We are lucky enough to live just about a 30 minute drive away from Park Farm, the River Cottage hq. So, last weekend, when they were holding the first of this year's open days - Get Growing in Spring - we went along. It was glorious weather, thank goodness, as I'm not sure it would have been much fun if it were cold and/or wet.
When you arrive, you park at the top of the hill and have the option of walking down into the valley where the farm is situated or taking a tractor/trailer down. Hubby, DC and I decided to walk while Granny (clutching all of the detritus that seems to accompany a trip out with a toddler [Buzz Lightyear, a doll's pram for the teddy bear, and who knows what else]) took the tractor.
Our first stop was a stall selling homemade jams and chutneys; DC was particularly taken with the Damson and Sloe jam, so much so that we had to buy a couple of jars to make up for the amount he 'tested'. Just across the way was a big marquee in which talks were taking place; much as we would have liked to listen to Gil the chef and/or John the foraging expert, we didn' think DC would sit still long enough, nor did we want to lumber Granny with him for half an hour at a time in an unknown place.
Next stop was the Produce Exchange. Hubby took along six jars of his homemade chutney which, with elbows sharpened, our wits about us and DC left with Granny, we managed to exchange a little later for 4 jars of assorted jams and some strawberry plants; this was quite a result as we are very low on homemade jam (down to the last jar in fact), while the chutney cupboard still runneth over.
Then we headed for the kitchen garden, which you always see featured in the TV programme. I somehow managed to not take any photos, but it's strangely much smaller in real life that it seems on the TV. Anyway, the main reason for stopping by was that this was where the tea, coffee and cake stall was set up, and I enjoyed a fantastic piece of lemon drizzle cake (which was so good I had to buy another piece to eat later...), while we sat and relaxed in the sun. Until DC got bored and he and I went to look at the chickens. Unfortunately, being used to having chickens of his own and being able to go into their pen to check for eggs, poor old DC was a bit frustrated at not being allowed to do the same at River Cottage. All I can say is, thank goodness they'd turned the electric fence off; although perhaps he'd have got the message sooner about not going in the pen if they hadn't...
Then it was off along the path (Compare to the last time we were here in June 2010 when DC had just started walking - awww!)
and over the bridge to the entertainment area where we sat on bales of straw and listened to some great music (and watched DC getting closer and closer to the poor singers...) outside the new events marquee (erected hastily after the events barn burnt down recently.)
By this time, DC was starting to flag so we decided it was time to make a move and we hitched a lift on the tractor/trailer back up the hill(Again, here he is in June 2010 - same gormless expression...)And, since we were in the area, it seemed a shame not to drive a little further along the coast to lovely Abbotsbury to visit our friends R&G at the wonderful Lazyhill Gallery, and to enjoy a spot of lunch at Abbey House. For some reason I only managed to take a couple of photos of the church as we walked from the gallery through to Abbey House.
But here are a couple of snaps taken on other visits to the village, including this one of St Catherine's Chapel from the churchyardand this one which shows the view from the garden of Abbey House (where marvellous crab sandwiches can be enjoyed.)
Not too shabby, eh?
All in all, a very pleasant day out indeed.