Yurts and Coronavirus
First of all we should stay that our thoughts are with all our lovely guests and we are hoping that you and your families are keeping safe and well. We continue to be open for short breaks and holidays throughout the year and are monitoring government announcements on a daily basis and will keep this blog as well as our FaceBook page updated with where we're at. We've been in touch with our April guests to offer to move their breaks to later in the year for anyone who would prefer that and will contact May guests within the next week or so, once we see how things are looking. In the meantime if you have any questions do please give us a call on 07802 456087. We have put measures in place to minimise the risk of catching Coronavirus, with a new paper towel dispenser installed and a stack of 10,000 paper towels to go with it; we have a good stock of bars of soap, information about hand-washing (though everyone must be familiar with the routine by now), a huge stack of tea-towels and appropriate laundry baskets and bins dotted around. We are also blessed with plenty of fresh air and, of course, each yurt has their own cooking facilities and equipment for cooking at the yurt, in addition to the shared facilities. We're also expecting a surge in the use of the (heated) woodland showers this year, so they are freshly serviced and all ready to go. We've been heartened by the responses from many of our returning guests, who are happy with the cleanliness and standards of hygiene at the yurts and tell us that they are very much looking forward to their Easter breaks, and we look forward to welcoming many returning and new guests this year. With a heartfelt thanks for your continuing support in these difficult times, and best wishes to you all. And, we have to stay, after a good amount of winter rain the flowers are looking fabulous!
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!
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.