I know, I know, dear Reader. It has been an age since my last post. I promise it’s not because I’ve forgotten you, it’s just that we’ve hardly had a chance to draw breath since renovations started. It has been so full-on over the last few months and it has felt at times as if it would never end and we’d wind up living without heating or running water and cooking on a camping stove forever. There’ll be time for stories of derelict farmhouse chic soon enough but before the chaos of Christmas descends upon us, there was just a little time for some much needed recharging of batteries.
After a long and winding renovation road which isn’t over yet, the four of us needed to escape the farmhouse a couple of weeks ago. I can’t lie, dear Reader, the building work has taken its toll on me and managing a building site, working full time and keeping two small people (as well as Jerry) on the straight and narrow has left me utterly exhausted. Jerry and I knew it was going to be hard but the constant day-to-day dramas and trying to keep it all from falling apart (literally rather than metaphorically on some days) was far harder than we ever imagined. Still, we both know that the little farmhouse is worth it, no matter how many times we think we’re recreating scenes from the 80s classic film, The Money Pit.
So when Fanny from Warborne Farm suggested a visit to her beautiful family run farm in the New Forest, it was too good an offer to refuse. A weekend away from our own farmhouse was just what the doctor ordered and my goodness, Warborne Farm really didn’t disappoint.
Warborne Farm is a family-run 100 acre farm which boasts a selection of lovingly converted boutique barns, perfect for families, couples and those who need nothing but cosiness, long walks and a chance to while away the hours just pottering in the New Forest.
Arriving to a roaring fire in the woodburner, the Grain Loft became our home from home for the weekend. It was time to sit back and enjoy the peace without the constant whirring and banging of builders.
We have stayed in some truly beautiful places but I have to say that the attention to detail when it comes to decor is second to none at Warborne. This is farmhouse styling on a totally different level. It is functional but beautiful, cosy and rustic yet chic. I applaud all the little things which make a stay at Warborne Farm so special – sheep fleeces on the beds from the farm’s own flock, a light fitting made from the original pulley system used for hauling up hessian sacks of grain for storing, shutters handmade by Kate’s mum Ann, bedside tables carved from blocks of Douglas Fir from the New Forest and sills once part of an old sunken barge found emerging from the mudflats. Modern, rustic and so homely.
However, I’m not sure the girls and I will ever get over being able to watch our ‘neighbours’ as darkness embraced the world outside and the fire’s glow lit the scene below.
With a viewing window in the sitting room floor, we were able to marvel at the farm’s Boer goats and their kids sleeping in the shed beneath us. A little slice of farm magic.
After stories and hot chocolates, much chat about how goats go to sleep and whether we could adopt some for our smallholding, the girls reluctantly left ‘goat watch’ for bed. What a bedroom it was too, dear Reader! Stalls converted into a stunning 4 bed dorm with beds of hay mattresses made from ox-eye daisies, ladies bedstraw and other wild flowers from the farm meadows.
Bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘hitting the hay’, Poppy and Primrose couldn’t wait to hunker down for the night. Strictly on the basis that they could wake at the crack of dawn the next morning to feed the goats of course…..
With a long soak in the bath, a glass of wine or two and a squashy bed to sink into, I went to bed dreaming of Heidi and her grandfather’s chalet in the Alps. On waking from the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages, it felt like I was still there to be honest, dear Reader.
Getting to know the farm’s residents was firmly on the agenda when the girls surfaced for breakfast. Alongside the goats in the shed below our sitting room, we discovered there were chicks cheeping away too. A short wander from our barn led us to the orchard where friendly and rather dashing Swiss Valais sheep greeted us, portly Kune Kune pigs squeaked and grunted with delight at having visitors to scratch their bellies and armed with a basket, the girls collected eggs from the farm’s hens. One of the most marvellous parts of a stay at Warborne is the chance to experience farmhouse life of your very own. This is the sort of weekend that allows you to forget the outside world exists – simply switch off and free range. Poppy and Primrose bounced on and off haybales in the barn to their hearts’ content.
We couldn’t get over the marvellous selection of vegetables in the farm’s burgeoning polytunnels, just waiting for guests to help themselves. That’s not all, Warborne Farm has good eco credentials too. The farm’s heating and hot water needs are run on renewable energy sources and the family take pride in the fact that the farm has been run along organic principles for the last three generations, ‘sustainably exploiting the natural resources’ available to them as they put it. This is not only a luxury barn stay but one with a genuine conscience.
We stayed in the Grain Loft which sleeps 8 but there are plenty of other gorgeous converted barns to stay in at Warborne – all unique, all very private and luxurious. I took a sneak peak at the enormous copper bath in the Hay Loft next door to us. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Jerry found it very hard to prise me away from its shiny exterior – I think that the words ‘gin o’clock’ may have been applied as antidote, dear Reader.
Of course should you wish for a fix of the outside world, Lymington isn’t far from the farm’s doorstep. Perfect for stocking up on supplies, taking a stroll on the sea wall or finding somewhere cosy to stop for a bite to eat or a swift half. However, there’s so much of farm life to enjoy at Warborne, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away.
To be honest, it was almost too good to share with you, dear Reader – I’m already planning a return to Warborne for a little more digital detox to ward off the January blues and get some more words scribbled. It’s the perfect place for a retreat. The girls are still asking Jerry and I when we can get some goats and cut a hole in their bedroom floors to accommodate viewing windows and I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to come back to our own little farmhouse after such a wonderful weekend of slow living.
However return we did, with bucketfuls of ideas for our own project. Hay mattresses, shutter designs, polytunnels…….oh and geese. They are definitely on the list for our field in the spring, dear Reader.
Sshhh…….don’t tell anyone but should you wish to book a January escape to Warborne Farm, there’s currently 25% off on all January bookings. Well worth it I’d say dear Reader. Do follow @warbornefarm on Instagram for more details.