Ed and Karen York live in Wisconsin … just! In fact, they live a few hundred yards from State Line Road, which (predictably) marks the State Line separating Illinois from Wisconsin.

Karen was driving Ed into town to pick up his Harley from its service, so we were under instructions not to arrive until after 6pm, when they would both be home. The drive from Chicago took only a couple of hours, so we took the opportunity to stop at a Triumph dealership to replace John’s headlamp bulb. Eventually, after a confusion over mileage, the barbeque was already up to temperature by the time we arrived at the York farmstead at around 7pm.

We had forgotten that Ed and Karen had told us that they bred ostriches. So the sight of a ‘flock’ of these large and slightly ridiculous-looking birds, eyeing us suspiciously from their enclosure, slightly took us by surprise. (I hope they were not bright enough to know that we were barbequing ostrich burgers under their noses.)

We were treated to a delicious meal of ostrich burgers (very lean tender meat, a bit like venison) and ‘brats’ (bratwurst sausages) washed down with copious quantities of beer (including ‘fruit beer’, a local speciality). Ed proudly showed off his armoury of guns … (it would be a foolish burglar indeed who tried to break into the York household). Then we toured the house.

Ed and Karen have already lavished several years’ hard work in renovating an old farmhouse to create a unique and beautiful home. Their workmanship left our own building works in the shade. The centrepiece is a galleried living room, with natural wood walls decorated simply with Indian hangings and other artefacts. An artist friend had created a brilliant stained glass window, through which light streamed into their bedroom. Unfortunately, by the time dinner was over, we had quite forgotten to take photographs … so you will just have to take our word for it.