Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy hens make delicious eggs

"Breakfast is at 8:30 in the morning," Don said as we were telling him goodnight. Hmmm. 8:30. That might be a bit of a stretch for me considering I'd been waking up routinely at 10-10:30 every day since the start of our holiday. But I resolved to try my best.

It was a cold morning with a bright blue sky. Because we'd arrived in the dark, it was the first chance for me and Richard to take a look around. He got dressed, put on his boots and headed out into the garden early. We were both excited. The snow lay on the grounds of the farm, white and glistening in the sunshine. I could hear people moving around through the wooden house, which creaked and groaned with every step.

The house, the living quarters of Butternut Farm, was built in 1720 by Jonathon Hale. Don Reid bought the property in the early 1970s and immediately set about restoring the building. Reid, a graduate of Harvard, had previously worked for years in banking and then as a school teacher. But it quickly became obvious to me that Don was born to run a period bed and breakfast. He has a passion for collecting antiques - more like an obsession, he admits over breakfast - which he places in each room of the inn. The doors all hang on period hammered hinges; all the rooms are furnished with ancient rugs and beds, sliver and brass objets, antique books, drawings and paintings, and a decanter of sherry, two glasses and little pile of chocolates. Two Abysinnian cats wander freely through the house, and there's a huge variety of stuffed animals and fox pelts leaping off of walls and strewn over the backs of chairs.

I went downstairs to the dining room for breakfast. Richard had come back in, and we were joined by Don and Irving and two other guests - a mother and her toddler. The table was set beautifully with silver cutlery, home made raspberry jam, toast, yogurt, cheese and an enormous yellow omelette.

"Happy hens make the best eggs!" declared Don, and so I tucked in to test his theory myself. There's something truly special about a fresh egg - I mean one that's been gathered and cooked in the same day, as our eggs had been. Their colour is magnificent; taste rich and decadent.

Don - like me - was a bit of a foodie. He'd even cooked for the famous Jullia Child and her husband, Paul, in the mid-70s. When I asked him about it, he was sufficiently vague. "You run a bed and breakfast for long enough and all kinds of people will come through your door." I liked his quiet humility. Both he and Iriving had a grace about them that made it easy to spend time with them. They spoke easily and without guile about their lives. They were curious about me and what I did and where I came from, but somehow managed, without any apparent effort, to not seem intrusive or prying.

Over the next couple of days, Richard and I would explore Glastonbury and go to Real Art Ways. Whenever we returned to the farm, we were greeted by Don or Irving or both. We ate fresh eggs every morning for breakfast and noted that the snow on the lawn had started to melt. We were at the end of our holiday, and on our final day we packed our things into the jeep and readied to leave for the airport. Don gave me a jar of home made jam. I said I'd better pay you now, lest I forget. "I feel so comfortable here, I might just walk out the door and forget all about money. Don felt similarly - that it was strange to be accepting money from friends. I was happy to pay him, though. It had been such a special few days, due in no small part, to the place itself and to its gracious proprietors.


  1. Fresh eggs are indeed the best! Love 'em. You have listed two of my all time best books in your side bar. Small wonder and Animal, vegetable mineral OMG didn't you want to live on a farm and grow your own food after reading AVM.

  2. In know... even though the farming thing isn't going to happen for me, the book inspired a far greater awareness of what I consume and where it comes from.