The yurts are all happily tucked away for the winter now, enjoying time in the new yurt-store that we built last winter. We had a good few weeks of sunshine in which to take them down, aided by a couple of great volunteers, Andrea and Nicola, throughout the early autumn period. All the canvases have been cleaned and re-proofed, so everything will look fresh when we put the yurts up again ready for the Easter holidays. We've had some lovely times with great guests this past year - we've enjoyed seeing lots of returning guests as well as meeting new people and we're already looking forward to seeing many of you back again next year, with bookings already made. We'll be doing more work to the meadow over the winter and have some interesting new activities in mind for children (watch this space). We hope you all enjoy the autumn/winter (we love seeing the changes in the seasons and have been enjoying lighting the wood-burner as dusk approaches) and look forward to welcoming you back next year. A big thanks to all of our guests for your support over the years - it wouldn't be possible without you!
The yurt meadow was surveyed by a wildflower expert in June and she found 47 different species of grasses and wildflowers on a single day! As many of you will know, we try to manage the meadow to encourage wildlife and have a grass-and-wildlflower-friendly cutting regime, with different sections cut at different times. We also have a fenced off section where we sow seeds to support farmland birds throughout the year as many of these are now sadly in decline; we're lucky to be rewarded with the near-constant song of the yellowhammer throughout the summer as well as skylarks overhead and swallows and swifts. But there's always more to be done, so we're planning to repeat the survey on a regular basis to see how we're doing and to ensure we're on track to be as wildlife friendly as possible. Adele Goodchild (whose name you might know as the artist behind the various willow sculptures and other artworks dotted around) spent an afternoon photographing flowers, grasses and insects and you can find the new album here on the Gallery page.
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!