Friday, October 1st, 2021
October 1st marks the beginning of my winter season. Not that it feels or looks like winter just yet. The fig tree, planted in the 1960s from a cutting of a tree that stood in the front garden of my family’s St John’s Wood home in London, has yet to shed its leaves. When it does eventually divest itself, there will be great piles of enormous leaves to clear away. This tree has to be pruned hard every year. If left to grow unchecked, it would by now be as big as the whole of the garden in which its parent stood at Number 8 Woronzow Road, London NW8.
From now until Easter, although it is tempting to shut up shop and take a holiday, I try to keep one room open. Bookings naturally tail off after September, especially in rural locations like this one. But hosting one set of guests once a week for a couple of days provides a trickle of income towards maintenance and energy costs, justifies the weekly food deliveries and gives me something to keep me occupied without giving me the enormous workload that I have during the short, intense summer season. Having plenty of days off also gives me a chance to do repairs and upgrades, touch up paintwork, clean or renew mattresses and bedding and just generally take stock of the state of things like roofs and windows (both of which there are far too many in this house). Such tasks are impossible during the hectic summer months.
If you want to book a room, you will find that the only one available online for the next couple of months is the East Wing. If it’s already booked and you want to come and stay, you will need to contact me to find out whether I can open up another room for you. I recently adopted a policy of not releasing dates for booking rooms more than two or three months in advance. In previous years I opened up dates up to a year ahead, but I found that almost all of those advance bookings got cancelled, usually at fairly short notice. Short lead times make life much easier for me.