In stage parlance, when a theatre goes dark, it means it is closed. During the World Wars, the IRA terrorist activity during the 1970s and other bad stuff, our West End theatres defiantly stayed open. But not now. In fact, according to The Spectator, the last time our London theatres went dark on this scale was in 1592 when the plague was rife and Shakespeare turned his hand to knocking out a few poems instead.

Closer to home, in fact just across the yard, our Barn is now dark. And very strange it feels too. We are so used to guests in the Barn that it is now ‘status normal’ for us. But we said goodbye to our last guests yesterday morning and, yes, before you tut, they were key workers. Delightful fellows working in construction who despite their obvious ability to do proper manual labour, couldn’t work out how to light the log burner each night and took to giving me a call when they were on their way home to ask if we would light it for them. After a couple of evenings, we just lit it for them anyway and jolly grateful they were too. They were kind enough to ring me yesterday morning after they had left to say thank you and that, in the future, they would be back with their wives. “Nicest place we’ve ever stayed.” A good way to end, I think.

The reality is that we have spent the last couple of weeks haemorrhaging bookings, agreeing cancellations, refunding and generally playing a tricky wicket with what we hope is a straight bat. Some folks have cancelled and immediately rebooked for later in the year and we love these guys. Some have, even better, said they are happy to leave their deposits with us and will move their booking to better times. Some have sent us kind messages and promised to be back. Some have just taken the money and – that’s ok, I get that. Lots of people are significantly worse off than we are and at least we are well and living comfortably at home with the 91 year old Intrepid Granny now in residence for the duration.

Of course, the urge to gather my chicks around me is very great. But they are having none of it. All their bedrooms in the house and the Barn could now be restored to their original owners – our children have variously lived in the Barn over the years, apart from number 3 who said “It’s too far from the kitchen!” but that’s hungry boys for you! But they are locked down in various places apart from our nurse, number 4, who is on the frontline in a London hospital. They know I’m thinking of them and they are being very good about checking in daily. I’m sure there is some harrumphing about this that I am not aware of, but they’re doing it and that gives me comfort.

Going back to the Barn, whilst it’s hard to know how long this will continue, we need to generate some bookings so with my marketing head on, I will be devising some deals and offers which I will be posting on social media in due course. And after all, this time last year, there was no Crow House Barn.

This is the most beautiful time of year to come here. Every morning when I take Darcy (small black dog of dubious parentage much loved by guests) for a walk, Nature is raucously announcing her presence in the fields, hedgerows and woodlands. And, not least because we had a spring wedding here a few years ago and did a lot of planting, tulips and daffodils, hyacinths and primroses are bursting into bloom in the garden. We’ve had enough dry weather to get the mowing up to date and we look rather wonderful. Maybe next year, we’ll have guests who can enjoy it all with us. Here’s hoping.

So wishing you all a safe self-isolating spring and let’s hope that we can all enjoy summer together rather than apart.

Special request: if you enjoy my ramblings and want to share with other folks, please do. Once this is over, we’d like to have a bed and breakfast business again so if you can help get the message out there, we’d be ever so grateful.

Crow House Barn