On Monday morning 5th June 2017, I, along with my wife Val, my sister, Heather Witham (Nee Vining), my brother Simon Vining and his son Bob Vining met with Rob Preston to see what progress had been made in the refurbishments of Hiltonbury Farmhouse since I was last there a couple of weeks ago.
It is certainly a “Proper” Building site now as it was a requirement for all of us to sign the visitors book and that we all wore high viz jackets and proper boots or to use the technical term we all had to wear “PPE” Personal Protective Equipment.
We could see that a great deal of work had been going on and there were a lot of electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters all hard at work and a great deal of noise from drills and hammers.
Many floorboards upstairs had been taken up to allow for the new wiring and heating pipes to be laid and I could not help thinking what my parents John and Be Be Vining and the earlier occupants the Beattie’s would have thought about everything that was going on in their old home.
Wherever you looked there are guys in high viz doing things with a true purpose and talking to the guy in charge he is not at all concerned and that they are all on course to reach their target date to hand the property over to Rob in three weeks’ time.
Once the main builders have finished there is then all the other work to undertake, the kitchens to fit, decorating to be done, carpets to be laid and the bar to go in along with all the beer pumps that have to go into the cellar, all the furniture and fittings and all the pictures and lighting that will create the atmosphere of a comfortable, pleasant and wonderful restaurant in which to dine with the family and friends.
There is still a lot of scaffolding around the outside undertaking repairs to the roof and facia and painting the windows.
Groundworks are undergoing for a large outside patio area where people will, on nice days, be able to sit outside and enjoy their food and drinks.
Rob was still, understandably, being very secretive about a lot of the plans but he revealed to us that he has been over to Botley, with his new chef, to meet Heathers son Oliver Neagle who now runs the Hiltonbury Herd of Pedigree Jerseys and will be incorporating all the milk, cream and meat produced by him into their menus.
He also told us about a company he has contracted to do the interior design to create an old farmhouse atmosphere to the restaurant. The Company A Blank Canvas Design have been in touch with me, my Sister and brother for anything we have in the form of photographs and artefacts that they can incorporate into the interior design and we were only too glad to help.
We showed Rob photos we had already got together and I am pleased to say that he was really happy with what we had collected and they are all going to the interior designers at a meeting he has arranged with them.
Looking around The Hiltonbury Farmhouse with my Sister we were remembering a lot of our childhood and how there was, for a long time no electricity and we would go up to bed with candles, and how we thought the Calor Gas man was so strong carrying the gas bottles on his shoulder.
My Brother Simon was the only Vining born in the Farmhouse and the photo is of him stood where he was born 59 years ago last April in our parents’ bedroom.
It was on that day I was playing on the cricket field with some friends and one of them (I believe it was Tim Greenacre) was throwing his big sheath knife into the ground. The knife slipped and it went into my arm. Now that was painful enough but I was rushed back to the farmhouse and luckily the Midwife, Nurse Rae was there looking after my Mother and she was able to put stitches in my shoulder.
That was also very painful as she did not have any sort of painkillers. My Auntie Betty Player was there as well and I held her hand and squeezed it so hard she shouted out in pain!!
It seems that everything at Hiltonbury Farmhouse is going to plan but Rob readily admits that there is still a huge amount of work to be done but he is still aiming to open the Restaurant at the beginning of July and he is in fact asking for bookings from the 1st July. See The Hiltonbury Farmhouse (Facebook page) and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a great deal to be done before then but it is great to look forward to a restaurant of this calibre opening soon here in Chandler’s Ford.
I will update on further progress in a couple of weeks and I have already booked for Monday the 3rd July.
- A Special Visit to “Hiltonbury Farmhouse”
- History of Hiltonbury Farmhouse, Chandler’s Ford, by Andy Vining.
- Farming in the Winter and Christmas at Hiltonbury Farm
- The Vining Family and Hiltonbury Farmhouse