Location: East Ruston, Norfolk, United Kingdom

About us, Dermot and Sue Allen and our dog friendly holiday cottages. We started with the Old Forge running it for friends in 2005. In 2007/8 we were able to develop our own holiday accommodation, The Old Piggery. The Garden Room was added, belonging to another friend and the success of these prompted a further request to add Red Roofs at Hickling which has been doing very well. In 2012 we are embarking on our next project, New Barn. It isn't new at all (approx 180 years old) but it will be a fabulous new addition to our dog friendly holiday accommodation. Keep watching this space....!

Friday, August 18, 2006

The first summer

On 17th July, the day after completion, we have ourselves a celebratory supper in the barn. We use a table and chairs donated by my grandma and drink two bottles of champagne (!) and eat fabulous fish and chips from the Stalham takeaway. All our dogs share the evening with us, including the new Border Terrier pup, Ed. The evening is a volatile one weatherwise and we watch storms and rain clouds come through with a brilliant sunset to finish!

The emptied bottles are still in the alcoves in the barn. They will one day be incorporated into the finished barn.

Having got over the first of New Barn Farm hangovers we start to tentatively claim the barn and yard as our own. We move the stuff into the barn and we start parking our cars in the yard. This sounds like small beer but for us it is a very real indication that this space is now ours!

At the end of July we come back from a wonderful holiday in Tuscany (little realising that it will be one of the last foreign ones for a while!!) and find that the crop in 'our' field has been cut. In August the field is ploughed, harrowed and seeded for the cost of the grass seed only - about £90. In October the grass starts showing an exciting faint green sheen on our land!! Then the rabbits move in! We have a lurcher so the rabbits move out! We take delivery of all the fencing posts and netting from the soon to be bankrupt Atlantic Trading.

About this time I start riding a 16hh Irish Sports Horse type for a neighbour. After a few hacks out she wonders if I might like to take him hunting as she and other family members have no time for him. Sounds like fun. Have never hunted before and love it!. The first meet is within hacking distance of home and a cold, wet, windy day. Who cares? I think this will turn out to be the beginning of a new hobby and become a fully paid up member of the North Norfolk Harriers for next season!

In November we ask our long suffering friends to help us out with hedging the field. There are several hundred yards to do and they do a cracking job. Its muddy and sticky and grey but they all toil on regardless. Two are detailed for ivy removal on barn and set up a roaring fire. Soup is provided - we know how to reward our workers!! When finished we have – hawthorn, blackthorn, guelder rose, spindle, field maple, hazelnut, crab app(malus), sweet chestnut, horse chestnut, holly, honeysuckle, dog rose, dog wood, oak, ash, sycamore, gorse, elderberry, lime, beech and silver birch. (21 varieties)


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