Cotswold Life

Liv­ing the lux­ury

Crunchy chips, creamy choco­late, Cotswold cheese. What more can a girl want from a stay in a lux­ury lodge on Adam Hen­son’s Cotswold Farm Park, asks Katie Jarvis

- Recreation · Mexico · Saarlouis · Germany · Oxford · United Kingdom · Fun (band) · Gloucestershire · Australia · Iceland · Adam Henson · Corpus Christi College, Oxford · Una Stubbs · Smithfield, London · Evesham

Ian and I are sit­ting in front of the Ox Shed restau­rant at Adam Hen­son’s Cotswold Farm Park. I’m tuck­ing into a de­li­cious ve­gan chilli. Ian has slid­ers – pulled pork and bar­be­cue sauce; lamb burger with harissa mayo; and a beef burger with tomato rel­ish.

There are po­tato wedges with mine. Which – don’t get me wrong - are gen­uinely lovely.

But Ian has a huge pile of crunchy thick-cut chips with his. I mean, you know. Thick-cut chips.

The view from the ter­race is dis­tract­ingly gor­geous. Which is handy. “Isn’t that the golden glow of the his­toric town of Stow I can see?” I ask Ian, as he starts on his meal.

He glances round over miles of un­spoilt coun­try­side. “Yep,” he con­firms.

Not nearly enough time.

I think again.

“This is one of only five sites in the coun­try where the in­cred­i­bly rare

Cotswold penny-cress grows,” I say. “Maybe in that field over there,” I add, vaguely point­ing.

“Umm,” he says, dig­ging into the juicy lamb burger with­out even look­ing up. …OK. This time I’ve nailed it. “Isn’t that a Mark 2 Es­cort RS Mex­ico, built in Saar­louis, West Ger­many, be­tween Novem­ber 1975 and July 1978, on the hori­zon?” I ask.

“Where?” de­mands Ian, swing­ing round, agog. “Have a chip,” he throws over his shoul­der as he scans the vista for clas­sic cars.

“I couldn’t pos­si­bly,” I protest, gen­er­ously. “You ap­pear to have hardly any left.”

We’re stay­ing in one of the farm park’s six new lux­ury Sun­set Lodges, set in their own pri­vate field by the Humpty Dumps – a hand-dug Vic­to­rian quarry where (priv­i­leged info) Adam Hen­son used to play as a child. Vil­lagers once dug their roof-tiles out from here; they say even the roof of for­mer owner Cor­pus Christi, Ox­ford, orig­i­nated from this quarry. Nowa­days its un­du­la­tions – self-re­gen­er­ated – make it look like a glo­ri­ously wild green sea.

I’m an in­stant fan of th­ese lodges – works of ge­nius. They were de­signed from scratch by Dun­can Andrews (Adam’s busi­ness part­ner and old col­lege friend) af­ter he’d failed to find any­thing

he much liked on the mar­ket. On the out­side, they’re a mix of wood and metal – a mod­ern take on tra­di­tional agri­cul­tural build­ings; in­side, they’re beau­ti­fully thought-out: kitchen, two-beds, bath­room, sit­ting room with TV, and a pri­vate deck over­look­ing coun­try­side. I love the lit­tle touches: a torch in the bed­room; bird­feed­ers; a clip for your dog by the bench out­side. (In­deed, Ruby - the stun­ning but as­ton­ish­ingly dim cocker spaniel - is with us. Six years old and still the word ‘Walkies’ goes over her head.)

There’s even a wel­come pack with soap, milk, tiny ban­tam eggs, beer, bis­cuits for Rubes and two blocks of choco­late.

Did I say two? I mean one. One block. “I thought there were two?” asks Ian. In the evening, we ex­plore the farm park’s wildlife walk: two miles of un­bro­ken coun­try­side through a pal­ette of wild­flow­ers, and along Gorse Val­ley – an old river chan­nel – with its plethora of rare plants. Along­side rab­bits – ir­ri­tated at hav­ing their evenings dis­turbed – there are sky­larks sing­ing their hearts out. Wood­peck­ers – green and greater spot­ted – abound. Rare yel­lowham­mers live here. Tons of noisy house spar­rows, flock­ing like teenagers in a Fri­day-night gang. Even a cou­ple of pairs of tree spar­rows (the UK lost more than 90 % of its pop­u­la­tion in four re­cent decades) call this place home.

“Wouldn’t th­ese lodges make a great place to stay at Christ­mas,” Ian says, as we sit watch­ing the sun­set.

Adam Hen­son once told me his ac­tor un­cle, Nicky, was mar­ried to Una Stubbs.

“Imag­ine the pres­sure of Christ­mas cha­rades in that house­hold,” I shud­der.

************

Next morn­ing – try wak­ing to sun over end­less green fields – we’re up and ready to ex­plore the farm park: years since I was last here. We’ve no chil­dren with us; we’re both clas­si­fied as adults. But, gen­uinely, such fun. I feel six again as I feed the rare breeds that gag­gle around me for farm-park snacks.

Once upon a time, we val­ued the dif­fer­ences rare breeds (lit­er­ally) brought to the ta­ble. Each had its own land­scape to which it was ideally suited – up a moun­tain; able to thrive on brashy ground; an abil­ity to walk miles to Smith­field Mar­ket, like the old Glouces­ter cat­tle.

My ab­so­lute favourites are the Golden Guernsey goats; many moons ago, I was an au pair on that idyl­lic Chan­nel Is­land, the safest en­vi­ron­ment any 18-year-old could imag­ine. Beach walks by my­self at mid­night. A lo­cal pa­per where head­lines were of the ilk: Man parks on dou­bleyel­low lines. (What’s more, we were all deeply shocked.)

As we leave, I spot Dun­can. He’s de­servedly chuffed. The coun­cil man who came to sign the lodges off wants to put them up for a lo­cal author­ity de­sign award.

No sur­prise there. They’re su­perin­su­lated – low car­bon foot­print and low en­ergy costs - made by lo­cal car­pen­ters us­ing as much lo­cally sourced ma­te­rial as pos­si­ble. The larch, for ex­am­ple, came from a saw-mill near Eve­sham. Dun­can has never de­signed any­thing like this be­fore. “I can tell you, there have been quite a few sleep­less nights. My wife felt she’d lost me for the past six months,” he grins. “We’ve lots of plans – such as to cre­ate some ex­pe­ri­ence-based stays. Come and learn how to be a small­holder, make sausages, paint wild­flow­ers, a Christ­mas wreath!”

Ex­pe­ri­ences are what the farm park is all about. Even to the point where au­tumn vis­i­tors are in­vited to dig their own potatoes from the two-acre field be­hind the car park. “It’s part of our shar­ing the story; peo­ple un­der­stand­ing where their food comes from. It’s prob­a­bly one of the most re­ward­ing tasks from the point of view of fam­i­lies go­ing out and do­ing things – chil­dren dig­ging in the ground and find­ing potatoes,”

Dun­can says.

“They get a bag to take home. If they’d like to dig ex­tra, we take those to the lo­cal food bank.”

There are also pick-your-own sun­flow­ers. “We’ve prob­a­bly got about 30,000! We’ve had enough rain; and, with the sun­shine, they’ve gone bonkers. Bit more pho­to­genic than potatoes.”

As we leave, I pop into the farm shop for my favourite cheese – Grey­stones Sin­gle Glouces­ter. Heav­enly.

“Did you find any cheese,” Ian asks, as we get in the car to go home.

“Sadly not,” I say.

The six fully-equipped lux­ury lodges can each sleep up to five peo­ple, plus one in­fant. One has en­hanced mo­bil­ity fea­tures, in­clud­ing a wet room. All are dog-friendly, and in­clude un­lim­ited ac­cess to the farm park dur­ing the stay. Prices start from £180 per night: cotswold­farm­park.co.uk

ED­I­TOR’S NOTE: For clar­ity, this was a free­bie.

 ??  ?? Ian and Katie Jarvis, with Ruby, tak­ing in the view in the morn­ing from their Sun­set lodge
Ian and Katie Jarvis, with Ruby, tak­ing in the view in the morn­ing from their Sun­set lodge
 ??  ?? Ian and Katie Jarvis, with Ruby, in their Sun­set lodge, new at the Cotswold Farm Park.
Ian and Katie Jarvis, with Ruby, in their Sun­set lodge, new at the Cotswold Farm Park.
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