This is just to let you know that we having a little holiday on the Norfolk Broads, sharing a holiday on the water in what looks like a veritable gin-palace, with some very good and very old (as in longstanding!) friends.
We shall be away for a week from Tuesday 23rd morning early until late evening Monday 30th April. Janet will be around as usual, checking all is well, watering pots and generally keeping things running like clockwork. She will deal with any messages left on the answer phone and will be in frequent touch with us.
All being well mobile signal-wise, we will be contactable throughout, on 07813 686899 or by email.
We’re hoping for some good weather but after last month we’ll just be glad if it doesn’t snow!
We’re always on the lookout for new and interesting places to eat, purely, you understand, so that we can share our experiences with you all, our guests and friends.
We happened to find ourselves in Derby earlier this week , with several hours to kill while our car was being serviced. Lunch time loomed, and I remembered meeting restaurant owner Stuart Baddiley recently at a course in Derby. I had promised him we’d try tp pay his restaurant, Zest, a visit some time, so this seemed the obvious opportunity.
Derby is not exactly in our immediate radius, but we have had several guests coming to us from Derby recently, and other local places only slightly further afield; also of course many of you return or arrive via Derby or nearby, so the following food report may be helpful.
Zest is in George Streeet, off Friargate, and not knowing Derby it took us a bit of finding. Once there, the street is modest and the exterior of the building is not particularly prepossessing, and possibly unhelpfully, right next door to another restaurant.
This all serves to create a great contrast when one steps inside – the interior is modern, clean and uncluttered, and very charming. We were very pleasantly greeted , seated and looked after for the rest of the meal by Matthew, the Zest manager.
The ‘Express’ lunchtime menu was attractive, and reassuringly simple; one is always suspicious of menus boasting countless choices, knowing full well that they cannot be made to order, but will be ready made and merely waiting to be reheated in a microwave and served with a flourish of (handmade?) garnishes.
As unfortunately we weren’t particularly hungry we ordered a sharing board of breads and dips followed by a truly delicious mushroom soup, piping hot. We followed this with sorbets (John) and coffee.
The restaurant was by no means full, but we could see that they were expecting a large dining party in the evening. We will certainly return when we are next in Derby and if ever that happens to be in the early morning, their champagne breakfast looks too good to be missed! Do let us know if you try it.
We have two significant anniversaries in April. Many of you will remember my father, Douglas, who died on April 8th 2004, nine years and a couple of days ago. Fewer of you will know, unless we’ve already told you, that April 3rd marked the day we had owned Orchard Farm for 30 years.
I will throw in a few photos of Orchard Farm as it was then, and you will see we have made some progress since then, which is always encouraging to remember. The photo at the bottom on the right is actually of the sitting room in the Orchard Farm house. It conveys the filth of 30 years ago, what it does not convey, fortunately, is the stench!
I always think of April as one of the loveliest months; this year it has yet to prove itself weather wise although it is getting warmer by the day and the spring flowers are bursting forth. (My personal month of all is May.)
However, this year we have a real question mark hanging over April. We have always been fully booked in April in the past but to our bemusement, we have three blank weeks in Douglas’s Barn. Why? Who can tell us?
We’ve wracked our brains: “Maybe people are worried about the weather?” That can hardly be true, when we have so many return bookings for the winter months, and anyway, both barns are so cosy and snug once you’re inside you’re as snug as the proverbial bug. “Possibly everyone is going abroad?” – that doesn’t follow, when the next four months are booked solid… “Maybe they sudden;y don’t like Douglas’s Barn?” If you look at our reviews on TripAdvisor you’ll see how very positive they all are.
We’ll probably never know but the ironic thing is, if you want a holiday in Douglas’s Barn this summer you’ll need to move quickly. Apart from these three rogue weeks in April there is only one week left in Douglas’s Barn between the beginning of May and the end of August. If you don’t believe me, check the availability calendar now!
The Vanishing World of the Photograph Album
The Format 13 ‘Album Beauty’ exhibition is in the Derby Quad Gallery. The exhibition is free, and remains open until 26th May. It is described as an ode to this vanishing art form, whose purpose apparently was to ‘document and display the mundane’ – the private reality of people’s lives.
Mundane or not, I found the exhibition most touching. One moves through a rather dated personal photograph album. The subjects on the whole look self-conscious, and very carefully still for fear of wrecking the (expensive) film. There are little boys in corduroy shorts, and girls with bows in their hair and puffed-sleeve dresses. There are baby pictures, and couples, cars and bikes. Most have no description at all, so very private.
The two photos I have used are actually from one of our family albums, my father, and my paternal grandparents – his father and mother. I used personal photos rather than risk violating any copyright issues by using the Album Beauty images exhibited in the Derby Quad gallery. These Album Beauty images, once proud personal possessions, are all ‘found’ photos, taken from abandoned, long-forgotten family albums, bought from market stalls or car boot sales and curated by Eric Kessels.
Ask anyone below the age of 40 if they have an album and they’ll probably assume you mean a Facebook album or just possibly a wedding or baby album which is both a record and just possibly an ostentatious desire to impress. Nowadays our ‘reality’ is no longer private. It is brazenly public, viewed on YouTube, Facebook or Flickr, stored in the Cloud, buzzing around the ether like a swarm of flies.
The aim is to impress, entertain, amuse or embarrass, reaching as many social media viewers as possible; or to show the world that one has actually been to Timbuktu, or Derby Quad.
Some of the older generations – my own husband for one – will still carefully document the mundane in albums, for the quiet and private delight of a few.
But private or public, where will these images eventually all end up? Either lost for ever on an outdated memory stick, or mouldering unseen in a junk shop.
So will our reality vanish too, whatever the art form…
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 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 […]
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 […]