...despite all outward appearances to the contrary...The answer: own and run somewhere like Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns, our romantic cottages for two in the Peak District!
Actually, I’m being serious. After yet more delightful guests had said their farewells and driven away, back to their everyday lives – John I were agreeing that our lives were continually enriched by having Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns next door: how lucky we were, to have such interesting and lovely people staying here.
We realised that there can’t be many ‘jobs’ where the human contact is almost invariably stress free, friendly, appreciative and fun.
Musing on our good fortune, and why this should be, we freely accept that this is no credit to us; strangely, I suppose it largely due to an apparent negative – the limitation of what we offer, and therefore to whom we appeal. No weddings, stag or hen parties, or groups of over-excited youngsters escaping home for the first time to ‘celebrate’; no large groups with no one quite knowing which of them should take responsible. We’ve never ever had the wilful damage or bad behaviour, that self-catering cottage owners do sometimes have to cope with, which understandably can sour attitudes and lead to notices and dire warnings everywhere, forbidding this and warning of the other.
Two little converted barns for two are never going to make us a fortune, but our relationship with our guests is worth more than any fortune to us.
Our self-selected guests come from all corners of the country; from all backgrounds, and from all ages from their twenties to their eighties. What unites them is that they all are seeking peace, comfort and quiet somewhere beautiful – and as full of interest – as the Peak District. Most are walkers, most also simply want to ‘chill’, simmer down, rest and relax in comfort and enjoy the countryside and all that our barns and the local area can provide. Many are foodies, delighting in the good food on offer locally, and the well-equipped kitchens for those who prefer to cook up their own feast at home.
No doubt all love children, as do we, but for whatever reason or through whatever clever planning/kindly friends and parents they come temporarily to a quiet, child free zone; you can imagine how much exhausted parents and teachers particularly appreciate this! However, all couples or solo guests (we get a number choosing to come on their own) can for the spell become themselves again, rather than someone’s parent, sibling, offspring, employer, employee or whatever.
For a precious spell everyone finds they can once again just be themselves, with no responsibility except to relax and enjoy themselves together. That’s important.
They certainly haven’t come to chat to John and me – we do know that! We always say to our guests that we will not intrude, but we are there when needed and are very happy to have the slightest excuse to stop and talk if that is what our guests feel like. Many simply want to be totally private, but many others do like to have the odd chat; local walks, swopping information about local pubs, the birds at the feeders in the garden ad John’s photography are all great sources of conversation. Sometimes we talk about the wider world, sometimes not. Totally discreet, we’d never reveal personal information to anyone else, but all I’ll say is we have had some stimulating conversations with people who do have some very interesting – if highly demanding and stressful – jobs; people we’d never have had the good fortune to meet in our everyday world!
Aren’t we lucky? (Even if we don’t seem any younger…)