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.
Its December ! Well we did not win the Lancashire Tourism New Business Category Award but hey ho we were finalists which is an amazing and brilliant achievement. We were up against really strong competition. A Lancaster Events company won the award. I think to be honest we were the smallest company represented in the finals. Well done to all the winning businesses.
So the cottage is now ready for Christmas with all the decorations up. It looks really festive which is really nice for our guests.
We are in the process of buying another cottage, this time in Gisburn and not quite sure whether we are going to let it out long term or go down the holiday letting route – any thoughts would be good!
Earlier in the year we teamed up with The Parkers Arms to offer 2 nights accommodation as part of an auction prize where the money was donated to Action for Hunger. The beneficiaries of the prize, Ann and Judith, came to stay in November and really enjoyed their stay in Lancashire and loved every minute of being shown around by Stosie from the Parkers. They left a fantastic review which I put on the website and twitter so if you have time why not check it out. So thanks once again to GS Systems in Stockport where Ann is a long term employee.
We have got a few bookings for December which is really great and we also had the first snow of the year. It was really pretty with the fields all covered and best of all the roads were all clear for our guests. We are so lucky with the fell road as the council are really good keeping it clear because of the Stone Quarry at the top.
So what is everyone doing for Christmas? We are going to have a really quiet Christmas this year but will be busy getting the cottage ready in Gisburn for whatever we decide to do with it – as mentioned before any ideas would be great.
We went to Gisburn Hub where there are loads of cycle paths and walking paths – it is amazing and only 5 miles from the cottage. Isn’t it amazing on your own doorstep and never been – well that is going to change as planning a cycle ride there in the not too distant future. Also when I have my friend’s dog to look after, which is quite often at the moment, I have decided that I will take her there for a walk.
Wishing you all a great Christmas and Happy New Year!
Hope to see you soon.
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.