December is here again and it’s nearly Christmas
December is here again and it’s nearly Christmas – where has the year gone? It has been quite a busy November at the cottages and also for me getting advertising in the Ribble Valley magazine and the Forest of Bowland Magazine for 2018.
We attended a meeting at Tithe Barn at Browsholme Hall for the Forest of Bowland members. It was great to network with other local businesses and also the meeting was really informative about certain EU grants you can apply for. However, as we are such a small business, these are not available to us. I still think grants from the EU to help sustainable tourism are fantastic – I suppose anyone who is thinking of applying for a grant should do so pretty dam quick as they will not be there once Brexit is enacted!!
I have been busy decorating the cottage in Church View Cottage in Gisburn so it is all Christmassy for our next guests. I have not done School House Cottage yet as the guests who were staying until 1st December did not want the Christmas decorations up for their stay – of course, you have to respect your guests’ wishes. Anyway, we decided to take a few days away before the Christmas rush and popped off to Amsterdam for the Christmas Markets – now here lies a story, we arrive and then find out that the Christmas Markets do not start until after we leave!!!!! No issue as to be honest Amsterdam is such a pretty place to stroll around and take in the sights.
As you know, I like to have a walk of the month and December’s is the Downham Circular – if you decide to do this walk do not forget to take some duck food as the ducks love being there and swimming in the river http://forestofbowland.com/files/uploads/pdfs/walks/DownhamCirc2.pdf
We have been stocking up with logs and coal again so our guests can have a roaring fire when they stay in one of our cottages.
Halloween is now over so its soon Christmas time
Well Halloween is now over so its soon Christmas time. Where has this year gone I am asking myself? We are still receiving bookings for both the cottages and both are now booked over the Christmas period – but I still have availability in November and the first part of December so thinking what marketing campaign I can run.
I have decided that I am going to run a walk of the month which for November is the Downham Circular walk. The walk is 4 miles and should take around 2 – 3 hours. The walk terrain is over tracks, fields and roads and is a lovely walk.
If you wanted to download the walk here is a link for you http://www.forestofbowland.com/files/uploads/pdfs/walks/DownhamCirc2.pdf
I have been to a social media class run by Bowland Experience who are part of the Forest of Bowland tourist group. It appears I should be using instagram as well as twitter – so trying to get my head around this now.
Soon I will be getting all the Christmas decorations down from the cottages lofts and get them ready to put in the cottages. Guests who are staying in School House on the 1st December has requested that I do not put them up – thank goodness I asked if they would like the decorations up. I really try to make an effort to ensure our guests stay is a fabulous relaxing experience. Well the weather today as I am writing this blog is amazing – what views!
So if you would like to have a stay before the Christmas rush in a lovely cottage with a pub within a couple of minutes walk then both my cottages would meet your requirements. School House Cottage is near The Parkers Arms and Church View Cottage is near the White Bull – happy days!!!!
Autumn is the time to take a break in Lancashire. Well what has happened in the last few months with the cottages. All has being going well and we have had a number of guests returning which is fantastic.
The Hodder Valley show has just been and gone for another year and it seems went really well. Unfortunately, we did not make it this year due to having a break in Scotland.
Our guests have been from all over the world with some guests coming all the way from America. On a personal note I have been really busy with Samaritans arranging the Manchester Pride where we were lucky to be given a place in the parade and also the Morecambe Bay Walk to raise funds for our branches. Well Manchester pride went without a hitch which could not be said about the Morecambe Bay Walk which was cancelled twice at the last minute as the sands were unsafe.
At the Visit Lancashire stand in the Country File Live weekend at Blenhiem Palace we offered a prize of 1 nights accommodation in either School House Cottage or Church View Cottage. Well Yvonne won the prize and has decided that she is going to take the offer of Church View Cottage – so we are looking forward to hosting her real soon.
Well it Blackpool Illuminations again and they are as spectacular as before and I always recommend our guests if they have not been there that it is a must at least once in your lifetime.
It is getting to that time again when all guests are wanting to light the fires in the cottages. As some guests have never lit a fire I make sure that they know exactly what to do and also to be able to appreciate it.
Its July in the holiday cottage business
Its July, wow where is the year going? Both holiday cottages are doing ok but to be honest we are quite a few days down on holiday rental bookings at School House Cottage compared with last year. One of the reasons for this might well be that none of our guests are getting any younger – we had a few guests who used to stay down the road at another holiday cottage which was closed down due to ill health and Jean passed our details on to her guests – thank you Jean. Some of the guests who stayed at Jean’s are now quite old and some unfortunately have passed away. I am thinking how to increase our presence in the holiday cottage market and any helpful hints and tips would be welcome.
Well the weather here in the Ribble Valley for June has been mixed from hot sunshine to raining but today as I am writing this blog it is sunshine!!
We have had guests over from Canada and they absolutely loved School House Cottage and had a fabulous meal at The Parkers Arms. We also love the food in the Parkers Arms and love AJ and Ben who are front of house – we always recommend our guests who stay at School House Cottage to eat there.
We are also so lucky that our cottage in Gisburn, Church View, has La Locanda the authentic Italian restaurant a few doors down from the cottage – guests who stay at Church View Holiday Cottage love it.
We also had a lovely couple from Padiham stay at Church View which is only a few miles from Gisburn – so I was really perplexed with this until I found out that they were emigrating from the UK to Spain and needed somewhere to stay so they could say good bye to the friends and family for a few days before they flew off to new adventures.
So what is going on in July? Its the Beat Herder festival which returns again to the Ribble Valley. It is now into its 12th year and still seems to be getting the big names playing such as Trentemøller, Sleaford Mods, Toots and the Maytals, The Sugar Hill Gang, David Rodigan, Adrian Sherwood, Faithless, High Contrast and many more…
So what has been going on with me then. I am still busy, busy, busy with the Samaritans and July is a big month for us with the “Big Listen” campaign which highlights on the 24/7 with most branches having a presence at Railway Stations. Also now I have my little grandson Archie once a week which I can tell you is really fab but oh so tiring, ha ha
Anyway must check out now as more washing and ironing to do – I must admit I feel like a laundry service at the moment and am trying to find someone to wash, dry & iron bedding so if you know anyone local to Clitheroe or Gisburn, please pass me their contact details.
May has gone and now it’s the holiday cottage season.
Well we had a month long booking for our holiday cottage in Gisburn, Church View, which was amazing. The booking was made through Airbnb which is a good source of our bookings for both our holiday cottages.
I am late blogging this month due to the horror that happened in Manchester on 22nd May at the Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande concert. In my personal life I am a Samaritan at our local branch in Blackburn. I am also the North West Regional Marketing Officer for Samaritans. It has been a really hectic time for me ensuring that as many people directly and indirectly affected are aware that Samaritans provide a 24/7 service for anyone in emotional distress. This included handling the media and ensuring that only appropriate materials etc are used. I have done a number of extra shifts with other volunteers at Victoria Station and in St Anne’s Square in Manchester. The latter is where the memorial flowers were laid by so many people who have been affected by the event and I have to say the atmosphere there has been the most eerie I have ever experienced. It is only now in the middle of June that I can take stock of what has gone on and to be honest it has started to hit home with me. Here is a photo of the amazing sight at St Anne’s Square.
Anyway that is enough of what has been going on for me personally.
The holiday cottages news
The holiday cottages are doing really well, especially School House Cottage which is almost fully rented out for holiday makers in July and August. The cottage in Gisburn is slowly but surely picking up, including having one couple stay who had previously stayed at School House Holiday Cottage. They loved both the cottages, with Gisburn ‘scoring highly’ for its central location. The cottage in Gisburn is called Church View Holiday Cottage, due to guess what its view overlooking the medieval church which is a lovely sight.
We have had some more photos taken of School House Holiday Cottage by a professional photographer and they look really good. What are your thoughts?
Wow its May and so much has been happening in the Ribble Valley and especially with my holiday cottages.
Church View Cottage in Gisburn is now ready for guests and would you believe it I have had a month booking from a fabulous lady from Shropshire who just wants to chill out in a lovely setting and a lovely cottage with all the home comforts. Well in my opinion I think she chose well!! The booking came through Airbnb which shows it helps to spread your holiday rental marketing around.
We have also obtained a couple of bookings for the cottage in Gisburn through our website which is really good – looking forward to getting some more as we increase our marketing strategy and try to promote Gisburn and the Ribble Valley which is part of amazing Lancashire. It is such a shame that lots of people pass through our fabulous county to get to the Lake District – little do they know that they could stay in the Ribble Valley and have a short drive to the South Lakes.
Well Newton in Bowland was on the BBC Travel Show with Stosie the chef and AJ the front of house at the Parkers having staring roles from the Parkers Arms. Stosie showing how to make a authentic Lancashire hot pot check out the show . Newton was sandwiched between Thailand, New York and Venice http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08mn6xx/the-travel-show-167-canals
We are in the process of getting professional photos for our website for Church View holiday cottage rental but would you know it had to cancel the photographer as we had the lady from Shropshire in – not a bad situation to be in me things, ha ha
School House Cottage is going from strength to strength with guests and we are still achieving really brilliant reviews and also guests coming from all over. Just recently we had a lovely lady and her son Raf over from Belgium. They traveled on the Eurostar, then caught the train to Manchester and then onto Clitheroe train station. We arranged with them to pick them up from Clitheroe and bring them to the cottage. They absolutely fell in love with the picturesque village of Newton and the amazing walks that I gave them. They both said they loved the rural villages and they felt that they had immersed themselves into the local life. They did share a few pints with the locals in the Parkers Arms – mind you the Parkers Arms is coming a bit like a gin palace with all locals drinking the local gin from Burnley called “Batch Gin”!
We have just had new photos of School House Cottage and going to send the link to my son Chris to update our website with. However, here are a few – what are your thoughts?
It is April already and we now have holiday cottage in Gisburn is ready for guests so now I need to start marketing really hard on the holiday cottage rental market as it is such a fabulous cottage. It has been real hard work getting the garden up to the standard we would like – so we are really pleased with this so it looks like we are utilising lessons learned from School House Cottage.
A week ago we were at Gibbon Bridge Hotel at the Ribble Valley AGM and Tourism Awards and guess what we were awarded a Ribble Valley Tourism Award for being “Tourism Heroes” which is such a fabulous award and such a shock for us both. Can you see us on the back row at the front?
In the fields the lambs are now being born and it is lovely watching them play in the fields and really makes us appreciate the countryside we live in. This is one of the main things our guests say about the area that the cottage is in a picturesque spot and ideal for holidays and they love coming for a staycation.
The daffodils are all out and now the tulips are making a stand – what an amazing sight for everyone. The cottage at School House looks amazing!
It has been all go over the last few days and would you believe it the Parkers Arms were on BBC Travel Show. So it was Bangkok Thailand, Turin Italy, New York USA and yes you guessed it Newton in Bowland. AJ and Stosie are now taking autographs – why not watch the clip http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08mn6xx/the-travel-show-167-canals
So onto Church View in Gisburn we have now got the rug and it really looks amazing. We are getting a professional photographer in so we can really showcase the cottage and also to look at the photos on the website. We have kept to our high standard of furniture and furnishing but also to make sure we keep personal touches which we know from School House Cottage this is what our guests like.
I am getting so many brilliant comments about the light fitting in the main bedroom – which is brilliant as it took me ages to source something that I thought would be different but also a statement and it looks as though this has been achieved – what are you thoughts?
Well the snowdrops are out in Newton in Bowland we are just waiting for the daffodils and the tulips it is such a picturesque sight – soon it will be the turn of the tulips in the village green and what a sight that was last year.
Here is a photo of the amazing vista and guess what The Parker’s Arms is in the background. This brings me nicely onto the top 50 Gastropubs in the UK and would you believe it (well I do as I eat in all these establishments!!) 4 of them are in the Ribble Valley and another is in a town next to the Ribble Valley. The Parker’s Arms also moved from 48 last year to 13 this year – yes 13 is unlucky for some but hey ho really lucky for others – well done The Parker’s Arms. Check out the full article here https://goo.gl/jcIV8K I bet you did not know we also have a Castle in Clitheroe!!! The views from the top are amazing and should be a MUST if you ever decide to come to Lancashire and in particular Clitheroe.
So to digress you will be thinking, if you read my blog – and if you don’t regularly read it WHY, ha ha, answers on a postcard please! How are we getting on with our new venture in Gisburn? Well we are doing ok – it is funny as we do not have to completely renovate like we did with School House Cottage but it is really putting pressure on me to get things to accessorise as I like to get original and local things and pictures. When I was renovating School House Cottage I had a whole year to pick up bits and bobs and up-cycle things – so it is a real challenge for me as I love using local artists etc – getting there though and will not start marketing until it is up to our standard and what we would want to stay in.
So it is the @tourdeyorkshire soon which is really good for the area and always showcases Yorkshire and the surrounding areas such as Gisburn etc
So how is the cottage at Gisburn going then you are probably asking – it is going really well. Whilst writing this blog I should be up at the cottage cleaning so once I have finished this I will be getting up there pretty sharp as we have our first guests. Mark and his wife enquired about staying at School House Cottage over a weekend but unfortunately it was booked so I offered Church View even though it was not finished and explained the little touches such as pictures would not be there but they could be guinea pigs for me if ok with them. Well Mark said that would be brilliant so now I am running around like a blue arsed fly trying to get as much done as possible for them. I lit the fire yesterday just to make sure it works and it works like a dream
So now I have to go and get some coal for the guests and get it set up so all they have to do is light it when they arrive. It has been quiet stressful this last week trying to get everything sorted but it is probably a good thing as it has meant I have had to get it ready. I spoke to a friend Chris Moore who is a famous illustrator and he has given me some prints of Pendle Hill that I am getting framed and they will go in the cottage which is really good. So no time to rest on my laurels and better get up and get going and start cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
Its February where did January Go? Yes exactly, I have been so busy with marketing School House Cottage and getting Church View Cottage at Gisburn ready for the holiday rental market time has just flown by.
I have been looking at different ways to market School House Cottage to walkers, cyclists and foodies and trying to work out what has been working well and what has not – marketing is a real mine field I have come to the conclusion.
The Ribble Valley and Clitheroe has had a real boost this month with an article in the Guardian Newspaper as it talks about Clitheroe having a Castle and the Ribble Valley having 5 of the top 50 Gastropubs in the UK. This is brilliant for me as both my cottages are in the Ribble Valley so for any of you foodies out there just think you could stay at one of my luxury cottages and eat 5 nights in one of the top gastro pubs – not bad me thinks. Why not check out the full article in the Guardian.
The Parkers Arms which is only a hop skip and a jump from School House Cottage moved from 48 to 13 in one year in the top 50 Gastropubs – which is an amazing achievement for Stosie, Kath and AJ – check out their website for opening hours http://www.parkersarms.co.uk
So what has been happening at School House Cottage – well we have been painting and making sure everything is tip top for 2017. We are thinking of getting some more artwork from a local photographer which I think is a good idea as it will also show case local artists. I have added some more services for our guests to order for their arrival such as chilli etc and once again they are sourced locally from Bashall Barn – if anyone has any thoughts on other services we can offer please get in touch.
Well Church View in Gisburn is coming together now – we have painted every wall, ceiling and all the woodwork and it is looking really fresh and clean. I have been to Boundary Mill which is just up the Road from Gisburn and purchased all the Sheridan Bedding and luxury towels – why not check out Boundary Mill website they have amazing stuff http://boundarymill.co.uk/store/colne/ and as I said only a short distance from Gisburn and to be honest only a short distance from School House Cottage as well.
So now it is dressing the cottage in our own individual style and have purchased a bespoke chair from Shackletons Lifestyle & Garden Centre – check it out
Here is a photo of the main bedroom – I have not finished as still to get the curtains, mirror and touches but I still think it is looking good – what are your thoughts?
More photos will be added as we go along – it is really weird as I like to personalise little touches of the cottages with Church View not needing full renovation it is proving harder to do as I do not have the luxury of time to source – but hey ho that will not stop me, ha ha
It is 2017 and what a year 2016 was for the cottage! and us of course, ha ha. We did not quite get the Lancashire Tourism New Business Award but, do you know what we are not so upset, as the competition was amazing. Since my last blog we have had so many amazing reviews which makes me think we are doing it right – but I can promise you we will not rest on our laurels. We have to keep ensuring we are looking at what we need to do to improve and make the cottage more desirable than anyone else’s in the area – any thoughts would be great and welcomed – please email.
We are expanding our portfolio and have just purchased a cottage in Gisburn which again sleeps 3. The Gisburn cottage is opposite the church and has amazing church views. I will send you all the details soon including a 10% discount if you book through the website for all guests who have stayed at School House Cottage – if you are reading this and have not stayed at the School House contact me and I am sure I can do the same deal for you.
Once again we have looked at the facilities and the Church View Cottage in Gisburn is only a minute walk from La Locanda which wins more awards for their food than The Parkers – yes how amazing is that.
We have decided to stay at Church View in Gisburn whilst our kitchen is being fitted so will be able to make sure that everything, again like School House Cottage, is up to standard and what we would expect if we were the guests.
So how has Christmas been for you? It has been amazing for us and Caroline and Donald who stayed over Christmas were great guests who left a fabulous review which is brilliant – see the website for full review.
So what is your New Year Resolution? Well mine is to lose weight, do more exercise and continue to enjoy life and what it brings.