Meet the Owners – Hop Pickers’ House
Beautiful Hop Pickers House on the Worcestershire and Shropshire border is full of history and character and makes the perfect escape in stunning countryside. Originally built to house transient hop pickers in season, it’s now fit for a Queen (or two) with beautifully designed and decorated interiors. The dog-friendly cottage is surrounded by beautiful gardens and woodland and is a couple of miles from the riverside town of Tenbury Wells and about eight miles from historic Ludlow, with its famous restaurants, markets and food festival.
Your country-loving hosts are Steven and Stephen, and we caught up with them to find out what they love most about their stunning corner of the world.
FA: Were you always country boys or did you have to make a leap from city life?
We grew up in Shropshire and Worcestershire – but haven’t always been country boys. We both lived in London for many years and met in 2000 when working as a solicitor and accountant for the same healthcare organisation. Steven’s still a partner in his law business, MHHP, based in North London and we both run Brook Farm, which Hop Pickers is part of.
FA: How did you end up running your business?
We realised life’s very short. We’d lived the city life and wanted a new challenge; a different way of living. Our holidays reminded us how much we loved being close to nature and fully experiencing different seasons.
We wanted much more space, scope to create something new and to run a business together – from our home. We’d loved transforming our spaces in London. Steven had successfully built a cosy hideaway in the garden which made it special for family and friends who came to stay. So, we knew this was the business for us.
We’ve been at Brook Farm nearly two years now. It has everything we were looking for; beautiful gardens, woodland, a brook, space to grow fruit and vegetables, a gorgeous self-catering cottage, and scope to develop new places to stay – we’re working on it.
FA: Tell us a bit about the country pursuits that are on offer either through you or through providers in the immediate area that you work with.
There’s so much to do in the local area. As well as lovely routes for walking and cycling. The Long Mynd near Church Stretton is one of the best places in the country for all things gliding, including hang-gliding and para-gliding. What better way to see the area than soaring above the hills? It’s an ideal place to start learning to fly a fixed wing aircraft. Steven’s done it!
There are also short arts and crafts courses, including glass painting and mosaics, ceramics, photography and even hygge are all available nearby. Or how about a relaxing and uplifting sound bath at our local therapy hub.
There’s fishing in beautiful, unspoilt countryside along the River Teme, which is very picturesque and known for its water quality. All waters are very wild and lightly fished, and there are also plenty of local still water pools.
And if you’d rather stay in the warmth of the kitchen, our guests can book some time with Stephen to make a jar of jam, marmalade or pickle. Stephen’s recently won Gold at the World Marmalade Awards – yes, they do exist!
Take a look at our website www.brookfarmberrington.com/explore-the-area to discover more about things to do in the local area.
FA: What’s your favorite walk and are you a dog friendly place to stay?
We’re a really dog-friendly place to stay. We have two gorgeous labradors of our own – and dogs love it here. There are lovely walks straight from the door, through woodland and meadows and of course, along the brook, perfect for doggie paddles.
Further afield, we love rambling through the acres of heather on the Long Mynd and navigating the trails in Mortimer Forest, just outside Ludlow. A climb to the summit of High Vinnalls gives panoramic views across Shropshire, Herefordshire and Wales.
FA: Do you have a favorite pub or restaurant nearby?
We love our local pub, The Fountain, it’s just a down-to-earth, traditional country pub, with good local ales and cider, and a pretty good ham, egg and chips!
Our favourite place to eat is the Smokehouse Deli and Cicchetti Bar in Ludlow. Ludlow’ s a very ‘foodie’ town, with local produce markets and a big food festival, held every September in the castle.
The Cicchetti Bar is based on the traditional ‘bàcari’ bars of Venice – it’s small, rather eclectic and full of Italian memorabilia. We love the ‘Shirty Gerties’ breakfast menu – named after the owner’s grandmother, who started one of the first delis in Britain – which is scrawled on a brown paper bag.
FA: If you’re looking for a bit of culture where do you head to?
We’re very lucky – we have a beautiful art-deco theatre / cinema, The Regal, two miles away in Tenbury Wells, at which Stephen’s a trustee. It shows a broad range of films, live productions and broadcasts from the RSC, Royal Opera House and many London theatres. It also boasts the smallest professional pantomime in the country. Well worth a visit.
And we’re only 35 miles from Birmingham, and enjoy going to Symphony Hall. We’ve been there RuPaul’s Drag Race, The World Tour – does that count as culture? (FA – without question!)
Ludlow’s steeped in history. Its castle was a royal palace for over 350 years and its church, St Laurence’s, as well as being considered one of the most magnificent in the country, is the burial place of the heart of Prince Arthur, older brother of Henry VIII and first husband of Catherine of Aragon.
FA: What’s the best thing about running your business?
We’re providing pleasure for people and that’s so satisfying. Hop Pickers’ House is a special place to stay and everyone has a fantastic time, whether they’re here to celebrate, switch off for a couple of days or get out and about.
We’ve helped to set up two surprise marriage proposals, organised arrivals featuring trails of lights through the garden to a romantic picnic by the brook, a blazing fire-bowl and a delicious local cheese board or barbecue for guests arriving after a long week at work.
And we get to have lunch together every day.