Do you ever wish you could just escape? It’s a pull I’ve felt my whole life, I think – the temptation to just up sticks & run for the hills.

For years I kept a bag half-packed for when the urges hit; some hotel miniature toiletries, a change of clothes, an empty notebook and thick, wooly socks. I’d seldom go, but the dream was something to hold onto. In fact, as I write this, I recall an even older memory; a blue & white sports bag with a dog’s face & tail, and little me, 8 or 9 perhaps, packing a bag so I can run away. Balls of little pink socks, a badly folded sweatshirt, a favourite toy. & though I’ll never do it, never even make it to the door, what I remember feeling was freedom.

What gives you that sense of freedom? For me, it is space – clear skies, and green everything, and a horizon my eyes strain to see. It’s somewhere cozy and soft to sleep & wake to birdsong and sunlight; a lazy morning with coffee and a book in bed. It’s days gathering firewood in the forest, and evenings spent keeping warm by its glow, a kettle singing on top of the stove.
If that’s your idea of escape too, then consider this your invitation.


The ground floor of our home is set up like a holiday flat, and most days, we can manage without that extra space. We talked about Air BnB, but somehow that wasn’t the best fit for us right now.
Inspired by Miso and her trades for tattoos, I suggested we try something a bit different; stays in trades, instead of money. Illustrations, photography, food, DIY skills…the offers have trickled in, and we have some exciting house guests planned for the summer. I’m hoping to share the resulting adventures here on the blog.


I should add here, it’s not perfect – the decor needs updating, the final few moving boxes sorting out – but it is full of quiet charms; a wood-burning stove in a big old fireplace, battered wooden floors, the family piano. It has its own entrance, bathroom & bedroom. On sunny afternoons, the light streams through the bedroom window, catching in the leaves of the clematis vines outside, and splashing over the bed like luminous rose petals.
There’s Egyptian cotton bedding provided by the Secret Linen Store – who, as their name suggests, are one of the best-kept secrets in bed linen. I’m fussy about bedding – I’m a bit obsessive about pure cotton sheets & calming colours & prints. Good sheets like these bring the right kind of heavy, restorative sleep.
There’s no kitchen area, but why should you cook on an escape? I’ll bring you coffee & pastries & toast in the morning, & then from the doorstep you can do endless, isolated walks, stroll to the village pub for a drink, or catch the hourly bus to visit nearby towns.


If you’re interested in hearing a bit more, or are already sold, click here or visit the ‘stay’ page at the top any time to make an enquiry. We’d love to see you here!

Secret Linen Store are offering 10% off as an extra treat to friends of Me & Orla! Enter WELCOMEORLA at checkout before 31st of July – available on all lines except clearance.
The set featured here is the relaxed natural linen. I love its soft, scrumpled look, straight from the wash, & soft cotton underside. I’m also pretty sold on Meadow in white and tiny stripe in dove grey! <3
What do you make of our plan? Are we brilliant or crazy? Should I be worried about axe murderers or duvet thieves? I’d love to hear your thoughts. image

This post and the cozy comfort of our little hideaway in collaboration with The Secret Linen Store. All opinions, photos & thoughts entirely my own.

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  • August 11, 2023

A round of applause for your blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

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  • Lucy Lees

  • July 15, 2015

This looks beautiful! What a lovely, heavenly idea. I am always looking for new places to escape from the stresses of modern life. Great photos too 🙂
Life inside the Locket

  • Emma Harris

  • July 09, 2015

What a brilliant idea! I love the concept of bartering, it is something I have done a few times now, being able to share and swap skills as would have happened many years ago, is so much more meaningful than money. Well done, I hope you and your guests have lots of fun.

  • TheDaydreamerDiary

  • July 02, 2015

This is the perfect idea for you to escape too thanks to the world your guests will bring right to your door! For me, escaping means blue sea and skies, mostly. But I do have a daydreaming spirit that will kindly lift me up and let me escape pretty much everywhere, I admit 😉 Off to visit your Stay page then… A new adventure!

  • Creative Countryside

  • June 29, 2015

What a fantastic idea! So different from the norm and extremely appealing I suspect to many people. Beautiful bed linen as well!

  • Sumedha Sood Basnett

  • June 29, 2015

What a wonderful idea and concept! The house and the pictures look so dreamy and the perfect lil escape for a few days…I do hope someday to be there….can so see my three year Kabir running around those beautiful fields in that awesome light. And me ..following him around with a camera 🙂

  • Abigail

  • June 28, 2015

What a wonderfully adventurous concept! Sharing ideas and trades is a brilliantly old-fashioned concept and worth so much more in terms of being friendship rich and knowledge rich. 🙂

  • Rida Suleri-Johnson

  • June 28, 2015

Such an amazing concept and definitely up our street!
We airbnb’d our spare room for a couple of years and we loved most of the people we met through there!
We’ve made best friends with some lovelies!

We would love to come and stay!

You’ll have to let me know how your diary is filling up?!

Our friends who we actually met on our first ever airbnb stay in San Francisco, are coming to travel around for a month in Europe. They would love to stay too I think.

Would need to ask/suggest it to them but one is a fine artist and the other a graphic designer I believe!

We will all be staying with Sian and co at Fforest at the end of July! Xxx

  • Hannah

  • June 28, 2015

It was my sixth sense telling me you’re trying to replace me. That and having no petrol ever.x

  • Sara Tasker

  • June 28, 2015

Ahahaha! Totally thought I’d get away with it, seeing as you NEVER COME! x

  • Kathi

  • June 27, 2015

P.S. I do think it is a great idea, and I am sure you will meet people and hear stories you never thought you would. As far as I know from my Couchsurfing experience, in order to have interesting guests (and not those who just need a bed) it’s crucial to establish some ground rules and really stick to them. I’d say asking people to trade something is a good start, as it gets them thinking how they can contribute.

  • Kathi

  • June 27, 2015

What a wonderful and generous offer! (It reminds me of Couchsurfing, have you
considered that too?) For me freedom is the big city, steaming street grates,
mixing smells of coffee, curry, flowers and bagels, meandering through rushing
business people, low brick-buildings next to high-rise glass towers… but I
suppose freedom often means escaping what you’re used to, escaping the routine,
and for me, coming from a middle sized town in rather traditional Austria, that’s
big international cities like London or New York. Having said that, you make your guest apartment
and the English countryside sound so magical (beautiful descriptive writing!!)
that I am almost considering taking a huge detour on our way to Scotland just
to experience it all, and to see your kind of freedom.

  • Sara Tasker

  • June 27, 2015

Ah I love that – such an adventure (though hostels aren’t for me! I like a retreat space no matter what!). Duvet thieves are no doubt a real threat now, after I’ve flaunted my lovely bedlinen for all to see! I defo recommend SLS for grown up bedding & a break away from Ikea sheets! You make an excellent point re: clothing – & most people keep their good sets for a lifetime don’t they? xx

  • Sara Tasker

  • June 27, 2015

Haha yes, an adventure either way! I like that 🙂 Yes, West Yorkshire – there’s more location detail on the ‘Stay’ page . Be lovely to see you! & as for the reality of childhood runaways – I don’t know what you mean, as my long lost princess mother would OBVIOUSLY have recognised me on the streets of London & taken me back to her fairytale castle. For sure x

  • Sara Tasker

  • June 27, 2015

Oh Sheona… how different things could have been. Glad you were practical & took Milka though. Would have been entirely necessary.

  • Sara Tasker

  • June 27, 2015

Aw, shame you’re too far away, but lakeside camping sounds like a total dream. Enjoy! x

  • megan

  • June 27, 2015

This sounds so dreamy!! I’ve had the yearning for an escape from reality for quite some time now. I’m too far away to stay at your humble abode, so I’m settling for a camping trip by the lake next weekend. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos. And your home.

  • Sheona

  • June 27, 2015

I had a bag packed and in the porch (porch!). It was only when I stole milka bare that my mum told me off and the bag had to be unpacked. Obviously, that night Claire from the year above came over to pick me up. But I was asleep when she drove her car by, age 10. Missed my chance!

  • Rachael Smith

  • June 27, 2015

Wow! What a wonderful idea! Definitely be wary of duvet thieves. I hope it goes as well as you hope, sounds like an adventure either way! Are you in Yorkshire? Maybe we’ll enquire next time we are visiting my parents, would love to leave the kiddies with the grandparents and steal away for a night or two. Also I was totally the kid daydreaming about running away too, such a romantic notion compared with the reality of what that would actually look like!

  • Nicole

  • June 27, 2015

Love that you have space for house guests, I’m trying to plan a run-away to a London hostel soon as I crave meeting new people and adding some difference in to the mix (a lovely hotel makes for a serene escape but in the absence of foreign travel I’m missing a culture shock / meeting fellow travellers).

Duvet thieves, now theres a new one. You’ve certainly upped the game from coat hangers and towelling robes that’s for sure!

I’m checking out Secret Linen Store now – it’s been on my mind for ages (new bedding) but trying to convince the Mr that you should spend as much on bedding as you do on clothing (you’re in it the same number of hours if you’re lucky right?) has been a slow process…

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