It was the year that we had been working towards for several years, and it certainly turned out an eventful one! I learned many new skills, tested my patience to its limits, I was amazed by people both in a positive and a negative way, but overall I am just so proud of the end result.
It’s been almost a year since I last posted on my blog, forgive me, I’ve been a bit busy! The pressure was definitely on in 2017, as a year before we had made a decision to book two weddings in for the summer of 2017. The renovation workload was huge, but we believed it was achievable, and achieve it we did! Only just though! The commitment from the team to get us wedding ready was incredible and I was amazed by how they were prepared to work quite literally around the clock to complete the renovations. I also had many friends who turned up to see how we were doing and didn’t go home for days… that’s something I won’t forget. It was possibly the hardest experience I’ve had, the pressure of knowing that letting the bride and groom down was just not an option, yet also being realistic about what was achievable in the time available, and not wanting to push the team of people we had working here too far, but we did it and we gave our couples an incredible day. The icing on the cake was that most of the guests were locals so it was a chance for us to showcase our beautiful Grassfield Hall, and the reaction was far better than I had hoped.
After the weddings we were very busy in the bed and breakfast, and kept that way until October. It felt like being on a very fast rollercoaster and by the time November arrived I was glad to get off. Having now had a few more chilled out months, I can reflect on the chaos, stress and excitement and although I’m so glad that 2017 is behind us I’m also very pleased we pushed ourselves to get the Hall up and running. There is only so long you can live on a building site and still have a smile on your face!
As well as all the building work we were also selected for the final three in visit England’s best b&b plus received a 9/10 score by the telegraph travel.
So now we move forward and January has been great for reassessing what we now want to do with the house, some ideas we have had will be a success I’m sure but other ideas like big marquee weddings simply won’t. life will be different now, no longer running a building site, but runing a business instead, exciting times ahead, and it seems fate that we celebrate our 20th wedding Anniversary this year, on the year that our dream for Grassfield Hall comes to fruition.
We entered the White Rose Awards last year and to our delight managed to make it through to the finals, where we were lucky enough to be awarded the highly commended award in our category. After this Welcome to Yorkshire entered us into the Visit England awards and to our amazement we again got through to the finals. Off we went to London last Sunday to the awards at the beautiful Palm Court, what an increadable experience, with the fabulously funny Sue Perkins presenting. The winners really did deserve to win the award, and although we were disappointed we also realise that we are just at the start of our journey and to get to the finals of a national competition before we have even finished the re build of Grassfield Hall is simply amazing for us, and we were very proud to be there. It’s given us a taste of what the future can hold if we keep working hard!
Exciting times at Grassfield Hall, the end is in sight….the end of the build that is, and the start of what we have been working towards for 6 years.
When we walked up the drive of the Hall in May 2010, we knew what it could be, we knew it needed to be loved again, and it needed to be taken on by people who would not let it down. I talk about it like its a person, that’s because it is a part of our family now. Its been like the naughty teenager who was constantly testing us and throwing more problems our way, but we have never stopped loving it regardless.
When I look back, to the amount of hours that we have had to work to support the build, and the times when we were over faced and overwhelmed, i’m not sure I could do it again, but now that the end is in sight I literally get butterflies in my stomach thinking of what will be.
The best part is here, planning the rooms final look, the opulence of the Bridal Suites and the finishing touches that will make everyone look at it as we have done since we first walked up the overgrown driveway.
So my first purchase was for the Bridal suite, “its just a chair” was someones reaction as I was getting quite over excited about my first piece of furniture….Its really not just a chair, its the chair that the bride will sit on and get ready for the biggest day of her life, its the chair that represents the beginning of the end, and its the chair that every time I look at it, it will remind me what we have achieved.
I had no idea when I left my last career of being Cabin Crew that I would have the opportunity to learn so many new things, and develop new skills… from interior designer to wedding planner, i’m not sure what I am more excited about, but I do think that if Grassfield Hall could talk it would have as much enthusiasm as me about the next phase of our lives.
What an exciting few weeks it’s been… I had a call from a marquee company, which lead to a succession of meetings with people who work in the wedding industry, all of which are just as excited as me about using Grassfield Hall as a new venue for weddings. I was under the impression that it was a cut throat industry, and I’m sure it can be, but my experience this week couldn’t have been further away from this image. In the space of a week, I have gone from feeling like I was swimming and unsure of which direction to swim in, no real idea of who to talk to or what steps to take to get me on the right path, and now I feel like a have a support network around me whom are all are as keen as me that this new venture succeed. I now know what to focus on and in which direction to drive my business forward in.
I have learnt so much from these people already that it is hard to imagine what lies ahead….
My vision is to tell a bride and groom their story before it has happened. Every detail accounted for, a step by step run through from the minute they pull through the gates and drive up to the house the day before the wedding, to the time they decide they want to leave. Exciting times ahead of us, I can’t help but think that this is what this house was built for!
Since I started my Grassfield hall Facebook page 18 months ago, I have had several enquiries from locals about using Grassfield Hall as their wedding venue. What I have come to realise is that this hall means so much to so many….everyone has a story about a christening, a wedding or having their first date with their husband in the dining room here, so it should come as no surprise that local people to Pateley Bridge want to see the hall up and running again. It pains me to turn people away but until we win the lottery we will just have to keep working away at the building renovations, and putting time limits on it at this stage is unrealistic and emotive, and it’s important to be happy with where we are at as this process is a long one! So you can imagine how pleased I was when I was approached to cater a small party a few weeks ago,, and then by coincidence another one the weekend after. As I prepared the room before they arrived it struck me that this is what the future holds for Grassfield Hall, it’s a house that’s meant to be filled with laughter, not the quiet and loneliness of previous years. That evening it was filled with laughter and I loved it, the compliments that we were given about the house were amazing and completely inspiring, as its human nature that when people tell you what a good job you are doing, it pushes you to carry on and keep getting better. So this is the future, love and laughter at Grassfield Hall.
Winter is well and truly here, when it’s not snowing it’s certainly extremely icy and bitterly cold. This is the first winter that I have been open at Grassfield Hall b&b, and it is as expected, fairly quiet, which is how we predicted it would be, the bookings are coming in for spring and summer so I’m taking the time to learn some new skills….marketing!
I put myself on a marketing and social media course which was very interesting, mostly for the other people who were on it as they clearly found my lack of knowledge in this area quite amusing. It was amusing and entertaining at times, I pointed out that during all my years of working as cabin crew, putting together spread sheets was not a high priority! I think they thought I had been living under a rock, and I realised just how little I knew about how businesses promote themselves. I did see the funny side and secondly I do like a challenge, that said, it certainly is challenging, I may know a lot about customer service, but I’m not too good at telling people that I’m good at it. So here I am spreading the word, everyday I get companies calling me and emailing me, wanting to ‘help’ me, but I would like to have the sense of achievement when I succeed, and to have done it without the help of a professional. I’m hoping that I have a product that is good enough to partly promote itself, surely thats half the battle won. I certainly am learning a lot of new skills, and I think you learn things about yourself when you start doing something that’s outside your comfort zone, I didn’t think I would ever find myself writing a blog, anyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve and that I love to talk, so a blog is perfect for me, but apart from anything else It’s therapeutic to document the journey that we are on and let people in to our little world at Grassfield hall.
A new year… and time to think about the past year, everybody does it, thinks about what they have achieved and could have done differently. The past few New Years thoughts have been about going forward with the restoration and just reassuring our selfs that we must keep going, as overwhelming as it’s been at times, working all the hours that we can to get the hall open as soon as possible, I think most people at some point would have have moments of doubt, of wether this was worth the lack of days off, lack of family time and the constant feeling of being tired and daunted by the project…. This new year is different, we have looked back with pride with the achievement so far, it was worth it, and when my guests tell me that they have loved their stay and will be back, I know this was meant to be. I’m not sure if we found the hall or if it found us, but I certainly think we needed each other.
So to look forward, lots of exciting things in the pipeline, the landscaping of the gardens, the posibility of our new tea rooms, designing the bedrooms and finishing the function rooms. The difference this year is that alongside the build runs our now successful b&b. It’s an absolute pleasure to meet all our new customers, mainly because of their enthusiasm for our beautiful house, they all want to know its story, it’s history and how we came across it.
My aim for the next month is to let people know about our b&b, it has been closed for many years so that in itself Will be difficult. As my previous career was as cabin crew, marketing was not high on my todo list everyday, but I like a challenge, so that’s the aim, and I don’t like to be beaten when I set my self a challenge. Happy new year to you all.
After over a decade of being closed and close to ruin, we finally re opened our doors at grassfield hall in July. After four years of hard work we acomplished the first part of our dream. Our luxury little bed and breakfast in the spectacular Nidderdale. We have had a busy couple of months, and after so long being closed to the public we expected a slow start, but to our amazment people are very interested in our progress and want to stay with us and see our beautiful house. the feedback has been increadable, far better than we could have imagined and that makes it all worth while, all the months and years of living on a building site was worth it, well worth it. We have tried to think of all the little things that will want to make our customers happy during their stay, and as ex cabin crew I have had more than my fair share of nights in a hotel room so have a good idea of what I would expect, and what I would be impressed by! As winter approaches we will be offering deals both on twitter and facebook to encourage people to our lovely Yorkshire dales, plus we will be starting on phase two of our project…
It’s a new era for Grassfield Hall. For over a decade it stood empty, falling further into decay. Four years ago when we first set eyes on this beautiful building we knew we had to restore it into the beautiful house it used to be. Since then we have worked tirelessly to put the love back onto Grassfield Hall and last weekend we finally opened phase one of our project, the bed and breakfast. It’s restored with its past in mind and we have used the house’s own history to guide us in our restoration project.
The local support we have had has been very important to us, and their encouragement is key to our success. After the Tour de France, our beautiful town of Pateley Bridge has been highlighted and everyone has seen the beauty the Yorkshire Dales has to offer, we add the history and character of Grassfield Hall and we hope to have a successful business.