Well, here it is, New Year’s Day. Looking back at 2020, I’m not sure if it has been good or bad – I do know that it has been different and oh so tough!
Like many other people, I have had my fair share of mental downs – why did I leave my job to take this on? How on earth will I manage to sell anything while we are in lock down? Why is there no help available for new businesses? But by about October I realised that as a small, new business, we had the flexibility and drive to roll with the punches and adapt our offering around how we COULD work, and you know what? If I could make Yellow Door Cottage work in 2020, I will be bloody amazing in any other given year!
The reality is of course a mixture of circumstance and flexibility. The motivation for people to stay local has been forced upon them – good for me. People are spending more and more time on social media, again, good for my advertising. In the first lock down, people were bored and our honesty shop offered them a place to head for during their daily exercise and perk up their day with a little treat. So, was 2020 the making of Yellow Door? We will never know how different it would have been in any ‘normal’ year but, as Hubby often reminds me, people wouldn’t keep coming back if they didn’t like what I do.
After working exceptionally hard to make our honesty shop better and safer for the local community, we were dumb struck that the District Council called to say that they had received a complaint about the shop which stated that we were a danger to public health. West Somerset and Taunton Council (EHO and Planning) have been amazing in their support on this, but it really hurt that a public figure closer to home felt the need to be quite so vicious in their attack. We had got it wrong in the fact that the shop needed planning permission, but on retrospective application, this was granted as the shop was deemed to be such a good thing for the local community and our application had received overwhelming positive support from many of our neighbours. It is humbling that so many people were prepared to take steps to support us and has given me even more determination to keep providing them with our unique and quality service – I will not be bullied into stopping this, as famously said ‘This lady is not for turning’
At the start of lock down I thought that Supper Clubs were doomed before they’d ever really got going. However, flexing to the requirement to socialise outside and the ‘rule of 6’ we carried out our risk assessment, implemented appropriate controls and became COVID Secure. An amazing summer was spent enjoying fully booked supper clubs (I didn’t even have to advertise…), our first year anniversary and building up a rapport with the people who got as much out of them as us. At our final supper before Lockdown 2, it became clear that the people who came along needed supper club just as much as I did. I went to bed that night feeling that I had let them down by not being able to carry on. By the next morning, the solution was clear… Takeaway Tuesday. Although it just isn’t the same as enjoying a meal with others, I still get to see some of my customers for a few minutes when they collect their meal from the kitchen each week. This takeaway approach removed some of the pressures of ‘front of house’ and coupled with a new and improved kitchen, has allowed me to concentrate on developing my cooking to make better and better meals each week. A win win for me and them and the hope of even better supper clubs to come when we can be together again.
My catering offering grew to include providing meals to people visiting holiday cottages in the local area. The idea being that they can enjoy great food in their holiday home with minimal effort. I am not sure if it is due to more people holidaying in the UK and restaurant capacity being reduced due to COVID measures, but this also proved exceptionally popular. Having had to cancel our plans to celebrate Hubby’s 40thin April (and with it looking all the more likely that we still won’t be able to celebrate his 41st) I keenly feel the need people have to mark special occasions in some small way this year. By offering this option to holiday makers, I have been privileged to be a very small part of some of these celebrations. I have been in on a surprise 60thbirthday family meal, provided the afternoon tea and bubbles to mark a first wedding anniversary and so much more. All of this reminds me how important the simple things in life are and yet again, makes me more determined to keep doing this for people.
So, what has 2020 taught me? It’s reminded me that I’m as tough as old boots and will fight like a tiger when I am in a corner! However, what I’ve learnt is that this toughness is driven by a deep desire to make other people feel happy, well fed and loved. I have learnt that no matter how different or unexpected the hand is that we are dealt, there is no changing it. The gift is how you approach your lot – I chose hard work, optimism and determination this year and I will never know if I could have done a better or worse job. The fact is I just ‘did’ and that no amount of destructive reflection or analysis will change that….
So, I go into 2021 knowing that I did 2020 my way, that my scars and experiences give me an even better foundation to give 2021 a bloody good go without worrying. Most of all, I look forward to riding the roller coaster of life that next year brings with each and every one of you!
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year