|Can you spot our owl?|
There can't be many self-catering cottages in the UK where, from the comfort of the living room or bedroom, you can watch an owl webcam via the television. In High Barn Cottages you can do precisely this. All five cottages are linked up to the webcam to watch the resident barn owl slumber in its nest during the day and occasionally fly off for food at night or meticulously preen its feathers.
How did I find this special property?
I had been searching on the internet for the perfect coastal cottage, somewhere on the east coast, for a short Easter break. I was hoping the holy grail of self-catered accommodation would reveal itself. By chance, whilst browsing online, my subscription copy of Coast magazine landed on the doorstep.
I first came across this magazine when we were staying in Northumberland last summer. Remember our gorgeous little flat in Seahouses? Coast magazine was provided for guests in the apartment and I spent so many hours drooling over driftwood and sand, I thought I'd get a monthly fix.
In April's issue they had a feature on a weekend in Bridlington, suggesting places to visit in and around this pretty seaside town on the Yorkshire coast. The author had stayed in High Barn Cottages and although there was only a very small image of the property, I took it as a sign. A quick look on Google and it was just what I had been looking for: a two-bedroom, two-bathroom stylish and comfortable barn conversion.
Their website was wonderful - 360 degree views of each of the five cottages, floor plans, oodles of useful information about the area and it was easy to see which dates were available. Why can't all holiday accommodation sites be like this?
After much deliberation I chose The Granary, a property on two floors and I booked it online. The owners, John and Angela Foster, were delightful to deal with: they came to the rescue when we had to delay our break for a couple of days because of family illness, changing our booking with no fuss.
The cottages are located just outside Bridlington. Surrounded by fields and trees, they are secluded and peaceful, but only minutes from the bustling seaside in one direction and the scenic Bempton Cliffs in the other. Accessed from the road using a keycard at the gate, the cottages are secure, with ample parking. Each cottage has its own patio area with garden furniture at the rear, and a bench and low table at the front.
|High Barn Cottages: |
The Owl House, The Granary, The Spinney, The Hayloft and The Cake House
Our cottage, The Granary, has a large comfortable living/dining room with two squashy cream sofas, a wood-burning stove and a good-size dining table. The kitchen has a gloriously vibrant colour palette with vivid red worktops. The two bedrooms are spacious with high ceilings, both using features from the original barns to create unique living spaces. There are two chic en-suite bathrooms - one with a bath, one with a shower. Both bed and bath linen are top quality.
|The Granary interior|
The owners have given much thought to make the property luxurious and yet a real home from home. Underfloor heating and chic rugs downstairs keep the stone floors deliciously warm; a hamper is provided including home-made apple juice, chocolate and muesli; there's a bookcase full of reading material and free dependable WiFi. I loved the fresh daffodils on the table, the paintings on the wall (particularly the Ian Mitchell prints of Yorkshire) and the cheerful ornaments which give the cottage that personal touch.
|Some of the little touches in The Granary to create a homely feel.|
Is it suitable for children?
I would say children are welcome but the pond in the grounds makes it less than ideal for very little ones. Two of the cottages are single-storey and these are a good choice for those with mobility difficulties. Our family dynamics - two adults with two chilled-out teens, was a perfect match for High Barn Cottages. It's certainly a place in which you can kick back and relax. Just look at the feature window in the main bedroom.
|How about this for a window and a view from the bed?|
I'll tell you more about our stay in Yorkshire in due course but our Saturday night's entertainment consisted of a fabulous meal at Suppattra Thai in Bridlington, recommended by other guests as well as our hosts. We returned home, opened a bottle of wine, and took our usual positions on the sofas. A quick peek at the owl cam was necessary, a ritual we had settled into during our four-night stay..
It soon became apparent that our little owl was a female and she was having a much more action-packed Saturday night than we were. Seconds after we switched on, a visitor flew into the nest to join his mate. It's a wonder the poor male wasn't put off his stride by the cheers and whoops from four very enthusiastic voyeurs sitting in a room just a short distance away.
There was an overwhelming chorus of approval from the whole family. But don't just take our word for it. The accommodation is a finalist in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2015 in the self-catering category, having already won several awards over the last few years within Yorkshire itself. I'm not at all surprised.