Funny how a spell of increased time at home, as the world takes on coronavirus, changes your perspective on holidays.
After over three months of balancing my day job with attempts at home schooling and despite many hours exploring the woods on our doorstep for my daily exercise, a change of scenery was a welcome treat.
So we looked closer to home for our short break and ended up at Two Hoots Glamping just on the outskirts of the picturesque market town of Alresford – just ten miles from Winchester and about 30 minutes drive from my home in Southampton. As we drove along the meandering country lane up the hill to the campsite, following the typed instructions in hand as quite often sat nav doesn’t recognise these off the beaten track places, it felt just like we were in Cornwall or Devon, but without the fatigue of driving for four hours.
On arrival we got our first reassurance that this place took the health and wellness of its visitors seriously – the familiar sight of a bottle of antibac attached to the gate (covered with a little shade so it didn’t get too hot in the English sun) so that we could use it as soon as we’d opened the gate. I’d already seen when booking that the owners had achieved the new ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard.
Once in we were greeted by Dave who took us to our delightful Shepherd’s Hut. Incredibly well looked after, not a spec of dust and with all the home comforts we needed for a couple of nights away from it all. I was a particular fan of the under bed storage so I could hide the luggage away. Complete with a wood burner, King size bed and cuddly toy lambs, it really did feel like we were on holiday in the middle of nowhere.
It was only when we sat down on the loungers on our own private veranda, with the most stunning, uninterrupted view of rolling fields – a patchwork of bright yellow oil seed rape, fields and lush green hills – that I reminded myself we actually hadn’t travelled that far to get here. We really were rediscovering what is right on our doorstep and taking time to get to know our new neighbours – sheep with their fairly young lambs, a flock of guinea fowl flying by and a hare.
I certainly wasn’t going to cook on my first night on holiday. So we pre-ordered takeaway from Shapla Indian in Alresford. We paid online and selected our time slot and it was ready and waiting for us – just when you thought takeaway couldn’t get any easier. By the time we got back Dave had kindly put the awning on the decking as it was getting a bit windier. So it meant we could sit and enjoy the views whilst eating our delicious takeaway under the light of the twinkling fairy lights which covered every beam of the decking. I’m also glad we picked up some local Bowman Ales from Wallops Wood Brewery near Droxford to accompany our curry.
The next morning we took a stroll and found a woodland path that came out onto cornfields as far as the eye could see before heading back to our Shepherd’s Hut for a cup of tea and a lazy afternoon. Neither of us are artists but we were inspired to get out our pencils and paper to capture the stunning view.
Owners Caz and Dave were among the first to sign up for the new VisitBritain ‘We’re Good to Go’ Industry Standard to reassure their visitors. They offer a completely contactless check-in and check-out. Their rigorous cleaning and disinfecting schedule uses high grade cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting products. They are fogging each and every unit between guests and allowing longer gaps between departures and arrivals. Hand sanitiser is available throughout the site.
Only three out of their four camping pods are in use so to reduce numbers onsite and each unit will have sole use of toilet and sink.
You can see a full list of new measures in place by looking at their dedicated COVID-19 measures pageCOVID-19 measures page on their website.
Caz and Dave made us feel very welcome and gave us plenty of insider hints and tips on nearby hidden gems and good places to eat. It is easy to see why so many happy campers arrive as guests and leave as friends.
Two Hoots Glamping is an adult only site, so if you’re not fortunate enough to leave your children in their ‘grandparent bubble’, then Winchester has plenty of other family-friendly camping and glamping retreats. Or take a look at more self catering properties in the Winchester district.
Extend your break with a stop in the Georgian market town of Alresford with its pastel painted houses and independent boutiques. Famous for watercress, here you’ll find this local leaf on the menu of most eateries in some shape or form. Take a stroll along the watercress beds and follow the riverside walks using the Alresford Millennium Trail. You can also take a ride on the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line through Hampshire’s countryside. Pre-booking is essential so make sure you take a look at their website before you arrive.
Published: 29 July 2020