29 August 1997

End of the rainbow…

THE rural idyll was what Meriel and Roger Brooke sought in their early retirement – a nice house and garden in the country where they could dabble in village life together far away from the theatre and the business world around which their respective lives had revolved before they found Upper Bridge Court, somewhere in rural Herefordshire.

They fell in love with the old house at first sight but it came with more than a garden: Outbuildings and 5ha (13 acres) to be precise. Before long they were caught up in a good-life style farming enterprise that brought fulfilment along with hard physical labour.

Meriel records their six-year progress in her pleasantly readable book*, written in a straightforward manner avoiding the "silly me" style adopted by many self-conscious newcomers to smallholding who revel in their own disasters. Instead Meriel favours a mildly educational style.

Training courses and the sense to seek advice from experienced people speeded the Brookes on their way. They are now established producers of organic crops and rare breeds of livestock and well known suppliers of Hebridean lamb and Tamworth pork. But they still have their pets and a working horse.

They will never leave Upper Bridge Court, they declare. They have found the end of their rainbow. AR

*Pot of Gold by Meriel Brooke. Farming Press. Available from FARMERS WEEKLY Offers, PO Box 261, Slough SL2 3RU. (£8.45) inc p&p.