We have been having the most glorious May. The gardens are looking splendid and we have had lots of guests enjoying the lovely Peak District. We have had to turn our attention, as lots of others have, to become compliant with new laws.
Tom’s Barn and Douglas’s Barn have been closed this week for a complete repaint and spring clean. The painters have already completed Douglas’s Barn and Janet and Louise have worked their magic to get it all spruced up and ready for business again. Tom’s Barn will be open again next Friday and Douglas’s is available for a last minute break. Both barns are starting to get busy so worth booking early to avoid disappointment
It’s been a question rather of ‘Gather ye roses while ye may…” and we have been gathering roses with a vengeance! By the way, the image with this post is intentionally some poppies from the Orchard Farm garden, rather than roses, in the week that communities like ours all over the country commemorated the centenary of the start of the 1st World War, on Monday 4th August.80 men from Parwich fought in the war, and many of them – great grandfathers and great uncles of families still living in the village, died, so the service held by the war memorial in St Peter’s churchyard was particularly poignant.
Meanwhile, since my last post we have been to a really lovely a family wedding. This was followed immediately by our Green Tourism re-assessment, to see if we have kept up all our green credentials and can retain our Gold Award. (We haven’t heard yet.) This re-inspection involves a two-hour inspection and ‘interview’ accompanied by a large amount of paperwork and supporting evidence, so there were a few very short nights in between all the gallivanting.
Then almost immediately afterwards we had daughter Ruthie and some friends up from London for a weekend followed immediately by some very good ‘old’ friends form South Africa, their son and daughter-in-law and grandchild… All this has been great, great fun but it has not left much time for bloggish activity, as you can imagine.
Son Nick flew to China yesterday for the Youth Olympics (covering the games, not competing in them!). Meanwhile, our two holiday cottages are full all the time – that is more pure pleasure for us, with a slight amount of work involved.
Eventually life may quieten down, there’ll be more frequent blog posts and the website may eventually be born. Let’s hope so, anyway.
And finally, guess what – I feel almost shy to say – but we are off to Yorkshire tomorrow for another rather special weekend of anniversary festivities of some more very very good friends…
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.
No, in case you are puzzled, Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns are still firmly rooted in the Peak District; it is John and I that are, on a brief nostalgic trip to Ireland while Janet and co hold the fort at home.
I can’t show you any photos yet, having not taken any myself yet, and foolishly having forgotten the special camera connecting gadget necessary to download John’s onto my iPad. Needless to say he has taken masses.
We are in Dublin, staying in rooms at Trinity (TCD) where we both were as undergraduates and where we met. We are on a reunion of most but not all of the Trinity College ‘cricketing greats’ of the early/mid 1960s!
The sun has shone and needless to say we are having a very happy time, with lots of very good old friends. Our accommodation is fairly basic, costs more than our 5* holiday cottages in the Peak District but is most conveniently situated in the (mainly) elegant Georgian oasis in the centre of Dublin that is Trinity.
Tomorrow we drive down to Co. Cork for a few days of more luxurious but less social living. More of that later. And perhaps if I find the odd quiet moment before we go I will catch up on some of the news that I have been so bad at sharing recently, because there seems to have been so much happening.
The gap since I last wrote is so embarrassingly long there is nothing I can do but gloss over it. I am sorry. We seem to have been rushing over all over the place, very happily and socially most of the time, but it leaves little time for the pleasures of blogging.
Blogging you see, for me, comes under the category of pleasure, not chore, so tends to come last on the list of ‘things to do’ each day…Anyway, we spent the inside of this last week in Devon, staying with my brother, which is always a great, relaxing pleasure. He has a lovely garden with the Mardle, a small tributary of the Dart, running alongside it.
Sharing my brother’s garden, using it merely as a necessary backdrop for all his narcisstic preenings, is Percy the Peacock who claimed ownership to it abut ten years ago. My brother tried, hard, to return him to his rightful owners, but Percy knew better and just kept returning. He is amazingly beautiful, and knows it. He also makes the most terrible screeching noise.
We met up with old friends, visited my parents’ grave in Ringmore (overlooking Burgh Island) and had a truly wonderful lunch at the Riverford Field Kitchen which fortunately for all of us is very close to my brother.One afternoon we walked through words along the Dart, hoping to see all the bluebells before they finally vanish and perhaps a kingfisher. The bluebells were definitely on the way out and of a Kingfisher there was never a glimpse but the Dart was looking very beautiful with clear calm waters and no hint of the storms of a month or two ago.
I bought some Devon lamb in Ashburton to bring back and in the lovely little deli in Modbury I bought a kilo (!) of the most heavenly clotted cream to share with everyone, and not least our guests who were arriving on Friday.
Cream tea for Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn guests on Friday[/caption]So instead of a cake yesterday, they had freshly baked scones – harder work than a cake, with all that rubbing in of the butter by hand – oodles of raspberry jam and lashings of clotted cream (to paraphrase Enid Blyton).
By coincidence our Douglas’s Barn guests were from Cornwall so the cream tea may have felt more of a ‘coals to Newcastle’ gesture than an exciting novelty but if that were the case they were far too polite to let on. And, fortunately, the way we prefer a cream tea, that is, cream on top of the jam, is the approved Cornish method…
Today, truly back in Derbyshire, we have spent most the day enjoying the Derbyshire Open Arts studios, Ruby Hickmott and Gill Radcliffe in Parwich, and Sue Prince at Beechenhill, near Ilam…
Gazing into a (non-authentic) Crystal Ball at Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns…
What are the trends and what lies ahead?
There is always a big push on holidays and travel in January, as soon as the Christmas and New Year excitements haves died down, when all the travel writers and others get out their pens and tell us what ‘everyone’ is doing, where to go and what to think.
And this year is no exception. I can’t say I pore over these articles myself, but one can’t help reading bits out of the Sunday papers, and I must admit to following Luxury Travel Blog on Facebook (for people who like the finer things in life!!), and 101 Holidays.
And we talk to lots of our guests and who better to trust than the actual punters (as John and I are ourselves, too…).
One or two bits have caught my eye. Reassuringly for us, apparently, so they say, or so we’re told, in 2014 even more people will choose self-catering holidays/holidays in rental accommodation in preference to staying in a hotel and on Christmas Day, no less, someone called Alan Hazel wrote a very interesting piece in the Luxury Travel Blog (‘for those that like the finer things in life!!) about travel trends in 2014. Apparently throughout 2013 the demand for private rentals has been rising and the rise will continue. Why?
And a reason given is one our guests have been telling us for years, that they value the privacy, seclusion and independence that staying in your ‘own place’ can give you.
One reason given is one that our guests have been telling us for years, that they value the privacy, seclusion and independence that staying in your ‘own place’ can give you. It is your holiday, to spend it as you wish, as yourselves and not as merely one of a passing, anonymous crowd. Some of you may have used Airbnb, where one can stay with ordinary people in foreign and other cities, getting a unique taste of their life as a resident rather than a tourist – enjoying a unique, ‘authentic’ local experience. This apparently has helped lead the trend.
Unique is another overworked word (there are so many!) but it does explain what most of us want these days. We don’t want to be swallowed up in an anonymous crowd, doing what everyone else is doing. We need to feel special, to be ourselves, to enjoy the type of holiday that really suits us, not a convenient format that ‘everybody’ is expected to want. So this explains another reason for the move towards small, individual holiday cottages and villas where one is greeted by name, and valued and enjoyed for oneself.
And leading on from ‘unique’ I go straight the other very overworked word, ‘authentic’. Apparently holidaymakers are looking for an ‘authentic’ experience’…
Obviously it is vital to be authentic, but it is one of those words whose meaning you think you know until you try to explain it. I tried looking it up on Google and quickly found myself being told all about ‘the raw, naked, unhindered expression of beingness of the soul’.
Being rather more down to earth I felt more at ease with Ask Jeeves, which tells us ‘The word authentic originated from the Latin word authenticus which means original or at first hand’. I think that brings us closer to understanding: not hearsay, rumours or falsehoods, but something genuine and trustworthy.
And apparently, that is what luxury travellers want. They want to get to know a place at first hand from those that live there. That way you don’t feel like a tourist, being shepherded about as a ‘foreigner’ but someone who knows themselves where to go, what to do, where to eat; it saves time ad also avoids possibly extensive and unhappy choices of venue or activity. Far more important even than that, one feels part of the new destination, within it and not outside looking on.
So we and all our Premier Cottage colleagues are already providing the authentic experience – maybe we’re even helping to lead the trend. We all know the Peak District like the back of our hand, we all can advise on places to eat, good walks to go on, places to avoid even… We’re all there, on the spot, to help our guests make the best use of their precious time away.
And so yes, Tom’s Barn and Douglas’s Barn and all our Premier Cottages colleagues can honestly claim to be authentic, and to provide a genuinely ‘unique and authentic experience’!!
We were slightly surprised, if not dismayed, to return from our latest London jaunt to a telephone call suggesting our next inspection date might be five days hence (last Friday). We had our last annual inspection in February this year.
With Christmas cards, work on the website, not to mention actual Christmas preparations all looming, we agreed, on the principle that it would never be a good time so we might as well get it over and done with!
Blink! And it’s gone…
One looks at websites for apparently five seconds – or is it fifteen – before deciding whether one’s bored or not, whether to stick around a little longer or ‘switch channels’ to the next site. It’s quite frightening, really thinking what butterfly minds and shallow brains we’re all developing so quickly.
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 […]