Meet Henrietta, Harriet, Chucky and, um, Sarah. All named by my 4 year old. My 2 year old says they’re just called “chickens”, quite obviously.
They’re very charming, remarkably chatty and they poo an awful lot, but they have just given us our very first egg so they can do what they like.
The dog wants to eat them, the cats want to taunt them and I was just relieved they were still here when I woke up this morning.
When you move to the countryside, a lot of your time is spent looking for nice places to visit. Places which will keep the entire family happy including visiting relatives and any sudden influxes of weekend friends. Farm shops, garden centres, playgrounds, pubs, cafes, restaurants, doctors, dentists…..all sorts. Places you can enjoy whilst sitting back smugly (even in the dentist) and saying to yourself “this is why we moved to the countryside”. Because the countryside is FULL of lovely places to visit. Bursting with fresh produce and happy animals and primroses sprouting on every winding corner. Well all of this is true….sort of….but you have to drive around quite a bit to find them and you have to remind yourself on these drives that each and every one of these lovely places to visit completely makes up for the absence of take-aways and deliveries. I don’t know about you but after a long day with work and kids I’d MUCH rather get in the car and seek out a wood fired pizza van in a teeny tiny village than have it delivered to my door. There’s only a hint of sarcasm, a very small, tired, desperate for a delivery hint.
The place though which really does make up for all of this and much more is Worton Organic Garden. It’s just about the nicest, calmest place on earth and it’s only 20 minutes drive from my front door which in countryside terms is basically at the end of my road. It’s run by David and Anneke Blake who I also like very much and am hugely envious of just about everything they’ve created. I like their attitude, their obvious love for what they do and they’re appreciation of what it is to drink cold white wine on a Saturday lunch time for no particular reason at all. It’s in essence a farm shop but attached to this they have the most delicious cafe and restaurant serving all manner of incredible food, all cooked up in the smallest kitchen you can imagine and enjoyed at enamel topped tables in an extension clad in reclaimed wood. In the Summer you can sit outside amongst the millions of tulips and roses and rows of vegetables. It’s a bit Beatrix Potter with the occasional wooden clog and clucking chicken. It’s enchanting and relaxing and the perfect slice of countryside living. And it’s only open Fri – Sun which means I can’t over indulge too much and so it always feels like a treat. Obviously I don’t want anyone reading this to go there. The perfect thing about it is not too many people know about it yet and that’s just how I like it.
I’ve spent the last few days enjoying a rather wet, broadband free holiday in Devon with the boys. We’ve been searching for Pirate treasure, fishing for fingers, spotting Penguins on Stoke Beach (turned out to be a Guillemot) and enjoying lots of cake and scones.
On a trip to Totnes to the outdoor market, I made a small but exciting purchase. A not quite perfect James Keiller & Son Ginger Preserve jar. I made sure to peek inside before parting with my money and saw lots of crumpled newspaper with a note reading “Very sharp pointy shells. TAKE CARE”. I handed over my 50p quickly and quietly and slipped the jar in to my satchel….
So here are the contents, 2 beautiful and perfectly preserved Murex Brandaris shells accompanied by a note from 1968 written on the back of a Christmas Wishes card.
The note reads….
Murex Brandaris : Produces the purple dye Murex much prized by Roman, Greeks and Phoenicians. The latter created new settlement as a result of their searches for new beach of shells”
Now if that isn’t treasure, I don’t know what is.