When you think of the West Country, you think rolling countryside, rural pursuits and big, rustic farmhouses. The sort of place, perhaps, that you might set up your own business making preserves and fruit liqueurs… Welcome to the home of Heavenly Hedgerows
Nestled between Bath and Bristol, the home of Chris and Dave Westgate is the sort of idyllic retreat that city-dwellers can only dream of. Dave keeps bees in three locations, including their garden (alongside some hens), while Chris sells the honey, alongside homemade jams, jellies and preserves, and some delicious sloe gin, bramble vodka and elderflower cordial, from the farmhouse in Keynsham.
All of the ingredients are handpicked, prepared and bottled in the farmhouse and then sold at various markets and delis in the region throughout the year.
The house itself has all the features you would expect– there’s large flagstone flooring, exposed brick walls and a pastel aqua AGA adding a splash of colour to the otherwise pared-back décor. The kitchen table is a large, wooden and worn-in and Chris likes to keep it simply dressed with some hedgerow flowers.
Look closer and you can see glass jars, cups and saucers that have been collected by the family over the years. There is also a pair, or two, of the obligatory dirty Hunter wellies – the uniform of any real country bumpkin worth their salt.
A skylight keeps the space light and airy – perfect for this multi-tasking kitchen.
Here’s what Chris has to say about the home/workspace she has created:
Name: Chris Westgate
Hometown: I come from Auckland, New Zealand but live in an old farmhouse between Bristol and Bath.
Occupation: Mother, cook, forager.
Must-have kitchen item: Tea cup.
Go-to recipe: Sea bass with salsa and mushrooms and thinly sliced potatoes (thanks Jamie).
I love the taste of… Salt.
Coffee or tea? Tea.
Beer or cider? Beer.
Five people you’d invite to your dinner party, dead or alive: Magnus Mills, Peter Gordon, Mrs Moneypenny, William Wilberforce, my Dad.
The look of my kitchen in three words: Busy, ordered chaos.
Kitchen uniform: Jeans, vest, slippers.
Preferred midnight nosh: Nachos.
My kitchen is awesome because… It’s the hub of the house and always full. It’s my workplace, my home and my sanctuary. It’s uniquely made up from mostly ‘foraged’ bits of wood from skips and car boot sales.
Secret skills: Chicken breeding (match, hatch and dispatch).
What’s on your cooking playlist? The National, Beach House, The Vaccines, The Tallest Man on Earth, Neil Diamond.
This weekend I am going to cook: Pheasant casserole with dried Amethyst Deceivers I picked a couple of weekends ago.
Unexpected item in my kitchen cupboard: Wotsits (oh the shame).
Most prized item: My Grandmother’s gold-plated tea set.
I can’t live without… Salt and a fresh boiled egg each morning.
If my kitchen could talk, it’d say… Slow down.
By Laura Rowe
Images by Rosa Park and Rich Stapleton