Keen to pamper yourself when you come and stay at Ivy Grange Farm? For anyone celebrating an anniversary, birthday or who just feels they deserve a treat, we're delighted to be able to offer a link up with the Artisan Smokehouse who make and supply the most amazing range of smoked and local artisan produce. Simply place an order through their website for delivery to Ivy Grange Farm and we'll manage it so that it's here for your arrival. Great if you want to treat yourself or surprise someone! And we can now arrange for you to have newspapers and magazines delivered to the Barn, so that when you surface in the morning, you can amble over and flick through the news while waiting for your kettle to boil or coffee to brew.
We've really enjoyed the range of food we've bought from Artisan Smokehouse and we think that you will too which is why we've chosen to work with them on the hampers. And if you feel there's anything else we should be adding to what we offer here, then let us know!
We've managed to have a remarkably good June, despite downpours in other parts of the UK. The strawberries are finally making an appearance and the broad beans are just ready for picking now. The new potatoes (Rocket variety) are delicious, especially when cooked with some of the mint from the herb bed.
We've had lots of celebrating couples and families over the past few weeks - birthdays, anniversaries and even honeymoons. It's a lovely place to relax, unwind and enjoy all that the best of Suffolk has to offer. Though with newspapers, hampers and food from the field, why would you ever want to set foot beyond the gate?
Nick and I had a lovely time at Minsmere one evening at the end of June with the Waveney Bird Club. We had an evening meet there and went to a number of the hides and then down to the beach and saw avocets aplenty; a real treat. And then on to Westleton Heath to listen to nightjars - successfully! They were making a fabulous chirring noise, just as it sounds on our iPhone app! The mosquitoes were less fun though.
Life in arable-farming Suffolk wouldn't be complete without the annual "tractor run", straight past the front gate!
We're delighted with our bookings for the summer - weekends are going fast and we're keen to encourage more people to discover the delights of Suffolk during the week as well. So until the end of June we're running a special offer of 4 nights for the price of 3 from Monday to Thursday. We love our yurts and the romance of them - snuggling down under a cosy duvet; watching the stars by the campfire; enjoying the woodland shower by solar light. Throw in a vase of fresh flowers cut from the garden and tea lights, and you're away! There's no catch and no special codes to quote - just book any 4 night weekday break and we'll charge for just 3 nights - we're sure you'll make good use of that extra day. If you've been thinking of giving yurting a go, now's the time!
Yes, it's been wet (one of the things we like about Suffolk is that, generally, it has 23% below average rainfall) and the flowers have loved it. The cowslips have been better than ever and seem to have been around for weeks and weeks. The ducks and moorhens have enjoyed the pond and moat being full again and we've been watching a duck on her nest for a few weeks and are hoping for a clutch of ducklings any day.
Yurters have been braving the weather since the end of March and the yurts have stood up fantastically well to everything the weather has thrown at them. No leaks, and toasty hot wood-burning stoves - a good combination. The table football in the barn has been much in demand and we've been delighted with the new safari kitchen. Kids have been having a lovely time running in and out of the hot water in the woodland shower as well as glooping around some of the wetter bits of the field in their wellies. Campfires have also been a nightly ritual when the weather has allowed.
We've had our first honeymooners of the season in Barn Owl yurt which definitely scores high on the romance stakes, with its scented candle, solar fairy lights, fresh flowers from the garden (bluebells and cowslips - there's a surfeit of both!), nestling beneath the willows.
We're enjoying the arrival of asparagus season and the spears are shooting up in the field. We've even got a special asparagus knife for cutting them.... The summer raspberry canes are tied in, the rocket seedlings are shooting up and the potatoes are all doing well - they should be ready to dig in early June. And of course the perpetual spinach just keeps on growing.
It's official, spring is here; I know this because we hosted the HighTide Spring Writers' Retreat last weekend. It was great to have them here - the place felt very buzzy, and judging by their blog they found Ivy Grange Farm to be a great place to stimulate the creative juices. There's some great pictures here of the playwrights at work in our barn, putting the table tennis table to a range of uses!
We're looking forward to our next course later in the year (more in the way of a themed weekend than anything more formal) in which regular night-walker and travel journalist Dixe Wills introduces us to the delights of walking by moonlight. We'll have a full moon that weekend and great plans for the hike - see our Courses tab for more information.
We've been full for Easter and it's great to see the sun out. Campfires have been burning every night and the tripod and cookpot have had several outings.
Just announced is the HighTide Writers' Retreat over the weekend of 30th March -1st April http://www.hightide.org.uk/event/spring_writers_retreat If you don't know HighTide, it's a great theatre festival that supports and develops new writing talent and is based in our local market town of Halesworth. The Festival started in 2007 and has been going from strength to strength - this year it is putting on 16 plays in the first 10 days of May as well as discussions with cast and crew, debates, social events and more. The whole thing is really buzzy and highly recommended (especially as it coincides with asparagus season, and our newly planted asparagus will be ready for picking this year!). Check out the website for full details of the programme http://www.hightide.org.uk
Alongside the Festival, HighTide works with new writers to develop their talent and runs a series of retreats and workshops throughout the year. We are delighted to be hosting the Spring Retreat. These events are in great demand, so do check out the details soon if you are interested.
And at the other end of the season is a themed weekend in celebration of Night Walks, led by travel writer and journalist Dixe Wills. Over the weekend of 28th-30th September we'll be taking advantage of the full moon to go on a hike around the local lanes once the sun has gone down. We'll be making the most of our campfires too and getting out the large stew pot for some proper campfire cooking, along with toasted marshmallows and cocoa! See our Courses section for more details.
Progress is rapid with our Safari Kitchen, which should be finished within the next week or so. This is what it was looking like yesterday, with a light smattering of snow. It's yet to have the roof fitted (red ondulin, to match the Old Cow Shed roof behind the barn, with some clear panels inset, to make maximum use of daylight). And, of course, with windows looking over the field, so you can see what's going on back at base. We will put a couple of gas hobs in (powered by big camping gaz cannisters) as a place for preparing food and cooking when the weather's not so great.
And we're delighted to announce our first themed weekend. The last weekend in September will be given over to an introduction to Night Walks. Led by travel writer and journalist Dixe Wills, participants will have a fun time hearing about how to navigate at night and then, on Saturday night, doing it for real! We've chosen this weekend because it will be just about a full moon, rising in the early evening, so it should be perfect conditions for night walking. We have fabulous night skies here and we're really looking forward to the weekend. Have a look at the Courses section of the website for details.