Monday, 25 March 2013

Yorkshire Retreat for Schumacher North

Dear All,
Yesterday I went to look at the venue for our weekend away June 14/15/16 – Currer Laithe. 
 I was greeted by Jean (age 83) who runs the farm and holiday cottages with her sister (age 74). Neither of them is much above 5ft. The property was derelict when they moved in 50 years ago. Most of the renovation they did themselves, parquet floor, mullioned windows, etc. as well as providing breakfast and an evening meal for 20 guests for over 27 years, while running the farm, and rebuilding stone walls to bring it up to the standard required by the National Trust, so that the property could be covenanted. (Neither married, so there are no heirs, and they were anxious that what they started should be continued after their demise) Jean who was a local headmistress before she took over the farm full time when her dad died, has also found time to write 5 books charting the progress, and describing the sort of life they led, as well as their annual holidays taking the girl guides to the Hebrides. As I left she presented me with the first book of the series – 'We'll see the Cuckoo', which is full of the joy they both emanated at being given the opportunity to devote their lives to this work.
Both sisters were highly critical of a government that does not acknowledge the value of farmers, and the work they do to protect our heritage. They were interested in the theme of our weekend. They bemoaned the loss of birds since their childhood, the inactivity of children who spend their time in front of a screen, and even the lack of spiders in the house. We agreed that to turn this trend around is not going to be easy. Nevertheless there was no thought of giving up. This attitude, I think, provides a good backdrop for our discussions. ( Unfortunately they will be away that weekend in their beloved Hebrides)
The house itself has a 'homespun' feel. It is a working farm, so at the moment the smells and mud of the cattle tend to predominate. Calves are reared and they keep a few donkeys and goats. By June they will be out in the fields. This is not the open country of the Dales. The built up areas of Keighley are clearly seen across the valley. But the house is surrounded by the farm's 200 acres, and inside the house feels quiet and remote.
We are being offered an extended weekend, from Friday afternoon through to Monday morning, so we will have 2 full days. (Jean said “People don't seem to want to leave on Sunday”) Most rooms are twin, with bathrooms and toilets close to each room. It would be helpful if you would let me know if there is someone you would prefer to share with. Also if there are any special dietary requirements.
If you can offer to cook a meal or a dessert, either beforehand, or on-site, that would be splendid. (We can provide money for ingredients) Since there will be 8 meals including breakfasts, you should reckon to be washing up or helping to prepare a meal at least once during our stay. (Nearer the time a rota may be helpful).
In general this is a do-it yourself retreat, so please feel free to volunteer or make suggestions to add anything you would like to see. There are 2 sitting rooms, allowing for a variety of activities. An upright piano in one, suggests a musical evening so other musical instruments will be welcome.
Cost : Between £50 - £80
A £10 deposit will secure your place. Maximum of 16 places.
If you can afford to pay the higher amount it will allow others with less funds to be included.
I look forward to communing with you all.

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