Setting sail for success…

So…I’m at a turning point here, I started Sarah Arrow’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge full of enthusiasm at the beginning of January and churned out posts on an almost daily basis. I set time aside to do them and jealously guarded that time in my diary and I WROTE BLOG POSTS and learnt lots. I was setting sail for success…

Then…people started back at work after the Christmas break, children went back to school and my other work started kicking and screaming like a spoilt child! I gave up a little bit of my scheduled time and one of Sarah’s daily emails passed me by…I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it happen again…

So the next day, I got up early and tidied up my website About Us page in draft…and it is still sitting here now, in draft, sulkily throwing me glances from the Day One app I draft my blog posts in. Deflation set in..and a few more of Sarah’s daily emails flew past me.


Soon…I found myself procrastinating with the best of them…all for good reason but I’m not going to indulge myself by giving excuses, because really I could have, and should have found time. This business is a new venture for us and I want it to be a success. I recognise that it’s important for a glamping business to have a personality, to paint the picture of where people will be staying and what there is around us. I decided to do this and here I was almost deciding to give up.

Then…bing, that fateful day when Sarah’s 30th email dropped into my inbox. It was yesterday, I was still engaged with the group, seeing people who started with me approaching the end of the challenge. But I’m also starting to think to myself that it’s not worth starting now…oh those little voices are so persuasive…I nearly fell for them!


But no, they haven’t won..I have slapped myself round the face with a wet fish (metaphorically speaking, of course ;-)) and I am getting back into the blogging seat right now – starting with this post.

I will only improve my blogging if I actually blog and there’s a great community on the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, all of us going through the same process.  If I don’t apply myself to blogging now, I probably never will!


So welcome to Day 8, I’m walking back from the edge and quietly picking up my challenge. To finish, here are a few things that I am going to implement as I set sail for success once again.

– Listen to Sarah, she knows what she’s talking about – you have to put time aside to blog.

– If you can, write more than one blog post at a time so that you have some to schedule for later use.

– Remember that learning feels uncomfortable sometimes, so stay with it, celebrating success and learning from setbacks.

So here I go again…after a brief stop in a nearby port….setting sail for success.


A little bit of history.

The Dimpsey Shepherd’s Hut is based on our 500 year old farm, we’ve only been here for 4 years, but since the day we first viewed the house I’ve always felt the echoes of the past here. The whole place has a sense of serenity that only the imprint of the passage of time and generations of inhabitants can bestow.

I’m always very aware that we are just one in a succession of guardians who will love and cherish the house and surrounds. This is never more evident than when we find a relic of the past tucked away in a field or a barn somewhere. We recently found a cider jar, and at the same time, we also found a mud-encased cylinder that looked like it might be something promising.

I took it inside and have finally had the time to clean it up and found that it is a Denby jar, with a pouring lip at the top. The colours are so earthy and I am really delighted that we found it. I researched it and found out that it would either have been used for ink or for a blackener for boots and leather – how interesting and what a great piece to put in the shepherd’s hut.

Romantic Stories about Marmaduke

However, this is where the romantic-story teller in me takes hold and my mind starts connecting another bit of farm history I gleaned from the locals. Evidently, the farm was owned by a chap called Marmaduke Hustings in the late-1800’s and he was renowned for riding into town on his white stallion horse. This was at a time when the calibre of your horse was considered to indicate your standing as a gentleman.

I now like to think that we have the bottle that contained the blacking for his shiny boots and his black bridle leather. There is a horse tether ring on the barn at the front of the house, so I can imagine him striding out to meet his horse and make his splendid way into Chard.

So, if you come and stay – while you’re relaxing in the shepherd’s hut in Hither Orchard (which we have just re-planted after it was grubbed up in the 1970’s) – I wonder if you can tune in and catch the whispers of stories past as they drift past you. We’d love to hear them if you do…



We stayed in a number of glamping locations as part of our research for Dimpsey (well that’s what I told hubby it was anyway, it’s normally a bit difficult to drag him away from his farm ;-))  As part of doing that we learnt a few good tips and thought we would share them 🙂

Pre-holiday Welcome Letter

  • Firstly, read the pre-visit instructions that they send you – they usually contain some tips about little quirks of the location that can be useful.  Things like a location map and the times when Satnav doesn’t take you to the right place – as well as a telephone number if you get lost.
  • Next print this document out and put it ready to take with you in the car – don’t rely on the fact that your mobile signal will work to recall the email.  We discovered this one in Wales – cue the classic “couple in a car ” argument 😉
  • Most people list the things that you will find in your shepherd’s hut – so again read this rather than making assumptions.  We assumed that there would be a fridge in one location – wrong!
  • A lot of glamping locations have compost toilets – as they are in out of the way locations.  They have come on loads since the early days, so they really aren’t a hassle – but can be a bit of a surprise if you didn’t realise, so do check before you book.

Useful things to pack for a glamping trip

  • We always take some empty carrier bags with us – they come in really useful as extra rubbish bags, or to separate clean from dirty washing on the way home.
  • Many places offer a welcome basket of basic provisions – but this will be mentioned in their Welcome letter, so if they don’t you may need to take some milk etc with you in case you arrive late.  It’s also worth checking where the nearest shop/pub is.  Again, do read the information before you go – as it’s often listed in there.
  • Make sure that you take appropriate footwear with you – you will want to so some walking so wellies and/or walking boots might come in useful.
  • Glamping holidays are all about the outdoors and are meant to be relaxing, so download some music you love, pack that book or magazine you’ve been meaning to read for ages – and get ready to unwind and recharge.
  • A torch is always good to have with you, and you might want a penknife and a box of matches.  Campfire and candlelight are great companions for a glamping holiday.  Oh, and we always take a bag of marshmallows and skewer sticks with us – you can’t beat toasting marshmallows over the fire embers.
  • We always take a pair of flip flops or thick socks so we have something to wear inside the shepherd’s hut – rather than outdoor shoes.

There, I hope that some of these glamping tips will be useful for you. For the record, Satnav brings you almost to our door, there is a fridge in the Dimpsey hut and it is a flushing toilet.  But you will still need to read our Welcome letter when you book to get things like phone numbers etc.  Most importantly, wherever you stay, make sure that you do enjoy yourselves and take time out to relax!




Relax…and plug into your life

As you rushed out of the door this morning, did you miss something as you left?? A longing look from a partner, a child or a pet – a wave from a neighbour, a smile from the postman??

Our lives are so busy now, that we rush from one thing to another – our minds disengaging from now before we’ve even left here. Our minds stray to other things needing our attention, or to beeping phones and flashing iPads.

Oh yes, we do got the big things done and we do notice the things that make enough noise to catch our attention. But by rushing out of this moment, this one right now, we miss the little things that could gladden our day and make our hearts soar.

The smudgy kiss from a toddler soon to be a teenager, the subtle hint of a secret waiting to be coaxed into the open, the imprint of a hug upon our soul, the time to truly be ourselves.

These are the things that matter, the things that we can’t recapture or watch on iplayer later. So seek that time, find those places, unplug, relax and tune in and discover a hidden world that’s been passing you by…before it’s too late x


Somerset is a destination in its own right

For a long time, Somerset was the place you drove through to get to your Cornish holiday, but it is fast becoming one of the go-to destinations in its own right.  So what are the attractions of Somerset??


The M5 and the A303 both run directly through Somerset, as do the main Paddington and Waterloo trainlines – giving great access to North And South Somerset respectively.  Dimpsey is based on the Blackdown Hills and is only a few minutes country lane drive from the A303, meaning that popping down for a weekend from London and the Home Counties is really easy – there’s nothing worse than driving around for hours trying to find your destination!

From our location in South Somerset, you can easily explore Somerset, but you can also be in Dorset and Devon within 10 minutes – so it really is a great base to explore the Southwest.

You can find out more about where we are here – Dimpsey, About the Location

Local places to visit

We’re based about half an hour from Lyme Regis and 40 minutes from Bridport, both of which are lovely seaside locations with bustling towns to explore.  Bridport boasts a renowned vintage quarter and has been the source and inspiration for many of the shepherd’s hut vintage pieces.

Beautiful house and gardens at Forde Abbey near Chard, Somerset
Beautiful house and gardens at Forde Abbey near Chard

Within 15 minutes drive, we have Barrington Court, Montacute House and Forde Abbey – all of which boast beautiful buildings, gardens and tearooms, with especially delicious cakes.

A little bit further afield, at Bruton (about an hour away) we have the Hauser & Wirth gallery, Stourhead House Gardens and Farm Shop and Longleat Safari Park – all fabulous days out.

If you’re looking to go out on foot or by bicycle, we are based down a network of country lanes, with lots of footpaths nearby – perfect for exploring.

You can find out more about places to visit here – Dimpsey – Local Places to Visit

Local places to eat

Somerset is fast becoming a real foodie destination and we have listed a number of our favourite destinations on the website here – Local places to eat / buy food – as well as local farm shops.  The hut has a gas hob and barbecue facilities, so you can buy meat and provisions straight from the farm and indulge your inner chef.

And to finish…

There are so many artisan product and food producers across the Blackdown Hills and South Somerset, that we come across new people nearly every day.  Many of them welcome visitors – so this provides another way to see inside Somerset – if you are interested we can recommend a whole host of people.

So there you go, Somerset has so much to offer as a holiday destination – so why not book up to come and explore and relax??






I’m doing the 3o Day Blogging Challenge at the moment and it’s great as a) it’s given me the focus to do more Dimpsey blogging and b) I’m getting the chance to read some great blogs written by my fellow Challengers.  This morning I read one about the importance of values in your business and it really made sense to me – especially as part of my thinking about Dimpsey involved considering what values I wanted it to have and they were all based around old-fashioned country values – this is why…

What’s in a name?

People often ask where the name Dimpsey came from.  We live in Somerset, England and I was talking to one of our older neighbours one day and he said “Well, I’d best get on now, as it’s getting a bit dimpsey…”  I nodded as if I understood, and then quickly rushed inside and found a dictionary, which yielded precisely nothing.  Google was a bit more helpful – explaining that dimpsey (or dumpsey) was a Somerset (& Devon/Dorset) word for the half-light that comes at the end of day.

I just loved this word!  So, later when we were looking for a new brand name for our glamping business, Dimpsey popped back into my head.  A lovely, traditional country word, the domain was available and the meaning very relevant to campfires and candlelight as the night draws in. Perfect!

But what about the country values??

I really do believe that a business is the sum of its parts – people, what they do, how they do it and how they make people feel.  All too often we concentrate on the mechanics of making a business happen, but we forget about how we want people to feel.  For me, how they will feel is firmly based in the values you/your business have – as you will project your values and it will form part of the experience.

As Dimpsey is a country word, I decided to think about which country values mean something to us and then narrow it down to a list relevant to Dimpsey, which will help us with developing Dimpsey further.

Here’s the list I came up with:

Rustic, earthy, homely, traditional, trusting, welcoming.

So now the challenge is to live and breathe these country values as part of providing the Dimpsey glamping experience, testing ourselves and what we do against them as we go!


Not that many years ago, the words luxury and camping didn’t really crop up in the same sentence, but the arrival of glamping (glamorous camping) on the scene has transformed the options available if you’re booking a short break holiday in the UK.

Yurt Farm
We stayed in this yurt at the Yurt Farm in Wales

Bell tents, safari tents and yurts were some of the first entrants to the scene – bringing that traditional under-canvas snooze space as well as all the facilities they have to offer. Nowadays you can choose from a real vintage Eco-experience through to all the bells and whistles with LED TV’s – the field really is going upmarket!

Then more elaborate affairs started to appear; tree houses with full en-suite facilities, horse-boxes converted into luxury accommodation and shepherd’s huts. The glamping revolution really was in full swing, so we went out and stayed in various places to see what might work for us.

We have a small farm in the Blackdown Hills and we wanted something we could use throughout the year, both for ourselves and for friends and paying guests. Having done our research, we decided on a Shepherd’s Hut as we felt it would settle into our landscape nicely and a well-structured one would probably outlast us, so it represented a good investment.

Glamping Relax
Curl up and read the history of Shepherd’s Huts in a book from our library.

In times gone by, shepherds spent many a long evening on the hills during lambing times and built themselves small shelters from whatever was available on the farm. Over time, these developed to become small huts on wheels, so they could be dragged around the land – and became known as Shepherd’s Huts. Usually simple affairs, they contained a log burner and a bed platform with space for weak lambs underneath – and maybe a table and chair. You can see many examples of these in the excellent book by David Morris about Shepherd’s Huts.

Taking their inspiration from the traditional shepherd hut, a number of companies now build a version which can be used as; a spare room in the garden, a playroom, an office or for holiday accommodation. We visited several manufacturers and eventually decided to buy from Blackdown Shepherd Huts as they were able to provide all the options we were looking for, with a high-quality build and, as a bonus, they’re just down the road from us. They’re also a great bunch of people and we’ve really enjoyed working with them on this project and hope to work more with them in the future.

The hut is 18 foot long and over 7 foot wide, so it’s much bigger than a traditional hut would have been, which gives us the space to provide a kitchen and bathroom facilities in the hut – and a lovely comfy double bed to snuggle down in. I have to admit that I like to have a bed that’s already made up for me, so wanted a bed that folded away into the wall. Unfortunately for the Blackdown guys, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces programme convinced me it was possible 😉 – but they were great and came up with a fab solution for us.

Glamping Shepherd's Hut
Cosy in the Dimpsey Shepherd’s Hut with the log burner going.

So, I’ll share more about it all over the next few posts, but suffice it to say that we’re fairly confident that you’ll be happy to put the words glamping, shepherd hut and luxury in the same sentence in future!


So welcome to 2015 and it’s finally time to fill in the gaps about what we’ve been doing – so I thought I would use the proverbial kick-up-the-bum” of the 30 Day Blog Challenge to unfold more details about Dimpsey – our luxury stay place.  So here goes with the first blog post…


Luxury…it’s a weighty word and drips with the promise of things to delight and amuse. When you bring it to mind, the immediate thought is that it’s about big things…flash cars, big houses, lots of money. It’s usually about having something more than the basic needs we all have.

But in reality, luxury isn’t a possession and it can’t be purchased…it’s a state of mind, a feeling, a memory that we are left with after we experience something.

We can all make someone feel luxurious by taking that extra little bit of time, caring just a little bit more and understanding that a basic need for us may be another person’s luxury.

So, there it is – and what an appropriate one for the 1st of January! We’ve spent time making sure that the Dimpsey Hut is fitted out with beautiful things, but we are the guardians of luxury for our guests – we need to challenge ourselves to always go one step further than they expected.

Actually, why limit it to Dimpsey guests?? It’s probably something we should look to do in all areas of our lives.

Happy New Year – have a good one!




PS If you want to find out more about the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, then you’ll find it here – have a read and if you’re inspired and looking for ways to improve your blogging – why not join me, the more the merrier!!



The farm we’re based on has been here in its current form for over 500 years and as it was mentioned in the Domesday Book, it’s probably safe to assume that there have been people here for centuries.

I often get a sense of yesterday’s world as I wander around the fields – and every now and again we find interesting glimpses of past lives spent here and I find myself wondering about who they were and how they lived.

An apple tree unexpectedly in the middle of a field hedge leads me to wonder if a farm worker threw away the core of his apple and never dreamt that a long time in the future, we would be picking apples.

This time it was the remnants of a cider jar I found in one of the field banks when we were getting things ready for the hut to arrive. The jar was in pieces and caked with dirt, but I squirrelled it away into the house, with the hope of connecting this piece of history to our Dimpsey Hut.

Sure enough, when it was cleaned off, the jar revealed that it was from a few miles down the road and, given that farm workers were routinely paid in cider, was probably an everyday item on the farm in its day and had been thrown into the hedge when it broke and became useless…


We gave it a scrub and a clean-up and then Becky had the brainwave of putting a candle in it and making it into a vintage candleholder. Given that Dimpsey is a Somerset word for twilight – I loved the idea of this relic lighting the corners of the hut as darkness falls.

I’ve taken a quick piccie to show you and I’ll get one taken in the hut asap – this must be about as eco as it gets – recycling rubbish from at least a hundred years ago!



This morning I read the Saturday Telegraph magazine, and in it is an article about the Wilderness Reserve which is a lifelong passion and restoration project of entrepreneur Jon Hunt who sold Foxtons estate agency for a fortune in 2007.  It’s a really interesting article and you can read the full story here, but the thing which really struck me about the whole thing was his commitment to his vision.

In a nutshell, he purchased a large house and estate in Suffolk 20 years ago as a family home and gradually added the land surrounding his estate.  The upturn in his fortune in 2007 enabled him to put a master plan in place and ever since he has been creating the Wilderness Reserve – restoring the landscape to a master plan created by the renowned landscaper Capability Brown in the 18th century.  To achieve this he has buried miles of electricity cable, diverted rivers and dug up miles of concrete road – a gargantuan achievement.


So back to the vision commitment, the interesting thing is that when he started out, he didn’t expect it to pay, the restoration of the estate was a hobby and he said “when you start looking at it commercially it becomes a nuisance”.  But he had an overriding vision of restoring the estate to the plan, and only now is an element of it becoming commercial in that he has restored the houses and is letting them for high end holidays and conferences.  His passion gave the path, and he was in the fortunate position of being able to fund his dream and let the commercial elements emerge organically.

However, back to the real world and realistically, most of us need the commercial element to work earlier in the plan!  However, we can learn from Jon’s story – it is great to have a passion for what you do, as it helps you plough on when times are tough.  When you combine that with a clarity of vision, it starts becoming really powerful as being very clear about where you are going can help prevent you from chasing down the commercial cul-de-sacs which we sometimes divert down, dragging us away from our vision and ultimately delaying our progress.  Keep the end in mind all the time!


Photo Copyright ©Wilderness Reserve


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