We have had such a mixture of weather here over the last week but the sun has still managed to shine most days. This weekend saw the return of snow showers but we still managed a lovely walk with our friends from Monyash to Alport and back down Lathkill Dale. A welcoming cup of tea and a toasted teacake in Monyash was just what was the perfect end to the day’s activities.
The BT communication challenge continues in this idyllic spot but thanks to the BT hotspots around and free WiFi in all sorts of establishments it is business as usual for us. Our next review is the 2 March 2015 so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a successful broadband connection. Meanwhile the barns are continuing to get booked up so if you are hopefully thinking about booking it is worthwhile doing it now.We have received great feedback comments from the lovely people that have stayed in the barns since we took over. All very encouraging for us as the new owners.
Hello everyone our BT communication challenge in this romantic setting is still ongoing but there is some progress in that we have a telephone number that people can at least speak to us on. The number that BT have assigned to us is 01335 390 134. We are still facing the challenge of trying to get the internet re installed in our little Peak District haven and hopefully at the BT summit talks on Friday 20 February discussions may result in the capacity issues being resolved. We can but hope. In the meantime it is business as usual, Since we moved in we have had lots of visitors to the barns and the reviews are great. A big thank you to Marion for holding my hand for a month ensuring that what people have come to expect from the barns is still being delivered but now with a new face and a new smile.
Hello, everyone! It’s Marion speaking, hopefully not too distant a voice from the past but trying to reach out to you in a temporary Orchard Farm communication crisis…
Robert and Angela very much want Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns to continue providing the kind of relaxing holidays so many of you so enjoy here, and part of that is being able to hide away in a little world of your own, whilst remaining in internet connection with families, work, Facebook or whatever.
Which is why Angela has just rung and asked for our help. They had decided to switch to BT for their telephone lines and broadband and today was the big day. In spite of BT’s earnest assurances about smooth changeovers, everything has simply stopped working at all. Hopefully connectivity (that great word) will soon be restored.
In the meantime, if you fail to get through telephoning Angela on 01335 390519, do ring John and me on 01335 390 076 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will personally deliver the messages to Angela in the morning.
Thursday 12th February 2015
We are proud to announce that we have taken over from the lovely John and Marion at Tom’s Barn and would like to wish John and Marion the very best for their future.
They are huge shoes to fill but we are ready for the task and plan to improve further upon the barns to provide the very best self catering cottages in not just the Peak District but in the country.
To find out more about us, view the about us page.
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, partly 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!