Friday, 23 September 2016

The fabulous Wheeldon Trees Farm

I don't really do reviews and stuff on this blog.  It's just not my thing, and I don't think I'd ever be able to bring myself to do one of those "company sends you a product and you 'review' it" type affairs.  Mainly because I don't have enough readers so they'd never ask me to.  Boo hoo.

Every once in a while though, I'll come across something that's just brilliant and I want to sing its praises - not because they've asked me to, but to highlight what can be done if people really think about their product properly.  If it makes my life better, then I want to let others know.

This week's revelation was not so much a product but a place - our lovely little holiday cottage up in the Peak District. Wheeldon Trees Farm, just outside Earl Sterndale in Derbyshire was basically awesome. Unsurprisingly for a place that features on the Baby Friendly Boltholes website, it was super child friendly.  You could pre-book a list of bulky baby and toddler paraphernalia (change mat, bed guard, potty etc.) so you didn't have to take them with you.  There was a mini farm, complete with friendly chickens, ducks, rabbits, sheep and two donkeys ("a big donkey and a little donkey!  Heeeehawwww" as Duckling repeatedly pointed out), and you could pop out to feed them with the owner (or the lovely caretaker Nigel) each morning at 9.30: not too early, but no so late that you couldn't then head off to do things during the day.  There was a fully stocked pantry and laundrette, a small swing park, and a massive games room, that kept Duckling entertained for hours one rainy afternoon (and Drake and I didn't do too badly either - even if I did have to suffer the usual indignity of being whooped at both pool and table football).  The kitchen was fully stocked with equipment we actually needed (I have written before about the hilarious set ups in some holiday homes), like bag clips and graters and a salad bowl and a fully working potato peeler (the same IKEA one we have at home no less!). There were laminated maps and directions for local walks, detailing which were buggy friendly (just one, but it involved a pub, so we were happy).  And, best of all, you got biscuits and homemade brownies on arrival, and a little edible gift on departure.  Tragically, I'm still in my first trimester and unable to stomach anything sweet but Drake and Duckling gave them a thumbs up.

Even when something did go wrong - like the shower developing a random drip and somehow leaking into the kitchen below (amusingly just as Drake and I were heading upstairs for an "early night". Romantic!) it was dealt with efficiently and quickly and without any fuss.  At least it was when we reported it the next morning...

This level of service does come at a bit of a premium, I will admit.  But the cost was really nothing outrageous, and I'd far rather pay a smidge more for a holiday where there's so much to entertain my child that I actually get that rarest of things - five minutes to relax and enjoy myself.  Why can't more places put this amount of thought in?  I mean really?  Forget designer taps, robes and sharp edged, toddler-head-damaging furniture: I'll take practicality, cleanliness and comfort any day.  God, I'm old.  And middle class.

Anyway, the final day revealed just WHY it was all so well thought through.  Every visitor is asked to complete a questionnaire on their departure (and provided with a pen) which specifically asks them if there was anything more they could have done to make the holiday better.  Our resounding answer - nothing at all.  Except maybe 25oC heat and sunshine.  Possibly a bit of a tall order for Derbyshire in September, even for the wonderful Wheeldon Trees team...

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