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Wibbly Wobbly Whisk-Away Wednesday

Our ceanothus is blooming merrily above the snowdrops

John was listening to Radio 4 this morning and reported the fact – new to us – that apparently December 28th is the biggest day in the year for booking holidays as everyone in Britain awakes to feelings of gloom, guilt and despondency brought on by late nights, over-indulgence and general over-excitement which as all adults know but tend to forget, can only end in tears…

Wobbly Wednesday? Wistful Wednesday? John said today, Wednesday December 28th, had been dubbed something alliterative but he couldn’t remember quite what. Woeful Wednesday? Certainly not Wonderful Wednesday… so we think we’ll plump for Wobbly Wednesday. (In fact John now tells me it was none of these guesses, but ‘Whisk-Away’ Wednesday.)

We knew from past experience that for all the same reasons, early in January is always extremely busy and all the travel writers and newspapers cash in on the fever of booking mania which no doubt they themselves have stirred up in the first place. What we don’t remember ourselves is any panic actions before New Year.

Snowdrops flowering on Christmas Day 2011

Last year we got precisely one booking on the 28th, and only three between Christmas and New Year (and then really masses during January.) So far we have had one booking today, which hardly suggests panic booking; in fact as 2012 must be nearly half booked already our guests – especially those far-sighted dog-owners, who, having found a dog-welcoming-top-quality-for-humans-too Five star cottage that suits them plan their holiday here well in advance just to be sure of getting in at all.

A Christmas Day rose at Orchard Farm

Anyway, just to remind anyone who hasn’t noticed, if you want to take advantage of 2011 prices which are roughly 5% less than 2012’s (perhaps it should have been a higher rise, given the way everything else is going up) you have until Saturday to book. After that we move to 2012 prices.

Meanwhile, have a very happy run up to the New Year. For those of us who have only just about got used to writing 2011 it is hard to believe we are now nearly in 2012. We sincerely hope we all have a good and peaceful and happy year. Meanwhile, to end on a cheering note, how can anyone feel too woeful, weak or wobbly when we have roses, ceanothus and snowdrops flowering together and the weather is mild and the days are already beginning to lengthen; but if planning to whisk yourselves away by booking one of our two barns for a relaxing holiday next year helps you face the future, so much the better!

Happy Christmas to you all

Happy Christmas to everyone!

We had great hopes of sending Christmas greetings to everyone personally but practicalities – namely shortage of time and skill- prevailed and now all we can do is wish everyone most sincerely a very happy Christmas holiday and a happy, fulfilled and healthy year to come.

We will certainly continue as best we ever can to make sure that our two holiday cottages remain the happy, peaceful haven you have come to expect and for those of you already planning your holiday here next year, we look forward very much to seeing you /seeing you again.

Get Here if You Can!


Do have a look at this lovely Peak District official video, with a most haunting melody… The message is – ‘Come to the Peak District, no matter how!’ and we could add the rider, having got to the Peak District, why not come here, why not get to Tom’s or Douglas’s Barns if you can!

Get here if you can and we’d love to see you…!

That was somewhat cheap jumping onto the bandwagon sort of comment but there was an element of seriousness. We are so small and can only have two couples at the most at a time. For every booking we turn away sometimes dozens of people ringing up and emailing on the off-chance the date has suddenly become available and of course we’ll never know how many just check the online availability hopefully, and see for themselves that the dates they want are already taken. Others may assume – wrongly – that the availability is not updated or we may have at random marked off dates to look busier than we are. We never ever would do the latter, and the SuperControl availability is pretty well 100% up to date. The only time it wouldn’t be would be if someone had contacted us to book while we were out and not within reach of computers and online booking systems.

One wants to make people happy and it can be very difficult disappointing someone who has set their hearts on a special date. Once it was quite amusing: unwilling to accept my assurance that both barns were booked on a certain date, the voice on the phone lost patience. “Well,” she said shortly, ” if you can’t help me please hand me over to someone who can!”. Of course I couldn’t do either but she wasn’t convinced.

Anyway, our message is, do watch this video. Do come to the Peak District – there’s nowhere lovelier. And If you are thinking about coming here, to either Tom’s or Douglas’s Barns and you know when, do get in touch (and if it’s before the end of 2011 so much the better for you as you will be benefiting from the old prices). If you are not immediately sure of being able to get time off work we can happily reserve a date for a day or two while you get the go-ahead from work. And if you are worried about booking dates far in advance, that we do understand. However, there really should be no need to worry. We have altered dates and accepted cancellation on lots of occasions and been able to rebook the dates almost immediately. As we all know it is the last minute cancellations which cause the problem when the fees are still due and we cannot re-let the dates however hard we try; the only way to be sure to avoid any risk of that possibility is to take out holiday cancellation insurance. We think that some banks offer that with your account so it would be worth checking that out too as a free alternative – it’s silly to pay if you don’t need to.

Meanwhile, to repeat, get here if you can and we’d love to see you!

Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns News Roundup

Both barns are ready for Christmas! Unfortunately that is more than can be said for the owners who as usual are weeks behind with the cards and the presents.

Glossing over that I’d like to start by just reminding anyone that Christmas is taking by surprise that 2012 follows shortly after and that is when the 2012 prices kick in (at the first chord of Auld Lang Syne!). We always get an enormous number of bookings in early January, when the post-festivities reality and depression hits in and everyone needs something lovely over the horizon to look forward to, to cheer them up. We’d rather our ‘old faithfuls’ like all of you a) got in first with the dates you might want, and b) that you benefit by the returning guests’ double bonus – 2011 prices and 5% off so you end up paying less than you might have paid this year for the same holiday. Hope too many accountants aren’t reading this…

Onto possibly more mundane but possibly more pressing subjects, like the weather. Will it (really) snow for Christmas? We had light snow this morning but nothing to stop the traffic so to speak. So far, for this winter unlike the last two, the weather has been wintery but OK, although people travelling tomorrow need to keep an eye on the situation, or so we gather. It feels very still and calm tonight I must say and we’re all pretty cosy and snug indoors; it was dark before 4pm this evening but of course very very soon the days start to lengthen which is a lovely thought.

Finally, John has already received his Christmas and birthday (November 27th) presents for this year from the entire immediate family and is busy now trying to get to grips with a new camera and lens. He has got such good results from his now old one (which he will of course still use as well) apparently against all odds given the limitation of the equipment, especially significant when he was taking for example, swallows swooping over the water. We all did a lot of research into what might be best for John’s needs within our budget, including our nephew Tim Cragg who knows a thing or two about cameras but of course ultimately it had to be John’s personal choice.

In making this final and very big decision we were just so lucky to have the great fortune to have two charming and very talented photographers staying next door in Douglas’s Barn! They very generously shared a few hours with us over a bottle of wine, showing John their cameras and various lenses and by the end John felt confident to come to a final decision.

However, the photos here are from the old camera. Hopefully soon you will be noticing even sharper, better pictures, and when next summer comes some fast flying swallows and other fast moving creatures

A One-Off Tom’s Barn Weekend Break

Blogger’s Block is not the problem but lack of time/too much to do has been, hence the long gap for which I am genuine sorry. I do enjoy doing the blog and hate to neglect it for too long. The main theme for this long awaited (!) post is to alert anybody who might be interested that we have a week’s gap in Tom’s Barn, from today. This is almost unheard of and is only because some unfortunate person cancelled at the very last moment, but more about that (sermon to follow later…).

The week, which had been booked since early January, runs from today Monday 12th to Monday 19th. Obviously it is now too late for anyone to take the full week Tom’s Barn is all ready and waiting, sparkling clean and Christmassy. The tree is up and decorated and all it needs is someone to walk in and enjoy it. The weekend Friday 16 to Monday 19 is a clear possibility and we have reduced the price to a rock bottom £275; however, if anyone wanted to take it for an abbreviated week – say Tuesday or Wednesday to Monday 19th all we’d ask is £315, the normal price for a weekend at this time of year.

We’d rather have Tom’s Barn loved in and loved than standing there empty and forlorn.

Now for the sermon, and I am painfully aware that – like many sermons, it will be preaching to the converted. However, I have just got to get it off my chest, so bear with me. The subject of my sermon today is last-minute cancellations and our cancellation policy. A year or two ago, after a series of last minute cancellations for genuine and heart rending reasons which being soft-hearted (or some might say, foolish) we repaid the full fee. However, we eventually realised that it is all very well being soft-hearted, but we re trying to run a business, not a charity, and we couldn’t go on for ever personally subsidising cancelled bookings which were no fault – or responsibility financial or otherwise – of our own.

Since then we have made it very clear in our Terms and Conditions and Booking Cancellation Policy which everybody has to read and agree to before booking online, and which we spell by out letter to those who have booked by telephone, that once a guest has booked and we have confirmed, a contract exists between us both – we to provide the holiday accommodation and you to pay for it “even if at the last moment you find it necessary to cancel”.

We go on to explain that cancellations or changes of dates with good notice we can nearly always cope with, having – with luck – the time to be able to re-let the vacated dates; it is the last minute cancellations that we cannot re-let that constitute the possible problem…This could be embarrassing to all concerned, hence our concern to make it clear that the fee would still be due and give people a chance to insure if they’re not prepared to take that risk. And we provide the Pavey holiday cancellation insurance leaflet in case that might help. Pavey do a special one for Premier Cottages guests which is who we send that info but we personally are not involved in the process at all. There is a very small commission paid to us at the end of the year, rather embarrassingly, but this we re glad to donate in total each year to ‘Mary’s Meals’ – a small charity that we support, which runs school feeding projects in third world communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education.

Larger holiday cottage, possibly like hotels where people can simply walk in off the street, probably have so much flexibility that they are never completely full and don’t expect to be. We are nearly always full, and expect to be. We turn away literally scores of people all the time for our barns; we dread to think how many were disappointed not to be able to book the week I am bleating about. But the man in question, who booked Tom’s Barn nearly a year ago, and now does not want it is finding it hard to see why he should remain responsible for the rent. He genuinely had no perception that just as he didn’t want to be out of pocket, neither do we. He has cancelled, not we. So we are all experiencing the acute embarrassment that I actually warned him about in my original letter confirming his booking, when I spelt out our policy and advised cancellation insurance.

We have tried hard to re-let the spell (see the first paragraph about lack of time!). I have spent literally hours, so far to no avail, not surprisingly at this time of year. We feel genuinely sorry for the would-be-guest and his reason for cancelling, and would love to be able to repay him at least a large proportion of what he owes if someone were to pick up his dates. But otherwise we are sticking to our guns.

Early Christmas Treats: Some Last Minute Possibilities

We have some exciting possibilities for somebody, somewhere. This somebody is either so organised that Christmas preparations are all complete and they’re bored waiting or probably far more likely, possibly someone who finds they have left things too late and wants to hide away peacefully and restfully for a few days. And as we already know, some have to work over Christmas so choose to enjoy their private celebrations early.

Take your pick!

  • Tom’s Barn: Monday 12 to Monday 19 December: one week (£425 or two short breaks £295 each plus £25 per dog)
  • Douglas’s Barn: Friday 9 to Friday 16 December: one week (£425 or two short breaks £295).

Picture it. You’ve had so many demands on your time and your attention, you’ve coped with  crowded shops, terrifying office parties, constant noise and tension. You drive from this into the peace and quiet of Parwich and the comfort and warmth and calm of your barn. You start feeling better the minute you walk through that door. What better Christmas present could anyone have?

10 out of 10 for Cottage on the Green Curries!

The news broke last week about this wonderful new facility available in Parwich and we couldn’t wait to try it out. We knew the curries would be good but we strongly feel it’s always better to recommend from personal experience rather than hearsay (even when it’s our own cottages…).

We ordered ours yesterday. After I had a meeting in Bakewell (yes honestly, on a Saturday morning but more about that later!) we decided a treat was in store so we had booked seats to see My Week with Marilyn in the new cinema at the top of Derby Westfield. And what a happy treat that turned out to be. What a charming film! It wouldn’t suit anyone that needed gunfights and violence but for those that positively don’t want that it is perfect.

And then we came home via the ‘Raj on the Green’ to pick up our pre-ordered curries. The smell alone as Evie opened the door to us was so enticing we could hardly wait to get home to warm up the curry and rice; it had only recently been cooked so that didn’t take long, fortunately. We can safely say it was quite delicious. The portions were extremely generous and neither of us is known for a birdlike appetite, and there was a lot of instantly recognisable chicken breast. So often with normal takeaways one has simply to trust that the vague bits of something or other in your curry (or chinese for that matter) really are what you ordered and not little bits and bobs of something you really wouldn’t have ordered. 10 out of 10!

The curries are only available Thursday to Saturday. One needs to order at least a day in advance, and pick them up from the Cottage on the Green between 5 and 7.30 on the day you’ve ordered them for. We shall be putting the information about how to order etc in the barns and adding it to the info sheets we send out to all our guests before they arrive. We won’t be involved in the process at all – you will order from Paul and Evie yourselves, and collect and pay for your curry. Do tell them you’re staying here but only because they’d be interested – not because we’ll be demanding commission from them!


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