Charlotte Metcalf and her daughter enjoy the good life with home cooked food, ESPA treatments and good conversation on this delightful working farm in rural England
My 12-year-old daughter, Deia, and I spent Mother’s Day weekend at Green Farm. On Saturday night, after a long woodland walk and a restorative massage, we were given a cold bottle of champagne and a bottle of pink apple juice for Deia and led to the spa’s walled garden. It was cold, the sky ink black and clear. We sank into the bubbling hot water and spent an hour talking in a way we never usually have time to. Trying to make out Orion’s Belt together while bobbing about in the frothy water somehow dissolved boundaries and time constraints. We told each other stories, admitted truths and shared deep feelings and secrets.
We were hungry by the time we leapt out into the cold and a hearty dinner awaited us. We ate with the family who own the farm: MaryAnn and Martin, MaryAnn’s sister-in-law and nephew JJ, who is the vegan chef on yoga retreats, and Helen the beauty therapist who also lives there. Martin had cooked cottage pie using their own beef (they breed Aberdeen Angus crossed with a ‘bit of dairy’) and there was a big dish of their spinach from the garden. Afterwards there was home-baked apple pie with ice-cream from Odono’s (their friend started the company, so their freezer is full of delectable flavours from hazelnut, peanut butter and salted caramel to raspberry and mango sorbet). There was plenty of red wine, laughter and conversation.
The 600-year-old house is twisty and crooked, like something out of a nursery rhyme or Beatrix Potter, and my daughter and I loved climbing the steep wooden stairs to our cosy bedroom high under the eaves. We went to bed late but rose early to feed the cows, chickens, ducks and sheep before frying the eggs we had collected for breakfast with organic bread and home-cured bacon, cooked on the barbecue. We weren’t here for a virtuous spa break – nutritionally we probably broke every rule – but that was our choice, and vegan or cleansing meals can be arranged here if you so choose.
‘MaryAnn and Martin offer kindness, home cooking, abundant natural produce and the kind of wholesome, simple approach to country living that gladdens the heart and refreshes the soul’
Martin and MaryAnn never set out to do more than open their house to anyone wanting a break from the grind of urban living. Their passion is for sharing the Good Life and everyone is welcome – they offer kindness, home cooking, abundant natural produce and the kind of wholesome, simple approach to country living that gladdens the heart and refreshes the soul.
When we arrived it was a golden day but with a malicious bite to the wind. Nevertheless, Emma, the yoga teacher thought we should celebrate spring and practise outside. The ten or so women who had arrived to take the class agreed. So after coffee and warming ginger tea we were offered fleeces and blankets and gathered on the lawn by the pond. It started chilly but we soon warmed up with the sun shining on our faces and sparkling on the pond behind. An hour and a half later everyone was beaming as we ate dense slabs of vegan raspberry cheesecake that Emma had baked that morning.
During our stay, I had an aromatherapy massage and my daughter had a mini-facial, both expertly delivered in a calm atmosphere, a real antidote to busy London spas and full of natural light. The waiting room was so quiet that my daughter fell asleep on a comfortable cushioned bench while she waited for me.
My daughter also loved the animals – there are three dogs here, ducks, chickens, sheep, two rams and a small herd of beef cattle. There are meadows and acres of woodland, speckled and glimmering with tiny pale pink and white wood anenomes. There are ponds and streams and fields full of ancient oaks. Marry this rustic simplicity with a small but first class spa with a good sauna and range of excellent ESPA treatments and it’s a winner – affordable, authentic, welcoming and utterly refreshing.