Our latest family adventure took us an hour and a half down the welsh coast to the beautiful island of Anglesey and the glamping safari tents of Wonderfully Wild. Located just outside of the lovely town of Beaumaris, Wonderfully Wild is set on a working farm and has just four safari tents which really gives it that ‘getting away from it all’ feel. Surrounded by 200 acres of some of the best countryside we could wish to find with splendid views from our lodgings over to the mountains of Snowdonia National Park and the blue waters of the Menai Straits, this really was a perfect family holiday for a family who love being outdoors.
Prior to our stay we’d received a really useful email from the owners, Victoria and Robin, which included details of directions and how to navigate the country lanes leading to the property once your sat nav has inevitably confused itself away from the main roads and proceeds to lead you on a merry tour of ALL local country lanes. Also included in the email was a reminder about what is provided for you in the lodge and what you may want to consider bringing as well as information about which of the local supermarkets deliver to the site. Unfortunately, we left our online food shop until the evening before our arrival so Waitrose (yes, Waitrose deliver directly to your lodge – a clear sign that you’re glamping and not camping!) had no available delivery slots left but luckily for us Tesco did and we arranged the shopping to be on site later the next day. We had also emailed Victoria and Robin to arrange an early arrival so that we could drop the car off and begin our explorations of the local area before returning to the site later in the day for the designated check in time. This was really useful and accommodating as we were now able to leave home early and make a full day of it without the inconvenience of having to drive around with an additional car which looked like it had been packed in preparation for a nuclear winter. This gave us far more flexibility in the things we wanted to take with us. No, not bags and bags of clothes and make-up, but the Potty Adventures wagon, bikes, fishing nets and the like that would enable us, and more importantly the kids, to make the most of their new surroundings.
Upon arrival we were immediately struck by the natural beauty of the place. The field that the lodges are located in is massive so the distance between each of the four safari tents is very significant indeed. For Jesse, who runs literally everywhere anyway, this was perfect. He could play with us or without us in complete safety as we watched on from the deck without being confined to a set, often very limiting area of space that you get in lots of other establishments. This meant endless bug hunts, countless games of hide and seek, numerous games of football, some balance bike sessions and a few cruises in the Potty Adventures wagon. All without disturbing or being disturbed by anybody else. No cars are allowed onto the field which is another brilliant feature (and something less to worry about when travelling with children) and must be parked at the entrance to the site where colourful wheelbarrows are waiting to help you lug your gear from car to tent.
The views beyond the lodge field at Wonderfully Wild will simply never get boring. You can peak spot the mountains of Snowdonia in one direction while enjoying the sights and sounds of a stream and woodland in the other, all from the comfort of your safari tent. But while the glorious sense of outdoor isolation is a huge positive you are also less than a five minute car journey into Beaumaris (just over a 30 minute walk for the more energetic families) with its castle, pier, waterfront, shops and restaurants. Furthermore, beyond Beaumaris, you are within easy reach of a multitude of stunning blue flag beaches and protected woodlands, such as the truly stunning Newborough forest and beach that ends with the picturesque lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island that can only be accessed by foot at low tide (separate mini adventures post to follow – trust me it’s worth it!).
Without wishing to sound grumpy, we only spoke to other people on two occasions (apart from the owners) on site during our entire stay and one of those was because another family confused me with being the owner when they arrived and began asking me if their lodge was ready. But let’s be clear, this is exactly what we wanted. We wanted some peaceful and precious family time where we could play, talk and laugh without the white noise of a rabble of other people (there we go sounding grumpy again), something that is increasingly rare in the more mainstream travel options aimed at families these days where you are often within spitting distance of others and a Starbucks frequents every other hotel lobby or holiday park. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love city breaks, for instance, and the hustle and bustle that they involve. But sometimes, particularly for children, the great outdoors is the biggest and best of playgrounds and at Wonderfully Wild you can immerse yourself in it until the cows (or sheep) come home. Furthermore, as the lodges have no electricity we were able to detox from our digital lives. So, instead of spending 20 minutes flicking through the Sky channels to end up watching a mediocre, made-for-TV film, or wrestling to minimise the amount of time Jesse spends watching ‘Daddy Finger’ on YouTube, we spent our time playing and talking. And it felt delightfully liberating.
No electricity does not mean discomfort though at Wonderfully Wild. Far from it. Inside the tents there are enough candles safely housed in enclosed lanterns to light one of the local lighthouses plus a few battery lanterns which we used inside the kids bedrooms as nightlights. Every night then, once the critters were tucked up in bed, became a candlelit affair. Add to this the country-chic decor that you are treated to and the evening warmth and crackle of the log burner as we snuggled on the adjacent sofa under one of the many provided throws and blankets and, suddenly, Wonderfully Wild becomes a romantic retreat as well as an outdoor adventure base.
The log burner itself is very simple to use and each lodge is provided with enough logs for the duration of the stay. Additional bags of logs, however, can be bought for £5 and it was necessary for us to pay for one additional bag but this is because we have two very young children who have an excruciatingly bad habit of waking at 5:30 every morning! As this was April and not the height of summer, mornings in a safari tent are cold, particularly at that ridiculous time of the morning, so we lit the burner far earlier than most families with normal children would. Hence the need for extra wood. The burner takes about 20 minutes to warm up and start making a noticeable difference to the temperature. Another good tip, should you have good weather like we did, is to roll up the canvas curtains that cover the PVC windows as soon as the sun is up to let a little more heat penetrate the tent. All of your cooking can be done on the log burner and every conceivable pot, pan and cooking utensil is available for you in the neat little kitchen. The top acts as a good sized hob to fry your ‘set you up for the day’ breakfast, while underneath is an oven compartment big enough to ensure our pizza night went without a hitch. Of course, using wood does not provide the steady performance of your home oven and things do take a little bit longer, but once it’s up to speed the timings are negligible and for anything that you need just that little bit quicker (like my customary morning brew or three) there is a small gas burner also available.
Our biggest challenge in terms of feeding and heating, however, was having 6 month old Amelie with us. When she wakes at the aforementioned 5:30am she is immediately ready for her bottle and even the slightest change really puts her out (and everybody else by the time she has audibly expressed her frustration at a decibel level forbidden at most festivals). At home we use an electric bottle maker so obviously, having no electric, she needed to wait that little bit longer here. We boiled the water ready the night before, put the bottle inside the cover of a hot water bottle and took it to bed with us to slow the cooling effect and by morning it was just above a normal room temperature which, given the coolness of the tent at 5:30am was a job well done in our eyes. It still needed reheating slightly but we’d certainly managed to minimise her morning kick off Kenny routine.
Although the tent air temperature was cold during those early hours we were never, any of us, cold during the night. The quality of the beds and bedding, together with the plethora of hot water bottles we were supplied with meant a good, restful sleep following our daytime exertions. Our bedroom had a cosy double bed, the second bedroom where Jesse slept had two singles and there was a cwtch (meaning warm cuddle and cubbyhole in Welsh) cupboard bed in the living room that we tucked Amelie away into.
Having on demand hot water was a huge plus for us travelling as a family but wanting to be as close to nature as possible. Don’t get me wrong, we love to grab our bell tent and disappear into the great outdoors camping for a weekend without the luxury of hot water so we can survive without it, but this time we had chosen to go glamping as a sort of halfway house between a traditional family holiday, complete with all available amenities, and trip into the outdoors where nature and your environment more than make up for the lack of a shower. Here we had the perfect combination. The shower room was a good size and the shower itself hot (and I mean hot) within a few seconds. When you and your toddler have had your hands and arms stuck in rock pools at the beach all day searching for crabs, mussels and snails and then you come back to pull him round the field in the Potty Adventures wagon until you’re ready to keel over, then a hot shower is a beautiful thing.
Each safari tent has two decking areas, one to the front and one to the rear of the lodge, meaning you are able to track the sun’s movement through the sky from sunrise to sunset never missing a ray. The front deck overlooks the field meaning we were able to watch Jesse bug hunt while spending time with Amelie and simply relax there with a glass of wine after they had gone to bed admiring the view of Snowdonia National Park in the distance. One afternoon while the kids were napping and we were enjoying a sneaky beer we watched from the decking in awe as three huge buzzards circled above us obviously looking for some refreshment of their own. We nearly woke Jesse up in our excitement. The rear deck looks towards the stream that passes through the back of the field so older children can easily be monitored while they explore it. The owners have built a stile that provides access to the stream and actively encourage you to venture down there and have some watery outdoor fun, but there is the added safety of a fence either side of the stile to stop young children from slipping your notice and ending up where they shouldn’t. Jesse loves the water and absolutely loved the stream. In fact it became a little evening, before bed ritual that he would have some stream time with us. The problem was getting a two year old back out and ready for bed when all he wanted to do was continue searching for little fish with his net and rearrange the stones by throwing them in all manner of directions.
In addition to the decking there is also a picnic table outside each tent and we used it to dine al fresco on a couple of occasions thanks to the peculiarly warm and sunny weather that Wales was providing us in April. You can also hire a fire pit/BBQ which is something we’ll definitely do should we be lucky enough to return in the summer months when the outside temperature stays warm longer into the night. Brilliantly, should the weather turn and you be confined to your lodge for the evening, there is a large games chest in each living room that includes an array of board games, puzzles and children’s books further underlining its family friendly status. Anything else that you need or require (including more games or books free to loan) will either be in the onsite cabin located beyond the stream which houses all manner of spares and additions for you to loan or buy using the honesty box to pay, or will be a phone call away to the ever so helpful owners who were more than happy to oblige in anyway they could.
It would be pointless for me to make some sort of ‘on the whole’ summary comment for this, our latest family adventure, because we had so much fun in the great outdoors escaping the clutches of TV and the internet at Wonderfully Wild, while basking in the simple luxuries that were provided for us, that it was simply perfect. Perfect in every way. Perfect with it’s location within walking distance to the nearest pebble beach and the town of Beaumaris with other beautiful sandy beaches and forests just a short drive away. Perfect in the simply stunning views across to the mountains and sea in one direction and the woodland in another. Perfect in that there are only four lodges in a vast expanse of space so you never get that crowded holiday camp feel and Jesse had the opportunity to truly run free and soak up the great outdoors that surrounded him. And so perfectly comfortable and cosy that we sat up later than we normally would at home lit by the warm light of candles simply talking to each other and reflecting of the events of the day. Our only problem is how soon can we go back and do it all again.
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