Cool comfort farm
isfying: I definitely connected with my inner prehistoric man and felt about as close to being a hunter-gatherer as it is possible for a nice Jewish boy to be.
All kindlinged-up, getting the actual fire going was not too difficult, though it takes some time for the stove to heat up enough to boil the kettle. But herein lies another valuable lesson about our instant gratification culture; I can assure you, having chopped the logs, built the fire and shlepped our bags from the car to the tent by wheelbarrow while the kettle was boiling, when it arrived, that cuppa was marvellous.
Next on the agenda was getting the wellies on (they are essential) and exploring. Pettywood Farm is an 800-acre arable and livestock farm, and right on our doorstep were sheep, cows, pigs and chickens which roamed freely and seemed so at home around humans that they almost hopped on to a chair and joined us at mealtimes.
The big attraction for the children were the lambs, which were equally at ease around our species and didn’t bat an eyelid when their pen was invaded and they were picked up and lugged around as if they were toys. Of course, the neurotic in me was thinking of the hygiene implications, but there were plenty of “Now Wash Your Hands” signs to remind us to do just that.
Also worth getting acquainted with early in your visit is the “honesty shop”. Basically it is a trailer which stocks farm and local produce, as well as essential bits and bobs. The only thing missing is a shop assistant. In its place is a sheet of paper to note down what you take, so you can settle up at the end of your stay. It is a brilliant way of doing things and really rams home the ethos of the organisation.
Back at our tent, the fire was giving out a decent amount of heat, and the eggs and beans cooked in no time and were hastily devoured in the way that only spending time outdoors imbues.
By now darkness had descended and, with no central heating and only candles and tilly lamps for light, it did get a bit chilly. Clearly this won’t be such a problem in the summer — though you never know in this country — but I would strongly recommend taking extra blankets and duvets to supplement those provided, whatever time of year you go.
The following morning I had high hopes of being the first to the chicken coop and helping myself to the freshest of fresh eggs, but alas, though I was there by 7.30, a young whippersnapper from a neighbouring tent had beaten me, by about an hour and a half.
Getting the wood stove going again was the next imperative, and here I learnt a harsh lesson; before lighting the fire, make sure you clean it out from the previous night. I spectacularly failed to do this, and consequently had to wait even longer for that first cup of tea.
The rest of the morning was spent rather idly with us adults milling around the tent, and the kids romping around the field and petting the lambs — the immediate vicinity felt very safe and we had no qualms letting the kids run free.
Then it was off to explore what our
Ruby, the other junior Baddiel, takes a turn at feeding the lambs