Don’t let autumn get you down. Recharge the batteries with a wellness getaway in the Kent countryside, says Kaye Holland
My feelings about London are complicated. The very things I love – the hustle and bustle, bright lights and sheer size – are also the things that threaten to overwhelm me.
If, like me, you need a reprieve from grey, drizzly mornings, busy commutes and the general urban crush, allow me to suggest Green Farm Kent.
Those in the know are so passionate about this small farm estate in the Kent countryside, that they might resent the fact that I’m spreading the word. So hush: this is just between you and me.
Nestled amidst 12,000-acre ancient woodland – and yet a mere 40-minute train ride away from London St. Pancras – Green Farm Kent represents the perfect tonic to the frenetic pace of urban life.
A wealth of rural skill honing activities is on offer from exploring an enchanting Fairyland – a natural opening in the forest, replete with fabulous oak trees and wonderful ancient woodlands that’s surely the stuff of childhood fantasies – to feeding the farm animals (egg-laying hens, lambs, ducks and cows are all present and correct), clearing the head on a countryside walk and visiting the community vegetable garden.
They also offer regular yoga and fitness classes, while art and garden flower workshops can be arranged. Or you can just follow in my footsteps and float in a hot tub under the canopy of a graceful weeping willow, while enjoying a glass of bubbles… I wouldn’t blame you.
However if you’re visiting in October – a time when indoors matters more than the great outdoors, when comforts and pleasures of home are paramount – you’d be forgiven for spending most of your stay in the beautiful Grade II listed country house itself.
Setting foot in the recently refurbished barn that was originally a Kentish Hall House built 600 years ago (around the time that Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field), is akin to stepping back in time to an older, simpler world.
A strong sense of character prevails throughout the house – which the owners bought on an auction in September 2008 – from the individually decorated bedrooms to the living room that boasts an Inglenook fireplace, to curl up in front of with a good book. (Although with so much on offer at Green Farm Kent, I didn’t manage to lay a finger on my book the entire weekend).
Other standouts include the boot room with its well, which it’s still in use today, the conservatory offering, as it does, arresting views across the orchard and fields and last, but not least, the dining room with its beautiful beams.
This is the place to enjoy hearty yet healthy meals – think freshly baked bread and fragrant curries, that use homegrown ingredients from the farm’s community garden – washed down with organic wines. Make no mistake: the food can’t be faulted.
Yet while it would be easy, at this time of year, to hole up in the house with the amiable owners Mary and Martin – who go out of their way to welcome you like family – it would be a terrible shame not to take in a treatment at the luxurious on-site spa.
The range of therapies – all of which use ESPA products – is mind-boggling but I can vouch for the skin radiance facial, aka 55 minutes of bliss that left my skin feeling baby soft and begging to be booked in for further treatments with spa therapist, Helen, and her magic hands. Seriously: I can’t count the number of people who said I had a certain glow about me, upon my return to the Big Smoke.
Yet Green Farm’s real charm – those that get under your skin – is its attentive and always smiling owners and staff. I was made to feel like I belonged and enough to know that one day I’ll return.
All told, Green Farm Kent is the perfect spot to switch off without having to jet off.
Need to know:
Address: Green Farm | Church Lane | Shadoxhurst | Kent | TN26 1LS
Tel: +44 (0)1233 733 997
Located just 10 minutes taxi journey from Ashford International Station, The high speed train from London St Pancras takes just 37 minutes. Trains from Charing Cross / Waterloo East / London Bridge take about 75 mins and Eurostar trains from Paris take 90 minutes.