Peak Season

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

The rhododendrons are flowering later than usual this year. Their season is quite spread out, spanning a few weeks, with different varieties coming out at different times. The first ones at the end of April are white. The last are also white, late in the summer. Peak time is usually May, but this year it’s June. Some have shed all of their petals before others have yet to open their buds. This photo shows a selection from the drive up to the house, but these plants are all over the garden. From now on, it’s a pretty rapid decline — until next year. Here are a few more photos.

Queues at the Door

Sunday, May 16th, 2021

At the moment, it’s cats only at the door. But tomorrow will be a significant day. All over the country, B&Bs that have lain dormant since March 2020 will be allowed to welcome guests into their houses at last, and serve them a proper breakfast. For the next few weeks, the rule of six — or two households (one of which of course is mine) — will apply, so I shall only be accommodating one set of paying guests at a time until the end of these restrictions, currently scheduled for June 21st.

Wistful wisteria

Thursday May 13th, 2021

The wisteria is looking good this year, having had a good pruning. But the temperature for this time of year remains cold. What a contrast with the sweltering heat of five years ago on this same day, when my mother died in this house aged 92. Soon afterwards work began on the house to prepare it for use as a B&B establishment. Wisteria need warmth to bring out the delicious perfume of their blooms. Yet the weather is set to continue cold. Rhododendrons and azaleas are beginning to flower, and their Himalayan origins make them well suited to cooler climates. Still, the days are long, and the house and garden are coming to life again after their long hibernation. There is much to be done before the first guests arrive. Not least, to start a new yogurt culture. I never let my sourdough starter die. That has kept going all though the pandemic — in spite of the near impossibility of obtaining flour last spring.

Opening the Doors

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

If all goes to plan, B&Bs will be allowed to dust the cobwebs off their beams, clean their windows, sweep their front steps, shake their doormats and, at long last, open their front doors to guests (from the UK at least, if not yet from abroad) from May 17th, except for Benenden Hospital patients who can stay at any time (please contact me directly). I expect that we may still have to wear masks and take precautions. Until restrictions are lifted completely in June, I will limit the number of guests staying on any one night to avoid mingling on staircases and corridors.

If you are a regular user of online agencies like Booking.com, note that you will not get the best deal there. For the cheapest rates, particularly when it comes to staying multiple nights, please book directly from this website. If you book via an online agency you will be paying a higher rate to cover some of the hefty commission that the agency charges me. And booking via phone or email enquiries may cost you more too because of the extra admin time involved at my end in gathering information and inputting data. I may be feeling generous when I do the paperwork as the result of a phone call or an email enquiry and give you a discount anyway, but on the other hand, I may simply charge you the normal, base rate because it’s easier and quicker than doing the maths! However, if you use the booking buttons or pages on this website, you will be guaranteed that discount!

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.