Category Archives: News

Large Holiday Homes with pools

Book a holiday in the UK and there will be no Brexit worries of long airport queues this summer. It also gives you the chance to explore a part of this country that you may never have visited before. When you holiday with a large group of friends or family having entertainment at your large holiday home is ideal. It gives everyone the chance to have some great fun without having to leave your big house. With that in mind, we’ve brought together a few of our top picks among our houses with pools.

Widcombe Grange – Big House to rent

Big house to rent

For a long summer holiday break, a house with plenty of acres to roam through is a great idea, especially if you have high energy children or if you are bringing your dogs with you. Widcombe Grange, with 22 acres fits the bill and is a wonderful house for a big family group. The large outdoor pool is set in the walled garden and provides a perfect sun trap for warm afternoons; sun loungers for relaxation and the lawns beside the pool for extra games or a barbecue. The grounds also contain 2 lakes, one with a rowing boat and one with a pergola, which is a lovely spot for quiet reflection beside the water. Another welcome feature of the house is the hot tub in the courtyard.

The main house with 7 bedrooms and the cottage with 5 bedrooms are close together, but provide separate sleeping accommodation, which works well for several families together and often gives grandparents a quieter space for a little downtime.

Tatham House – Large holiday home

Large holiday home

This is a really popular house with an indoor pool, so whatever the weather your fun in the pool will not be interrupted! The pool house has indoor seating and the bi-fold doors open out into the walled garden with terrace, extra seating and tables and a level lawn for garden games. The walled garden often becomes the focal point of a summer’s day of fun and relaxation, with beautiful views of the Quantock Hills. There are plenty of wonderful features at Tatham House – outside there is the tennis court which has a basketball net too and the hot-tub is perfect for some after dinner chilling and star gazing.

With so much to do outside, it’s easy to overlook the indoor entertainment, but these will come into their own at certain times. For a movie night, there’s the cinema room and for some competitive games, there is table tennis and a pool table. All this and ten en-suite bedrooms.

Sussex Manor – Mansion to rent

Mansion to rent

The winding, gated driveway sets the scene for a very glamorous house, set within private grounds in a hidden oasis, surrounded by woodland. The swimming pool (summer months only) has an outdoor bar, so you can create your own Hollywood party and with sun loungers around the terrace it will certainly be a fun and relaxing environment to enjoy. Children will particularly love the trampoline, play area and games – there is a grass tennis court (summer months) too for everyone to channel their inner Wimbledon ambitions.

Sussex Manor has a stylish, sumptuous interior, with some of the biggest bath and shower rooms we have ever seen! The wood panelled dining room is delightful for a celebratory dinner party and the stunning kitchen is the perfect place to cook up your feast.

Somerset Manor – Large country house to rent

Large country house to rent

The handsome, mellow stonework sets the scene at this quintessentially elegant manor house in Somerset, which is a fabulous back drop to an idyllic summer break. The gardens and grounds of this extremely well cared for property are a beautiful setting for the swimming pool, which sits adjacent to the main house, overlooking the herbaceous borders. Poolside is a great spot to enjoy the sun loungers, where you can chill out, relaxing in the hot tub too. For some extra fun, there is the tennis court, the sauna and a football pitch. Unique to this property, is the on-site horse riding that’s available, by pre-arranging with the owner.

The interior of the house is delightful; an orangery, a farmhouse style kitchen and elegant, spacious bedrooms. There’s so much to entertain you at this house, you may never leave – but, if you decide to, we have plenty of suggestions for great day trips.

Large holiday homes

Large holiday homes with pools are fabulous for a spring and summer break – it’s the hub of the entertainment and often means that you don’t need anything else, whether you are travelling as a group of friends or family. But the best part is that all these houses have so much else besides! There really is something for your entire stay, all you need to do is book up and bring your group.

Contact us on 01823 662673 or by email.

Romantic settings to propose at our large holiday homes

So with Valentines day upon us, our minds have turned to romance and the possibility of a proposal, of which, there have been plenty at our big houses. It’s actually a great idea because you’re away with all your friends and loved ones – so it’s perfect that they can help you celebrate your engagement. Remember to pop some bottles of champagne to chill – because we’re assuming the answer will be a BIG yes.

Here’s our pick of the perfect places to pop the question, if you’re staying at one of our large houses to rent.

Ilminster Manor – a romantic BIG House to rent in Somerset

Ilminster Manor - large country houses to rent for weekends This is a house to woo your loved one in. It’s a fabulously stylish, country manor house with a church next door – hey, you could return and get married there! This is where we can just picture a proposal, a picture-perfect spot by the lake to pop the question.

For more information about our Romantic Manor House to hire click here

Somerset Manor – a Mansion to rent, to make your valentine’s dreams come true

Mansions to rent in SomersetThis is one of our most popular houses, it just has so much wow factor. So it’s hard to choose between all the romantic spots for a proposal, but we’ve gone with this charming circular seat underneath the dappled light of the oak tree, overlooking the fragrant walled garden. All you have to do is supply the right words, straight from the heart.

For more information about our Somerset Manor House to rent click here

Widcombe Grange – love is in the air at our large country house to rent in Somerset

Large country houses to rent for weekends, celebrations and weddings We’re a sucker for a waterside proposal and this house has 2 lakes for you to choose from. This is our top spot, with the gazebo giving it an extra romantic element. We could imagine a string quartet appearing here, to serenade you while you celebrate with a glass of champagne. Afterwards, a barbecue beside the swimming pool, with all your friends, would be the icing on the cake to make it the best day ever.

For more information about our Large Country House to rent click here

With 10% of marriage proposals happening on Valentines Day, we hope that if you’re planning to ask for your loved one’s hand in marriage, that you have a special place in mind. Have a great day!

 

 

Cycling holidays in Somerset and Devon

Somerset & Devon Cycling

The South West is the perfect haven for cycling. National Parks, forest trails, country lanes and coastal tracks are awaiting your discovery. Disused railway tracks have been converted into family friendly cycle routes.

Below are some Top Pick Big House Company (family and individually tested rides) – time and time again over the past 20 years.

Many areas have been graced by top Tour De France and Tour of Britain Riders – from Froome to Thomas and Wiggins to Contador!

Mountain biking in Devon & Somerset

Mountain biking

Quantock Hills

You get swooping hills, woodland, exposed heathland as well as steep gnarly descents. So be you an XC or a hardened downhill rider you can pull together a great route whatever your preference. Over 100km’s of MTB trails in total. Saying that we are talking about an area that is only 19km by 7km. So it’s well packed in.  The Quantocks is basically a long ridge with a descent of around 250 metres so it is a lot of up and down.

The Quantocks XC Trails

Twisty single track is its signature as are the steep descents. Some of the more well known are best are the Frog Combe descent, Somerton Combe and the Chimney over at Triscombe.

A classic is the Quantocks MBR Killer Loop which is 35km and having ridden many over the years MBR always deliver top routes. This one starts from Triscombe Stone, goes through the Great Wood and the rocky Quantock Combe. It has carved sections, steep descents, tough climbs and rock.

Also:

Haldon Hill forest trail – similar to ski slopes marked Blue, Red and Black according to ability

Exmoor & Dartmoor – similar to the Quantocks – 100’s of miles of all abilities.

Road cycling routes in Devon and Somerset

Road biking

Porlock Hill

The headline of this climb is in its steepest gradient, which hits incredibly close to one in three. For most, this might seem like too much – but it’s worth the attempt.

There are in fact two Porlock Hills to ride up, but the toll road is by far the most inspiring. The climb itself is a smash of steep grades and short plateaus, halting any kind of rhythm you might hope to achieve.

There are some lovely routes to the coast – most around 100km i.e there and back to: Seaton, Lyme Regis or Exmouth or on the north coast, to Minehead, Porlock or Lynton.

Also:

Blackdown Hills and the Culm Valley – 100’s of miles of deserted country lanes.

Dartmoor and the Quantock Hills – 100’s of miles for all ability road bikers.

Family & Leisure cycling in Devon & Somerset

Family biking

Exe Estuary

A 26 mile, mainly flat cycle route and walkway which runs around the entire Exe Estuary linking Exmouth, Exeter and Dawlish, with fantastic views along the River Exe. The predominantly off-road (80%)* network links Exmouth to Dawlish Warren, via Topsham and Exeter, and forms part of National Cycle Network 2.

This route provides an exciting opportunity for people to experience cycling or walking around the entire Exe Estuary, appreciating the wildlife and passing through some beautiful riverside towns and villages steeped in maritime history.

(*Many alternative routes on this estuary can be 100% off road – please ask!)

Also:

All these rides can be a 1/2-day ride or a full day ride – to their natural end and back.

Coffee shops, pub and restaurants are at either end of most of these trails, in some cases mid-way stop off’s – ideal for those tired legs!

Our Top 4:

Exe Estuary: Exeter to Star Cross (passenger ferry to Exmouth) to Topsham

Taunton to Bridgwater

Westleigh to Tiverton (canal path)

Tarka Trail: Barnstaple or Instow to Torrington (all disused railway line)

If you are looking for cycling friendly accommodation, several of our properties are near these excellent areas:-

https://www.thebighouseco.com/our-big-houses/tone-dale-house/

https://www.thebighouseco.com/our-big-houses/widcombe-grange/

https://www.thebighouseco.com/our-big-houses/tatham-house/

Great family days out in Somerset

Fabulous days out in Somerset

 

If you’re hiring a large holiday home in Somerset for a family break, you’re bound to want a few ideas for a day out or two, especially if you’re having a week-long staycation. Here are some of our suggestions for our favourites that we hope you will enjoy.

 

 

 

 

West Somerset Steam Railway

Steam and Diesel trains run along this beautiful 20 mile line from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead on the North Coast for a fabulous step back in time. There are quaint stations along the way for stopping off points, if you wish, with plenty to do in the surrounding areas. The line takes you through gently rolling fields beside the Quantock Hills, beside charming villages to the open landscape of the coast and views of the Bristol Channel.  The end of the line at Minehead is ideal for beach fun, cafés and walking.

Dunster Castle

Set on top of Dunster hill in Somerset, it’s a picture perfect castle – easy to imagine it defending against invaders. Today you can approach more gently, even by steam train if you feel like adding to your adventure. The Castle is worth exploring to discover more about it’s 1000 year history, dating back to William the Conqueror. In the winter months, the Castle is open for behind the scenes tours of areas and aspects of it’s upkeep that visitors don’t often get to peek into!

For summer time visits, the subtropical gardens are ideal for children to roam in and there is a rare working watermill in the grounds dating from medieval times. Since an extensive restoration, the mill has been producing wholemeal flour that is available to buy from the shop.

Fleet Air Arm Museum

There’s a fabulous array of aircraft of all types here in 4 large exhibition halls. It’s well laid out and imaginative in its use of display, with lots of facts and play areas. The first Concorde to fly is housed here, as well as very early planes, Hawker Jump jets and the largest collection of Royal Navy aircraft in Europe.

The Aircraft Carrier experience is very engaging as you walk down corridors which are created from the interiors of 3 carriers, to see the control rooms and flight Ops. There’s a simulated helicopter ride that takes you onto the flight deck itself, which is recreated with a number of exhibits and big screens showing a landing and take-off.

There’s an indoor and outdoor picnic area, a café and a play area based on the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

Wookey Hole Caves

These stunning caves are the largest and most spectacular show caves in England. Within the caves, the Witches Kitchen houses the largest stalagmite in the world, where legend has it that a witch was turned to stone. The Great Hall is over 70 feet tall and is one of the tallest chambers, there are more stalactites to marvel at in here. In areas of the caves, you’ll find yourself over 200ft underground with more than 11,000 tonnes of rock overhead.

Hauser & Wirth

Is a world class contemporary art gallery set in delightful Somerset countryside with a rolling programme of exciting, innovative exhibitions. Situated within a working farm that provides produce for the restaurant, the buildings are a work of art in themselves, the new and renovated elements blending stylishly. Piet Oudolf, the internationally renowned landscape gardener created the landscaping scheme for the entire site, with his trademark swathes of soft planting, creating an enchanting outdoor area and meadow with all year round appeal. The restaurant is definitely worth stopping in, (booking essential), decorated with quirky works of art it has an eclectic vibe and delicious food!

Noahs Ark Farm

We particularly love the zoo keeper experiences here. So, if you’ve ever dreamed of looking after giraffes, big cats, bears or elephants, this is a really fun treat that can be arranged on a one to one basis with a keeper. For a more general look around the zoo, you can enjoy over 100 species of animals, both large and small. Within the farm animal section there are animals to pet, feed and cuddle, and depending on the time of year, cute chicks or other babies to admire.

Glastonbury Abbey and Tor

It’s not just famous because it can be seen for miles and miles around, but also because it has huge spiritual significance for many people. The conical shape of Glastonbury Tor is natural and thousands of years ago it was an island. It’s worth climbing for the views and if you start from the western side of the tor will take you about 15 minutes, if you decide to walk from the town, the whole journey to the top will be about an hour.

The abbey was founded in the 7th century. It was destroyed by a major fire in 1184, but subsequently rebuilt and by the 14th century was one of the richest and most powerful monasteries in England. It is the legendary resting place of King Arthur and Guinevere, and for centuries people have visited to see the grave of the mythical fifth-century King of the Britons and his bride.

 

If you are heading to Somerset for a summer holiday or a weekend with friends or family and are looking for large houses for rent do have a look at our collection, by clicking here – they are ideal for  big group accommodation with plentiful entertaining spaces, delightful bedrooms and plenty of on site entertainment too.

 

What the people at the Big House are doing this Christmas

Beverley….

Beverley Will be having a vegetarian, gluten free Christmas. Is this why she looks so young, we ask ourselves? No recent fad for her, this has been a lifestyle choice for decades!

Bev will also be beaming with pride watching her grandson in the school Christmas play (his part is Chuck the Chicken), taking some chill out time in her hot tub and having a very family centred break from all the usual routines.

Ben & Victoria….

Ben and VictoriaAre having a big family Christmas at their house – they will be morphing into The Borrowers in search of chairs, cutlery, plates etc!!

After lunch on Christmas Day there’ll be a secret Santa and countless games of the hilariously funny Sketch Party game on the Apple TV. But before all that, there is still a lot of shopping to do, decorations to put up and mince pieces to eat. The Christmas tree is up

On Boxing Day, Ben will be out on his road bike – some of his favourite rides are around the Culm Valley in Devon with a traditional stop at The Strand Café in Culmstock for a piece of flapjack. There’s bound to be a lunch time spent in a local pub playing skittles too with family and friends.

Martha….

MarthaWill be taking some time out with her horse. Taking a ride, enjoying the countryside around the Blackdown Hills. For Martha’s sake we hope the weather is kind – the gorgeous hot, dry summer is a distant memory, when you’re sliding around in a muddy field.

The seaside may beckon for Martha, with perhaps a trip to Lyme Regis to watch the New Year’s Day swim – eccentricity at it’s best. Afterwards, fish and chips may prove hard to resist or the Alexandra Hotel for a cream tea – delicious.

Anna….

AnnaThis Christmas, Anna is trying her hand at ice skating. We’re eagerly awaiting the video highlights and wish we were there to cheer her on – but it’s family only ☹, so she says!

One of Anna’s regular Christmas traditions is a trip to Longleat with her family. The safari is fun and best of all, you stay warm in your car! At this time of year there is the Festival of Light (until 6th January) with chinese lanterns ranging in shape from from space ships to Egyptian camels. Her children love it.

Caroline & Peter ….

CarolineCaroline will be cooking a locally raised turkey, all the trimmings (her favourite part of the meal) and then making her world-famous Coronation Turkey for indulgent easy lunches for Boxing Day and beyond. Past down through the generations, Caroline has shared this family favourite – she fries red onions, adds red wine, curry powder and tomato puree and reduces that down, lets it cool and then adds the mayonnaise, apricot jam and the turkey!

Boxing Day, Peter is going to watch the hunt on the Quantocks, with far reaching views over to the Bristol channel, which makes it quite a spectacle. He’ll also slip into the Carew Arms to enjoy some mulled wine and a pub lunch. Tatty, their trusty cockapoo will be there hoping to pick up some of the leftovers.

Steve….

SteveWhen he’s not got his Mr Fixit hat on at Tone Dale House or Widcombe Grange, Steve runs his own DJ business. He’ll be busy hitting the turntables over the festive period and getting those parties moving. At the Big House Company, we’ve enjoyed plenty of parties with DJ Steve supplying the music and 2019 will be no exception. We can’t wait.

Think BIG for 2019?

It’s that time of year, when the Christmas panic hasn’t yet descended (or are we in denial!), and there’s the anticipation of the next year approaching. Exciting plans come to mind, things that we’ve always wanted to do, family events that are to be celebrated, milestone birthdays and just general good stuff that sounds fun and seizing the moment seems the right thing to do. Let’s make 2019 a year to remember, no more same old…..

If you’ve got one of these coming up in 2019, a BIG house offers lots of possibilities….

A stag do or a luxury hen party weekend

The big, fun event, before the even bigger event! We’re seeing the dynamic for stag and hen groups getting older and an increase in the number of requests for something a bit more chilled and luxurious. A big house to rent in the country can be an ideal way of getting all your friends together under one roof, in a very special and memorable location. Hen do houses give you lots of opportunity for pampering, such as enjoying lounging in the hot tub at Tone Dale House, having some beauty sessions organised for you and making the most of the party room for some after dinner dancing. 

For stag do accommodation, one of the big advantages of booking your stay in a BIG house is the flexibility it offers. There is no timetable to follow and you can design your own itinerary, entirely to suit yourselves. Activities are often really popular with UK based stag weekends and Berry House offers an ideal location for some surf action at some of North Devon’s finest beaches. Lessons and equipment are easy to book, and there’s the added bonus of a hot tub at the end of the day to soak any aching muscles.

A family / group staycation in the UK

Whatever your politics, 2019 might prove the ultimate year for a staycation, given continued uncertainty over Brexit. A holiday in the UK is certainly proving good value for money with the pound falling against other currencies.

However, there are lots of great reasons to hire a large holiday house. Travelling from different parts of the country to a central destination for all your group can be easier and less stressful for families with young children, than the hassles of the airport. Once you’re in your BIG house, it’s exclusively yours, no other guests or hotel timetables to limit your plans and it will really feel like your own home for your large family holiday. That informality creates a very relaxed atmosphere – chilled out breakfasts that merge into lunch, evenings spent soaking in the hot tub, space for everyone to be together and cosy corners for a little quiet time too.

Having plenty to do at a large house is a ideal for families with children.  Then there isn’t always the need to load up in the car and go out for a day trip. A wonderful large country house to rent in Somerset is Tatham House, with an indoor pool, games area, tennis court and hot tub. You might find you never leave it! Although that would be a shame, given the steam railway line just down the road and all the other delights that Somerset has to offer.

A special wedding day

A BIG house makes an unusual wedding venue in Somerset and because you hire the entire property you can create the atmosphere you have always dreamed of and set the pace to match – relaxed picnic hampers on the lawn or fully served meals in a marquee. You stay in the house for the entire weekend with close friends or family and the rest of your guests join you for the wedding day.

One of the beauties of the weekend house party wedding is that come the morning after the wedding, you’re not saying your goodbyes and heading home. The fun carries on all weekend. You could have a “chill out brunch party” the following day with volleyball and croquet competitions, hot tubs and head massage in the garden. Widcombe Grange works very well for a boho themed wedding with a tented village for guests in the extensive grounds and a swimming pool for fun during the weekend. 

A corporate away day

Team building days can be challenging for the organiser to come up with an original idea that suits the goals of the event and meets the budget. Hiring a BIG house can be a great solution that’s not a hotel and therefore provides a different experience, something unique and a creative atmosphere.

The flexibility of staying at your own big house means the only schedule you follow, is your own and your entire stay can be a team building exercise, if you want it to be. Everything about having a large group of people staying together requires co-operation, even making the tea! But a total DIY event might not be entirely your thing and that’s where a big house gives you the best of both worlds – catering and a wide range of activities can all be arranged for you, if required.  Tone Dale House is a great example of this, where the concierge service can tailor an event to your needs. It’s a very popular house for corporate parties in Somerset.

2019 is fast approaching, so spare some time to think BIG about what your wish list is for the next year and whatever you end up doing, have a great time!

Ping pong tables and funky furniture

Why high performing teams want meaningful conversation, not ping pong tables

Ping pong tables, funky furniture and advanced ways to share work and communicate, may be seen as indicators of an innovative workplace and a high-performance culture.  However, the ‘window dressing’ often doesn’t deliver the desired results.

Perks and environment don’t drive performance – they support it.  It is delivered through behaviours and relationships.  People who are crystal clear on what they need to deliver for their organisation and how they deliver it to their customers.  People who understand how to continuously improve – together.

Business leaders often focus upon structure, process, environment, sexy marketing.  New systems are implemented, processes redefined. A ‘ra ra’ launch for the new product or branding to get people excited – and they are – in that moment.

When the shiny newness wears off people fall back into the status quo – where it feels comfortable and familiar.  Back into their ‘to do’ lists and work silos – particularly if there is a heavy workload.  There isn’t time to consider the bigger picture, to worry about whether their outputs are aligned with those of their colleagues.  With the best of intentions, they believe that as long as they do a good job, the customer will be happy.

Business leaders become frustrated, because despite their investment, the front-line people who can make a difference are not delivering their highest performance levels.  Continuous improvement is seen as a project, not a day to day norm.

The counter-intuitive solution to continually engaging people with the organisational strategy, with continually finding ways to be better, to look outside of the ‘to do’ list and day to day tasks is to STOP!

  • To facilitate conversations which create openness, constructive review, understanding of others challenges
  • To build and endorse collaborative behaviours
  • To create solutions together, which everyone buys into
  • To remind of the bigger picture the silo of their work hangs upon
  • To make the links between their list of tasks and the purpose of why they are doing it.

This is not internal comms, an update, or a team build.

It’s about considering simple, key questions on a regular basis, which will facilitate the above, such as:

  • What’s going well, what’s not going so well and what could we be doing differently?
  • Are we keeping our promises to our customers?
  • Where are we dropping the ball and why?
  • Do our ‘sales pitch’ promises match what we deliver further into the relationship?
  • What projects, what specific tasks, would require collaboration to deliver the best results?  (Carlos Valdes-Dapena used this question when improving collaborative working at Mars)

Culture is something that needs to become part of the material of a team – the invisible ingredients that everyone consumes without realising, but getting there and keeping it alive needs focus, attention, time and space.  Time to STOP!

The Big House Co. have the ideal settings for putting the brakes on the ‘to do’ list. With big comfortable spaces, plenty of equipment and spacious dining areas, The Big House will take care of the practicalities, so you can concentrate on spending time together.

An experienced facilitator can be extremely beneficial in enabling constructive conversations, honest dialogue and the building of trust and collaboration.

Lyn Paxman has over 20 years experience of facilitation, working with corporate leaders and teams. She helps teams to have better conversations, which lead to better decisions and better results.

Her facilitated Customer Journey Review is a powerful way of exploring whether promises to your customers are being kept further down the line. Website:  www.evolveyou.co.uk  or contact Lyn on 07950 914328, lyn@evolveyou.co.uk .

Alternatively, get in touch with us at the Big House Co. about your away day and we’ll organise for Lyn to be part of your experience.

What’s great about large holiday homes

big holiday house to rent

A big group needs a large house to rent

It might be stating the obvious, but one of the best ways of having a summer holiday with all your family is to be under one roof. Unless you’ve struck lucky, most of us don’t have a relative with a big pad in a convenient location for a summer holiday with the whole family. Or even if you do, perhaps they might not want to host!

A great choice of big houses to rent

These days many big houses aren’t lived in by their owners. We know – we found the heating bills way too high! So, the upside is that there are a fantastic number of properties around the country where you can have a memorable big house experience. Manor houses and castles, barn conversions and farm houses – take your pick. Locations can often be memorable too, but sometimes convenience is the main factor when your group are coming from far flung locations.

Large houses to rent for parties

If you are planning a special celebration, a big holiday house can be the perfect location to base yourselves. With that as your starting point you can plan your guest list, organise your activities and fine tune the itinerary. Having helped many groups with their house parties over the past 22 years we would suggest, it’s never too early to start. Pick our brains, we love it….ask us about local top notch chefs, unusual activities, the best pubs, where to take the dog for a walk – or what kitchen equipment you’ll need to bring – in our houses, the answer to that is usually none. They are very well equipped.

Big house rentals

A large holiday home can be an ideal alternative to hotels or cramming all your guests into your own home; more relaxed, in charge of your own timetable, plenty of space to be together and apart! Often these big group holidays can turn into an annual event that’s looked forward to by all generations with great anticipation.

If we can help at all, with your selection of a large house to rent as the starting point for your big house experience, do get in touch and make the most of our friendly impartial advice.

Why a Christmas and New Year break is a great idea

New Year House Hire

It’s one of the best times of year to organise your loved ones to be together and with December fast approaching we’re getting excited about Christmas holiday ideas and the possibilities for lots of festive fun.

So take a look at all the brilliant reasons why you should rent a large house for Christmas.

You’ll all be under one roof

These days we generally all live in smaller houses, so getting everyone together can be a squash or just impossible. Especially if you have to provide overnight accommodation for guests travelling a distance to spend Christmas with you. The beauty of hiring a large house for Christmas is that none of this is an issue. You’ll have space in spades.

Everyone can help out

A big family Christmas in a large house is a good opportunity to spread the workload. Divide the jobs well in advance and everyone knows what’s expected of them, that way tensions are avoided. Perhaps each family unit takes a turn at cooking one of the meals, why not have a bake-off competition too? Creativity, with plenty to eat afterwards – happy days.

Or perhaps you prefer that everyone has a set job during the Christmas break – put Grandad in charge of party games and the younger ones can lay the table. Why not get them making the Christmas crackers in the days preceding.

So much fun to be had

A family that plays together, stays together and the bonds really strengthen when you spend time in a big house, enjoying each other’s company. A large house to rent for Christmas such as Widcombe Grange gives you the possibilities of some excellent fun – hide and seek, murder mystery evenings, table tennis competitions, football in the garden, and hopefully even a snowball fight.

Spaces to be together & apart!

Stay with a large group for New Year’s or Christmas provides the opportunity for a multi-generational break that your family may not often have the chance to experience. It provides you with the opportunity to enjoy a superb Christmas lunch all together around the same table, plenty of space for chilling out on the sofas, or for fun and laughter in the games room. Sometimes too, let’s face it, we might need a bit of “me” time and a big house has those places for some down time – small snugs, little libraries, cosy corners – before it’s time to get back into the heart of the party.

Great memories

It’s pretty certain that none of your group will ever forget the big house, luxury Christmas holidays, and those memories will be special ones to treasure. The laughs you had, the games you played, the fun you enjoyed.

So now that summer is officially over, it’s worth spending time thinking about what you’re going to be doing this Christmas and New Year break and if you are interested in seeing our availability please click here.

Having fun at a boot camp in Somerset

Weight loss retreats in Somerset

Enjoy a boot camp holiday in Somerset

We run a fitness and weight loss boot camp for women called Who Dares Slims. We combine Special Forces training and survival techniques with fun games and activities to deliver truly effective weight loss which can be maintained when our customers go back to their normal lives.

This May we launched our business with our first boot camp at Widcombe Grange. It was the perfect venue for it.  Not only was the Boot Camp in Somerset, which has access to areas of outstanding natural beauty, but the house had superb grounds, 22 acres of woodland and lawns, for us to run circuit based training as well as trail runs. Perfect for a weight loss holiday. We used the outdoor heated pool for pool games and aquacise classes – which everyone adored. And to make it even better we had perfect weather for the occasion, meaning during downtime the ladies not only enjoyed the pool, but hot tub was a firm favourite.

Our chef, who designs our healthy and nutritionally balanced meals for the boot camp, loved the kitchen. It was perfectly equipped for catering for big groups.

A weight loss holiday is fast becoming a favourite amongst people who want to get out and do something new and make new friends – but getting fit while they do it. Why not book yourself in and have a go?

The key to innovation – Team appraisals and collaboration

Corporate Venues Somerset

‘Cognitive intimacy’ leads to collaboration, according to Lyssa Adkins in ‘Coaching Agile Teams’.  Team communication is so in flow, it’s almost Vulcan mind meld quality.   There is trust, the willingness to be vulnerable and put forward stupid ideas, which can be built upon to become great ideas.  Risks are taken, feedback is given, people say it, how it is and mutual accommodation and respect is encouraged.

In his fabulous podcast ‘WorkLife’ Adam Grant talks about how the Newsnight team and Trevor Noah are so relaxed in the company of each other that they engender ‘burstiness’. When generating ideas for new jokes and story lines they laugh and accept seemingly stupid ideas, along with those which appear clever and inspiring.  They are willing to be vulnerable, knowing that sometimes it’s the silliest idea that inspires the best thoughts.

Achieving burstiness and cognitive intimacy: 

  • Are your team objectives driving the behaviours of collaboration, which are essential to innovation?
  • How do you encourage the sharing of ideas and learning within your team?

It’s important to ensure that individual objectives don’t sabotage team success.  For example, objectives which encourage an individual to ‘take something and make it your own with evidence of you driving results’, will encourage work grabbing, limelight hogging and credit taking, rather than giving away ideas which enable team improvement or acknowledging the skill of others so the best result can be delivered.

Reviewing and appraising performance together will enable open discussion and the sharing of ideas and challenges.  It will build trust and understanding and make sure that individual and team objectives are aligned.

Spending time away from the pressures of the everyday can give this way of working a tremendous boost.  A yearly team review and appraisal brings together and acknowledges the contribution and learning of everyone.   You can explore questions like these:

  • What value have we delivered this year?
  • How do we know we have made a difference?
  • Where could we have made more impact?
  • We know we have grown because?

Review the past years activities together as a team – milestones, challenges, failures, learning, achievements. This begins to build a shared understanding – a perspective where the sum of its parts come together, so everyone can see the bigger picture.

The opportunity to explore ‘do differently’s is opened up – identifying improvements and team objectives for the year ahead.  Affirming the growth of the team as a whole, encouraging support as everyone works toward the same aligned purpose.  Mis-alignments in objectives are highlighted, where if one person ‘wins’ this could be at the expense of another.

The Big House Co. have the ideal settings for a corporate away day where you can take time out for a team review and appraisal. With big comfortable spaces, plenty of equipment and spacious dining areas, The Big House will take care of the practicalities, so you can concentrate on spending time together.

Some reflective conversations may get intense (in a good way), so take some time to have fun together too – reinforcing trust and positive relationships to take back into the workplace. Every large house has onsite fun, ranging from games rooms, cinema rooms, to hot-tubs & pools, we can even put you in touch with excellent local chefs if you want a helping hand with some cooking!

Setting the boundaries around open and honest review is very important to productive conversations.  Lyn Bayley-Paxman has over 20 years experience of facilitation, working with corporate leaders and teams. Her mission is to help teams to work in an environment where they thrive not strive. If you have a specific objective for your corporate away day she will design a bespoke day with you, facilitate a specific meeting, or use her proven process for a ‘Team Pause’ day, where teams reflect and understand, before considering their future shared vision.

Here is her Linked-in profile or contact her on 07950 914328, lyn@evolveyou.co.uk .  Alternatively, get in touch with us at the Big House Co about your corporate away day and we’ll organise for Lyn to be part of your experience.

 

Brilliant things to do in North Devon

Hire a large party house in Devon and enjoy the beach life

The temperature keeps rising and we’re thinking what could be better than beautiful Devon with it’s wonderful coastline and vast beaches to cool your hot toes!

We are very pleased to have the stunning Berry House in North Devon as a wonderful party house to rent for family gatherings, holidays and corporate events. But why should you stay in North Devon?

The Hartland Coastline

This coastline is brimming with wild scenery and dramatic cliffs. It is world recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty, providing a paradise for walkers and those wishing to explore the coastlines and open moors. Hartland Abbey is perfect for those who wish for a tranquil day out in this pretty valley. Explore its beautiful gardens and the Abbey with it’s fine collection of art and memorabilia (open Sunday to Thursday).

Hartland Village

Unspoilt and charming are the best words to describe this rural village that has been a key part of social and community life for over a thousand years. As with any traditional village you will find local shops, friendly pubs, cafes, restaurants but most of all history and lots of heritage!<

Water Sports

The North Devon coastline is a mecca for superb sandy beaches and rugged coastlines that are fantastic for water sport activities. We can arrange these activities for you during your stay at our country house, if you wish. There are many great fun sports to try in Devon, even at beginner level such as surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, coasteering and more.<

North Devon Family Attractions

Whatever the weather in North Devon there are plenty of activities to entertain the whole family. Explore under the sea at Ilfracombe Aquarium, see the animals and dinosaurs at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park or get adventurous at The Milky Way Adventure Park in Clovelly. Depending on how long you are staying we’d also recommend Quince Honey Farm, The Big Sheep, Watermouth Castle and lots more besides.<

Clovelly fishing village

Hanging on a 400ft cliff, the cobbled streets of this world famous fishing village were once seen with donkeys transporting people and goods up the steep hill. Dating back to the 14th century, the quay has an abundance of history surrounding it, with tales of smuggling and pirates. The charming village is still traffic free, with boats bobbing in the harbour, stunning views and a fantastic maritime atmosphere.<

Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park is a remarkable area to explore with breath taking scenery. Discover streams, rivers, woodland, farmland and steep cliffs on your journey through this beautiful part of North Devon. It’s wonderful for horse riding, mountain biking, hiking or for a gentle picnic.<

Whatever you decide to do, Devon won’t disappoint you and the upside is, you’ll miss all the airport queues. So if this sounds like your sort of holiday, take a look at our large house for rent, Berry House, in North Devon.

 

 

Reflection – Why slowing down will help you to go faster

Corporate venue Somerset

Organisational life often feels as though we are on an incessantly running hamster wheel.  Deliver to this months targets, get the reports out, have team meetings, react to a problem, fire fight and then – it all starts again.  You don’t have time to stop – right?

Well – not necessarily.  Because when we’re stuck in the constant ‘do,do,do’, it means we neglect our ability to reflect and review.  When we do this there’s a risk that we will just keep on doing what we’ve always done, which may eventually lead to poor results.

Reflection develops our understanding – of what’s working, what’s not and what we could do differently.  It builds our resources to innovate, create, collaborate and improve.

The actions we then take are more considered, focussed, specific – we speed up.  Less firefighting – more problem solving.

In a competitive world it’s essential that organisational teams are agile in the face of change.  This stems from their ability to learn.  Learning happens in both the doing and the understanding.  To understand, you must reflect. John Dewey (psychologist) said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Reflection isn’t just about understanding what went wrong and how you could do better, it’s about understanding what went well, so you can do more of what works.  It’s honestly and non-judgmentally examining our contributions.

When we’re contained within our work environment and the pressures it presents we’re not always in the right frame of mind to pause, step back and examine with an open mind.

The work environment demands (sometimes covertly) that we demonstrate our competence, our ability to be in control and deliver.  This is what is recognised and rewarded, however, this doesn’t facilitate openness.

The most effective reflection happens in a safe environment.  One where judgement and criticism are suspended and it’s possible to examine a situation openly and honestly.  James Zull (author, the Art of Changing the Brain) said, “Even if we experience something that has happened to us before, it is hard to make meaning of it unless it engages our emotions.”  He also points out that reflection is a search for connections and suggests that we have to seriously consider the role of emotion if we want to foster deep learning.

The Big House Co. have the ideal settings for a corporate away day where you step away from the hamster wheel and take a productive pause. With big comfortable spaces, plenty of equipment and spacious dining areas, The Big House will take care of the practicalities, so you can concentrate on spending time together.

Some reflective conversations may get intense (in a good way), so take some time to have fun together too – reinforcing trust and positive relationships to take back into the workplace. Every large house has onsite fun, ranging from games rooms, cinema rooms, to hot-tubs & pools, we can even put you in touch with excellent local chefs if you want a helping hand with some cooking!

Setting the boundaries around open and honest review is very important to productive conversations.  Lyn Bayley-Paxman has over 20 years experience of facilitation, working with corporate leaders and teams. Her mission is to help teams to work in an environment where they thrive not strive. If you have a specific objective for your corporate away day she will design a bespoke day with you, facilitate a specific meeting, or use her proven process for a ‘Team Pause’ day, where teams reflect and understand, before considering their future shared vision.

Here is her Linked-in profile or contact her on 07950 914328, lyn@evolveyou.co.uk .  Alternatively, get in touch with us at the Big House Co about your corporate away day and we’ll organise for Lyn to be part of your experience.

 

Our new party house in Somerset

Super hen party houses

A year ago, we had a phone call from a prospective homeowner with an interesting local property. That lead to us to be chosen as exclusive agent for Tatham House in Somerset.

Between then and now the house had a complete renovation and is welcoming its first guests in a few weeks time.

Party House for rent

This will be a great property for anyone looking for a large house for hire in Somerset, with lots of facilities to make your stay very enjoyable. There is a large choice of party houses to rent these days, but we feel this one is outstanding. For starters, it has 10 beautiful bedrooms all with excellent quality en-suite facilities – no bathroom queues here! The entertaining spaces, on the ground floor, flow well for a big group and the kitchen is stylish and kitted out with all the mod cons. The indoor pool, hot tub and tennis court are certainly going to provide your group with a lot of entertainment too.

Downstairs, the cellar is a place for fun! The cinema room provides a cosy, relaxing space; imagine – large screen, comfy seating, popcorn, big match or movie, some beers? Through the rest of the arched cellar is the pool table, bar billiards and table tennis.

Corporate Party Venues

We imagine that corporate away days in Somerset would be a big hit here. Particularly as all 10 bedrooms have exquisite en-suite facilities and flat screen TVs, for enjoying a little down time between meetings. The gardens would also be a superb location for corporate events in Somerset, with large terraces and delightful views towards the Quantocks. We can put you in contact with local chefs, who can provide delicious catering to make your event go with a swing.  This region also has plenty to offer if you are looking for a location for unusual team building days in Somerset.

Hen party in Somerset

Hen party houses are a fabulous way to spend that special last weekend away with your girlfriends. Tatham House would be a brilliant memory to have, one to talk about for years to come. We can add to the pampering by organising all sorts of special treats (massage, manicure, cocktail bar – to name but a few), but with so much at the house to enjoy, maybe you’d better stay for longer!

For the stags too

If you are thinking of a Stag Do in Somerset, this house could provide you with an action-packed weekend. Kick off your stay at the house with 5 a-side football, basketball or tennis and then if you want to explore the nearby Quantock hills, the mountain biking is excellent – stop off at a few of the charming local pubs too. A celebration dinner can be a focal point of your evening and maybe, beforehand you’ll have time for a few lengths of the pool or a relaxing chill out in the hot tub.

A dream party house to rent

We think Tatham House is going to be fantastic for groups, families, friends, or anyone just wanting to have a great time together with lovely accommodation and lots of on site entertainment. It really is a house that has got the lot!

We would thoroughly recommend you book up now and be one of the first to stay at this new Big House in Somerset. Contact us, if you would like to know more.

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How to have a wonderful hen party weekend

Hen Party

Are you in charge of organising the hen party weekend? It’s a privilege to be asked and you’re sure to have fun looking at all the options of great things to do.

The world is literally your oyster…it’s a responsibility too and we hope some of our ideas may guide you through the task.

Hen party houses to rent

We certainly would suggest that you hire your own BIG house. Yes, we are biased, but, hear us out, there are plenty of great reasons for it. Flexibility to do whatever you want, whenever you want to, is a big plus point, no hotel schedule to stick to. The cost can be much less than a couple of nights in a hotel for a group. Hen party houses can range from the truly glamorous to the authentic country house experience and can reflect the personality of your bride to a tee. It’s also wonderful to have the privacy of your own hen do house for an unforgettable weekend and sets the stage in the run up to the big day.

If that sounds your sort of weekend, there are hen party venues for hire in different areas around the country. With friends scattered far and wide these days, a central location might be the best idea. Or, perhaps, there is a location that has particularly special significance for the bride that could make it an especially memorable event for her.

Hen party activities

Maybe location isn’t so important to your hens, but you have definite ideas about what you want to do during the weekend. Are you adventurous hens wanting plenty of activities and excitement arranged for you? Is it more of a pampering break that fits the bill. Are you looking for a house with cosy sofas, for snuggling on, chatting and drinking coffee after a long leisurely breakfast? Walks in the country? Or is it a hen party venue with hot tub for a relaxing afternoon with glasses of champagne and plenty of laughter. Chances are, it’s a mixture, particularly with a large group, some who may be meeting each other for the first time.

If you looking for hen party houses to rent we’d recommend you consider the bedroom configuration too, before making a final choice. Does it work for your group, who do you envisage sharing with who? Are there enough bathrooms? Perhaps you’ve decided to go for a luxury hen party house and really push the boat out to make it a weekend you’ll never want to end.

Hen party food

A hen party is a special occasion and we think some grand catering is appropriate. Hopefully someone in your group is a budding Masterchef contestant and can guide the preparation of a sumptuous feast one evening. It’s always a good idea to get the shopping delivered in advance and to have a good idea of who will do what in the kitchen over the weekend. But perhaps you’d rather someone else take the strain? A local chef could be a great idea and leaves you more time for fun, for dancing or more champagne maybe? 

If this sounds like the sort of hen party weekend you have in mind, we have big houses around the country and we can give you our unbiased opinion of which we think will suit you best.

Take a look at our BIG hen party houses or get in touch about booking your hen do here.