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Tom’s Barn News Catch-up

The days have hurtled by in a flurry of trying to sort out our email crisis and getting our tax returns done by the end of the month. Thanks to a lot of help from Aaron at Dove Computers in Ashbourne, and Jeremy Brough our website wizard, the email situation is more or less restored; in the end 401 emails poured through the system at once so it is taking some time sorting through them all and hoping not too many are seriously urgent.

And as for meeting that menacing tax return deadline of Jan 31, yes, we have, just…. but at some cost to a relaxing state of mind, and to the total exclusion of more interesting things like keeping the blog up to date.

Before you feel too sorry for us, there have been some light interludes and quite a lot of fun squeezed in beside the headaches. We were lucky enough to get tickets to Matilda in Stratford, having a light supper beforehand in the River restaurant high up in the new  RST building which was very atmospheric (and convenient).

Matilda was a joy! At least a third of the cast are young children, but so skilled and so well trained – they sang and danced and spoke like pros three times their age. Miss Trunchbull the ghastly headteacher  (not a child!) was wonderfully dreadful, too, but it would be hard to pick out any one individual. The show ends in Stratford at the end of he month, but no doubt will be going to London or on tour, so if you get a chance – book early!

The first snowdrops of the year at Orchard Farm

SONY DSCBoth photos were taken today, Wednesday January 19th – the first full moon of the year, and much more significantly, the first snowdrops of the year at Orchard Farm.

Aren’t these snowdrops lovely?  And would you say they were flowering? Certainly almost, and it is a very heartening sight to see all these clusters of snowdrops by our front door competing to show their beautiful faces and send their promise that spring will come eventually.

John took this photo this morning, and on the way back from Derby by the light of the full moon (at 5.30pm!) we stopped the car for him to take another photo, of the moon over Carsington Water. That too looked very beautiful.

We had paid a quick visit to Derby to buy various things for the barns (champagne flutes for both barns and new kitchen chair cushions for Tom’s Barn amongst other rather bulky items). Rather more excitingly, we also met up with some friends to see The King’s Speech in the very super-plush new cinema in the Derby Westfield Centre. We don’t often go to the cinema apart from Parwich’s own in the new village hall, but this was a real treat. We thought the film quite excellent.

All the while I am resisting mentioning the tax (still not done) and the email crisis (still not resolved) but both things are receiving attention.

The sun shone, but not such a good day for some

The snowdrops are ALMOST out. One could call it out, but they aren’t quite in full bloom.That’s the good news.

Now for the rest. Not such a good day today. I got up at 5.30 to finish as I fondly hoped our tax accounts for the end of the year (deadline end of Jan but they have to go to our lovely accountant, Yvonne, first; every year I think I will get them all done for her by May at the latest and every year we reach January and do them in a stressful flurry…).

Full of remorse, recriminations and some optimistic hopes (see above) I switched on the computer to check emails and get going. No emails, no calendar, no contacts, no address book, just a gushing welcome to me as a new much valued Entourage member (the Mac equivalent of Outlook) with a warm invitation to watch a video to see how to get started and make the most of Entourage. Not what one wants to see as a seasoned user, and at 5.30 in the morning.

And yes, I have set up an ongoing backup system now (talk about stable doors and bolting horses). But please, if you have sent an email and get no response, please try again, or better still ring, on 01335 390 519.

Somehow, somehow, I had done something last night (what, I do not know) to erase absolutely everything off Entourage. As one can’t normally even delete one email without being asked if that it really what one wants to do, how can anyone unknowingly, without any warning, delete absolutely everything without a single warning that this is what is gong to happen? And what did I do?

I couldn’t even email our computer support team at Dove Computers in Ashbourne, so had to wait until 9 this morning to speak to Aaron. Needless to say, Aaron  is as perplexed as we are, but has been able to re establish our email account, and emails (some emails) from the last few days came flooding through. He also managed to restore old contacts etc (I had not backed up recently;  I always will from now on. Let this be a warning.

So far, things are half better but very very far from good. Very fortunately our online booking system and all emails coming from there are unaffected, coming through a completely different route; I can send emails but only receive a few. On my Blackberry I am getting most which is a great relief, but typing longish responses is not so easy on a mobile phone…

So here I am, feeling better than this morning (a jolly evening with my book club did a lot to restore equanimity) but far from confident. Aaron meanwhile is hoping to get some help from Microsoft about our problem so I trust, no doubt after a few  more lengthy remote sessions, things may look up a little. I may never restore all the old emails; I only kept important ones but they were neatly filed – and were important –  so my total efficiency in the immediate future is going to take some extra effort!

Marmalade

Marmalade: the first of several batchesIt’s that time of year again, although I must admit since our bright idea of popping a jar into the barns for our guests we have found ourselves making batches every couple of months throughout the year.

Failing Seville oranges we’ve used grapefruit, limes and lemon which does make a delicious marmalade.

However, there is nothing to beat marmalade made with fresh Seville oranges, and even better – organic ones from Spain via Riverford. We have been hard at it, and will be making several more batches to keep up with the barns supply plus our own and the family’s consumption.

It’s amazing how quickly a pot can go down. It all tastes so fresh and almost bitter – it’s better to forget how many kilos of sugar go into each making.

Last Minute Availability

LAST MINUTE AVAILABILITY Mon 17 to Fri 21 JAN!!

Can you drop everything and come tomorrow for a last minute 4-night midweek treat for £245 (was £315)? We don’t often reduce prices so this is a one-off opportunity!

We don’t often have last minute availability but we have this week – Mon 17 to Fri 21 Jan  – that is, four nights starting tomorrow, in Douglas’s Barn…!

Jason our decorator has been doing  some routine touching up in both  this week  but will be finished by tomorrow lunch time;  the fridge that temporarily but very definitely gave up the ghost on Christmas Eve is due finally to be repaired tomorrow morning sand it suddenly looks as if the midweek slot will easily be available and we can advertise it with confidence..

How anyone could possibly turn their life around quickly enough to come away at such short notice would beat John and me, but we know that some people just are that efficient and speedy at taking up sudden chances and acting on them. It will be interesting to see if anyone can be tempted – and find it possible (a different thing altogether)  – to take up this opportunity. In fact, if anyone is that organised, we’ll be happy to leave them a bottle of superior fizz as well, as a prize for being impressively efficient.

if nobody has responded by late tonight we’ll take the date off availability -we need to know by breakfasr time tomorrow so we can get everything shipshape in time. (If we weren’t in the middle of rather feverishly doing our tax returns and making mammoth amounts of marmalade, we’d be very tempted to move in to Douglas’s barn ourselves.)

500,000 Visitors to the Parwich Village Blog

Parwich.org , our village blog, has just reached a fairly historic milestone – half a million visits in under three years  which is quite (very!) impressive.

When it started it was apparently one of the very first villages to have its own website, but now apparently even Ambridge has one! And what is more, apparently the Archers scriptwriters are using ours for ideas, which is amusing – do keep your ears open, all you Archers fans – to see what similarities you can spot when the Ambridge blog is talked about!

That’s quite a thought – perhaps we ought to suggest to the village blog team they could run a  ‘Spot the Difference’ competition. You never know, there might even be a local Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns-type blog set up.

I have a horrible feeling if there is it’ll probably be Lynda Snell that does it; if so do you think Robert will become the unofficial village photographer…? Or maybe it’ll be Joe Grundy. Hope I’m wrong on all counts.

Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns: our New Website

Our new-look website was launched late yesterday (Wed 12th Jan) afternoon. Jeremy Brough our webman and friend has worked hard on this, and so in a more modest way have John and I. Now it is up and public we are standing back and patiently tweaking oddities but Jeremy has done such a good job we haven’t found too many yet.

But the trouble is when you’ve been looking at something for a while, you tend to see what you expect to see, not always what is actually there…so this is where anyone reading this can help. We’d be really grateful for any comments or suggestions – if there is something incorrect or that doesn’t work properly we’d like to know, please – we need to know!

There is lots more we will put in over the next few months – more info in the More Info section for a start, including more links to what you can do locally, and about local pubs and restaurants. Suggestions gratefully received

Revamping the Website for Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns

We have some exciting news about our website, which sometime next week will transfer to a new format. It won’t look very different, but technically it will be. And it should look (even) better.

In fact, if  we were selling a soap powder I expect the headline would have been ‘New Improved!!!’ ‘Now  even better then ever!!!’ building up one fears to almost inevitable disappointment when the new product often seems a bit of a let down.

So we do hope you won’t be disappointed. The somewhat cautious headline to this post reveals more than a degree of anxiety on my part, not I hasten to say about the part of Jeremy our web man in whose IT expertise we have every confidence. He however has to rely on us, mainly John for photos and me for the content and this is where you might say the weak link is – where our anxieties lie. We’re not actually changing much of what we say but just bringing everything totally up to date and hopefully, where it’s possible, actually genuinely – improving it! It is taking quite a lot of thought and time.

Eventually, and hopefully from the start it really will be new improved and better…

Do ‘bear with us’ as they say if there are some glitches. Any that do appear will be speedily ironed out but if you notice anything please let us know, by phone, email or comment on this post on our blog. There could be some that in our excitement we simply don’t see.

The blog meanwhile will stay as it is, our security blanket. Any urgent messages or disclaimers as the move takes place will appear here!

Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns – Romantic Getaways

We are delighted to report that our barns are featured in the February Country Homes & Interiors magazine, out today, as one of their four selected Romantic Getaways. They must have St Valentine’s Day in mind (which rather impractically for a romantic short break this year falls on a Monday short break changeover but it does mean that four lucky couples have the opportunity to celebrate at least part of the day!).

We haven’t actually seen the magazine  yet, but they kindly sent us  a pdf of the article so we know it exists. We had actually been asked permission some time ago, but had no idea whether it would materialise, or if it did,  what it would say. (Some of you may remember a disappointing build up  to an article about John and me being grey-haired technology whizz kids that the Daily Telegraph was planning last summer…)

We are delighted and relieved to say it looks fine! We immediately had an enquiry for two bookings and it will be intriguing to see if there any more. Even the nearby Tissington Trail is described as being romantic, which, seriously, is quite possibly very true but I’d never thought of it like that before.

Apparently Country Homes & Interiors doesn’t have a website as such which for these days is unusual but they are on Facebook and they have given us the Country Homes and Interiors Facebook link. I’m ashamed to say it has been a particularly busy day for us today and we haven’t even had the time to follow it up ourselves but will do so. Whether it will show the relevant article I’d say is doubtful, but it is a lovely magazine…

Pink House Pool

Sadly, sorry to disappoint you, but this is not the latest addition to Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns but we certainly wish it was, this grey and dismal January day.

Son Nick has sent us this enticing picture. He is in Tobago on, I must grudgingly admit,  a well-deserved holiday, staying with a friend whose mother lives there, and whose pool this is…   Meanwhile, Nick’s mother is sitting at the computer in an outdoor fleece (we’re getting a bit careful with our oil consumption these days, as you may gather) trying to feel pleased for him and not green with envy.

Our logburner downstairs is going merrily however, so it is perhaps about time to nip downstairs, shed the fleece and accept a glass of cool white wine. One can always pretend!

Meanwhile, his next stop is Surinam so all being well we may have some more interesting photos to share with you via his mobile. (Before you ask, I don’t know but will endeavour to find out). And if anyone does know anything about Surinam it would be good to find out.


LATEST NEWS

  • What a great place to spend Christmas!

    There is still time to book a last minute Christmas get away in Douglas’s Barn. The weather may be cold but the barn is very warm and cosy. Why not treat yourselves to a get away from it all break. You can order all your supplies from one of the supermarkets, get it delivered and […]

  • Time for a short pre Christmas break

    Time to get a bit of relaxation before the Christmas mayhem. There are still short breaks available in Douglas’s Barn. Plenty going on in the Peak District. Lots of Christmas markets selling lovely gifts that you don’t see elsewhere. Chatsworth House is also a must at this time of year. There are plenty of stories […]

  • A busy Sunday in the Peak District

    Lots of events to go to in and around Parwich today but managed to get to the Horticultural Show in Parwich and the Hartington Show. Missed out on the Antiques in Ashbourne though which is always worth going to. Izzy did better than me by getting 1st prize as the Prettiest Bitch at Hartington Show […]

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