I can't believe it was June when I last wrote the blog, time has just shot past. We have been very busy at work and we also moved house last week so things are a bit manic so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. We are finding more and more people are buying our stoves to use with bio ethanol rather than conventionally. This is great as it means everyone can have one and you are not limited by having the have a chimney. People are surprised by the amount of heat emitted by the Bio Ethanol, it really is impressive and of course, no mess, no effort. Just sit back and enjoy.
Well what a week this has been, absolutely boiling hot, hottest week in June since 1976. I'm not a great lover of anything over about 22 degrees but especially not when you are working. Needless to say, not a lot of restoring has been going on this week. Also it's not brilliant for stove sales but at least it gives us a chance to catch our breath and get some stuff done. We think we have the best stock selection at the moment that we have ever had, definitely something for everyone. Some real stunners. Have a great Summer.
Well what a 6 months it's been. We have had some great write ups in some of the glossies and we have been so busy, we have been to France 6 times on buying trips since September. We have recently sent stoves to Iceland, Switzerland, USA, Greece and Ireland among other places. I love the thought they one of our little stoves is nestling away in pride of place in someone's house in a far flung country. We never imagined that our business would grow into this when we started in when we got back from France. We were lucky enough to have two of the nicest customers you could wish for who bought a stove off us over the internet and came to collect it and bought 6 more!! for their house in Scotland. We have become quite good friends and I look forward to their emails. One brilliant one said they had had "a really lovely purchasing journey". What can I say?
Well this year has just flown by, admittedly a lot of the middle of the year was taken up with our daughter, Lucy and her A level results and subsequent Uni application. Finally she is settled in Surrey Uni studying Law and we can concentrate on the business. Which is just as well as it has been absolutely mad for the past few months. We have been over to France often in search of lovely stoves and always try and find the unusual and special. Our efforts have been rewarded as we have just had the busiest two months of our lives, just manic, but good fun and have met some great customers (and a few, not so great) and realise we just love selling our gorgeous stoves to gorgeous, appreciative people.
We have just been lucky enough to have three page feature in a fantastic new magazine called Reclaim which is full of great articles on a variety of things ranging from our fabulous stoves to antique baths, umbrellas and even church pews. Hopefully this will get our name out to a broader audience and let more people know about our gorgeous stoves. So don't forget to buy a copy and check us out.
What a lovely change this weather has been, sunny and bright if still a bit of a chilly wind. I was so fed up with the relentless rain over the winter, it's so hard to motivate yourself to so anything when it is raining non stop. Anyway, we have recently returned from France. We went on a buying trip to the Loire region which is where we used to live and got to stay in one of our favourite hotels La Fleuray at Cangey, in between Blois and Amboise for 2 nights which was great as we usually stay in a different hotel each night. Staying 2 nights made it feel like a proper break and not just work which was much appreciated and needed as we have been working hard the last year. We found some really great stoves, completely different to our current stock. Now comes the hard work of restoring them and listing them for sale. We already have 5 out and tomorrow we collect another 4 from the sand blasters so they need finishing and will look great. We have 3 stripped ones which we have never had stripped before so that is exciting as it really shows the detail and we are finding more and more clients loving their simplicity and crispness. Wait and see what you think.
Well Christmas is less than 2 weeks away which is a bit of a blow as I have very few pressies so far. We are closing for Christmas on Friday 18th and will only be open by appointment until January 4th 2016. It has been a very busy year and totally exceeded our expectations. We would like to thank all our lovely customers who have bought stoves from us over the past 12 months and wish all our customers, new and old a Very Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year. See you in 2016.
Well Barney the storm is on his way out and it's been pretty grim. I was at work all morning by myself and Lucy, our daughter arrived at lunch time and asked why we had a gaping hole in the roof/ceiling!! We are based in an old grain drying barn and the ceiling had small skylights which have since been taken out but the roof is lined with sarking boards and the skylight hole is still in the boards but they have slates over then on the outside so once the slate slipped we were exposed to the elements. Strangely, given the stormy night we had, we had no damage this morning. Anyway, I believe that now we have the stormy weather over, the cold weather is arriving shortly at the weekend. This is the time of the year when your wood burner really comes into it's own. How great is it to arrive home from work, in the dark, and light up your wood burner and sit back and watch those flames, just lovely. Almost worth having cold weather
Well we have been so busy the last couple of months. We both went buying in France in late September then I went by myself for the first time in ages last weekend. Tom just couldn't afford the time off from restoring them to come with me. It was a lot of miles in 3 days but well worth it as I got some lovely stoves, a few of which we have never had before which is always exciting. We have lit our log burner at work the last couple of days as it is definitely getting nippy and a promise of things to come. Time to get the logs in and stocked up ready for those cosy winter evenings.
Well, I have finally got my head around the new software (with a lot of help from Barney at Pixel & Dot) for our website and am fairly pleased with the result. I have tried to keep it clear and easy to navigate as a lot of our clients remarked on the fact that our old one was simple to navigate and find what they were looking for. We felt we needed to update the overall look of the site and I hope you like the new look. Let me know in our new comments box below if you have an opinion.
Apart from that we have been really busy trying to keep up with demand which has been exceptional and on our last trip we tried to get some different stoves and certainly succeeded but they are going to take a while to come in to stock as they require patience to really bring them up to their potential. Keep an eye open. Meanwhile enjoy this lovely Indian Summer we are having.
Well, I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of August. It is time to definitely get your stove head on and decide which one of our lovely stoves you are going to be toasting your toes in front of this winter. This year has gone by so fast, we got our unit at the beginning of September 2013 so it’s nearly two years ago now, amazing. It’s been a good year and the stoves seem to be getting more and more popular, and this year has definitely seen the bio ethanol burners take off. We are off to Frome agricultural and cheese show on 12th September so if you are in the area pop in and say Hi, we are on stand K14, opposite the Craft tent. Tom is just on his way back from a buying trip and we have tried to get some different stoves this time including this very interesting looking one below. I am dying to see it as I only found it last minute when he was at a loose end on Sunday. I love it when that happens.
Well I just realised that I haven’t updated my blog for some time as summer has now arrived (sort of). It has been a very busy month or two. We got back from France a couple of weeks ago with a van load of wood burners. Our van has decided to confound our usualand garage at only 4 years old, so we are taking it off to Citroen this week to see if they can work out what is wrong with it and then we’re selling it as we need reliablity. We had to borrow a van from Mercedes as a test drive when we went over to France to put it throught it’s paces, sadly we didn’t like it at all so now we are looking at the new Transit. Watch this space. Apart from that we have definitely noticed an upturn in bio ethanol sales for our wood burners. It means that people can have one of our lovely stoves whatever their situation as you don’t need a flue so it opens things up to anyone who can afford a stove ( I realise that does not mean everyone and a lot of people ar still feeling the effect of ‘austerity’ but don’t start me…)
We are also looking to update our website over the next couple of months once I get to grips with the new software so it will depend on how intelligent I am feeling (could be years…) meanwhile enjoy the sun while it shines.
I can’t believe it is St Paddy’s day already, I’m a year older, and Spring is definitely on the way. Tom and I went to France 2 weeks ago on a bit of a flying trip. It was the French school holidays whcih was bad timing (we should know better) but we managed to get some really different, interesting stoves including this Beauty (literally) below. We have already sold some of them but it is always good to get different stock in and makes a change from the usual Lilys, Chauffettes etc. We have found since Christmas that we have been selling a lot more stoves with bio ethanol boxes and even had one guy buy one, and the day after he receievd it, ordered another one for his bedroom! They are brilliant because, though they don’t fit every stove, they do open up the possibility of a gorgeous French stove to everyone as no flue is needed. Great for these nights when sometimes it is cold enough for central heating and sometimes you just want a bit of heat in the sitting room or conservatory. Well worth a look. You can literally buy it, take it home and light it! Anyway, I am trying to get my books up to date so I had better press on.
Thought I had better update my blog as I haven’t been on here since December and we are now in February already. Christmas seems a long time ago now and the nights are getting lighter so I am travelling home in the light which is brilliant. So depressing when you go to and from work in the dark. As expected we had a quiet start to the year as everyone is catching up on the expense of Christmas but now the first pay day has passed, stoves are going to their new homes and plenty of good enquiries coming in as well. We are hopefully off to France in the next two or three weeks to find some different stoves. We have a good selection of the usual suspects at the mo but will be looking out for some different ones as well. We seem to be selling a lot more Bio Ethanol burners. They are so clever because even if you don’t have a chimney or a flue you can use one. We have even had people buy them for stoves which they use as conventional wood burners and they use them on the days when they only want it on for an hour or two or they just can’t be bothered to light a conventional fire. Check out our video on the front page if you haven’t seen them in action. Wishing you all a very belated 2015.
Well it is nearly 2 weeks until the big day, it’s gone so quickly this year. We have been getting into the spirit of things, we went to a lovely Winter Brocante at Petworth House at the beginning of the month which was fun and very festive then we were at Royal Wootton Bassett last week, nothing to do with stoves, selling mulled wine which was absolutely mad busy and now we are just building up to have a couple of weeks off over the festive time. We still come in for special customers’ appointments but that’s it apart from that, bubbly and smoked salmon all the way. We will put the tree up at home this weekend all being well and then you really start to get in mood, though I have cheated and got 3 lovely silvery, willow cone trees up in the dining room already. We don’t really need it but we are going to take a wood burner home for Christmas with an ethanol burner for the conservatory so that will be jolly and more interesting to look at than underfloor heating. Anyway, have a cool yule yourselves (or a nice snuggy one if you have one of our burners).
Busy times here at the French Barn. We have sold some of my favourite stoves over the last few weeks including the oldest stove we have ever had, made by Huet & Cie. It has gone to a suitably impressive sounding house so at least that is something to be thankful for knowing it has a good resting place. Apart from that it has been fun, customers have come in having reserved a particular stove and gone out with not just one but two completely different stoves, people have bought ethanol burners so they can have a stove in their conservatory etc etc. We have also had a mention in Homes and Antiques magazine who did a feature on fireplaces and had one of our stoves in their top 5 stoves so that was brilliant. Now to get ready for the Christmas rush and we are off to France next weekend for the next batch of beauties, trying to pick up a few more front loaders (well that’s the plan but anything could happen).
Well I finally think Autumn is arriving though we have had great weather haven’t we? But I notice the trees are definitely starting to lose their leaves and I think I really must retire my sandals soon which I hate doingas I know I will then be stuck in boots for months. We have certainly had a busy season up to know, August and September being especially strong. We ar getting lots of enquiries at the moment as people are starting to realise that the glorious summer we have been enjoying isn’t going to last forever and suddenly the prospoect of snuggling up in front of a toasty wood burner, especially one as beautiful as ours, seems very appealing, add in a nice bottle of wine and you’re away. We are currently arranging some fairs and shows for the coming few months and rumour has it we are going to be Homes and Antiques magazine next month so all is good in the world.
This is a photo of the square in Bethune which has the bell tower on it from the 1300s. we stayed overnight here on Friday on our latest buying trip. Great B&B if you’re ever there called City Relax Bethune. Run by a great couple with only 3 rooms but each room has a relaxing theme to it. So ours had an excercise bike, one had a massage chair etc. There was also a suana for clients use. We had a sucessful trip and got some great stoves which we have never had before, one from a company called Huet from 1860 in stunning condition. Must have been in a very impressive fireplace as it’s huge and very ornate, a real head turner. We are hoping the passport crisis has passed as ours both run out in early September and we can’t make up our minds whether to leave it till the last minute to renew or do them now and hope they come back quickly. I might wait till they run out just in case some good stoves come on between now and then. If Tom sent his off now then we should be covered. Showroom is looked good and well stocked though we have had a very busy start to August. Enjoy the weather whilst it lasts.
Unbelievably the sun is still shining and it really does feel like we are having a proper summer. I can’t bear it when it gets really hot but this is lovely. I am trying to get my act together to go across to France and buy some more stoves but I have been spoiled by us going together and we can’t do that this time as our daughter Lucy has got a summer job at the very upmarket (ex Kate Middleton) Marlborough College whilst they have their summer for school. This necessitates early starts and she needs a lift in 2 mornings a week as there are no buses that early so one of us has to stay to carry out our parental duties and look after the animals. I am putting it off but I really must do it before the French all go on their ‘vacances’ in August. We are still selling stoves very steadily which is still a surprise given the weather and time of year. A lot of people we are getting through the showroom are mentioning the fact that they love having a showroom to come and see them before they buy (and often change their mind once they see them all) and they are very surprised that no-one else seems to do this, I am certainly very sceptical of any website which does not have UK contact details with a landline and UK address. The stoves are often 80 years old and you want to know that there is someone to sort out a problem should one arise. Still, I shouldn’t complain, it’s our gain. well I’d better go and hunt out some new stock over in France and get that ferry booked.
Well summer is finally upon us, Wimbledon has started and all is well in the world. Stove sales are still brisk which is great as we thought they would die down a bit in the summer but they just seem to be getting better and better. We have been having a big push to introduce a bit more furniture and bits and pieces into the showroom to make it more interesting. We have some exceptionally lovely pieces which Tom has worked his magic on to turn them into something exceptional. We have tried to theme it so that it is inkeeping with our French Barn and I think we have succeeded on the whole. So why not pop in and have a look at what we have got? We usually have the kettle or coffee machine on so come and have a natter and discuss your requirements and we will see what we can do. Meanwhile, make the most of the sunshine as it is bound to be raining at the weekend in time for Glastonbury!