When my late husband and I first thought about starting our holiday cottage business all those years ago, we never dreamed that it would flourish into the business it has now become. From our very first two bed-roomed cottage, we now have eight cottages of varying different sizes, to accommodate guests travelling on their own, right up to large family groups.
We farmed the surrounding land until 2001 so when we first got going, we not only looked after our guests, we had farming duties to do each day too. As you can imagine, we always had an early start, especially as our herd of cows needed milking twice a day, and they would let us know when it was time to come in. No excuses for late milking according to them!
I used to do all the cleaning and preparation myself in the initial years. It was quite manageable with one or two cottages, but as we added more, the workload increased and I had to draft in some local help to get through it all. Now, I manage a fabulous team who know the ropes.
These days, although no early morning milking, there is still plenty to do. I usually have a catch up with the team most mornings to go through departures and arrivals and what needs doing that day. This can vary from a simple change over of making beds, cleaning the whole cottage after a departure, making sure there are fresh flowers and guest information folders available, through to having to move beds to accommodate double or twin bookings, putting back crockery, cutlery and anything else that has moved from one kitchen to another in Mickleden when it’s been used for one large family gathering, or with a large group taking several cottages, even from one cottage kitchen to another.
Once I’ve caught up with the team, I can usually be found sat at my laptop dealing with booking enquiries, sending out deposit confirmation letters and replying to email enquiries. I get a lot of phone calls too throughout the day regarding availability for both the cottages and caravan pitches. Afternoons are usually spent shopping for supplies. I am really keen on ensuring I buy as much local produce as I can. If it’s not supplies, I have to fit in trips to the cash and carry for cleaning materials or shop for new textiles and equipment for the cottages.
Spring and summer time gets super busy. I love producing my own jam and chutneys made from fruit and vegetables I grow here at Layhead. There’s the vegetable plot to dig over in spring and in summer all the fruit and vegetables need gathering and making into jam and chutney. My homemade raspberry and strawberry jams and chutney is well known with the many families that come back year after year. Not to mention the fresh eggs I collect each day from my hens which live in the croft at the back of my house.
I love meeting and greeting all my guests at both the cottages and caravan pitches. It is usually part of my morning or evening routine when I catch up with everyone.
So, if you call one day and I am not about, you’ll know that I am busy doing cottage duties… somewhere.