Andrea Mara

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Relatively Happy Glampers

The sun was shining when we made our booking to go glamping. So of course, we assumed it would be shining during the actual glamping. A bit like when we have a week of good weather, and you picture the whole summer rolling out in similar sunshine. Or at least I do.

And we were booking for the Sunday of the May Bank Holiday weekend, so there was a reasonable expectation of temperatures reaching a stratospheric 16 degrees, and perhaps even some sunny spells.

So on Saturday morning, when we looked out the window and saw torrential, incessant rain, and looked at the forecasts full of weather warnings, we looked at each other, and considered cancelling. Yes, we’d lose the money, but at that stage it seemed like it was worth paying hard cash to not sleep in a soggy campsite with three small kids.

Then, said kids bounced into the kitchen, full of excited chat about lists for packing and getting down suitcases (for one night!) and making sure to bring the marshmallows. We’ve been glamping before, and the abiding memory is toasting marshmallows over a campfire, meaning we’re very aware of the priorities. And clearly, cancelling wasn’t an option.

So we decided to throw comfort at it – we’d bring extra blankets, hoodies, socks, chocolate cake, and of course, marshmallows.

“Actually, maybe they provide extra blankets?” I said, and my husband phoned the campsite.

Turns out they don’t. Nor do they provide duvets, sheets or pillows. We had to bring our own. Which is totally fine and normal, except we probably wouldn’t have booked a one night trip to somewhere that requires you to fill your entire car with duvets. Anyway, our fault for not checking, lesson learnt.

Glamping - Office Mum
It wasn’t clear if we could fit the kids too

So on Sunday morning, we loaded the car with much bed-linen, many treats, a bottle of wine, three excited kids and two unconvinced adults – but at least the rain had stopped.

We decided to go to Avoca Kilmacanogue en route for lunch – that way, as my husband pointed out, no matter how the rest of the trip turned out, we could remind them about how amazing lunch was. And it was actually – the sun shone, we sat outdoors, and I took 800 photos, in order to emphasise at a later date how lovely it it had been.

Garden in Avoca Kilmacanogue - Office Mum

Lunch Avoca - Office MumWe also realised that we’d brought wine but no wine glasses, and it was really feeling like a trip that would require wine. So when I was buying takeaway coffees from Avoca, I asked if I could have two extra paper cups. “To share the coffee with the kids,” I explained to the girl behind the counter. No, I don’t know why I said that either. Somehow it seemed better than needing them for wine.

We set off again, driving south, into drizzle and black clouds – but no matter,  we had 800 sunshine photos from lunch in the bag.

As we approached the campsite, I saw a sign for Red Cross. I hadn’t realised that’s where we were staying. I was hit by a wave of nostalgia – we’d had a two week holiday there when I was a small child, back in the early 80s. I don’t remember a lot about the campsite, but I do remember that my dad took us to Arklow to see a horrifyingly scary film called The Dragon Slayer (note to self: this is the kind of memory that stands out from carefully planned holidays)

I’m obsessed with nostalgia, and we’ve deliberately booked holidays in the past in places I’ve been as a child, but this was the first time it happened by chance. Things were looking up.

And indeed, the sun came out as we unpacked our many duvets in the log in which we were staying (it really was a log, much to the kids’ utter delight)

Glamping Log - River Valley - Office Mum

Glamping log - Office Mum - River Valley

There was plenty to distract the kids for the afternoon – a small pet-farm, a nature walk, and a great playground:

Playground River Valley Office Mum


Playground River Valley - Office Mum

And there’s a pub with a restaurant just at the entrance to the campsite, so we went there for dinner – the food was, appropriately, good comfort food, and exactly what we needed, facing into our night sleeping in a log.

And most importantly, we were able to buy a disposable barbecue from the local shop, and toast those marshmallows. Turns out the kids have no romantic notions about campfires – the disposable barbecue on the deck was just as good, as long as they got to eat the pink and white goo.

Marshmallows - Office Mum
instant happiness

And then finally, I got to test out my paper cup of wine.

Wine and book - Office Mum

I learnt two valuable lessons during our glamping trip – actually, they’re the same two lessons I learnt during our last trip, or didn’t learn, as it turns out.

The first lesson is that five of us in one room/ log/ yurt/ ferry cabin, doesn’t always go well. The kids were still up at midnight, up many times during the night, and back up at 7am. That doesn’t necessarily feel like a holiday.

The second lesson is that although “glamping” technically means “glamorous camping”, it is not really glamorous – it just means that instead of a tent, you have something of a more solid structure. It’s camping for people who don’t own tents. Bed linen may or may not be supplied. Crockery and cutlery more than likely aren’t. And the bathroom is a communal unit 200m down the path.

But notwithstanding all of that, the grown-ups had a good time, and the kids had a fantastic time.

I think the five-year-old summed it up best, when during dinner I commented that the restaurant chairs were very fancy.

“Well we’re very fancy too mum,” she said. “Although tonight we are sleeping in a log.” Exactly.


We stayed in River Valley in Red Cross – this isn’t a review post and we paid for our accommodation!





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