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A Guest Comments on our Blog

(By way of explanation, Derek and Jenny stayed here last year and are returning again soon. While they were staying here they met our then vicar, Christopher Harrison, and one lazy warm evening last year the five of us shared a glass or two of wine sitting outside Tom’s Barn.

You can get an idea of the various topics of conversation. Answers to questions – where we have an answer – will follow in a later post, but to begin with Derek is commenting on the Tom’s Barn Blog.)

In many respects you have created a facility which, originally designed to allow guests to record their experiences, now allows future guests to keep their interest at a high level as they wait for their stay to arrive.

The combination of your site and the village site provides a wealth of information.

How is the new vicar settling in? What snags have arisen in the building of the new hall ? Will the road ever be repaired? What is happening in the village school?
How is the garden ( pictured in the glossy magazine in 2009 ) looking this spring ?
How are Marion’s piano lessons proceeding? What birds has John seen recently?

As a farmer’s son who grew up in a Sussex village with similar traditions to Parwich it warms one’s heart to see how what was once an agricultural society developing and blending into a 21st century –totally in touch – community.

That you have gone green is so lovely. I well recall how in our village the lavender man – he who collected elsan buckets – drove his vehicle on to our fields and spread his load accordingly. My father was very much against modern phosphates in the 1940/1950s and was very much against the arrival of a sewage system being introduced into village life.

Can I impress you as I have recently taken delivery of a green Sony mobile telephone? How such an intrusion can be considered green I do not know !

I am not a blogger by instinct but we just wanted to tell you that the cheque is in the post.

New Cooker for Tom’s Barn

How frustrating!

Having spent most of Friday afternoon trying to get to grips with the brand new and frighteningly modern electric cooker we were all set to announce this latest excitement (and of course answer a dozen or so emails) when our server went down…

All is restored now, and there are now dozens of dozens of emails waiting so do forgive us if your reply is not yet forthcoming and we appear to be asleep – we aren’t!

Busman’s Holiday for our Mystery Shoppers

Well, we have been away for a week, visiting friends and family in Kent and East Sussex, hence the silence on the blog, but of course behind the scenes it has been business as usual.

We’ve returned to warm sunshine, evening sundowners outside the barns and talk of barbecues planned for tonight; all the tubs are gasping and suddenly it feels like the summer we have dreamed about for so long is nearly here. Having said that it is almost inevitable that the snow will return, as has been known in April before now. Let’s hope not.

While we were away we spent three nights with my sister and husband who are over from South Africa, staying in a holiday cottage they had rented. Personally, this was most enjoyable and fun as we don’t get to see each other that much; professionally, it was quite intriguing as one couldn’t help comparing.

Although it was clean, warm, comfortable and adequately equipped it felt functional and impersonal, lacking any sense of excitement or ‘magic’. It provided a convenient base for us all, rather than a soothing retreat! Describing it thus is easy; much harder is to define why…

New Kit…

In the last year or so we have made a lot of biggish purchases – the biggest in every sense of the word being the Vi-Spring bed/mattresses in both barns. The two burly delivery men really struggled up the spiral stair case with the custom made extra-wide extra-long Vi-Spring mattress for Douglas’s Barn, which they assured us, rather bitterly, weighed 18 stone.

Tom’s Barn has benefited the most, being the older of our two holiday cottages (it has been going now for nearly ten years). We have recently replaced a lot of equipment and furniture there including the bed, most notably the sofa, fridge, washing machine, flat screen bedroom telly… We have also just bought a brand new Pepe outside table and chairs for the Tom’s Barn garden although we have not yet had the weather to tempt anyone to relax for long outside.

Not yet arrived but ordered from John Lewis is a replacement all singing and all-dancing cooker. The old cooker (replaced in 2006) was still very good, but the Visit Britain inspector last year reckoned it let down the rest of the kitchen; therefore – in spite of all last year’s change and improvements – our score remained at resolutely at 90%, so we felt we didn’t have much option if we are to stand any chance of getting a Gold Award, as has Douglas’s Barn.

We have also introduced some new things in both barns, like the Sony Netbook, slow cookers and kitchen equipment (eco kettles, frying pans etc) and at the beginning of the year had both barns redecorated from top to toe.

The next two projects are to replace or recover the easy chair in Tom’s Barn (only four years old but somewhat faded and discoloured) and the boiler in Douglas’s Barn. After that we hope to sit back for a while, but somehow life tends not to work like that.

You can now book online for 2011

All being well, you should now be able to book your holiday for 2011 online. There has been some pressure on us to do this as so much of this year had already gone by the end of February.

However, as always we accept all bookings for the forthcoming year at the current year’s prices so until midnight on Dec 31st 2010 the increase can be avoided completely by booking ahead.

We have pondered and agonised; finally we have taken a deep breath and decided on the prices for next year – a scary proposition because who knows what global financial/economic crises may be lurking in the wings.

With only the skimpiest of business backgrounds (if one wanted to make a killing teaching was never the career to choose…) we always feel anxious putting prices up but there is no getting round it, one’s costs increase all the time. We are also going to increase the cost for dogs to £25; much as we love well-behaved dogs and their owners there is no denying they do create a lot of extra work.

Finally, we are always delighted to take bookings on the phone so please continue to book this way if you prefer the human contact. However, we do know that lots of busy people far prefer to do it quickly and efficiently, online. At last this is now possible for 2011 too.

Tom’s Barn Mystery Shoppers’ Final Report

Staying as our own guests was an intriguing experience. Not surprisingly, we felt totally at home but at the same time we did feel we were experiencing something special. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we weren’t really on holiday: we were there for quality control purposes!

We were warm, beautifully comfortable and more than once painfully aware that the quality of some of the equipment was rather superior to what we are used to at home (which is as it should be…). The one exception was the shower, but we are lumbered with a less than vigorous flow because of the lack of headroom; otherwise we slept like babies, loved the bath, appreciated the fluffy towels and the bathrobes, enjoyed the flat screen telly in the bedroom and found it an easier kitchen to cook in than our own bigger one. I would love a Sony Netbook…

The most obvious flaw was the telephone. BT tried their best to assure us it was an internal problem (which at first we assumed) but actually it was a problem with their line which eventually they came to fix, so all is well on that front now.

Then we couldn’t find a frying pan, although there are two saute pans. I have since bought two non-stick ‘frypans’ as they appear to be called these days, and a non-stick griddle, plus – crucially, a non-stick ‘turner’.

We noticed that the chopping ‘boards’ were rather tired looking, so have replaced them with a superior board.Two of the dinner plates had a little chip (must have been new or Janet would have spotted them). We have replaced the plates but now have no more spare so that means a trip to the Wedgwood factory shop in Stoke – no great hardship there.

Finally, we accepted to our disappointment that the lovely easy chair, which we had had cleaned at some expense in February – and therefore which must be clean – still doesn’t look it and therefore we will have to replace the whole chair in the next few weeks, or find someone who can recover it.

So, to sum up, we didn’t find anything dreadful but have acted on everything we did find that wasn’t quite up to snuff. We look forward to our next excuse to stay again, and are longing for a chance to stay in Douglas’s Barn.

Parwich Primary School Sleepover

A delightful sight met our eyes last night as we came out of our Pilates Class (until the new Memorial Hall is built our classes are held in one of the school rooms).

Thronging up the road towards the school, accompanied by their parents, were all the school pupils, pink and washed and in their dressing gowns and pyjamas, many clutching teddies. They were coming back to school for a sleepover…!

The older children looked very happy and excited, some of the smaller ones excited but looking just a tiny bit apprehensive too. There were lots of staff waiting to greet them, and obviously the children were in for a lovely time.

I haven’t yet heard how it went, but am longing to find out. I imagine all the adults involved will have felt more than ready for their Easter break by this morning!


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  • A busy Sunday in the Peak District

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