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Monday 20 November 2017

Go 'glamping'... why camping in style is growing in popularity and an alternative to sunny breaks

The pod, a purpose-built room that is well insulated, comfortable, warm and dry and can be placed in almost any location and then let to holidaymakers
The pod, a purpose-built room that is well insulated, comfortable, warm and dry and can be placed in almost any location and then let to holidaymakers
MODERN LIVING: Pods being manufactured at the factory with, from left, Danny and Thomas McElligot and Paddy Goggin of Cisco Woodframe Homes, Lixnaw, Co Kerry
Joe Barry

Joe Barry

Glamping or "glamorous camping" is a relatively new word in the English language. It means using accommodation and facilities that are more luxurious than those traditionally associated with camping.

Glamping holidays are growing rapidly in popularity, especially among those who enjoy cycling, walking, nature watching and other outdoor pursuits. One might wonder why, with winter approaching I am writing on this subject, but healthy, active holidays are now all the rage and have to a degree replaced the cheap package deals to resorts in Spain and elsewhere.

Irish weather does not deter the new generation of holidaymakers and apart from the fact that glamping provides a cheaper alternative to a flight abroad, people are far more conscious nowadays of health, diet and the need to take exercise. Many are fed up with the discos, cheap booze and the associated anti-social behaviour one can encounter in popular sun resorts.

While the traditional tent always provided an exciting and novel sleeping quarter, especially for children, their parents now want more than basic standard camping facilities.

I, for one, would not fancy spending a night in a damp tent with just a sleeping bag, but having looked up the options for glamping on the internet, I can see its attraction. Some hotels even have adopted the idea and provide spacious luxury tents and yurts in their grounds complete with double beds, heating and all necessary facilities.

INSULATED

A further development of this concept is the pod, a purpose-built room that is well insulated, comfortable, warm and dry and can be placed in almost any location and then let to holidaymakers.

Being always on the lookout for ways of increasing the income from my woodland, I recently travelled to Kerry to visit Pods Ireland and view them at first hand.

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Originally designed in Britain and having proved their worth as a tourist facility on farms and estates there, pods are now being built and marketed in north Kerry by David Griffin from Asdee in collaboration with Cisco Woodframe Homes, whose factory is nearby.

Apparently the pods distinctive shape was inspired by the ancient Christian oratory on the Dingle Peninsula and their appearance is simply wonderful, blending in perfectly to any setting, especially in rural and wooded areas.

It is extremely difficult to obtain permission in Britain for any change to the landscape, but the Lake District National Parks Authority initially gave their approval and they can now be found in a wide range of locations throughout Europe.

Check out www.podsireland.com for images and a full description of design and materials used in construction.

Another option for capturing the holiday home market is the quaintly named Lobster Pod, www.thelobsterpod.com. These are manufactured in Donegal by Patrick McLoone, who learned the art of boat-making and carpentry from his father's family business. I have not seen them other than on the internet, but they look to be well made and practical, but perhaps lacking the striking appearance of the Pods Ireland product.

The superbly designed self-catering units in the grounds of Glenstal Abbey in Co Limerick (http://www.glenstal.org/?page_id=835) are a step up in both cost and facilities. These are aptly called God Pods and are more like small log cabins and are modern versions of hermitages, offering a quiet setting surrounded by nature.

According to the website, they provide a space to encounter self, a unique place in which to pray, slow down and refresh ones spirit.

Our President, Michael D Higgins, is a frequent guest and it is notable that Wi-Fi and internet connections are not available which is in keeping with the spiritual aspect of the Abbey and the Glenstal community. These God Pods are located one kilometre from the abbey church and visitors are welcome to join the community for prayer.

SCENIC

The entire pod concept is fascinating and well worth a look for anyone who has woodland or lives in a scenic area or rural location that attracts cyclists, anglers and hill walkers. They provide a low-cost alternative to the traditional house for renting and planning permission should not be a problem provided there are also toilet and cooking facilities available on site.

There is, of course, a wide range of attractive log cabins and chalets advertised online.

Because of their larger size, they can provide full self- catering accommodation, but purchasers need to be careful to ensure that the quality of the timber and build are of a proper standard.

Some are excellent and some less so.

Caveat Emptor.

Irish Independent



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