Ask Periwinkle

A new column in which rural business entrepreneur Periwinkle shares his decades of experience in making money from people outdoors

Dear Periwinkle,
I recently encountered problems with certain guests misusing equipment provided for their stay and disturbing the farm animals and other guests late at night. What can I do to prevent this in future? (Clara, Basildon)

Dear Clara,

There are two schools of philosophical thought apropos of glamping: The ‘sensible’ school, and the Old School. Old School thinkers like me refer to themselves as Top Hatters because we have never understood why anyone felt the need to invent any other sort of hat – or indeed anything else for that matter – since 1793 when it first was seen.

Sensible sorts suggest pinning up ‘house rules’. Or taking a deposit as part of the booking fee to cover possible damage. Whatever else you decide upon, clear and friendly signage (‘Don’t Feed the Animals’) is de rigueur.

Alternatively, top-drawer Top Hatter suggestions include:

  • The introduction of compulsory induction courses for all glampers. I highly recommend a volume entitled ‘Square-Bashing for the Reluctantly Conscripted’ published by The Gulag Press, 1943. Any course garnered from the pages of this book will leave glampers in no doubt that deviations from ground rules may result in 200 press-ups followed by a forced, double-time yomp across the Brecon Beacons at midnight wearing flip-flops and carrying a 56kg Bergen.
  • Night patrols with dogs – better still, wolves, although watch out there because your average wolf shows allegiance to no one other than the pack and doesn’t take kindly to a collar.
  • With extended families, try holding grandparents hostage until you double check for breakages.
  • The introduction of a one-strike-and-your-out rule on equipment misuse. For example, any end-of-stay shortfall of malt vinegar in the cruet should result in banishment to the colonies.

Dear Periwinkle,
I have land with a view and want to use it for marquee weddings next season. I want to purchase a marquee structure to hire out to couples but am struggling for ideas. Any suggestions? (Mrs Danvers, Cornwall)

Suggestions a-plenty Mrs Danvers.

Convention points to a stretch tent, which can be dressed for a rustic, contemporary or classic weddings. Style it for each and do a professional photo shoot – put pics all over social media and website. Job done.

The Top Hatter take on this is, as you might expect, a tad different.

Rustic is so ‘in’ that if it gets any further in it’ll be out the other side. But if you act quickly, you’ll probably get away with some casually strewn tarps and a tractor load of hay bales.

For ‘classic’ (frills and fancy furniture) you can always get a job lot of pop up garden gazebos from Homebase, tied together with bailing twine (you can’t skimp on safety!).

Contemporary couple? Try an industrial scale, strawberry grower’s poly tunnel. It’s a long walk just to cut the cake – half a kilometre, but at least you’ll stay dry should the heaven’s open.

Dear Periwinkle,
I am planning a New Year’s party in the grounds of my stately home, with a five course meal, entertainment and champagne at midnight. It’s £100 a ticket so I want fireworks. What considerations should I make? (Catherine Wheel, Newton Abbott)

Dear Catherine,

The conventional answer to your question is straight-forward:

  • Hire a specialist, especially if coordinated music is your plan because sequencing is tricky.
  • Make allowances for neighbours and livestock (consider ‘silent’ fireworks).
  • A decent budget helps too.

However, for £100 a head, why not push the boat out with a Top Hatter solution? Buy a tonne of pyrotechnics off, hook your iPod to a PA system and say odds bodkins to sequencing altogether.

Just compile an avant-garde jazz playlist – there’ll be nothing in there faintly resembling a melody, it’ll have a time signature resembling 57 over 3 and the chances of hearing two consecutive notes in the same key will be the same as a lottery win. So nobody’s going to care.

I hope there’s something here to satisfy your needs.

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