Near where we live there’s a little hamlet called Scampston. Apparently there’s a rather grand house there, called Scampston House, which has some particularly fine gardens, as the roadside posters indicate.
One day, perhaps even this summer, we do intend to visit and see this wondrous sight for ourselves.
But this hamlet also hides a wonderful secret. It’s one of those *secrets* that is known by all around, as attested by the fabulous tripadvisor.co.uk – so, no, not really very *secret* in the traditional sense of the word. This bakery, run by a lovely lady called Elli Rose, is simply fantastic and if you’re ever in the area, I really would recommend a visit – you won’t be disappointed. Her cakes are wondrous, pastries divine and fabulous farmhouse bread, fresher than the daisies are worth the special trip down the quiet country lane to find.
I love all of the different breads that Elli makes, but the corn bread is my favourite. Crusty on the outside, soft and springy in the middle, this bread is fantastic for sandwiches or to accompany a warming bowl of soup, but frequently, I just have it on its own, with maybe a little good butter and occasionally a splodge of home-made jam. Mm- mm! even the thought of has me salivating!
So I rock up to the Bakery, in a slight hurry, because I want to be sure that I’ve arrived before all the bread is sold for the day. I open the door and a little bell tinkles above your head, in the traditional shop-keeper’s welcome to valued customers.
There are couples or small groups huddled around the four or five tiny tables in the cafe, all enjoying a cup of refreshing Yorkshire tea and a cake, fancy slice or some such delectable morsel. A young couple with a small person in tow are eyeing up the exquisite chocolate delicacies on show near the back of the shop area.
I rush, perhaps just a tad speedily, around the central display where the bread baskets lie empty, devoid of produce – clearly, my fear has materialized and I am indeed too late for the bread. It has all gone. I am deflated, but not beaten yet. Elli is a good friend and upon seeing my somewhat crestfallen look, she smiles and waits.
‘Oh, no! Am I too late?’ I exclaim in dismay. ‘Is there any bread left at all Elli? Please?’
‘How about a couple o’ corns?’ she offers me a lifeline. She is referring to the manna from heaven that her fantastic corn breads seem like. Rich and scrummy, they are packed with good things and devoid of the starchy, tasteless garbage that seems to be in all mass-produced breads from the supermarkets. I am delighted and nod fervently, even though I had only really come for one loaf, I am happy to take two as I know they will be gobbled in a flash, once I get them home.
I ask after Trevor and The Girls and Elli confirms that it’s OK for me to take some photos, but she adds this warning ‘Don’t be surprised if Trevor shows you his bum. He thinks it’s his best side, clearly!’. Yes, well, thanks for the heads up.
So I go out into the pasture where Trevor and The Girls live.
I should perhaps explain a little about Trevor at this point… As any self-respecting Farmhouse Bakery should have, Elli keeps chickens, mainly for the wonderful free-range eggs of course. Her flock numbers about eighteen to twenty brown-feathers chickens (The Girls), with two cockerels, on also mostly brown feathered, with a touch of grandeur in his golden & green feathers. He is out-ranked by the rather fine looking black cockerel who looks after his ladies well. He crows continually when he thinks there’s any kind of threat to them.
A couple of years ago, Elli decided that they would have a free-range turkey for Christmas Dinner and she bought a fine specimen. Tall and wonderfully plump already, he seemed to fulfill all the requirements for a fantastic family dinner. Elli planned the whole meal around this beautiful bird within seconds of laying her eyes upon him at the market.
‘He can bunk in with The Girls for a few weeks, it’ll give him a nice time before he’s dispatched!’ Elli though to herself at the time. And so the large bird was transported home and set amongst the chickens to have his pick of the choice clumps of grass or gravel, as he wished. There was a small flaw in Elli’s plan though. Her children took an immediate liking to the turkey.
‘He looks so happy!’ they declared, watching him strut his stuff around the chicken run. ‘Let’s call him “Trevor”!’ the decided.
Now, Elli knew this was a bad idea, at least if they were to have the delicious Christmas Dinner she had so lovingly planned. She knew she would regret staying silent, but she simply couldn’t impinge upon their innocence. As the day for execution drew nearer, the children played with Trevor daily. When the time came, they pleaded with their mother not to kill this beloved pet.
And so that is how they came to have the infamous Trevor living with the family’s flock of chickens. He thrived, once the threat of the butcher’s axe had diminished. He strutted around the coop as happily as, well as a saved turkey might, and all was well at the Farmhouse Bakery.
The resident cockerel and he got on reasonably well together; I think that secretly, he was glad of his over-large friend to help with looking after The Girls, who were well known in the village for being a bit of a handful. On several occasions, they found themselves on the wrong side of the protective fencing, without ever really understanding how this happened. One minute, each would be pecking diligently at the grass, or the corn, or whatever little surprises they could find amongst the gravel and the next, well, POOF!
The chickens somehow found themselves outside the fence, with the rest of The Girls inside.
The cockerel, his assistant (another, less rampantly masculine cockerel) and Trevor formed a Men’s Club to keep The Girls in line. After a few months, Trevor became rather antsy – he envied the Cockerel’s role and began to pine for another of his own kind. He was lonely.
So, what is it that sane people do when their pet turkey, having been saved from the Christmas table, begins to pine for a love of his own? Of course! They buy him a lady-friend. It’s only fair! And now, Trevor can be heard, gobble-gobbling away at his missus, the very beautiful and rather dainty Lady Trevor, for all he is worth.
As I approached the chicken’s enclosure, they all ran to greet me, amid a cacophony of clucking and I found myself smiling as Trevor positioned himself between them and this intrusion. I told them I just wanted a few photos, as they are quite beautiful ladies (and gentlemen, of course) and began snapping away.
I stepped backwards for a different angle and found two escapees investigating my ankles. I have decided that they ought to be called Doris and Dolores, for no reason except that I like to name all animals. That way, I don’t feel so foolish when I address them as equals. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Whichever way I moved, I was accompanied by the entire flock who seemed surprised to see me – after a few seconds of investigation they would wander away for a few moments. They clearly have memory challenges! The cockerel and Trevor guarded their charges impressively.
Trevor showed me his magnificent behind, but the effect was slightly ruined when one of The Girls felt the need to check out his prostate… as I’m not that kind of photographer, I politely looked elsewhere at this point.
It is lovely to see chickens having the free run of the pasture. it just feels right.
I bid them all a fond farewell and departed via the single road in and out of the hamlet. All’s well with the world.