Park Farm sits in a valley and on 100 (organic) acres neatly split by the Devon/Dorset border. You’d think it was a ready made set created just for the River Cottage show with the way that it so perfectly (even in- and probably because of- its wonkiness) ticks the ‘good life’ box.
It is one of those happily English cottages sat next to a few pimped out barns with a polytunnel, walled kitchen garden and of course rolling fields to boot. Shrouded in mist as it often is being in a valley was a pretty sweet way to get my first autumnal view of the iconic farm, setting the tone for a night of seasonal goodness I got lucky with thanks to This is Your Kingdom.
That homegrown setting and the night that followed set me thinking about those [many] conversations I have with those around me about what ‘the good life’ means to them. There’s a clear thread in the answers I hear- a deep seated desire and craving for a way of life that is that bit more meaningful. Often, this ‘good life’ and meaning is acknowledged to be found in the slow life. It’s a gentler approach to being and a pretty counter cultural way of doing things in today’s go-faster set up.
River Cottage seems to get that rumbling cry of those of us caught up with unsurety (and what feels like abruptly quickly) in the 21st century. It crafts things slowly and well and with a consciousness of what is good for people and our earth. They sow, grow and rear listening to the seasons and what the soil and sun will allow. What happens in nature guides them in what they create.
And the result, as expected, is something special.
After my night there of being fed and watered with homegrowns and having head chef Gelf point out, ‘what you are eating came out of the ground 6 hours ago,’ I left with my friend full, merry and a bit thoughtful. The challenge I have is how to take these encounters with the slow life and knead it in to my corner of a city. It’s a work in progress…
What I am sure of is that whatever you experience at River Cottage, from one of their courses to one of their dining do’s, will, by the very nature of how they work, leave you contented. And it’s this way of life- the slow the good and the contented, that I am so up for crafting.
*The guys over at This is Your Kingdom are running a competition at the mo to have an evening at River Cottage and a stay in nearby Lyme Regis- it is absolutely worth giving a bash
**My bud Hannah at Pen and Shutter is to thank for most of these pics