A timelapse of the first sunrise of 2011 from Cowdber Barn
The Christmas clock ticked by, we ate all the pies then thought.. what do we do about new years eve? We decided to do something a bit different. We decided to go for a self catering cottage – we wanted home comforts, our own space, yet not at home. We came up trumps with a last minute cancellation – a stunning place called Cowdber Barn just over the border in Cumbria, near Kirkby Lonsdale.
The photos on the website don’t do it justice, at all – it’s hard to photograph charisma though and this place had it in abundance. I’d guess it’s an old converted coach barn and stables – brilliantly done; A well deserved, ‘Lancaster Design Award’ winner. A huge barn split into an impressive games room in the top, one of the bedrooms and a super cosy, open fired sitting room in the bottom. Two wings – one of which housed a gorgeous homely, (albeit ‘no frills’ ) kitchen and dining area with a boot room / utility room at one end leading into the main barn at the other. No shortage of places to hang out – probably around half a dozen separate places for groups of people to sit and play, read, chat, eat, watch tv, listen to music browse the stock of books, National Geographics, games, dvd’s and cd’s and generally hang out. All 3 joined buildings surrounded and overlooked a court-yard – which in summer would be beautiful as all the surrounding doors and windows can be opened. Whilst we were there, this courtyard had a resident chicken, which we named Hattie.
So much space – we were initially a group of 7 then expanded to 10 – all with a comfortable bed each. The kids loved sharing the double bunked dorm – we had the en suite double and there were two twin / doubles on top of that. I think it could have comfortably accommodated more – spare mattresses and bedding strategically secreted around here and there – I’m guessing this place has seen some bigger numbers in the past.
Highlights would be – although we didn’t take full advantage – the local – a Ribble Valley Inn pub called The Highwayman. (a proper gastro pub, of which I’ve had the pleasure of eating in it’s siter pub – The Bull at Broughton), the open fire and two wood burners with an ‘endless supply’ of wood (extra cost – very reasonable charge though) and the games room. The TV lounge, where we vegetated for most of New Years Day was like a room sized comfort blanket. So homely.
I’d utterly recommend this place – we would have liked to do more exploring of the surrounding area – but the essence of this holiday was a big fat chill. Box ticked.
As a wee snip of a bairn, I’d ticked off the days to Christmas day. As a late teen / early twenty something, I’d ticked off the days to NYE, as that was the killer party to end all parties of the year (allegedly). As a late twenty something, moving into my early thirties, the hype started to re align itself and last year, for the first year ever we spent NYE in the company of our children. Now I’m a big fan of this format, and until they get to late teens themselves probably will be the way it is. Having done some of the most spectacular parties on the planet I’m now a more than a little sceptical to the ‘joys’ of public NYE festivities. A private party with friends / family / loved ones is the way we liked the idea of things for this year. We then decided, if possible, to get away for a few days and invite a few close friends to spend it with us. I’m so glad we did.