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  • Writer's pictureFiona Barber

How it all began......

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

It all started with an internet date in 2016! Alby, a Kiwi builder and Fiona a nurse decided that there was no time to waste and set about looking for a large house that needed renovation and that could easily accommodate their combined four grown up children on high days and holidays but which would earn an income for the rest of the time. In 2017, we found Fursdons, a Grade 2 listed medieval stone manor house of some 5500 feet with one and half acres of rather boggy land. This wonderful historic house had fallen into some disrepair and needed some TLC to restore it to its former glory. With Alby's building experience and with Fiona's flair for interior design, we set about installing central heating, overhauling the ancient lighting, and getting planning permission to convert the first floor of one wing to a two bedroom apartment and a derelict stable into a one bedroomed cottage. Fast forward to September 2021, our first holiday let Otters Holt was opened and Chipley Escapes was born!

Has it been easy? Absolutely not! But it has been really lovely to see our dreams being turned into reality and 2023 will see our second holiday let, Rooks View, open as a one bedroomed cottage.

Oh by the way, Otters Holt and Rooks View are not just random names. The stream that borders our land and continues down the lane has otters living along it and the trees opposite have a well established colony of rooks nesting in the treetops. Actually its not a colony its a parliament of rooks - who knew?

So, here we are. Five years after moving in with just a bottle of wine and a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates for supper. As well as installing the central heating and rewiring, we have redecorated two bedrooms, installed a super duper kitchen with an island (oh, still my beating heart!), repurposed a small bedroom into a family bathroom which was featured in an interiors magazine (yes - get me!), and opened an award winning holiday let. Am I proud ? Hell yeah!


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