Location: Bouncers Farm, Essex
Why go: For family
fun Romany style. Don't expect a bellhop to ferry your bags to your
room; instead a rusty old wheelbarrow is on hand to help you
trundle your possessions from your car, past the main house,
through to a blossom-filled apple orchard where your room
The rooms: In a grassy clearing, your accomodation is spread about beneath the branches of the trees: two beautiful bowtop caravans, a 'bender tent' - where gypsies traditionally socialised - and a fire area complete with a wooden dining table and chairs. A stash of logs and firelighters, matches and tea lights is provided, along with cutlery, pots and pans, but be sure to bring your own towels, slippers for wearing inside the caravans (no wellies allowed!) and torches. You'll be warned not to arrive after dark -"There's no light pollution out here, so you'll only have the stars to guide you," says owner Ann.
Eating and drinking: Arrive late and you have the perfect excuse to order one of Ann's home-made dinners (make a special request for piping hot casserole and apple pie), before hopping straight into bed. Otherwise, get a roaring fire going, settle in for some star gazing and a pasta dinner (be warned campfire cooking is a tricky business!) which you can tuck into on the dining table next to the fire.
What's the story: You'll be woken at dawn by the resident cockerels and gaggle of geese (unless your kids get there first). Start the day with a cooked breakfast heated on the gas ring outside your bender tent (pre-order any provisions you want), before exploring the 22 acres of farmland. Little ones will adore oinking at the pigs, chasing the chickens and watching the resident horses munch on grass and rabbits spring from their holes (there are also some very tame sheep which, if you get them on the right day, will allow children to cuddle them). While you skulk off to read the weekend papers beside the wood-burner in your caravan, the rest of the family can tackle the tree house and discover the tyre swing which swooshes beneath a large willow.
Out and about: If you time your stay right, your children may get the chance to groom horses and have a riding lesson with local riding teacher Wendy (check when you book).
Rate: £240 for two
nights at the weekend in peak season, with a discount for extra
canopyandstars.co.uk; 01275 395447