What job do you do at NFE?
As Founder my job is so varied. I did all the jobs once but now concentrate on what I’m best at. My job is so varied and I love it. Everyday I feel proud to work with Jane and Sarah and our great team. I get the biggest kick out of helping people enjoy the most special parts of their year. Holidays are so important. Friends and family are our greatest treasure. COVID10 has reminded us all about that.
But! As we all know, organising holidays, with the pressure of perfection; perfect memories, perfect relaxing, hosting, organisng whilst someone still has to shop and cook… it can be quite a bit of pressure.
- Our job is to try and ease that process.
- Sarah and I enjoy the matchmaking process of people and houses. I get great fulfilment from encouraging guests to get into the wild and beautiful places in the New Forest. Houses are empty without people. Seeing the houses, that our owners love, filled with guests who love the house, is very fulfilling.
How long have you been local in the area?
I’ve lived in and around the New Forest for the last 14 years. In particular we love the lovely and unspoilt piece of coast between Lymington and Beaulieu. The coast is wild and slightly ‘lost’ there. It’s hard to reach in places and tends to be very quiet. There is a curious patchwork of farmland, little lanes flanked with short-cropped grass verge and the herd of ponies that live (or some would say ‘heft’) there.
I have an 8 year old daughter and have home schooled her for 4 years. We love to take day walks and go off for ‘micro-adventures’; maths on the beach, looking for sand lizards on the heathlands, foraging for spring greens, listening to sky larks. We spend a huge amount of time outside, combining my blog research for guests with ‘life learning’. I hail from Somerset/Devon border area. Having grown up on a small holding (we milked our cow until I was 11), I have a great love for agricultural and wild areas, in particular ancient forest. So living here is a treat.
- You’ll find the results of our walks and explorations in the blogs I’ve written. They cherry pick out the best of the best bits. The New Forest is easy on the eye, many come here, but it’s not hard to find wildness if you know where to go. As a company, we will weather these hard times of COVID19 and come out with some more deep wrinkles on our faces. It’s not been easy and we’re by no means half way through. But the future for UK holidays holds good stead and we are grateful for that silver lining.
A huge part of my personal drive to make this business successful is my desire to look after people. I was born into a ‘service’ household. Mum was a nurse. She did B&B at home. Gran did too. We were expected to help. We had kids from less fortunate backgrounds stay with us each summer. I’ve always naturally taken a teaching and enabling role through my career. I really love helping people create memories.
Where is your favourite place to go for friends/family in the forest?
I’ve written a lot of blogs on favourite places now. Read more about them here.
For walks with friends – Hurst Castle.
To avoid the wind walk from Ranswood deep into the oaks, in the mixed forests around Brockenhurst and I love the walks from Beaulieu village to Beaulieu Road train station.
For walks with kids – Rhinefield circular walk is great for dens, which are built at regular short intervals so kids can run on and find the next one. I also love Tanners Lane beach for summer play. Sand, silt, shallow water. Great.
I also love the walk from Bucklers Hard to Beaulieu. The river is so pretty and English, for anyone who has lived for a long time overseas, they will smile.
For mobile grandparents – all the above of course. 60 is the new 40. Right? For less mobile people, then if you can, put them on the boat service at Keyhaven and boat them to Hurst Castle, then picnic or have a flask cuppa there, then boat them back. Part of the group can walk, or all go together and walk around the castle when you get there. The history there will be most grandparents cup of tea, and there’s one of those in the tiny café too. Do check when it’s open.
- Which places do you like to avoid?I’m with Jane. I like to bike about.
- But failing that, Lyndhurst drives me to distraction with the traffic queues.
- I don’t like Lymington traffic on Friday evenings either.
Which is your favourite beach in summer and also in winter?
- Summer has to be Tanners Lane. In Winter I go to Hordle Cliffs Beach in Milford. The dog comes too and we can go wild with no one around.
Where is the best coffee served locally?
- Brockenhurst. The Sett.
- But if you have kids in tow, and want a bit of space for them to run around in, Mable’s Garden Centre does a good job.
Where do you go to get lovely gifts in town?
- I love Designer Vintage near the Pasty Shop at the bottom of Lym High Street. They do second hand designer clothes and bits. I love recycling so this is my spot. Second to that is Elephant Antiques by the train crossing in Lym. A treasure trove.
Where is your favourite place to eat in the forest?
OK, well I used to be a travel writer and I’m very spoilt. My absolute favourite is foraging and cooking for myself, but if you push me….
- The Pig Brockenhurst for super spoils. Breakfast is excellent there. And I love walking in for a coffee in the garden in summer.
- The Larder in Lymington has been a long time favourite of mine. We go there to home-school quietly at the corner tables in the winter.Where do you go to get away from the crowds and escape for some downtime in the National Park?
What do you do to relax?
I live near Pilley, a tiny village, full of donkeys and ponies (I’m not joking – they are nearly always outside the village shop) and there are some lovely footpaths across farmland in the National Park.
There are large herds of wild Fallow Deer and I love to walk really slowly, listening to the birds, my feet on the grass and the wind. I often sit quietly in a group of large firs in a conservation area. The footpath here isn’t much used. It’s amazing how much you can see when you stop.
What do you love about your job the most?
I love talking to our guests and matchmaking them to the right house. And if I speak with them after they’ve booked then I love to enthuse them with simple ideas for reconnecting with the wildness they seek. Like taking the kids for a night walk to listen to owls along the Beaulieu River.
And what exasperates you the most?
Oh gosh! People who don’t put the recycling in the right bins. Or read our notices about how to do it. The donkeys and ponies go through the bins. They are professional scavengers… it creates a mess like no other. I bet nearly all of our team say the same thing!
And, come on, what are your Desert Island Disc tracks?
OK – easy. Sherezade, Rimsky-Korsakov. Heavenly.
I love a country track. So probably, Desperado, The Eagles. I rode a long way checking fences when I lived in Australia. Brings back alot of memories!
Heartwood by Karine Polwart and Seckou Keita. Such a beautiful and sad piece. It’s a cry for help from the perspective of an oak tree, which is about to be logged by a woodcutter. The heartwood is the central part of the tree and the part that burns the slowest. The Lost Words is a magical book and I’m so glad Robert MacFarlane has caught people’s imagination so much with it. Listen to it here.