Work, rest and play in a piece of heaven with magic in the air

Les­ley Robin­son found the per­fect live-work home, but a new ad­ven­ture has se­duced her into sell­ing. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

LES­LEY Robin­son’s en­thu­si­asm and zest for life have led to some in­ter­est­ing ad­ven­tures and now there’s an­other one beck­on­ing.

Les­ley, 59, is leav­ing York­shire with hus­band Glyn to travel in Africa be­fore em­i­grat­ing to New Zealand.

She has no re­grets about the roads she has taken, but this time there will be some part­ing sor­row.

The move will mean leav­ing what she calls her “lit­tle piece of heaven”. Cloud­berry Farm, just out­side Holm­firth, is the home she shares with Glyn, her el­dest daugh­ter Jo, son-in-law Jan and their chil­dren Felix, eight, and Hector, five.

It’s Es­cape to the Coun­try meets the Good Life and she bought it eight years ago as a live/work prop­erty af­ter her busi­ness out­grew the at­tic of her cot­tage in Sc­holes.

“I fell in love with it the minute I walked in and buy­ing it was the best thing I’ve ever done,” says Les­ley.

“I haven’t looked back. It’s a lovely, happy fam­ily home and the busi­ness has flour­ished here.”

The farm­house is per­fect for multi-gen­er­a­tional liv­ing. She and Glyn have one end while Jo and her fam­ily have sep­a­rate ac­com­mo­da­tion in the other.

With four acres of land, the two fam­i­lies are semi self-suf­fi­cient with chick­ens, veg­etable plots yield­ing ev­ery­thing from cab­bages to leeks and fruit trees and bushes giv­ing them ap­ples, pears, red­cur­rants and goose­ber­ries. They also have In­dian run­ner ducks and four pet sheep.

And it’s only a few strides away from work af­ter Les­ley and Glyn con­verted the old sta­ble block into of­fices for the Lit­tle Herbal Com­pany.

The com­pany is Les­ley’s biggest and most ex­cit­ing en­deav­our yet and she says the farm has been key in its devel­op­ment, pro­vid­ing pri­vacy for some of her more fa­mous clients.

Lit­tle Herbal be­gan af­ter she and Glyn hol­i­dayed in Zim­babwe in 1998.

Les­ley had torn a car­ti­lage in her knee. An op­er­a­tion, phys­io­ther­apy and months of painkillers had done lit­tle al­le­vi­ate her suf­fer­ing. De­spite this, she went ahead with the pre-ar­ranged break, though re­mem­bers stand­ing on the sta­tion plat­form at Bu­l­awayo in tears of pain. “We were met by ‘Bag­man’, who was to be our guide,” says Les­ley. “We talked about the plan for our few days there and said we’d wanted to do some walk­ing, but that would be dif­fi­cult for me. He asked what the prob­lem was and when he heard about my knee, said: ‘We can fix it’.” Bag­man drove the cou­ple out into the wilder­ness, where they were met by a woman dressed in leopard skins.

“Rosina spoke no English, but Bag­man trans­lated and she looked at my leg. She said she could heal my knee but in or­der to do see she had to con­sult the gods, which was not some­thing she could do that day, a Wed­nes­day. We had to re­turn the next day. As we left, Bag­man said – very mat­ter of fact – ‘The gods never work on Wed­nes­days’.” Rosina, the com­mu­nity witch doc­tor, gave Les­ley a root that was to be boiled up twice a day to pro­duce a black liquor, which Les­ley dabbed onto both knees.

Af­ter three treat­ments, Les­ley’s knee was less swollen and she tried a walk in the bush, car­ry­ing con­ven­tional painkillers with her. More than 14 kilo­me­tres later, she re­turned to camp free of pain, with the tablets still in her purse. “I’d never been par­tic­u­larly into al­ter­na­tive medicine, but I was open-minded and at that point I was ready to try any­thing.”

Be­fore re­turn­ing to the UK, Les­ley bought a pot of a po­tion made from the fruit of the Kigelia or “sausage tree”, said to be good for skin con­di­tions. She gave it to Glyn’s dad to try on his pso­ri­a­sis and for a cou­ple of friends who had eczema. Within four months, the pso­ri­a­sis had dis­ap­peared and the friends were re­port­ing big im­prove­ments in their skin, too.

When other peo­ple came ask­ing about the cream, it prompted a life-chang­ing de­ci­sion from Les­ley.

She gave up her job as mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for a big Amer­i­can phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany to launch Lit­tle Herbal, which now has a range of tra­di­tional African reme­dies, in­clud­ing the Themba skin cream and Simba, made from the tu­ber that healed her knee.

Les­ley and Glyn have re­turned to Zim­babwe many times, find­ing out more about the peo­ple of the Mat­a­pos Hills, who live in poverty af­ter decades of po­lit­i­cal turmoil. The cou­ple buy maize for the com­mu­nity, have built a ma­ter­nity clinic, pay for the ed­u­ca­tion of vil­lage chil­dren and help fund the lo­cal or­phan­age.

They, to­gether with Jo and Jan, will take Lit­tle Herbal with them when they all em­i­grate to be with Les­ley’s youngest daugh­ter Kate, who lives in New Zealand.

“The idea is that Jo and Jan will es­tab­lish Lit­tle Herbal in New Zealand and Glyn and I will go trav­el­ling in Africa be­fore join­ing the fam­ily,” says Les­ley.

“We like ad­ven­tures. And it’s time for a new one while we are still young enough, but I will miss Cloud­berry Farm.

“It’s like a co­coon. You come home here and feel like the rest of the world doesn’t ex­ist.

“Clients come here and al­ways leave feel­ing bet­ter. I call it Cloud­berry Farm magic.”

Cloud­berry Farm is for sale for £845,000 through Ry­der and Dut­ton, tel: 01484 689792. For more pic­tures and in­for­ma­tion visit www. cloud­ber­ry­

For more in­for­ma­tion about Lit­tle Herbal visit www. lit­tle­herbal-in­ter­na­

THE GOOD LIFE: Cloud­berry Farm is a live-work prop­erty. The farm­house in­cludes a one-bed­room an­nexe that could be let and there is an of­fice block and work­shop. Those look­ing for the good life will find an Aga, chick­ens, veg plots and an or­chard. The prop­erty is in Cum­ber­worth, near Holm­firth.

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