Believe it or not, life goes on as normal in Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns, and Orchard Farm too for that matter, although judging from the loud silence from these parts you might be forgiven for wondering. I am really sorry to have been so apparently lazy but in fact we have been away! We spent a few days in Yorkshire helping a very old – as in longterm – friend celebrate a significant birthday.
She did this in some style so we arrived home larger and decidedly better fed than when we left, and as usual after even a short time away there is a mountainous backlog of emails and urgent things to do. The emails I have almost worked my way through; one very urgent matter which is going to take a lot of time is our 2012 GTBS (Green Tourism Business Scheme) inspection which is due this Friday…! It is rather tedious in that one has to produce monthly records of oil, electricity and water consumption and cost. This would be easy for those efficient souls who keep monthly records and up to the minute accounts but those of us who tend to rely more on meeting deadlines as and when they occur find it rather demanding.
The more interesting side is gathering up and updating all our green information (even transport policy…!) but even this is pretty time-consuming. Inspections are never fun but it certainly is good being kept up to the mark, and forcing one to look critically at how one does things and how they could be improved. At the moment we have the Peak District Environmental Quality Mark and the GTBS Silver Award so we have standards to keep up! It would be ignominious to be downgraded but I don’t think we will be(?).
The other ‘excitement’ this week is the Regional AGM of the Peak District Premier Cottages group. This will be an interesting an convivial affair, with much to be discussed including what is apparently a hot topic in the self-catering world – whether to have an all-inclusive price or not. I think we all in our area are fervently all-inclusive: personally, I feel there is nothing more annoying and unsettling to discover that unexpected and unwanted extra charges suddenly appear (like booking a cheap flight on RyanAir when you discover there is actually a booking charge, per person, per journey… so their quoted rockbottom price is not the price at all, merely the starting point of a quickly much larger bill, sneakily arrived at). John and I like to feel that once our guests have paid the balance the embarrassing subject of money is behind us and finished with. We will greet you and think of you as genuine house guests and apart from your paying for your newspaper if you have one – which I think we’d all agree is fair enough – the subject of money doesn’t enter into the relationship at all…
Anyway, (we feel quite strongly about this!), another project that we have all got involved in is the Visit England 20.12 offer, which involves offering a special discount or extra, ideally worth 20.12%. We will be offering 20.12% off weeks in November and December (but NOT Christmas and New Year before anyone gets too excited); we are pretty well booked up until then except for odd weeks so it makes a holiday in these two months at the end of the year pretty good value.
To benefit from the discount these holidays have to be booked via the Visit England 2012 website, quoting a voucher code so keep an eye open for that. I think it is going live on March 8th.