Posts Tagged ‘AirBnB’

life just gets in the way!

I do feel the blog has been so neglected lately.  However, when I stop and think I don’t know where I found time to write before.  Do you ever feel you are living on a merry-go-round?  I seem to just be jumping from one thing to the other, and at times, feel that absolutely nothing has been achieved.

Having said all that, since I last wrote about Harry’s demise, we have been busy.

We’ve got a new pup.  He’s 3 months old!!  I’d forgotten about the chewing, the peeing, the boundless energy.  It was probably just as well I’d forgotten as we’d probably not have agreed to have one.  He is a pet though, and he is helping Winnie get over the loss of her brother.  Ross has been with us three weeks…. and he now knows two words…. his name and ‘NO!’

Ross - a setter/black retriever cross

Ross – a setter/black retriever cross

The weather has been absolutely amazing for the time of year.  Three weeks of sunshine with temperatures up to 25 degrees C!!!  We didn’t know what to do with ourselves…. and then the rain returned with a vengeance.

We’ve had a busy few weeks with AirBnB guests.  Once again meeting lovely people from US, Switzerland, Germany, England and Ireland.  In fact the next couple of weeks are going to be really really busy with guests which is great…. but there is still room for more 🙂

We did manage to take a day off and take a trip up to Bloom (the major Irish Garden and Food Show).

I'd be happy if my garden looked like this.

I’d be happy if my garden looked like this.

This was the most ‘realistic’ garden of all.

A tribute to the 1916 Rising

A tribute to the 1916 Rising

I loved the wild abandon of the flowers and colours in this garden.

Other news…. our muscovy duck, Mollie, is sitting on eggs, and one of our hens, Mona, is sitting on eggs too… so fingers and toes crossed for lots of cute baby chicks and ducks soon.

The polytunnel despite bouts of neglect is coming along nicely.  We are now harvesting strawberries, herbs and courgettes.

The outside vegetable garden is growing well…. the past two days of rain is really encouraging the weeds though.

I’ve been experimenting with some new recipes too which I hope to share with you soon.  I promise!

How’s life with you?

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Do you buy food magazines?  I don’t usually.  I have in my time subscribed to some, but after a year I find I get fed up of them, or find that I’m lucky if there is a recipe a month that I will try.

However, I like to ‘treat’ myself to an occasional magazine which is what I did when we were travelling to France.  I bought Olive magazine at the airport…. I hadn’t bought it in years.  Folks, I can honestly say that within half-an-hour of sitting down with it I wanted to try so many recipes.  I currently have a list of 15 from the September issue I want to try.

We’ve already tried the smashed cucumber twice…. verdict? It is delicious.

There are two courgette recipes to try.

Now courgettes…. people either love em or hate em!  Well that’s the way it is in the house.  I quite like them, but you know who is very very ambivalent about them.

This year, I was really good and only planted a single courgette plant, but, of course, it has been quite prolific…. giving us lots of courgettes!

This brings me to the second recipe that we’ve tried  – Courgette Scarpaccia.

Courgette Scarpaccia

Courgette Scarpaccia

We had very nice AirBnB guests who were willing to be tasters when I tried it first. Thank you Adrian and Lilli.  We all liked it, but felt it could do with something else, and the extra something we decided was thyme.

Never one to let the fact that I am entertaining strangers deter me from trying new recipes, I made it yesterday varying the recipe a little.  I hope the team at Olive magazine will forgive me!

Here’s my version.

Ingredients: (makes enough for 6 as a starter)

  • 450 g courgette
  • 3 scallions
  • Olive oil
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • Splash of milk
  • Few sprigs of thyme
  • 4 tbsp. Mossfield Organic cheese – grated (or your favoured cheese)
  • Lots of Black Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese – shaved


Slice your courgette really finely using a mandolin.  Put in sieve, sprinkle with salt, and set aside to drain for about 30 minutes.

Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment and oil well.

Heat oven to 200 deg. C/180 deg for Fan oven.

Put your flour and baking powder into a bowl, make a well in the centre and break in your eggs.  Using a balloon whisk mix flour and eggs together…. add milk should the mixture be too thick.  (You need your mixture to be like a yorkshire pudding mixture.)  Add the cheese and black pepper, mixing in well.  Add the fresh thyme, and most of your sliced courgettes.  Toss the remaining slices of courgettes in olive oil and set aside for a minute.

Slice your scallions and place on baking sheet with a good dollop of olive oil.  Bake in oven for 3 minutes.

Remove your tray and pour in your courgette mixture, spreading it out as evenly as possible.  Now arrange the saved courgette slices on top.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes…. until golden brown.

Remove from oven and add the shaved parmesan.

This is delicious served warm.  And is equally delicious cold as a ‘picnic’ next day.



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If you live in Ireland you would have had to be living in a bubble this past week not to be aware of all the controversy regarding AirBnB and Irish Revenue.

Let me explain for those not living here…. AirBnB have set up their European headquarters in Dublin as of May 2014, so they now have to abide by Irish Revenue rules.  All fine and dandy.

However, most of the people who are ‘hosting’ via the AirBnB website were under the impression that they could earn up to €12k without having to pay tax on it. This was under what Irish Revenue call the ‘rent a room’ scheme.  This past week it has emerged that this was an erroneous believe, and that AirBnB hosting cannot be classified under this tax scheme.

The radio, the newspaper, social media sites have been full of the story.  Labels such as tax evaders have been levelled at AirBnB hosts.  Rants have been had about data protection etc. etc. as AirBnB are now obliged to reveal details of all their Irish hosts to the Irish Revenue.

Oldfarm, Redwood

Oldfarm, Redwood

I thought I’d share our thoughts on the whole thing.

Yes, we too thought that the hosting would come in under this ‘rent a room’ scheme.

The ‘rent a room’ scheme allows a homeowner to rent out a room, or many rooms, in their home to students, interns or professionals, TAX FREE, as long as they do not earn over the magical €12,000 per annum.  Revenue’s argument is that in the above scenario the person renting the room is a ‘resident’ whereas under the AirBnB scenario they are a ‘guest’.  The argument further continues that because they are a ‘guest’ it is now a ‘trade’.

To be honest, it is all very stilted towards city dwellers.  We’d gladly be surrogate parents to a student or intern, if there was the opportunity.

Living in prime agricultural/rural Ireland, there are no hospitals or industry within a 40 mile radius.  There is a massive exodus of students from here to the cities every Sunday during term time…. heading off to line the pockets of the ‘non-trading’ ‘rent a room’ folks.

Parts of rural Ireland are dead during the week… waiting patiently for the young people to come home again at the weekend.

Can anyone explain to me what’s not a ‘trade’ about renting a room to a student, intern or professional?

We fail to see the difference.

The running costs for what we do are probably more than the ‘resident’ costs…. changing sheets and towels more often!

Here in our little pocket of North Tipperary there are no jobs.  There is no local factory that provides employment.  Everything is based on farming – and there are only so many jobs in that sector too.

We feel that what guests we do entice into the area are at least contributing somewhat to the local economy.  We are buying more to accommodate them.  They are buying/spending in the community.  The visits to the local pub, and the major Friday night attraction of the old time dancing at the GAA hall, all give a little boost to the economy.

We have a couple of guests coming next week to research their family who emigrated from our village, Lorrha.  The local Historical Society have already provided them with so much information.  The guests are overwhelmed with the generosity of people… and they haven’t even arrived yet.

We are rather proud that one guest who came and stayed last summer, liked the area so much they bought a property and have moved here, have set up a business, and again are boosting the local economy by another little bit.

Our little B&B venture has become a community venture.

Don’t get us wrong.  We have no objection to paying taxes.  Oh, and by the way, we’ve earned nothing close to €12k.  Way way below it in fact.  It is just the total and utter confusion that has been caused by this.

In fact, now that I’ve written all this down… maybe there should be a tax break for bringing people into an otherwise neglected part of the country?

Are you listening Mr. Noonan (our Minister for Finance)?


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We’ve been doing the AirBnB thing for quite a while now, and have really enjoyed the experience.

Sometimes though we do get asked (what we think) are weird questions, so this is some advice for anyone planning on coming to Ireland on vacation, here are our tips.

Un-named Road

    1. Travelling Distance – forget that in the USA, or in Australia, you can cover vast distances on motorways/highways in a relatively fast time.  That just won’t happen here.  Yes, you can drive from Dublin to Galway via motorway in 2 hours, but once you go off the motorways you can bank on only covering 50 or so kilometres in an hour. Anyway, you are on holiday, slow down, relax and enjoy.
    2. Overnight stays – I know you want to see as much as possible on your holiday.  However, if I can offer one piece of advice it is slow down. Mostly it will take you a full day to drive to your next destination.  Plan on staying there 2 nights so that you can get there, enjoy the area for a day, and then move onto next place at a leisurely pace. For example, if you are travelling from Kilkenny to Killarney… take a day to make the journey, stay night 1, spend the next day in Killarney area, stay night 2, then move on to next destination.
    3. Planning your Trip – most folks seem to want to do the Irish coastline on their visit, and who can blame them, it is stunning.  HOWEVER, there are wonderful places to visit and some amazing hidden gems in the centre (Midlands), don’t dismiss them. Check out Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands for the road less travelled!
    4. Roads with no names –  yes, that is a reality.  It confuses lots of visitors to our home.  We live on an un-named road.  While postal codes have now been introduced, that is not going to resolve the un-named road issue.  And, no, the street a block away is not named either!  We like to confuse!
    5. And more on roads – we, Irish, aren’t the best on using road numbers to direct people.  I struggle to remember the road numbers of the roads around us…. I am getting better at it.
    6. A useful app:  if you have a smart phone with you, a useful app, is ‘autoaddress’…. if you have the Eircode (postal code) for your destination this app is immensely helpful.
    7. Car rental – if you plan on renting a car to tour around the country…. consider picking your car up outside of the cities or airports, it is usually cheaper.  If you are staying in Dublin for the first few days of your vacation, don’t bother with a car, it will not be worth the trouble. Pick up the car when you are ready to leave Dublin or better still hop on a bus and train – enjoy the scenery – and pick your car up once your out of the hectic place that is an airport/city.  I’ve also been told that you get a better rate if you search ‘your car rental company’.ie rather than .com.  And another word of warning… check the small print we are hearing some awful horror stories of extra charges being lobbied onto car rental.
    8. Parking – this one I guess is mainly for our American visitors. Yes, it is perfectly legal to park the car on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. If you are driving on the left-hand side of the road and spot a parking slot on the right-hand side…. go for it.
    9. Tourist attractions – some of our tourist attractions are maintained and run by the Office of Public Works (OPW) – a government division.  They offer free entrance on the first Wednesday of every month.  Well worth availing of this offer to visit their sites.
    10. Cliffs of Moher – sorry to single this one out, but we learnt a tough lesson ourselves with this one… it is best to go there either early morning or late afternoon to visit.  It is crazy busy during the day with very limited parking in the vicinity.
    11. Rainy Season? –  that’s all year round!  Seriously though it rains here – winter and summer.  So, no, I can’t tell you that July is best time to come to avoid the rain, or that it doesn’t rain much in August.  It rains here whenever it wants to.  We regularly have four seasons in one day.  Bring a rain jacket with a hood.
    12. Man-hunting – again, we’ve had some single ladies come who’d welcome a chance to meet a handsome Irishman…. a top tip here is when asked ‘where are you from’? Don’t say US or Australia. The guys have already guessed that…. be specific, i.e. Melbourne, LA, whatever…. even if it is an obscure town somewhere… you’ve got a great opening line for a chat up!

Hope this helps.  Any Irish, or indeed, non-Irish readers got any other tips to share?



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Someone, over the past couple of weeks, has asked me how the Muscovy ducklings are doing?  Well, right now they are thriving.

Molly (their Mum) had 17 babies in the middle of May.  This was a month earlier than she had hatched her babies last year.  May here was bitterly cold and very windy.

Molly was still very proud of her babies and was delighted to show them off to whoever called.  Then when they were about 10 days old, I could only count 16. One was gone.  Without a trace. We’ve never discovered what took it.  A preying bird?  No idea.

When the babies were about 2 weeks old I noticed one of them was panting and having difficulty breathing.  I called my neighbour, Annette, who’s the resident Doctor Doolittle.  Bless her she came around immediately.  By the time she arrived a couple of minutes after I called her, another had started this panting.

Thriving ducklings

Thriving ducklings

We thought they had eaten something and that they were choking.  We tried massage, olive oil, anything we could think of, but it didn’t seem to ease their difficulty.  One actually died that afternoon.

This was all just as we were heading into a crazy busy time with AirBnB guests. Annette kindly took the sickly duckling away with her to nurse it over the weekend.  Then a few days later 3 more started the same panting.

The upshot despite antibiotics all 4 died within a week.  We were heartbroken.

Then another just ‘disappeared’ another predator.

Some of the 10 remaining ducklings developed milder panting symptoms so we dosed them with porridge mixed with dandelion and/or nettle tea.  Apple cider vinegar was also added to their water.

What caused this panting?  The vet suggests mouldy hay (we don’t have hay here), or stagnant water – again we’re not sure where they could have accessed stagnant water – but we do allow free ranging on the property.

It is truly awful when an animal/bird you have nurtured and fed dies.  Especially so when they haven’t had a good old shot at life.

In retrospect maybe I am at fault that I didn’t take more eggs away from under Molly.  Seventeen babies were just too many for her to mind.

Still enjoying their porridge!

Still enjoying their porridge!

The remaining 10, at almost 7 weeks old, are thriving, thankfully.  They are loosing the ‘baby’ look, and are starting to develop wings….. but they are still incredibly cute!


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I know. I know.  I’ve been totally remiss about posting.  Honestly, though I’ve not been slacking.  We’ve been extremely busy with baby ducks, AirBnB guests, social media training, our new sheep (did I tell you we have sheep?)…. just so much has been going on.

I’ve about 500 blog posts half written (in my head)…. so I guess I’d better get the finger out and get them up here!!!

If we’ve had a couple of hours off, or just needed to get away from here for a few hours, we often just go exploring locally.  Do you feel that sometimes you are so busy with your life, that you hardly notice what’s right on your doorstep?

Graveyard Entrance

Graveyard Entrance

Saturday was one of those days, so we took a little time off and went to a local village – Terryglass.  If you’ve ever been to Terryglass I doubt if you would forget it.  It has to be one of the prettiest villages in the country.  The village itself is a few minutes walk from the shore of Lough Derg – on Saturday there was lots of activity on the shoreline with boats and jet-skiers.

The only hotel you'll find in Terryglass :)

The only hotel you’ll find in Terryglass 🙂

The village was also busy, well it does have two lively and award winning pubs!  They’re quite famous too – Paddy’s Pub and The Derg Inn. Nice places to stop for a coffee, a pint or a meal.

We also had a browse through a new shop – Revived and Retro – based in the old church.  They are doing some very interesting things with disused chairs and doors… well worth a visit.

A tummy rub was demanded on entry :)

A tummy rub was demanded on entry 🙂

the perfumes from the roses in this garden are amazing

the perfumes from the roses in this garden are amazing

I want a garden like this!  Seriously isn’t it beautiful?

If you’re down this way a great time to visit Terryglass is during the annual Arts Festival which this year takes place from 12th to 16th August…. always a great festival and wonderful atmosphere.

So when are you coming on a visit?  Terryglass is only 10 minutes away from us!


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If you follow along on our Facebook or Instagram accounts, you will know that Mollie (or Muscovy Hen) had her babies last Tuesday.

I predicted then that I would be spending a lot of time just watching and admiring them…. and I have. 🙂

She had 17 babies, each as cute and adorable as the next.

The routine for the first few days was much the same as it would be for any babies….. sleep, eat, have a wash, and sleep again.

On Thursday last all babies were taken over to the pond in the field next door to us.  Guys, you should have seen me!  Talk about a clucking hen!  These little things are tiny.

Ducklings first swim

Ducklings first swim

There are cattle in the field!  What if the cattle decided to have a nosey and see what was going on?  I spent the entire time fretting at the fence until they all arrived home safely.

These guys have to be the most photographed ducklings ever!

We’ve had AirBnB guests during the week who couldn’t resist photographing them either.  And our friend, Daili Perez, was here and took some amazing photographs and this video…. you are going to be totally smitten by them too!  I’m telling you anyone who meets them falls so in love 🙂

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I don’t think we’ve ever had such a good crop of blackberries around here.  I love blackberries…. my favourite of all fruits.

I like blackberries anyway at all…. jam, jelly, crumble, cake…. anyway at all.

So I’ve been indulging lots.

Here’s such a quick and easy crumble that I made a few times recently when we had AirBnB guests… they loved it.  One guest loved it so much he requested to have another portion for breakfast!  Of course, we allowed him have dessert for breakfast… he was on holidays after all 🙂  And, with the inclusion of coconut oil and porridge…. sure, it’s got to be healthy, right?


Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Apple & Blackberry Crumble


  • 2 or 3 cooking apples – or more depending on the size of your apples and your dish.
  • a couple of handfuls of blackberries.
  • Sugar to taste
  • 100 g. flour
  • 50 g. butter
  • 50 g. Coconut oil
  • 100 g. Porridge oatflakes.


Grease a dish with some butter (I used my Quiche dish).  Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Mix your butter and coconut oil into the flour…. the coconut oil takes a little longer to rub in than butter.  Mix until you have no ‘gritty’ bits left.  Add in your porridge.

Peel and slice your cooking apples, filling your dish right up to the top.  Sprinkle on your blackberries, and some sugar.  Then spoon your prepared mixture on top.

Bake in oven for about 25 minutes.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Serve warm with ice-cream, custard or cream…. and make sure to save some for breakfast the next day 🙂



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Food tourism – what constitutes food tourism?

Wiki describes it thus : Culinary tourism or food tourism is experiencing the food of the country, region or area, and is now considered a vital component of the tourism experience.[2] Dining out is common among tourists and “food is believed to rank alongside climateaccommodation, and scenery” in importance to tourists.[2]  Wikipeadia

The World Food Travel Association describes ‘food tourism’ as : “The pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.”    It also describes a ‘food traveller’ as someone who goes to a different neighbourhood to experience food of a different ethnicity.  I guess that means we are food travellers when we go shopping in the Asian market?

Does Ireland have a food tourism side to it?

These are questions we were asked to consider when we took part in workshops with Failte Ireland and Blue Sail.  Together with around forty producers, accommodation providers and others involved in the food industry, we had brain-storming sessions about what is ‘food tourism’.

It was an exciting and interesting exercise, as we discussed Ireland’s food provenance, what is local, what we ourselves expect when travelling, and what we look for in food when travelling?

If you take it on a very personal level…. what makes a holiday for you?  Is it the weather?  Is it the accommodation?  Is it the food?

Failte Ireland have been conducting research and have come up with 6 different ‘tourist’ categories – 3 international and 3 domestic tourist segments.

International market segments:

  • Culturally Curious – over 45 – food is very important to them – specialities, provenance, special places, good service, knowledgeable staff.
  • Social Energisers – young couples/adults – 20s/early 30s – casual eating but good food, fashionable, buzzy places, something different from home.
  • Great Escapers – young couples around 30 – authentic restaurants and pubs with good local food; flexible options – picnics and takeaway.

Domestic segments:

  • Connected Families – 25 – 44 age group – no specific mentions of food.
  • Footloose Socialisers – groups of friends, independent and confident – again no specific food requirements.
  • Indulgent Romantics – all ages but typically 25 – 34 or 55 – 64 – interested and knowledgeable about food and wine.

One of the exercises we were asked to carry out was to recommend in our locality a ‘romantic’ destination…. well folks, it is amazing, but the results were as diverse as people are.  A weekend in a hotel with a spa and beauty treatments would just not cut it for me as a ‘romantic’ break, but that’s what some folks want.  A ‘romantic’ break to me would be somewhere away from the ‘real’ world, where you can chill, sit about and read a book without being disturbed, go for long walks, and, of course, enjoy really good food (preferably seafood!) and maybe, a glass or two of wine.

We were also asked to consider where we would recommend people should go to people watch?  Any thoughts?  I chose a supermarket queue.  I always go off into daydream mode in the supermarket queue – wondering ‘why’ are people buying this, that, and the other.  I’m always shocked at how much processed food goes into shopping trolleys – but that’s another story.

And I guess the biggest question of all….. how would we describe Ireland’s food?  Again the answers were as mixed as the group…… how would you describe Irish food to a complete stranger?

Here’s the result of our brain-storming…. a great video produced by Failte Ireland.


And a funny aside to this story… we laughed so much when we saw the video… there right smack bang in the middle of it, is our friend, Daili 🙂



Since we started doing AirBnB we have found that without exception regardless of the nationality of those who have stayed here, the conversation invariable turns to ‘food’ and its ‘provenance’.  From our little vignette into the world of travel it would seem that people are getting more and more worried about where their food is coming from, and how their food is being treated be it in the pre-planting stage of seeds, or how food(meat) is grown.

It would seem like-minded people are drawn to each other.  People come to this green island of ours, as they perceive it as ‘green’ in every sense of the world.  They are blown away by the ‘green-ness’ of the countryside, the cattle and sheep grazing in the fields, the freshness of the fish, and the variety of ‘home’ produced food.  We are lucky to live in this country of ours with its natural larder.

We need to hold on tight to that image.






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It’s been just over a year since we started out on the AirBnB road.  It has been interesting.  It has been fun.  We’ve learnt lots along the way.

We’ve had people from all over the place …. from USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland and Germany.  My geography of both the USA and Canada is certainly improving!

We’ve met strangers who have left as friends.  We’ve met other AirBnB hosts.

We’ve shared many stories, many bottles of wine and lots of food.

We worried initially about informing our US guests that our rooster was called ‘Obama’ – he’s a rather handsome rooster.  We need not have worried…. they find it highly amusing 🙂

Obama - the rooster

Obama – the rooster

Our US guests do find it most unusual that we live on an ‘unnamed’ road (yes, folks that’s what it says on Google Maps!).  Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing I can do to rectify that.

There have been many discussions about the rain…. how do we know when it is going to rain?????  We’ve explained that our forty shades of green is the result of our forty different types of rain.  All guests arrive laden with rain coats, rain hats and umbrellas and are intrigued that I own none of the above!!!

We’ve had impromptu cookery lessons…. showing visitors how to make pancakes, poach eggs and make Irish soda bread.

ta da!  I've made Irish Soda Bread

ta da! I’ve made Irish Soda Bread

We’ve had lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help with the pigs.

Meeting the pigs

Meeting the pigs

We’ve received the most beautiful gifts from guests.

Painting by Celia Lauve

Painting by Celia Lauve

We always knew being a B&B would involve work, and it does.  Gosh, there’s an awful lot of housework.   It is a constant round of cleaning. I have perhaps become a little obsessed with the weather and trying to get bedlinen and towels washed and dried, and keep floors washed and clean.

Would we recommend doing the AirBnb thing?

Overall, our answer would be yes.

  • Doing it this way is definitely more secure – you have your guests verification before they arrive – and they too can check you out.
  • Be prepared for some early morning starts….. we’ve not had too many of those thankfully.
  • We offer the additional option of an evening meal which does I think add to the guests experience of Irish hospitality.  It also requires organisation and planning in the kitchen.
  • We’ve managed to entertain lactose intolerant, nut allergy folk and vegetarians.  Managing to convert two of the vegetarians to meat eaters has to have been a highlight 🙂
  • The various animals about the place seem to have taken to it too….. the dogs love all the attention and the pigs and hens have behaved mostly, so there’s been no mad dash to get them back to pens when we should be cooking dinner!

Have you used AirBnB?  Someday we will get the chance to get away and will try it for sure 🙂

And, wow!  Just had news that one of our B&B guests has bought a property 2 miles away following on from her stay with us.  How exciting is that?

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