Caryn Hibbert, Founder and Creative Director of Thyme is our new columnist writing seasonal features reflecting on country living throughout the year.
One of the great joys of living in the countryside is the way the changing seasons influence every aspect of daily life. My family and I love to live by the seasons. It is this love for the land which has led to the gradual evolution of Thyme, our family business born of our desire to embrace nature in the way we live, eat and entertain.
Spring is always a thrilling time of year. From the gardens at Thyme, we watch with delight at new beginnings as nature responds to the longer warmer days with birdsong, unfurling leaves, bursting blossom, butterflies, and frogspawn. The call of the first cuckoo heralds the arrival of migratory birds from sub–Saharan Africa into our water meadows.
Their return is perfectly timed with the burgeoning of the meadow reeds and grasses, wildflowers and hedgerows, all readying themselves to welcome the birds that will call them home for the season to come. It's the time of year when Dr Olly Fox and his team of ornithologists start to spend more time in the meadows, looking at the fascinating details of the migratory journeys of our prolific birdlife.
Seeing the orchards and the productive gardens wake up from their wintry slumber is such an exciting and inspirational moment for our gardeners, florists, chefs and bartenders. We work hard all year to maintain and improve the high organic content in the soil and have been busy mulching with our own compost and well-rotted manure. We are growing a wide range of produce to inspire our chefs, including baby carrots, radishes, onions, beetroot, fennel, rocket, chicories, Swiss chard and even edible flowers to accompany Charlie’s favourite Calcot onions and agretti. (Charlie, my son, is our Head Chef.) The journey from seed to plate is, indeed, a labour of love; every seed has been sown, watered and carefully nurtured by our wonderful team.
The productive season is truly upon us and we are now ready for long, lazy al fresco lunches using produce from our kitchen gardens, on either the south facing Ox Barn terrace or The Swan’s pretty courtyard garden.
Here at Thyme, we celebrate our fabulous home grown produce not only on our menus but also through our Bertioli collection of linens. During the spring months, I find it hard to resist the temptation to take my watercolours to the gardens or wild flower meadows and immerse myself in my artwork. I am so proud to be able to share my Vegetable Patch and Cherry Blossom table linens, the results of my artistic labour last year. They join our curated collection at the boutique in the tithe barn at Thyme.
Drenched in renewed sunshine, the dry-stone walls that characterise Thyme warm the honey-hued courtyards, making us feel like we’re in the south of France. With the longer days, our pool and poolside bar and tranquil Orchid House reopen for residents, offering the perfect sunny solace following a treatment in our Meadow Spa and Botanical Bothy - which we are proud to say - have named us The Best Spa Hotel in Britain in the Sunday Times 100 Best Hotels.
This Spring will see the coronation of King Charles III, which we will be celebrating with a medley of his favourite things throughout the month of May. Honouring King Charles' love of wildflowers, our Calendar of Happenings welcomes Plant Life and Country Life Garden Editor, Tiffany Daneff, to talk all things meadowlands as a part of the 'In Conversation' series.
The Swan Pub will be hosting a bountiful BBQ in the courtyard and on the village green on the day of the Coronation, Saturday 6 May. Our chefs have created celebratory menus featuring some of the King's favourite dishes - from lamb and mutton from the farm to foraged mushrooms - and the Baa Bar will be serving special Royal Martinis, a tipple we hear His Majesty enjoys each evening before dinner. Cheers to that!