January 2020 – The year was shaping up to be a good one at Tregathenan. We had lots of early bookings, and Tregathenan House in particular was already fully booked for the summer. The potholes in the lane were filled, and the lane was re-surfaced – the new surface was so smooth that the neighbour’s children all got their roller skates out and we had to impose a speed limit for delivery vans!
We entered into a new contract with Octopus Energy to supply all the electric we are not able to generate ourselves. Octopus electric is generated from 100% renewable sources. This move, alongside our solar panels, solar boost facility and our electric car, has meant that our business has now achieved its target of being carbon neutral. A fantastic milestone for us and for the environment!
February – we installed a new more efficient boiler for the Granary, and a lovely smart new kitchen, cleverly designed to provide more working space as well as more storage space.
Then March arrived. The coronavirus was in China, and spreading fast across the world. Bookings dried up as the pandemic took hold and a national lockdown looked inevitable. And so on 23rd March, the Government announced we were all to stay at home. We waved off our last guests and shut the gates.
The first few weeks were spent looking for advice and business support. As with every other business out there, we had never experienced, or planned for anything like this! So we consoled disappointed, frustrated and anxious guests; we transferred and cancelled bookings, provided refunds and spent many hours on Zoom conferences and webinars with the wonderfully supportive Visit Cornwall. We freed up the holiday cottages for NHS and care workers who were shielding loved ones.
Then we sat back and appreciated what a beautiful place Tregathenan is. We listened to spring birdsong and insects buzzing; we watched plants, vegetables and fruit grow, we watched flowers blossom. We spent days in the garden and the fields, spending time with the animals. We walked Sam off his feet, and Liz cycled on near empty Cornish roads, through quiet villages to deserted beaches.
We grew and ate a lot of fruit and veg; Liz discovered that you could make more than just scones in the kitchen; and we celebrated when the once/week trip to the shops turned up toilet roll or rice.
We clapped and rattled saucepans for the wonderful NHS staff, support workers and carers – not sure whether they heard us, but we were there and we continue to thank and bless them for all they do.
In April, Josephine supplied the material for the Tregathenan Easter painted goose egg competition. In all there were 12 online entrants. Who knew we had such artistic (and competitive) neighbours
During the first lockdown, we also managed to enjoy socially distanced VE Day anniversary celebrations with our neighbours.
By June, the restrictions were starting to ease. Guest accommodation was to be one of the last businesses to re-open. We spent the month on seemingly endless Zoom conferences with Visit Cornwall, Cornwall Public Health, Professional Association of Self-Caterers as we learnt how to operate our business safely in a new Covid world. We developed risk assessments, new cleaning protocols, purchased gallons of anti-viral cleaning products, hand sanitiser, PPE. We achieved the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ kite mark. We purchased enough spare pillows, duvets and bedding to sleep a small army. The playroom was transformed into Ian’s Covid Cave – a place for storing and quarantining bedding, soft furnishings, etc. Alas, for now, no longer in use for play.
We re-opened on 4th July 2020. For us, it was a cautious re-opening as we found our way. Changeovers were now taking twice as long and we wanted to make sure we could make everything clean and safe in the time available. We were determined no-one was going to catch the virus through a stay at Tregathenan. Our guests were tremendously understanding – we asked them to do a lot more tidying and bagging up before departure and to leave by 9am. This meant many of our guests were up before us on their last day!
By August, we were full on with hardly a spare night. We received some lovely reviews from guests who felt safe at Tregathenan – many enjoying our beautiful Cornwall for the first time in many years. We really hope they’ll be back!
September and October passed in a blur. Sometime during this period we managed to re-home last year’s gosling, Solo, (2 ganders at Tregathenan was 1 gander too many!) Eric, the alpaca with the most ridiculous ears arrived.
We rescued 4 battery hens. Doracell, Eva Ready, Tor Chee and Twelve Volt turned up with barely a feather between them. Liz found them some very smart knitted jackets and they soon thrived.
On a sad note, we had to say goodbye to Billy-boy who developed an auto-immune condition and deteriorated very quickly. He was a beautiful boy and we really miss our cuddles.
November arrived and on the 4th the country went into lockdown number 2. We shut the gate again.
In December we managed a meet up with Liz’s brother and sister-in-law, and with Ian’s sister and husband. It was the first time we had seen family all year, and both were very special times. The ever changing Tier system meant that we gradually saw all but one of our Christmas and New Year bookings disappear, and now we are all back in lockdown again!
And so to January 2021. Once again we have care workers from a local care home isolating from their families in our cottages. Ian is working extra shifts at the Bass Point NCI lookout as their volunteer workforce has halved due to Covid, and Liz is volunteering as an NHS Covid vaccination steward.
With the vaccine now a reality, we are very much hoping for a return to some sort of normality in 2021, and we wish the same for all of you too. We remain closed until it is safe and right to open again. We are taking bookings for 2021 and beyond, and all bookings taken will benefit from the protection of our Covid Cancellation Promise.
Please stay safe and well and we hope to see you all very soon.
With our very best wishes
Liz and Ian
Tregathenan House and Cottages - beautifully presented, well-appointed self-catering accommodation with a wealth of character and charm, set in peaceful Cornish countryside near Helston.