Herd in Passing

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

The garden merges seamlessly into a large patch of woodland. There is no fence so, as far as animals are concerned, no boundary and they feel free to come and go and roam wherever they wish. This morning a group of stags appeared on the lawn. Family groups are quite common, but to see so many males together is unusual.

Breakfast Guest

Friday, February 12th, 2021

The snow is beginning to melt away now, and higher temperatures are forecast for next week. Meanwhile, we have two regular guests for breakfast if not bed. Here’s one of them, photographed by my fabulous gardener cum groundswoman from her cottage widow, literally just a couple of feet away.

Breakfast Room or Project Room?

Sunday, February 7th, 2021

 

Snow is falling after a cold night. B&B guests are now a distant memory, and the Breakfast Room has somehow turned into a Project Room.

Breakfast On a Tray

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

January is always quiet, and of course we are still in national lockdown, which means that in theory I am not allowed to have any guests. Exemptions include people who need to attend medical appointments and could not otherwise get home, so as this is the nearest B&B to Benenden Hospital, I am accommodating any patient who has self-isolated and had negative covid tests. But I am not permitted to serve meals in the dining room. I did not imagine, when I started this B&B, that I would have to go a whole year with virtually no guests, let alone serve breakfast on a tray left outside someone’s bedroom. My guest who ordered ham and cheese for his breakfast stayed here twice (the second time was for a follow-up appointment earlier this week), but on both occasions I never clapped eyes on him! He checked in remotely through an open front door and followed instructions. We texted and called out a cheery hello to each other through closed doors, but we did not even meet on the stairs. A surreal experience no doubt for him as much as for me.

The latest advice from the government suggests that restrictions for hospitality organisations may be in force until May. It is difficult to write news items about a B&B where nothing very much is happening.

First Snow

Saturday, December 4th, 2020

Perfect timing as snow falls overnight, providing a suitable background to the decorated Christmas tree that was installed in the Dining Room yesterday. It’s just such a shame that this winter, few (if any) guests will be able to appreciate it.

Autumn Colours

Monday, November 30th, 2020

As we prepare to enter the last month of 2020, Georgie is showing off his winter coat amid the gold and rust hues of the surrounding bricks and vegetation. The whole of Kent is now in Tier 3 (the highest) as far as the coronavirus restrictions are concerned. Therefore, this B&B is closed to all except patients (and partners) at Benenden Hospital, who will have been required to self-isolate and take a covid test before arriving. To enquire about staying here if you are a hospital patient, please phone me on 077 1234 8342.

Breakfast and Bed

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

This week I had an unusual request, which made me rethink the nature of B&B. Instead of Bed and Breakfast, my potential guest wanted Breakfast and Bed. It had never occurred to me to offer such an upside-down facility, but the more I considered it, the more I thought what a good idea this might be in certain circumstances. The guest’s partner was to have surgery at the nearby hospital. They intended to leave home at 4 o’clock in the morning, but the hospital was limiting access to non-patients during lockdown. Partners were presumably expected to wait in their cars. Or at best in a depressing waiting room. Far better for my guest to spend a grey day in a warm bed after a good breakfast in pleasant surroundings until it was time to go home, hopefully after a successful surgical outcome. The booking agencies are not geared up for this kind of flexibility. To book a day room with access at 8 a.m. you’d have to book the two nights on either side, which would work out very expensive. But one-off, bespoke direct bookings like this would work equally well for health care workers or other night-duty staff who have come off an exhausting night shift and don’t fancy the drive home straight away.

Second Lockdown

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

In three days’ time we will go back into lockdown for at least one month. This means that the few bookings I had for November have been cancelled. After tonight’s guest leaves in the morning the B&B will shut its doors for a while to all except Benenden Hospital patients who have tested negative and/or self-isolated for the required period (if the Hospital even remains open to such patients).

It was already becoming difficult to manage my bookings as I was not keen on accepting guests from tiers higher than our local tier. Guests have to eat out, and the local publicans and restaurateurs would not have thanked me if a guest had brought the virus into this area, which until now has had few cases. The lockdown regulations, although not good for business, do at least enable me to avoid paying commission to agencies on non-existent income. I would not be so heartless as to charge guests cancellation fees on bookings that I or they have had to cancel at short notice, but I fully appreciate that agencies like Booking.com, which after all have brought me most of guests these past three years, must survive. They have provided a fantastic service. I could not do what I do without them.

Tiered Hosting

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

With more than one thousand Covid-19 patients per day being admitted to hospital within the UK, and no sign of those rates falling just yet, I must now take extra precautions when it comes to accepting guests. If you are a patient at Benenden Hospital, or resident in a Tier 1 (medium risk) area, or have had recent negative tests or been self-isolating, then that is an acceptable risk as far as I am concerned. But if you live in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 area, then I regret that you probably will not be able to come and stay here — especially if your purpose is to get away from a highly infected area! Proper hotels have young staff to go around disinfecting everything all day. But Bressenden is a private house and also my home. Do I want to operate as a B&B under present circumstances? The answer is yes, but only in a very limited way. If I and my entourage were not in one of the more vulnerable age groups, I might be more willing to take the risk of accepting more bookings. But the health and wellbeing of Bressenden’s residents must be the first priority. Depending on how the situation develops in the next few days, I may disable bookings from Booking.com. You should still be able to book via this website or by phone, but you will need to be prepared to answer some questions about where you’ve been and the purpose of your stay!

Gold Tops

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

High season is coming to an end as winter approaches. The number of guests this summer was three couples and one single person. Contrast this with last summer when I had guests to stay every weekend and most weekdays, and I had to close off the B&B for a while every ten days or so just to give myself a rest! It’s not so bad if guests want late breakfasts, but if they are early risers it becomes tough. I could never be a dairy farmer, up at crack at dawn to milk the cows. But thank goodness for those who do this work. To have a constant supply of fresh milk (now that I do not set foot inside shops and stores any more than necessary), I get it delivered from a farm in the next village. Their beautiful brown Guernseys produce milk that is quite different from average supermarket milk. When did you last see a bottle with a thick wodge of cream on the top like this one?