Our first summer was a bit of a learning experience; we completed the purchase of The Prairie mid-season and got thrown into the deep-end of holiday home ownership.
There were trials and tribulations, none of them insurmountable, and we came out of the other end wiser and better prepared for this year.
It is with some relief then that our second summer of owning The Prairie has passed without incident and, as we head towards autumn, can look forward to some quiet weeks where we can enjoy the cottage ourselves and consider improvements that can be made to improve the cottage for guests next year.
We’ve started tweaking the décor to refresh, update and hopefully bring The Prairie up to a higher standard. Two rooms have already been decorated; the dining room and master bedroom, and I’m hoping to decorate another bedroom before the end of the year.
Mrs B has swapped out some of the pictures in the hall, lounge and dining room with prints from local artists Brian Lewis and Martin Sexton, sourced from The Westcliffe Gallery and Bertram A. Watts in Sheringham.
I’ve installed Wi-Fi and Now TV (complete with Sky Movies and Entertainment Pack subscriptions) for guests to enjoy free of charge.
In addition to this, a Hive Heating controller has been fitted to make it easier for us to monitor and control the central heating from Stockport and for our guests to adjust the temperature to suit their tastes and the season.
The utility room has a new dishwasher to complement the new tumble dryer fitted last year. We decided to replace this as a precaution as the old dishwasher was starting to sound a bit asthmatic. We purchased the replacement from JB Postles on Sheringham High Street and they liaised with our letting agents to install it with minimum inconvenience to our guests.
Along the way I’ve discovered a few good on-line communities specific to Norfolk and the tourist industry such as #NorfolkHour on Twitter. All I need now is another 4 hours adding to each day so that I can keep on top of it all.
Back in the real world the council and local community have done a grand job repairing the damage to Sheringham Promenade caused by the December 2013 Storm Surge.
It was great to see the gradual return of the beach huts in April, joined in August by the refurbished café on the West Promenade, complete with a new and appropriate name, “The Tidal Wave”.
There are also some fabulous new beach murals by the local primary school and local artist Colin Seal.
Looking Forward to 2015
It’s been a funny year for staycations in 2014 with many property owners reporting that confirmed bookings have been rather late and erratic. My theory is that the bad winter weather has put people off.
However, the recent heatwaves seemed to have warmed people up to the idea of a holiday in the UK and we’re already getting enquiries for 2015, which is brilliant.
We still have plenty of gaps out of season. I need to work on promoting short breaks and out of season discounts.
Maintaining a Victorian property can be daunting, time consuming and costly. Thankfully the previous owners had modernised and maintained The Prairie to a high standard.
There are a handful of mainly cosmetic improvements that need to be made ahead of next year. We’ve marked out some of the more tired looking furniture for replacement and Mrs B is looking at installing a fixed cot in the front double bedroom and replacing curtains.
A gardener has been employed to maintain our plot, so we may add some potted plants and hanging baskets. I’m also hoping to paint and furnish the small summer house with the intention of making it a pleasant space in our garden for guests rather than just somewhere to store the BBQ.
Apart from that, our plan is to continue improving and enjoying The Prairie with the intention of making it an outstanding holiday home for our guests.