Farm feature: Maureen set to hang up farm B & B apron
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015
This Christmas, Maureen Ling, 67, will be hanging up her bed-and-breakfast apron after 12 busy years. But she will take with her some happy memories of cooking up sumptuous breakfasts in her farm kitchen for the steady stream of guests who have beaten a path to the door of her Grade II listed Georgian farmhouse.
The Rookery B & B, at Wortham, near Diss, has built up an enviable reputation, with four star status, and both Gold and Breakfast awards from Visit England under Maureen, who converted three bedrooms to en suite guest rooms. It’s a member of Farm Stay UK and Maureen volunteers to show guests around the mixed farm, run by husband, Dick, and their son, Richard.
Dick and Maureen moved there following the death of Dick’s mother and the first two years were spent getting the house together before the B & B was officially launched.
By then, their three children, who also include Mary, who lives in Leeds, and David, a design engineer, had flown the nest, meaning the seven-bedroom house had plenty of spare space.
“I thought: ‘We have got this big house and it’s got to earn its keep’,” explains Maureen.
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It’s been hard work, as she runs it all year round, as and when the guests, which can number up to six in total, plus children, arrive.
“I think now the time has come to spend a little more time with my husband and do more family things. I have enjoyed it, and it’s been great to have that little bit extra to spend on the house,” says Maureen, who now has two small grandchildren.
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The dining room has been set up for guest breakfasts, and there is also a guest lounge.
But the hub of the home, and the farm itself, is the kitchen. The sink sits beyond the main kitchen, which has a large, oil-fired Aga, one of two of Maureen’s kitchen essentials, and a large kitchen table capable of seating eight people. Only the “back” kitchen, which is much smaller, has some fitted elements.
“It’s not got modern, fitted units in it at all,” says Maureen.
“There’s lots to love about a fitted kitchen but this is just different. When we came it needed modernising to make it fit our lifestyle but a lot of the essential elements like the Aga and the big cupboards are just there.”
Up until four years ago the farm a dairy herd and Maureen was heavily involved in managing that. But the family eventually decided to sell the herd off for a number of reasons – “too low a price, working our socks off and getting nowhere”. Today, the farm is mainly arable with some suckler cows.
Richard currently lives in the village with his wife, but next year they will move into the big house, and Maureen and Dick will move to a house in the village.
“I have a back-up electric cooker, just a small one, because in the summer time it gets very warm sometimes, though I have to say the only time it’s off is when it’s serviced or we forget to buy oil,” says Maureen. “The electric one dries everything out so it isn’t the same.”
She adds: “Everybody congregates in this kitchen where the Aga is.”
One of her specialities is cheese scones. The Kenwood Chef is her second essential kitchen item. It’s relatively new – her first one finally gave up the ghost about six or seven years ago and she had to replace it.
“It’s always out on the counter top and I can just mix up a cake or scones. It’s just an integral part of what I’m doing.”