Eight years ago today we received news of the planning permission which set our journey at Old Bidlake Farm into motion. A few months later we opened the farm gates to our first camping visitors. The tents were sparsely furnished and the fresh paint on the shower room floor was still a little sticky but the guests were happy and appreciative and I can remember the intense excitement and anticipation for what might lie ahead.
We had no business plan, projected figures or growth strategy back then, any more than we do today. For some time I carried a feeling of ‘imposter syndrome’ worrying if we really were business minded enough to be doing this? Not that this enterprise was just a hobby, we had spent our last penny buying the smallholding and it was to be our only source of income, so we had to make it work.
Yet slowly and surely and most often by chance ‘the way we did it here’ fell into place. The fact that we were not restricted by set plans and expectations allowed us to develop in a natural, creative and serendipitous way. Saturday morning treasures from Bridport Market slowly added colour and character to the tents and communal areas. One wet and windy season prompted the construction of ‘The Hunter’s Lodge’ field shelter, which proved such a hit that a few years later our campsite storage area in the barn made way for the ‘Rainy Day Room’.
Yet our additions are always moderate and never for the sake of getting bigger, just hopefully a little better. First time guests are often surprised by the size of the camping field for just four tents and ask us why we don’t have more, but by the time they leave they have answered this question for themselves.
What we have discovered over the years is that what our visitors really enjoy about their stay at Old Bidlake Farm is the space and the simplicity and that actually they have no desire for us to complicate things with added extras.
So as the Glamping Empire stampedes forward all around us, offering ever more sophisticated ways in which to sleep in the great outdoors, it remains business as usual at Old Bidlake Farm. Our philosophy will always be to offer a magical escape from the real world, where life can temporarily become uncomplicated and precious time can tick by just a little bit slower.