Two Boys + One Tree House
Car packed to the max, large picnic onboard and two overly excited boys (aged 11 and 7) squeeeeeezed into the last available spaces in the car – we were finally ready to set off on our three-hour drive to North Norfolk from London.
At the journey’s end lay the promise of a tree house booked through Canopy and Stars and a self-imposed device and screen ban for all of its inhabitants for the weekend, both big and small!
We wanted to go back to nature, slow down for the weekend and really enjoy our surroundings and our children without the constant desire to google something, take a picture or just check an email.
Finally, we arrived in Bagthorpe Hall where we spilled out the car – crisp wrappers and all – and were met by our lovely host Gina who showed us in which direction to head, and offered us a rickety old trolley to get all our belongings there.
The boys ran on through the gate and down a freshly mown pathway, desperate to be first to see our accommodation for the weekend. They were stopped in their tracks by an inquisitive herd of cattle trotting towards us, just a single electric wire fence between us.
Trusting in the power of the fence – and having convinced the youngest not to try it out on himself – we finally spotted the tree house. More a home on stilts built around an obliging tree, we climbed up the steps and opened up the front door to a delightfully warm, inviting and cosy interior.
The boys immediately headed for the bunks, climbing up and in through wiggly openings to their cabin areas. “I’ve got a shelf!” screeched the eldest. Who would have thought there could be such joy in such a simple piece of furniture? They spent the next hour unpacking their belongings and neatly arranging everything on their respective shelves.
Without TV or WiFi, we spent our first back to basics evening dining on pre-prepared ragu, collecting firewood for the log burner (more out of a desire to collect wood than need as the wood baskets were fully laden!) and taking turns in the copper roll top bath. We played games, we broke up fights brought on by cheating and we finally went to bed at 10pm.
Woken by absolutely nothing, and no one, and not even a peep out of anything made by man or indeed by nature, we were all excited about the day ahead.
When you are away from home, the mundane jobs which you would normally complete with disdain at best, suddenly become fresh and fun in unfamiliar surroundings. The boys were keen to help set the table for breakfast, help restock the fire for the evening, help toast some bagels in our tiny but perfectly formed kitchen and help pack everything away again once breakfast was done.
Full of baked goods we skipped off back down the path to our car and set off for Holkham beach, a half hour drive to one of the most unspoilt and beautiful stretches of sand in the country.
We climbed sand dunes, we paddled through streams, we took our wellies off and walked barefoot on cold, clean and beautiful sands.
Without too much complaining from the boys, we made it 6km around the coast to the Wells-Next-to-Sea Beach Café for a well-earned lunch of sausage rolls and soup.
Later that evening after more beach antics, we took the chef’s table at Socius in Burnham Market for dinner. The kids loved watching all the action up close in the kitchen, while we all enjoyed a delicious meal with many local delights and seasonal produce, delivered by very a knowledgeable and engaging team.
Utterly wacked from all our adventuring, we returned to our treetop home with our lights out early.
On Saturday morning we booked a trip to see the seals at Blakeney. Latte and steaming hot chocolates in hand, we boarded the boat wrapped up tightly against the cold and misty morning with hats, gloves, scarves, coats and blankets for our knees. Blakeney point is one of the most important sites for migrating birds in Europe and home to a seal colony of common and grey seals.
Seals at Blakeney
We soon spotted the grey seals, MASSIVE creatures, stretched out on the beach with friendly fuzzy faces. We headed back to shore quickly as the tide here is extraordinary with much of the tidal waterways in the area being dry by lunchtime.
Brancaster Beach was our next stop and the boys again indulged in beach races, making dams in the retreating tidal streams and leaping off sand dunes.
Another action-packed day enjoyed at a slow and steady pace with over 12km walked happily. Nobody had asked for a screen, or a device or indeed what Siri thought, and we were now fully relaxed into my much preferred low tech pace.
We picked up some lovely traditional fish and chips from Eric’s on the way home. And got to try our first ever deep fried mars bar – not to be repeated too often!
We arrived home after dark and the night sky was a spectacular mass of twinkling lights. Using actual torches to find our way – not our phone torches – we made it home safe and sound.
We played spoof, we named all our favourite things and we had a lipsyncing competition (won by my husband) before the boys were in their bunks, with books, then bed.
We rose on Sunday, scoffed bacon and eggs before all squeezing back into the car to return to London. I thoroughly recommend two boys + one tree house for a back to nature mini adventure and, perhaps more significantly, I recommend switching off and powering down as much as possible.
Bagthorpe Treehouse – Canopy and Stars