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Behind the Scenes

The Dreaded Inspectors Drop in on Douglas’s Barn

...Will they never give us a break?...

Sausage supper in Douglas’s Barn

The mystery shoppers are at it again, honing in again on Douglas’s Barn, where we last stayed almost a year ago, in November 2011. We get wonderfully appreciative comments from all our guests but there is always the sneaky worry that they are just being polite. And of course, we do just want to make absolutely sure everything is as good as we can make it and there is nothing like the owners’ critical eye.

Are our lovely guests just being polite? we wondered, and having a spare midweek short break without a booking this week we decided this was the signal for another hard-hitting personal inspection.

So in we moved in, from next door (a nicely green ‘car-free’ journey) to see how we would fare, with the aim once again of trying absolutely everything out, from boot dryers to using our brand new TV (wih HD) and Sky (where I quickly became unstuck, ditto the microwave) which is quite sobering. How do our poor guests cope? We have a file with all the manuals, conveniently placed in the drawer beneath the microwave, but apart from needing an advanced degree in Microwave technology and accompanying jargon, a month or two of spare time would help.

Making full use of the kitchen

Note one to ourselves: to make sure we know how to work everything and can produce a short, summarised, easy to follow instruction. We’re already working on it.

We cooked a full meal, using the oven and grill, electric beaters (I’m sure the misshapen cake was my fault), the electronic scales, several saucepans and a cake tin, measuring jug etc etc. So far so good: except the electric beaters looked very tired and smelled a bit hot after a minute or two; the ‘leather’ place mats didn’t pass muster, we discovered under a bright light one of the wine glasses to be slightly chipped so…

Note 2: Compile a (long) shopping list for urgent replacements.

We already knew it was time for our six monthly ‘decor spruce up’ and had arranged with Jason Fowkes, our wonderful decorator, to come on an inspection of walls and paintwork so we could plan what to do. Jason is excellent also as consultant. He has an artistic eye and very high standards, and as he is in close contact with so many really super properties he has a keen idea of what works well.

So he has been hard at work all day and is coming back for another, just making everything as smart and bright as possible. We identified together that the bathroom flooring needs replacing, probably with tiles, and we are hoping our joiner, David Goldstraw, will make us a nice wooden side panel for the bath to replace the original one that came with the bath six years ago.

Phew! We had to shed a few layers…

Note 3: Add to our list of things we need to achieve (we have been waiting six months now for our courtyard to be resurfaced, Shaun needs a reminder…)

Finally, I must admit that we were very warm in Douglas’s Barn, coming as we do from our draughty, old and distinctly coolish house. With the oven going, saucepans on the hob, central heating on with all the radiators full bore, we were soon down to t-shirts and going outside for a quick cool down/breath of fresh air. So now we have learnt, to turn the radiators down to the lowest setting and not to rely on more than one sweater! Modern house insulation is a wonderful thing, and a very novel experience for us… We’ll certainly advise our guests not to have the radiators turned up too high (thank goodness they all have an individual thermostat).

We still have another night, before shortly moving the microscope onto Tom’s Barn. No peace for the wicked.

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