A wonderful new country life focusing on home-grown produce and beautiful food could have been shattered by the death of a son. But the family have strained every sinew to wrestle good from the tragedy, says Rachael Rowe.
When Patty Lowe and her family moved to a large house in Woolland with a traditional Victorian greenhouse and an acre to grow vegetables, it inspired a journey of creating nutritious recipes.
Over ten years, Patty and daughter Gertie tested and refined family favourites while husband Gordon provided technical know-how. Twins Archie and Jamie loved trying the various creations emerging from
the kitchen, with Archie helping with preparation and cooking. So that her children could use the recipes at university, Patty uploaded them to a website. However, son Archie, 21, insisted the photography should be
better and set about creating beautiful images of the feasts made in the Lowe kitchen. He used the garden and a small studio he set up in the house, saying, “The pictures should make people feel hungry, Mum!” On 8 September 2020, all that changed. Archie went off to work in a local racing yard as usual, and later that morning, Patty got a phone call. There had been an accident. Archie had been tragically killed in a horse-
riding accident on Okeford Hill. Everything the family knew and loved about life was blown apart. ‘It is a beautiful place,’ Patty reflects, ‘and for someone who loved life as Archie did, I cannot think of a more beautiful place to spend your last moments.’
Ugly pony, best pony
Archie had been passionate about horses from the age of ten. Patty smiles as she reminisces:
“He got the ugliest pony to ride. It had a wall-eye, and he called it the Cow (it was called Manni), but he loved it so much. And he went on to trial for the Great Britain team and was recognised as one of the best young riders in the country. In fact, people talk at Pony Club of how the ugliest pony in Britain went on to be the best in the country. “And Archie was always so positive. He would always say hello to people or say what a nice dog they had.”
As Patty and her family were dealing with the aftermath of Archie’s death, friends suggested she create a cookbook. More than 100 recipes were selected and illustrated with Archie’s photography. Tempting dishes such as mushroom risotto with peperonata, courgette and walnut bake (just in time for summer gluts), and pork with chilli burst from the pages. For the last two years of his life, Archie was vegetarian, so there is a large selection of plant-based ideas. Poignantly, delicious-looking doughnuts are on the back cover, but there is no recipe in the book.
Patty explains: “Archie wanted to make doughnuts just like Krispy Kremes and mastered a technique. Each Friday, he made them and took them to work for colleagues but never told us the recipe.” All the proceeds from A Dorset Kitchen are going to two charities. The Air Ambulance that tried so hard to save Archie is one beneficiary. In addition, the Archie Lowe Foundation has been established to support young riders, especially boys, to learn riding skills. The Archie and Manni Bursary will help people who might not otherwise have been able to pursue their dream of riding. It is a partnership award in collaboration with West Wilts British Eventing with the first prize of £1,000. Does Patty have a favourite recipe? “Chicken lasagna. And Archie loved the Pad Thai.”
The book sold out all 1,000 copies within six weeks. More have been printed as word gets out of how good the book is (the recipes are easy to follow and delicious, by the way). I’m curious as to how the book is helping Patty and the family begin to heal after such a tragic accident. “Just before I wake up each day, I wonder what to do. And then as I wake, I think, today I can do something good. I can do something good and help people. It is easy to sink into self-pity. If I can make this charity work and give a little bit of Archie to
people, good can come from this, and the pain is eased.”
To buy a copy of A Dorset Kitchen, visit www.adorsetkitchen.com.
More events to support the Archie Lowe Foundation and Air Ambulance will be held in the near future.
by Rachael Rowe