Family holiday fun at North Bradbury farm
PUBLISHED: 13:31 21 January 2015 | UPDATED: 13:32 21 January 2015
DEBBIE MANNERS meets a North Devon couple who have combined their love of the farming life with an award-winning holiday business
Making a living from doing what we most enjoy must be everyone’s dream. One North Devon couple, Tracey and Chris Wilson, have nudged pretty close to this ideal, running family-friendly self-catering holidays from their farm near the pretty village of Chittlehampton.
“The idea of holiday accommodation wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened,” admits Tracey. “We bought this place in 1998 as a project and a lifestyle change. I had been running a children’s nursery in South Molton for 17 years. I had a vague idea of retirement, but it didn’t work out like that!”
Their new home, North Bradbury Farm, set in ten acres of meadows and woodlands, included a traditional stone farmhouse and barn. “Rather than let the barn fall down, we decided to restore it, so that’s what we spent the next two years doing,” explains Tracey. The finished results were stunning. Two luxurious holiday cottages, with every modern convenience, and the living rooms upstairs to make the most of delightful southerly views.
“I could see at once how families with young children would enjoy holidays in a place like this. The little ones could be outdoors in a safe environment, seeing the animals and farm activities,” recalls Tracey. “Both Chris and I love children. We are parents and grandparents, and of course I have always worked with children too. So it made sense to offer family-friendly holidays.”
Any new parent will know that the first holiday with a baby can be daunting. But Tracey is on hand to help her guests feel secure. “I often find people asking me for advice at the back door! Sometimes they just need reassurance.”
“When you get the children outdoors you really see them blossom,” adds Chris, known by their younger guests as Farmer Chris. “Some children haven’t been in contact with animals before. We love seeing them grow in confidence. By the end of their holiday they are feeding the sheep and goats, collecting eggs and riding on the tractors and ponies.”
Over the years, Tracey and Chris have worked hard to develop North Bradbury Farm into one of the South West’s top farm holiday destinations, in 2007 being listed in The Guardian’s Five Best Farm Stays. Now there is also an outdoor heated swimming pool, adventure play area, as well as a shop selling home-grown vegetables and meat reared on the farm.
“We feel privileged to live in such a wonderful place, and to share it with other people. Many of our guests have become friends, hence our motto, ‘Arrive as guests, leave as friends’. We hope these are the sort of holidays that memories are made of.”