In March 2017 we were absolutely delighted to spend five days at the wonderful Mill Farm Eco Barn which is the same holiday home that you can win a three night stay in by donating to the Spend for Syria 2017 Just Giving charity campaign. I was so pleased when Emma and Neil agreed to donate this prize (worth £600) because I really wanted to offer everyone an opportunity that we have tried and tested ourselves.
The Eco Barn, which is located in the village of Winterton-On-Sea and situated minutes away from the Norfolk Coast, sleeps up to eight people plus two babies (as there are a couple of cots available) and comes with a gorgeous open plan living space, four bedrooms, two en suites and a family bathroom. Not only does it pride itself on its sustainable build and eco amenities, but it is also an incredibly child-friendly place to stay.
I hate to admit since having children, I often find holidaying more stress than it’s worth. Due to the financial commitments of buying our first home and renovating, we have only been on a few short stays in the UK, but to know I was going to be somewhere where the owners totally ‘get’ what young children require was such a weight off my mind! The Barn already comes equipped with story books, plastic tableware and cups, highchairs, black-out blinds in every room (can I get an Amen?!), baby and toddler appropriate toys, puzzles and board games, as well as a large games barn with bikes to borrow, table tennis, boules, table football and so much more.
One of the many reasons I have a heart for Syria is because we have friends living there. There’s nothing like being in the comfort of your parents’ home in the middle of beautiful rural English countryside, sitting round the kitchen table as a teenager and tucking into your mum’s delicious roast dinner, whilst dear friends tell you about how their young niece would hear bombs going off on the school run, to make you realise how unjust this world can be sometimes and what an embarrassingly privileged life I lead.
I am so honoured to be able to share with you snippets from a Skype conversation I recently had with one of our friends, as I was hoping to share a more personal account of what life is like in Syria and some of the motivation behind the #SpendforSyria2017 charity auction. Sometimes, we get so used to seeing tragedy on our television screens or scrolling through the BBC News app, that it can desensitise us to the individuals living with it everyday.
Whilst our friend, Sophie, is a lot more privileged than most in Syria due to having Western contacts and her husband, Tom, has US citizenship which enables travel and freedom of movement (he was born and grew up in Damascus but studied for a degree in the US,) I hope it gives you a little more insight into life there and how it has affected people, just like you and I. Please note for safety reasons, all names have been changed in this interview. Sophie speaks incredibly good English but some words have also been changed from the original interview for translational purposes…