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 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.
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!
Well it has been a real hectic month since our my last blog at for the cottage.
We have been really lucky with bookings. The bookings have been coming in from all areas. More and more of the bookings for School House Cottage are now coming via our website. This is really great news – we must be doing something right. However, could it be that the Forest of Bowland is getting more popular!
Well early on in the month we had the Hodder Valley Show. This is an agricultural show where the 3 villages of Newton-in Bowland, Slaidburn and Dunsop Bridge get together and put on a traditional agricultural show. It is held every year and goes from village to village and this year it was the turn of Slaidburn to host the show. We had glorious sunshine up until the day of the show and then the heavens opened – luckily it did not rain to long and the show was a real success.
Well the lead up to the show does get very heated in the Fairbairn family home as I enter a number of categories each year and this year I entered 10 – yes 10, think I need my head looking at. So a few days before the show I always wonder why oh why have I entered again as my stress levels go wild. So you are probably asking, where was I placed this year. Well I was really lucky and got a 1st for my quiche, a 2nd for my brownies another 2nd for a photo of local scene and a 3rd for a photo of foreign travel. So not bad at all, however as I am so competitive, should have got a few more 1st’s ha ha.
We also had the Tour of Britain Stage 2 cycle race in the Forest of Bowland. The race went straight past the cottage door. This was brilliant as we had a couple of guests staying at the cottage. We decorated the cottage up and even had royalty outside. If you look really close in the photo you will be able to see the queen (it is a cardboard cutout – it caused quite a stir with the locals). The Forest of Bowland really looked amazing on the TV and really showed off Lancashire’s fantastic countryside. It was a real shame that the cottage was not on TV especially as I did decorate it up, but, hey ho you cannot win it all.
Since the cycle race there have been lots and lots of cyclists going past the cottage. I am wondering if they are following the Stage 2 course or just taking a leisurely ride around our fabulous countryside!
As autumn is nearly on us the log burning fire is now being used in the cottage and is such a welcoming sight. I quite often get requests to get the fire burning for guests on their arrival. If the guests do not request this service I always have it set up so all they need to do is light the firelighters and then put a log on. Having a roaring log fire is so comforting – especially when you can have an nespresso coffee made by the coffee machine. You can even have a glass of red or white wine as I stock a nice bottle of each in the cottage on an honesty box basis.
Now not on our luxury cottage but on another matter – who read the article from the Daily Mail on Airbnb? I have used Airbnb whilst travelling around the world and have never had any problem with any of the places I have stayed in at all. I have had some really amazing places I stayed in. I decided when setting up School House Cottage that I will use all the fabulous tips I have found whilst staying in Airbnb’s for my cottage. My cottage is also advertised via Airbnb which proves I am such a convert.
Well I am really sorry but I have been very lapse at blogging – well I have slapped myself on the back and it is all going to change.
So what happened in July . Well it started with the Scarecrow Festival in Waddington which is the last village you go through before you drop down into Newton-in-Bowland. The scarecrows were brilliant again but my favourite one was the cyclists coming up the Waddington Fell. I was driving into Clitheroe and had a double take moment they were brilliant.
The Walk of The July from the cottage in Newton-in-Bowland to Dunsop bridge has been a real eye opener. I have been tweeting a number of pictures of places that you would not see if you were in a car. One of which is Knowlmere Manor which was built in 1849 for Jonathan Peel the grandson of Sr Robert Peel. The Manor was also used in an episode of Sherlock Holmes in the 1980s.
There has also been a Tractor Rally that past the cottage door and the guests who were staying were amazed at the number of tractors and the age of them it was a real spectical.
We have had a few days away which has been really great a few days in Northumberland and a few days at CarFest which is the festival run by Chris Evans for Children in Need. The Festival had a couple of events the first was the Bob Geldorf swearing at the crown and telling us that all we wear is Primark clothes and spend money on cars instead of trying to look good! Number One this is a family event and swearing at and around very young children is not a good thing – and Number Two, how dear him say derogatory things about the people who pay his wages!!!! The next event was really unfortunate as one of the pilots crashed and lost his life – which was so sad.
Well just before we went to CarFest we went to the open gardens at Townend which is a most magnificent house which they spent over 2million to restore. The gardens were fabulous and so was the cake!
Well back to the cottage we have had our first repeat booking YES our first repeat booking and we have only been taking guests since mid May – was so excited the guests again.
We have also been interviewed by Live Ribble Valley magazine and whoopee we have been given a 2 page spread on us and the cottage, again so excited I went down to the local tourist information office and picked up another 4 copies of the magazine so I could show them to my family.
August was a great month and we had loads of bookings, however, we still have a few dates left in September if anyone is interested – any tips or advice would be great on how to increase my bookings.
The Stage 2 of the Tour of Britain went past our holiday cottage yesterday but will give you more details of that when I write the September blog.
I am just getting ready for the Local Hodder Valley Show which is on Saturday 12th September so need to see if I can win something in the baking section – fingers crossed.
Well what has been happening in the life of a holiday cottage owner Newton-in-Bowland in June?
We are still getting bookings which is really great but have a week at the end of July (27/7 – 2/8) with no bookings. I am a little disappointed and thinking how can I market this week. I think I am going to put a special offer of 20% off. I have not put special offers on yet so not sure how it will go – fingers crossed a booking will come flying through the tinternet (for anyone outside Lancashire that is slang for internet!).
There has been lots going on in the village in since my last blog. First of which was a Duck Race. Unlike previous years where there was hardly any water flowing down the River Hodder and some of the villagers had to get into the water to bodily push the ducks down the river the Hodder did us proud and the river had quite a flow on – maybe due to the rain we had beforehand, ha ha. Anyway, like every year my duck never comes anywhere near winning – I think it could still be out there.
The next event was the Treasure Hunt and BBQ – unfortunately I was not around for this as I was in Japan but I have heard it went down a storm with lots of the villagers joining in and the BBQ was a real hit with fabulous burgers and sausages – us villagers are mean BBQ cooks.
Now I know you would all like to know about Japan so here is my link to my travel blog just incase you would like to know the antics I got up to there www.mytb.org/PJandMike.
Whilst we were in Japan the next village on Slaidburn had their annual Steam and Vintage Rally which is held in the Car Park and Field next to the Hark to Bounty. If you are a steam engine fanatic it is a great day out. I always put the date on my website so keep your eyes pealed for 2016.
Last Saturday we had the village Safari supper. If you are not aware of what a Safari supper is, prior to the date of the supper you either agree to host for starters or mains or if you are not within walking distance of the village hall you can make a pudding as puddings are served in the village hall.
I decided that I would host the mains again for 8 people, which sounded a good idea until I had to decide what I was going to make which would be easy and could be left for over an 1hr 1/2 on its own.
Anyway back to how we run our Safari suppers. So you all meet at the village hall and are given a sheet of paper which tells you who is hosting you for starters and who is hosting you for mains. You are not aware of who else the host will be hosting. The host does not even know who is going to turn up at their door. It is a great way to meet new villagers and even the villagers you know to say hello to.
You are on a timetable so at 8.30pm you need to be at the host who is serving you mains – it is quite fun opening the door and not knowing who is going to turn up at your house.
Well I decided that I would serve lasagne which went down a storm. We all go back to the village hall for more drinks and pudding and yes you guessed it more chat. Everyone had a great night.
As I am writing this blog my next guests are checking out and I have to get the cottage ready for more guests who are checking in on 3rd July for 3 nights.
I attended a workshop run by our Hetty our local Forest of Bowland AONB Sustainable Tourism Officer. It was a real informative workshop and gave me a few tips. One of which is to have a walk of the month. So July I think the walk of the month will be Newton to Slaidburn circular.
Here is looking forward to a sunny July and lots of visitors to the Forest of Bowland to see for themselves breathtaking landscapes and the many varied activities available.