Sorry for the dreadful silence.
We’re all still here, believe it or not, but things have been quite busy!
We promised you, and really meant it, that we would keep you all updated. Every morning I promise myself I will do a blog post, and then the day whizzes past and before I know where I am, yet another bloggless day has dawned.
The dreaded moment has come, but with it all the same a small hint of excitement and optimism about the next step ahead as we face (and face up to) the next stage in our lives.
Orchard Farm is now officially on the market and with it of course our much loved Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns. The property is described as a ‘traditional farmhouse with contemporary luxury holiday barns’. and the photographs do everything proud.
Those who know the house well will know what a lot of effort went into the clearing of clutter beforehand…! And those of you who know our strong feelings against ‘lavish drapes and ‘bed furniture’ will be amused at the photos. (By the way, we were most delighted by the photographer, Amelia Brown, and will happily pass on her contact details to anyone who might be tempted to use her.)
Orchard Farm is the first and only home we have ever owned having previously always lived in houses that went with the job; our little holiday cottage business is the only outfit we have ever owned and run, having previously always been employees…
So both are precious to us, and we are excited to think/hope that we will find buyers who will share this feeling and no doubt improve both the house (plenty of exciting scope there!) and the cottages as they bring their own enthusiasm, experience and skills into the picture.
Who knows, we may well become frequent visitors ourselves if we can afford it! We have always loved our brief personal stays in both Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns, kidding ourselves we were there simply as critical owners.
But, wait, not so fast… We can’t stay here as disinterested pleasure seekers until we have found new owners! There has already been some serious interest but if any of you does know someone who might be excited by the thought of a move to a lovely Peak Park setting/exciting lifestyle change do please pass on the news.
If you would like to see a brochure for yourselves and pass it on to anyone who might be interested, do click on the John German link. You can download and print the pdf, or if you’d prefer the full glossy McCoy ask them to send you one, or if you prefer, ask us and we can send a copy on to you.
Meanwhile life goes on, more or less – on the surface at least – as normal. The grass still needs cutting, bookings still come in and I’ve just realised at this rate our stock of Orchard Farm marmalade may need replenishing before January…
We have learnt that money (£23.7bn) does buy you fame even if momentary and extremely light-hearted! It also will buy you a bargain flight to Portugal (it would have made more sense to buy up a few aeroplanes). You can holiday in this country, in some comfort, for considerably less.
Since the ‘Great Fare Robbery’ fiasco we have had such a fun time. Thinking to share the light-hearted fun with guests, friends and readers of our blog (as you too must be) I wrote a very tongue-in-cheek account of the episode and posted a link on Facebook, little thinking much more of it other than steeling myself to make another attempt at booking this bargain flight to Faro, Portugal without having to spend £23.7 billion.
Our friend James Sillars who works for SKY News saw it on Facebook, was amused and asked if he could do a piece about it on Sky. Most the news these days is so grim and depressing it is rather fun to have something that isn’t about terrorism or murder. And – after that the phone kept ringing and we are told the story is all over the place – in newspapers and on TV.
Phil Brewster of ITV News came this morning to interview Marion, party indoors and partly outside. The sun was shining, the birds singing and everything looks so beautiful.
Why go abroad? We have everything in this country, even excellent food these days, and one doesn’t normally have to risk one’s life-savings times very many billion to get there.
Why go abroad?
Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn’ prices are at the top end of ‘normal’ but for what you get we’d like to think that the price is a great one, but not this great!
John and I recently received a lovely invitation to join some friends in their villa in Portugal for a long weekend. We have never been to Portugal and were thrilled to have this opportunity for a bit of luxurious fun, in the midst of all the heart-searching and clutter-clearing to do with the imminent sale of Orchard Farm.
It is surprisingly expensive selling a house as we have already discovered; not surprisingly, therefore, we having decided to economise as far as possible on the flights, to enable us to enjoy some affordable luxury once we got there. I googled ‘cheap flights to Faro’.
By far the best price that appeared was by a company called eDreams, which we’d never heard of, but they promised ‘Great Flights at Great Prices’ which sounded good to us. The flights were to be with Ryanair and Monarch, not the latest word in top end luxury, but we’ve used both often, successfully, albeit without great enjoyment.
I went through the booking process without a hitch. For short flights we try ideally just to have a carry on bag each, but this means that for John with his camera there is neither room nor weight left even for a tooth brush let alone a change of clothes, so we have to pay for one extra piece of luggage.
It all went swimmingly until I entered this extra piece of luggage for the return journey and I all but clicked ‘Purchase’…
What would have happened if I had? Neither of us has £23.7 billion to spare… What would have happened to my credit rating?!! We might have had to up our rates for our holiday cottages by several million (guests will be grateful that I spotted the error in time).
Very shaken, I tried ringing eDreams but both the numbers they gave told me the office was closed, although they claimed to be open until 10.30pm and i rang just after 9.30. It was not possible to leave a message.
But their automated email response system was awake. Quickly an email appeared, urging me ‘Don’t miss out on your dream flight deal to Faro (FAO)! We’ve saved the flight to Faro (FAO) you were searching for on eDreams. A second one reassured us, ‘We hope you find everything you’re looking for on eDreams’.
We have heard nothing since.
When we were in Co Cork the other day, negotiating some roadworks, we were very amused to see a large sign outside a shop. With typical Irish humour, it said, “Business as usual during the roadworks. Expect Delays!” Hopefully we won’t be responsible for too many delays, but it truly will be ‘business’ as usual as far as our barns are concerned when Orchard Farm goes onto the market.
We may not have had roadworks, but upheavals there have been plenty, in the house. The estate agent warned us that we must move quickly if there were to be any point in trying to sell before winter sets in, so we had a week to clear all visible signs of 30 years of clutter for the photos for the brochure. We could not have managed without our son Nick, who came up from London and worked tirelessly for three days doing all the heaviest work and taking numerous carloads to the recycling centre and various charity shops. Janet, predictably has worked wonders and given a couple of days of her own time, and our lovely neighbour Judith came in and wrapped teacups, coffee cups and glasses in tissue paper, endlessly. It was almost fun in that ‘unity in adversity’ way but it also was very exhausting emotionally and physically.
However, the end result was nothing short of miraculous; Amelia Brown, the most impressive - and beautifully mannered – photographer, who came came on Friday to take the internal shots, tried hard but failed to suppress her incredulity. Our house is now, almost, a model of minimalism. Any of you that have been in would not recognise much, and neither do we. The worktops in the kitchen are almost bare. Every meal time there is a flurry to remember where we hid – or did we pack away? – whatever it is we now need desperately. Things are already creeping back but we have to sustain the minimalism because – one hopes – there may be people coming to view.
We will be selling Orchard Farm as a house with letting potential. We very much hope that we will find the perfect buyer, who wants to live here and run the two holiday cottage with as much pleasure for themselves and hopefully you as we have all enjoyed but this we cannot guarantee, obviously, although we wish we could.
We have been warned that the sale may take up to a year – although we hope not – and until everything is signed and sealed we will continue as before, possibly with renewed vigour as we savour every moment of the last lap. We shall miss it all very much, particularly the happy contact with our guests.
Facing old age, reluctantly and disbelievingly, and the need to downsize… We have decided to put Orchard Farm on the market.
We’ve loved living at Orchard Farm (for 31 1/2 years!) and really loved running Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns for nearly half of that time. The contact with all our guests has been such a happy aspect of our lives, greatly uplifting and enriching.
But we realise that however vital we may feel, the years creep on and we are reluctantly admitting the need to face our next step. Fortunately we are told it may take years…
It will be a big wrench and we will leave with great reluctance. We will market the house with John German, as a house with ‘letting potential’ and we hope to sell to someone who is eager to carry on running Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns to ensure that it will be ‘business as usual’ as far as all our guests new and old are concerned.
(There is a fair amount of chaos in our house, as you can imagine. We are trying to sort many years’ worth of possessions and clutter which is going inevitably to have to be whittled down to fit a much smaller house when the time comes.)
Meanwhile, we have been warned that it will be four to six months at the least before we sell, and very possibly a year or two or three. Our plans won’t affect you at all except you may see the odd overloaded skip in the garden from time to time as we start clearing accumulated possessions from the house…
John and I will still be here, and not letting up one bit! In fact, we will be feeling even keener to enjoy the last stage of our precious time as your Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn ‘hosts’! and I shall eventually finish the new website. Watch this space!
Can someone else’s misfortune be your good fortune?
We have a sudden week’s gap in Tom’s Barn on Monday (September 8th) which we hope may answer someone’s dream: Monday 8th to Monday 15th September – seven summer nights for the winter weekly rate of £485, plus £25 per dog if you want to bring your pooch along too.
A lovely couple from the Netherlands had just settled happily in for their two week holiday in Tom’s Barn which they had booked and looked forward to since March, and have had to return home very suddenly because of a bereavement.
We do hope someone will be able to take advantage of this sudden possibility their situation has unwittingly created. If you knew how many people we disappoint all the time, who enquire hopefully about immediate availability… Besides, we hate to have Tom’s Barn – or Douglas’s Barn for they matter – unlived in, and far more importantly, we would love to be able to repay our Dutch guests, which we will do, every penny we receive, if we are able to re-let their lost week.
You can book online or ring +44 (0)1335 390 519 or email firstname.lastname@example.org first come first served and all that…
I have recently been to a ‘Social Media for Small Businesses’ update and amongst the many nuggets of seriously useful information we were reminded that Google holds all in its power. Google rules the internet with a rod of iron and like any true dictator its rules are not divulged – but cross them if you dare.
One of these rules and on the face of it a very logical one, appears to be that blog posts, and pages on a website, must be to be relevant to the subject.
Sticking to the subject poses a problem. I tend to write in the blog whatever comes to mind, hopefully all of it may be of interest even if not relevant to some people, and probably not to others. Over time cover a range of hopefully (?) fascinating topics, which included Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns of course, and what’s on, but range all over the place from walks, cooking and good food recommendations, travel, books, plays and whatever comes to mind.
And of course I get side tracked by John’s wonderful photos – look at this wonderful young swallow recovering from an unsuccessful attempt to drink while on the swoop.
Google may well feel it is most of it far from relevant to our two Five Star holiday cottages; we hope though that some will possibly relevant, some of the time, for the many and varied guests and friends who follow their progress. People come here from all over the UK, and beyond, to relax and enjoy themselves, escaping the normal pressures and stresses of ‘normal’ life. We do have such interesting, genuinely lovely people choosing to stay here, from a variety of backgrounds, interests and experience. It is only their interest in our two holiday cottages that unites them all.
They need peace and quiet, quality and comfort in their accommodation and plenty of nearby opportunities to walk, and enjoy good local food with masses of scope from other activities, physical and cultural. Many love to lose themselves in books, or listen to music, to paint, or even – it has been known – to make a patchwork quilt!
Not many come to read about holiday cottages, although every so often we will add a little post which allows us to blow the trumpet for a short spell. But only a short spell, before we go off on yet another tangent.
So I will end this with a sort, green trumpet blast…
We have just heard today that we have been re-awarded a Gold Award from Green Tourism. We could be greener (but not much space for a wind turbine) and we will work on it, but it is good to know that we all – guests and us – are doing pretty well.
It’s been a question rather of ‘Gather ye roses while ye may…” and we have been gathering roses with a vengeance! By the way, the image with this post is intentionally some poppies from the Orchard Farm garden, rather than roses, in the week that communities like ours all over the country commemorated the centenary of the start of the 1st World War, on Monday 4th August.80 men from Parwich fought in the war, and many of them – great grandfathers and great uncles of families still living in the village, died, so the service held by the war memorial in St Peter’s churchyard was particularly poignant.
Meanwhile, since my last post we have been to a really lovely a family wedding. This was followed immediately by our Green Tourism re-assessment, to see if we have kept up all our green credentials and can retain our Gold Award. (We haven’t heard yet.) This re-inspection involves a two-hour inspection and ‘interview’ accompanied by a large amount of paperwork and supporting evidence, so there were a few very short nights in between all the gallivanting.
Then almost immediately afterwards we had daughter Ruthie and some friends up from London for a weekend followed immediately by some very good ‘old’ friends form South Africa, their son and daughter-in-law and grandchild… All this has been great, great fun but it has not left much time for bloggish activity, as you can imagine.
Son Nick flew to China yesterday for the Youth Olympics (covering the games, not competing in them!). Meanwhile, our two holiday cottages are full all the time – that is more pure pleasure for us, with a slight amount of work involved.
Eventually life may quieten down, there’ll be more frequent blog posts and the website may eventually be born. Let’s hope so, anyway.
And finally, guess what – I feel almost shy to say – but we are off to Yorkshire tomorrow for another rather special weekend of anniversary festivities of some more very very good friends…
Tom’s Barn now boasts a brand new Bosch Slimline Dishwasher! The last one had given valiant service until it tried to wash with cold water – not a good idea! As always, there are lots of little new things -including a set of brilliant Robert Welsh knives but nothing else major since the complete redecoration and new lighting in the kitchen earlier on the year..