Moving to Yorkshire was not straightforward, but now we have done it and spent three wonderful months in our new home, we consider it one of the best decisions of our lives. It really was third time lucky!! Many years ago our friend Ken said to us, ‘you pays your money you make your choice’, and thank goodness we made the decision to pay and have a full survey done on the houses we looked to buy. A lovely man called Stuart did 3 full surveys for us. The first house had roof and car park issues and the second house seemed perfect to the human eye but was literally falling down and had radon gas. Stuart rang and said in his opinion it was not worth him writing the report, his advice was to run away from it as fkast as we could. So, back in November we imposed on my sister once more, and found Willowfield Cottage in the picturesque village of Thornton-le-Dale. It was love at first sight, a beautiful 1920’s house in a row of 15, up a Bridle path. Les, had owned it for many years, but after he went into a home his son sold it to some builders at auction.... I tell you this as I can not live in a house where someone died, it gives me bad vibes!!!!!! They completely gutted the property, but left the original features, such as fireplaces in the bedrooms, and picture rails and curved walls in the hallway. They added a downstairs toilet, state of the art kitchen and modern bathroom. Newly plastered and painted white walls and grey carpets meant we could move in and make our mark.
We moved in on the 27th December and sat on the floor with 2 mugs of champagne and a Chinese takeaway. The removal van had broken (I think he wanted a longer Christmas holiday) and our new mattress had failed to be delivered, but it was so relaxing we knew then that we had made the perfect decision. The last three months have been busy, we have been turning it into our home, with lots of trips to Dunelm, Pondens and the auction houses. Little Tom at Duggleby auctions and Angus at Ryedale are now on very good chatty terms, and as they keep telling Jules, I can always bid on line and they will keep my lots in storage whilst we are on the boat!!! The sad thing is that no one wants walnut, mahogany or solid oak furniture anymore, and I can not see them broken up for firewood. At one auction I bought three tables for £5 and donated them to the local hospice shop who sold them for over £100 each. As for tea sets, our attic beams are sagging under the weight, who can deny a bone China tea set a home, when it only costs a few pounds? I even bought Jules a new drill bit, and he can now drill holes into my pottery, so I can turn things into plate stands, outdoor pots, candle holders..... all I need is a market stall!! I have become friends with the lady who sells offcuts from John Lewis as part of their environmental reuse scheme. She has had pictures of my cushions and upholstery for John Lewis to use. I have even sewn 50 individual gift bags for our holiday lettings.
The house went live last night for holiday lettings, you can find it on www.yorkshireholidaycottages.co.uk or Ingrid Flute’s holiday cottages and search for ‘Willowfield Cottage’. We do not think we could do any more to make it as welcoming as possible. It has been wonderful to have so many friends to stay and each to offer advice on what they like about the house, and what we could do to make it better... a shelf here or an extra lamp there. We have employed a cleaning company, gardener and my mom will be our housekeeper, launderer and cake maker. It has been fun dealing with local companies to offer local goodies in our hamper and toiletry bag and of course there is a bone China gift for everyone!!!! I have gone mad thinking about how many coffee pods seem fair to leave and whether we need to leave cappuccinos or cafe au lait!!! Then there is the question of dishwasher and washing machine tablets. Jules has aching shoulders from cutting logs and has written an idiots guide to lighting a fire. We have had log burners for years, and forget that lots of people have never lit a fire. My sister came round to try out the instructions... our logic being that if she could follow the instructions on lighting a fire, anyone can!!! With a bit of moral support and a glove in case she burnt her hand, she managed not only to start a fire, but kept it going as well!!! Watching her work out how to use the popcorn maker was another matter. We thought a bowl of popcorn on the first night, with a glass of wine and the fire roaring, or the fire pit on a summer evening, would be nice to arrive to after a drive. There are rugs in a giant hamper in case people get cold sitting outside, a shiny new shed in case people bring bikes, 5 tons of gravel has been delivered and we have made a patio and BBQ area. We have newly painted antique patio furniture, a feature garden compass rose to continue the nautical theme, lots of boaty artwork, and a kitchen stocked with all sorts of things that will never get used!!! We have to provide sundae dishes, salad tongs, different sized serving spoons and toast racks amongst many other things. Jules has nearly died at the expense of really good fake candles, as real ones are not allowed for holiday lettings and we have some antique holders that look nothing without a good candle!! We are giving the job of writing individual cards to everyone that visits to my mom as she has lovely handwriting and I have finally altered the last of the curtains. We have put together goody bags for small children in the hope that they will colour in the book rather than anything else, and provided sticks or rock full of E numbers.....perhaps that was not our finest purchase, but it is too late now.
We have deliberated long and hard about the question of a dog, we might have Tinker and Scrappy in the house, but they are family. It is different having a strange dog, especially when we have new carpets throughout. So we have agreed to one smallish dog with very strict rules... not on the furniture, not upstairs and never to be left unattended. As Aggie says, dogs often make less mess than children and 99% of the owners clean up so well you would never know a dog has been in the house. Tinker enjoyed being chief taster when we put together the doggy treat bags. Poor Scrappy slept through the whole event, Tinker has lost her hearing and he seems to be losing his sense of smell!!!
We are really excited about our new venture as well as overjoyed to go travelling once more and we are returning to the boat for a few days next week to get it ready. We will then have a final week in Yorkshire before hitting the high seas once again. We have taken time out to visit Amble, a stunning seaside town in Northumberland and have a winter berth booked, so we can enjoy the Baltic for the summer and overwinter the boat near the house this year. We are trying things a little differently this time, and will come back for a few months each year to make sure the house keeps its top ratings.
We have had fun writing our own website, although it has taken hours. When we were working it would have taken half the time - ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ . We even deliberate over how to import a picture these days!!
It is www.willowfieldcottage.co.uk and for anyone who wants a holiday in Yorkshire we are offering at least a 15-20% discount off the published prices that you will see advertised by the holiday cottage companies, and if it is short notice even more. If you are interested please email us directly on Willowfieldcottage@gmail.com.