Very excited to have our grass and wild flower species list back from an amazing local wildlife and flower expert. A snapshot in June shows 47 different grass and wild flower species, including this fantastic bee orchid, in the meadow. We're really pleased, as we've been working hard to manage the meadow and hedges to improve our range of flora and fauna and it looks as though it's working. Much as we'd like to claim we do this work solely for the benefit of our guests, we should also confess that we enjoy seeing the results - swallows nesting, small blue butterflies, increasing numbers of bee orchids, our first glow worm, grasshoppers, six-spot burnet moths and so much more. Come and stay and look around and see what you can spot.
We've already had enquiries about next year's availability so we've opened our 2019 calendar for bookings - don't delay for those popular dates! We've put our prices up slightly for next year - our first rise for 3 years and having checked what others are charging, feel we are still competitively priced for our offering, we hope you agree.
2018 got off to a good start despite some very wet Easter weather; we had some lovely families staying with children of a similar age and they all seemed to have a great time just being out in the rain and jumping in puddles with their wellies (and sometimes not much else!) on. The parents were happy seeing them running around outside getting muddy and generally doing what kids do best - playing outside! Nonetheless, we're hoping for sunnier weather in the days and weeks ahead - the first May bank holiday is looking good and we hope that spring is truly on the way at last.
The meadow is looking lovely with all the new planting greening up and masses of cowslips and bluebells dotted around; the swallows have returned and we've been seeing weasles as well as stoats around, which we're excited about. We had a brief 15 minutes of fame with a feature in the Waitrose weekend magazine about our full moon walks which was fun (though because they focus on just one person in these features, Kim got all the glory with just the slightest of nods to Nick for his role in the walks!). We've got lots of good walks planned for this year so if you're staying during a full moon and fancy joining us, let us know.
We're looking forward to seeing many returning guests this year as well as welcoming those new to the Ivy Grange Farm experience and wish you all happy holidays!
Last year we started a "plastic" group in our village, to explore what we could do to reduce our own personal use of plastic and help others to do the same. We met some great new people, had fun along the way (ask Nick about making the plastic flowers!) and had lots of fun pizza evenings using ingredients that hadn't come packaged in plastic (surprisingly easy, we discovered). We became aware, however, that no matter how much we cut down our own use, it wasn't helping much if our recycling bins were still filled with lots of plastic from our yurt guests. So we did some research and discovered that half of the contents of the recycling bins were single-use-plastic drinks bottles, the majority of which were water bottles. Even though all our water is drinking-quality, we realised that not everyone likes the taste of our Suffolk tap-water (us included, we have to confess) so we set about trying to find a way to provide filtered water for our guests that would be easy to manage, fun, and wouldn't use endless plastic filters. We came across the wonderful Berkey - an 8.5 litre stainless-steel, charcoal-based filtering system which seems to fit the bill. It arrived today, we've put it together, "primed" it and will test it out for a couple of weeks to make sure it's up to scratch. And then it will move to the barn to provide beautifully filtered water for our yurt guests. We very much hope that you will enjoy using it and that it will enable you to feel you can come and stay without needing to bring bottled water.
We'd really welcome your feedback on this initiative and any ideas you have for other ways we could help keep plastic use to a minimum whilst you are staying. We're conscious, living close to such beautiful coastllne, that we all need to play our part to keep it clean and fun for everyone to enjoy. Let us know what you think!
With dark nights and snowy scenes, we've been having a lovely time trying out Swedish Torches (or fire logs)! According to the interweb The Swedish Torch gets its name from the Thirty Years War (1618-48) during which the torches were used by Swedish soldiers. Through a specially developed sawing process, the soldiers were able to use fresh pinewood, sawing into the logs to give them a much needed source of heat meaning they didn't need to travel great distances to get firewood at camp. The torch (or log) burns vertically and is great fun to watch and, depending on the type of wood used, will burn at different speeds. Lovely Tree-meister Paul Jackson is experimenting with different designs for us and, to be honest, the jury is still out as to whether they'll work well for the yurt-site (our first experiment was on a very windy evening and we had red-hot embers flying everywhere, which isn't ideal for use near canvas or small children!). We're trying out a few more designs over the next few weeks and will keep you posted. Meanwhile if you have thoughts or ideas, do feel free to share them with us (via email or FaceBook) as we'd love to have your input.
We enjoyed a relaxing December with lots of social activities and plenty of table tennis practise! We're now getting down to business and planning for the new season starting at the end of March. For those who admired the lovely willow and dog-wood sun sculpture we commissioned from local artists Adele Goodchild which adorns the end of the barn, you'll be pleased to hear that she's working on a range of new art/nature projects for us for 2018, so watch this space. We're hoping to enhance the wildlife nature walk around the edge of the meadow that we started last year so we're already working on new habitats and signs for that. Yesterday's sunshine was great for working in the lower copse - weeding and mulching all the whips we've planted and doing a little bit of tree pruning and re-building some of the dead hedging. It's great to be out in the meadow in the good weather and we've enjoyed hearing the buzzards overhead as well as kestrels (often trying to move the buzzards on) and fieldfare cackling overhead. We're keeping an eye open for the weasles too - we had our first sighting of one in the meadow last year - as well as the stoats who are more regular visitors. Bookings have been coming in over the Christmas period and we're really looking forward to seeing so many returning guests back here from March onwards. Here's to 2018!