No clean lines and minimalistic neutrals here. Apple Tree Farm House in deepest Hampshire is all about painted rooms in rich shades, art that bursts with a million colours, a toasty Aga, well-stocked gardens, an orchard and spring-fed ponds. It’s bursting with books and photos, and overflowing with love, life and boho charm.
These are spaces that have heard lots of laughter. Seen lots of lounging. It’s a very human place. And one where up to 22 humans can have lots of fun. Cook on the Aga, dive into the heated pool, dine on the terrace among the ancient oaks and the woodpigeons, play tennis all year round, or table-tennis.
It’s grown-up time, so break out the cheese and biscuits, top up your wine, stream the BT wifi, load up the logs on the fire, and find a film to nod off to on the squishy sofas. Apple Tree Farm House is unpretentious, homely, friendly and liveable, amid lush greenery. Get your wellies on and make some muddy memories.
There’s six acres of beautiful gardens ripe for games of cricket and croquet. The gardens come with herbaceous borders and there’s an orchard dripping with fruit. Pack a picnic to take down to the spring-fed pond, bring the dogs, put the kids out and tell them to be home for tea. Just like the good old days of 1976.
Play tennis all year round on the all-weather court. Dive into the heated pool. Burn some bangers on the barbecue and eat out on the terrace under big skies with the wood pigeons and goldfinches for company. Find your own quiet spot and be bothered only by books.
And that’s not all. Appletree Farm House is part of a larger estate with ample access to cycle routes and public footpaths, giving you the opportunity to take some incredible countryside walks. In the summer months of June and July, the estate plays host to The Grange Festival, a public opera festival, but be sure to book your tickets in advance.
There is a vineyard, where sparkling wine is produced, with opportunities for tastings and tours, and a plethora of country pursuits. Saddle up at the equestrian school. Gear up for clay pigeon shooting. Or just take in the country air from the side lines, the choice is yours.
Apple Tree Farm House and it’s adjoining self-contained cottage is the kind of country pile that’s lived in and laughed in. Its endearing rustic charm is without pretensions. This is a family home full of mucky wellies parked in the boot room, rich colours, and walls that could tell tales. Today, they’re weighed down by art, and the bookshelves are complaining too.
Settle back on the squishy sofas amid the homely rugs, the period furniture and the warmth from the licking flames. Top up your glass, put your feet up and make a night of it. Just don’t get too cosy. You’ll need to return to reality eventually and this kind of boho chic can seep into your soul.
But where are the kids? They’re in the playroom with the Lego and the toy cars. When they pop back, get round the piano for a knees-up. Before you slide between the crisp cotton sheets, there’s still time for games and cards, or maybe one final game of table tennis.
Catch a film on the flatscreen TVs, or pick from the pile of DVDs. Bag a book from the shelves. Stream the BT wifi. Let the dog laze by the fire. Soak up the sense of peace and good living. Let the quiet filter in through the open windows, chat, chill. Take the sense of unhurried calm home with you.
You’ll get 14 around the dining table and 22 when extended. That should be enough: the two youngest are too busy having fun to settle for long in any case. Even though you went all out on the four-door Aga, gas hob and electric oven to rustle up dishes with home-reared meat and organic veg from the West Lea Farm Shop.
Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you put your feet up with a G&T after you’d called up our expert chef. She is on hand for everything from a Saturday-night celebration to a fully catered break. Hey, you deserve it after all those lengths in the heated swimming pool and the yomp along the Alresford Watercress Trail.
Eat out on the terrace on summer days, with the barbie burning your burgers, the breeze rippling through the trees and the sound of the songbirds up above. Or head out to The Woolpack for Sunday lunch or a British Brisket Burger with ruby slaw, baby gem, fries and onion relish.
Restaurants? Pulpo Negro’s won a ‘bib gourmand’ for its tapas and funky vibe. Never tried Mojama watermelon and mint or cracklebean egg? Now’s your chance. For Indian, there’s Shapla, for Japanese try Kyoto Kitchen or, for Cote De Boeuf, the Fox at Crawley. For coffee and cake, head to The Tiffin Tearooms.
Pick from eight double bedrooms in the Farm House and the adjoining cottage and drift off wrapped in crisp cotton and snug duvets. Wake to the light filtering in across the oak beams, pastel walls and country-cottage wallpaper.
In the main house, the master offers a four-poster kingsize bed and a single in the dressing room. Refresh in the en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower. Bedroom two is a kingsize with en-suite and a bath in the bedroom. Bedroom three sleeps three in a double and a single, while bedrooms four and five are doubles.
Up on the second floor, bedrooms six and seven are raised-bed doubles, while bedroom eight is a double. You’ll find a family bathroom on the first floor and a shower room on the top floor. Whichever room you choose, you’ll sleep log-like in the rural hush.
In the adjoining cottage, there’s a double bedroom for two on an open mezzanine level, along with a comfortable sitting room with room for two more on the double sofa bed. The cottage benefits from its own bathroom and kitchen to enjoy self-contained luxury tucked away from the main house.
Driven your kids away on holiday? Driven mad by backseat calls of “Are we there yet?” and “Mum, Tom’s making faces”. But Apple Tree Farm House is only an hour from London and makes any tears and tantrums worthwhile, with its six acres of secluded shenanigans.
So what’ll it be first? Hide-and-seek (and probably never find)? Cricket or croquet on the lawn? A picnic by the pond? Or just a bit of old-fashioned exploration with the dog, with cartwheels along the way, around the lawns, the herbaceous borders and the orchard. Refuel on the terrace with juice and cake. Ask mum nicely.
Competitive kids? You’ll find table tennis indoors and a full-size, all-weather tennis court out there in the garden. And it only gets better, in the shape of the heated pool. Dive in, cool off, lose a few hours. Bring your inflatables and sun cream. When you’re done, the bangers and burgers should be ready on the barbie. Holidays, eh?
Indoors, books tumble from every shelf. And there’s more entertainment in the shape of DVDs, Freeview TVs and BT wifi, if they’ve any energy left after the pool and the ping-pong. If not, well, what’s wrong with a nap by the roaring fire with the dog? Always makes for a great Instagram shot.