Back in May The Bavarian’s family held a family reunion in central Germany. We were to stay at Quinkenhof, a farm in the middle of nowhere. Normally one to love farm holidays, this time I was a bit apprehensive. I hadn’t booked it myself, some distant relation had. Work was madly busy and I hadn’t even time to look up the website or find out where the place was. Reluctantly I tried to forget my need to control our holidays. I tried to relax. A five hour car journey with three children and a flustered husband on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend isn’t a great place to try to relax. But I tried.
After we came off the motorway we drove for what seemed like an eternity through a landscape of rolling hills, fields of horses and the typical huge, black and white farmhouses of Sauerland. Here, with a waining telephone signal, the sun shining and the end of our journey in sight, relaxing became easier. Finally we turned off a small country road into a farmyard dominated by a stunning old farmhouse. We’d arrived.
Quinkenhof is the name of the farm run by the Quinke family. The Bavarian’s second cousin once removed (like I said, family reunion) has been coming to this farm on holidays annually for almost twenty years and with good reason. The place is a paradise for children and by extension makes for a relaxing holiday for parents too. With 10 holiday apartments, some of which can accommodate up to 8 people, Quinkenhof is ideal for groups or family holidays, like ours. I’m forever grateful to Claudia for introducing us to Quinkenhof, as I have a feeling we’ll be going back there.
So what do you do on a farm holiday?
Set on a quiet, country road, the farm is safe for children. There’s so much to do that there is little danger of the children running out onto the road. To one side of the main farm house, where our apartment was based, is a playground with slides, swings, a small sandpit and a trampoline set into the ground. A small stream runs along one side of the playground and kept Number Two occupied for much of the weekend, building dams, making mini rafts, sailing leaves and sticks. It is so shallow, he barely needed his wellies on to play there and not once did he come to me announcing his clothes were wet – a first for us where water is involved.
To the other side of the farmhouse is the actual farm. It is a small scale farm with enough animals to keep the children entertained. Pigs, chickens, sheep, goats and Shetland ponies are housed in the outbuildings and the children can go to them at any time. During our stay there were young lambs on the farm too. Their baby bleats were adorable, reminding me of a newborn cry. Access to the lambs was restricted, which is understandable.
One of the highlights for the boys was the hay loft. Playing in the maze of hay bales, throwing hay around by the handful and sliding down the fast, steep slide from the loft to the farm yard had them in fits of laughter, sweated through and occupied for ages. For us adults, sitting on the nearby terrace in the evenings, it was particularly handy that all the children were in one place and playing together.
I must admit I sneaked up there a few times too to enjoy the evening sunlight, the beams and the brickwork. The farm is well maintained and at every turn there are rustic, decorative elements prettying the place up.
Back in the saddle again
The Qunikes have stables too and a riding school. I let myself be talked into going on a forest trek on two of the mornings of our three-day stay. Not having sat on a pony in 25 years or more, it was
really a little scary for me but I am really glad I took part. The sunshine filtering down through the leaves of the trees in the forest gave a beautiful light and the stunning views across the countryside were ones I would have missed entirely had I not been on horseback.
Number One and Number Two had riding lessons both days and loved it. Part of the riding school philosophy is that everyone, whether adult or child, cleans and prepares their pony before riding. Afterwards each rider undresses the horse, removing saddle, blanket and bridle before brushing the pony down again and leading them back to their stable. I found this great for my nerves. Through grooming the pony I got a feel for him and had to overcome my fear of being kicked in the face and just get on with scraping out his hooves. The girls running the stables are very friendly and helpful and wer able to put me at ease whenever my nerves showed through.
We stayed in the largest apartment, Storchennest, along with my parents-in-law, my sister in law and her son. With two double and two twin rooms, a travel cot for Number Three, two bathrooms and a large kitchen-dining-living area, we had plenty of space and didn’t get under each other’s feet. The dining room window looks out onto the farm yard, so keeping an eye on the children down there while tidying away the breakfast dishes was a cinch.
The accommodation was self-catering and we brought most of the food with us since there is no shop locally. The Qunikes provide a bread delivery service in the mornings, so we were able to have lovely fresh rolls for breakfast without having to leave the apartment. In the evenings we barbecued on the covered terrace. Here you can sit outdoors with a view of the Shetland ponies in their paddock or indoors in the restaurant-like hall adjacent to the terrace. Inside there’s beer, mineral water and soft drinks. You tick off what you’ve taken on a list and pay later.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable stay at Quinkenhot and were truly sad to have to leave after three days. The Bavarian and I agree that it was the best farm holiday we’ve been on and will be going back at some stage. The child-friendliness, the horses and the remote setting made it an ideal break for us to switch off and have some family fun. That it’s pretty too was a bonus. I bet it is gorgeous at Easter…. *pops off to check availability*