Romantic cottages for two in the Peak District

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Tom’s Barn and Douglas’s Barn Facebook Page

Ideas, please! What can you suggest for our Tom’s Barn and Douglas’s Barn Facebook page to make it fun, interesting and useful for friends, holiday cottage guests and family?

Our holiday cottages in the Peak DistrictWe’re so new, there aren’t too many friends of our site yet to let us know, but hope somebody will!

Some of you may vaguely remember a blog post in February bewailing a) my general ignorance and b) despite this ignorance the fact I had  the last two or three years rather neglectfully run a total of three Facebook sites! Needless to say all three are the wrong sort of page for a business which our two family run romantic cottages for two in the Peak District technically are and sooner or later I will have to close down the two barns-based ones, Tom’s Barn and Holiday Cottages in the Peak District.

I had been lazily hoping for the problem to disappear but since the launch of the Peak District Premier Cottages page, and an inspirational  Facebook workshop run last week by our friend and colleague, Martin Hofman of Wheeldon Trees Farm Holiday Cottages, we have taken the plunge!  ‘We’ actually means me: John is more than happy to hand-hold and keep us supplied with lovely photos but is less inclined to launch into the Facebook world himself (which you have to do before becoming an administrator of a business page). Other members of the family have happily agreed to step into the breach.

Still floundering but rather less so since the workshop, ‘we’ are now anxious to make it a genuinely useful site, not just for chit chat or thinly disguised sales pitches… And we have no intention of neglecting the blog but hopefully making the two work together usefully in an as yet not totally clear way!

Please have a look at our page and let us know what is missing, wrong, could be done better and or more attractively. I am sure the scope is endless, even if one’s time isn’t.

Went the Day Well?

Aiming to raise £50,000 for Help for HeroesA week today, on June 29th, we are going to a rather special concert in St Paul’s Cathedral. Tom Jackson and Alex Bridle, two 17-year old boys who are both pupils at St Paul’s School in London, have set themselves the target of raising £50,000 for Help the Heroes. Their main challenge (I think!) is cycling from Land’s End to John 0′ Groats in nine days but to my mind organising a concert in St Paul’s is not excatly easy, nor is trying to raise £50,000… And nor come to think of it, is commissioning Ben Parry to write a special anthem for the service, ‘Went the Day Well?‘.

This – apart from the ride – the two school boys have done. I would be impressed anyway, but one of the two, Tom Jackson is a cousin once or twice renoved of mine and I feel remarkably proud of him, amd of course Alex Bridle whom we have yet to meet. And the family pride stretches even further, as Tom’s younger brother, Harry, is a chorister at St Paul’s and will be singing the anthem. Whether he is singing a solo part or not I don’t know, but he sang one at his grandmother’s funeral in March so beautifully that there really wasn’t a dry eye in the church by the time he had finished.

I shall report back at the end of next week. Meanwhile, if anyone would like to support their effort and of course Help for Heroes, they have a Just Giving link on their website and I know they would be very very grateful, and so would I on their behalf. They have no idea I am soliciting possible financial support so of course they won’t be disappointed if they don’t get any so feel under no obligation…

Fernlea House in Parwich for Sale

Grade 2 Listed 18C Former Yeoman's House

House for Sale

No, we haven’t turned into estate agents, nor are we on any sort of commission but Avril and Keith who live in the village have decided to move to pastures new, so their home at Fernlea House, Main Street, Parwich is up for sale.

Knowing that several of our guests over the years have had more than half an eye on finding a nice house in these parts we suggested to Keith and Avril that we should put up a post on our blog and are more than happy to do so. They are hoping to sell their house privately.

They write: “This is a Grade 2 listed limestone 18th Century former Yeoman’s house in the Parwich Conservation Area. It has been thoroughly and tastefully refurbished and is in excellent condition.

One of the prettiest houses in the village, it is south facing and stands back 14 metres from the road behind a lovely garden. 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, large utility room, cloakroom, dining room, and sitting room. Cellar with well!

THERE IS AN ATTACHED BARN (with development potential) containing a stable, tack room, garage, store room and a workshop upstairs measuring 38 feet by 18 feet. THERE IS A LARGE SEPARATE GARAGE with storeroom across the road from the house.

The property has been valued by local agents at £750,000 and is available at OIRO £735,000 FREEHOLD.
For more information and photos click on this link or call 01335 390500 or parsons.parwich@gmail.com”

Who knows, we may end up as estate agents yet…!

‘More!’ Demanding (Bird) Babies

Mother! Didn't you hear me? I need Feeding! Now!I am told feeding on demand is now (once again) the fashion and preferred choice for many mothers and professionals for human babies but it would apper that this is nature’s way too.

We have already shown but will again here on the right let you see John’s photos of our little trio of blue tits who wore ther parents out with their constant open mouths always, always wanting ‘More’ with not a hint of a please or a thank you.

Hungry Baby Goldfinch Babies at Orchard FarmJohn has just been down to see Patti B’s swallows, lodging in one of their stables. Just look at their open, demanding mouths in the photo on the left. He will shortly be putting up more of these in our photo gallery but I just thought these were rather fun. Meanwhile, to finish off here is a photo of a goldfinch baby being fed. You can’t see his open mouth but you can see why they open them so wide. The parents have to put their entire beak right into the baby’s mouth.

Environmental Quality Mark for Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns

I Environmental Quality Mark for Tom's Barn and Douglas's Barnam sorry to have neglected the blog for so many days. We have had a very busy time recently wearing all the different hats that we do and there hasn’t been much ime for anything, let alone gentle ramblings at the computer.

Busy? Pimms on the lawns at Haddon Hall with mediaeval music in the background, followed by a delicious dinner in the Haddon Hall restaurant…? A terrific reward for some previous business…

Many of you who peruse these gentle ramblings from time to time may remember that at times in the recent past we were struggling over the fairly rigorous application process for the EQM, followed by a two-hour ‘Verification’/Inspection visit. Some of the difficulties were because we were the first batch of applicatnts to undertake the online application; as part of the pilot process for the revamped scheme we did not have to pay a registration fee but were helping iron out any glitches in the system. It is reassuring if totally unfair, to be able to blame a new system for all form-filling difficulties one experiences!

Anyway, in spite of that neat disclaimer it was a very well thought out process and it has certainly helped us understand more of the responsibilities we all share for protecting the environment and supporting -in our case- the Peak District – and everyone else who lives and works and visits the area.

Celebrations at Haddon Hall after our EQM awardThe Award Presentation and Dinner at Haddon was a delightful experience. After a full day on Wednesday preparing – chopping herbs, grating limes and fresh ginger and squesing the limes and cutting up thousands of cherry tomatoes, for the DRCS charity luncheon at Over Haddon on the Thursday (since you’re wondering, “Jubilee Chicken” quite delicious and I may share the recipe soon!) salad, new potatoes followed by strawberries and chocolate brownies with creme fraiche in the beautiful new village hall at Over Haddon it was lovel to go seamlessly after a quick change in the (in my case) Ladies to becomae a guest with no duties.

Lots of our local Peak District Premier Cottages friends and colleagues were there, many already EQM Award holders, and several new ones, like us, so it was all very jolly and social. We got back here at 11.30 when i had to start baking cakes for our guests and the Flaxdale Open Gardens…

Gardens: A Weekend of Open Gardens in Parwich (including Orchard Farm)

  • On Sunday 19th October 2-6 Parwich Open Gardens, entry £3 (to include a cream tea in the Memorial Hall)

...and again, Tom's Barn gardenThere’s a real horticultural feel to this coming weekend; let’s hope the weather is kind so that all the visitors can enjoy in comfort all the treats that lie ahead.

The first treat is a one-off  event, when Mike and Gill Radcliffe of Flaxdale House are opening their garden all day to raise money for the DRCS, a charity very close to my heart (I managed it for ten years and am now a trustee and a member of the very active Friends of DRCS Fundraising committee but this event is organised entirely by Mike and Gill ). All the proceeds are to go to the charity; Gill and several local artists will be exhibiting some of their paintings, and they are giving 25% of the total price of any sold to the DRCS (so with my DRCS hat on I hope plenty get sold!!).

There’s a host of exciting gardens waiting to be enjoyed this Sunday in Parwich (including Flaxdale again – Mike and Gill will be on their knees come Sunday evening) many of them are particularly impressive and most of them normally hidden from public view. The village has many interesting gardens and many highly knowledgeable and keen gardeners. Then there are some (or maybe it’s just us) who just love Another View from Douglas's Barn terracegardens and flowers and the scent and colour… but lack much horticultural know how. However, we are lucky enough to enjoy the much appreciated services of Sue whom many of you have met or at least seen at Orchard Farm on a Thursday morning, busily putting everything to rights, and tactfully instructing us about what we should be doing.

John will cut the grass and make sure things look as tidy as possible but that is as far as it goes – we take a perverse pride in not doing anything extra or special, mainly because it would take months and more time and expertise than we have but also it takes some of the pressure off what would otherwie be an impossible situation. Those who knew Orchard Farm of old will testify that the ‘garden’ did not exist, apart from a plum tree near the house, a honeysuckle by the front door and the lovely yellow ‘Parwich rose’ which flowers for two weeks in June.

Another garden viewThe wider garden was, literally, a dump. Tom the previous owner had allowed farmers and builders to deposit their rubbish there so it was a perilously sloping tangled mound of everything from breeze blocks, broken bits of asbestos, old bicycle frames and tractor and various animal skeletons. It took someone with a digger and big truck three whole days to clear, before we had to start on the docks, nettles and brambles. John has some very telling before and after pictures, not that the after photos show any great development year on year!

Meanwhile, lots of photos taken yesterday morning and the day before are viewable in the Photo gallery ‘Orchard Farm Garden: Flowers’

More Good Food News and Reviews

Percy moved into my brother John's garden svereal years ago

Percy my brother John

The first thing to tell you is that Val Kirkham, our next door neighbour and she of TopNosh fame, has sold TopNosh so that will still exist but is nothing now to do with her. However, she is still going to carry on cooking, under the name of catering4parwich. This is a non-profit enterprise based in our new village hall, ‘providing high quality locally sourced and prpeared food for hall user groups, village residents and visitors’.

So as far as we all are concerned, nothing has changed except the name and she now has no website so you have to contact Val for information on 01335 390 458.She is still very happy to make meals for our guests which she delivers herself to your door.

Now for the Peacock! We kept hearing glowing reports and at last I have been, taken by an extremely kind and generous friend who treated three of us to the most lovely lunch there last week. I could become a lady what lunches, very easily… Our friend was driving us (I said she was generous) so we her guests relaxed and had a glass of wine before lunch and another with it. The only thing I could feel the slightest smug about was having a coofee instead of a gorgeous looking pud, but then of course with the coffee came some delicious chocolates which were irresistible.

The Peacock has been bought back by Haddon Hall, who have refurbished it beautifully and it all feels very unfrighteningly elegant and charming. The staff were charming, the service excellent and the food quite delicious. To to set it all off the sun streamed through the glass doors into the dining room which looks over the garden; here we watched an ageless scene – a family happily and leisurely playing croquet while some little girls did handstands and cartwheels on the lawn. It all felt a million miles away from the technological frenzy that modern life all too easily can seem.

So another big plus for our recommended pubs and restaurant list! And, by the way, Percy the Peacock has nothing to do with the Peacock at Rowsley but I thought he’d approve of a little publicity. Percy just adopted my brother’s garden as his own many years ago and demands constant food and admiration; he struts about leering lovingly at his own reflection in every window.

Tom’s Barn Honeymooning Dog Sustains Injury on Dovedale

(Couldn’t resist the dramatic headline!)

Poppy is here with her owners, who are staying in Tom’s Barn for their honeymoon. Before they all arrived, John and I went to Chatsworth Farm Shop to catch up on some shopping (it’s difficult to stop catching up once there). John went to ask the butchers section for a bone for Poppy; deciding he perhaps ought to offer some explanation he found himself explaining it was for a dog coming for its honeymoon, so the idea of the hoenymooning dog has rather stuck. Incidentally, the butchers were so tickled by the idea John was handed a quite enormous bone which he had to ask them to saw into slightly more manageable lengths! They refused to charge anything.

Poor Poppy. Nobody quite knows how she hurt herself but as luck would have it it happened as far as possible away from their car while they were walking in Dovedale… She had been loving the walks. They went to Tissington yesterday and returned unscathed but she is young and very lively and apparently prone to getting into all sorts of scrapes- today it was a more serious one in Dovedale.

They say the cut she has is deep but clean, and was well dealt with by our Blenheim vets on the Industrial Estate. She certainly sports a very professional looking dressing – one wonders how long it will take to chew it off? Or maybe vets these days know how to discourage that in some magic way. Her fond owners emailed these two pictures across the Tom’s Barn courtyard but before we feel too sorry for her they do reassure that she has done ‘her sad puppy face’ for us! We are hoping that the injury won’t prevent them from enjoying some more walks in the next few days.

The Peak District Environmental Quality Mark

Clematis, honeysuckle, lupins and foxgloves all cluster by the front door“The Peak District Environmental Quality Mark (EQM) is a pioneering award for businesses that contribute to the conservation and enhancement of the Peak District National Park”…and “only businesses that can demonstrate high standards of environmental management…can qualify for the award”!

So, as you can imagine, we were very delighted to hear that we have been successful. It certainly was a very rigorous procedure, and the most recent group of us were the first to pilot the new online application form. With all the links and ready access to relevant information online it apparently was more demanding than the old paper application but it is easy to claim that!

With the process being new we were officially testing the new version and there were some interesting snags thrown up which all appeared to be quickly resolved. Now the next step is the EQM Awards evening with dinner at Haddon Hall! Rather typically this comes the evening of the day (Thursday 16th) next week that the Friends of the DRCS are hosting a charity lunch for 120 in the new village hall at Over Haddon! We’ll be glad of what I am sure will be a lovely evening.

Birds leaving home and a honeymoon in Tom’s Barn

An eventful few days in the bird world, with one bit of bad bird news…

Our three little blue tit chicks tried to leave their nest ( i.e. hole in the wall) yesterday. But after all the parents’ loving attention and sheer hard work continuously feeding them two of the three didn’t make it, but fell to the ground, unable to fly and I am not telling tales but you may be able to guess what happened.

We were so upset, but then had to remind ourselves that that is the way of nature, and it was live worms and grubs had been fed to the baby birds, and so on… But we still felt pretty awful. However, the third baby, obviously the strongest, managed to fly to the nearby red oak and of course now is unrecognisable from all the other blue tit chicks chirruping away in all directions.

This evening at about six the bird chatter coming from our plum tree next to the house was quite amazing as all the little fledglings – blue tits and goldfinches, all reminded their parents that they might have left the nest, but they still needed feeding, and fast! From this angle the baby goldfinch in the photo which is not as clear as most of John’s, looks smaller than her very fluffed up and still quite skittery baby. Where the goldfinches were all nesting we have no idea, but obviously almost under our noses somewhere.

And finally, to a totally lovely and happy bit of human news: we are delighted to have another honeymoon couple staying, this time in Tom’s Barn. In fact they are ‘old’ friends (if pretty young!) so it is especially lovely for us and we are enjoying their flowers that they have left outside for us all to enjoy. Their happiness is infectious, and the huge slice of quite delicious wedding cake they brought up with them made a delightful if naughty treat at supper time.


LATEST NEWS

  • 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 […]

  • Time to book a last minute Autumn break.

    So the sun may not be shining at the moment but we are going into one of my favorite times of year – AUTUMN. If the weather follows previous years we are in for a lovely September and October and even November can still be delightful. This time of year attracts reduced rate for some […]

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