I may have found the perfect present for the person who has everything – with cold feet. It’s called the Love Hottie. Sadly, not some gorgeous specimen sent to your doorstep to wrap you in his strong muscly arms and murmur hot nothings in your ear; that belongs to an entirely different genre of literature. But a foot-warmer nonetheless. The Love Hottie is a cashmere and wool hot water bottle cover…and at half price for £50, it’s sure to bring on a hot flush.
I was diverted by this extravagant offering while delving into the one-stop organic empire that is Daylesford.com. The pinnacle of sustainable farming in the bucolic setting of Gloucestershire, England, Daylesford is the love child and life’s work of Carole Bamford.
More than 35 years ago, Lady Bamford persuaded her husband to convert their sprawling Daylesford estate to organic farming. The revelation reportedly came to her while attending an agricultural fair, when the term ‘organic’ was just starting to gain a foothold in farming parlance.
Of course it helps being married to a billionaire industrialist, when you can afford to devote one of your many properties to building a dream from the ground up. But Daylesford is no rich wife’s whim; Lady Bamford has a perfectly manicured hand in every aspect of her organic venture, and the business brains to ensure everything runs as smoothly and sustainably as possible.
What began as a desire to produce natural, healthy food on ecologically friendly farmland has blossomed into a fully-blown organic obsession, encompassing everything from fruit and vegetables straight from the pesticide-free soil, to fat Sasso chickens with more free range than they know where to scratch. Daylesford also boasts its own beef and dairy herds. An on-site abattoir means the Aberdeen-Angus grazing contentedly in the field don’t know what’s coming until they’re literally led down the garden path one day. Less trauma means more tender beef. And the Friesian cows have their own dairy which produces Daylesford Organic Milk, sold in bio-degradable packaging. The next-door creamery churns out award-winning cheddar cheese, delicious paired with a loaf of crusty artisan bread from the farm’s bakery, and accompanied by olive oil and a bottle of Chateau Leoube Rose produced from another Bamford property. Yes, they make wine as well! Hungry visitors who want to make a day of it can order a picnic hamper full of organic goodies such as cold-pressed juices, cakes and fresh fruit all sourced on-site, while the Cookery School offers everything from cake decorating tips to mastering nose-to-tail butchery. The Garden Shop stocks fragrant bundles of herbs and violets grown (naturally) on the estate, and if you like the glassware and ceramics in the cafe you can buy them from the Bamford home collection, which offers a wide range including organic paints and household cleaning products…even dog biscuits and shampoo.
Little wonder people want to linger longer in Daylesford. But of course, you can stay there too. The estate offers several accommodation options in suitably gorgeous Cotswold cottages, with names like the Wood Store, the Egg Store, the Apple Store, the Old Farmhouse and Honeysuckle Cottage. All with a welcome pack of organic essentials and a personal shopping team on hand should you run out of Rose . The invitation extends to “small to medium well-behaved dogs” for an extra charge of £20. Chump change if you’re happy to part with £1200 for a weekend stay. Why not go the whole organic hog and book an indulgent session in the Bamford Haybarn Spa, which offers ‘bespoke facials’ and even a visiting Thai monk!
Daylesford is testament to Lady Bamford’s passion and vision for a healthy, sustainable future; a future most of us could aspire to, given enough money and time out from our pre-packed, outsourced lives. The business has grown organically too, as she listens to what customers want and makes it happen. Weddings, private parties, corporate team getaways, floral workshops and monthly events …if she builds it, you will come.
And if Daylesford is too far to go for the weekend, there’s always the online store and clothing and homewares offshoot, Bamford.co.uk.
Which brings me back to the Love Hottie. I might not be able to afford to clothe myself in cashmere head to toe, but a foot warmer is a good start.