I hate camping. There, I said it. Yes, I know the great outdoors is all kinds of good for you and I know you can take airbeds and duvets and a few minor comforts of home to compensate for the hard ground and the condensation and the crouching over. But by the time you’ve gone to all that trouble I think you might as well stay in an actual building. An unfashionable opinion, maybe, but I’m getting too long in the tooth to worry about that.
Honeybuns is a bakery based on an old dairy farm deep in the Dorset countryside. If there’s one thing I do like it’s a cake, so when Honeybuns invited us to stay in the 1940s cedar clad caravan on their farm we were thrilled. Putting aside any fresh air apprehension, we said yes.
It was an excellent decision. After a relaxed drive down country lanes (England in mid-May when the sun’s shining just can’t be topped, can it?) we arrived at Honeybuns. Emma, who started the business back in 1998, was there to meet us and show us around. She and her family live in the beautiful old thatched farmhouse that forms the heart of the large site, the bakery itself is on the other side of the drive, while we were staying a stone’s throw down the hill.
That caravan is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Look at that cladding! Emma and her husband bought it a few years back, took it to campsites and festivals while they restored it and made it their own. Art deco features like the light fittings and the built-in formica shelving betray its age, and the Honeybuns style – think Cath Kidston’s naughty little sister – makes for a bright and homely interior.
The bed is pretty huge for a caravan and so comfortable with its soft bed linen, endless pillows and giant quilt. Fairy lights are strung across the bed, vintage crockery lines the kitchen area, pictures are hung on the walls, and rugs and cushions add to the cosy, welcoming feel.
As glampers, you get to enjoy a pretty big chunk of the farm. The caravan sits alongside a second, sixties caravan that you can use to store your stuff while a large canvas tent is pitched nearby for shade if you need it or to accommodate kids. And you’re allowed to pitch your own tent as well.
Just up from the caravans and tents is a little orchard with barbecue and fire pit surrounded by swinging seats, leading to a secret garden that would make small children faint with excitement. Hens and doves clucked and cooed from their coop nearby while back towards the farmhouse is the Bee Shack.
Used by the bakers as a kind of common room during the working week, at the weekend it’s yours with its big kitchen area, huge communal table and reading nook near the log fire with an incredible library of cookbooks.
Next to this, through a little vegetable patch, a large bathroom with generous roll-top bath (complete with bath bombs and vintage reading materials) is yours and yours alone to enjoy.
It’s a great set up. Near to the farm but not too near. Those comforts of home I grumbled about earlier are right there without cramping your camping style by being too close. Yes, I may have sighed when I needed the loo at 4am but the short walk back under the starry sky made me so glad of that earlier nightcap. They definitely have more stars at Honeybuns than I’ve ever seen before.
They have more of everything at Honeybuns: more stars, more cookery books and way more thought put in to every detail of this glorious glampsite.
Oh, and more cakes. Honeybuns specialises in gluten-free cakes, but you’d never know from the flavour or texture. Emma’s recipes begin with naturally gluten-free ingredients, so think ground almonds or polenta rather than flours with the gluten taken out.
Inspired by Italian baking, much of which just happens to be gluten-free, these are cakes that do not scream privation. Instead, Honeybuns cakes are indulgent, fruity, delicious little numbers made to pack in flavour and pleasure. We can vouch for this as we spent half our weekend eating them. Not a bad way to spend the days, eh?
The weather smiled on us throughout. We cooked and ate every meal al fresco: spicy chicken skewers and salad one night, poached sea bass, new potatoes and petit pois a la Francaise the next. An afternoon spent reading and swaying in the hammock resulted in a sunburnt nose.
We only left the site for a couple of hours on Saturday to pop into Sherborne for a mooch around the junk shops before heading back to resume our pressing schedule of lazing about.
Sunday afternoon turned into evening and we reluctantly thought about packing up and heading home. In the end, we couldn’t leave. We stayed another night, so happy were we living so simply and quietly out there away from civilisation.
As a great man once sang, I lied about being the outdoor type. Turns out, I might be after all.
Honeybuns glamping is available from April to October.
Prices start from £200 for a weekend, with bedding, towels and breakfast box included.
Images by Lottie Storey