So we are really finalists in the Lancashire Tourism Awards I know I mentioned it in my last blog but it has really now just sunk in. We are so proud that we can help promote Lancashire and its beauty. Well we have been interviewed by the panel and only had 10 minutes to put our case forward and 10 minutes of questioning which is not long – I think we put a good case forward but unfortunately we are up against some really big guns i.e. a trampolining company for families in Blackpool YES Blackpool.
We have also been interviewed by Gilly on #RadioLancashire not bad for a little business like ours. Anyway enough about the awards as you are probably bored of me going on about this again.
So what has been happening in the cottage! We have been really busy with bookings which is brilliant and most through our website. We had guests from New Zealand and author – yes an author. Hey you never know the cottage maybe we will be in a poem – woo woo.
I got a couple of pumpkins which I have carved one for the cottage and one for home. Not good when I have a knife as normally end up cutting myself and ending up in casualty.
There is lots going on in Lancashire and the Ribble Valley during November why not check out visitlancashire website and our events section.
October, October, October, I cannot believe it we are now into October where has this year gone? Last month saw the Hodder Valley Show, held down the road from the Cottage, which again went down really well with lots of entries in all classes from agricultural to horticultural. The only thing is the entry fee this year was £10 per adult. This is quite a lot and especially for many locals. You would have thought if you lived in the villages of Newton, Slaidburn or Dunsop Bridge you would get a discount – lets hope the committee think about this for next year!
Our special Cottage in the rural hamlet of Newton in Bowland has had lots of guests from all over the country in September. It is also really good to see that we are getting lots of bookings through our own website which is brilliant. We even have a number of nights booked for October from a couple coming over from New Zealand. The lady is a writer so that will be brilliant.
Well I think it is time that we put the Weber BBQ to bed and get the logs ready for the wood burner. We always get the woodburner ready for guests so all they need to do is light the firelighters and when the kindling is fully alight put a log or two on. I think we might need to leave a few baskets of logs for the couple from New Zealand due to their weather being a lot hotter than ours.
I am sitting writing this blog with sun shine and showers outside so there is a lovely rainbow in the sky. We have been having some great skies just recently which has been showcasing the area.
I have been active on social media so am gathering a few followers which is really good. We entered the cottage in the new business section of the Lancashire Tourism Awards and, guess what, we have been shortlisted – YES shortlisted. This is amazing for a small 2 bedroom cottage sleeping 3 in the rural hamlet of Newton in Bowland in the amazing Forest of Bowland – being shortlisted for a Lancashire Tourism Award – woo hoo! I will keep you posted on how we do but to be honest we are up against stiff competition including a pub with dining, an events company in Lancaster and a trampolining company for all the family in Blackpool. Anyway will keep you posted! In the meantime if you listen to BBC Radio Lancashire why not listen on 27th October to Gilly between 2 – 3pm as I am a guest discussing our shortlisting.
The bridge in Newton is looking great and it looks like autumn is really with us.
Anyway getting back to the cottage, we are getting it ready for autumn/winter by putting extra covers for the beds to go over the duvets and will be pumpkin carving for halloween.
Well its September and where have the months gone! We have been busy in School House Cottage during August getting the books ready for the accountant. Plus keeping on top of the cottage making sure it is up to the highest standard we can achieve. This is because guests coming in and leaving on the same day. I have purchased some more bedding and towels from Boundary Mill which is a fabulous place to shop. We are so lucky it is only a few miles from the cottage – people visit by a coach trips!!!!
The flowers in the garden are looking good even though we have had a little rain but then the next day we have bright sunshine. I love it when the weather is sunny for our guests but to be honest we even get great feedback from guests when the weather is not so good. However, I do have a number of books and pamphlets with things to do.
We had our first guests who were really interested in the Dark Skies accreditation Newton in Bowland has achieved – so they were really pleased that the cottage had binoculars and a red torch.
In September we have the Hodder Valley agricultural show. The show is in Newton this year it changes location every year between Slaidburn, Dunsop Bridge or Newton. I normally enter a number of categories but this year with the cottage I have decided that I am going to take a year out of entering so the pressure is off for me now. Will I be annoyed that I have not entered you will have to wait and see. I am really looking forward to going to the show this year and hopefully it will not be raining but do you know even the years when it rained it is still a brilliant day out. http://www.hoddervalleyshow.co.uk
I am going to enter the cottage in the new business category of Visit Lancashire awards. Fingers crossed we get shortlisted. http://www.visitlancashire.com
I have had new business cards and leaflets printed by Ribble Valley Print and they are really brilliant. This is saving me so much time as I was printing the leaflets myself on the home printer.
August at our holiday cottage rental. Well can you believe it, we are in August already! Where has the year gone? Well July and August at our holiday cottage are doing really well and we are getting some amazing testimonials – why not check them out. We have re-painted parts of the cottage to keep it fresh and clean and to keep it up to our required standard. The guests love all the little extras we have added such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and lots of other things – you can tell we are well travelled and have put in the cottage things that when we travelled we forgot and would love to have had provided in the places where we stayed.
We have been re assessed by Visit England and wow we have been awarded 4* again which is really good and the lady assessor was really impressed that we get a lot of direct bookings from our website and we are already having guests returning.
I have added a couple of new extras such as a Celebration Pack and a Gluten Free breakfast as I thought these should be offered – any thoughts you have on what I should put in a vegetarian breakfast would be great to hear.
To help promote the cottage further we have started to print leaflets about the cottage and are placing them in a perspex box outside the cottage and wow they have been disappearing really fast. This has led to us going to a local printer, Ribble Print Management, and not only has Ian sorted out my brochures but he has also redesigned my business cards – if you need any printing I would definitely contact Ian at http://www.ribbleprint.co.uk/contact-us/
Well the Brexit vote came in whilst we were in Madrid for a few days break – could not believe we voted out but that is what happened and we now have to work out the best way forward for the country – maybe there is a potential silver lining for our business in that in the uncertain economic climate more people will want to stay in the UK for their holidays.
August is an excellent time to visit the cottage as Clitheroe Food Festival is on plus the Lancashire Show. Clitheroe Food Festival is amazing with so many local food and drink suppliers showcasing their goods – Go Lancashire Go! Put 13th August in your diaries and come along to see what Clitheroe can showcase.
One thing not happy about in August though is that it is my birthday and another year older but not sure another year wiser, ha ha.
Hope August is an enjoyable time for all of you and I’ll be in touch again in a month or so.
Well we have had a fair few brilliant days here in Newton-in-Bowland with the sun shining for a few weeks now. We have had lots of bookings and some amazing testimonials – check them out on the website. The duck race went down a storm again and there was a lot of water in the River Hodder which helped to get the ducks down the river quickly to the finishing point. Mike was one of the men in the water catching the winning ducks as they went past the winning point – I had a wager with a friend that he would end up on his backside – unfortunately I lost the bet, ha ha.
The guests in over the 2 bank holidays had brilliant weather and loved every minute.
I have decided to up my marketing and saw an opportunity that I had not thought of previously. This is to put a perspex weather proof box outside the cottage with leaflets in it about the cottage. This piece of marketing has gone well from the point of view of people taking leaflets – let’s hope they come through with some bookings – watch this space.
The tulips were out in force again which is a spectacular sight and even though I have lived in Newton for almost 9 years now they still never cease to amaze me.
Chipping had its steam fair over the May Bank Holiday weekend which has so many exhibits of steam engines and lots of other stalls which always brings in crowds of people and lots of funds for Chipping.
June is hotting up so will update you on how the bookings are going.
Can you spot the rogue tulips, ha ha
Breaking News – The Parkers Arms are listed in the top 100 restaurants in the UK and awaiting the final result.
We May has arrived here in the Forest of Bowland and the sun is shinning in Newton in Bowland and the cottage is looking well. The rental of the cottage is picking up and we have had some amazing testimonials from our guests – which is fabulous.
I have added a few more services such as a Gluten Free breakfast welcome pack, a Smoked Salmon welcome breakfast pack and a celebration pack which consists of a bottle of Moet Champagne and handmade chocolates from the local chocolatier in Slaidburn. They are going down a storm which is really good. I am thinking of putting a supper pack on as well so if you have any thoughts on what would be good, please email me or contact me by phone.
Newton-in-Bowland had its duck race last weekend which was a hoot. There were a 1000 plastic ducks floating down the River Hodder which was a real sight. Unfortunately none of our ducks came anywhere but you cannot win them all can you.
The tulips are out in the village and they are an amazing sight and one which makes a lovely photo opportunity.
Well we have had our first marriage proposal at the cottage. A young couple from Scotland were staying for 5 nights and yes he popped the question so that was a first for us.
Bluebell teas are happening again on every Sunday in May at Calder Vale Village Hall it consists of a short walk through a beautiful bluebell wood and then onto afternoon tea. What an amazing sight all those bluebells are.
When you think of it we are really blessed with amazing countryside. I am just getting the flower pots ready for the garden of the cottage as it has amazing views and needs to be in its splender this year again for all out guests.
The Forrest of Bowland has been awarded a “Dark Skies” accreditation and as our luxury cottage is in this area I am putting a pair of binoculars, blankets and trying to source a red torch so all our guests can appreciate the amazing skies .
So this was our first February renting the cottage out to holiday guests. How did it go you are probably asking? It went amazingly well with 7 sets of guests staying for a total of 15 nights – a great result for our first February! Paul and Jayne were returning guests less than 2 months after their first visit – really nice to see them again – such a great couple.
Well they say February is the month of luvvvve with Valentines day. It was a real success for us in the cottage as we had a lovely couple staying and they informed us they had a brilliant meal at the Parkers Arms. We can confirm this as Mike and I also went down to the Parkers on Valentines day for the same meal. So I have a confession – this is the first time I have ever eaten a pudding, YES the first time. I totally dislike chocolate and anything sweet, yes you are probably saying a female who does not like chocolate is she a human or an alien ha ha!
Now as I am English I have to talk about the weather and we have had the lot in February, including sunshine, rain, wind and snow. We had enough snow that I made a snow man which when you are in your late 50s with no grandchildren around does seem a bit silly but hey ho you have to be young somehow.
We are looking forward to this year and meeting so many different people and characters from all around the world. We already have bookings from New Zealand, Latvia & Norway which is amazing. We are getting a lot of our bookings direct through our website which is really amazing so keeping up with social media seems to be working for us.
Hope everyone out there has had a great start to the new year and look forward to meeting new and returning guests in 2016.
So we have started the New Year and it went with a bang with the wet weather. At Newton we were really lucky compared to other places near us. The River Hodder broke its banks which meant we could not get over the river unless in a 4×4 but to be honest it did not last long. Whalley was hit really badly with the floods and so many homes and businesses were affected.
We had guests booked in over New Year but they were really worried about the weather and postponed their visit. It was such a shame as I thought it would be brilliant having guests in then. We did have guests in over Christmas which was brilliant.
This year the bookings have been coming in a steady flow which is really good. I have now put a freezer in the kitchen as a few guests have said it would help when they stay more than a few days. We have been getting amazing reviews from our guests but we must not rest on our laurels and need to keep thinking of new ideas and keeping the cottage in top shape.
We have joined VisitLancashire and are also in Discover Bowland and the Ribble Valley magazine so hopefully that will bring in more business.
I have now added a Gluten Free Welcome Breakfast Pack for £15 and also a celebration pack which includes a bottle of Moet Champagne and chocolates from the local chocolatier in Slaidburn, Vanilla Angel, for £45 and have already got a booking for the celebration pack which is brilliant.
So what is on in Bowland? A family star gazing event which is being held on Friday 12th February and a Mask-erade which is being held on 17th February which is about owls, hares, bats and butterflies. Full details are in the Discover Bowland magazine but if you are interested you can always contact me and I can give you the details.
So what is in store for February? Well it is Valentines Day and the Parkers Arms are putting on a tasting menu which looks amazing. They are also in the prestigious national Top 50 Gastropubs in 2015 which is brilliant for our guests as it is only a 2 minute walk from the cottage.
So what a year 2015 has been in the holiday cottage rental business. We have not been trading for a year yet, however, it has been really great meeting so many interesting people. It looks like we are on to a winner having a luxury cottage rental in the picturesque village of Newton-in-Bowland. I think the extras we put in such as Molton Brown toiletries etc is really working. Hopefully my unique selling point of thinking of every little detail, partly arising from my own travel experiences, to make our guests stay as enjoyable as possible is working – need to keep on my toes though!
Lancashire has been in the news quite a bit in December with the floods. Newton-in-Bowland has been really lucky even though we have the Hodder River running through it. The river did burst its banks, however, all the properties are a lot higher and as such we got away without any property being involved in the floods. My heart felt sympathy goes out to anyone who has been flooded.
The cottage has been doing really well. We have been full all over Christmas and it was really nice putting the Christmassy touches to the cottage.
We have been getting repeat bookings for 2016 which is really nice and it will be great to catch up with everyone.
My welcome breakfast packs have been really popular and I have even had a order for a gluten free breakfast pack. I have decided that I need to add a few additional services and as such have added the Gluten Free Welcome Breakfast pack and also a Celebration Pack with Moet Champagne and handmade chocolates from the local chocolatier, Vanilla Angel, which is a shop in Slaidburn the next village on.
I think that adding PDFs of local walks direct from the cottage in the welcome email has also gone down well with our guests.
Well a bit about the area – The Forest of Bowland is as beautiful in winter as it is in spring, autumn and summer.
What is on in January 2016, well it appears to be wedding season with local venues the Gibbon Bridge hotel having a fair on the 3 January and Eaves Hall also having a fair on the 9/10th January, to name but two.
Well I am going to sign off now and hope all my readers had a great Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year.
Well it is officially Autumn in The Forest of Bowland. Yes, the autumn leaves are here and the colours are amazing. The views going over Waddington Fell to School House Cottage are also amazing with the early morning mists, it is so atmospheric and even I stop the car sometimes to just stare at the amazing views.
Well the bookings for the cottage are going well and we have had more repeat visitors, John & Elaine from Liverpool. They are such a nice couple and feel the cottage is homely and feel really comfortable in it.
The log fire is being made up for all our guests as there is nothing nicer than having a log fire burning in our luxury cottage.
Our guests have also been ordering our local welcome breakfast pack which consists of sausages and bacon from the award winning Cowmans butchers in Clitheroe, 6 eggs from Elizabeth’s chickens across the road (sometimes they are so fresh we have to lift the chicken off the egg, ha ha). Also, Jane’s homemade Jam/Marmalade (Jane lives in Newton also), butter from Grandma Singleton in Longridge, Milk from our own Bowland Cows and Award winning bread from Yorkshire ( I know not very local but exceedingly tasty bread). Let’s hope the orders carry on as it is such a nice extra whilst staying at School House Cottage.
Well this week it will be all bonfires and fireworks. I am really looking forward to this. Clitheroe Castle which is only 7 miles from us has a magnificent bonfire and fireworks display so I think we will be popping over the fell to go to this event.
Also, of course, we have just ended the Halloween celebrations which seem to be getting bigger each year. The children in the village had a great ‘trick or treat’ time although there aren’t many houses for them to visit haha and as such the local dentists do not have a lot of work to do on the children’§§s teeth. I sent e-cards for Halloween to all our previous guests and am looking forward to sending other e-cards out – I love this little find and hope our guests enjoy them!
Did you know that the Pendle Witches area is only 10 miles from School House Cottage. So around this time of year Sabden and the surrounding areas have loads of events – to be honest you can see and do a lot all year round.
We have a booking for Christmas and I am so looking forward to putting Christmas decorations up in the cottage – I am going to try to source local decorations so watch this space for photos.
Well I am off now to get some more logs for the log burner – hope everyone is having a great autumn!