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Memories of Garlands……….

Trees

Barry and I had the joy of hosting a wonderful lady and her daughter a couple of weeks ago. Her grandfather owned Garlands in the 1950’s. Originally they were due to visit in November 2020 however we were in another lockdown. We were grateful that they moved their booking to this November.

We spent a very happy couple of hours showing them the whole house and cottages whilst she regaled us with her memories of many holidays spent in Beer. We also realised why there are some very odd shapes in our house where old doorways have been changed and false walls created…..for example our en-suite bathroom and wardrobe used to a whole other room with two twin beds where the kids slept when they came to stay.

We perused old photos of the house and the gardens with stories of a summer house that used to be on a platform that swung around so you could view different aspects when you were sat in it! She spoke of our house with such fondness and was so happy to be back and seeing how it now looks. It really was our pleasure to meet her and made us realise that really we are just custodians of these old houses – they are never really ‘ours’ for long…..

If you’re thinking of a festive visit to Beer do get in touch. We have some availability for the weekends of the 10th and the 17th December.

Waffling on……

Waffles

We finally found time to go to Axminster to visit The Waffle House. We’ve been meaning to go for ages to see what all the hype was about and were intrigued about this community space which is non profit making. The Waffle House does so much more than just serving delicious Liege or Brussels waffles made using a secret recipe (see the photo for their extensive menu). We tried The Down to Earth one, with savoury cheese and ham, followed by The Naughty One and The Kinder One – all three were absolutely wonderful and washed down with tasty flat white coffees.

You can just turn up for food and drinks (no reservations are taken for tables), however you do need to book to attend one of their events, such as the Thursday evening quiz night or one of the community events. Whilst there we saw bands and open mic nights advertised. There’s also a place where you can hot desk and work (at no cost) and there’s even a Pacman machine to play if you need a break! With tech support on hand and Lawson’s computer repair if you need IT support, you don’t need an office.

If that wasn’t enough, they are designing a small indoor play area for your little ones to play in called Fort Waffle. There’s already board games and UNO to keep your kids occupied whilst you eat and drink. All in all we think The Waffle House is a pretty cool place and well worth a visit – another great place to visit in East Devon.

Oh and Happy Halloween!

If you’re thinking of a short break between now and Christmas here’s our weekend availability (we do mid week breaks as well) –

The Beach House – 26th November and 17th December
The Boat Shed – 3rd, 10th and 17th December
The Seaside Inn – 17th December

Cruise to nowhere…..

In the first week of September Barry and I boarded the Sky Princess at Southampton for a ‘seacation’ – the new word for a cruise that doesn’t stop. Why would we do this? Well we love cruising – we took a cruise about five years ago and are now hooked. We’re over the holidays where you travel from place to place, stopping every one or two days in different hotels or B&B’s, in different beds with different pillows and having to pack and unpack all the time.

Covid has reinforced this even more as we didn’t travel for well over a year. We like unpacking once and arriving in the morning to find ourselves in a different country where we can have a taste of their culture and enjoy their sights. We even enjoy the sea days, sitting on deck reading a book or taking part in the many activities you can do on board. I’m sure I love it as much as I loved going to Warners’ holiday camps all those years ago.

This three day cruise with no stops was devised when the ships were allowed to sail again. We felt safer on board than in Devon (in fact at that time if Devon were a country it would have been on the red list). Every passenger who embarked had to show proof of being double jabbed and we all had a Covid test in the terminal before boarding. Every crew member I spoke to had already been vaccinated and the Covid protocols on board were strictly adhered to. Wash hand basins with a crew member to make sure every passenger washed their hands and then sanitised before entering the buffet, wearing masks in doors and we saw crew members cleaning everywhere on board.

We were blessed with the weather and sitting on the pool deck we could have been in the Caribbean! As we’re in the business of staycations it felt great to support another industry who has been battered by the virus. If you love cruising give the ‘seacations’ a go – there’s lots on offer for October before they set sail for distant shores……….

Freedom?

Handcream

Apparently today is freedom day…..well I won’t be rushing to nightclubs and ditching my face mask just yet, even though I do agree that we need to somehow learn to live with Covid. We will continue to display our cottages QR code and won’t be dropping any of our additional Covid cleaning protocols just yet. With infections rising rapidly we will continue to make sure that our guests and ourselves are as safe as possible.

I came across this hand cream the other day and snapped it up immediately when the sales assistant recommended it. Nursem has been developed with nurses to help combat the effects of relentless hand-washing. I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly been washing my hands much more! For every product you buy the company gives a month’s worth of free Nursem to a nurse or midwife. It contains medical grade Manuka honey with barrier restoring oils and soothing White Willow extract.

As our family have used the NHS midwifery services recently, (have I mentioned Barry and I are new grandparents to Harrison Matthew who was born on the 5th July……?!) I was delighted to purchase this adding to my collection of hand creams.

With yummy ingredients, free giveaways to nurses, and it smells divine, what’s not to love!

Everyday wonder

Beach view

We had a very special church service on Sunday as our Archdeacon was visiting. He did an interesting sermon on everyday wonder. Without becoming overly religious it was broadly about finding joy and wonder in our everyday lives. Whether that’s by being grateful for a good nights sleep or in our case finding joy in the fact that our son finally got married to the beautiful Rachel for the third attempt due to Covid. Barry and I found wonder in their intimate ceremony and wedding breakfast, very different from the Follfest party that was planned in 2020 and 2021. We are now hoping to have this in 2022!

It’s made me really think this week at where I can find everyday wonder. Here’s a few – a fabulous cheese scone made by my friend with a tangy kick from cayenne pepper, looking out of the window and seeing the red roses bowing their heads in the wind, relishing the cool early morning mist as I ran along the Esplanade, chatting to our guests as they sun bathed on the deck, and sorting out our house insurance for the coming year (always a hated task but made easier by our broker).

In times of Covid I’m glad to report that Barry has had his second jab and mine is next week. I find wonder in our world leading vaccination programme and at the dedication of our all health professionals. It’s wonderful to be welcoming new and repeat guests and I find wonder in the fact that we’re almost full for three months of next season already……..

Where can you find everyday wonder today?

Would you do this?

Beach Boats

I’m concerned by the news report of guests booking two holidays for the same week in England and abroad. Their thinking is that if they can’t go on their holiday abroad due to Covid they will use their staycation booking instead. If they can go abroad then they will ‘just cancel’ their staycation. So, covering all bases……..well what about the self caterer who has a booking cancel maybe just days before their guests are due to arrive? What if they can’t resell that week?

What if the self caterer (or B&B or hotel owner) has a fully flexible cancellation policy and has to give these guests a full refund? Many hospitality owners moved to a flexible policy to encourage people to book during Covid so that guests would feel comfortable if they couldn’t travel due to a change in the tier system or another lockdown. For my short break bookings from November to March I use AirBnB and I moved to a fully flexible policy. I didn’t think that guests might abuse a flexible policy and book two places to ensure they got to go to one of them.

The couple in question have been named and interviewed by the BBC. If I were their cottage provider in Norfolk I would cancel their booking for August now, give them a refund and hopefully resell that week to someone who does want a staycation and not holding two bookings. What a shame.

The staycation is here to stay!

Red tulips

The Beach House already has 8 weeks booked for the 2022 season! Since taking over our holiday cottages in 2015 we’ve never seen this level of advance bookings so far ahead (and long may it continue!). The news is full of people missing out on booking holidays in Devon and Cornwall this year, however they are going to have to think about 2022 soon…….

We re-opened (again) on Monday 12th April and had our first changeover for a while last Saturday. We were a bit out of practise having only been open five months out of the last twelve. I realised at 5pm that one of the cottages didn’t have the jam and clotted cream for the scones, and one of the dishwasher dispensers broke, but apart from that we got through it. I’d forgotten how long it takes to sanitise all the touch points in the cottages – it’s amazing just how many there are, even in the one bed.

The weather last week was sunny and this is set to stay for the next couple of weeks. The tulips are looking beautiful and are some of my favourite flowers. I had a tulip bouquet when Barry and I got our act together and finally got married in 2014. I ordered two bouquets of 12 red tulips for our daughter and myself, and 5 for the buttonholes, a week before the wedding. The grand total was £46.50 and the lady who sat next to me couldn’t believe it when she overheard me ordering them just a week before. Every time the tulips appear in April it makes me remember what a wonderful day we had.

Everywhere is starting to re-open around us which is wonderful to see. The Donkey Sanctuary are opening next month and we’re looking forward to eating inside a pub or restaurant from the 17th May. We hope that our fellow business owners in hospitality can start to earn some much needed funds during the season and beyond.

Our view is that the season will extend into October and November like it did in 2020. If you’re thinking of a Devon October break don’t delay as you might miss out. Here’s the availability we have left –

The Beach House – week of the 23rd October
The Seaside Inn – week of the 16th October
The Boat Shed – weeks of the 9th, 16th and 23rd October

Spring is here

Daffodils

Spring is here and we’re feeling optimistic today with the daffodils in bloom and we’re fully booked until the 9th October, with only 5 weeks left to sell then. We’ll be reopening and welcoming guests on Monday 12th April. This means that Barry is getting out all the garden furniture to re-varnish and spring cleaning starts in earnest in the cottages.

Devon is super popular again this year and we’re pleased that we’ve already got some 2022 bookings in the diary – people have realised the beauty of a holiday ‘at home’ without the hassle of a long journey, and a vaccine passport or coronavirus pre-test.

It’s incredible to think that in a whole year we’ve only been open for 5 months. Due to this we’ve had to scale down some of the planned work however we’ve still managed to do some enhancements – new cladding above The Beach House and The Seaside Inn, and The Boat Shed has had a new boiler. We realise that both of these are not terribly exciting but both were necessary! The Boat Shed has also had a new double bed and we’ve replaced all the pillows and duvets in the cottages.

Upon reopening in April we’re delighted to say that the welcome cream tea will be back and East Devon District Council will let us put the beach hut up on the 1st May – we really missed this last year and know that our guests did too.

Our last few weeks available for the 2021 season are listed below –

The Beach House – 23rd October and New Year
The Seaside Inn – 16th October, 23rd October and Christmas and New Year
The Boat Shed – 9th October, 16th October, 23rd October and Christmas and New Year

We look forward to welcoming you back to beautiful Beer!

Carry on Coronavirus

Carry on Coronavirus

I don’t like the month of January; I never have done. I like it even less this year as Facebook reminded me that last January we took a sneaky break to Gran Canaria followed by skiing with our friends. We don’t travel in the season so the winter months are our opportunity to take a break.

Whilst Barry and I have spent some time this month watching all the Carry On films we recorded over Christmas (they showed nearly every film from the first one in 1958 to the last one in 1992 – a total of 31). The Carry On series contains the largest number of any British series and I don’t mind admitting to a love of the Carry On films! Barry is just humouring me of course.

Given that I don’t like January, this morning I’ve spent some time making my list of the little joys of lockdown –

1. Practising yoga every morning with Karen Bennett who teaches from Greece – the joys of Zoom.
2. Staying in my yoga clothes all day when I’m not running and wearing my fluffy slippers.
3. My first sip of morning coffee – my favourite one is now Breakfast Brunch by Cafe Pod (recyclable pods).
4. Can’t put down books – from our book club Secret Santa I received the new Strike book in the series by Robert Galbraith.
5. Friday night takeaway pizza evening from Le Pisani in Seaton, followed by their yummy ice cream (if you’re local check out the coconut flavour).
6. A long hot bath, reading in the bath and a cup of tea in the bath.
7. Completing the jigsaw puzzle which has been on the go since Christmas.
8. Inventive games nights on Zoom with friends – managing to play Trivial Pursuits.
9. Local walks discovering roads and paths that I didn’t know were there.
10. Enjoying the cold sunny days where the sea is still a beautiful blue and I can dream of being open again for our guests to enjoy it.

Do you have any little joys of lockdown?

No words, eat cake!

Christmas Cake

For the last few years I’ve sat down to write my Christmas blog brimming with things to say. With Christmas Day coming up very soon, and the back of 2020 looming, I have to admit that I have little words.

I’d just like to say a heartfelt thanks to our guests that moved their bookings during the two lockdowns to next year rather than cancelling. You’ve really helped to support hospitality and our little business and we’re very grateful. Thanks also to the many of you who have sent messages of support and shared our social media posts. The best way to organically grow a business is by word of mouth.

With that said I’m going to make a cup of tea and tuck into the first slice of The Hideaways amazing Christmas cake! Wherever you are this Christmas Barry and I hope you have a good day and that 2021 brings more good news of the vaccine.