When I was at university, my birthday always used to seem to fall on a weekend or the run up to it, which is a complete waste when you’re at university because pretty much every day is a weekend (or it was for me, I barely went to any lectures or seminars after my first semester). The problem with that was that after I graduated and started working, my birthday fell on a Monday and slowly worked through the week again, meaning I had to either go to work on my birthday or take a day of annual leave to do something fun. I did get one round of weekend birthdays post-graduation but skipped a Friday birthday due to a leap year. Cheated. This year marks the start of weekend birthdays again, my birthday being on a Friday this year. I knew we had to take advantage of it (the fact that the May Day Bank Holiday tagged onto the weekend too was an added bonus) and we booked a glamping long weekend. Spotted on Canopy and Stars, my favourite website for treehouses, shepherd’s huts and all things glamp, the Saltbox had been on my list of places to stay for a while. It looked super fancy for a hut, had an indoor shower and toilet and being located on a nature reserve on the Isle of Sheppey, it was only a relatively short journey from London. Ideal.
As now seems to be tradition when we glamp, it was raining when we arrived on our first day. We quickly got ourselves in, put our stuff away and put the kettle on, before curling up on the bed to admire the view through the full-wall bi-fold doors. A window wall to the world.
The Saltbox is one of four huts in Elmley National Nature Reserve. Other than the Saltbox, two are wagons and the other is just like the Saltbox but brand new (in fact, so new that it wasn’t an option at the time we booked as it wasn’t there). All are tucked away from the main path of the nature reserve, although we did once during our stay get a couple wandering by our hut who had clearly taken our path by mistake. They were very apologetic as we sat there in our pyjamas watching them and drinking tea one morning, we found their sheepishness funny. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind if you book the Saltbox that the other hut of the same type (the Ferryman’s) now lies further down the path, so you might want to bear that in mind if you’d like your privacy, especially if you do what we did and keep the curtains open pretty much the whole time for the great sunrise view in the morning.
Every morning we would wake early (whether because of the light or because we knew there was potentially a beautiful sunrise to enjoy, I’m not sure), we’d raise a head, open a sleepy eye, make a quick judgment call on whether or not it was worth waking up to watch the sunrise and then either go back to sleep or get up and put the kettle on for a cup of tea to enjoy as the sun rose, with the bi-fold doors open and fresh air pouring in. We were cuddled up in jumpers and duvets of course because it was generally really cold despite the fact it was the end of April. By the way, how has it suddenly switched from winter to summer practically overnight?!
We started our days with sausage cobs (yep, I’m betraying my Nottinghamshire roots there). What do Southerners call sausage in a bread roll? It’s not a sausage roll because that’s obviously a sausage in pastry but I thought ‘bap’ was a more Northern thing.
We would then either go for a walk in the nature reserve or head out in the car to explore the local area. I have far too many photos to include in this post so I’m going to do a separate post on the nature reserve and our little side trips. I got to don my new walking boots, a birthday present from my sister and a nice bridge between what I previously had which was either trainers or wellies.
In the afternoon we’d sit on the bed and read or chat and as we did so we’d watch birds swooping past or, our favourite thing, watch things running or hopping past our hut. Our favourite was the hare that would sometimes run by, although we were also visited by pheasants and a baby bunny (or at least a very tiny one).
As the skies darkened each night we’d settle in to play Scrabble or card games, either ones we knew or found on the internet and one which I only half remembered from Sixth Form free period procrastination, but which came back to me slowly and as we played through, of course my boyfriend accused me of making up rules to benefit me as and when I needed them…
On our final night we decided the time was right to get a fire going with the logs that were provided for exactly that purpose. Unfortunately it was pretty windy during our whole stay and so we were fighting the elements, even more so when it started to rain. However, we got a little fire going after nursing it for a while and giving it some love and attention. Never give up, never surrender!
We managed to make one squidgy s’more before retreating inside to the warm and dry of our little hut to raise a toast to my 31st birthday and our little getaway.