Christmas traditions

This year more than ever, making Christmas feel as special as we can, given the restrictions of meeting up with family and friends, feels important. Apparently, sales of Christmas trees are up 30% at the moment along with fairy lights and baubles, so clearly many of us have similar plans.

Jackie has always loved dressing our home for Christmas; probably a nod back to her days in retail. Ian still remembers a florescent pink Christmas tree that arrived one year, after featuring in Top Shop Leicester’s Christmas windows. These years, Christmas had a bit more of a country feel in both our house and the Long Barn.

We always go to Dalby Forest for our trees; they’re sustainably grown and the Dalby team are so cheery and friendly. Even this year, when we all masked up and selected trees at a socially acceptable distance. Decorating the trees has to be done with a background of Christmas music from Michael Buble and Phil Spector’s Christmas Gift album. And possibly with a homemade mince pie and small sloe gin in hand.

 

Our decorations have been acquired over the years, and range from some fluffy sheep ones, bought 30 years ago, to a handmade one from our little niece Ella. Last year we were finishing our house renovations so were feeling pretty exhausted. In fact, not all the decorations made it out of the boxes. This year it’s a different story with them all seeing the light of day, although some were unpacked still with a light dusting of builder’s plaster.

Many bring back memories of when we got them from reindeer salt and pepper pots (a gift) to the snow globes we bought from New York (just before we decided to sell up and escape to the country) The latest was a small terrier dog bought from a trip to London, in lieu of the dog that after much negotiating Jackie will (eventually) have.

We love decorating the Long Barn for Christmas and feels it’s even more important for the guests here for just a few brief days in line with the guidelines. So watch out for our social media posts – there are 3 trees to go up, and every bedroom has a little sprinkling of Christmas decorations.

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An absolute legend

We’re blogging about something very different tonight and we hope that you understand our reasons why when you read further.

If you live in Yorkshire or are a rugby league fan you’ll know about all about the legend that is Rob Burrow, and his sporting achievements at Leeds, when he helped them to a record extending eighth Super League Grand Final in 2017.

 

 

 

Everyone was stunned by the news just 2 years after his retirement from Leeds that he’d been diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of just 38. Rob left a legacy at Leeds as a player; the work he is now doing to raise awareness of MND is beyond inspiring.

We are now all gripped by the Leeds Rhino’s captain, Kevin Sinfield who has taken on the challenge of running 7 marathons in 7 days to raise £77, 777 for the MND association. As of writing this blog on Sunday 6th December, Kevin has just finished his sixth marathon, and has so far raised £744, 177. His final one is tomorrow; he has to be on track for raising £777,777 and we hope well beyond that figure.

We’ve seen first-hand the cruelty of this horrendous disease of which there is no cure.

So, we’ve included a link to Kevin’s fund-raising page, and we hope that you may consider making a donation. We are keeping everything crossed that he gets close to £1 million.

 

 

 

What makes The North York Moors special?

 

This week was the 68th birthday of the North York Moors National Park – and since lockdown, we’ve never appreciated living in a national park more.

Now we have to be honest here. Before we moved from Harrogate to Appleton Le Moors, the national park we spent most time in was the Yorkshire Dales. So originally, when we first decided to sell up in Harrogate and escape to a new life in the country, the Dales was where we looked first. At the risk of sounding like Kirsty and Phil, we just couldn’t find anywhere that “ticked all our boxes,” so we expanded our search and started to look at the North York Moors. The rest is history, we fell in love with  the moors,  Town End Farm, and our lovely village.

So what makes “our” park so special? We think a big reason is the unique mixture of different countryside and coast that we have here. We love the atmospheric big skies of the moors, open and spectacular with one of the biggest expanses of heather moorland in the UK.

But what may surprise you, is that we are one of the most wooded of England’s National Parks (almost a quarter) which we think gives the park real character. We appreciate the seasons more than anywhere we’ve lived; seeing the trees go through the changes over the year is quite magical.

We also have dales, green lush valleys that cut into the high moorland, and remind us of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Full of characterful stone buildings and walls (and sheep) we always feel we are properly in Yorkshire when exploring them.

Last but not least is our gorgeous coastline. From sandy beaches, sheltered coves, little fishing villages, towering cliffs and rocky shores, we’re truly spoilt for choice. Whether it’s a coastland walk, surfing the waves, or a traditional seaside visit with fish and chips, there really is something for everyone.

The coast is just 40 minutes’ drive away; the rest is within walking distance from the Long Barn. The only problem is which one to chose to spend your day in….

Stir up Sunday

Today is “Stir up Sunday” and is apparently the traditional day to make your Christmas Pudding. It was started in Victorian times as a tradition when families would get together to get their fruit puddings stirred up, steamed and stored ahead of Christmas.

It’s not one of our traditions at Town End Farm, but we do use the date to prompt us to make our Christmas cake and mincemeat. Last year, we were in the midst of peak disruption in the farmhouse, as we were on the final push to get renovations if not finished, at least to have a working kitchen for Christmas. So our Christmas preparations were pretty cursory, and were all focused on the Long Barn. Jackie loves Christmas and goes to town on the decorations for both barns as well as (usually) our own home.

Fast forward a year and like most people, we are waiting for next week’s announcements to see whether we can open the Long Barn up again for guests. So what better time to focus on what we can control, and get going with some of our Christmas cooking preparation.

This week it’s been making mincemeat and Christmas cake. Our mincemeat is loosely based on Queen Delia’s but with no candied peel (which Jackie considers the work of the devil) and double the booze. For details, take a look at our Facebook/Instagram posts on 16th November.

For our Christmas cake, we look no further than Princess Nigella, whose recipe is a tried and trusted favourite.  We follow the recipe from her Nigella Christmas book, and make the middle sized one. Our top tip is to line the tin as she suggests for the large sized cake; wrap the outside with a double layer of brown paper which stops the sides of the cake getting too dark. As it’s cooking, the house smells wonderfully of Christmas spices from the cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.  Once cooled, wrap in greaseproof/foil…and then, trickle your spirit of choice onto the base of the cake every few days…for our Christmas cake, it has to be brandy. By Christmas Day it will be moist, boozy and delicious.

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Roost Coffee

We passionately believe in supporting local businesses as much as we can from using their produce/services to promoting them to Long Barn guests.

We love great coffee, and part of the Long Barn offer was to have a Sage Bean to Cup coffee machine in the kitchen. Initially we tried a variety of different beans, and then we discovered the brilliant Roost Coffee, who run their operation out of nearby Malton.

 

David and Ruth set up their own roastery in 2015, having had 10 years’ experience in the speciality coffee industry.  They are passionate about coffee, and roast small batches of coffee beans daily. Their state of the art roaster is able to roast beans to a specific roast profile, which means consistent roasts and delicious coffee.

When we went into the first lock down, we coordinated coffee orders for many of the households in Appleton from Roost; we learnt we have a lot of coffee addicts in the village who now love Roost coffee.  The Long Barn Wood store was turned into a collection point, and Roost kept us caffeinated throughout lockdown.

In normal times, Roost run a small café alongside their shop/roastery in Talbot Yard, Malton. Lockdown was challenging for them as for many businesses. One small plus was that it gave David and Ruth time to set their online coffee shop. Here you can buy their full range of coffee, and even an enamel mug with Roost logo or for those of you with your own coffee machines, a professional coffee machine cleaner from Italy. You can buy the beans whole, or have them ground to your requirements.

So, if you are thinking of what to buy the coffee addict for Christmas, we can highly recommend Roost. And you’ll also know you’ll be supporting a small local busines at this difficult time.

We include Tonto Expresso Coffee beans in the Long Barn welcome hamper, as well as selling extra coffee beans from our little dresser shop in the West Barn.  Tonto is described as “a dark roast, with a full body and intense after taste with a dark chocolate hued crema. We think it’s perfect whether you like a regular americano, latte, or flat white. And you can unleash your inner barista using the Long Barn coffee machine – we’ve even included a how to video on the Long Barn tablet.

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