Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Field of Dreams

Well, my dear readers, it’s been a while. I’ve spent most of the summer months either with my head down a composting toilet or sucked into the vortex of social media. Such are the joys of opening your own glamping business, so we’ve come to find. It’s fair to say that we’ve been scaling the Mont Blanc of learning curves since April. In the dark. Barefoot. And with our legs tied together.

It has been quite a journey – epic highs and monumental lows. No days off, zero social life but some phenomenal feedback and a wee bit of awards recognition as we slowly get our business on the map. We’ve learnt more than we could ever have imagined, yet still recognise that this is only the beginning. So here, in no particular order are some of our top lessons learned from our first season.

We can now change sheets, duvets and pillow cases in record speed with our eyes shut. In fact, we find this is job much better done with a mild hangover. Except of course during a heatwave. In the height of summer exerting any kind of physical effort under canvas is way more effective than any sauna or steam room for flushing out the toxins! We reckon we've save a fortune in potential gym fees and also...   

El scorchio!

... we feel a lot fitter. You walk thousands of steps in a day turning the tents around then to’ing and fro’ing for all the finishing touches which you invariably forget first time around – flowers, eggs, logs, candles… But any potential weight loss is offset by the copious amount of tasty goodies that our guests leave behind. It doesn’t help the old waistline that the last motorway services before you hit North Wales just happens to have a Waitrose😊.

Camp kitchen

People (and dogs) from all walks of life seemingly enjoy glamping. We’ve had people from all over the world come to stay – Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Kenya, Russia and the US…. We’ve had lawyers, farmers, teachers and builders. We’ve had babies, aunties, cousins and grandparents. Bernese Mountain Dogs the size of small ponies and Chihuahua puppies you can fit in the palm of your hand. We’ve even had a few celebrity guests (and tried, somewhat in vain, to perfect the art of looking non-plussed and un-starstruck!)


We value everything now against the cost of a night in a tent. New pair of shoes for the kids? Service for the car? Replacement chainsaw? These are all measured in £90 increments, our nightly rate. If we have a good run of bookings over a weekend then we can afford the Extra Special range that week. If not, we’re back on the Basics…

£90 a night...
Bell tents and storms don’t mix. It was after we were clearing up the aftermath of Storm Ali and Storm Bronagh that we had a sudden epiphany that our business strategy is all based on the Three Little Pigs. Having realised that canvas tents can’t withstand the huff and the puff of a force 8, we’ve decided that we’ll build the next phase of The Forge out of sticks (wooden cabins) and then eventually onto brick and stone once we get our barn conversions up and running. Take that Tropical Storm Wolfie!

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your hut down!

We’ll never need to buy socks ever again. As long as we don’t mind wearing odd ones. It is by far the number one thing that people leave behind. We’ve washed and kept them all so if you are reading this and left one behind feel free to get in touch and we can send it on to you!

Happy days! Socks off!

So now comes the fun/hard bit of regrouping and deciding how we build on this first brilliant but exhausting first summer. Do we stick with Airbnb? Do we focus more on courses and retreats? Do we, as one of my friends suggested to me recently, go the whole hog and develop a full-on cross between The Good Life and Butlins with a whole week long programme of activities for our glampers?!  So, a fair bit of head scratching and number crunching ahead of us this winter. 

A few of you have also asked if I am going to ‘sunset’ Cockerels and Dreams? The answer for now is definitely no. I like to think of it as the ‘warts and all’ behind the scenes account of how we made The Forge, a bit like the last 15 minutes of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth. They may not come as thick and fast as before, as I focus my attention on The Forge blogs. But writing this is actually a bit of an escape, a form of therapy and perhaps just a little opportunity to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come, before we continue the long march ahead.

Time for a brew and a re-think for 2019!

With thanks to Monica Stott at @thetravelhack and The Forge Facebook competition entrants for these fab photos.

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