DEBORAH LEA was a very early member of Farm Stay, or Farm Holiday Bureau as it was then.

“It had just started at the time and we were introduced to it by a neighbour,” says Deborah who, with her brother, David, runs Crandon House at Avon Dassett, Warks, that can take 10 guests.

The Leas, who keep rare breeds on their 20 acres, are well-practised hosts. “Really, we have done this on and off all our lives. My mother started it, taking guests when we lived in Wales, and at one time we ran a hotel,” says Deborah.

“We used to provide evening meals in the days when guests were mostly older couples or families. Now we get more business people and foreign tourists and, rather than staying for a week, people are taking more short breaks throughout the year. People are also more demanding nowadays and that keeps us on our toes.”

Deborah believes that people stay at B&Bs because they like the personal touch and advice on what to see locally and where best to eat. Patience and the ability to be pleasant no matter what sort of day you have had are essential. “You must make guests feel you want them in your home.”

She offers a huge breakfast menu which includes their own free-range eggs and seven types of tea and coffee, even though it means some guests – particularly Americans – will try several options at one sitting. “People want the cooked breakfast – it is something they don’t get at home so much now.”

Another essential is warm accommodation. “The season has extended now and there is still this perception that farms will be cold,” she says.

“They have chosen to come to a farm, but most want a clean farm. They don”t want to be walking through mud, to get dirty or to have farm dogs sniffing round them.”

Mini-fridges are the latest additions to the rooms at Crandon House – something that would never have happened in the early days of farm B&Bs. “As providers we have become better at providing what customers want – at the start we gave what we had.”

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