Suffolk: Couple put their eggs in a new basket

A SUFFOLK couple have opened a new business offering luxury camping holidays known as glamping, to run alongside their existing free range chicken farm, after deciding that diversification was the way forward.

Helen and Bob Bradshaw have run a working chicken farm since 1999 but with wholesale prices going down and feed prices going up, they decided they needed to diversify to survive.

They heard about the new holiday craze of glamping – a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping – and decided to try it out.

They set up Dawn Chorus Holidays at their farm in Barsham, near Beccles, in the Waveney Valley, in June and two months later the business is proving a success.

Mrs Bradshaw said: “We run a free range chicken farm, but last year the wholesale price went down while the feed price went up and we soon realised the business could not withstand this for much longer.

“We pushed our private sales, but we decided we could not have all our eggs in one basket.

“With chicken farming not cut and dried at the moment, we were either looking at moving, which was not on as the children are at that certain age, or trying something new, which we did.

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“We came up with the idea of tented holiday lodges (glamping), which we thought was an up-and-coming thing, and we went down to Gloucester where the tents are made.

“Since June it’s been going really well, and it’s exceeded what we hoped for in the first year.

“We’ve got other ideas in the pipeline but I think we will stick with it, although I think we will always have chickens for private customers.

“Our two tents are different from the bell and yurts as they have separate compartments, so ideal for groups and families. At the back of the tents they have their own showers and toilets and they even have hot running water.”

The tented lodges are based around African safari tents and each sleeps up to eight people. Each lodge is fully equipped with electric sockets, crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and wood burning stove.

Glamping may seem like a modern day phenomenon, but it has been popular since the early 1900s, when an entire industry was created to cater to the need of the demanding European and American travellers looking to bag a trophy and experience adventure in the wilds of Africa.

The wealthy travellers were not keen on giving up the creature comforts of home, and instead stayed in luxurious canvas tent lodging.

These tents were fully furnished with bed, luxurious bedding, Persian rugs, antiques and fully staffed with chefs, guides, porters and butlers.