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Haddon Hall – Special Offers for Guests of Peak District Premier Cottages

You may remember hearing that Peak District Premier Cottages, the regional group of Premier Cottages owners, of which we are proud to be members, have been nominated by Haddon Hall as their holiday accommodation providers of choice.

Obviously this is something we are all delighted about; but it isn’t just a question of feeling flattered and privileged (which we do) – it also means that we and our guests will all benefit from preferential special offers and I think advance warnings of special dates and special events.

We will put more details up on our website in the next few days, but meanwhile, let me just mention the excellent Haddon Hall restaurant. This is on site but you don’t have to be visiting the hall to go to the restaurant so it would be an excellent place to have a lovely lunch or afternoon tea after a day in Bakewell; you’d be on your way home, it is such a beautiful setting in the shadow of the hall, the food by all accounts is excellent (we had a delicious lunch there last week) and parking should be OK although you do have to cross the A6 to get to the drive from the official car park.

Where do our guests come from?


At last, thanks to our wonderful web guru, Jeremy, we can show you a postcode map of where all the guests who have booked this year (Jan 1 until March 17 2011) come from. Funnily enough, although we are more or less full until the end of the year, we have only had 36 bookings actually this year.

First of all, there is no set pattern that we can identify. Normally we would have expected to see more from Scotland on the map (maybe they just all made sure to book before the end of last year …). However, we always expect and enjoy the fact that our guests come from all over the country, with what used to surprise us, a significant number of fairly local guests from Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire and even Derbyshire. However, they explain that although the journey is minimal (an attraction) once they get here they feel a million miles away from home; on the other hand if pressing work or family concerns mean it is more relaxing to be nearby -think young children or elderly parents, or a critical work situation – that is another bonus.

We always get a lot from London and the home counties, and East Anglia, Kent and Essex. This year. so far, the biggest contingent 5.56% each hail from Cheshire and Cumbria. I suspect London might be the overall winner but because it is a map based on postcodes, there is London /all points of the compass. I could sit down and do the sums but haven’t.

Just to round up, one set pattern that does emerge, year after year… this is the huge number of guests who say they have frequently travelled through Derbyshire and the Peak District without thinking, en route to the Lake District or Scotland, or even Yorkshire and Northumberland. Then suddenly the thought of the Peak District has popped into their mind, and they are unanimously thrilled that it has done so.

We are that much nearer if you come from the southern half of the country, and so surprisingly beautiful and unspoilt. Why surprising? Perhaps the area isn’t so good at the PR, or perhaps it’s all those history lessons about mills and factories in the cradle of the Industrial Revolution.

Anyway, the truth is a delightful secret we’re privileged to share with our guests!

Tom’s & Douglas’s Barn guests help support Mary’s Meals

Photo by courtesy of Mary's Meals websiteAs many of you know, we strongly urge all our guests to take out holiday cancellation insurance, just in case something untoward should happen that prevents them taking up the holiday at the last minute. With so many of you booking so far in advance it is even more possible that an unforeseen problem might arise that one really couldn’t have anticipated at the time.

Anyway, we recommend taking out insurance and have to be very careful not to push one product rather than another (not that we have a great deal of personal experience). Many people already have their own favourite provider but if anyone needs guidance, we suggest they look at the Pavey Insurance scheme, which is a special scheme for Premier Cottages guests and therefore apparently rather good value. So far so good.

Anyway, the potential embarrassment creeps in when at the end of each year (well, it was March really this year) we get sent a small cheque, which is our commission. There is no way we would feel happy about accepting this ourselves so we have pledged to give it to Mary’s Meals, a wonderful charity that provides meals for children in school in poverty-stricken parts of the world. The idea is that parents encourage their children to go to school, the child thrives because it has at least one good meal a day, and hopefully will be able to escape the poverty trap by being able to get a good job afterwards.

It costs £9.40 to feed a child for a year, so our modest £15.70 represents roughly the cost of providing a nourishing meal for one child for a year and a half. It’s shaming, but wonderful that so modest a sum can mean so much.

So, thank you all!

The Gentle Face of Nature?

John has one or two quite amusing photos showing a less sentimental view of birds and Boots than perhaps we might prefer.

BootsWe all know cats, even sweet-natured ones like Boots, catch mice and birds and must strike fear in the hearts of these smaller creatures, although no doubt to their relief, with advancing age Boots is more inclined to watch and glower, sweeping her tail with more menace than action. This view of Boots shows a side we’d prefer not to dwell on.

Then there are the pheasants: so gleamingly beautiful from afar; they strut about the garden looking mightily haughty and full of their own glamorous good looks but seen close to perhaps not quite so nice.

Glossing over squirrels completely – tree rats our neighbour calls them – we have been surprised watching the goldfinches at close quarters. So strikingly beautiful, they are pretty belligerent little creatures really, and not keen at all on sharing the niger seed with any of their brethren.

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall in early springWe are fortunate enough to belong to the Peak District Premier Cottages group – the very dynamic regional section of the national Premier Cottages cooperative of holiday cottage owners. You can see many of our jolly group in the ‘team photo’ taken on the steps to the Hall (no John of course, because he as always was behind the lens.)

Premier Cottages prides itself on the quality of its holiday accommodation, only accepting what we think/hope are among the finest Four and Five Star self-catering cottages in the country.

Anyway, Haddon Hall obviously rates us pretty well too and we are delighted that we have been selected as their preferred holiday accommodation owners. Unlike Chatsworth, Haddon does not have its own cottages, so is glad to have cottages that they can recommend with confidence.

To cement our new relationship we were invited today to have a private visit before the hall opens to the public in April. We were welcomed by Lord Edward Manners himself, then shown around by an impressively informative guide and we ended with a wonderful lunch laid on in the restaurant.

Throughout, the sun shone and Haddon looked stunning. It certainly was a day to remember. We shed jackets and jerseys in the March sunshine and John took masses of photos which you can see by logging onto our Haddon Hall Gallery.

Meanwhile, when the latest version of Jane Eyre hits these shores (apparently it is already going down a storm in the USA) we can all see how many of these views we can recognise in the film. Jane Eyre was shot entirely at Haddon. Judi Dench is Mrs Fairfax; she herself had made a big impression on our guide who said how courteous and charming she was at all times (and of course we all know what a wonderful actress she is!).

A Hot Pre-Budget Tip

I mean to write at least once a day, but, it seems three days have gone by, and what is there to show for it apart from a continuing warm-wave?

However, this beautiful spring day, I have a serious tip to share with you all, which came to me on my way back to the car after a thankfully uneventful trip to the  dentist earlier this morning. As I passed the Post Office in Matlock I suddenly remembered that I’d heard stamps were going up soon.

Stamps go up, again, on April 4th. I do urge you to prise yourselves from your garden (or from the Budget on the TV) and go and buy some stamps now if you haven’t already done so (or maybe you already all have and I alone had forgotten the impending deadline…).

The kindly assistant in the Post Office seemed too embarrassed to tell me what the new price was but thrust a leaflet into my hand suggesting I read for myself, presumably in a darkened room. But I can tell you, as from next Monday  a 1st class stamp will cost 46p. For those of us brought up with £sd that is over 9/-. Thank goodness for emails and Skype!!

At the moment the price is 41p and a 2nd class stamp is 32p; on the 4th April the 1st class price will go up by 5p and the 2nd by 4p to become 36p.  Buying 200 of each today ‘saved’ us £18 which is far better spent on something nice for our guests in the barns. I have ordered two new books on the Peak District.

Peaceful Parwich in the Peak Park

I have been trying for days to upload a (small) map showing which parts of the country all our guests come from. So far success has eluded me so instead we are going to show you two rather lovely Parwich pictures.

John got up early this to capture some peaceful morning scenes after a wonderful cleat, crisp and frosty night with the most enormous full moon, apparently nearer the earth than it has been for 20 years…

In spite of cheerfully dire predictions about the inevitable effect this proximity of the moon might have, today dawned as peacefully as any other for us lucky people in this little corner of the world. With all the ghastly things that are going on elsewhere the tranquillity and beauty seems all the more fragile and special.

So many of our guests come from busier parts of the country (back to our map…!) and the peace and quiet is something they all remark upon and appreciate.

The following is a small extract from a delightful email we received earlier this week:  “Tom’s Barn was so welcoming and comfortable without being pretentious that (my husband) instantly relaxed, something that he finds tricky!! We were so taken by the peace and lack of light pollution, we live in such a busy part of the country that this made a big impact on us. We felt like we had gone back in time in a very good way.”

Our Barns in Alastair Sawday’s Special Escapes

We are proud to have been invited way back in about 2007 to be included in Alastair Sawday’s ‘Special Escapes’ website and at present have two separate entries there, one for Tom’s Barn and a second for Douglas’s Barn.

Anxious to ensure we haven’t slipped below their standard Sawday’s have just arranged a (routine!) re-inspection  this coming Tuesday 15th March and we are using this opportunity to have now not two but just one entry for our two barns so it will be interesting to see how the inspection goes, and assuming/hoping all goes well, reading our new description. Their editors do manage to capture the spirit of a place very  astutely and attractively – quite an art!

Sawday’s travel guides and websites are much respected and our inclusion in the Special Escapes website is an important source of contacts for us and has brought us many delightful guests. It works for us both ways, because  we always tend to look to Sawday’s recommendations ourselves when planning a trip away, most recently and happily on a trip this week to Norfolk for a sad family funeral and inevitable happy family reunion afterwards.

We spent one night at The Windmill at Cley which we knew well already and the second at Burgh Parva Hall in Melton Constable which we didn’t know before but would happily return to.

Once again it has been interesting and helpful becoming the ‘consumer’ rather than the provider. We find we are always learning…

Douglas’s Barn – Some Recent Comments from our Visitors’ Books

Here are some snippets, all taken word for word from the Visitors’ Book this year – there are more but this will do for the moment!

“A wonderful barn with a wonderful welcome – the cake was delicious! Well worth the walk to Tissington for the most tasty sausages. A peaceful and relaxing break…hope to be back in the summer.” Feb 2011

‘Thank you for a wonderful weekend, it has been very special for us. We didn’t know the true meaning of relaxation until we visited. We hope to return soon to this beautiful barn and peaceful little village.” Feb 2011

“I knew this place would be special but the ‘little extras’ really make this time away an exquisite luxury…We’ll be back!” Feb 2011

“:…the cottage was amazing and we have had an amazing few days – a birthday to remember!” Feb 2011

“We have had a gorgeous, restful stay in the most beautiful little cottage. Couldn’t have asked for anything more. We will definitely be back! Thank you!” Feb 2011

“A fantastic cottage in a lovely location! We had a brilliant three days and will definitely return and recommend! Thanks very much for all the lovely touches – really is a lovely place!” Jan 2011

“Our second visit and just as good as last year but with a little less snow! We had a wonderful relaxing break and thanks to Marion and John for their hospitality. We will no doubt return.” Jan 2011


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