Author: Hilary Clements

Natures Harvest – Autumn at Middle Coombe Farm

Natures Harvest – Autumn at Middle Coombe Farm

At this time of year my mind often goes to spring and I wonder where the summer has gone – not this year!

As I pick the sun-ripened grapes around the door of the farmhouse I forget how hot it was and value all the long hours of sunshine that has made them the sweetest in memory.

With record breaking temperatures I don’t believe a drop of rain has landed on any of our brides this year and you can count the number of wet days on one hand – and as we stride into autumn it is only getting better. The leaves are beginning to change into their robes of gold and red – and our ‘aisle’ up to the ancient oak is beginning to be pathed in warm rich tones. The turning seasons are perhaps my favourite time here at Middle Coombe.

I love sharing natures bounty with all our guests. Farming organically and softly we embrace nature’s rich bounty our hedgerows seem more stuffed than ever – and at this time of year everyone is welcome to pick wild mushrooms, crab-apples, elderberries or blackberries that scramble in the hedges. The sweet chestnuts are fattening after the recent rain and we will soon stash them like mice for the Christmas Stuffing… if only there was more time to pick and make more jams, pickles, wines and preserves to get us through the winter in style. As my own children grow older they still enjoy sharing time simply picking and eating straight from the hedge – and as I watch our lucky autumn visitors doing the same, their children running freely I wonder what delights will be made in the kitchen to bottle and take home as a memory of their family holiday with us in Devon.

Flora & Fauna

Flora & Fauna

Last week I was struck by a comment in the article I was reading in Country Living.

“if you don’t know flora and fauna in the countryside, you won’t notice it when it’s gone”

This got me thinking about life here at Middle Coombe Farm and the rich diversity of flora and fauna in every corner of the estate and the varied habitats we are able to support. It also saddened me that they had assumed “when it’s gone”.

As an organic farm and estate our ecological philosophy that is the very backbone of everything we do. We strive daily to understand our environment so that we can not only value it but share this wonderful corner of Devon with our guests and future generations. It also got me thinking how many of the plants and animals we have on the farm I could identify – and in true form, I tested myself as I went about the rest of the day and was surprised how much I really take for granted, almost blind to it.We have been delighted to be able to provide a sanctuary for hundreds our native species – from the common to the more endangered and have records of how this has changed.

After so many years it has become second nature and we have proven that being sensitive to the environment does not mean dropping our high standards or compromising on quality. We offset as much carbon as possible through our solar panels and woodchip boilers fuelled by wood grown in the woods. We recycle everything and are plastic-less as much as possible – even our cutlery is VegWare.  All our toiletries are natural and our list of suppliers share our values – the list goes on. All this work means that one of our guests has a footprint 78% lower than the industry standard and we can continue our work as guardians of our precious countryside.

And before you ask how many species I could identify why not come and try for yourself – and thank you Country Living for opening my eyes to how lucky we are to have a rich environment on our doorstep.

Natures Surprises

Natures Surprises

I think it is fair to say that it’s been hot. Very hot. At the same time, it is this time of year when Middle Coombe Farm really comes to life as we hit peak wedding and holiday season. Every morning and evening I always make time to walk Pippa our Jack Russel, and am constantly reminded that nature never stops with something new every morning. This week it was the reminder of the heady smell of the hay waiting to be bailed in the meadow before plunging into the welcome shade of the woods with its fresh perfume – and some welcome shade as temperatures reached 30 degrees at the height of the day.

It is here that our ancient oak stands, a constant throughout the year. I can often be found sat on the swing either with a flask of hot tea in the winter or a bottle of water in the summer while Pippa takes a rest, simply drinking in the quietness and peace away from the hustle and bustle of modern life preparing myself for the day ahead. With the nearest road miles away you can hear a pin drop and simply enjoy the sound of nature, whether a bee buzzing past in the morning or the hoot of the barn owl off to hunt in the twilight.

Many of our wedding couples weave the countryside into their wedding themes and decorations with all bringing something new, just like nature – whether cutting foliage from the woodland for their bouquets and table decorations or as earlier this year making country themed domes for the tables. Likewise the people joining us for a holiday walk the crisscross of paths in the woods or play games in the meadow… or simply relax in their own private pool. For me, even after all these years it’s a real treat to be constantly surprised by and be one with nature.

20% off all Remaining Dates for July

20% off all Remaining Dates for July

We’ve got a few last minute dates for July – whether for a wedding or a holiday.

*** 20 July – 27 July was £6,160 now £5,133 – just £37 per person per night
*** 27 July – 3 Aug was £6,160 now £5,133 – just £37 per person per night

We’ve been discovered by Britain’s got Talent!

We’ve been discovered by Britain’s got Talent!

It was one of our more unusual requests – and this comes from a team that has seen over the year’s dog wedding cakes, pianos in the woods and even a bride in wings! But to us each hire of Middle Coombe Farm is unique and treasured, so this is why when ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent contacted us to host one of their semi-finalists we were thrilled and slightly star-struck.

Picked out from literally thousands of woodlands available in the country, the researcher was looking for a picturesque woodland to interview and film Olena Uutai as part of her semi-final. We know our woods are special, and so do our visitors – but this really brought it home why so many people come (and come back) to our woods.

The day of the filming couldn’t have been better. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky. At this time of year spring is in full swing with birdsong, bluebells and the buzz of busy bees making the woodlands sing – allowing Olena to be at one with nature, and complement her Shamanic tones.

Living in Devon, we often take for granted our humble scone. there was a huge batch of scones for the crew – served the Devon way; lashings of clotted cream then home-made strawberry jam on the top (if you arrange a viewing with us we promise you can taste these too) and of course, copious amounts of tea. With many of the crew London based, needless to say these didn’t last long. From the comments they won’t be forgotten – for all the right reasons!

Quite simply, when Olena sang in the woods, we were moved to tears, it was like the spirits of the woods stopped to listen. It couldn’t be more perfect and despite her not getting through to the finals that day she gained us all as fans and hope she will visit us again soon. We hope you enjoyed watching the event as much as we did.

Two Moors Festival at Middle Coombe Farm

Two Moors Festival at Middle Coombe Farm

We are delighted to be hosting the  Two Moors Festival, young musiucians competition for 2018. Renowned as one of the leading classical music festivals in the UK the event draws visitors from around the world and we are so looking forward to the Cider Barn, Farmhouse and surrounding grounds being filled with beautiful music.

more details on the event can be found on the Two Moors Festival Site – http://www.thetwomoorsfestival.co.uk/discover/young-musicians