We’re not about to talk shit about the internet. It kept us going when living our actual lives wasn’t an option. We’ve been able to order groceries from local restaurants and bottled cocktails from shuttered bars. We’ve watched world-class theatre, taken exercise classes filmed in different cities, toured exhibitions and streamed DJ sets into our lockdown living rooms. We’ve had virtual parties with pals, developed a deep (if fleeting) love for Zoom pub quizzes and even watched friends around the world get married on screen.

But after weeks and weeks of living my life entirely online, I’m ready to live IRL instead. A few nights totally off-grid is like jumping in at the deep end.

There’s escaping to the countryside to stay in a bougie B&B or a treehouse with a dishwasher, and then there’s really immersing yourself in the mud, the weather and the torchlit trips to the compost loo in the middle of the night. At Swallowtail Hill farm, you’re greeted at the entrance and driven by buggy down the hill – away from phone signal and anything else that needs electricity to function – to your hut.

Swallowtail Hill
Photograph: Swallowtail Hill


I stayed in Wood Cabin, the kind of classic construction you might imagine Little Red Riding Hood’s saviour living in. There’s a comfy bed, a log burner and an outdoor kitchen. The most high-tech thing in the place is a camping stove, in case you get impatient while trying to scramble eggs over the firepit. Or maybe the shower, which, despite being semi-alfresco, is gas-heated and gloriously hot.

Down in the paddock, you can’t google how long it takes to cook a jacket potato in the embers (hours fyi), you just have to sit there until it’s steaming. There’s no way (or need) to see what everyone else is doing on Stories. You’ll wake when the sun rises and there’s nothing to do except watch the sheep in the field next door, listen to the trees that surround you and spend real time with whoever you’ve brought with you to share your cabin.

Perhaps the thought of spending a trip mainly outside, lighting fires, braving downpours and letting the daylight dictate your plans doesn’t appeal. Of course, you can trek up the hill and go back to civilisation for a while. The farm is a short drive from Rye, where your phone will quickly blink back to life. But this feels like the time to focus your eyes on something else – will that pot of water start boiling any minute now? – after so long relying on our screens.

Wood Cabin, Sussex. Sleeps four. From £105 a night. Find out more and book here

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