WHAT MY HOME MEANS TO ME Jimmy Doherty
WHERE I LIVE
We moved to our Victorian farmhouse, near to our working farm, five years ago and, though we’ve done a lot of work, it’s still very much an ongoing process. I love the location close to an estuary and we have fantastic sea birds visiting the grounds. The garden used to have formal flowerbeds and ornamental trees, but we’ve opened it up so it’s more natural. We’ve created wildflower areas and a natural pond, and we have cattle grazing in the fields. Michaela and I are interested in design and we’re always looking on Pinterest for new ideas. I’m away filming a lot and will often bring something back. I recently found a little old-fashioned sign in an antiques shop saying ‘Indoor Market’ – that’s now hanging in the dining room opposite a replica dinosaur skull. I like to mix the quirky with the traditional! We’ve completely re-done the kitchen, putting in a large larder area and central island. We have Victorian-style tiling and slate floors, and we’ve exposed all the fireplaces. I love the trestle dining table Michaela’s mum gave us. It came from Provence where she used to live. I’m fond of my collection of walking sticks made by my friend, the chef Gennaro Contaldo. He whittles them by hand from hazel and often turns up with several at a time.
Mum was a hairdresser and my dad was a builder – they both ran their own businesses. They instilled in me the belief that I had to get out there and work. Having a lie-in was regarded as a sin. I still get up very early. As a child, I modelled myself on naturalist Gerald Durrell, who used to have a TV show. I had a reptile house and bred butterflies. I even converted my dad’s car port into an aviary with cages for budgies and cockatoos. I once got off the school bus to see a tree filled with my escaped budgies. It took hours to catch them.
I studied entomology and, although I later went into farming, I’m still interested in insects. I have a huge insect collection and have lots of animal heads and shells at home. There are lots of pieces I’d like to put out on display, but you don’t want your home to end up looking like a Hammer House of Horror.
Life is busy and when I’m not filming
I’m usually working at our farm. We have 40 full-time staff and a butchery restaurant – I’m constantly on call. Weekends are family time though; I make pancakes for the kids on Saturday mornings, and we always have a happy Sunday lunch – I cook the roast.
The kids love living on a farm. They’ve got the freedom to run around, to go out on their bikes or splash about in the pond.
We call this our forever home, but you never know – sometimes we talk about opening a tea plantation in Sri Lanka! I want the kids to have a Huckleberry Finn-type adventure in life, but it’s very grounding growing up on a farm. I want them to work in the restaurant, be there when lambs are delivered, to understand food production and to appreciate the natural world. My favourite days are when I get up really early and enjoy a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich in peace. Most evenings, I like to take the kids to pick apples from the orchard and veg from our patch for dinner. Just perfect. HB
Visit Jimmy’s Farm, jimmysfarm.com
The TV presenter, 43, founded Jimmy’s Farm with his wife Michaela, 43. They live in Suffolk with their four young daughters, aged from five months to eight years old
Jimmy’s home and farm are set in the Suffolk countryside, near the Blyth estuary (above). He loves insects and has a large collection of butterflies, housed in cases from the Natural History Museum
Friend, chef Gennaro Contaldo whittles walking sticks like these, which Jimmy treasures. Rustic charm inside Jimmy’s Farm (below)