With Ibiza unavailable Amanda Platell instead found that Yorkshire’s glorious walks, historic buildings and cosy farmhouse lodgings made it the perfect spot for a reunion of friends
- Amanda and her friends checked into Maidensworth Farm, a collection of tenderly restored farm buildings
- This part of Yorkshire is a foodie hotspot, she says. One butcher raises lambs on the slopes of Byland Abbey
- Nearby historic buildings also include York Minster and Castle Howard, home to Brideshead Revisited
Right now, I should be lying on a sunbed beside the infinity pool, above the old town of Ibiza with friends, chilled rosé in hand.
Instead, I am reclining on a grassy knoll surrounded by deep woods and yellowing fields, greedy bees ravishing the lavender borders. No pool, but the rosé is in place.
I am with a group of friends who annually holiday together. We have swapped the Spanish sun for Yorkshire and are at Maidensworth Farm, in the Howardian Hills, a collection of tenderly restored farm buildings set in an area of award-winning natural beauty.
The pink and purple heather of the North York Moors National Park during autumn
On arrival, we fight over the six rooms, all with their own bathrooms, arranged around a courtyard.
The biggest battle is for Middle Earth, with everyone claiming they are true Lord Of The Rings fans. I’d already chosen Africa, imagining Robert Redford washing my hair in an outdoor tub, as he did Meryl Streep’s in 1985 film Out Of Africa.
I’m reminded while the others soon buzz off to visit Castle Howard, home to Brideshead Revisited a few miles away, it doesn’t matter where you are — it’s fellowship that counts.
The farm offers lunch or dinner on arrival, then it’s self-catering with a kitchen the size of a barn.
Maidensworth Farm has six bedrooms and is on a plot of 45 acres of rural Yorkshire
In the converted granary is a massive hall with a feasting table that seats 24
The farm offers lunch or dinner on arrival, then it’s self-catering with a kitchen (pictured) the size of a barn, says Amanda
This part of Yorkshire is a foodie hotspot. Thornton’s butchers, in Easingwold, raise their own lambs on the grassy slopes of Byland Abbey. Plus, there’s much excitement as we venture into the nearest town of Malton to grab fresh crab and fish, collecting warm bread from the artisan bakery in Hovingham on the way. Then, someone spots Prince Harry.
Half of us are journalists, so we went in search of Meghan, only to learn it was not the Duke of Sussex but the local Prince Harry lookalike, Malton’s most famous resident, now sadly unemployed.
Everything we cook is locally and organically produced — bacon and sausages from a mile away, eggs from the chickens roaming around the outhouses, homemade granola, fruit salad.
‘On arrival, we fight over the six rooms, all with their own bathrooms, arranged around a courtyard,’ writes Amanda
Romantic: Amanda’s room, Africa, was her pick of the bunch at Maidensworth Farm
Pictured here is the Cowboy room, which features ‘a stunning king-size bed, old saddles, tack and interesting photos of cowboys and cowgirls’, explains the Maidensworth website
‘Escape the noise of the city and remind yourself what peace and quiet really sounds like,’ the farm’s website suggests
And then the enormous vegetable and flower garden, so typical of rural England, my favourite place.
I pick armfuls of sweet peas to place on the tables, the scent bringing back memories of when Mum and I grew the flower back home in Australia on chicken wire on the outside loo.
An Aga, electric ovens, a huge wooden table that seats 14 and a Big Green Egg for barbies, we have a rule that everyone has to cook one supper. My sous chef and I go to York to prepare for our shepherd’s pie — and get waylaid by the majesty of York Minster. We buy three of them from Marks & Spencer. I do not have the courage to confess our deceit.
Upstairs in the converted granary is a massive hall with a feasting table that seats 24. Plus the billiard table and the vast open fireplace not required this summer, but I’m already imagining a wintry, snow-covered New Year at Maidensworth Farm.
Some of Amanda’s friends visited the impressive Castle Howard, home to Brideshead Revisited
Amanda visited Malton (pictured) and spotted its most famous resident – a Prince Harry lookalike
The ruins of 12th century Byland Abbey are not far from where Amanda stayed. One of the local butchers raises lambs on its grassy slopes
Amanda and her friends went food shopping in York – and got waylaid by the majesty of York Minster (pictured)
Four nights at Maidensworth Farm, which sleeps 18, is from £3,149 with Beautiful Escapes (beautifulescapes.co.uk). More information at yorkshire.com.
The moors are particularly splendid, the hills of purple heather waving in the breeze and welcoming me like an old friend.
That’s what I am, having spent many years discovering North Yorkshire’s wild beauty back in my 30s. As a Londoner who has always holidayed abroad, I’d forgotten how unspoilt and serene England’s green and pleasant pastures truly are.
And while locals boast that it has the best off-road biking in Britain, I prefer long walks through the woodlands into the Georgian towns, inevitably ending up in a pub, The Fairfax Arms in Gilling East or The Grapes Inn at Slingsby.
As our week draws to a close, I think back to when our cars arrived on the gravel driveway. It reminded me of that film The Big Chill, where old friends come together to the sound of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
We planned Ibiza, we got Yorkshire. Yes, you can’t always get what you want but, if you try, sometimes you just might find you get what you need.
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