A whirlwind reflection!

Hi everyone! We have quite a number of followers now on our mailing list (thank you so much all of you), and we realise that we don’t often communicate with you through this ‘channel’…. (very sorry L - been busy etc. etc. yes we hear you yawn….), So we are going to try to make more effort in future, keeping you lovely folks up to date with what is going on with the two of us and the progress we are making at Winstonberry. We’ll also try to include happenings in the village of Gainford and the Teesdale area in general too. Hope that sounds ok? We thought we might offer little rewards for our loyal subscribers by holding little competitions and offers. We know how you all love our delicious coffee and cakes, so lets call them rewards (bribes? nooooo… ahem….)



Hi everyone! We have quite a number of followers now on our mailing list (thank you so much all of you), and we realise that we don’t often communicate with you through this ‘channel’…. (very sorry L - been busy etc. etc. yes we hear you yawn….), So we are going to try to make more effort in future, keeping you lovely folks up to date with what is going on with the two of us and the progress we are making at Winstonberry. We’ll also try to include happenings in the village of Gainford and the Teesdale area in general too. Hope that sounds ok? We thought we might offer little rewards for our loyal subscribers with little competitions and offers. We know how you all love our delicious coffee and cakes, so lets call them rewards (not bribes? nooooo… ahem….)


You’ll probably know we got our keys to the property on 1st May last year… and this was immediately followed by us (ourselves, our better halves, our Son and some friends), launching into a full make over of the very beautiful but very tired and un-loved Georgian building. Aside from re-decoration, in each bedroom we created a hand painted wall mural for individuality - and both bathrooms and the guest kitchen were fully ‘refreshed’. The work took longer than expected, so the café itself wasn’t even started until early June. This delayed our opening of the café until 6th July, by which time we’d reached peak summer season. We literally hit the ground running and were busy from the get go! A queue of people were stood outside on our first day - a baptism of fire you may say! Anyway, we ran with it (as you do) and were open for 7 days a week right through ‘til September. There were a few bumps in the road with our B&B guests - the details of which, we may share in a separate blog post later, but certainly, we were kept on our toes!! In September, we stopped for breath for a few days, and had a little break in Italy – to do a much necessary wine tasting J - well, we were applying for an alcohol license you see, so it was crucial to our planning, wasn’t it?! (hahahahaha…. Oh yes it was!!). Anyhoo, we returned mid September to our newly decorated ‘Bee Hive’ room. Our events room had been over hauled by local decorator, Poppy Sue, whilst we were away. We’d chosen an acid yellow hue for this room, so it is nice and bright, offering good light for workshops we'd planned. Since completion of the second room, we have hosted many events in the space – from local family funeral wakes to Christmas lunch parties to kiddies ceramic painting to our popular adult beginners ceramic work shops. As Christmas approached we created a fabulous, fun, Santas Grotto in the rear hallway. The transformation was stunning and it proved a big hit during our Santa Saturdays. Luckily, a local gentleman agreed to don his very beautiful Santa Suit and help us out. Many people from the village have been absolutely brilliant and so welcoming and supportive. We are truly grateful for this and for all the help we have received. Feeling truly knackered, (sorry, there is just no polite way to say how we felt ;)), we closed in January for two full weeks – for much needed R & R. We took ourselves off to Morrocco for some sunshine and a change of scenery – and it did not dissappoint. But, as soon as the plane landed on our return, we were headed straight to Harrogate for a trade show to look at gifts for next Christmas! (Yes, this is true. Apparently you order in January for the following season). Once back at Winstonberry in mid Jan, we felt invigorated and saw the place through fresh eyes. We decided there were a few tweaks needed for the coming year. The upstairs guest lounge was titivated – making it more comfortable. A few cushions and throws and some more art work were added. We took another sofa upstairs and added lamps and light fittings.. Downstairs, the kitchen was transformed by the arrival of a shiny new dishwasher, saving us all hours of slaving over the sink (finally a machine can take the strain and save us lots of time). Despite expecting a quiet period over winter, we have been blessed with some really good weather and this has kept us steadily busy. As April soon approaches and we begin heading to our first anniversary, we can honestly say, we have quite possibly never worked so hard. But despite this, it has been massively satisfying, overall enjoyable and we have met some lovely people.


Moving forward, we plan to grow our work force at Winsto. Sadly, Zoe who joined us in September, is re-locating. Her husbands job has changed and her family are returning to the South. This was quite a blow as we hoped Zoe was with us for the long haul. But.... life events happen and these things can’t always be foreseen – so sorry as we were to lose her, we wish Zoe all the luck in the world. Looking ahead to another busy summer, we currently have openings for more team members... . We are looking for people who are friendly, passionate and keen to learn and to grow with us. We have lots more planned for year two - our new delicatessen will be opening at the end of May (not the 1st as suggested in the Mercury!) and we plan to continue to grow the gift shop with new products and ideas. The staircase walls have been fitted with professional art hanging rails and we wish to expand the art work on display, creating a small gallery space.


Phew! Quite a journey wouldn’t you say? We wonder why we feel tired at the end of the week! J And just today, we re-opened for our first Sunday since Christmas. It was a busy day too, which is why I’m sat finishing this blog post after 9pm - I started writing it this morning whilst at work…. And Chloé and I are having text convo’s about deli furniture! I am wondering if I can sneak a couple of hours tomorrow to try and start some new art work…. Maybe after I’ve done some housework?



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TTFN

Dawn & Chloé xx

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