Lockdown may have delayed our holiday plans and stalled our aspirational adventures – but just because we can’t go away this doesn’t mean we can’t have a luxurious staycation closer to home. With beautiful summer weather in the air, months of lockdown cabin fever taking its toll and a four-year wedding anniversary to celebrate, our travel plans had to take a backseat and it was time to get creative. Thankfully, this was much easier than expected thanks to Beau and Bell and Little Picnic Company.
Who says you need to travel to a glamping ground for some luxury camping when Beau and Bell can bring the break right to your doorstep? The Brighton-based firm provides beautiful bell tents and tipis for weddings, events, birthday parties and private celebrations. To celebrate our anniversary we opted for the romantic bridal tent and coupled it with a delicious Champagne Afternoon Tea for two courtesy of the Little Picnic Company.
David and his partner turned up early in the morning to erect the five-metre canvas bell tent. In less than 30 minutes, my sparse lawn was converted into a rustic glamping ground. The team was extremely efficient and professional, quickly building the tent and dressing it with soft furnishings, décor and personal touches.
The entrance was framed with bunting and twinkling lights, a flower garland draped over the opening. Inside, we were greeted by a fluffy sheepskin rug at the foot of the bed. Pretty lanterns, blooms and bridal touches finished off the tent (the perfect place for a newly married couple, or a couple celebrating years of wedded bliss). By night, the solar-powered orb glows, while torches flanking the entrance guide you to bed. But there’s no sleeping on a cold, hard floor with Beau and Bell; you get a cosy, made-up double bed for two.
Just as happened on our wedding day, the June rain finally made way for a beautiful, sunny afternoon so we set up the deck chairs just in time for the arrival of our Little Picnic Company delivery. The Surrey catering specialists provide picnics, afternoon tea, barbecues and vegetarian menus for small days out and celebrations or large events.
Restaurants haven’t been open for months so it was a real treat to have the day free from food prep and kitchen time, and take delivery of a delicious hand-made afternoon tea. While it may be little in name, it certainly isn’t little in nature. The spread for two was enough to feed a family of four, with finger sandwiches, pastries, mini desserts, cakes, scones, macaroons and strawberries to choose from, all washed down with a cold, crisp bottle of Grand Cru Reserve Brut Champagne Lallier.
Our afternoon tea was delivered in a picnic box but you can upgrade your package to include a luxury wicker hamper and blanket. A mixture of roast beef and mustard bagels, salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and cress, and cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches on soft, white bread and healthy multigrain loaf are boxed up.
The fennel, chilli and Gruyere cheese straws are freshly made from flaky pastry and packed full of flavour; and the spinach, goats’ cheese, red onion and sun-blushed tomato tarts could be served up as hors d’oeuvres at any fine restaurant or glitzy event. The homemade plain and fruit scones with jam and clotted cream went perfectly with the bubbles.
Once the sun started to sink, the lights illuminated and we headed inside to wrap up in blankets and play board games. After a long bike ride, we finally had space for the rest of our picnic in the comfort of our warm, dry tent. Sweet treats such as rich chocolate brownie, zingy lemon drizzle cake, bite-size éclairs, and light-as-air macaroons were washed down with sparkling water before we curled up under the canopy of our bell tent to snooze under the stars and listening to the owls hoot.
Beau and Bell tent and tipi hire operates within Hampshire, Kent, London, Surrey and Sussex. Prices start from £50 with different packages available. To find out more, visit beauandbell.co.uk or call 01273 546173.
Little Picnic Company uses local suppliers to hand-prepare and freshly pack the very highest-quality picnics, perfect for any event or day out, into environmentally-friendly packaging. The Champagne Afternoon Tea Picnic for two starts from £85. Find out more at littlepicniccompany.co.uk or call 01932 450840.
Family-run Norfolk-based Glamp and Tipple provides luxury bell tents and hot tub hire across Bedfordshire, East Anglia and Hertfordshire. If you’re in this area and are interested in garden glamping then visit glampandtipple.com.
Blossom and Blush Bell Tent Hire create rustic chic accommodation for events and special occasions across East Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. To find out more go to blossomblushbelltents.co.uk.
For something a little different, London-based bespoke picnic delivery company Pique food offers breakfast, brunch, picnics and movie night snack boxes. Find out more at piquefood.co.uk.