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Niki Clappison, owner of The Barn House and Garden Retreat in Walkington, takes us for a relaxing stroll through her hectic weekend

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East Yorkshire is a beautiful yet under-appreciated part of the country. I was born in Beverley and moved to a farm in Walkington, where I spent many hours riding my pony and enjoying a great deal of independence.

Now I run The Barn House and Garden Retreat, which I hope feels like a home rather than a hotel, helping my guests to feel more relaxed. My weekends are far from relaxed though. In 2011, we had 31 weddings and 10 private functions, which left only around 11 weekends free.

I do 18-hour shifts during our busy spells, which seems crazy but I love it and am lucky to have fantastic staff. Team Barn House, as I like to call them, are efficient, spirited and always make me laugh. They always receive wonderful feedback from guests.

Nature and the environment are very important to me. All our toiletries are organic, our meat is from local butcher Welburn Foods, my astrologers daughter makes our seasonal jams and chutneys, Clarks Brewery and Newsome Brewery supply our beer, and we make a lot in-house ourselves Agness scones are simply delicious.

If we dont have a wedding, Im usually busy in The Garden Retreat on Saturdays, making sure guests enjoy their day and each other, leaving their troubles at the door.

On Saturday evenings, I like to relax with a glass of wine. In winter, I light candles and the fire in the lounge and relax in the heat of the flames. In summer, I watch the sun go down on the patio then join friends in one the village pubs The Barrel or The Dog & Duck.

After a leisurely start on a Sunday, my first port of call is The Barn House. It is always busy with breakfasts to serve, beds to make and the caf to open by 11am. My team takes care of this, but I like to find out how my guests have enjoyed their stay, the village and East Yorkshire. The afternoon is always mine to enjoy. I love the outdoors and walking Max, my dog. I have discovered lots of great walks in the area. Max prefers somewhere with a pond hes a great swimmer, but once hes jumped in, I have trouble getting him out.

The fresh air, nature and Max help me to relax and mentally prepare for the week ahead. They are my own personal retreat.

The Barn House is a five-star guest house in Walkington, near Beverley, East Yorkshire, with its own pampering treatment centre, The Garden Retreat. For more information, visit barnhousewalkington.co.uk



The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here

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