We recently were invited to Featherdown Farm with our children aged 8, 13, 11, and 14, having visited the farm precisely ten years prior (see my review here!) The older three kids were tiny (and our youngest was not already born!) An opportunity to have some screen-free entertainment for teenagers and family
At first, I thought they might not be as happy now that they’re primarily teenagers and tweens. I wondered what their reaction would be if they found no power, charging points, or wireless internet for their mobile phones! They were genuinely shocked by the first thought and began questioning my motives. However, we negotiated by saying that we would occasionally bring batteries to charge phones and that we’d indeed have lots of fun outdoors as a family, regardless.
This was far from the truth, and they were screaming about it without even remembering to charge their phones and often resigning the devices for playing with their family, outdoor wandering, and reading by candles instead. I highly recommend going with your instincts and trying this out with your teens and tweens, regardless of your initial reaction!
We picked the stunning farm in Dorset named East Shilvinghampton, which also had the benefit of ponies, goats, and alpacas right next to the campsite’s tent! The farm also included a pizza oven that guests could use to make their pizzas, using pizzas specially prepared by Joby, one of the farm’s owners.
It was a massive hit for the kids, who fed to the fireplace with logs and flipped the pizzas with the considerable paddle! We enjoyed a meal outside after the pizzas were cooked, and it was an enjoyable way to end the day that was incredibly sunny and spent in the great outdoors!
What’s impressive about what is so wonderful about a Featherdown Farm vacation can be that it’s not camping (as we used to think of it as kids!) It’s a lot of fun and is as if it’s a traditional cabin in nature than anything that resembles labor or luxury. First, it features a natural wooden floor with a kitchen sink with taps, mattresses, duvets, beds, and even a hot shower in a charming bathroom attached to the side of the tent. It made it feel elegant and straightforward to adjust to!
We did use an iPad to cheat at one time to be able to witness the coronation. We thought that was an essential event in a person’s life to watch! Being able to see it in the shelter made it more memorable.
In addition, there was a large dimensions table with chairs and a couch and a stunning wood-burning stove that is located in the middle that instantly warms the entire space and makes it a cozy and relaxing spot to sit and unwind, like you were a fairytale of the past. The lack of electricity meant that the room was only lit with oil lamps and candles at night, which gave me this wonderful feeling of nostalgia. It also heightened the slow pace of life that I (for the first time!) had desperately wished for just a couple of days.
In this Featherdown farm, you can also request prepared and delivered meals for you to consume directly to the front of the camp! We enjoyed an excellent lasagna, salad, and the most fantastic fruit pavlova made by Joby and her child! It was a fantastic extra treat to say that we felt very spoiled, as it helped make the entire experience SO enjoyable. I would suggest making as little food as possible to ensure a peaceful break. Of course, it’s possible to cook outside on a stove (brilliant in the summer), and we cooked a delicious breakfast on the wood stove in the morning!
The absence of wifi was a blessing, and it was a joy to play many games with each other; they magnificently embraced the occasion as the sun poured out. We took some rackets and balls with us and encouraged them to take off on their explorations to look for animals and see what they could find in the rambling lane. The great thing about tweens or teenagers is that you can accomplish this with more confidence and then sit down to sip a glass of wine and read a good book while doing it. They can enjoy the freedom and space they seek, while we can enjoy the peace and tranquility we long for. Win-win!
Wheelbarrow races quickly became a popular activity, and so did the use of Daddy’s beer bottles to make a homemade version of hoopla and Skittles with a ring-shaped frisbee that we found in the car! I was impressed by their inventiveness and was awed by the amount of helping others they were willing to help, as well as creating a sense of pride and self-confidence once they realized how competent they were.
They cleaned the dishes (no dishwasher, obviously) and picked up logs, moved things around in the wheelbarrow, learned to create and maintain a fire, and cleaned up in the camp to ensure it was clean from mud and grass. On the second day, they began to participate in these activities themselves. Miss 11 was awed by the hustle and bustle that gave me reasons to think about making them more active at home too!
As we are close to close to the Jurassic Coast, we spend a portion of the day of fossil hunting by climbing the rocks and tasting local Fudge and ice cream (an essential part of every excursion). The fresh air and exercise made them tired in the evening that we sat around having word game nights, reading in front of the fire and laughing over the absurdity of it all. Everyone was not in their rooms, dooming to reading along with everyone else and exploring old-fashioned ways to interact and play as a family. This is precisely what I strive to promote through my blog, Instagram feed, and PlayLab parent membership!
I came across this beautiful picture of the two oldest girls we saw the first time we visited Featherdown Farm ten years ago. They were sleeping together in the same bunk, the bed they slept in on this trip for the sake of old times! It’s so wonderful to relive those memories and return with a natural pet, too, that is not just a soft toy!
The overall experience was positive, and the tweens and teens were more responsive than we expected with the reduced screen time. Maybe enforcing the break is among the most effective ways to achieve the reset process going, and there is a real benefit to taking the digital detox to gain relaxation, connection, and time with family. We may make a plan to return this year and also plan to make it an annual visit. I am awestruck by the fact that there are so many more Featherdown Farm experiences you can visit, and each has its unique twist on a slow-living lifestyle often lacking in the modern-day world!