playing tricks. We opened at Easter to a fanfare of howling winds and torrential rain, more akin to November than the first flourish of spring. Our numbers were down on last year’s glorious Easter, but a few hardy souls made the best of it. First campers of the year were Jason and Claire Bradbury and their 3 boys, Greenacres regulars. According to our girls Claire is an awesome marshmallow toaster, but soggy marshmallows are no joke and so the Bradburys reluctantly decided to cut short their stay. At least we had some great feedback about our new showers – Jason reckoned they were the only thing that kept him warm! We look forward to welcoming them back next month.

    Almost as soon as the Bradbury family returned to Surrey the sun started to shine… and shine… and carry on shining! Glorious Spring days appeared from nowhere. The campsite instantly looks like a different place as grey gives way to lush green and new life blossoms everywhere. Our garden birds are busy nesting and emptying the feeders as quick as we can fill them. The Sparrow Hawk that paid us a visit before Christmas has been a regular sight, harrying smaller birds on the field next to the campsite. Wild rabbits are everywhere, eating and digging-up our freshly mown grass. Holes and more holes – they dig them and I fill them – a constant maintenance chore. One unfortunate little bunny caused quite a stir the other day. It was obviously unwell and ignored the tractor mower getting very close. As I approached I noticed it was blind, which it ably demonstrated by leaping up and charging straight into the side of the tractor! It hopped off no worse for its ordeal and entertained the children for a while, but I suspect a buzzard or a fox would soon be less kind. That’s nature’s way.

    It’s been a busy time on our neighbours’ farm too, with several calves being born, including a healthy pair of twins the other day. The main event was the arrival of a new, pedigree Hereford Bull. Nick is hoping he will have a fruitful future at Barrow Farm, but he won’t be introduced to any of the “ladies” for a few days yet. Meanwhile the lambs are feeding well and growing equally well. They now drink cows’ milk and took their first steps into the paddock at the farm last Sunday. Lambs have a habit of suddenly skipping and bouncing up high for no reason, which is really funny to watch. The paddock is protected by an electric fence to keep lambs and predators on opposite sides, but the lambs needed to learn what an electric fence is and what it does. It was a case of being cruel to be kind, watching and wincing as, one by one, they got too close, then CRACK!! the fence did its job and a poor little lamb learned its lesson. If all goes well we will be moving our lambs to Greenacres later in the week. Oh and the girls have decided we’re now having 3, not 2, and they now have names like Sophie, Larry and Speckles. The discussions in September/October may not be quite so easy as I thought…

    Of course the most important sign that Spring has arrived is the return of the swallows. It hasn’t happened yet. Just like our campers they turn up each year around Easter, live on the campsite through the warmer months and stay until September, before spending the winter in Africa I’m told. In 2009 they appeared on 14th April, so I’m keen to see how much later they’ll come back this year. I’m watching the skies each day for any signs – heck I just realised how sad that reads – I must have lived near Glastonbury too long!

    Best wishes
    Duncan

     

  • 22-March-10 ALL SYSTEMS GO

    All Systems Go!

     

     

    It has been a very long and very hard winter, the coldest for 31 years I’m told, but we are now just days away from opening for the 2010 camping season. March is one of our most frantic months, as we try to fix all the bust pipes, wave a paintbrush at everything that doesn’t move and a grease gun at things that do. It’s also one of the busiest times for bookings, with people eager to secure their Bank Holiday or summer pitch space.

    Running the campsite this year should be easier because we have our lovely new house to live in. The new reception area allows a welcome return to selling Ice cream and cold drinks. We just need some sunshine to make that worthwhile. In London today the Metro newspaper announced this will be “Britain’s hottest summer ever” – where have we heard that before? Still, we live in hope and if they forecast the same every year, eventually they will be right. The upbeat prediction comes not from the Met office, but from a small group of forecasters in Abergavenny, so I’m knotting my handkerchief ready!

    The list of jobs to be done before Easter is still worryingly long. Spring is definitely later arriving – by this time last year we had cut the grass twice – this year it has not yet started growing properly. We’ve also suffered quite a lot of frost damage to some of the young grass, with the result that we need to keep some of the re-seeded pitches vacant for a few weeks more. The swings and big slide have both seen major repair surgery and a lick of paint, ready for all the “Easter bunnies” in another week or so. Lambing Live!

    So what’s new at Greenacres in 2010? Our main investment project was completed last week when the plumbers installed a huge new Worcester boiler in the shower block. We also added thermostat-balanced showers, so hopefully there will be balmy and welcoming showers for all from now on. The ageing Vaillant water heaters have done well to last since 1976, but they’re probably out of warranty by now. The replacement promises eco-friendly A-rated efficiency and push-button control showers, so we will improve our “green score” too. Reading back through the customer reviews on UKCampsite, our showers were the one thing some people were “lukewarm” about last year (sorry, couldn’t resist), so this is positive proof that we do listen!

    We’re also planning to build on a successful partnership with our friends at Brown Cow Organics that started almost by chance last summer. Judith and Jason from Brown Cow will be visiting with their mobile stall through the peak summer months as last year, but we are eager to allow off-peak visitors chance to experience the flavour of organic Somerset too. So we will be launching “Arrival Packs” for pre-order, delivered to the camp site ready for your arrival.  Last year so many people turned up at Greenacres with cars stuffed to bursting, kids squashed into tiny spaces between the sleeping bags, camping stove and tins of beans. Instead why not enjoy the luxury of a bit more space in the car and some wonderful locally-produced organic (or Fairtrade) produce can be waiting for you at the end of the journey. More details soon.

    Finally there may be a couple of additions to the Greenacres family this summer. No, Mary isn’t expecting again (heart stopping thought) but we are planning to adopt a couple of orphan lambs from our neighbours at the farm. Inspired by the brilliant Lambing Live program on BBC2, our girls have been helping out bottle-feeding a dozen bleating little balls of wool and, ok I admit, daddy fell soft. In the months ahead “Mint” and “Rosemary” will educate our young ‘uns about the circle of life, but at the moment they’re certainly cute.

    Best wishes
    Duncan

     

  • Christmas Wishes

    Christmas wishes

     

     

    I’m writing this a week or so before Christmas on a stunningly crisp and beautiful winter morning. At this time of year everything is frantic, as we eagerly try to cram-in parties, concerts, nativity plays and panic shopping in readiness for the big day. So a brief stroll around the camp site this morning was a refreshing reminder of what’s really important.

    You might think that a camp site out of season would be a rather forlorn place. Sure enough there are the faint echoes of excited children when I walk past the Wendy houses and swings, but overall there is a stillness and calm around the place, as though this is how it’s meant to be. The rabbits, squirrels and birds simply take over at this time of year. Flocks of starlings sit most days on the field, watched by the nosy robin that “owns” Pitch 4. It’s only a couple of weeks since the last of the leaves were torn down by autumn gales, but already there are sticky buds on the Horse Chestnut trees, so children will have a plentiful supply of conkers next year too.

    In the true spirit of Christmas we had two sets of unexpected visitors last week. The first was a Sparrow Hawk, who sat right beside our back window for a good 10 minutes, unnoticed by the smaller birds in the bushes nearby. We knelt motionless and spellbound, privileged to get within inches of such a majestic wild creature. Less welcome was a pack of 30 hunting hounds that charged through our garden the next day, accompanied by the shrill sound of horns, loud shouts and horse hooves. I’m pretty certain nobody had laid a scent trail right through our garden, so make up your own mind about what they were really doing. This is, after all, the countryside and I’m definitely not a killjoy, but it’s about as far away as it gets from being “natural” in my book.

    Much more pleasant was our Greenacres Christmas “Do”. Mary and I decided that two was plenty for a festive celebration, and where better to enjoy it than at River Cottage? We were entertained, educated and given a winter warming feast by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his team. Thankfully roast badger wasn’t on the menu, but lavish and local wild venison was. A great night, good company, washed down by Sheppys cider and Hugh’s Stinger beer, then back to a gorgeous 4-poster at the brilliant All Hallows B&B just down the road. Camping? For one night only you can keep it!

    A traditional family Christmas is planned, with Carol Services, mulled wine and an organic bronze turkey from our friends at Brown Cow Organics. I can’t wait.

    To everyone who stayed with us at Greenacres Mary and I wish you the happiest Christmas and New Year and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2010.

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

  • 24-Nov-09 Mud is Good

    Mud is Good



    I knew that a blog post was long overdue, but the camping season is at an end and our house building complete so I was struggling to get started. A train journey to London always creates some time for writing and my complimentary copy of The Times today provided a spark of inspiration. In her article Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud, Chloe Lambert reports that American research scientists have discovered dirt can actually benefit children, that germs are good for us after all.

    Finally there is some clinical evidence to underline what many of us have believed for a long time – trying to wrap-up our little ones in an antiseptic blanket is doing them more harm than good.

    Our immune system – how our body fights disease – is a complex thing that benefits from exposure to a broad range of bugs and germs. By learning how to fight them it becomes stronger and better equipped to tackle the real nasty ones when they come along. In some ways this is no different to any other form of exercise, except this "body-building" is microscopic. And by denying children exposure to a natural mix of bacteria and viruses we increase the risk of their bodies developing allergic reactions on contact with pets, pollens and similar triggers.

    So could the world-famous Glastonbury mud be a magic elixir for long life? I think that may take a few more years of American research to prove, but I've met lots of people who believe it's true. Maybe that has something to do with the mushrooms that grow on it though!

    At the peak of this year's monsoon season (aka summer) the children on our campsite certainly revelled in their puddle splashing and making mud angels, so maybe we should leave them to it. Everything in moderation of course – there are dangers lurking even in the countryside. Parents need to be very careful about close contact with animals and make sure hand washing is strictly enforced. e.coli bacteria are particularly nasty and can devastate young kidneys.

    When the festival is very muddy Trench Foot disease sometimes puts in an appearance, just as it did in Flanders in WW1, but thankfully we never need to worry about that at Greenacres.

    So let's celebrate that our outdoor camping lifestyle really is the healthier choice! And next time it pours down for the whole holiday, send your young 'uns outside and tell yourself it's to give them a better future J

    Best wishes,

    Duncan



    Note: Greenacres blogs are now published on the blogger web site

  • 14-Sep-09 In the house at last!

     

    In the house at last



    House outside
    We finally made it!

       
    A year after we first started planning our house rebuild with the architect we actually moved-in for the first time last weekend. Don’t get me wrong, we love camping, but 5 months in the caravan was more than enough for anyone. Now we have space in abundance, power showers and amazing views all around. We still have some builders around the place finishing-off, but hopefully we will persuade them to leave eventually
    J

    The last couple of weeks have been hard-going,  getting carpets, curtains and kitchen units all fitted while still running the camp site. Our guests have been very understanding – we were hoping for a quiet weekend for the move itself, but the sun shone better than it has for many weeks. Ah well, we can’t complain. I’m a total convert to the benefits of solar panels for hot water. Every night we have a big tank full of piping hot water – enough for several showers or a couple of baths at least – all for free. The Velux system we chose looks great too as it sits within the roof tiles and matches the loft windows in the bedrooms.  It came as a complete kit with a huge cylinder, all the controls and all the pipes included.

    The days are getting shorter and the  first leaves are starting to fall. The “Site Full” sign, in daily use throughout July and August, has gone back in the shed until next year. The grass is starting to grow back on the well-used pitches and we have the first booking enquiries for the 2010 season. Harvest time is always a time to reflect with thanks on our good fortune, to re-group and make plans to do even better next year. We have a long list of things we’d like to do, but after major investment this year we will need to put them in order of priority.

    At the end of the school holidays we said farewell to Jason and Judith and the Brown Cow Organics mobile shop for this season. Unlike our resident swallows they won’t be flying south for the winter, but we do expect them to return next spring! Those who enjoyed their steaks this summer can still buy online for home delivery at www.browncoworganics.co.uk.

    Now is the time to install the “Swallow Cam” so that people can watch next year’s chicks. Wireless internet should hopefully be installed on the site too, right after I finish fitting the curtain poles and Velux blinds!

    Best of all we’ve met some lovely people and made many new friends. We’ve really appreciated all the kind messages and feedback from those who’ve enjoyed their stay with us. It will seem strangely quiet without the constant buzz of people arriving and phone calls, but we’re ready for a rest and some quality time with the family.

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

     

  • WHERE DID THE SUMMER GO?

    wet weather insuranceWhere did the summer go ?

     
    Yuk.

     

    After a marvellous spring and early summer season the UK weather has really dumped on us through the past 3 weeks. We’ve hardly seen a day without rain and some days it has been torrential. We look back on the glorious sunshine we enjoyed at Easter and the Bank Holidays and wonder where it all went wrong. Is this “monsoon season” July weather we’ve had for the past 3 years becoming a regular pattern?

    Thankfully the weather has not deterred too many campers. We Brits (and lots of Dutch guests too) are made of sterner stuff. Most have chosen to make the most of it and arrive carrying kagoules & wellies. As a holiday destination mid-Somerset offers an amazing choice of things to do when the weather is against us. We have superb attractions such as Wookey Hole and the Fleet Air Arm museum close by, providing lots of shelter on the wettest days. Bath and Bristol are less than an hour away, both with a great variety of history, shops and entertainment. Between the showers there have been enough sunny breaks for the children to run riot – that’s when we really appreciate all the space we have to offer at Greenacres.

    One of the investments we made in the early season has already proved its worth. In past years the grass track across the middle of the field was badly rutted and I shudder to think what it would have been like with all this rain. Back in May, at the height of the dry weather, we took the decision to lay a new reinforced roadway to provide a weatherproof access route. It seemed a bizarre decision at the time – like buying an umbrella in the middle of a heat wave – but it doesn’t seem at all daft now! The roadway uses interlocking recycled plastic grids on a bed of stone, filled with sand & soil, so when the grass grows through we’ll hardly know it’s there. The grass is not yet fully established, but last week the roadway was opened as “needs must…”. It’s doing its job, keeping the mud away nicely.

    Another new development is also proving popular – the Brown Cow Organics van visiting the site each day through the school holidays with their organic meats and yoghurts. I think we are becoming some of their best customers! Our girls are completely sold on the River Cottage brand Guernsey yoghurts, whilst the sirloins we tucked into last Saturday evening were the nicest steaks I’ve ever tasted. Not so good for the Clubcard points perhaps, but properly hung, local meat from animals that are reared to the highest welfare standards is a rare treat.

    As I’m writing this the second brood of 2009 swallow chicks are balancing on the edge of their nest in the campsite shower block, wondering when to fly off. They will be on the wing within a day or two I think. 4 healthy young birds will make a total of 10 so far this season. Meanwhile I learned something from the insect world too – Greenacres is a hotspot for glow worms! I was tipped-off by one of the biker club members that stay with us each year. A few dark nights later I saw 3 glow worms in the hedge by the campsite – bright as little LED’s. It’s amazing what wonders of nature there are around when you open your eyes and really start looking.

    Our own nest is now almost complete, a few weeks behind schedule. Decorating and final fixing is underway and we plan to be finished by the end of August. That’s about 12 months from concept to completion, but the finished result has lots of space, light and views to die for.  We can’t wait to move in…

    Here’s hoping for an Indian summer,

    Duncan

     
  • 16-Jun Where did the Spring Go?

     

    Where did the Spring go?

     

     

    Baby swallows a few weeks agoIt seems only five minutes since we were opening the gates and welcoming our first visitors. Now the season is in full swing, with preparations being made for the influx of our first Glastonbury Festival at Greenacres.

      

    It has been a wonderful blend of feast and famine. We’ve had incredibly busy times around the two Bank Holidays when the site was stuffed to bursting and the air filled with the excited sounds of children playing. We have also appreciated the quieter times mid-week, with just a handful of campers helping us enjoy the tranquillity of our surroundings. I’m really undecided which I like the most!

     

    Everywhere there have been signs of new life. In the fields, with baby rabbits hopping about, digging up our lush grass; or the timid little Bambi fawns we sometimes see very early in the morning.  “Calf Watch” has often consumed our girls’ attention, scrapping for the binoculars whenever Nick, our farmer neighbour, is spotted walking across the field with a rope in his hand. But the highlight for me was definitely last Sunday morning when our baby swallows first fluttered out of their nest out into the big wide world. We have been closely watching their development for a few weeks, from scrawny little beaks to fully-fledged young birds. Seeing their first “launch” was magical. It began with a couple of days of wing-stretching, then brief hops out of the nest onto the ledge. Finally came the big moment – first confused fluttering, banging into the walls of the shower block, turning in an instant to sheer grace as they soared off across the camp site field. Immediately they became masters of the sky, with effortless agility and amazing speed, often just a few centimetres above the ground.

     

    The finished article!Our own “re-birth” project has been the construction of our new house on the site of the former bungalow. Things are going very well and we can now see the final shapes of all our rooms as the timber stud walls are all in place and plaster boarded. The roof tiling is complete and the last windows are being manufactured now. Plumbers and electricians descended on us last week, while one of the window fitters loved the place so much he came back to camp with his family!

    This has been a bigger project than we imagined, but our Building Contractor (John Walton) and site foreman (Jon Goodliff) have been real stars. The team effort that has gone in by our tradesmen and technical advisers has been outstanding. I must be careful because we’ve still a couple more months to go yet, but the commitment and professionalism shown by all of them has been an example to all.  

     

    Architects  Michael & Lucy –
    www.mjwarchitects.com – are so pleased they want to submit the project for a national design award.

    Our new nest - Greenacres June 2009

     

    Maybe we won’t make Grand Designs, but we’re still pretty chuffed.

     

  • LITTLE SPARROW TAKES A BOW

    Greenacres camping wildlifeA sparrow's nest provided entertainment for many of our guests during the busy May Day Bank Holiday weekend. Suspended low-down in one of the Poplar trees that line the campsite entrance, campers could clearly spot a peeping pair of eyes, just a few feet from the ground.

    Well the good news is that this morning the nest's tiny resident zoomed off safely into the sky. He or she might only be a couple of inches in size, but flying is not a problem. We'll keep an eye on the nest (from a distance of course) to see if there are any brothers or sisters.

    Meanwhile the cows in the next field didn't provide the hoped-for event during the holiday weekend. The field is used as a nursery area by Nick, our farmer/neighbour, so all the cows in there are heavily expectant. But as we all know babies arrive when they are ready. Less than 2 hours after the last of our weekend campers left the field, out popped a little brown bull calf, with a bit of help from Nick's rope. The little fellow is taking his first cautious steps around the field this morning, completely unaware that his late arrival disappointed so many of our guests Laughing

  • And They're Off - Easter 2009

    And they’re off…

     


    The 2009 season is officially underway at Greenacres! On Thursday 2nd April we unlocked the gate and toasted a bottle of bubbly in celebration. The first campers of the year arrived the next day, headed by Stuart, who showed his true green credentials by cycling from Shepton Mallet. A handful of other guests arrived for the weekend too, and we waited anxiously to hear what they thought of the site – OUR site. We need not have worried – the charm of the place quickly got to work on our guests and they were soon telling us how much they loved it too.Rocking Horse
       

     

    I have to admit, the site did look fantastic in the spring sunshine. We had trimmed the grass quite low on its 5th cut of the year and our farmer neighbour Ed had trimmed all the hedges. So the stage was set for our first real test – the busy Easter weekend. The weather forecast didn’t look too brilliant, but after a few showers on Good Friday, the rest of the Easter break was bathed in glorious sunshine. Our guests were all very complimentary and many have already booked to return later in the season. We’re already almost fully booked for both May Bank Holidays. Children just loved the space, with the little ones quickly zooming-in on the Wendy houses. 
        

     

    The following week things quietened down a little and we breathed a big sigh of relief. We’d had such a hectic time getting the site onto the starting grid. The electrics had turned into a very major project – first installing a brand new supply direct to the camp site, then some more unexpected work to achieve the standards necessary for an electrical test certificate. We needed some re-work on our electric hook-ups, but everything is now in order and how it should be going forward.
        

     

    ChaffinchI also spent several hours in the sunshine giving the play equipment animals a new coat (or two) of paint. Having bought every colour of Hammerite in the shop, they now look splendid. Next on the list is a more major refurbishment of our slide. An inquisitive Chaffinch kept me company for most of the time – I even managed to get a decent picture of him, although it took a while to get the paint off the camera afterwards!

       
                
    The wildlife highlight this week was definitely the return of the Swallows. Their effortless acrobatics puts a smile on everyone’s face. The great news is that they are using the nest in the campsite Shower block. When young children are stood by the new washing-up sink it’s a fantastic thrill telling them to look up, then watching their faces light up as they spot the birds perched on the ledge by the nest.
          

     

    Our own “nest” at the moment is a caravan, parked between our building site and the chicken shed. It’s not ideal as a reception facility, but we’re as well set up as we can be & it won’t last forever. The house builders are making excellent progress in the spring weather – a full update on our building work next time.
           

     

    Best wishes,
    Duncan

  • AWARD-WINNING START TO 2009

    Camping Magazine - May 2009Our 2009 season started with excellent news - Greenacres was selected within the TOP 10 of "50 Great Sites" chosen by Camping Magazine.

    In the May 2009 edition of Camping, columnist Andy Stothert picked out 50 of "the very best multi-visit campsites for 2009".

    Greenacres features as No 9 in the list and is described as "A spacious beautifully maintained site dedicated to providing memorable camping holidays for young families.... where the young can exhaust themselves safely in view of parents and with no vehicles allowed to intrude."

    All the sites at the top of the list are much larger than Greenacres - some with 1000 pitches - so we are thrilled to be punching above our weight !

  • NEW NEIGHBOURS MOVE IN

    Crow's nestOur contractors are not the only ones who've been busy building at Greenacres this week.

    A pair of crows have taken a fancy to the trees behind the house and decided to build their nest high up in the treetops. They have been busy hauling sticks and leaves up there in their beaks all week. A third crow has been looking-on, no doubt waiting for his chance to muscle-in later.

    The only problem is that the new nest is just a few yards from where our new bedroom will be, so some early morning noise might be on the way.

    Oh goody !!

     

  • March Madness - 16 March 09

     

    March Madness
     


    The first sunshine of spring reminds us that the “Closed” sign on the gate at Greenacres will soon be coming down. We still have much to do preparing for the season ahead, but one by one the list of jobs gets smaller. The ride-on mower made its debut appearance last weekend – the first cut of the season always takes the longest and Mary, Rebecca and I all took turns at the wheel before the job was complete, many hours later. But wow – what a difference! Suddenly the place looks spectacularly beautiful, ready for all the games of rounders and cricket ahead.

     

    Mind you our rabbits are doing their best to change that, digging new burrows wherever they can. Underneath the big slide in the children’s play area is “rabbit central”. It’s amazing how all of a sudden they seem happy to have noisy people around. All winter, as soon as we’ve set foot on the camp site, the rabbits have made a beeline for the nearest hedge. But now they simply sit there without a care, nibbling and watching our antics on the mower. Meanwhile the robins hop about confidently, all year round. This week I met two of our resident robins for the first time – as I mowed pitch numbers 4 and 27. Both were fiercely guarding their territories, seeing-off the big red tractor.

     

    We actually had a trial run with “live” campers last Saturday – a small group of Duke of Edinburgh students from a local school paid us a visit, so we opened specially for them. It was great to see tents on the field and children playing football. They are returning in September, so I think we did OK.

     

    Plumbing work in the shower block is complete; this will hopefully mean a few less drips and leaks in the months ahead. Also the new washing-up sink is finally all piped-up and ready to go. Last week we poured the concrete base for the new shed that will be housing the fridges and freezers, next to the shower block on the site itself. The plan is to remove the need to walk across the road for your bacon and milk – and they will be on hand 24/7. The shed itself is still one giant Meccano set – we’re hoping for some more fine and still weather next week to get that built.

     

    We’re also only a few days away from the new electricity supply being installed. The Highways licence for the works on the road arrived in mid-week, so next Saturday morning at 06:00 hrs the digger will start gouging a trench through the lane outside, signalling a few days of digging, cabling and I expect scratching of heads along the way.

     

    Our house now looks like the dark side of the moon – it’s time to be calm and trust that our builders know what they’re doing – I’m sure they do. 36 cubic meters of concrete have gone into various holes in the ground recently; with not much to see for it, but the outline of rooms is now beginning to take shape and a good bout of bricklaying next week will make a dramatic difference. Thankfully all the banging and heavy machinery hasn’t put off the birds though – the woodpecker, which thanks to the RSPB web site I now know to be a Greater Spotted Woodpecker, still comes knocking (sorry!).

     
  • BIRDS AND BUILDERS - 23 FEB

     

    Birds and Builders

     

    All Systems Go!  So much has happened since the last blog that it’s been really difficult to know when to write this next instalment.

    At the beginning of February it snowed for a week. Schools closed and the kids loved it – over a foot of snow on the ground in villages close by. But while the country turned white, hardly any snow fell at Greenacres which remained, well, green.  That really peeved our youngsters. They were looking forward to playing in the snow with their quad bikes on the campsite. It demonstrates that we have a milder micro-climate than our neighbours, hopefully that will pay dividends in the summer months.

    The following week the builders arrived to start work on the house, so we decided to go away for a few days. What a difference when we got back! Ceilings were all ripped out, the upstairs gone completely, skip after skip was filled and carted away. We had holes where there were walls, we had space where there was clutter. But unlike the TV show, our architect resisted the temptation to spray it all white.

    One thing stood out though – in the garden all the bird feeders were filled with nuts & seeds and a dish of water put out as a bird bath, which wasn’t there before. Even in the midst of such frenzied destruction, the local wildlife had cast a charm on our builders. John and Liam started telling me about woodpeckers, robins and looking after hordes of Great tits & Blue tits. I think that’s what they said. Some people might have a problem with paying builders to feed the birds, but working in sympathy with nature is exactly what we’re about, and I actually don’t think they had any choice. There is definitely something magical about the place. Just don’t tell their mates.

    Our biggest problem is what to do about the swallows’ nests, before they return in the spring to find themselves homeless. There were two nests in a lean-to next to the garage, which had to be demolished. I’m sure the swallows will sort themselves out, but a little help from us won’t go amiss either. I’ll be browsing the web to see what we might do – anyone with good ideas please mail me. Don’t worry, all the nests over on the campsite are untouched and ready to move into, so we will have swallows come the spring.

    Plans are now well advanced for the upgrade of the camp site electrics. This will take place towards the end of March, just before we open. It’s a mammoth job with an equally mammoth price tag, but if we are to have a reliable power supply and increase the number of electric hookups, it has to be done.

    So we are busy balancing our lives around choosing kitchen units, discussing the sizes of lintels and fire escape windows, and dealing with a steady flow of bookings for the season ahead. That’s the nice part of the job – helping people make plans for their holidays and hearing about the excellent reviews that are in circulation. It’s part of getting to know you all. We even had one enquiry for summer 2010, for a wedding. I’m delighted and modestly surprised to hear feedback that people are actually reading this blog and enjoying it. Anything which helps connect us all to the magic of the Glastonbury area has to be a good thing, but thanks all the same.

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

  • 26_Jan_09

    What did you get for Christmas Daddy?

     


     

    Transformers, so I believed, were laser-firing robots that could morph into trucks for a quick getaway. Woolworths used to sell them, but sadly no more. I really wish they did, because the transformers that Western Power Distribution sells cost quite a bit more.

    Ever since we took over at Greenacres I’ve been uneasy about the load on the electricity supply. A 60-amp single phase supply feeds the house, then runs back out through the sheds, then across the road to power the lights in the showers and five electric hook-up pitches. Without getting too technical, that’s a load of juice for one little cable. So we need more juice, more cables and a new transformer to link them together. Ideally we’d have 3-phases (sorry, getting technical again) but the economic recession would be twice as deep if they brought the necessary cables across half of Somerset to our remote location. So we must be content with a more modest plan, stabilising what we have and allowing for a few more hookups before the main season….. a snip at just under £15,000. Ouch!

    A little help may come from another landmark this week, as Greenacres accepted its first ever credit card payment. A deposit from a Dutch guest winged its way across the channel and down to us via the Google Checkout facility in double-quick time – brilliant.

    It’s been our busiest week yet finalising building plans and, as of last Friday, we now have our main building contractor appointed and on-board. The final structural drawings are being prepared for Building Control and John’s merry band of builders will be on site in a couple of weeks. We’ve had a reality check about the completion date though, so for most of this season we’ll be living in a caravan by the chicken sheds.

    We also had a very special trip up north. I’d been shopping on ebay for a decent double sink for the camp site and finally found the right thing at the right price in Barnoldswick, Lancashire. So I hitched-up the trailer and we set off up the M5/M6. OK there was the bonus of seeing the Burnley v Spurs cup semi-final while we were there, but the sink was the main reason for the journey, honest! Unfortunately the eagerness of our 500-mile round trip wasn’t matched by the seller, who proved impossible to contact and badly let us down. The trailer came all the way back again, empty. Oh and Burnley narrowly failed to get to Wembley, K sera sera, but what a fantastic match! All is not lost on the washing-up front though. The sink seller eventually kept his part of the bargain and I’m off up there again this week to retrieve it.

    Credit card payment facilities, washing-up sinks, more electric hookups and builders all coming soon. Finally we’re making progress.

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

  • Bonne Anee

    AmstelBonne année

     

    A warm welcome to the first Greenacres blog of 2009. Judging from the Countryfile weather forecast, that’s about the only bit of warmth any of us can expect this week!  I sincerely hope all your stockings were suitably filled and that the turkey-lurgy didn’t strike down too many.

    For us, a family Christmas was followed by a welcome break on the ski slopes of France. The snow was plentiful, the food excellent and, thankfully, there were no broken limbs to report.

    It always amuses me that as winter tightens its hardest grip, as soon as the Xmas decorations are taken down, attentions switch to summer holidays in the sunshine.

    But our trip to France last week made me wonder how very different things might be this summer because of the Euro exchange rate. The holiday price wasn’t an issue – we booked and paid that months ago. What REALLY hit home was a well understood measure – the price of a pint! (well ok, 0.5 litres). £6.50 per glass of Amstel and £3.50 for a Coke quickly blew a big hole in our holiday spending money. I know hotels and bars in the Alps are never cheap, but coupled with an exchange rate less than 1:1 things quickly started to hurt.

    So the UK tourism industry has an opportunity to showcase the benefit of holidaying at home. According to Somerset Tourism, there were about 20 million trips last year to the South West by UK-based visitors, staying for 80 million nights and spending about £4 billion in the process. We’ll be trying our very best to make sure that if these numbers rise in 2009, people won’t go away disappointed - there’s so much to see and do in Somerset…. but some decent weather would be a very good start!

    The ice and cold empties our bird feeders even faster than normal. Before we went away we topped-up all the nut feeders, filled the seed containers to the brim, stacked half-a-dozen fat balls in the rack and put most of a left over French stick on the bird table. Inside a week everything was stripped bare. When I arrived back yesterday, the robin was waiting for me as usual with that “Where the hell have you been ?” look he’s so good at. He was clearly so hungry that he almost accepted seed straight from my hand, with all fear banished. I’d like to think he is getting used to having me around “his” territory, but I’m not so romantic. It’s not just the High Street retailers that are really suffering the icy blast of winter.

  • The wait is over - 18 December 08

    How things should look soonThe Wait Is Over
       

     


     

    12 weeks of waiting and worrying are thankfully over.  Yesterday the lady from the Planning office told me that our planning application for the extensions and alterations at Greenacres has been signed-off and approved. Phew!

     

    You could be forgiven for thinking that our 1960s bungalow was single-handedly responsible for all the greenhouse gases and global warming destruction on the planet; such was its dismal Energy Efficiency Rating. It scored just 3 points from a possible 100 and just 29/100 for its overall Environmental Impact Rating. Clearly a flawed scoring system, but we can not deny that things are pretty bad.There is plenty of scope to literally “get our own house in order” as part of our mission to promote camping as a sustainable alternative to foreign travel.

     

    Our plans are to make major improvements to the property’s thermal efficiency and insulation standards, to introduce both solar and biomass heating systems, together with a new rainwater harvesting system and low energy and solar powered lighting. The result should be a multi-purpose building and home we can be proud of – we certainly hope so. Now the race is on to appoint builders, obtain Building Regulations approval and “get stuck in” before the site opens in April. Lots of excitement, kitchens to choose and, hopefully, plenty of good, dry building days through February.

     

    Robin

    In the winter sunshine Greenacres looks amazing. Trees without leaves allow us to enjoy the full splendour of the views we have. On the camp site those leaves all need to be raked and collected for composing, which gives many opportunities to chat things through with our wild rabbits. In this extended cold snap we’ve been putting out extra food for the birds and I counted 8 species on our feeders the other day. Maybe that isn’t such an impressive number, but to me it was a perfect reward for all the effort. The “Shop Steward” is undoubtedly the territorial Robin, who struts and hops around letting everybody know who’s the boss.

     

    I just hope our birds and our builders get on together next month.

     

    Wth best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and New Year,

     

    Duncan

  • Microbe Magic - 3rd Dec

    Microbe Magic

     


    Glorious frosty mornings have allowed good progress at Greenacres this week. Our main task has been demolition of some fir trees, which really was demolition rather than simple felling. Our tree expert Simon has done all the monkey impressions in the high branches, together with the job of making the vital felling cuts. I’ve been confined to the end of a rope, standing underneath. AAhh, as I write this the penny starts to drop!

     

    Fear not, all turned out safely and Simon’s precision cutting has stacked-up all the trunks and large boughs in one area of the garden, ready to be logged. Our new wood burner should never go hungry, which is good news for us and a more sustainable option than using LPG. I’ve ordered a new chain for the saw ready for the “hours of fun” chopping our fuel for several winters to come.

     

    We also had the ritual emptying of the septic tanks serving both the house and camp site. These small (if you can call 1000 gallons small) containers sit quietly below ground, receiving all the unmentionable waste from the toilets, showers and sinks. They use it to grow billions of helpful little microbes, who aren’t at all fussy what they eat, and who purify the effluent coming out of the pipe at the other end. So long as you look after the bugs they do a grand job in a very eco-friendly way, with clean water soaking away into the ground. The secret is not to poison them with blue chemical toilet fluid or other toxins. Once a year the little chaps also need a bit of a helping hand to remove the heavier sludge, so a man with a lorry-sized vacuum cleaner comes along to suck it all out. Now there are some jobs I don’t envy… but I guess it’s “bread and butter” to him!!

     

    It was great to see builders on-site at last, as we got to work digging some holes to check-out the house foundations. Richard (pictured) was a maestro with a mini-digger and all looks good. More on the building project next time.

     

     

    Best wishes, 

    Duncan

     

  • NEW - GREENACRES BLOG

    As the darkness and damp of winter sets in, a few of our regular customers are missing their "fix" of Greenacres sunshine and have asked for regular news about their favourite corner of Somerset.

    With so much going on at the moment it's a very exciting time, so we are happy to oblige.

    Duncan, Mary and the girls (if we can tear them away from the Disney Channel for long enough) will publish a blog keeping you all up to date as things progress.

    The first instalment is ready to read - please choose "Blog" from the main menu.

     

  • A Busy First Week

    Chainsaw with attitudeA Busy First Week

     

    Well, what a busy week!

    It all started last Friday when we officially collected the keys and said farewell to Ros and David. They both squeezed into the two remaining tiny gaps in their Renault, crammed full with the last remaining “this might be useful” items, then tearfully headed off to the Midlands and retirement.

    OK. Game on. It’s down to us now!

    We spent the weekend exploring our new kingdom, which was great fun, and taking up carpets ready for the builders, which wasn’t so much fun. Sore knees and a million puncture wounds from Gripper rod spikes. Even with heavy rain and autumn gales blowing Greenacres is still a fantastic place. The bird feeders need re-filling almost every day as dozens of birds compete for the adjacent perches.

    We then started on “Project Conifers”, which is a little daunting. Those familiar with Greenacres might recall some tall fir trees next to the garage/reception area. Their misfortune was being right in the path of one of our proposed extensions, meaning their fate was sealed. You’d think with a name like Forrester, tree felling might come easily, but not so. Better to leave it to the experts and a helpful chap called Simon, who’s a dab hand with a chain saw. At the end of the first day 2 out of 3 were on the ground and the last one had a haircut, ready for another assault next week.

    When Simon had done, I then got to work learning how to use a chain saw. They’re such dangerous weapons that they simply should not be so much fun! Thankfully I’m typing this with all limbs still intact, so rest assured I was careful. That evening I even read the instructions, note after the event – a bloke thing.

    I wasn’t so lucky when it came to burning-off the greenery and small branches. Having stacked it and mixed-in some cardboard I decided to give it a bit of encouragement with some old petrol from the garage. BIG mistake. When I set it alight the whole lot blew back at me and left me with an instant tan and no eyebrows. Such a stupid, schoolboy error and one I won’t be repeating.

    The same day we also had a visit from the local Environmental Health Officer regarding the transfer of the camp site licence. A very helpful chap and, as luck would have it, we knew each other as we both support the same small charity, Water for Kids. They do some fantastic work on water supplies and public health in Africa and South America – check out the web site at www.waterforkids.org

    More on Public Health matters (our septic tanks!) next week!

    Best wishes,

    Duncan

  • SORRY - NO BED & BREKFAST IN 2009

    Please note that Bed & Breakfast facilities are no longer available at Greenacres and there will be no B&B in 2009.

    We would like to thank all our customers who have enjoyed B&B here over the years and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the closure of our guest rooms.

     

  • MORE BABY SWALLOWS!

    Fantastic news -

    Following the successful rearing of young swallows in the spring, two of our swallows nests now have a second brood and chicks can be seen and heard in both nests. The "public gallery" in our reception area literally has a birds-eye view and is proving an extremely popular way of passing the time
    Smile
    Update - August 12th - we're delighted to say that the young from both nests have now taken their first flights and can be seen on the wing around the campsite.

     

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