First, a quick context-setting… When we embarked into the world of hospitality with our Barn – this being in a career sense rather than the cork-popping, let’s have friends round sense – the world was a different place. Our model for this new enterprise was based on guests sleeping in the Barn, eating breakfast in our conservatory (lovingly cooked by my beloved with waitressing/washing up by moi) and then them going out for the day. Hmm…

These were the halcyon days of pubs and restaurants being open for food pretty much seven days a week and people feeling safe enough to use them. This all worked well in our first summer. We were urged, even then, by our expert Lake District holiday let hosts/dear friends, to put in a kitchen. But we were rammed with bookings, we argued. Also, and I argue now from a smug position of strength, what we might have done then in terms of facilities is not what we have done now. The world is a different place after all.

Once the dreaded pandemic started, despite deciding that guests could not come into our home for breakfast, and taking them bespoke bacon sandwiches instead, even with no proper kitchen, we continued to fill the Barn with guests whenever there was a break in hostilities. Opening up in April this year when Boris cut the ‘going out’ ribbon, we have been pretty much packed all summer. Part of this is the necessary result of moving lots of bookings from months when we were closed, of course. We’ve had wedding groups, families with small children hurtling round the garden (Darcy, the dog loves this!) and folks just wanting to ‘chillax’. But the need for an actual kitchen (cooker, hob, fridge/freezer/sink) was becoming increasingly apparent and we have now bitten the bullet.

When my friends complain of having workmen in the house, I always look at them with poorly-disguised envy. ‘You’re actually paying people to do home improvements?!’ For much of my adult life I have only been able to dream of this! But I do understand how cross people get when the workmen don’t show up on the agreed day and suddenly the next workman (plumber, tiler, electrician etc) can’t do their bit because the other carpet fitter, heating engineer, etc, etc hasn’t turned up on the previous day. This anxiety is magnified many times over when you close your business for three weeks and there are bookings after that.

A month ago we waved goodbye to lovely Tracey and her family (regulars here) and began – almost before their vehicle was out of sight – to shift furniture, take down pictures and rip up carpets. For three hectic weeks, my beloved along with heating engineers (because we have replaced the heating system for a faster, more efficient version), kitchen fitters, plumbers and electricians have done an amazing job. Credit where it’s due, my beloved absolutely nailed this despite my prophesies of gloom and doom and cancellation of bookings.

Darcy loved having workmen-with-sandwiches around all day and despite our best efforts to turn her into a slimmer version of herself, she shamelessly showed off to anyone and everyone on site. This did give Trevor, the postman, a break because she has to be removed from his van on a daily basis because he gives her treats!

The kitchen was finished with less than 24 hours to spare and after three lots of guests it still looks gorgeous. Big thanks to Wharfedale Heating, Daryn Forster, Steve Drake and Walter Hartley Electrical who turned up on time and did a great job!

“I’m not speaking to anyone until those nice men with sandwiches come back…”

Crow House Barn