Romantic cottages for two in the Peak District

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Enjoying the Fun of Facebook

Half the time I really don’t quite know what I’m doing and certainly not what Facebook is doing when I post a photo and it flies off and then back without so much as a by-your-leave John’s recent dragonfly picture which in fact I shall pin up here where I know it won’t fly away) rather appropriately kept flitting off and back onto the page!)

So rather wisely, I arranged for some one-to-one coaching on the art of Facebook – you may remember my mentioning the fact. This I had very recently, from an excellent teacher, Martin Broadhurst, from Status Social, who incidentally, I am more than happy to recommend to anyone who needs professional help to enjoy making the best use of ‘Social Media’ at the right level for one’s own purpose.

Our purpose for our Tom’s Barn and Douglas’s Barn Facebook page first and foremost is a fairly innocuous one – to create a fun, informative, easily accessible meeting place for friends, guests and possible future guests to ‘meet’ and see what is happening, keep up with the news, enjoy John’s photos (mine are pretty workaday but useful sometimes!) and make the odd contribution themselves. We love our web site, and try to keep that up to date and lively; and i really enjoy our blog. To a large extent we have the same aims for that, but inevitably the website and blog is much larger and more cumbersome and people seem strangely unprepared to add comments to blog posts (although the number of times I get emails or remarks in person from people commenting on them are too many to be counted, frustratingly!).

Anyway, back to business…. For business purposes, I learn that one needs even in Facebook to spread the word, although in our case we are not looking for immediate bookings as we are pretty well booked up. And in order to spread the word we need to generate more ‘Likes’. At this point I have said to Martin on more than one occasion, that we are quite content with people liking us only/if they really do but this is being rather precious and very short sighted (my words, Martin is far too polite to put it like that).

How does one get more Likes? Goodness knows without paying for them!! (Which I am told can be done but needless to say we wouldn’t consider that.) Martin has suggested that I post a general statement that we are hoping for more Likes (a bit like begging one’s school friends to be your best friend which is so long ago I can’t remember if I ever did). It will be equally mortifying as for any rejected child to have no takers but we’re adult and won’t the it too personally.

A real case of not practising what we preach.- have you noticed that there is no invitation at the end of a blog post to ‘Like it on Facebook’? I have now sent on SOS to Jeremy-our-wonderful-webman so all being well that will be rectified soon.

Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns

Well, we’ve moaned and groaned the last few weeks, about all this rain during an official doubt, the cold and whatever else we saw fit to dredge up, but this is the moment we have all be waiting for… Wonderful warm May sunshine. The flowers in the garden have sprung up and bloomed, the weeds have flourished twice as fast, and I already have seen some bolted rhubarb. It has been hot and John took out his camera this afternoon to take the quickest of quick videos panning across the barns, just for the fun of it, to remind us how lovely it’s been. Unfortunately we may have to add this tomorrow as YouTube and we are having a little case of crossed wires and misunderstandings.

Here is our first iris, and Boots asleep under the clematis on her own little nest. No chance of rest for the great tits, who have worked tirelessly to feed their young; constant, on demand feeding is what their chicks obviously believe in. Then we went for a stroll down to the village pond, to see whether the swallows were congregating there but even they seemed soporific. Poppy and her calf (whose name I forget, except it begins with P- Pansy, Petal, Petunia…?) were contentedly munching on the lush grass. We did see a duck, flying speedily across the scene, but that was about it

Keeping up with Facebook

Percy the Peacock - strutting his stuff

That is a very pretentious title, as we can hardly claim to be anywhere near even understanding what it’s all about, let alone keeping up, despite the fact we (as in I and our barns) have been Facebook users for about four years, passive users for at least 31/2 of those four years, with the dawning realisation that this is the way things are going, fast, for the time being, until the next development comes along.

It is amazing how things have changed in such a reactively short time, especially now with so many people using smart phones which are more or less portable mini computers providing instant personal access to the internet and social networking sites.

Many companies employ several people to do nothing else but ‘work’ their Social Networking connections as a marketing tool but of course, one-off small businesses, like us and so many other holiday cottage owners, have no one to fall back on and it is one more thing to add to the daily agenda. However, as someone who loves people, talking and writing, I am finding i really rather enjoy it and the danger is the risk of spending too much enjoyable but entirely unproductive time as far as social marketing goes. I like the communication, am much less happy abut the marketing/selling which actually, with only two cottages already with a big loyal following, hardly seems an urgent priority. Also, quite significantly, there is for John and me the now rather old-fashioned but nevertheless deep mistrust boasting, bragging, swanking, showing off, call it what you will.

However, we are always aware of the danger of getting left behind, admiring what laurels one can muster or being hindered by outmoded inhibition, so in an attempt to smarten up the act I have enrolled for some Social Media training and through unfortunate management have two sessions this coming week, one day after the other. In the preliminary chat with one trainer, he expressed shock that our Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn page only had 73 ‘Likes’ and was unimpressed when I said that they were practically all genuine ‘Likes’ from guests and friends. The point is that if one’s page is too tiny one can get completely lost in the rankings, and nobody much gets the chance to read one’s news, or to see John’s photos as we sink into social oblivion.

So that is the first challenge, to extend our network by getting more people to like us… You can see why one cringes! But in case you genuinely would like to like us, and are on Facebook yourself, please do so and preferably before Wednesday so I can hold my head a little higher when I meet this trainer on Wednesday.

Thank you!

Tom’s Barn: Plumber’s Playground

Enjoying a Cornish hot tub, not wallowing in Tom's Barn!

Some of you may have puzzled but others were quicker to identify on our Facebook page a strange and rather bad (not John’s) photo of what could have been Humpy Dumpty, with a sticker on it saying “Hope this does the trick, Kate and Andrew”. It did arouse quite a lot of interest before one of our Tom’s Barn guests guessed what it might be and I was able to explain that Kate and Andrew, who – having experienced, as many have before them, the slithery nature of a series of Tom’s Barn loo seats – had most thoughtfully sent us from Devon a model they hope may prove to be more satisfactory. Many of you will understand why we were so grateful and also have reason to be grateful; meanwhile were we pleased at the thought that we might at last be going to solve this perennial problem and were waiting anxiously for the chance on Friday to attach it.

We thought we were ticking off a plumbing worry. But you never know what’s round the corner, and there was a far bigger anxiety looming. Twenty four hours of drying out pillows and washing, drying (and ironing yet to come) of previously beautifully laundered bedding later, I can tell you about it. And I still haven’t finished the washing.

What on earth happened, you may wonder? Normally on a Friday we get up bright and early, I make the ‘cake of the day’ for our guests, John fetches the logs for Tom’s Barn and empties the bins, I finish off any ironing that’s needed for the changeover and by 10am when our guests leave we are ready to face another changeover and all that might involve. At 8am yesterday morning the phone rang and Bill in Tom’s Barn broke the news that they had discovered there been a serious leak overnight, from the water tank. The water had drizzled steadily but silently, quietly soaking into four complete sets of beautifully laundered bedlinen and four sets of spare towels, and some pillows, and the new carpet below.

Our guests had only discovered when they had gone to the airing cupboard as they packed. They had done all the right things like instantly turning off the water and kindly removing many of the soaking sheets to the bathroom. Thank you Bill and Barbara – it was hardly the relaxed ending to a great stay! After they left, Roger our plumber, arrived pretty soon after to discover it was merely one tiny perished washer which had been the cause of this flood. He was able to replace it very quickly, and also to fit the seat so that was a bonus, to have it fitted professionally.

Dealing with all the soaking bedding is an ongoing story. Eight loads of washing, drying and potential ironing later we still have more previously immaculately laundered sets of bedding to rewash and iron. I wish we had taken a photo between us but it wouldn’t have been a very encouraging one. However, although O might be having a good moan, we are well aware it could have been much worse. Nothing was stained and thanks to the water being well absorbed by everything in the airing cupboard – and, admittedly, the carpet – the water didn’t come through kitchen ceiling; the damage could have been much worse.

As Bill and Barbara said their farewell, Barbara asked if at moments like this we felt it was all worth it, and we were able to say, quite genuinely, that yes, it was! And if that isn’t tempting fate, what is…?

1843 Where is Douglas’s Barn?

608 is Orchard Farm

Like many of you, we have long wondered at the quirky shape and angles of Douglas’s Barn, and also admired the unusual way our house, Douglas’s Barn and Tom’s Barn are angled gently round what was once the farmyard and what we should perhaps try now to call the ‘courtyard’ to give it a more elegant ring.

Last night we went to a village event in the Memorial Hall, and were most intrigued to see a copy of the 1843 Tithe map of Parwich. There is more information about it, and the first Census of 1841, in the Parwich Local History Society newsletter No. 3. Funnily enough, in this newsletter there is also a photo of the section of the map that shows Orchard Farm…

There it is, in the middle of the photo, section 208. You’ll notice two possibly confusing changes. Firstly, the plot is bigger because in the 1960s or perhaps 1970s the then owner of Orchard Farm sold two plots of land where the bungalows next door now stand. Of course also there is no Dutch Haybarn, rusty and ancient looking now, but not that ancient!

Then, there is Orchard Farm house on the map, with Tom’s Barn to the side, quite separate. Between them is an empty space. We always guessed that it might have been a fairly adhoc addition by some farmer owner who needed more shelter for his cows, but we didn’t know for sure. Now we have proof, but we still don’t know when. It is intriguing: when was Douglas’s Barn built?

So, whatever happens, Douglas’s Barn is post 1843 so we can’t call it an 18th century cowshed any more, although no doubt we can its older brother. From all the Censuses since 1841 and our title deeds we have plenty of facts about the people, but not about the buildings. Maybe one day we’ll discover more.

Back Home in Derbyshire

It is lovely to go away but really lovely to get back. After ten very full and happy days for us in Cornwall and briefly Devon we were greeted by a lawn of lush hay and everything looking rather over-luxuriant (including ourselves i might add, after ten days of excess food). Thanks to Janet’s attentions our guests were unaffected by our absence and the only worry we met was a rather wobbly Boots the cat.

Janet had alerted us that she seemed a bit unsteady on her pins. A fight? An injury? Had she perhaps had a knock with a car? Or perhaps it is just old age (it hits us all). Anyway, she isn’t off her food but spends a lots of time licking her right paw.

The Addison Singers rehearsing at the Minack

We took her to the vet this afternoon who said that might be a case of referred pain; she (the vet) could not find anything wrong anywhere so gave Boots a couple of injections (antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory) and all we can do is hope for the best. We do not know how old Boots is, but doing some careful sums reckon she must be at least 16. Seeing she still runs up the apple tree and chases her own tail she is no doing badly.

Anyway, a week ago I promised that the next day you would hear of more of our Cornish outings, so back to our trip. I can see some of you thinking once again, ‘What is this blog? A travel site, book site, cookery site? Most definitely probably not a holiday cottage site.” However, it is all loosely connected with our two holiday cottages are so much part of our life and one of these days there’ll be pure Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn news. Anyway, the next day it POURED, and the best day.

Two of the Addison Singers, Ruth and Flora, outside the Tate (St Ives)

It was grey, foggy, very windy and extremely wet sp we spent two days very happily reading, chatting, even trying to get back into knitting (squares for AIDs orphans in Africa) in our holiday cottage, only to emerge to buy essential provisions and to have a truly delicious meal at a restaurant in Porthleven called Kota, that our daughter Ruthie had recommended. She had been there, and it is run by the sister of one of her friends, and the friend’s husband. It is superb, and I reckon we had the best food we have had for a very long time: every mouthful was an explosion of wonderful tastes. The wine wasn’t bad, either.

We returned home via the Eden Project after our Cornish week, spending the weekend with my brother John, near Totnes. More fun and nostalgia and general self-indulgence, with a trip to Ringmore where our parents are both buried within sight of the sea and their own house and then back via the Start Bay Fish & Chip shop at Tor Cross on Slapton Sands.

Percy the Peacock

Before I close you must admire Percy, who landed unbidden in my brother’s garden a number of years ago and has ever since strutted around like the lord of the manor, gazing at himself in all the windows and displaying his feathers to anyone in the slightest interested. The thing is, he really is very beautiful, so you just have to admire him, which he expects as his due.

Tom’s Barn Abroad

A Cornish Swallow on the Little White Alice pool

Don’t get us wrong. We just love the Peak District, and thoroughly appreciate being in such a beautiful part of the world which is so easily accessed from all corners of Britain. We wouldn’t swop it for the world but John and I both have long and happy family connections with the west country – mainly Devon but (ssh, don’t whisper it abroad in Devon) we love Cornwall too. When daughter Ruthie told us that the choir she sings with were planning a tour in Cornwall over the Bank Holiday weekend we needed no second bidding.

Much as we hate leaving home (we always feel bad not being here when our guests are) the groupie/Cornwall instincts took over. We immediately booked a holiday cottage and are happy to pass on a good tip. if ever any of you are looking for a romantic cottage for two of course please look at Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns. However, if you are heading to Cornwall we aren’t anyway near so can’t help. I am sure there are hundreds of lovely cottages there but we would have no hesitation recommending you look at another Premier Cottage property,  Little White Alice

Little White Alice is very new, very ecologically ‘green’ and very attractive. There are seven cottages I think, a natural pool and a wood-fired hot tub, so very different from us but – swings and roundabouts and all that – we are both super but very different and in very different parts of the world so neither of us need have any fears from the other and we are very happy to recommend Simon and Rosie’s cottages whole heartedly.

I didn’t set off the write a blurb for Little White Alice but it sort of took over. Tomorrow I will let you know what we have been doing on our time off – more puffs for Cornwall and things Cornish! And a big puff for the Addison Singers. They are the greatest!

(Just listened to the weather forecast for tomorrow – not good- so plans for a trip to St Michael’s Mount may be jettisoned…)

Living it up in London

Hanging my head in shame at the long silence. We’ve been busy but that is no excuse as my headmistress would have said, ‘It is just a case of being organised”. Organised I obviously am not, but we have been happily busy and I am sticking to that as an excuse.explanation.

We went down to London last week, John on the Wednesday as he had a rather nostalgic and fun cricket club reunion dinner at Lords to attend. I joined him on Friday evening, when as far as I was concerned the family/friends/fun began. On the Friday evening we went to see for the second time – last time in Scarborough – Alan Ayckbourn’s latest play, Neighbourhood Watch, in which Frances Grey, a Douglas’s Barn guest, was unrecognisable playing – most convincingly – the part of Amy , the seductress wife of the hapless Gareth. Then on Saturday afternoon seven of us trooped off to the Aldwych to see Tom Chambers (again) in Top Hat. Having toured the provinces for six months this is their London premiere. The theatre was packed and the audience wonderfully appreciative – as far as one could see the production was faultless.

My only problem was the person on my left sang her way through every piece, quite loud and more than quite out of tune. Pointed looks from several of us did nothing to dim her enthusiasm so we just had to try to not let it bother us too much.

The dancing is terrific, so slick, and all the dancers manage to look as if they were really enjoying it; Tom was saying they really do when the audience is responsive. How they all but Tom in particular, manage to sing and dance non stop without ever faltering is most impressive. When we saw Tom at the stage door afterwards he looked as fresh as if he had just woken up from a thoroughly refreshing nap! And he had to go through it all again that evening.

Drinks at a friend’s house afterwards and an Indian meal for us all, then brunch with another friend the next door and we felt thoroughly relaxed. Then reality struck and the bubble was burst. A text from Janet let us know that the power had gone off in Parwich. Having just had a 15-hour cut only a few weeks ago, we assumed this one couldn’t possibly rival that, but…it did. We got back at 7ish to find Parwich plunged in darkness and the house pretty cold. Our Tom’s Barn guests were pretty cheery because of course they had the log burner and they had arranged to have dinner at a pub, but the Douglas’s Barn guests were very glad to huddle up with us in our house, all in our anoraks, and valiantly consume pizza and red wine to combat the cold. In fact so jolly it was that when the lights came on at about 10ish everything looked so bright and garish we promptly turned them off again and reverted thankfully to candlelight.
These days we are all so dependent on electricity, it is very salutary every so often to have to cope without emails, (digital) phones not to mention lighting and heating. computers, kettles and toasters. But not for ever.


LATEST NEWS

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    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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