After nigh on 30 years with the BBC, Bob Styles, with his wife Lynn, is now living the dream of working an off-grid small holding and aiming for self sufficiency.
Poppydale is located just outside Greet in the Cotswalds to the north east of Cheltenham. Bob and Lynn bought it when they sold up their conventional house to live a life close to the earth, responsive and sensitive to its needs and ways whilst also seeking to produce their own food. Its 3 acres of land was formerly part of Warren Fruit Farm but is now part of a small collection of self-contained plots owned by people ranging from recluse to globetrotter. To Bob and Lynn its about a dream. Lynn still maintains her part-time business of dog grooming but other than that life on the plot is dedicated to sustainably managing and working their little plot of land to meet their needs, with any surplus being sold at the gate.
With no permanent planning permission, life is lived from a small, wooden, single-roomed house which is not far off bang centre of the ‘estate’ and so just surrounded by a fabulous array of things small holding. There are Soay sheep, Vietnamese pig, lovely deep fleeced sheep, two working horses – wonderful piebalds – a multitude of chickens and more than a few ducks. Cordoned off being wire netting and the like lie the vegetable and fruit-growing plots which are scattered around the site along with a small polytunnel. Without planning permission and the eagle eye of the planning officer never far away life needs to become innovative. A upturned trailer serves as lambing shed (which on at least one occasion has needed to be turned upright and shown to be road worthy for the planning man!), chickens and ducks are housed in old horse trailers and their fencing looks like ex-building site mesh hoarding. Wherever you look there is a seemingly eccentric put purely pragmatic solution to all sorts of ‘building needs’.
I’d met Bob at the Landworkers Alliance Farm Hack where he stood out – presumably just like me – for his maturity of years! Such years also bring to him a quiet calm approach which belies the hard work going into making Poppydale work. It also provided me with one of the most memorable visits of my travels. The place was a self-contained, seemingly whimsical, joy, yet fully functional. ‘The Good Life’ for real!!
Bob and Lynn’s low-key way doesn’t give rise to brash websites, but you can find more at the Poppydale Facebook page.
[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons. Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC]