Monday, September 19, 2011

The Farmstead in England

As we all know, it's not just the destination that's important but the journey that gets you there...and, might I add, where you stay along the way!

When Astrid and I were in England recently, our Shutterchance friend Chris was our host, who had us stay at the family farmhouse of his longtime partner, Jackie.

Lucky, lucky us. It was like living in a B&B for 6 days and 5 nights!

It's a long story but Jackie still uses the family farm for grooming horses
and teaching children how to ride them.
It's full-time work for her, so she's at the farm every day,
going back home to their nearby house each evening/night.

About half of every week a family friend is also at the farm with her dog Cally,
helping to keep watch on everything, including the horses.

If you swore you'd never love poodles, you'd have to backtrack on your words.
How could you not be in heaven in that kind of playground,
and how could you not steal the show!

Talk about the Queen of Sheba!

As farmsteads go, this would rank up there with the best of them.
So many nooks and crannies and out-buildings, half of which I didn't snap the chicken coop. Did I mention fresh eggs every day?!

Chris would come over every morning and boil them up...and toast the bread.
And that's whether we had just eaten muesli or not!

Speaking of Chris... he is.
While we were there, he celebrated his 63rd birthday.
Astrid had just celebrated her 57th, so it made sense that Chris called her his Little Sister.
They both have the same kind of humor and fit with each other like hand and glove.
It's very gratifying for me to watch them together, truth be known.

Chris had something scheduled for us every day along the back roads of southern England, branching out in different directions from Bath. We guesstimated close to 500 miles of driving. I'll get to those places later, but while we were at the farm, Chris cooked up a storm...and on his birthday in particular!

First, he wanted us to experience a real English breakfast.
Wouldn't that be fun maybe once a week...on the weekend!

After that breakfast, we headed out for the day, just the 4 of us, and stopped first at a friend's farm to pick the beans for supper....

Later Jackie showed us how she julienned them.
I had never seen such a French-cut gadget in my life. Magic!

Magic is the operative word for the entire meal, actually.
It was like a Thanksgiving feast with such a huge chicken, including stuffing.
It FELT like Thanksgiving, especially since they don't celebrate it here in Holland.
I needed that and didn't realize how much.

When we weren't out-n-about, the farm was our rest and inspiration. Can you tell?

Jackie set the example by knowing when to rest.
I loved watching her because she calmed me down.

Speaking of which, Chris said he slept better those nights after our full days
than any other time he could remember.
See that window? That was our bedroom and we, too, slept well.

A room with a view. A farm with a view.

Chris is already planning what we will do when we return next year...God willing and the creek don't rise. Imagine that. But then, what Big Brother wouldn't want his Little Sister to come back to see him on the farm at least once a year. And bring her lucky wife with her. HA!


  1. Oh, Ginnie, this is exactly the way I pictured Chris living. His farm is warm & inviting, so charming and picturesque. You and Astrid couldn't have asked for a better host. No wonder you want to return next year.

    Did you get a chance to see his bench?

  2. Oh, the animals and the food and the skies. What lovely photos, Ginnie. Looks like you had a wonderful time!

  3. Beverly: Don't you just love it! Sadly, we never got to see his bench because he never took us to his house, even though not far away. He always came to the farm and was with us there each morning and early evening. We couldn't have asked for a better place to stay! Thanks, Beverly.

    Karen: All of it was like a dream...and still is, as I work on the myriad images. I'm so glad I have a place to make the images accessible to all of us! Thanks, Karen.

  4. Well don't you just know you are barking up my tree with countryside, a stone house (!) and food! ;) What fortune for you and Astrid, and for Chris and Jackie. These are priceless memories and photos, Boots. Don't I love seeing a French (?) poodle in that country life! I have often had to bring Paris to the farm, when I can't get back as often as I'd like to that city. Callie reminds me of a very big and friendly poodle I met on rue de Rivoli. Don would die to have a greenhouse like that. And farm birthday breakfast and chicken dinner, oh man. So sweet how Chris and Astrid claim the kinship they do.

    All wonderful!

  5. Ruth: I KNEW you would love everything about this, Sister. It's still like a dream for us. Everyone was so gracious and welcoming. We felt so at home. We both would go back in a New York minute, no doubt about it!

  6. That is the most charming farm I have ever scene... I love everything about it and I don't think I would ever leave... I forgive you for not taking a photo of the chickens and the chicken house... you can get that next time. I can smell that food! Oh my. And the views from you bedroom window.

    Yes, I need you to go back to this place... :)

  7. Margaret: How very sweet! I actually thought of you and your horses. You and your kids would be in heaven there, no doubt about it. Thank you!

  8. The stay at the farm was heartwarming, Chris and Jackie made us feel very welcome.
    We were so lucky with the invitation of Chris and yes, we do have the same humour, we are like brother and sister. The pictures show what I cannot even start to tell in a thousand words.
    The breakfast, the meal, Chris, Manda and Jackie made, everything was a delight.
    Callie was something else, she was like a big kid, always ready to play (or dance ;) )
    Being out in the country is so special.
    We slept like a log and Chris, because of all of my talking, slept also as a log....
    Thank you MLS for making this wonderful set of pictures and collages, showing a wonderful time spent at the farm.
    Chris and Jackie, thank you.

  9. Astrid: I couldn't have said it better, MLMA, You always make me smile by the way you say things so beautifully. These trips would never be the same without you! Thank you.

  10. It looks such a delightful place to stay and your photos make me feel as if I was there with you :-)

    Chris cooking up breakfast with eggs in that bright yellow shirt makes me smile ;-)

    I can see why you enjoyed your stay there so much :-)

  11. After seeing your lovely pictures, it makes me wonder why I ever left! My original home is not too far away from where you were staying.
    If you decide to cook up a real English breakfast for yourselves, don't forget the baked beans.... Heinz of course.... it's not a proper breakfast without them!

  12. CP: Ohhh, thank you, Cherry, for stopping by again. Now that you have met Chris, it makes all the difference in the world, doesn't it! :)

    Sham: I had no idea you lived so nearby. WOW! I was thinking Scotland...but then, that, too, would be nearby, relatively speaking.

    I had to laugh about the baked beans because for me that's so American...just not for breakfast. HA!

  13. Looks like a fun time and a delicious English breakfast! I should have been there. :)

  14. Tim: Thanks! I don't know of anyone who wouldn't enjoy that least once a year, if not week. :)

  15. Oh my... I just finished a HUGE lunch not too long ago (eating more on vacation than I ever do at home) and STILL looking at your photos of that wonderful breakfast and marvelous dinner is making me hungry all over again.

    The farm and countryside look so inviting... the pictures of the French poodle are marvelous (what fun you all seemed to have had) and those of the ponies are wonderful too!

    As for the tool to julienne the beans... I want one! I once used a knife to julienne enough beans for 12 people... a very tedious task that I swore I would never do again! (I will drop you a note via regular email at some point to let you know what is going on with me. As for just now, the sun is shining so I'm heading outdoors here in MT to take a few more photographs!)

  16. Victoria: You are enthralled by the very same things I am, so I totally understand. That julienne tool is quite the trick, isn't it! I had never seen such a thing, but it sure makes sense. It even cuts off the edge stringy pieces!

    I'll look forward to hearing more from you via regular e-mail. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine and take lots of pictures!

  17. Ginnie, you know it:
    You are a genious story teller.
    That includes words and photos.
    Just look at the photo when dog and horse "snifs".

    to to and Astrid

  18. Tor: And you're a sweetheart, Brother! Thank you. We have so many good memories of this trip.

  19. Oh this post reminds me so much of the week we spent in Schull, Ireland when our daughter was two years old. We rented a 150-year-old stone farmhouse with another family. We picked blackberries every afternoon and ate fresh local cheese and made cobbler or crumble every single night. Your bedroom window looked exactly like ours!

    I'm so glad you got an early Thanksgiving meal. It all sounds so perfect!

  20. Surely there is a tiny cottage somewhere in the neighborhood, and some gracious landowner who needs someone to do woodwork, or slop the hogs, or curry the horses and cows, or muck the stalls, or... or...

    I would go quite the distance to live in such a setting - and I mean much more than however many miles separate Houston and the south of England! Breakfast is one thing, but I'm hungry for the country.

    Or maybe it's just that it's so GREEN! We haven't seen luscious green here in so long!

  21. What a wonderful place! It looks so British really – just like in a story book. The breakfast sounds super yum! I love those little sausages – you can’t find them anywhere else – I know because I have tried finding them. That was one of the best things being on board the Queen Victoria last February – English breakfast with sausage and baked beans every morning!
    What a series of stunning country pictures! Just that would make me take a plane to old England. You had nice weather too. I love the picture of the poodle nose to nose with the horse – so sweet,

  22. DB: There's nothing like the UK! Ireland, England, Scotland. I haven't been to Wales yet...but maybe next year. Hopefully we'll go back every year, as long as we're able. Nothing quite like it! Thanks, Diana.

    SA: Surely there would be someone there who'd LOVE to give you room and board for all the services you could/would give, Linda! Sounds like a good exchange to me. :)

    And yes, it was very green. But then, they get all that rain, just as we do in the Netherlands. That's one of the reasons why I never complain about the rain. Thanks.

    Vagabonde: As English weather goes, we had the best of it and were very lucky. It didn't really rain till the day we left...and we took it with us back to Holland. :)

    A full breakfast like that every morning! WOW. But then, why not. Life is short and then we die. One way or the other. HA!

  23. what fun. a yearly thing eh? sounds like a plan.

    oh i wish i lived there.

  24. PC: It is so cheap to fly over from Holland, Maria, that it would be a sin not to go at least once a year, especially since we have so many friends there! Thanks.

  25. It is a pleasure to look at all your pictures, what a wonderful route did Chris and Jackie map out to show you the most pleasant and lovelies regions of England, Lacock is a real gem as I can agree with; it is apity that you didn`t meet Fox Talbot, the father of photography in England, but you cannot get all things. Avebury must be quite more touching than overcrowded Stonehenge, touching in the real sense of meaning, and I'm sure that you could get some energetic power of the stones while touching them. It was a very rich day- out - and it is fine that you could fix a lot of those beautiful moments. Chris and Jackie might be pleased too to look at this collage! I'm looking forward to other collages of this wonderful journey. The farm itself must be a little paradise!

  26. Philine: Thank you for looking at these images and for commenting. It means the world to me. Chris did tell us about the importance of photography in Lacock, but I don't remember the name of Fox Talbot. I took a picture of a Bernard Shaw banner in the next post...and that WAS about photography. Hmmm. Now I need to go back and check that out!

  27. All of that green just makes me smile. It's so beautiful, and oh the memories and stories told in just photos..

    That poodle is cute, but I had one when I was a child. He was a bit smaller, not much. And yes he was an angel. Brought back memories..

    I really cannot wait until we can do a photo hunt together again for an entire day or week for that matter! :)

  28. ET: Thank you for your comment. It was every bit as green as the photos show. So wonderful.

    I didn't think I liked poodles but this one was a real charm and very intelligent. I changed my mind quickly. :)

    A photo hunt together again would be very nice. You never know if/when that will happen!