Griffon Forest in North Yorkshire – with its secluded lodges, outdoor hot tubs, roaring fires and friendly wildlife – used to be somewhere we went to chill out as a couple. But this time we took the dreaded baby with us, so relaxation went out of the window!
Located in a thick pine woodland just outside York, Griffon Forest is a collection of 55 wooden lodges, each with its own hot tub placed very handily on the wooden decking outside. If you like going off grid for a few days, chugging beers, watching crappy 1990s DVDs, wandering around pretty woodland trails, and watching birds, deer and badgers sniffing around your lodge for scraps of food, this is pretty much the dream destination.
This was the fifth time we’ve visited Griffon in the past 10 years, and on previous trips we’ve basically been hammered the whole time. There’s no Wi-Fi and hardly any phone signal here, which I love, because it means you can load up your lodge with food and booze, shut the door, and chill out completely for a week. Unless, of course, you have a 10-month-old baby with you!
Sonny started crawling a few weeks ago, so he’s fast becoming a nightmare to contain. As fun as it is to watch him bulldozing round rooms, harassing the dog and slamming doors, part of me pines for the static baby I could plonk in his little bouncy chair, safe in the knowledge he couldn’t move until I picked him up again.
So we squeezed as many toys and baby books into the car as we could (including Sonny’s favourite toy, the dog) and headed for North Yorkshire hoping for the best. The trip turned out to be everything we dreamed it would be, even though it was entirely different to our previous visits. Instead of going to bed at 5am, we were getting up at 5am – cheers Sonny! And rather than hitting the bars on our day-trip into York, we were sitting down to civilised family breakfasts. We’re definitely not as cool as we used to be.
Our days were spent entertaining our little monster with woodland walks and competitions to see who could crawl round the sofa fastest (I’m the undisputed champ), and our time in the hot tub was restricted to evenings when Sonny was fast asleep. But with the baby monitor next to us and a happy little boy sleeping in his travel cot just a few feet away, it all felt perfectly safe. And, most importantly, we were both probably more relaxed than we’ve been at any time since Sonny was born.
Sonny loved it, but then he seems to love everything, so the real value of this trip was for us as parents. Being away from home, in a lovely lodge in a beautiful woodland with no phone signal or social media to distract us, meant we were finally able to chill out and spend some great time together. We read books, ate good food, listened to music, watched plenty of trash TV, went on endless dog walks, and even found the time to talk about things other than the little bald pooping machine that’s dominated every hour of the past 10 months.
Sadly this could be our last trip to Griffon Forest for a long time, because once Sonny starts walking, running, kicking footballs, riding bikes, and demanding endless different types of stimulation, a sleepy little hideaway designed for adults probably won’t do the trick any more. But at least we got to take him there once, to show him the kind of things we used to do together before he came along and changed our lives forever!