Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Excitement of a New Project

Invigorated by our moorland walk and bursting with new ideas to discuss , we roused the men from their post-lunch drowsiness. We chattered excitedly as we loaded the kitchen table with crusty olive bread, local cheeses Sloe Gin …………and more wine…….about our ideas for bringing tourists to Mistlehall Farm for birdwatching or walking holidays.

Whenever a picture or article resonates, I file it: sometimes I will use it years later for something undreamed of when it took my eye. So my ‘brainstormers’ gasped in amazement as out of the file tumbled pictures of yurts, igloos, huts and follies.
‘Posh Camping’ appealed, though with the sodden weather of the last two summers in mind, I was disinclined towards canvas. Although we were essentially discussing very basic, low input accommodation I wanted something robust and cosy, where you could retire in comfort after a long day outdoors. Perched on the edge of Chatsworth Park and with no redundant buildings to convert, we would struggle with planning consent so our choice had to be low key and mobile. The wooden igloos were discussed at length but skids were dismissed as impractical on our steep hillside. Sadly, we had to agree that the wild terrain wasn’t suitable for children, nor did we wish to spoil the magical quality that had just inspired us, so numbers would be kept low.

Slowly, as the skies beyond the open windows turned from deepest purple to ink black and the robin and song thrush sang their clear, haunting notes into the stillness of the late summer evening , the ideas began to take shape.

Three or four secluded sites, set into the hillside, with a loo and shower block and cooking facilities: so much was agreed on. I have had a passion, since childhood for garden sheds and am always inspired by my daily update from the Shedworkers Bloghad Our own Bodran had set me thinking, last year, about the possibility of a quirky caravan kitted out for visitors.

And there, in the middle of the pile of cuttings, lay the answer: it was a pretty picture of a fisherman’s hut: a kind of garden hut on wheels with French windows in the side, painted duck-egg blue with a ‘half-timbered’ appearance. We looked up ‘Fisherman’s Huts’ and ‘Shepherds Huts’ on Google and found some beautiful interiors, complete with cream Yorkshire boarding, chintzy fabrics and woodburning stoves.
It was after midnight by the time we cleared away the files of clippings and empty bottles: the debris of our evening’s work and I fell wearily into bed. As I lay watching the stars from the deep, soft comfort of my duvet, I relished the exhilarating prospect of getting the new project underway...........

Sunday, 7 September 2008

If Only You Could Bottle This.....

....... In need of fresh air and a breather after a sumptious lunch of locally-reared Rack of Lamb and copious amounts of red wine, we had set off up the moor with the dogs as the sun dipped towards Tideswell Moor. The resident Kestrel called to her mate on the still evening air and the honey scent of heather was intoxicating after the afternoon's rain, mixed with the peaty smell of bracken and gorse.I climbed with my sister to the quarry edge where we perched, cushioned by the springy heather, cocooned in the serenity of the early moorland evening. As the Snipe whirred its vibrating call overhead, we setteled back and drank in the scent and sound of the moor.The dogs, invigorated by the trail of fresh scents, gathered around us, panting and cooling in the damp heather. As the mist in the valley reflected the pink and lilac of the distant hills we sat: comfortable in sisterly silence and drank in the stillness of the hour.We could have stayed there forever, but as the air chilled we made our way back to the warmth of the kitchen and the promise of a fire and sloe gin. As the sun dipped, fuschia, behind heliotrope clouds, she said: 'If ony you could bottle this'I realised , in an instant, that none of the farming enterprises, successful as they were, made use of the best asset we had on the farm: the views, the wildlife, the essence of the moor.Suddenly, rejoining our party, we had a whole new subject to discuss.........
Labels: Kestrels, moorland, Snipe, wildlife