Looking back to just 6 months ago, we were at the beginning of December 2019, coming to the end of a busy and successful year. And at that point in time, we’d had a crazy summer season and a very steady autumn. Our annual break over Christmas and New Year was ahead and we were excitedly looking forward to our lovely family holiday in Bali. We had Santa shenanigans on the cards, a festive supper club evening in the diary which was fully booked and one or two other Christmassy things planned. Everything looked great and we could see very clearly where we were headed.
Fast-forward to March 2020, and the most unusual happening possibly since the Second World War, was upon us. No one (or at least for the sake of this newsletter) was aware of the seriousness of the Corona Virus, or indeed how it was about to change the course of our lives. This disease has caused so much hurt and suffering. It has been a killer, a destroyer of family, and caused ruination of many livelihoods. For most, it brought us to a stand still. It caused us to reflect, re-consider and re-align. It has certainly altered the way we will live our lives at least for the foreseeable, if not forever.
Like many businesses – and not just small fry like us either - we have been left with huge ‘clouds of unknown’ hanging over our heads.
And as you all now know, we made our decision according to the news and the (lack of) information at the time. Keeping on going with the bricks and mortar business was really not looking like a good idea for us. And it was very sad really. We should have been able to celebrate the exciting news of a grandchild on the way, yet instead, we were being forced to ‘negotiate’ the best future for our business.
The decision we made was a bold yet brave one. And without doubt, it is the right one for us. Being hidden in a village was not without its challenges and we really had tried every possible idea to build up Winstonberry and create something special. A destination business, “So much more than a coffee shop” is what people have said about us. And I think we can safely say that we achieved that. There are too many planning restrictions on the property to take things any further. But we covered every inch of what was possible – and it was quite a journey….
Which is why it is not feasible for us to simply turn our backs on Winstonberry all together. It has more mileage. A lot more. We have a lot more to offer - and are buzzing with so many creative ideas. We have had time to adjust now and are very excited about our next move. Sadly, yes, in some ways it is hard to go and closing the door for the final time will be awful – but, in other ways it is a blessing. More free time, more freedom, more creative time, more family time - all things we have really both missed out on in bucket loads these past 2 + years. So closing the door in Gainford certainly won't be all bad.
We have made a lot of lovely friends in the village – and also many, many more from further afield. It’s been a journey that we certainly won’t forget in a hurry. We worked so bl00dy hard in that first year! 7 days a week for many months.... We couldn’t have worked even an extra hour! But we had lots and lots of fun and laughs along the way. We made many precious memories and we shall hold these fondly. (Some others... meh.... not so much!)
The new chapter takes us ‘on line’. (We are on line already – just not been so focused on it before now – didn’t really have time! No surprise eh?!) We have lots of exciting ideas, which we will share with you all in good time. We won’t have to leave home to do it and it will be more versatile for the new mummy too, come October! In many ways it is a huge blessing – and we can’t wait to get things moving along!
For now though, we continue the sad job of clearing out our beautiful business ‘home’. This is ‘the interlude’…. And this shall be the final blog I shall write whilst still at No. 16 High Green. Emptying the place where it all started for us has been very difficult. Today, sat in the village, was one of our elderly regulars. Sat alone with her dog. We used to see her almost every day at one point. We were a place she could come for a chat and a laugh and some company. Sometimes she'd forget her purse... other days we'd give her a hug if she was feeling a bit down or a bit lonely - as well as enjoying our delicious cakes and coffee of course! Seeing her today almost broke our hearts.... And it's those little things, those people we shall miss the most. But, we are forever optimists Chloe and I. No point in dwelling. Onwards as they say.... What is done is done. We can't turn back the clock and we can't change whats happened. And I'm sure, many poor souls are in a much worse place than we are. We want you all to know that we are very, very grateful. Grateful for your support. Grateful for your friendships. Grateful for hugs and smiles and thank yous.... and for helping us to be brave and to do such a hard thing and close the doors on our lovely Café and B&B. Every word of sorrow, every message of thanks, every time you say we will be missed, brings a lump to our throats…. You've all been so kind and so lovely.... It’s been hard. There have been many sleepless nights and many tears shed. We are not embarrassed to admit. But we are so very grateful that you supported us. You came along and spent your money and allowed us to leave with dignity. So THANK YOU all of you, our friends and customers, from the bottom of our hearts.
We look forward to pivoting Winstonberry (apparently this is the new buzz word), we look forward with optimism to sharing our new ideas with you all soon, and most of all, we look forward to staying connected yet being ‘socially distanced’! We anticipate we shall be leaving High Green within the next couple of weeks. Our clearance sales have been very successful and we are now in the throes of sharing final items. We shall continue to bombard you – in the hope that you all manage to grab a little bargain.
Take care all of you
Dawn & Chloé xx