With the prospect of good weather on the horizon, this weekend we have been repainting the shower block at The Secret Campsite, near Lewes. Last year, before we opened the campsite in August, we had a big rush to make sure that our solar powered hot showers were ready and in great condition for any discerning campers determined not to compromise the washing side of a camping trip. We teamed up with Ovesco, the local community energy group who installed the large solar pv array on our barn roof which heats the two large immersion tanks that supply us with hot water for campers to shower and wash up with. We got the system up and running just in time for our opening but weren’t able to give everything a lick of paint. So, this winter we have been finishing off the jobs that we didn’t get time to complete. As well as having flushing toilets, the shower block at The Secret Campsite also has a disabled toilet which was an important facility to include when we designed the block. We didn’t have the space to include a fully compliant disabled shower at the campsite but we did install low level shower trays to make it easier for disabled campers to use the hot showers and we have push buttons to deliver a relaxing warm shower of water.
This weeks other jobs in preparation for the season have been rolling the camping pitches with my friend Dereks road roller. Rolling the large grass pitches in the spring when the ground is soft helps to keep the ground flat and makes it easier to cut with our little tractor mower. I have been filling in holes that appear on the grass paths that lead out to the individual grass camping pitches and making sure that the newly planted trees around the campsite are properly protected from the rabbits and deer that we seem to have in abundance. The deer and rabbits are great for campers to see around the campsite but they are very bad news for any new plants that we have recently put in and aren’t properly protected.
I have also moved the Arkette, our modern version of the Shepherds hut to its position alongside the pond. I spent a couple of evenings levelling it so that campers staying, don’t sleep on a slope We slept the night in it over Easter and the woodburner makes the Arkette unbelievably snug, even on the very coldest of nights.
Finally, I recently went along to the Lewes Farmers market to hand out flyers for the campsite, and bumped into all sorts of interesting people including guests from last year who were down from Sheffield visiting friends in Lewes, a gardener who remembered the campsite at Brickyard Farm in its former life as a garden nursery. I also met someone who works in films and recommended I video the raising of our Tree Tent in a couple of weeks time, so my friend Steve has offered to come and get some decent photos and footage. I also met up with Matthew and Nickie from Holmansbridge Farm shop and we have put the finishing touches to our meat hampers which can now be orderd when campers are booking their camping trip to the Secret Campsite online.
Next week the Tree Tent goes up in preparation for its first guests, and I have added a couple of pictures of the first stage of preparing it to be hoisted. We have had lots of press interest in the Tree Tent and in a couple of weeks time it will be appearing at Grand Designs Live at Excel. If you are in the area, pop in and have a look and say hello to Jason who designed it. Here he is with Duncan starting to reassemble it at its new home between the three oak trees on the edge of some ancient woodland with views across the campsite and over to the South Downs in the distance.
For updated information on our Secret Shelters, check here.