Thursday, 18 December 2014

Crisp Winter Walks

As we get further into Winter, I get increasingly enthusiastic about the attractions of a bright blue sky, frost on the ground, and an invigorating walk.  So far this year, the weather has been quite kind, so there have been lots of opportunities for lovely walks.   I always have a willing companion to encourage me out of the house:

The scene below is taken from one of my walks on Besbury Common - an easy 40 minute walk straight from the front door.  The views across the Golden Valley (around Chalford) are beautiful.  We are spoilt for choice regarding walks with lovely views, as there are loads of public footpaths (historically these were mill workers paths to get from where they lived, up on the hills, down to the mills, which were by the rivers, down in the valley).

If there are any soggy and miserable days this winter (and I'm sure there will be), I will curl up inside instead (after a brisk walk with Betsy) and document some of the walks so that my guests can enjoy the countryside around Minchinhampton, and also some of my favourite walks a bit further afield.  The cats will keep me company, as they are usually tired out after their mouse-hunting exploits.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Not long until Christmas

I bought my Christmas tree yesterday, from Miserden Nursery - an excellent place to buy a tree.  They trimmed it for me, put it in the car, and gave lots of helpful advice.  I had thought I would need to get it delivered, but it fitted in the car with no problems at all.  I even managed to get it into the house and into the tree stand all by myself.  Result!

I found the tree lights and decorations (after much searching in the attic) and spent a happy afternoon putting the various ornaments onto the tree.  My tree decorations are a motley selection (or should I say an eclectic mix) of individual ornaments and baubles, some new, but most going back years if not decades.   Two new ones this year - both presents from friends/family - a fluffy Christmas pudding and a felt reindeer wearing a red and white scarf.   I don't decorate the whole house - this is about it - but it shows willing.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Scam Emails

I must be learning something, as I am starting to recognise scam emails fairly readily.  The latest one arrived this morning.

This particular one slipped up by leaving the long list of recipients visible to all of us.  It appears that a group of people want to book a large number of rooms for a large number of days, and that they will simultaneously be in the Cotswolds and also in New Zealand, Scotland, the Hebrides and Ireland.

Not terribly convincing.

They tend to include some content to impress the recipient, imply a degree of urgency in replying, and use CAPITALS inappropriately.

I don't think I will be replying on this occasion.  I'll go back to working on some updated images for the web site....

Monday, 10 November 2014

Tea by the Fire

What could be better than tea in the drawing room, in front of a roaring fire, after a lovely dog walk on Minchinhampton Common?  Bliss...

Monday, 3 November 2014

Rodborough Common

It was a lovely day for a walk today.  Rodborough Common is one of my favourite places to walk as you can't get lost (or you would have to try very hard) and there is a large expanse of unspoilt countryside with panoramic views of picturesque hills and villages.  At other times of year there are lots of wildflowers and butterflies to look for, but just now, when the leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow and orange, on a sunny day - what could be better?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Christmas bookings

I took my first Christmas bookings the other day, and am now fully booked on 27th and 28th December.  Lots of space before and after that - I will be open right through until early January - just on a B&B basis (please don't come here expecting me to cook your Christmas dinner!)

Christmas is such a lovely time of year, particularly when you get a crisp bright sunny day.  We get some snow in Minchinhampton, but not every year.  I think we have had a decent covering of snow about three times since I've been here - so maybe once every 2-3 years.  The atmosphere changes with snow, and I rather like that.  Maybe we will get snow this year??

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Nicest times of the day

One of the nicest times of day is early in the morning, when, for the last month or so, I have been wandering up the garden to pick the autumn raspberries.   The raspberries grow like weeds and are threatening to take over one of the vegetable beds.   It's very satisfying being able to pick fruit and then, within half an hour, the fruit salad is complete and guests are starting to tuck in.  We are getting towards the end of the raspberries for another year.  Roll on next August!

The other particularly nice time of the day is when I take Betsy for a walk.  Today we walked through a field with sheep grazing, and decided to sit for a while.   Betsy sat quietly, and I suddenly noticed that a group of sheep quite close to us were giving Betsy their fullest attention.

And Betsy was watching them with interest.

All very amicable, and probably quite educational on both sides.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Walkers are Welcome

I provide a selection of walk leaflets and suggestions for guests interested in walking holidays.  I tried out the Laurie Lee walk today - a wonderful walk around Slad - beautiful views and a nice mixture of footpaths through open countryside, woodland paths, and a few country lanes.

I picked up a the walk leaflet a few weeks ago, and thought I would see if I could follow the route (I am notoriously bad at map reading - so if I can follow it, there is a good chance that guests will be OK).  I had one moment of slight uncertainty, and I only got lost once, because I missed the turning into a small lane (I thought it was a driveway rather than a lane).

The walk has a number of wooden 'Laurie Lee' markers, and also some Laurie Lee poems printed on acrylic set within wooden posts, which 'frame' the views rather nicely.

Clearly the walk could be very muddy, so be warned, and there was a fiendishly steep slope to ascend near the beginning of the walk.  Walking boots essential.  Enjoyable but quite tiring (clearly I'm not as fit as I thought I was).

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Natural Traffic Calming

Minchinhampton has a very natural form of traffic calming in the summer months, in the form of cows.  Cows (and a few horses and one donkey) graze the common from May until November, and the cows are free to roam through many of the streets, taking light refreshment in the form of flowers in hanging baskets and window boxes.  The highland cattle (my favourites, as they are so fluffy) often wander through the town, and yesterday, a whole herd of them strolled past my driveway.  Then, when I thought all of them had gone, there was one straggler, who put on a little burst of speed, trotting down the road to catch up with the rest of them.

Cars and cyclists have to wait for the cows gradually to move on, at their own pace.  Perfect traffic calming.  Every town should have them.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Alastair Sawdays - Special Places to Stay

I had a visit from the Alastair Sawday inspector early last week, and was delighted to hear that The Close had been accepted as a 'Special Place to Stay'.   They did a lovely write-up, I added a few photos, and it went live on the Sawday's web site earlier this evening.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Green Bedroom

At long last, the Green Bedroom is up and running (since the beginning of July).

I've had a couple of families with young-ish children (aged about 8 - 14) stay in the Green Bedroom, with their parents staying in the Red Bedroom, and it has worked very well as the bedrooms are just along the corridor from each other.

Both the Red Bedroom and the Green Bedroom have working shutters (rather than curtains) which gives a crisp look to the rooms, and the Green Bedroom has window seats which are a nice place to sit and read a book (or the electronic equivalent).


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The best things in life are Orange

I'm very fond of this nasturtium, which appeared a few years ago, and is looking particularly nice this year.  It clashes with everything around it, but somehow I rather like that.

Another nice orange thing around the place, is sometimes to be found having a quick look at guests as they walk through the garden upon arrival.  She just quietly looks through the cat flap - her window onto the world - then goes back to sleep in the snug (guests use a different door, so don't worry - you won't need to step over the dog on your way in!)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Summer Evenings

It is so nice to potter around the garden in the evening, with the sunlight adding a soft glow to the proceedings.

One of my favourite plants at the moment is a total freebie - a self-seeded snapdragon, with lovely 2-tone orange/yellow flowers.

Another of my favourites is a rambling rose which we bought about 5 years ago, and it has just settled in and grown year by year.  This year, it needed serious support, as it is nearly as high as the wall.  It is gradually taking over the back of the border, in a quite delightful way.

The evening ends with a little light watering of the tomato and chilli plants in the greenhouse, and recently planted seedlings in the garden (with lots of slug pellets required, unfortunately, as slugs and snails seem to be rampant this year, possibly the result of the mild winter).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Turquoise Photos

I'm looking for more photos to illustrate the Turquoise Suite.  The Red Bedroom is more dramatic, but the Turquoise Suite is a lovely calm relaxing space, so I want the photos to give the impression of space, serenity, style and comfort.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

First Cut of Spring

Just cut the lawn - first cut of this Spring.  Instantly the garden looks a bit spruced up, and somehow greener.

Tulips are getting going (not quite soon enough for last weekend's guests), the magnolias are flourishing and the aubretia is looking very fine (must plant more).  Lovely weather for sitting out in the garden and enjoying a cup of coffee.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Breakfast for Five

Five people for breakfast today!  Quite a logistical exercise, which I did OK, but could definitely do better.  I think (yet another) checklist is on the way.

Another first - I had to turn away a request for B&B with "I'm sorry, but I'm fully booked".  Shame, because they were a nice couple who had stayed before.  At least I didn't frighten them off last time.

I thought I might put a photo of the fully-laid table onto the web site, and will probably include one of the following photos - one has a better view of the herb garden (and shows off the flowering quince) the other is a bit lighter, shows the rug, and gives a glimpse of the rest of the garden.

I will also include a photo of the other side of the room, which is much lighter, so you can see things a bit more clearly.  You can't really see the things on the shelves, but, then again, does that matter?

And finally, one of the sideboard, with lots of healthy (and delicious) things on top.  At least it looks as though it's been polished - nice little reflections showing.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Springtime Strolls

I love going into the garden on a sunny Spring day.  There is a little corner where some miniature daffodils and primulas are thriving.  This is my coffee-time bench, which is when it catches the sun.

The quince is just coming out - I think it will be at its best in a few days, but it catches my eye every time I walk past.

The copper beech will come into its own in a month or so, but even without any leaves, the little blue scillas look great alongside the daffodils.

And finally, my favourite bit of the garden in spring is the Apple Tree Walk.  Old gnarled apple trees covered with lichen and the pretty primulas flourishing beneath.