Dec 01

2015

Life On The Farm: When Coco Met Jake

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Coco and Jake looking back over the first Owl’s Hole they ever jumped, just one of many firsts together.

It’s been 10 days since we said goodbye to Jake, and my eyes still fill with tears each time I think of him. We haven’t even sold him yet! Two Sundays ago we sent him to live in an agent’s yard who will market him, show him to potential buyers and negotiate his eventual sale. He’s had a lot of interest and a handful of people are coming back this week for a second try on him. Despite my sadness, I feel so happy for the lucky person who is going to take him home. But I didn’t always feel that way.

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Little eleven-year-old Coco on the day she met five-year-old Jake.

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It was love at first sight for these two.

We bought Jake for Coco when he was five and she was nearly twelve. Five is definitely on the young side for a horse intended to be ridden by a child. But Coco had always inherited excellent and more experienced ponies from her older cousins – they were “push button” as horse people like to say when referring to a horse that will do anything you ask on command. First Mr Teddy and then Sailor followed by Polo had all made Coco a confident and daring rider. So both her coach and her grandmother felt she was up to the task of taking on a bit more of challenge. ..


Nov 24

2015

For the last two years, every time I came across a photo of Laura Ferrara and her amazing farm Westwind Orchard in upstate New York, I have been so overwhelmed by what she’s accomplished that I have to look away. I first spotted photos of her farm-based pizza restaurant on Instagram, and then I noticed her homemade jam and honey with its perfectly designed packaging on Pinterest, and then Garance Doré was blogging about apple picking at Westwind and EyeSwoon was hosting a harvest supper there, and the whole thing just made me so impressed and inspired but also intimidated and terribly inferior. That was when I decided I had to avert my eyes. How on Earth did she manage to maintain her day job as a fashion editor, while her husband maintained his job as a photographer, and raise a child, and run this amazing farm with all these products and services and also have it open to the public?!? Just when I was starting to feel settled into my quiet, happy life on the farm and getting the feeling that I was finding a balance between work and pleasure and family and my occasional visits to NYC and my writing and my photography, Laura comes along and suddenly I feel that I am accomplishing absolutely nothing at all!!

Isn’t it awful how we beat ourselves up in this way?

Well, this little story I was telling myself about how she was doing everything and I was doing nothing lost some of its power when I found out that they actually bought their farm nearly 15 years ago. Somehow that made everything more relatable and achievable. Not that I see what they have as something I want for myself exactly, but it is my dream to resurrect the productivity of the farm. There are empty fields and abandoned barns dating back to 1860 that have long lost their purpose, and my ultimate goal for living here is to find a reason to bring them back to life. I don’t know what that actually means yet, but I am toying with many ideas, and have given myself until Zach is at boarding school a year and half from now to figure out what the vision and the goal is and to start to slowly work towards it. In the meantime, I am trying out every farm activity possible to identify what I most enjoy doing and how I would like to best use my time. And I am also envying Laura and holding her on a pedestal and admiring her for setting the bar very, very high. ..


Nov 20

2015

Life on the Farm: The Chickens’ New Stomping Ground

IMG_1092After three and a half years of moving the chickens around the farmyard, we may have finally found the best place for them. We first had the romantic notion that they should roam free (still shutting them away at night of course). Part of that idea was great – it meant that we had the rooster – surrounded by various ladies – showing up at our kitchen window at 7am on the dot each morning to say hello as we were making our coffee. We knew them all and we really enjoyed them. But between the fox look for food to give her young and some not so chicken-friendly dogs passing by on the footpath, we lost hen after hen and occasionally the rooster as well. We went through about 2 dozen hens and three roosters before deciding that it was cruel to continue in this way.IMG_1121 (1)

Then we moved them to an old abandoned chicken run just behind the farmyard. They were safe there – and boy did the hens produce a LOT of eggs – but we never saw them. We had no relationship with them whatsoever. Besides the pleasure of having fresh eggs, it was if we didn’t even have chickens anymore. And that felt sad to us. ..


Nov 17

2015

I ♥ Your Style: Florence Arthaud

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.31.22I was looking at my friend Didier Malige’s instagram earlier in the year and I noticed a photograph he posted mourning the tragic loss of Florence Arthaud, the french sailor who, among her many accomplishments, broke a world record in 1990 as the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic. At first it was her most excellent tomboy style, her athletic body and her natural beauty that caught my eye. But as I sought to learn more about her, her character and female pride impressed me equally.

VOILE - 1986 arthaud (florence) - (fra) - fonds n/b April 1979, France --- French sailor Florence Arthaud during preparations for the Double Transat boat race, abord the boat Biotherm at the Port Camargue. | Location: Port Camargue, France. --- Image by © Henri Bureau/Sygma/Corbis arthaud

After her epic trans-atlantic crossing a reporter said to her, “Florence, you’re a real man” to which she confidently responded, “I don’t feel like a man at all. I’m sure I am more delicate in my navigating, more sensitive. I think women project in me their desire for liberty. I have always sailed in order to be free, to feel completely free; on the sea I am totally independent, alone.” ..


Nov 12

2015

Life on the Farm: A Morning Walk

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The old drive leading from our farmyard to my mother-in-law’s house.

This morning I went on a walk. I wasn’t planning to, but I was all caffeinated up and ready to get going in my day, but I had 40 more minutes before I actually needed to get in my car and drive off to my first appointment. I could have caught up on emails, but then I looked outside and the sky was blue and cloudless. In England, especially in the autumn, this is rare. Even if there are not clouds, there is usually fog in the mornings this time of year. And so I was compelled to go outside. I have a busy day – lots of errands locally and then I’m headed up to London later – and as soon as I got outside I felt grateful for the few extra moments to do something purely pleasurable before the obligations that lay ahead. ..


Nov 10

2015

While I’m a fan of men in tweed jackets virtually anywhere I see them, as a woman I always felt that wearing tweed in the city was just too rustic a look for me. I indulged my attraction to them once or twice – I remember picking up a brown and cream herringbone one at the flea market about ten years ago, but it just sat there in my closet untouched until I admitted defeat and gave it away. Now that I live in the countryside however, I am free to move full steam ahead in my enthusiasm for tweed. For my 40th birthday last year, Christopher gave me a custom-made hacking jacking. Slightly intimidated by the expense, I went fully classic – a black and grey Harris tweed in a slightly feminized version of a traditionally masculine style. She is a thing of beauty – my jacket, that is – beautiful shape, perfect fit, well-considered details. But I am now craving something less conventional to add to the mix – maybe an oversized mens-style jacket with the sleeves rolled up? Or perhaps something even more fitted and feminine and stylised? When I’m on the farm I’d like something roomy enough that I can throw on over a sweater and drive in comfortably. But then when I join my husband to go on the occasional shooting weekend, I love the thought of channelling the more retro girly shapes from the 1930’s – matching jacket and skirt with maybe a bit of a hairstyle and some makeup. You get the look, right? As I want something authentic and non-fashion-y I’m determined to find something at a vintage shop. We’ll see what I come up with.


Nov 04

2015

Snapshot: Our visit to The Broad in LA

Last week Coco was on vacation from boarding school so I took her to Los Angeles to visit friends and get a dose of culture completely different from the English countryside. Hands down the highlight for me was visiting The Broad, LA’s brand new and very impressive contemporary art museum. While I so enjoyed seeing the art – especially this installation called, “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” by Yayoi Kusama – what gave me the most pleasure was how much 14-year-old Coco enjoyed it too...


Oct 30

2015

Farm Food: Our New Juice Press!

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My very first turn of the juice press. Shirt by Isabel Marant, trousers by TopShop, boots by Grenson.

Every autumn when I was a child, my family would chose a Saturday to pile in the car and drive at least an hour north from our home in Westchester to pick apples and buy cider. We always returned with huge bags of tangy, crisp fruit far better than anything you could buy in the supermarket. We ate as many as we could and then my mom would make the rest into apple sauce.The years of memories are hard to differentiate in my head – they have all melted together into one collection of happy fruit-picking nostalgia.

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This tree has the sweetest apples.

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A collection of apples from various trees in the orchard. I tend to prefer a mix of varieties and flavours.

When we moved to England, and I found myself surrounded by more apples than you could possibly pick come September, the abundance quickly weighed heavily upon me. Yes we picked them. And I made a pie or a crumble, and then as much apple sauce as I could possibly make. But that didn’t even touch the surface of making the most of our apple supply. ..


Oct 26

2015

Now that I spend much of my day doing chores in and around the garden on our farm, I’ve been seeking a new style icon: a woman whose personal take on dressing for the outdoors can take me away from the pure practicality of wearing just corduroys, a wool sweater and wellies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that look, but sometimes I just want to feel a bit more inspired.

When I first came across a photo of novelist, poet, and gardener Vita Sackville-West, I was at first mostly attracted to her fantastic canvas and leather lace-up boots. Why doesn’t anyone make those anymore???? But as I dug a little deeper, I found inspiration in not just her English countrywoman-meets-swashbuckler clothes, but also her legendary house Sissinghurst Castle, her chic all-white garden and her iconic book covers. I even love the style she has inspired in others – like her granddaughter’s hand-painted 18th birthday party invite and a collection of white flowers assembled by a fellow blogger. VSW had style for miles.


Oct 20

2015

Snapshot: The Old Tack Room

I took this photo of our old tack room in 2008 which by chance turned out to be the summer before it was disassembled and moved from the old farmyard into a make-shift new tack room in our stables. We kind of threw it together spur of the moment, so the design and decoration of it hasn’t really been thought through. I’m thinking of making some improvements so I’ve been asking myself what it is I want from a tack room...