Slow Winter Magic


At this time of year when the grey and moody language of winter sets the tone for the month of January, I find myself in need of a little nurturing for the soul.  Mornings covered in frost, the light glinting on the horizon through a sea of fog and the glow of Christmas past make me long for the tiniest glimmer that spring is on its way.  However, I’ve found that for me the best antidote to a bad case of January blues is to try to embrace what the season may hold and savour winter’s last hurrah.

Heading off into the woods for the weekend, our little family of four did just that.  Off the beaten track in the New Forest is Warborne Farm, a family-run 100 acre farm which boasts a selection of lovingly converted boutique barns.  Perfect for retreats, families, couples and those who need nothing but cosiness, long walks and a chance to while away the hours in the wilderness of the forest.


Arriving after dark, The Grain Loft, our home from home for the weekend was lit up with the glow of a roaring fire within the woodburner.  Warmth, cosiness and the rustic feel of natural materials intermingled with exposed piping and industrial chic set the tone for the décor.  Handmade to perfection - from the sheep fleeces on the beds from the farm’s own flock and light fitting made from the original pulley system used for hauling up hessian sacks of grain for storing, to shutters handmade by Kate’s mum Ann, bedside tables carved from blocks of Douglas Fir from the New Forest and sills once part of an old sunken barge found emerging from the mudflats.  Modern, rustic but luxurious to boot. 

Everything has been created with an ambience of slow living in mind, helping guests to switch off from the hustle and bustle and reclaim time for themselves.  Perhaps one of the most special and unexpected features of our stay in The Grain Loft was a viewing window in the floor of the sitting room, from which we could watch and marvel at our neighbours below – a family of Boer goats.  I cannot tell you how magical it was to being able to witness the sweet scene beneath our feet.  I’ve never felt more like Heidi. 

Dragging ourselves away from goats and mugs of bedtime hot chocolate, the girls’ bedroom proved to be the stuff of little girls’ dreams.  Former stalls in the loft have been converted into a stunning 4 berth dorm complete with beds furnished with hay mattresses made from ox-eye daisies, ladies bedstraw and other wild flowers from the farm’s meadows.  Our bedroom didn’t disappoint either.  Soft sheepskin and downy pillows ensured a night of dreaming we were snuggled up in a chalet deep in the snowy Alps.  It’s these beautiful little touches which make staying at Warborne so magical.  A cavernous copper bath and time spent reading and chatting by the fire with a large glass of wine ensured the perfect digital detox. 

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Waking to a day of planned adventures, the surrounding heathland ensured that we had time to daydream whilst spotting wild ponies, collecting pine cones and getting muddy and rosy-cheeked with our dogs.  There’s also the seaside town of Lymington to explore if you wish to venture out for supplies and take a bracing walk along the sea walls.  However there’s heaps to draw you back to the farm.  Picking your own organic vegetables from the plentiful polytunnels, finding buckets by the front door with treats to feed the farm’s Kune Kune pigs and being able to collect your own eggs for breakfast from the hen house are all highly recommended.  We loved savouring the simple things and enjoying the beauty of midwinter at its best.  No need for screen time, although there are televisions and Wifi in each of the barns should you not be able to resist.  Our little ones spent hours just running about, visiting the farm’s many animals and bouncing off the top of the bales in the hay barn. 

There’s a touch of old fashioned farm living about Warborne Farm.  Our weekend stay gave us much needed time, space and freedom to enjoy a little midwinter magic.  I think that perhaps the most important thing I shall take away with me is just finding a space to be able to let myself switch off and enjoy my wintry surroundings.  It’s those moments I shall savour rather than try to rush the time away until we welcome spring again with open arms.  As Johanna Spyri, the author of Heidi wrote, “Let's enjoy the beautiful things we can see, my dear, and not think about those we cannot.”

WinterRebecca Fletcher