Owner interview – Les and Louise and life in West Sussex running child-friendly cottages, tea barn and bakehouse…

child friendly cottages in West Sussex

child friendly cottages in West Sussex

Meet the Nicholson family and why they love their life in West Sussex running child-friendly holiday cottages, tea barn and bakehouse and their passion for baking!

Who are The Nicholsons?

Les & Louise, and we live here at The Artisan Bakehouse with  our youngest daughter Ellie who is 10 years old.  We have two older daughters who live locally, and one lovely grandaughter too who is just 2. !   Les is a Sussex man although we did spend 8 years living in rural France before returning to West Sussex 3 years ago.

Why did you decide to start your own holiday accommodation business?

Having worked in corporate life at a senior level in HR & banking for many years, we decided  14 years ago it was time to hang up the suits and change direction.  We retrained as chefs and after periods spent running ski chalets in France and America we left the UK and set up and managed a holiday business & cookery school in the Poitou Charentes region in France.

Three years ago  (Les was missing Sussex) and we were then looking for a new challenge so returned to home soil in West Sussex and set up The Artisan Bakehouse.

What was the toughest part about setting it up?

It is always challenging to start a new venture as even with experience in the business there is always a lot more cost and time involved than you first imagine. Our biggest hurdle here was battling for 8 months to obtain the necessary planning permissions we needed to create our Bakehouse & Tea Barn – hard work and passion for what we wanted to offer has kept us going!

Tea Room

Tea Room

And what was the most memorable/enjoyable?

Seeing the reality of a  vision and dream for a business come to fruition is hugely rewarding.  It is fantastic to hear that people have enjoyed their time with us and to know that the product and experience  we hoped to create is being enjoyed& appreciated by others.

Swimming pool within the grounds

Swimming pool within the grounds

What couldn’t you live without and why?

Our trusty wood oven and AGA – without them we would not be able to make our hand made artisan bread and other goodies!

Bread Oven

What does your average working day involve?

No day is the same! Dealing with enquiries & bookings for stays in our cottages , places on our bread making workshops or meeting clients to discuss  private functions. Cleaning/laundry/maintenance associated with making sure the cottages are in perfect condition for new guest arrivals.  Running our bread making workshops and children’s baking parties.  Making bread and other baked goodies for our guests.  Planning and organising our tea barn openings and running that when it is open.  Paperwork associated with the foundations of the business – environmental health regulations, health & safely, fire regulations, accounting and tax returns. Maintaining our website and links with advertising sites. Gardening and looking after our chickens and pet rabbits.

feeding chickens

What advice would you give to families wanting to holiday with you and why is your place so special?

Book early for summer and school holidays as they do get booked up very early. We are very lucky to be located on the edge of the beautiful South Downs National park with the miles of stunning countryside it offers but with the benefit of the south coast beches  & lots of pretty historic quintessential villages nearby too.  The Artisan Bakehouse cottages offer  a real haven for relaxation set in a very special spot. To look out the window in the morning and see countryside, wild pheasants, rabbits, squirrels & birds is lovely and on a clear night here the view of the stars is just magical –   there really is something for everyone here.

If you could pick just two attractions/places to visit in your area what would they be?

Arundel is a lovely historic town under 25 mins away from us. It has a castle, cathedral, lots of interesting shops & cafés as well as lovely walks, a pretty river & pond with boat rides and ducks to feed!

A day out in Brighton for a mixture of …….well, pretty much everything. Boutiques in The Lanes, an eclectic mix of individual shops and cafés in the bohemian North Laines area, the exotic Royal Pavilion, the historic Volks Electric Railway, Brighton’s Big Wheel,Sea Life centre, restaurants galore and, of course, its famous shingle beach, pier and miles of prom to just stroll along.

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

Is there anything you would like to highlight that might be interesting to families with babies/toddlers/young children who are thinking of staying with you?

We have lots of baby gear here to make travelling with little ones easier (travel cots, high chairs, baby rockers, bumbo seats, potty’s, changing mats, monitors & lots of toys) and stair & bed guards to help them feel safe and secure.  Our gardens are fenced and we have swings, trampoline and 5 acres for them to explore with you, chickens & pet rabbits to feed as well as our heated pool in the summer months.  Nearby there are lots of great attractions for little ones to enjoy.

baby on swing

In one sentence can you explain what life is like where you live?

It is quintessential, picture postcard rural England at its best  – heaven!

Today Les and Louise open their bakehouse and tea barns to the public and celebrate three years at the Artisan Bakehouse.

If you are interesting in staying here see their details on the Holiday Tots website where you can contact them directly. Don’t forget to mention Holiday Tots…

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