Barns, beams and a French bulldog on the Welsh bordersDec 10, 2017 6:00
Escaping the capital for rural Hereford, offers the chance to bring a wonderful old farm back to life
There were moments when Adriaan Koppens doubted the wisdom of restoring a rundown farm in Herefordshire. Winter nights were the worst as gales whistled down from the Welsh mountains and branches rattled against the caravan where he sheltered during the project. But the next day, when the clouds lifted, revealing frosted hawthorns and sheep-speckled fields, Koppens remembered why he and his partner, Stéphane Girod, an economist, had chosen to leave London: “This is a special place. Because it’s been isolated for centuries it still feels unspoilt, not overgentrified.”
Trading city comforts for the Welsh borders was never going to be easy. But Koppens, a Dutch-born art historian, had taken on a particular challenge. The 18th-century house and its ramshackle outbuildings needed a new lease of life. So did the surrounding landscape: the softly spoken Koppens becomes animated when he reveals how he has gradually transformed the 70-acre setting, near Hay-on-Wye. “We’ve planted over 6,500 trees with the Forestry Commission, and repaired the hedgerows. It’s been rewarding to see wildlife returning: kites, pine martens, buzzards. In spring you can hear cuckoos, which is rare now.” Continue reading...