Babs Honey tributes: Farmers Weekly columnist 'really caught the imagination'
For more than a decade she was the voice of the farmer’s wife – honestly sharing the often funny trials and tribulations of life from the barn, farmyard and kitchen.
But now Babs Honey, who wrote a popular column in Farmers Weekly in the 1960s and 1970s, has died, aged 93.
At a farm in Midford, near Bath, she raised eight children – seven sons and a daughter - and was a wife to well-known agriculturalist Dick Honey, and entertained farmers across the country with her anecdotes and updates from the farmhouse kitchen table.
She died in Herefordshire, at a care home where she had been suffering from Alzheimer’s. After retiring from the farm at Upper Midford, she and her husband moved to a smallholding in Pembrokeshire and supported all their children as they made their way in the world.
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The Honey clan now stretches around the world, as far as California, while one of her sons, Bob, has turned the family farm in Midford into a successful cider-making business with his daughter.
“As a result of her journalism, she became a well-respected after dinner speaker and frequently turned up in the Western Daily Press,” said Bob. “She also wrote cookery books and was something of a local television personality.
“We children growing up had no idea really that the scrapes we might have got into on the farm would end up in her column, it passed us by. Personally, it was only when I went to school and then college that people seemed to know a lot more about me and my childhood than I did,” he added.
Born in Marlborough, Wiltshire, the daughter of a rural auctioneer, she met Dick at university at Reading and moved to Shirehampton, near Bristol, in 1955. In 1960, the family moved to Midford. “It was an almost derelict farmhouse I suppose and that was the reason for the diary,” Bob said.
“Farmers Weekly liked the idea of a farmer’s wife telling of her trials and tribulations in turning the farm around and having so many children.
“It was very popular very quickly, people seemed to love it. I don’t know why but it really caught the imagination of people. She wrote every week and it was about everything to do with us, what was going on on the farm, and all the things she did. A while back I got together a big collection of some of the columns that she had kept, and turned it into a bit of a book for friends and family,” he added.
A DAY IN THE LIFE: STORIES FROM BABS HONEY'S DIARY
Recently, we held John’s 21st birthday party. About 50 of his friends were invited to a small village pub with a big room attached. Also Mrs Small, my friend from Wellow – bless her heart – had made several of her famous delicious trifles.
The band was very lively and the evening was warming up nicely when the floor one end started to shake so we had to beg the band to stop playing Knees up, Mother Brown.
John’s college friend “Ant” Gould proposed the toast, telling us of John’s previous swimming celebrations at Shuttleworth. We ended up quite happily with stacks of people having cups of tea, etc., until the wee small hours.
Bo of course slept through all of this. He has such a busy life that he’s only too ready for bed. Only that day he and Sir Toby Belch had been out “helping” Charlie to trim the weeds of the bank. Toby, trying to impress with his industry, started digging a hole to an imaginary rabbit until only his short little tail was visible.
Bo was delighted and tried to get Toby to let him have a go. Toby would not give way so Bo pulled for all he was worth.
This didn’t work, so he sat on him, pulled his back legs and eventually hugged him. Toby had to come up for air then and Bo, quick as a flash, took Toby’s place so all we could see was Bo’s red-and-white striped pants and his oddest of odd boots.
Eventually, Enid collected Bo, “poshed” him up and took him along to the village shop. The shop lady is a good friend of Bo’s’, though she hadn’t seen him for some time.
“My goodness Bo,” she said. “You are growing up. You’ll soon have to be called by your proper name. Let me see – is it Victor?”
Bo drew himself up to his full two foot odd , looked straight into her eyes and said quite politely but very firmly, “I am not the VICAR – I am William Geoffrey.”