Our resident foodie Jan Fullwood explores the delights of Tewin Bury Farm and a trip down memory lane
‘It’s May, it’s May, that lusty time of year!’ So the song from ‘Camelot’ goes. It truly is a wonderful time of year, when Mother Nature puts on her best show. Also a food-lover’s favourite, as star-like blooms blossom on the wild garlic, their glossy broad leaves perfect for picking; frothy elderflowers appear on the trees, ready for the annual batch of homemade cordial; and fresh asparagus season begins, green spears begging to be served dripping with butter or maybe dipped into a runny egg.
Then not just one, but two Bank holidays, with the promise of Maypole and Morris dancing to bless the local puddingstone, plus just maybe… finally, the chance to get away for a bank holiday break.
So that’s exactly what we did. Desperate for a change of scenery, with restrictions slowly lifting and a special anniversary to celebrate, we packed our bags and set off… a whole 3.7 miles down the B1000, to our own personal Camelot, Tewin Bury Farm, where we were married, 20 years ago.
Hertfordshire farm now a ‘hospitality haven’
The hotel, wedding venue and conference centre is the hub of 700 acres of working farmland on the outskirts of Tewin between Hertford and Welwyn. Originally a dairy farm, it has been owned by the Williams family since 1931. The cows are long gone, but while one brother focussed on farming, the other decided to experiment with a small B&B, and four decades later almost every original 17th century farm building has been converted into some form of hospitality haven.
Never ones to let the Mimram meadow grass grow under their feet, the business is constantly evolving and diversifying. Every year we return there are changes and improvements, and this year in particular has been no exception.
People keen to escape confinement were making full use of the facilities put in place to ease people back into society. The Stable Yard, a car park when we were married, is now a welcoming, covered outdoor eating area with live music. The former William’s Restaurant now houses the Farm Shop, with food served outside on the Farm Shop Terrace. The latest addition, the Horsebox, provides drinks and treats on the hoof, so to speak; a feature that any self respecting catering establishment can no longer forgo. It was lovely to see families enjoying the local walks up and around St Stephens Church, and to visit the latest arrivals on the farm – a family of pigs.
Eco-Friendly Accommodation options
But our destination was for peace and privacy at the recently converted Eco Friendly Riverside room on the Kingsbridge House estate, complete with its own wood-fired hot tub. Private farm dwellings next to the Tewin Mill Fish Farm now boast brand new self catering rooms. There’s even that most fashionable of hideaways, the Shepherd’s Hut, looking out over the lakeside. Away from the main site, it’s the perfect place to sit and contemplate as the crystal clear Mimram meanders past, with just the herons and geese for company, but with the hotel facilities close at hand.
Farm Yard food options
The catering facilities being somewhat compact, we opted to test the simple menu of takeaway boxes offered at the Farm Yard. Hubby chose the Plant-based burger, served with vegan Sawuchay relish ( Sawuchay.co.uk ), one of a range of locally made sauces, available to buy in the farm shop. I opted for the Mimram Valley lamb box: farm reared pulled lamb served with herbed couscous and harissa yoghurt and the most delicious vibrant pink pickled cabbage slaw. Breakfast is served at the Farm Shop terrace, but we were able to cook our own, and enjoy our idyllic riverside setting to the full.
We left with our batteries recharged, and goodies from the Farm Shop, taking advantage of the local meat from the on-site butcher, and some of the homemade pastry goods, plus fresh farm eggs.
And so May is indeed a time of merriment, as more things are able to open on May 17th. The team at Tewin Bury continue to find ways to keep the public flocking back, desperate to meet friends and family in a relaxed, fun, picturesque and safe environment with fabulous food to boot. There’s something for everyone, and we thank them for that.
In the meantime, you’ll find me out foraging for those May-time freebies, and if I do come across a Maypole you’re more than likely to find me dancing round it, celebrating Spring, and good things to come.