River Cottage

Living in Cheshire, Devon is a long way away, but the opportunity to meet one of my favourite people and go to River Cottage made the drive worthwhile. We used my parents in the Cotswolds as a base, and travelled down the rest of the way this past Saturday to go to the Autumn Fair held at Park Farm.

River Cottage autumn fair

The whole weekend was scorching hot, both in Devon and the Cotswolds – what a treat!  After parking, we wandered down the track towards River Cottage HQ.  Park Farm is set in the bowl of a very beautiful valley, with rolling hills rising up around it.  A pop-up hotel of bell tents had been set up, and other clusters of cream coloured tipis and tents surrounded the farm house.

River Cottage Devon

Having got up early, not eaten breakfast, and a long drive later (I SO hate those 40mph sections that seem to plague our motorways at the moment!) I was in a bit of “Charlie flap”, as it’s probably known, when we finally arrived.  I am ashamed to admit I’m not that used to, or a huge fan of crowds of people – I live a sheltered life working on my own at home with the dog!  So Mr Rigg quickly steered me towards the BBQ to get something to eat.

River Cottage BBQ

I was holding out for a hot dog that I’d seen advertised on the flyer, so from the BBQ Mr Rigg chose a rather good-looking burger that he topped with mayo and cheese.  A sign of my ‘flappiness’ is that I didn’t take a picture, which is pretty unheard of in this household when food is involved!  Anyway, it was pretty good, even I tried a few bits of the more well-done burger around the edges.

River Cottage fair

Finally, I spotted the Rusty Pig Hot Dog stall and my spirits lifted!  I got one hot dog (they were jumbo sized!) with onions, and then had to choose from a selection of toppings.  Not being very good with hot spicy food, I avoided the super hot chilli sauce and went for their rustic ketchup on half, and herby mustard on the other.

Rusty Pig Hot Dog

Big mistake.  In my head, herby mustard translated as herby mustard mayo (what was I thinking!) – it was seriously hot mustard.  So after the heat shot up my nose and made my eyes water, we used a napkin to remove the offending yellow sauce.  It was utterly delicious and I was returned to normal after my momentary flap.

Rusty Pig Hot Dog

Whilst we ate, Mr Rigg drank a bottle of River Cottage ‘Stinger’ and we watched the welly wanging.

River Cottage autumn fair

River Cottage Stinger ale

Hot dog and beer

Can you spot the welly?

Welly wanging

The queue to see Hugh and get a book signed by him was long, too long.  We didn’t even join the queue in the end, I think we could have been there hours and there was so much else going on it seemed a bit silly to get star-struck and miss out on other things.

We went to a talk from Steve Lamb on home curing and learnt how to make our own bacon – it sounds simple enough, we really should give it a go one of these days.

Steve Lamb River Cottage

We mooched around the various market stalls, and ate ice cream.

Ice cream

River Cottage autumn fair

A highlight of the day was watching sheepdogs herding ducks.  Yes, really.  I love sheepdogs – their tongues loll out and their eyes are so fixated on the feathery gaggle before them – they look like they are doing everything in their power not to gobble one up.

Sheepdog herding ducks

First up was a group of normal ducks, I say normal because I can’t remember the breed and they are that sort of normal duck shape (at least compared to the Indian Runner Ducks that came next).  They went around an obstacle course, including through a tunnel and even up a ramp and down a slide.

Ducks on a slide

Then came the Indian Runner Ducks – they are on my wish list for the future, I had a childhood friend with a large garden and they had these ducks, I fell in love with them then.  They did the same obstacle course, and like the other ducks before them refused to jump through a hoop and instead went under it…

Sheepdog herding ducks

Sheepdog herding ducks

At one point they made an attempt to break through the crowd near where we were standing – don’t you love how their tail feathers curl up so neatly?

Indian Runner Ducks

The rest of our day was spent chatting to my lovely friend Caroline and her husband whilst listening to live music, and eating cake and sipping cordial in the River Cottage vegetable garden.  If you’ve ever watched the TV show, you’ll know how iconic the veg patch is in front of the clotted cream coloured farm house.

River Cottage vegetable garden

Park Farm

It is every bit as beautiful as I imagined it to be, and bursting with produce and colourful flowers at this time of year.

River Cottage vegetable garden

Rustic wooden archway

The cake (especially the lemon drizzle) was extremely popular with the resident honey bees.  Just look at them all!  We agree with the bees, it was very good cake.

Bees on lemon drizzle cake

Us at River Cottage

That’s me above sporting my new sun specks 🙂

On our way home we went via the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster for a cup of tea.  There is a small deli with a nice range of pies and other local goodies, we took a cheese and onion pasty away with us and even cold it was scrumptious.

River Cottage Canteen

River Cottage deli

I also took a peek into the restaurant at the back, which looked beautiful with its bunting everywhere and reminded me of an old dance hall – over the doors into it there were beautiful stained glass windows.  I wonder what it was originally used for.

River Cottage restaurant

Hopefully one day, both River Cottage, my family, and my friend Caroline won’t be so far away, and then I can get to visit them all more often.

Park Farm - River Cottage