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Relaxing at Orchard Farm: What Not to Do

This will be very speedy, unadorned by photos of birds, in flight or otherwise: it is a merely a short and happy post just to say hello again. I feel as if I have been under a stone for the past fortnight and now I have emerged. This will probably turn out to be one of those blog posts which serve no better purpose than to make me feel better when I have written it.

What not to do if you want to relax here, or indeed anywhere, is embark on a massive marmalade making exercise half way through January just as you realise there is several months of catching up to do before being anywhere near meeting the dreaded January 31 panic deadline for tax returns. Neither Seville Oranges nor her Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs or whatever they call themselves now will wait.

Bleary eyed and dreary has it been but we are almost there! And suddenly life has begun to feel positively cheerful again. There is still another four loads of marmalade to go but that is no hardship, especially when compared with spreadsheets of figures that start to make even less sense than they once did. We have such a good recipe I have started using now, with less sugar than conventionally so the end result is just how we like it and we hope our guests all do too, pleasantly sharp and very orange-y. It probably helps having very fresh, organic (Riverford) oranges too.

There is a sting in the tail; wait for it… Returning from Pilates this evening, chatting with a friend as we strolled home in the dark and starlit night (any sign – we thought there might be a hint – of the northern lights?) everything seemed delightfully calm. The newly restored sense of peace and equanimity received an unexpected blow. A telephone message from a Visit Britain Quality in Tourism inspector let us know she was hoping to arrange an inspection of both barns, tomorrow!!!

We managed to suggest that Wednesday would suit everyone better. The barns are spotless already and there’s nothing to worry about there apart from the fact the previous inspector said we ought to supply small tumblers as well as regular ones and as that didn’t seem a big priority we had put that chore to the very back of our minds; the lamp shade over Tom’s Barn kitchen table has cracked so we need to replace that, smartish.

Slightly more worryingly, there’s a lot of paper work that needs to be tackled too – policies and inventories and a summary of any new purchases and improvements made since the last inspection so it looks like tomorrow will be another busy day. We’ll get there – and it is always better to work under pressure…

How not to relax!

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