Cornwall Today magazine feature Botelet Cornwall January 2011
With the recession and increaing popularity of 'staycations', Cornwall seems to have become synonymous with distressed pine, faded florals and vintage accessories. I was convinced that inland Cornwall with its ancient woodlands and imprenetrable hedgerows could offer a refreshing change to tired trends. What I was looking for instead was authenticity and an experience. What I found was Botelet.
Small wooden signposts direct those in the know along beech-lined lanes, past a Victorian lampost, a red telephone box, a Black Rock hen and into a cobbled courtyard. Botelet is just a few miles west of Liskeard between Herodsfoot and Couch's Mill and consists of a select choice of accommodation ranging from yurts and self-catering cottages, to camping and B&B in the main farmhouse where the Tamblyn family cater to the needs of their guests and the 300 acres of countrside around them. The likes of Conde Nast, Elle Decoration, The Guardian, The Times as well as a red fashion shoot have all succumbed to the rustic charm of Botelet which has been in the same family since the mid-1800s.
It is Julie's Mum, Barbara, who greets me on arrival, shouting out to Jlie down in the field who is gathering flowers. We walk into the main eating area of the farmhouse where guests enjoy a home-made breakfast and a sofa in front of the Rayburn. Against the gentle ticking of a clock, we chat about how the huge stone fireplace would once have been utilised to make bread and cakes and the hooks on the ceiling to hang hams. Looking around, it did feel like I could be in the pages of a magazine: the lacy frond of a fren suspended from an understand chandelier, a bucket full of purple flowers on the table in front of me, flowering geraniums and a curious cat through one window, with a view up to a Neolithic hill fort out of the other.
I meet Julie whose warm smile and boho look add warmth to the elegant decor and Rachel Fisher arrives simultaneously to take me upstrais for a therapeutic massage. This extra on-site service is arranged for guests on demand and Rachel, who specialises in healing massage and reflexology, has been practicing for ten years. Rather than traditional greasy oils, she uses a massage wax made by Sussex bees and the proof of her skill is in her hands. Suffering from constant stiff shoulders, I soon relax into her confident grip and am left with shoulders that feely newly ironed and lots of tips and exercises on how to avoid stiffness in the future. I will certainly be making use of Rachel's expertise again.
Post-massage and subsequently levitating a little above reality, limbs soft and relaxed, I am rewarded for all my hard work with Barbara's home-made chocolate cake and a pot of tea as Julie and I talk over the farm and its history. I ask specifically about the yurts (mainly because I am dying to try one out): there is the lower yurt set in long grasses in the wildflower meadow near farm facilities or the higher yurt in a field grazed by sheep, benefitting from late sunsets in the summer and panoramic views, each with woodburner and double bed. In an emergency, Rachel can be called out to provide soothing yurt-based treatments.
Back in the farmhouse, behind the main living area is The Dairy, now a kitchen that guests can use. It was Julie's grandmother, Ella who first, pioneeringly for her time, estbalished the place as a B&B in the 1930s and her handwritten menus for a coach load of guests in 1949 still exist stuck on a cupboard door and include such farm staples as rabbit, chicken and cold lamb.
Richard, Julie's brother, is the eyes and brain behind the decor and has added modern twists to original features; the words 'The Dairy' are lit up on the wall in steel-blue LED light, spotlights attached to piping poke out of hte ceiling and bulbous rubber Danish vases sit quietly next to quirky wooden chairs. In the main house, offered accommodation is a double and a twin with shared bathroom, the largest with an antique carved four-poster bed. Guests in these rooms benefit from the home-prepared breakfast, including Botelet's own seasonal blueberries, home-made james, granola, breads and freshly squeezed juice.
Across the cobbled yard is Manor Cottage, self-catering accommodation which sleeps two to five; parts of it date from the 1600s with a mention in The Domesday Book. Just down the lane is the other self-catering option, the more secluded Cowslip, an old workeres' cottage. A welcome pack of apple juice and biscuits awaits the next visitors, the fire is already burning in thewood stove and for a moment, I'm the one who is reclining, foetal-like, under the low wooden beams on the leather sofa in front of the burner, book in lap. It is a true green getaway.
Back in the farmhouse, I mention the term 'shabby chic', that faux rural yearning so popular at the moment and wonder why so much yearning to recreate the old when you can have the real thing here. When I ask Julie about it she is quick to respond, "I don't think there's any of that in the building." What a relief.
Farmhouse B&B with glamorous credentials
The rural getaway of Botelet near Liskeard offers peace, rustic chic and therapeutic massage
Words by Rachel Wilson-Couch photographs by Richard Tamblyn