They say they luckiest man alive is he who gets paid for his hobby.
Well, this man, whoever he is, may indeed be getting paid for his hobby – but he wasn’t lucky enough to spend a day on Helen Peters’ family farm. I was. So I consider myself luckier.
This farm not only raises Middle White pigs and South Down sheep – among other beautiful, rare breeds, I hasten to add – it also raised Helen and her truly delightful family. And, in no small part, because Helen grew up there, it’s responsible for Helen’s wonderful debut novel, The Secret Hen House Theatre, with its honest and beautifully realised deeply rural setting.
It’s a farm with SOUL.There’s no other word to describe it.
But I should set the scene. We’re running a competition with a well-known children’s magazine (I can’t say which until the piece appears) to meet the author and spend time on the farm that inspired the book.
From the moment we arrived to find Helen’s mother baking the bread rolls (from scratch!) in an AGA (of course!) that would hold our lunch-time, farm-produced sausages and burgers, to the moment we all bade each other farewell, the day simply couldn’t have been any more perfect.
The competition winner and her family were a delight – and, praise be, naturals in front of the camera (because we had photographers there to record the event for the magazine piece).
The sun shone in the heavens (remember what that was like?…).
The lambs were cute. Good grief, SOOOO CUTE (check out the pic).
Maisie the sheep dog was endlessly enthusiastic. About everything.
Our lunchtime burgers and sausages – and the homemade rolls, cakes, Easter chocolate nests … everything, really – was absolutely delicious.
But what was most special was the effort Helen and her family had made to ensure the lucky competition winner felt special.
I know this sounds crazy-enthusiastic, and I am sorry, but you sort of had to be there. From an Easter Egg Hunt around the farmyard to bottle-feeding lambs, it was a perfect day: simple as that. And if the truth be told, I don’t know who had more fun, me or the lucky competition winner…
So I just want to thank Helen – and her brilliant folks, brother and sister- for making us all so welcome. And I’d like the thank the farm for having so much soul – because it HAS. Read The Secret Hen House Theatre and I think you’ll see what I mean.