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Holiday at Home! It might be Cheaper!

Phil Brewster of ITV interviewing Marion in the Orchard Farm garden

Marion being interviewed by ITV News

We have learnt that money (£23.7bn)  does buy you fame even if momentary and extremely light-hearted! It also will buy you a bargain flight to Portugal (it would have made more sense to buy up a few aeroplanes). You can holiday in this country, in some comfort, for considerably less.

Since the ‘Great Fare Robbery’ fiasco we have had such a fun time. Thinking to share the light-hearted fun with guests, friends and readers of our blog (as you too must be) I wrote a very tongue-in-cheek account of the episode and posted a link on Facebook, little thinking much more of it other than steeling myself to make another attempt at booking this bargain flight to Faro, Portugal without having to spend £23.7 billion.

Our friend James Sillars who works for SKY News saw it on Facebook, was amused and asked if he could do a piece about it on Sky. Most the news these days is so grim and depressing it is rather fun to have something that isn’t about terrorism or murder. And – after that the phone kept ringing and we are told the story is all over the place – in newspapers and on TV.

Phil Brewster of ITV News came this morning to interview Marion, partly indoors and partly outside. The sun was shining, the birds singing and everything looks so beautiful.

Why go abroad? We have everything in this country, even excellent food these days, and one doesn’t normally have to risk one’s life-savings times very many billion to get there.

Why go abroad?

A Great Trip at a Great Price?

Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn’ prices are at the top end of ‘normal’ but for what you get we’d like to think that the price is a great one, but not this great!

John and I recently received a lovely invitation to join some friends in their villa in Portugal for a long weekend. We have never been to Portugal and were thrilled to have this opportunity for a bit of luxurious fun, in the midst of all the heart-searching and clutter-clearing to do with the imminent sale of Orchard Farm.

It is surprisingly expensive selling a house as we have already discovered; not surprisingly, therefore, we  having decided to economise as far as possible on the flights, to enable us to enjoy some affordable luxury once we got there. I googled ‘cheap flights to Faro’.

By far the best price that appeared was by a company called eDreams, which we’d never heard of, but they promised ‘Great Flights at Great Prices’ which sounded good to us. The flights were to be with Ryanair and Monarch, not the latest word in top end luxury, but we’ve used both often, successfully, albeit without great enjoyment.

I went through the booking process without a hitch. For short flights we try ideally just to have a carry on bag each, but this means that for John with his camera there is neither room nor weight left even for a tooth brush let alone a change of clothes,  so we have to pay for one extra piece of luggage.

It all went swimmingly until I entered this extra piece of luggage for the return journey and I all but clicked ‘Purchase’…

What would have happened if I had? Neither of us has £23.7 billion  to spare… What would have happened to my credit rating?!! We might have had to up our rates for our holiday cottages by several million (guests will be grateful that I spotted the error in time).

Very shaken, I tried ringing eDreams but both the numbers they gave told me the office was closed, although they claimed to be open until 10.30pm and i rang just after 9.30. It was not possible to leave a message.

But their automated email response system was awake. Quickly an email appeared, urging me ‘Don’t miss out on your dream flight deal to Faro (FAO)! We’ve saved the flight to Faro (FAO) you were searching for on eDreams. A second one reassured us, ‘We hope you find everything you’re looking for on eDreams’.

We have heard nothing since.

Moving on, slowly, very slowly…

Facing old age, reluctantly and disbelievingly, and the need to downsize… We have decided to put Orchard Farm on the market.

We’ve loved living at Orchard Farm (for 31 1/2 years!) and really loved running Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns for nearly half of that time. The contact with all our guests has been such a happy aspect of our lives, greatly uplifting and enriching.

But we realise that however vital we may feel, the years creep on and we are reluctantly admitting the need to face our next step. Fortunately we are told it may take years…

It will be a big wrench and we will leave with great reluctance. We will market the house with John German, as a house with ‘letting potential’ and we hope to sell to someone who is eager to carry on running Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns to ensure that it will be ‘business as usual’ as far as all our guests new and old are concerned.

(There is a fair amount of chaos in our house, as you can imagine. We are trying to sort many years’ worth of possessions and clutter which is going inevitably to have to be whittled down to fit a much smaller house when the time comes.)

Meanwhile, we have been warned that it will be four to six months at the least before we sell, and very possibly a year or two or three. Our plans won’t affect you at all except you may see the odd overloaded skip in the garden from time to time as we start clearing accumulated possessions from the house…

John and I will still be here, and not letting up one bit! In fact, we will be feeling even keener to enjoy the last stage of our precious time as your Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn ‘hosts’! and I shall eventually finish the new website. Watch this space!

Could this be the lucky break you’ve been waiting for?

Tom's Barn Sitting Room and galleried Bedroom

Relaxing peacefully in Tom’s Barn

Can someone else’s misfortune be your good fortune?

We have a sudden week’s gap in Tom’s Barn on Monday (September 8th) which we hope may answer someone’s dream: Monday 8th to Monday 15th September – seven summer nights for the winter weekly rate of £485, plus £25 per dog if you want to bring your pooch along too.

A lovely couple from the Netherlands had just settled happily in for their two week holiday in Tom’s Barn which they had booked and looked forward to since March, and have had to return home very suddenly because of a bereavement.

We do hope someone will be able to take advantage of this sudden possibility their situation has unwittingly created. If you knew how many people we disappoint all the time, who enquire hopefully about immediate availability… Besides, we hate to have Tom’s Barn – or Douglas’s Barn for they matter – unlived in, and far more importantly, we would love to be able to repay our Dutch guests, which we will do, every penny we receive, if we are able to re-let their lost week.

You can book online or ring +44 (0)1335 390 519 or email first come first served and all that…


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