Malcolm Warne de-stresses at his new ‘local’... down on the farm

THE Warne household has moved which explains my absence from these pages in recent weeks.

I’d forgotten just how stressful the whole moving house thing is, coming in shortly after divorce and bereavement in the list of fret-inducing life experiences.

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But we are back in God’s Own Country, in a community with two pubs, bus route(s), village school, a top-notch butcher’s and there’s a persistent rumour that the village shop, closed a year ago, may be about to reopen. They must have heard we were coming.

There’s also a farm shop and café within a couple of miles which has proved mighty useful when, in various states of fatigue surrounded by mountains of packing boxes, we needed quick sustenance and the opportunity to buy a pint of milk and other staples.

We had been to Spring House Farm Shop, on the A684 Northallerton-Bedale road near Scruton, many moons ago and enjoyed an excellent breakfast. On this occasion, it was Saturday lunchtime and one staff member’s face and tall physique seemed awfully familiar.

It was Leslie, a 30-year stalwart of the Les family era at The Lodge at Leeming Bar. The former Motel Leeming is now in the hands of the Moto group. They may be Britain’s largest provider of motorway service areas but suffice to say Leslie found it a less than pleasant working environment and found family-run pastures new at Spring House.

Of course, Leslie recognised us as soon as we walked in so the remarks that follow need to be noted on the assumption that Leslie let his colleague know the “bloke from the D&S” has turned up.

Certainly, service was prompt and smiley from the off and continued in that vein until we left, with Leslie vacating the kitchen for a chat about old times at Motel Leeming and how things ain’t what they used to be.

Lovers of nostalgia will take comfort in the straightforward tradition of the café menu at Spring House. The only hint at something contemporary was a tomato, mozzarella and pesto panini (£5.50). The rest of the menu was a reassuring romp through the English canon of snacks and light lunches – soup, sandwiches, butties, baked potatoes, ham, beef and prawn salads, beans on toast and cream teas.

There were a couple of special hot meals – one of which I fancied – a pork chop served with sautéed potato, black pudding, apple slices, gravy, carrots, broccoli and turnip (£8.95) and Sylvia’s choice was the Ploughman’s Special (£8.25).

Spring House is not licensed so it was teas, coffees and soft drinks – a Coke (£2.15) for Sylvia and a Fentiman’s Victoria Lemonade (£2.15) for me, sharply astringent to the point of provoking a coughing fit but undeniably refreshing.

Wherever possible Spring House sources locally, so my chop originated from Taste Tradition near Thirsk, breeders of rare breed pigs. I was informed that my chop was Gloucester Old Spot and it featured a thick band of fat which I love but which I acknowledge is not to everyone’s liking.

I always say that fat equals flavour (Sylvia customarily sighs at this point) and this was certainly the case here. It was the sort of chop that begs to be picked up and gnawed. With said chop coated in a thick and toothsome gravy, this was not a pretty sight I freely acknowledge and I apologise to all the other customers who witnessed an untidy act of carnivorous greed. But it was good, real good.

Sylvia’s ploughman’s was a massive plateful of pork pie, roast ham and three cheeses accompanied by chutney, pickled onions, celery, apple, coleslaw and bread. The cheeses were two types of Wensleydale (one with cranberries), a smoked cheese from Somerset (stretching the locally-sourced definition there a bit) and were very substantial pieces.

The sweet ham was from Arthur Haigh at Dalton who also made the black pudding with my pork chop.

I didn’t mention the black pudding earlier because if I did – again – you would think that I was receiving backhanders to promote his peerless pudding. I’m not as it happens but it is still the best black pudding you’ll ever eat.

The pork pie was fine (we didn’t check where it was from, unfortunately) as were all the other bits and pieces including the soft, white, fresh bread.

Seeing as we were in traditional eating mode, a traditional treat was called for – a mandarin jelly delight (£4.95) – mandarin orange jelly with clotted cream ice cream from Brymor at Jervaulx, whipped cream and melba sauce. We shared this with some difficulty, our two spoons fighting all the way to the bottom of the tall sundae dish.

The bill was just shy of £27 plus more for goodies from the farm shop. Cheap for God’s Own Bounty.

Spring House Farm Shop and Cafe

Northallerton Road, Scruton, Northallerton DL7 9LG

Tel: 01677 422212 Web: springhousefarmshop.com

Café open: 9am-4pm seven days

Disabled access. Vegetarian options

Ratings

Food quality: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Surroundings: 3/5

Value: 4/5