Hello from all of us at Torridge House!
Looking Back Over the Season November 2019
Here we are at the end of the season, feeling grateful for all the fun, joy, companionship and inspiration it has brought. Just in from the animal feeding where I have been thinking about writing this and in doing so, I have been reliving a year of many special moments and happy memories.
2019 at Torridge House has been great and I hope it has been a good year for you too, and that all is well.
The season is over, but the fun runs on! For the first time in years we have families staying with us for the whole of winter and into spring. Unexpected as this was, it is lovely to continue having children running around and play mates for Laura and Andy’s three boys. They are thrilled to have friends to play with and always so enjoy it when holiday making youngsters come to stay.
I’d forgotten the pleasure of autumn with lights on around the green as the evenings draw in and seeing the leaf mountains and dens following a day of play. The sense of community which we so love through the season is extended; as I head out to put the birds to bed to find them already safe and fed by the older children when they come home from school. Tonight, our families, led by their children, are starting a Torridge House festive singing group that I am quietly excited by and the weekend promises a visit to the start of Rosemoor’s winter ‘Glow’ event and forthcoming craft and food markets – a lovely time of year.
I hope the weather is okay where you are. It’s been pretty good here. Cattle are still out, most farmers have finished harvesting the maize crop and have taken a final cut of silage, ready to hunker down.
Earlier in the year the weather was particularly kind; the pool has been well used and has pretty much maintained record temperatures. The field too has been in good shape; we’re even winning the battle against the docks!
The fruit trees have exceeded expectations. The apples and pears especially. We, friends and the pigs are pretty much appled out! Still, like the hay in the barn, the freezer is full of cooked fruit.
It’s been a record year for kittens. Notably very beautiful kittens! They’ve all moved on now to their new home and the mothers and aunty cats are happily putting weight on with their winter coats.
The pigs have been fun as always, thoroughly enjoying their piggy pudding, which included much untouched cake and potatoes left over from one of the 3 delightful wedding parties who stayed here this summer.
Eggs! We have had soo many eggs this year! At a last count we have 23 hens; 3 cockerels and Mr Goose with his drake and duck friend. Not so many eggs now the days are shorter, but up to 18 a day earlier.
Added to the egg mountain were quail eggs. These wonderful birds joined us in July and since then we hatched a fair number of baby quails. They start laying at 8 weeks and lay around 190 eggs a year. These little gems of eggs are just the ticket, everyone from toddlers upwards has had great fun collecting them.
The guinea pigs have blossomed this year. I’m working towards breeding more rosette and semi long-haired ones. With their interesting coats and good colours they have been much sought after. Rabbits have also thrown some remarkable colours. All in all, there have been plenty of babies for us to cuddle, and plenty of tiny baby mice entertaining us with their gymnastics.
What here is new? A network now links all cottages with fast, consistent WiFi. Barry has made small enclosed grass areas behind Tithe and Barn Cottages, so that these can now accept a dog each. (By very special arrangement we will accept a dog in Duck, Hen and Stag, but only for those who understand the cottages and the need for dogs to be on a lead when outside.)
Little Torrington has been busy this year with the dinner dances, harvest, coffee mornings, panto and all. The church is undergoing a transformation; some pews removed, stained glass windows repaired, floors levelled, even a tea making area planned complete with water boiler and sink; a loo as well. (Yes, water to the Church!). The organ also will undergo renovation and relocation allowing us all to have the benefit of the beautiful stained-glass window which at present is hidden. The bees living behind the organ will no longer get grumpy with the organist.
Great Torrington has been a hive of activity as well. Work on the replica of the Mayflower, centre piece of The Cavaliers’ Charity Bonfire next August, is progressing at pace. This will be a very special event celebrating the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth to North America. The impressive structure stands with the stunning backdrop of views to the golf course and surrounding fields and villages.
With the children’s play area and paths to explore in every direction, I am fully able to appreciate why Torrington was this year crowned ‘The Healthiest Town in the UK’ with free access to large open spaces being a big feature of the award. I recently joined the grandchildren on such a path exploration and was delighted to rediscover the hidden gems along the way – amid the streams and woodlands with links to join the stunning Tarka Trail. The welcome sight of the Hockings ice-cream van by the swings as we finished our walk – not so healthy perhaps – but great for the soul!
As the year comes towards its close a Mum staying with us now has shared a lovely poem. Here is the closing verse about the autumn:
‘Yet our children still play and run!
Wrapped up and in welly boots they hide.
Low now, and quiet, is the Sun,
But we shall sing, inside!’
On that lovely note I finish by wishing you all much happiness in the year ahead. Barbara