Bed and Breakfast & Holiday Cottage

Bed and Breakfast & Holiday Cottage

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Look no further than Twitter for a great B&B!

For me running a B&B is made so much more fun by tweeting. There's a lovely community of Lords and Ladies (landlords and landladies) that chat, advise and giggle often early in the morning when normal people are still in bed and I just love being part of it.

It is also a brilliant way of finding places you just have to go and stay in. I started tweeting in March this year egged on by my friend Karen ( and by the beginning of April had a "Must Stay" list as long as my donkeys' ears, so using the excuse of our 15th wedding anniversary we planned a lovely TwitterTrail starting at the Grand Designs favourite Peel Castle (, then on to the beautiful country house Austwick Hall (, then some sea air at "The Best B&B in the NorthWest" ( and finally the elegant Ashton in Lancaster (

A better selection of modern B&Bs would be hard to find and we had an amazing time. Each one was different, though all had the highest standards, and that is what is so lovely about British B&Bs : they are so different, being as they are, creations and perhaps even extensions of the owner's personality. And what food! Quality local food cooked perfectly every time.

Thinking of our 'little' farmhouse B&B, we felt like the poor relations in these enormous rooms and stylish surroundings. But of course our 'nice little place' is different again and though when I arrived back, with guests arriving that evening, I felt inadequate in comparison, the guests when they arrived did the same sort of ooohing and ahhing that we had been doing all week.

So there is obviously a place for "New Country" which is how I like to think of my own B&B alongside "Boutique" and "Luxury" and - er- "Castle" in the B&B world. What a great choice we have in this country. Thank goodness for that.
Ah Autumn - mellow fruitfulness for some; chainsaws and wellies for us. We've got fruit too - a few sloes, pears, autumn raspberries, loads of damsons and enough apples to feed the world. If the world has long enough arms to pick them. Our old orchard is planted on a bank and the trees are about 40 years old and big 'uns so we have to wait for windfalls to be able to appreciate their fruit.

This suits me "Leave it for the birds" I say, but Willy is different. He likes to strip a tree or bush of all its fruit and stash it in the freezer in the misguided belief that I will one day turn them into something delicious. He still does this every year despite the fact that I barely ever get around to doing so - a strategy that has worked well (finally) as he has taken to preserving and pickling things himself this year. He is in fact right now decanting damson vodka which is much loved by our guests. Hopefully soon he will move on to making pies and crumbles. I'll make the custard.

There are times when I can put on a good performance in the kitchen (hopefully most mornings as I run a B&B) but I would very much rather be in the garden than baking cakes and making jam, and autumn to me is the beginning of the gardening year. Although it is looking much as I feel at the end of a busy summer, it is now that I can start its makeover for a new look next year. Not a completely new look, but an improved look - Plants get moved from one place to another (Why on earth didn't I put them there in the first place?) Things get lifted and divided to give me more of the plants I love (Yay - free plants!) and a lot of stuff gets put on The Naughty Step.

The Naughty Step is a bank around the back of one of our barns where we put the thugs who would take over the garden if they had their way: a boring Lysimachia, Alchemilla mollis and masses of wild strawberries. There was a time when we were desperate for something to fill the acres of space we had and we were grateful for them so rather than compost them, we allow them this space to do their worst. It will probably end up being the best bit of the garden.

And with autumn, the chainsaw comes out again. Big old trees, weighed down with the rain on their leaves finally give in and fall. There was an ash at the far end that had been getting lower and lower over the seven years we've been here. It was a bit like living with an aged grandparent, he'd had a great life - what heights he'd reached - and we knew the end was coming, but it was still sad when he fell.

But what a great supply of wood for the fires this year. I love lighting the fires of an evening - that and a few candles make for a lovely welcome. Let's start getting cosy: the nights are drawing in.