Romantic cottages for two in the Peak District

Self Catering accommodation in Derbyshire map
Call us on
01335 390 519
Toms Barn on Facebook Toms Barn on Twitter

Tom’s Barn

Tom’s Barn now boasts a brand new Bosch Slimline Dishwasher! The last one had given valiant service until it tried to wash with cold water – not a good idea! As always, there are lots of little new things -including a set of brilliant Robert Welsh knives but nothing else major since the complete redecoration and new lighting in the kitchen earlier on the year..

Can Work be Happiness…?

Gyles Brandreth revealing "The Seven Secrets of Happiness" after his talk at the Buxton Festival 19 July 2014

The Seven Secrets of Happiness Revealed

As always, our days are very full, and very varied, with part work and part pleasure (and the two are very intertwined).

The ‘work’ is all to do with our two holiday cottages, Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns, which very much are at the centre of our lives but we would be hard pushed to identify what aspect of that is work in the accepted sense, as nearly all of it (except accounts and inspections) is pure pleasure as well.

Talking of pleasure, there has been a birthday, and our two Emgland-based ‘young’ have been home for the weekend. And as you may have guessed, with Buxton Festival on, we have been zipping back and forth to Buxton daily. On the other hand I also have attended a full-day workshop on websites, as you know (the delayed second half is on Wednesday) and two days ago I was learning about Search Engine Optimisation and incidentally how Google is running our lives these days, but maybe more about that another day – we’re concentrating on happiness right now…

We went yesterday to a most entertaining Buxton Festival talk by Gyles Brandreth, on ‘The Seven Secrets of Happiness’. He had no props, no notes and he had the full Buxton Opera House audience absolutely riveted. It was by turns very witty, hilarious slapstick and serious; his research to identify the sources of happiness is genuine and serious.

So we all laughed and we learned. It was no surprise to us to learn that one of the seven secret of happiness is to be found in work, and yet another in having a ‘passion’.

There can’t be many people whose ‘work’ happens to be as pleasurable and gratifying as we find ours. Who wouldn’t be happy ‘working’ to ensure we provide an experience which is possibly unique but certainly pretty special for lovely people who really appreciate everything 110%.

And another is that warm sense of being at one with one’s surroundings and companion/s. And by a happy combination of luck – living as we do in such a beautiful area with so much to do and see and enjoy – and the fact that people seem so to appreciate the quality and comfort and setting of the holiday accommodation we provide, we unwittingly provide our guests with at least two source of true happiness, and ourselves with at least three.

That does make us feel genuinely happy!

A Local Travel Tip – Cromford Canal

Tom’s Barn Travel Tips…

The Cromford Canal Restored Narrowboat

Birdswood, the Restored ‘Vintage Narrowboat’

A 2-hour trip up and down the canal

Gliding Peacefully down the Cromford Canal


It was the Cam a few dates ago, today it is the Cromford Canal – rather closer to home and certainly a more practical recommendation for our guests and local friends eager to learn of yet more things to do locally.

It is particularly interesting as the canal is part of the Derwent valley Mills World Heritage Site

A group of us from Parwich had the most lovely outing in the sunshine today, one which we really do recommend for a gently happy day out. We booked on a 2-hour trip in the Birdswood, a ‘vintage’ narrowboat lovingly restored, and run, by volunteers from the Friends of Cromford Canal. We were lucky that it was a beautifully warm and sunny day, so every aspect of the outing was relaxed.

The engine is silent, so no throbs or diesel fumes: we just glided along silently amongst the moorhen, ducks and dabchicks. One of their volunteers gave a very interesting commentary about the canal and its history, and also about the wildlife.

There were drinks and snacks on sale but as we planned a nice lunch afterwards i don’t think any of our lot bothered. It was all very peaceful and relaxing, even when we ran aground twice (apparently the canal is quite (too) shallow in one or two places). It is a lovely feeling when something like that is not not one’s own responsibility!

Lunch at the Wharfeside Cafe is to be recommended. You can sit indoors, or outside but under cover or in the sunshine, as we did. The light lunches – sleds, quiches, baked potatoes and paninis all looked very fresh and the portions generous. John and I had soup and hot rolls – lovely! (Standards vary – one day I will write the definitive guide to local soup and a roll lunches!)

There is so much else to do, once you are here. Across the road is the mill. There are shops and tearooms there now, and not much remains of the original mill, but one can go on a fascinating tour to see and hear what it was like.

We have done the tour in the past, so on this occasion after lunch we had a brisk walk along the canal, hoping to see a water vole or perhaps a Kingfisher, but no such luck. The walk was lovely, and although we only did a short stretch. I believe you can walk as far as Derby although these days the canal itself does not.

The Birdswood Skipper Today

Evensong in King’s College Cambridge Chapel

100s of people queued to attend the evensong service at King's (Sat 5th July 2014)

The queue waiting to attend Evensong

We have just returned from yet another happy jaunt, this time to Cambridge for the Golden Wedding of some friends who held a wonderful lunch party for their friends and family in Clare College.

After tea and golden wedding cake which rapidly followed lunch we had a stroll round the quite beautiful Clare College gardens and then, we decided with several friends to go to King’s College Chapel next door for evensong.

We strolled around in the sunshine; naively, because it was a Saturday and not a special day of any sort that we knew, we were startled to have to join a queue snaking round two sides of the quadrangle, simply to get into the chapel.

We were fortunate enough to get in, and even more fortunate to be seated almost immediately behind the choir.

A wonderfully peaceful scene as a punt glides down the River Cam at Cambridge

Idyllic Cambridge summer evening scene

No mobiles (obviously), no photographs and no recording so I was thinking you’d have to rely on your imagination and memories of the Lesson of the Nine Carols at Christmas to paint the picture for you.

But by an incredible coincidence, my very favourite, much respected and admired book blogger, Dovegreyreader, has actually written a blog post today, with wonderful photos after a recent visit to King’s. Do have a look, and if you enjoy reading I am sure you would find her reviews very stimulating, and beautifully written.

I do have three of John’s to show you however, and you will be amused to see that even in a King’s College Chapel Tudor crown he managed to spot a swallows’ nest!

However, back to the service. It may have been an ‘ordinary Saturday service’ but there was nothing ordinary about it at all.

King's College Chapel Swallows' nest. Trust John so spot a swallow wherever he is!

Trust John so spot a swallow wherever he is!

The anthem was Britten’s ‘Hymn to St. Cecilia’; all the music, the singing and even the readings were absolutely faultless, and in that superb setting it was all very deeply moving…

We were greeted, individually and very pleasantly as we filed out and i was startled to be actually thanked for attending by one member of the clergy when I remarked how moving I had found the service!

You have to pay to enter the chapel as a visitor/tourist but not if you come to a service, and in fact it was quite hard to find where to leave a donation.

Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns’ Invisible New Website…

Preview of the new Tom's Barn website Home Page

Temporarily Visible Preview…!

A seminar on websites without wifi – is this as bad as a pub with no beer…? Not being a great beer drinker, I would normally say ‘far worse’! However, last week I was grateful that our site/s remained invisible thanks to a complete wifi failure.

Thanks to some European funding, small business owners in Derbyshire are able once again to access free IT training – helping us to make the best use of the Internet and social media for our businesses. It doesn’t mean we necessarily turn into experts but at least we can try to absorb as much as possible before everything moves on again – everything changes so fast in this world one has to keep relearning everything.

So, off I hied excitedly to the Palace Hotel in Buxton last week, for the first part of a two day workshop on planning and creating a successful website. As many of you know, for the past six months or so we have been preoccupied with trying to do exactly that, ever since our current website, which already needed revamping, anyway – was fairly brutally hacked.

Meanwhile, in order that our little business doesn’t sink into oblivion during this somewhat protracted pregnancy, we have to keep the current one up to date as well, which has done nothing to hasten the launch of the new one and has created a sort of dual-personality approach to our website/s.

I was hoping to have many questions answered, and to leave with a clear idea of what I still need to do to make our new version interesting and informative, nice to look at and hopefully quite entertaining as well.

Well, it wasn’t quite like that. We had an excellent and challenging day. Our lecturer, Susan Collini, told us she intended to make us feel uncomfortable, to think ‘outside the box’, not to be self-satisfied or complacent. The only reason I was attending was because I do not feel confident anyway, so as you can imagine this was quite painful. As more or less the only ‘small owner’ with an already active website (albeit mutilated by our hacking) this was all the more painful, because most the challenges were inevitably directed at me…

My responses did nothing for Susan’s confidence in my grasp of the situation. I was unsure whether to answer about the old/current one, or the new-about-to-be-born one so this ‘either/or/whichever’ approach did nothing for the clarity of my responses, either.

And rightly or wrongly, most of the challenges really went home so it was a great relief that – with no internet, neither website was on public view. The pressure will be on next Thursday, when our sites become visible.


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 […]

Get in touch

Call us on

01335 390 519

our contact methods

use our contact form

Toms Barn on Facebook Toms Barn on Twitter

Premier Cottages