How did a Farmhouse B&B in the sleepy South Cotswolds village of Nettleton Shrub become a magnet for visitors from throughout Asia and the USA?
This is a fascinating real life story, and one that even Alice in Wonderland herself would have found incredible!
In 1984, I attended an auction sale for a group of former agricultural buildings located just outside the beautiful picture postcard village of Castle Combe.
To my surprise and amazement I was the successful bidder!
This was the beginning of my big adventure into the tourism business, and the start of an amazing relationship with Japan, which to this day is fairly unique.
Previously I had worked as an international DJ and I also managed a vintage stall in London’s Portobello Road. I also had a passion for baking - which has proved to be very useful.
Fosse Farmhouse is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, located only 20 minutes from Bath Spa. Many tourists visit the area, however I needed to provide something unique and different if they were going to stay here, rather than in the city center.
To create this I decided to fill the Farmhouse bedrooms and self catering cottages with my vintage collection and style them like a page from Country Living magazine!
I baked scones daily, and made home-made jam from the fruit grown in the orchard, as well as producing my own Farmhouse cider.
The business grew by word of mouth as this was pre-internet days.
Then by chance I just happened to meet a Japanese couple in London Mr & Mrs Mitani whom were creating a British Country Style B&B in Japan. I was really curious to understand why Japanese guests would be interested in staying there, so I invited them to visit Fosse Farmhouse to experience the real thing in the Cotswolds.
The Mitani’s loved their stay with me, and on their return to Japan introduced all their guests staying in their British themed B&B to my business. Twenty five years later they have remained enthusiastic ambassadors for Fosse Farmhouse and our joint collaboration is ongoing.
The latest development for me in Japan, is that a young Japanese author Yui Hara has written a manga story which is based on my life in Fosse Farmhouse.
Each episode has me baking scones in the Aga or driving my vintage 1954 Morris Minor to the local farmers market in Cirencester.
Kinmoza or Kiniro Mosaic is now the second most popular anime on Japanese television.
In 2012 the Japanese film crew visited Fosse Farmhouse and all the locations described in the manga, including Kemble Station, Cirencester, Bibury and Bathhampton. These places have become a magnet for anime fans from all over the world to discover. There is now an official guided anime tour with weekly departures from Tokyo and an app produced by Sony to help fans find their way around the Cotswolds.
My life has definitely become curiouser and curiouser…..
You can also find out more in Japanese on the VisitBritain blog.