Living the Daydream in Cornwall
Having a successful Boutique B&B wasn’t what we set out to do at Lower Barns; we bought it as a home, with land for my horse. However, life takes us down many roads and I know now that this was the right one for us.
For years we lived in the paddock, in a caravan with an outside shower and portaloo. Time wasn’t something we necessarily considered too much. We lived day to day, wondering what we would have for dinner, while we worked hard to save money to start converting the barn. It took six years before we started feeling weary of our caravan lifestyle.
Mike used to come home from a days work and then start renovating, squeezing two working days into one. Two years in and it was taking some basic shape and I could indulge my love of interiors and decorative finishes. I started with simple pieces, some rustic, some reclaimed and have continued collecting pictures, textiles and furniture ever since.
The restoration was nearly complete (is anything ever complete) when we discovered with great excitement, we were expecting our son, Jake.
With some trepidation we put a homemade B&B sign at the top of the lane and much to our surprise people started to knock at our door. The Lost Gardens of Heligan had just opened and created more traffic in our remote spot which was a real bonus for us.
Looking back, it’s fair to say that I played at it for two years before I made an important decision; I wanted to be the best at what I did. This decision changed a number of things, some of which were difficult as I realised I no longer had enough time for my beloved horse. Thankfully, he went on to have an amazing life in the eventing world.
This next stage meant ploughing money back into Lower Barns, along with Mike’s skills as a builder and new rooms evolved. Year after year people have returned to see what we are doing; we have never stopped this cycle of reinvention and creation. The loyalty of people overwhelms me often. The feedback, letters, cards, phone calls, recommendations, emails, comments on Facebook and Trip Advisor never cease to make me feel equally humbled and inspired. Whether people stay for just a night or a week or two, it is just the best to know that I am able to give a dream, create memories and more often than not a party.
When people ask me the key to running a luxury B&B, my answer is always to listen to guests and also think about what you would like from a stay. We all know that expectations of both Cornwall and luxury travel are exceptionally high. It has taken years of hard work, love of people, loving sharing our home, dedication and motivation to raise the bar every year.
My biggest challenge has been the website and social media. These things have taken me out of my comfort zone into a world of speed that changes every day. And as some of you know, I can’t spell for toffee (thank God for spell check, Rachel and Leap Media for teaching me)! However, after lots of teaching and lots of trusting I can honestly say I have embraced this world and even love it. When I’m at my laptop, I often think about the old days when I would have been out digging in the garden and much as I miss it, my back doesn’t.
As always, I’m looking to the future and what it may hold. We have new adventures with Runaway Weddings planned for next year, as well as redecorating to change the look of some of our rooms and lots of yummy new recipes for your indulgence.
So as one season comes to an end and another begins, I would like to take the opportunity to say “thank you” for coming back time after time and to all our new followers. And “hello, I hope you find us” to all those out there looking for love, romance, a secret escape and quirky places to stay.
This is my daydream. I love my life and this dreamy county of Cornwall. What more could I ask for? Perhaps the odd holiday, just to be spoilt rotten!
I hope you have found your dreams too xx