Monday, 29 November 2010

In limbo

Well we haven't done one of these for a while so thought we'd better buck our ideas up and get blogging again :)

Update on the business is that we are currently in limbo. The news is as follows.....

Our investor tried to put in an offer, but the estate agent didn't return their call. Someone else has made an offer on the property and our advice now is to 'sit it out and see what happens', well fat lot of good that is doing us! We just  wish they had understood the importance of the place in Dolgellau as it was in a fantastic location and had huge potential in the tourism market. We sat on our laurels a bit and let them call the shots when what we should have done is shown a bit of initiative. That way our offer would have been withdrawn sooner and they may have had their offer looked at prior to the new bids. We think they made a mistake in asking us to keep our offer in for so long, but seeing as they are 'in the business' and we are just small fry we assumed they were making the right decision. Our advice would be to never assume anything and go with your gut instinct.

So, we are back to trawling the 'for sale' pages here, there and everywhere in the hope that something equally as appealing shows up at the right price (would help if we knew what that price might be too!) and in the right location. The investor is still interested in the business idea so all is not lost and we have a few other properties in sight.

We know that they are not necessarily in a hurry to start the business but we certainly are, the sooner the better for us really, but of course we still have to ensure that it is a viable proposition. At least this time there will be no pussy footing about with offers if they are interested!

Wish us luck.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Interesting Times

Slowly but surely we are making progress. Yesterday we received a phone call from our middle man to say they would be putting in an offer for the farm today. Their business is in property and land so they know what they are doing but I feel there will be some time spent on negotiating to get a price they are happy with.
Of course it is good news for us as it means the report was coherent, informed and well received by the investor. We have a sneaking suspicion that they have been up there to view it themselves as I don't think they would put in an offer 'blind' just on our say so, they are far too business minded for that.

So we are back to the waiting game but the excitement is simmering, and we can't wait to get up there and get started on the work needed to bring the campsite up to scratch and open for business!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Broccoli Soup and A&E...

Was nearing end of day at work on Friday, close to closing shop when I had a fight with a large pot of Broccoli soup. It had been sitting there all day, such a shame none of the punters were interested in eating it as there would have been far less to fight with ! It was my fault to a degree as I didn't use a cloth when moving it, but it is not  a well designed pot with no rim to speak of. I burnt my finger and dropped the entire lot, which bounced on the counter, splashing my face and then catapulted all over me. My chest, arm and leg were absolutely covered. It seriously hurt I can tell you.  I yanked of my jumper but the damage was already done on my elbow. The first aid I recieved was very good, but me being me I declined an ambulance, said I would be fine soon and wanted to drive home. Luckily Joe (1st aid guy) realised it was bad and rang the ambulance anyway.

Friday night is not a good time to be going to A&E so I was there from 7 - 11.30 pm. It was rather amusing as I was covered in strange gunk and smelled of broccoli, I was getting some very strange looks I can tell you ! Finally the 2 women siting near me broke the silence and I had a chance to explain what the gunk was...the relief on their faces was palpable lol. We ended up chatting for a couple of hours, was rather pleasant in the end :)

I have had the dressing changed today, there is still a lot of blistering but the wound is clean which is a godsend. Need to get the dressing changed again on Thursday. It is more painful now than yestrday but maybe that is because I had a chance to study it today !!

I am not after sympathy, just warning about the dangers of Broccoli soup and the damage it can do, be careful out there folks :) lol

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

One Step Closer

So here we are again. Have returned intact from our adventure to Snowdonia and we are in LOVE with the place, it is absolutely beautiful and amazing. So we will give you a pictoral bloggy in order you can enjoy it too.

It took us a LONG time to get from Kent to Dolgellau, via London to pick up a friend. The views along the way were amazing as we travelled through Brecon and up to Snowdonia, it was dark by the time we arrived. We finally found where the farm was, missed the entrance drive and meandered our way up a narrow trackway with stone walls either side, driving very carefully to avoid the sheep !! Wasn't much fun turning around I can tell you and it was getting pretty cold by then. Mary (the vendor) met us at the gate and offered us tea but we thanked her and went off to the field to get the tents up etc. It was a crisp, clear evening with a fat full moon lighting up the area. We didn't even have a fire but sat around a tray of tea lights for a while before the frost started forming on everything and the cold got the better of us, so we turned in. Boy was it a cold night, the following day Mary informed us that it had hit -5....BRRRRRRRRRR

But what a stunning View, the Aran Mountains

Sun Rise over the valley

Beautiful Cadair Idris

 We went down to the farmhouse and Mary showed us around the house and outbuildings, the Mill House is so lovely and could have many different uses given the time and money to restore and fit it out.

Mill House

View from the Farmhouse to the Mill House

The  Farmhouse front garden

The outbuildings - some potential there

The Shippon

The Caravan Club paddock

The Lake Paddock

The Lake

Upper Paddock

Upper Corner Paddock

Lower Paddock

Upper Woods

River Odyn

After enjoying our lovely long walk around the plot we were invited back to the farmhouse to have tea, biccies, flapjacks and fruitcake, Mary's hospitality was superb, such a lovely woman. We were allowed to have a fire on Monday night which was a bonus and had an exceptional nights sleep.

It started raining as soon as we went to bed and the wind picked up considerably. It was very peculiar listening to the wind coming up the valley in a wave of noise through the trees, one particularly large gust nearly took our friends tent away, pulling all of the pegs our on one side ! We did think about getting up to help but he is a big boy now and we were just too cosy to be bothered. We all had a great laugh over that in the morning, which turned out to be very very wet. So our journey home (which was even longer than the upward leg of the trip) was very arduous and miserable.

We have fallen in love with Snowdonia and  the farm, so tranquil, beautiful and we imagine would be simply stunning throughout every season and in every weather. It is always great to get home, but now we are wishing our home was back there :(  Our next business meeting is on Tuesday, we have some homework to do between now and then but I think that after the meeting we will know one way or another. We just hope the investor realises that the 'unusable' areas of the land are exactly what makes it a special place that people will flock to in favour of the boring camp/caravan sites around the town!

Thanks for reading our blog (apologies for the length lol )

Lisa and Matt


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Meetings, greetings and the future

Hello blog readers,

So how did  our meeting with the big fish in Mayfair go?  It actually went rather well as it happens, which made the painfully high heels (obviously Lisa not Matt !) worth while. We headed off to the Big Smoke, suited and booted, business plan at the ready and prepared for any questions that may be fired at us. Of course we forgot the map which caused some concern but luckily we found the building with 10 mins or so to spare.The nerves were kicking in as we entered the lift (coded to prevent riff raff entering) and ascended to floor 6. I'm surprised they didn't hear our hearts thumping when we entered the boardroom. The investor and the middle man were there, thankfully no-one else, with our plan in front of them. And so began the probing questions...

I believe we handled ourselves really well, there were not many questions we couldnt answer but other issues were raised which we hadn't thought about and a plumping out of the plan is required before the next meeting in 2 weeks time. In effect we have been given homework to do and a lot is riding on us providing feasible, provable answers. We know we can do this so are not overly worried about that. Between times we have to take a trip to Snowdonia to glean information and pictoral evidence about the property and land amongst other things. They did say we had "done good" on our plan considering it is our first one and not many people would have made it to the point of meeting with them under those circumstances. Obviously we were very pleased about that.

These Big Fish are pretty ruthless in the world of business, we are minnows in comparison but won't let that put us off, we are exceptionally determined individuals and it would take a lot to deter us from 'the dream'. There are lots of finer details to be sorted out but the upshot would be that we would be handing the business into their hands and would manage the site and land for them. I guess that's fair enough as we have no capital to put into it. We are not really in the best of positions to bartar are we! 

Thankfully our investor agrees with our ethos for the business and is very much into the green and eco side of things. He even has other farms and campsites that are run in an eco fashion, so that has set our mind at ease for the site. Had that not been the case then we would have had to walk away from the business right then.

So, fingers crossed for our surviving camping in Snowdonia on Sunday and Monday (brrrrrr) and obtaining the answers on this fact finding mission of ours:)

Thanks for reading our blog and thank you to all those who wished us luck, it really is appreciated.

Lisa and Matt

Monday, 11 October 2010

We're heading to the big smoke...

Today we put our doubts and issues to our investors client, as posted in the last blog. He said that our business was still our business and if we feel we can't do business with this mystery investor then we wouldn't have to move forward with this paticular person/ investor.  He then told us we are required to meet the investor next week, in central London (the big smoke), so we will have to put aside the wellies, the check shirt and the jeans and don our very best suits, jump on the train and see if we can actually do business with the big fishes of our capital city.... (wipes sweat from brow), nervous?, errrr, yeah just a bit. But hey... we have to do what we have to do to make this dream come true, so watch this space :)

And of course, wish us luck. Thanks guys and gals.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Business Meeting!!!

Well well well, here we are, the point of progress so far...

 Today at 10:30am, we had a meeting with a member of the BBAA (British Business Angel Association). We feel pretty pleased with ourselves, apart from a few minor details, he said we have ticked 4 of the six boxes of his clients "must haves". One we will never be able to tick, which isn't a problem, as this was an assets box, of which he knew we do not have any. The other box was our competitors information, which isn't so hard to find out more details about them, and we are on the ball as we type this posting.
 Apart from those two slight problems, one of which can be fixed, we have been told we have an "Out standing" business plan covering everything that is needed to be seen in a good plan.

Not bad for a first attempt at a business plan huh?...

There be one slight problem, depending how you look at it, the BBAA's client wants to buy the farm/campsite and pay us to run it for him/her (not sure who they are, or even their name as yet, could be someone famous :o).. ) Deal stands as, they buy, they invest what is needed to make it a top notch campsite and we rent the house and a few acres and out buildings for our own use, whether that is worked on a tied cottage basis or we pay them rent, has yet to be discussed. Our worry at the moment is... we have done the leg work as it were, drawn up the plan and found the location, there is nothing stopping this person from pulling the rug from under our feet and going ahead without either a please or thank you (in the way of a finders fee).  So we need to hold back a few cards I guess, make sure we have a future in this business even if it's not our own, I (Matt) am a bit too long in the tooth, so before our next meeting with this guy, I guess our best bet would be to get something in writing saying that they will 100% employ the both of us to run, what is, our baby (our business idea), and a back out plan of a finders fee if they don't wish to include us in the businesses future.

Mmm???... lots to think about, but it's the best offer so far, and the only offer where we have been told money is not an issue and that the Client, is very much in to his/hers green and eco life style and businesses. We were told that they are great to work with and for, that they take care of their works and value their ideas and points of view. Sounds good to me, but there is that slight doubt in my mind, and that's... we could lose this property and business plan to someone who can stump up the money at the bat of an eyelid, I guess all businesses have a degree of risk, so this is the main risk to us at this time.

Wonder if there is such a thing as copy-right on business plans?... anyone???

Well, guess we'll leave it there for now, so thank you as per' for viewing our blog, if you do know how we can cover our behind in regards to losing our plan to the big fish, then please please please get in contact via either twitter (GoodLifeDream) or on here.

Thanks guys and gals.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Tomorrow is upon us...

Well it's the 7th of October, one day to go before our meeting with Chris Scott of Cathedral Group Plc, Who are members of the BBAA (British Business Angels Association), seems like they must be interested as he has had the business plan for over a week, and hasn't cancelled the meeting tomorrow. Could this be good news?, the old saying of "No news is good news" springs to mind, lets hope it rings true.

 We are guessing it'll be one of two offers on the table, one... they'll purchase the premises and rent it back to us, leaving us to find funding for the business set up. Or two... they'll offer us full backing with an exit strategy in place in 5 to 10 years. The Latter would be best for us, however, if it gets us in the door and allows us to grow and carry out our dream, we shall bite the hand that feeds us ;).

 Having had so many knock backs already, but still had plenty of thumbs up on the plan and future of the business, we are in split minds as to whether or not they will be able to help. At this point we need to stay positive on this, as it will show in our pitch. We believe that we can not only make this a good business for ourselves, but also a great place for those avid campers and outdoor types. Making use of the land for others to enjoy is our main goal. With 66 acres, you'd have to be a complete fool not to make a living from it, and fools we are not.

So people, it's crunch time yet again....

If this fails, we only have one place left to try, another business angel in Scotland. If that fails, then we'll be looking for a couple of acres with a couple of outbuildings, with some form of accommodation, be it caravan, shed or large tent. We just want to be self sufficient and have the space for our animals and to be able to make some sort of living doing what we know best.

 So wish us luck, leave a comment if you have any tips, and thank you once again for reading our little blog.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Autumnal Delights

I really love Autumn and everything it has to offer. Will add to this blog randomly over the season as things catch my eye.

Scotnet Delights today

Henry Moore Sculpture

The Boathouse

Scotney Old Castle


Scotney House

The Tea Room

This fly agaric gem (and it is huge!) I spotted on a grass verge on the driveway leading to where I work at Scotney Castle in Kent. Amazing.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Just because...

Life is more than just business so here is a selection of our photography for you to enjoy.

Let me introduce you to Blue ( a Siberian Husky) and Bear (an Alaskan Malamute). They are such amazing fellas to have around

They certainly love it in the snow!

Some of my favourites in the garden

Love this one!

Some Winter shots

Out and About

Berling Gap

Bewl Water

Bewl Water

Hever Castle

Hever Castle


Plants and Insects

The weird and wonderful

I hope you enjoyed looking at these as much as I do :)