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Two years old!

Two years old!

I can’t believe it but on the 1st August 2016 The Cross Bed and Breakfast in Somerset celebrates its 2nd birthday!  I have owned the building for 3 years – the first year was taken up with architects, talking to the ‘gods’ in listed building & planning and then, eventually, transforming the place. I can honestly say that the time has flown by. I have to pinch myself. It’s still hard to believe that I’ve turned my dreams into reality and a rather rundown building into a little gem of a bed and breakfast.

It’s not all been plain sailing and fun. There have been times of panic, tantrums and tears! So I thought that on the 2nd birthday it would be good to share some of my highs and lows and loves and hates.

More than a bed and breakfast in somerset

I have always worked in the hospitality business but never so close to the rock face. Meeting new guests and getting to know them well has to be the highlight of this job. I have loved being part of different celebrations at The Cross and have held many memorable events. These have involved Burlesque dancers, a jazz band, numerous quiz nights, opera singing, Butlers in the Buff and New Year Eve Parties (to mention just a few)!

Bed and breakfast in Somerset

A party to remember!

Welcoming guests from all over the world to my bed and breakfast in Somerset has been both interesting and enlightening. Making everyone feel special and at home has always been the most important thing to me. After all, it’s what I would want from a night away in a small, intimate bed and breakfast, so that’s what I try and create. I have made some good friends and met some amazing, memorable and interesting guests (usually over a cuppa or a glass or two of wine).

I have never been one to seek the limelight, however you take on a totally different perspective when you need to get your business noticed and attract guests. So with great trepidation I entered  the Mendip Business Awards in 2015 and was so pleased to be shortlisted in one of the categories. In 2016, I entered again and with a ‘named budget hotel’ having already been granted planning permission to build in Wells, I felt the stakes were a little higher. Getting known and building on my reputation was even more crucial. After being allocated a table at the back of the room I didn’t think my chances were very high! Once again, The Cross was called out as a finalist in the category of  ‘Tourism & Hospitality Business of the Year’. I was completely overwhelmed when my bed and breakfast in Somerset was named as the winner. It’s an evening I will never forget and a great honour to be placed above some incredibly well known attractions and hotels in the area. I was even more delighted when my ex boss, Kevin Newton, presented me with the trophy – it seemed so right and fitting.

Bed and breakfast in Somerset

An evening I’ll always remember

I am always looking at ways of getting The Cross noticed and talked about. New customers are crucial to my success, so a Pop Up restaurant seemed to make good sense especially when the cook (he doesn’t like to be called a chef) is both well known and very, very good. What started out as a trial has now become a bit of a regular feature. My ‘Dinner Dates with Ian Bates’ take place most Thursday and Friday evenings. Allowing another person into my kitchen didn’t come naturally. It works well although Ian can take up quite a large portion of my fridge space which can be a bone of contention sometimes.

I love being my own boss and probably give myself a harder time than some of my bosses from the past. Not having to hold meetings or seek approval when making a decision is a godsend but there are times when I would welcome and probably benefit from a second opinion. That being said things have worked out pretty well so far and I am very pleased with the major decisions that I’ve made.

I also love my  building. It is strong, sturdy and full of character. I know it’s going to be here for hundreds of years to come. Investing in it seems a never ending obligation but I know it is worth it.  I just wish I was more handy and able to tackle more jobs myself rather than having to depend on others. I am getting better and will take on small jobs that at one point would have sent me into a blind panic!

Not having enough time in the day continues to be my main challenge which I can’t seem to beat.  I just don’t know where the time goes! I like to think that I am organised but it just doesn’t seem to make any difference. My list just gets longer. Whilst some things get crossed off, more things get added and the list just keeps on growing.

I never intended to adopt ‘the Blackpool guest house’ approach of dictating times to my guests, but I do see their point. My earliest arrival has been 9am and my latest 3.30am (or is that my earliest?)! It would make life much easier if everyone arrived between certain hours but you have to be realistic. Delays happen but it can make for a very long day sometimes.

a bed and breakfast keeps you fit

I have never been lithe or sporty but I can honestly say that as I reach a significant birthday I don’t think I have ever felt so fit. My back even seems to be responding to all the bending and bed making and if I say so myself my legs and thighs are a little trimmer. Perhaps I should design a Bed and Breakfast workout routine!

From being a night owl my body clock has gone full circle and I now love the mornings. I find that I am more efficient and achieve loads first thing. The downside is that by mid morning I am in need of a siesta. Just a one hour nap seems to do the trick (not always easy with the phone and doorbell ringing). I recently ran into the road in my dressing gown after a friend of one of my guests had been ringing the door bell! I think that vision will stay with him for years – poor man.

The biggest hurdle and most difficult aspect of the job is finding time to visit family and friends and take a holiday. I suppose it’s all down to planning and discipline. On the upside I really do appreciate these times when they happen. I am determined that January is my month to regroup, refresh and top up the tan. Nothing is going to stop me this year!

I have always enjoyed making money (usually for others) and nothing has changed there except now it’s personal.  I get so excited watching money come in (to help pay off my overdraft and loans) but am constantly horrified at how quickly it seems to disappear. Commissions, taxes and processing fees really add up and then there are the everyday running costs to consider. The worst surprise was getting a bill from British Gas when I changed supplier. They realised that I owed money from 12 months previously! Grrrrrrr.

Bed and Breakfast in Somerset

Glastonbury Tor

I adore living in Somerset and love my daily journey into Wells to drop off the laundry and buy supplies. Just seeing Glastonbury Tor and Wells Cathedral makes me realise how lucky I am and how beautiful Somerset is. Hearing my guests surprise at discovering these places for the first time is wonderful. Many of them have said they would love to relocate here and that they will certainly come back for a second visit.

So here’s to the next 2 years. I hope to see lots of you again. Hopefully my legs and thighs will be slimmer and my bank balance a lot larger!

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