Itâ€™s a Saturday night in early September, and my friend and I have a family-sized tree house to ourselves and views of the Bass Rock. But thereâ€™s one growing problem: getting our shop-bought lasagne cooked.
Our wood burning stove requires more than the simple turn of a knob and for a couple of city slickers, it is not going well. The hunks of wood left neatly stacked in a basket seem too big for the oblong section of the stove*, and the kindling is burning faster than you can say â€œfarm stayâ€.
They say there is no smoke without fire, but in this case, there is no smoke, fire, or microwave. Luckily there is an alternative – we move outside to our easily-lit fire pit. We rip open a packet of sausages and cook them on sticks, and follow those with dripping, sticky, singed and gloopy marshmallows, and a bottle of fizz.
If this is â€œglampingâ€, we are loving it.
Harvest Moon Holidays, just south of North Berwick, has seven specially designed tree houses nestled at the edge of a pine wood. In the distance we can just make out another glampsite with seven â€˜Out of Africaâ€™ style tents which can be hired individually or as part of a wedding package.
Since Harvest Moon Holidays was established eight years ago, 90 weddings have been held and bad weather hasnâ€™t got in the way of one of them. Apparently, this secluded but accessible part of East Lothian boasts its own microclimate and despite a gloomy forecast of heavy downpours, we only have one and a few light showers on the Sunday.
Our tree house has panoramic views (including a glimpse of the Firth of Forth) and all the basics – plus a few luxuries – to ease us into our rural idyll. There are seats galore: swings, a giant beanbag, loungers, a swing seat for two, a free-standing hammock, logs for cosying up to the fire pit, a table and chairs on the deckingâ€¦
Our Hobbit home comprises an octagonal living area housing adequate kitchen facilities, including the aforementioned stove and a Belfast sink. A cleverly constructed walkway joins this to two double bedrooms (one with a vertiginous single bed built high into the ceiling space: not for the faint hearted, but ideal for children or the young at heart) and a bathroom with a flushing loo and hot shower.
Still, the chances are you will spend very little time indoors whilst staying here. The feeling of space is incredible and the possibilities for adventure never ending. It feels very safe, as the signs at the car park indicate: â€œFree range chickens, ducks and children on the loose.â€
Visitors are encouraged to feed and look after the animals, which include a few rabbits and lambs in spring. For Â£10 you can have your own chicken in a coop, but as they lay one egg on average a day, it is more cost-effective to buy chicken and duck eggs from the honesty shed or boat.Â Both are well stocked with groceries, although you are recommended to bring all that you will need for your stay. There is a shed full of games and beach toys too, and a communal bonfire site and covered BBQ area offering opportunities to socialise with neighbours.
Getting back to basics means slowing down and unplugging. The unique selling point of Harvest Moon is what it doesnâ€™t have â€“ televisions, computers, dishwashers, washing machines, or wifi (unless on 3G). Instead, there are miles of near-deserted beach, enormous sand dunes with a network of paths, forest and fields.
Just 45 minutes drive from Edinburgh, Harvest Moon could be 45 light years: and we both felt lighter for the experience.
The tree house is the perfect set up for a family, or a few good friends, whilst the tents sleep up to eight in two double bedrooms, a sofa bed and a quirky cupboard bed.
*By the time we leave on Sunday, the Italian wood burning stove is generating so much heat we have successfully cooked the lasagne and some chocolate puddings, and even open the windows to the tree house. Top tip: start your oven as soon as you arrive.
For more information and prices please visit www.harvestmoonholidays.com