Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Piglets...


In the rush before Christmas we had another sow give birth to a litter of five piglets. Again, there was the obligatory gold and white piglet (as with the last litter).

Our piglets and Boer kids have been a huge success. We quickly sold out of all the piglets and kids from 2011, and have pre-sold sold several piglets and kids for this coming year. If anyone else is interested please contact us directly at farm@willowbrookpark.co.nz

It is always nice when people who have bought our animals stay in touch. One such person is Jacqui, who bought a piglet from our last litter and has named it 'Lady Marmite'.
You can follow 'Farmer Jax' at her blog: Little Acres Cottage

I do need to give a hugh thank you to Peter, for his amazing dedication to the 'pig run' every day (he drives across town and back to two grocers to pick up fruit and vegetables for the pigs - every day after he has finished work). Thank you for so willingly sticking to the mission. The piglets are a tribute to your hard work.

Monday, December 26, 2011

White Wash Only...

It has been a reliably wet festive period in Hamilton. It is almost a dead cert that it will rain on Christmas day (which it did). However, it had bucketed down for 2 weeks before Christmas, and then by the afternoon of, it was bright and sunny. We journeyed out to the farm to find that the goats had been water-blasted brilliant white and were now dry after baking in the afternoon sun...

Peter looking as if he were showing Chestnut at the Royal A&P Show

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas...


Wishing each and everyone of you a very merry Christmas. May this festive season be one of joy, surrounded by the warmth and love of friends and family; and We hope that 2012 brings you prosperity and fufilment.

Blessings +
David and Peter Lord Cowell

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Music for Christmas...


This post has a personal connection. We were unpacking boxes following our recent shift and came across an old album of Christmas Carols. It is special because it is a recording of Peter singing in the Canterbury Cathedral Choir when he was a lad. Peter (second from the right in the front row) went on to become head chorister at the Cathedral before going up to Cambridge.

One of my favourite carols is The Holly and The Ivy. Unfortunately I can't play you the recording off the vinyl, but I have found these 2 very good clips of Kings College Cambridge singing two different versions at the Nine Lessons and Carols service...


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Here is a clip of the Canterbury choristers practising with the late Allan Wicks, Peter's Choir Master...

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Not long to go to Christmas now...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interview with Monica Tischler...

Last week we were approached by Monica Tischler, a journalist who wished to do a piece on Willowbrook Park for the local community circular, and are delighted to share with you her article:

On a warm Sunday afternoon, a team of Indian Runner ducks enjoy the fresh waters of a man-made lake, while five piglets, born that morning, take in their first rays of sunshine.
Although not visible from the road, this 30-acre hidden farmland beauty situated along Vaile Road is the beginning developments of a boutique bed and breakfast, Willowbrook Park Manor.


Owners and the inspiration behind Willowbrook Park, David and Peter Lord Cowell say they have always wanted to open a bed and breakfast with beautiful gardens, and aim to extend its usage to weddings and civil unions.


“To start off we want to open it up as a bed and breakfast and depending on the demand and how the community enjoys the place, we would like to open it up a little bit further,” says David, who works at the Waikato Hospital as an emergency doctor.


His partner Peter is an independent marriage celebrant and administrator of St Peter’s Cathedral in Hamilton and is often told there are not many places for weddings in the Waikato.


“To have weddings would be a really neat idea and seeing the whole thing take off would be so exciting and a dream come true,


“To see people enjoying the space and sharing it with us would be nice,” says Peter, who will become the full-time manager of Willowbrook Park.


Both David and Peter are originally from England and while David grew up in New Zealand, they both met each other in the United Kingdom and Peter now resides in New Zealand as well.

The land for Willowbrook Park was purchased in February 2008 and David and Peter have built a man-made lake and planted over 10,000 trees including Olive, Willow, Silver Pear and a variety of fruit trees.


They are also breeding rare pedigree animals such as Wessex Saddleback pigs, Dorset Horn sheep and Boer goats.


Willowbrook Park has been under design since 2009 and plans are very impressive, consisting of a Carriage House and Chapel.


With the help of local tradesmen and Cambridge architect Chris MacPherson, the last phases of landscaping will commence this coming autumn and David and Peter aim to have the manor running by the end of [2013].


Both David and Peter love traditional styled English country houses and have travelled back to the United Kingdom to gain inspiration for the manor.


“We have spent hours visiting parks, gardens and country houses, getting ideas for the look we wanted,” explains David.


Along with sharing a passion for traditional English designs, the couple are avid art and antique collectors and are excited at being able to have original Picasso paintings and a grandfather clock from 1740 on display at Willowbrook Park.


David and Peter aim to build up a large network of people from different areas including local caterers and florists and even opera singers to help make Willowbrook Park truly unique.


“I have a friend who runs the opera company and what I’d love to do on a summer’s day, is open up the gardens and have people come and picnic in the sun while listening to opera in the park. Just little things like that for people to enjoy,” says David.


Although the plans for Willowbrook Park suggest a grand and spacious design, David and Peter say the key motivation behind the idea and what they want to achieve is not something big, but something beautiful.


“It won’t be a big house, but something well done with a lot of detail. We want to make a quality product, not a big product,” says David.


The landscaping will anchor the manor with its surroundings so it is not an eye-sore, but a tastefully built and designed building, as both David and Peter want to preserve the rural setting.

“We feel that the beauty of the rural community is that it is rural; it isn’t a city and we want it to be a tasteful bed and breakfast, and hopefully a nice function venue as well,” says David.

So, many thanks to Monica for her lovely article.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vintage Memories...

I recently found this little tea caddy and thought that the picture on the front of the tin was familiar...


Peter in his prep school uniform, and the boy on the tea caddy. The resemblance is uncanny!

Wishing you all a week filled with joy, and perhaps some nostalgia.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What not to do to the Queen's Deer....

Long time, no blogging (but We have been very busy recently). We also shifted last weekend, back to the city, into a house next to the river. We will stay there until Willowbrook is completed (patience is a virtue).

Since our last post we have managed to sell 10 lambs, 8 piglets, and 2 goats through our Trademe page. We are thrilled about this, and probably have another litter of piglets due before Christmas.

For now I just want to share this amusing little clip of a thoroughly disobedient dog running amock with the Queen's Deer... Enjoy!


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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Running of the Bulls (and the ruining of the bulbs)...


We arrived back from the UK in the wee small hours of Saturday morning. After the excruciating 29 hour journey from London (where the weather had been great for the most of our trip - some lovely posts to come), we got back to find that the cattle (and horses) had broken through their fencing and had rampaged through the park devasting many of the trees and the landscaping. 12 mops of Weeping Willow reduced to mangled broomsticks, all of our Horse Chestnuts eaten to the ground, and bulbs ripped out of the ground by the stems never to flower again!

I would have wept over the lost hours it took us to plant all the trees, the sheer cost of the damage, and the 2 years or so that it will take for the less damaged trees to get back to where they were before we went away - if it were not for being so thankful that our family and friends looking after Willowbrook in our absence had managed to protect the majority of the park from destruction.

We also arrived home to find that our Nanny goat, Bramble, had died while we were away, of unknown causes.

So, glad to be home again. More work to do (remedial now as well as planned), and this with my exams and the Christmas season looming. I guess Peter will be a busy boy....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spring is Here...


As promised, here are some parting photos of Spring at Willowbrook. Peter and I are off to the UK for the month of October on an R&D Holiday, and have been asked to go to Rome to take the wedding of one of our close friends.

We shall probably share a few holiday posts whilst in Europe. Till then, I hope you enjoy the fruits of our labour as much as we do.

We will start with pictures of the park, and then some of the farm...



Above: The still bare Plane trees under planted with bulbs along either side of where the main drive will pass. The 2 urns in the background mark the entrance to the orchard.

Above: The Orchard Hedge in Spring

Below: The same view 3 months ago


A closer look at some of the bulbs under the plane trees...








Above: A Flaming Parrot Tulip, which starts budding as below...


and slowly progresses...


to a flower of striking colours...



Below: The more demure tulip 'Christmas' planted in lines around the potager. I wait patiently for the buxus to grow and hide the wooden edging...



The fantastic green and pink tulip 'air', growing in raised pots around the potager- Great for arrangements...




The subtle tulip 'spring green'...


Now some before and after pictures from behind the lake...

Above: Willoughby helping Jackie plant the Leiladii hedge 18 months ago.

Below: The same area now.


This area has also been planted with oaks, under-planted with the red tulip 'London'...





These are the Princess Irene Tulips, growing in pots in the Orangery area in the Orchard...




Then there are the Rococo Tulips in the Nymphaeum...





And the Spring Green Tulips planted between each of the Lime Trees in the Lime Walk...




For the last 2 weeks it has been mainly overcast a drizzling with strong equinoxual winds. Not the greatest days for photography, but I did catch this rainbow over the farm on my phone (2 photos poorly joined together)...



More before and after photos of the farm...

Above: Then

Below: Now

Although the grass is short and brownish now, by mid October it is usually luscious and green again.

The Orchard is starting to green up and come into blossom too...



And the veges in the potager beds are coming along nicely...


One last photo to finish - our Indian Runner ducks going AWOL! They frequently go through the fence, waddle off down the road for an hour or two, and then come back to their lake. I have no idea where they go - sometimes they disappear althogether!

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