Heavenfield Cottage is nearly one! We opened for business on 17th November 2017 after a renovation which took about 10 months, although long before then, the idea, the thought, the vision, the plan was there, rattling around in our heads, and was the hot topic of conversation over our kitchen table for a couple of years. When we started our renovation project we had a pretty good idea of what lay ahead, we knew it would be hard work, we knew there would a lot of decisions to make and we knew we would undoubtedly learn loads along the way, and we did!
We knew we’d need a lot of stuff but probably underestimated just how much it would take, particularly to get the cottage to the 5* standard we wanted, there were an awful lot of returns done! My long anticipated mood board was created….this was the exciting bit, as the dining table became a swamp of swatches, brochures, samples, price lists, and paint tester pots! There was shower gel and shampoo samples stacked up in the bathroom, all awaiting the ‘sniff test’ and the ‘lather test’! Our living room became filled with furniture, duvets, bedding, pots, pans, electricals, crockery and even patio furniture was crammed in there, as every delivery man in the area became a regular visitor. We expected it to be a challenge to get our website just right, and to find the right company to create the vision I had in my head. I wouldn’t even try to estimate how many hours I spent researching what we wanted, and how we would create our all important image. Booking systems and payment systems were totally confusing and it was massive learning curve, but again, although confusing, we had thought that it would be.
By the start of November we were finished, ready to be seen, ready to be assessed and ready for guests. The assessment brought us the 5* rating I so wanted and we couldn’t have been happier, and very relieved that our hard work had paid off. All we needed now, were those all important bookings! It happened, and we welcomed our first guests to Heavenfield Cottage in time for Christmas. That was it, we were up and running, the project was now a new business and it was beginning to work. Our first year has been, what I can only describe as amazing, we are so pleased, in fact completely thrilled with the results this year, we are so so pleased to have achieved the bookings that we have, and to have been fully booked from Spring through to…. well, now!
So, why is this titled ‘I never expected any of this’? During the past year our ‘renovation project’ has become so much more than just a business, it has become my ‘thing’, and has brought about a new passion that I find difficult to describe. It has given me so much in such a short space of time. I never expected to feel the way I do when guests tell us how amazing they think the cottage is, or that the colours are lovely, or that the furnishings are tasteful, or ask where I got a certain piece. To hear ‘it’s the best we’ve ever stayed in’ and to be told ‘you’ve thought of absolutely everything’. I will never tire of hearing these comments, ever! When we receive a 10 out of 10, or a 5 Star or 5 bubble review, I am just so immensely pleased. I expected to enjoy our new business, but I never expected to love it this much, it occupies my every thought. I continually find myself thinking about what else I could do to enhance the stay for guests, how else can I market it, how can I improve the advertising, what other little touches could I make to ensure it feels special to everyone who stays. As odd as this sounds I actually love going in there on a changeover day and cleaning it. I have to ensure it looks new every time, and then to put in the finishing touches, the little sprays of flowers, the homemade goodies, the welcome card, making sure I’ve personalised the stay to the guests that are due to arrive.
We have enjoyed meeting all of our guests, and I hadn’t really thought beforehand how much I would enjoy that part of it, just how nice is to meet people and to hear why they have come to St Oswald’s Farm and to Northumberland, to hear small snippets of their lives, and of course sharing our home and our way of life with them, albeit in a very small way for just a short time.One guest remark stands out for me, it was quite early on in our year and they arrived in the midst of a lot of snow to celebrate a weekend away for a special birthday! During their stay I asked them both if everything was OK, and this was the reply I received. ‘Oh yes it’s perfect, and that cake was amazing thank you, was it homemade?’ she then continued to say
“I was in that bath, with my glass of prosecco and eating that cake, and honest to God….. I’ve never been happier!”
I had never expected to get that sort of reaction or to have the ability to make that sort of difference to people, even if it is for only a few days. I truly enjoy making sure our guests have a great stay, and trying to think of ways to ensure their holiday or weekend break is all they want it to be, and in return they are giving me so much more than I ever imagined!
As we move into our second year, there is someone I need to thank, my husband John, who has not only trusted my judgement, but supported and helped make each decision, he’s kept me sane when I’ve wobbled and mostly he has allowed me to make it my own, he’s allowed it to be ‘my thing’, and in turn has allowed me to love what I’m doing and to feel a passion for what I’m doing, a passion to do well and to achieve the best I can…thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity.
So, if you’re wondering whether to pursue a new venture or to diversify to something you know little about, go for it, do your research, make your plans and make it happen, you might just get back a lot more than you ever thought possible! If you’d like to find out more about staying at St Oswald’s Farm and in Heavenfield Cottage please CLICK HERE I look forward to welcoming you here…I really do!