When we escaped to the country and bought Town End Farm, we knew very little about Appleton le Moors other than how beautiful it looked, and that it had a pub, two churches and a village hall. Plus, an odd little green and white building called the Reading Room.

We wondered how we would be viewed as “incomers” and what people would think about our plans for the barn. Would we be welcomed, or would pitch forks be waved? How would our guests be received by the village?  Whilst there were a few holiday cottages, they were for 2-4 people. Our plan for the barn was for one large group of 14; how would this go down?

We realised pretty quickly that whilst we’d bought a very special property in Town End Farm, we had moved into an even more amazing village community. One memory that sums it up for us was in the Moors Inn one evening. We’d only been in a few days and went down to the pub for a meal. A few locals were chatting and drinking at the bar. A woman and her young son tentatively walked into the bar, obviously staying in the pub. They were both instantly engaged in conversation by some of the regulars (who we later found out were Steve and Geoff) Where were they from, how long were they staying, where were they thinking of visiting? Minutes later, they were relaxed and chatting away getting tips from the locals of where to visit. We looked at each other and knew we’d chosen well.

Over the coming weeks and months, we were blown away with how friendly the village community was. We had so much positive feedback about our “little” project with people happy to see what had been a derelict building in decline, gradually being restored. We had offers of help when we got stuck from recommendations of local trades people to a local farmer helping unload the 2 ton biomass boiler when it turned up a day early with no one other than Ian on site. When we had an open house for the village to take a look at the barn shortly before opening, over 60 people came!

The Long Barn opened and the warmth of our welcome from the community was extended to our guests. One Christmas, a carol service in the church had just started when a small child ran in. On being asked are there any more of you, to which he answered “Yes, 14”, it was decided to hold on for them! A village history walk by our local expert was run for one group. Our local yoga “guru” ran a class for some of our guests. Many Long Barn guest book entries comment on the friendliness of the locals.

Since then, we’ve loved every minute of village life. The annual village BBQ where everyone brings a plate and shares a meal at the village hall. The gigs in the pub’s marquee, from rock to jazz to soul. The various charity fundraising events, many of which have involved shearing alpacas and knitting. The famous medieval weekend where we all dressed up in costume; selling our medieval breads to a bemused coach of Russian school children was a particular highlight! And possibly the jewel in the crown, the annual village produce show where everyone feigns a laid back approach and then is fiercely competitive. From a handmade loaf of bread to a home grown vegetable, everyone wants to get a prize! And Jackie now knows if you put icing sugar instead of caster on your Victoria Sponge, you get disqualified.

Since the Covid lockdown, the community continues to support each other. We’ve celebrated a 90th birthday with socially distanced singing. A network of volunteers make sure prescriptions & shopping gets collected. Deliveries from local suppliers have been co-ordinated from flour to beer to bakeries (and maybe the odd wine delivery!)  We’ve had all sorts of competitions from photos of us all from earlier days to scarecrows. The deserved winner being a fantastic Donald Trump!

We’re finding out so much more about the wildlife and walks surrounding us. There are regular bird song updates; the first cuckoo arriving or a nightingale singing in the grounds of Appleton Hall. Seeing a red kite soar over the village (although we’ve yet to see the elusive white-tailed eagles that are being tracked across the North York Moors)

We’re also learning about every ones favourite walks; we thought we knew most of them, but there are so many more beautiful ones we’ve now discovered from the door. Our plan is to walk them all and include them in our visitors pack for when we can finally welcome guests back to the Long Barn. And guests can experience our wonderful village community first hand themselves.