A move to Germany has proved to be the icing on the cake for a British couple who have transformed an old German farmhouse into their home complete with a café and party venue.
Kim and Dennis Robertson, who hail from Huddersfield, are the proud owners of the historic Hagen-Hof, a property complete with house, barns and a host of animals all nestled within eight hectares of rolling countryside.
Located in Enger near Herford, the Hagen-Hof is not only the place to go on a Sunday for Kaffee (coffee) and delicious homemade Kuchen (cake), but it is also the ideal venue for those wishing to book weddings, birthday parties and other big events.
The huge restaurant is open every Sunday and on German bank holidays from 2pm serving an impressive selection of cakes, ice cream and sandwiches as well as hot and cold drinks.
Dennis said: “There are some lovely walks around here, so we recommend people come along, enjoy a piece of cake and a coffee, let the children play in the park, see the animals, then go for a lovely walk nearby.”
Kim, 58, and Dennis, 70, didn’t speak a word of German when they bought the property more than 10 years ago, but that didn’t stop the determined couple making it a huge success.
Dennis, who trained as a window dresser before starting a career as a supermarket manager, and Kim, who works at the Bielefeld Medical Centre on Catterick Barracks, have two sons, Jonathan, 33 who is currently in the Army and Justin, 37, who works for CNN in Beijing.
The couple, who owned a café in Huddersfield Open Market for 18 years, decided to move to Germany after their soldier son was posted to Sennelager.
Dennis said: “My son was in BFG with the Army and then married a German girl. They then had our granddaughters.
“They have since split up, and although my son stayed here for a little while, he was then posted to the UK. He is now in Hereford and has recently remarried.”
Kim and Dennis plan on staying in Germany after drawdown. Dennis said: “Now we are here we love it. Even after drawdown we will still be here. Most of the people we serve are German, although there are a few British customers.”
Dennis first found the impressive Hagen-Hof after looking all over Germany for a place to buy. He said: “I found this place online. I thought it looked great and then I loved it when I came to see it. I was looking at a place for doing parties and I thought this was ideal.
“My wife hadn’t even seen it when we bought it. I just saw it and fell in love with it.”
The pair live on-site in a nine bedroomed house behind the café. Dennis said: “We are talking about doing Airbnb (an online marketplace and hospitality service) as we have so many rooms. So people who come to parties or wish to visit from the UK can stay here.
“There is a lot to do yet though. The rooms upstairs are not up to standard yet, so we will need to upgrade them first.”
For cycling enthusiasts there are cycle paths running alongside the complex, leading to Enger, Bünde and Herford. With the result the restaurant receives a lot of passing trade from cyclists.
The carrot cake, freshly baked scones and the Mandarinen Schmand Kitsch (mandarin cakes) are all very popular with visitors.
Dennis and Kim sell over a dozen huge cakes on a Sunday. And talented baker Kim also creates her own amazing celebration cakes suitable for any occasion. Everything is baked in house and the pair are often up until 1am on Saturday evenings baking.
Guests can also treat themselves to an English high tea at the venue.
Dennis said: “People can come along to enjoy sandwiches, scones, cakes and proper English tea for €10 per person. We have a lot of people book this to get the whole family together. It is a little bit of England in the heart of Germany, which people wouldn’t necessarily expect.”
The Hagen-Hof is the ideal place for children. Not only will they be able to enjoy the cakes and ice cream but also there is a secure play park and a petting zoo to keep them entertained.
“We have a small farm,” said Dennis. “We just got it for the children really. We have pigs, turkeys, ducks, geese, chickens, three horses – two of which we got from the Bielefeld Tierpark – and rabbits.”
Kim and Dennis’s granddaughters – Emily, 12, and Sophie, eight – love the Hagen-Hof. He said: “Where else in the world would you get a place like this to grow up in. It is fantastic; I would have loved it when I was a child as well.”
The venue also can hold events for the local community, with engagement parties, birthday parties and weddings being held onsite. They also have live music playing some weekends.
“The Borderline Crossing are playing here in a few weeks. They play allsorts of country and folk music. It is really good music and I am looking forward to it,” said Dennis.
The Hagen-Hof, which lies within a massive eight hectares of land, sees Kim and Dennis put in a lot of hard work. Dennis explained: “There is a lot of land here and a lot of upkeep. Part of the reason we do the Kaffee und Kuchen is to pay the bills and help with the upkeep of the house. We enjoy it though, it is just such a beautiful spot.”
Dennis first met Kim after moving back to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire after living in Africa for 34 years. Now they love living in their German paradise.
He said: “I love it here. There’s so much on this land. We have apples, cherries, pears, peaches and plums. We also have bees.
“When the strawberries are out we will be selling jam and we will be making apple juice as well. This year we are even talking about making cider as last year we had so many apples.”
“We looked all over Germany when were trying to find somewhere to stay and we saw some beautiful houses. However, when we saw this place it just blew me away. It is just fantastic.”
A house has been on the HagenHof property since 1100, with one of the barns being built in 1710 and the main property on 1834 by the Hagemeier family.
During the Second World War the property was commandeered by the American Army. During their time at Hagen-Hof the American Army gathered up 200 Nazi sympathisers, keeping them in the big barn. When the Brits arrived and took over the property, they released the prisoners as they could not afford to feed and water them all.
Dennis said: “To this day I still get people coming along, asking if this was the place where the 200 Germans were kept.
“The gentleman who owned the property was a member of the Nazi Party agricultural society. There is a bunker underneath the house which has lots of carvings, some of which are swastikas. It is still there and I will not get rid of it, as it is part of history.
“I always think you have to keep history, it is so important to remember. It is a beautiful place and it is important to me. I want to preserve it.”
Dennis and Kim have a lot of people interested in the history of the Hagen-Hof. The place is even part of the ADAC rally, where people are invited to visit different places with the aim to find out about the buildings en route.
The Hagen-Hof is open all year around – apart from a small break over the Christmas period – and is a spectacular setting for a Sunday afternoon treat.
For more information, visit the Hagen-Hof website: www.hagen-hof.com or pop in and pay a visit, the address is: Hiddenhauserstrasse 280, Enger, 32130.
The Hagen-Hof is open every Sunday from 2pm for Kaffee und Kuchen, and on German bank holidays also from 2pm.
To book an English high tea or an event, such as a birthday party or a wedding function, contact Dennis and Kim on 01577 8514523.