Monday 13 June 2011

Do It Yourself!

It's been a long time since we last blogged, so to fill you in....

The business partnership fell through around Christmas time as the investor found somewhere else to invest his money which would get him a faster return, such is the way of business I guess but I can't say we weren't disappointed.  Since then we have struggled on and came to a decision, and that was that no-one can help so we had to come up with a solution for ourselves and work damn hard at making it is now sink or swim time!

And so we decided to use our knowledge and hobbies to create our own cottage industry business. It is very early days but we are slowly getting somewhere. We chose to incorporate a number of elements into the business to maximise our strengths.

Element 1: Chickens...
We sold all of our large chickens so that we can concentrate on breeding our bantams. Currently we have 3 breeding pairs, Citron Sablepoots, Belgian D'Anvers and Pekins. We don't have the money for an incubator yet so the Pekin is brooding our eggs and rearing the chicks. She is a great Mum and currently we have 6 Sablepoot chicks and 1 D'Anver which are a week old...ahhh. It's small beginnings but we hope to increase our stock and get an incubator as soon as possible.

Element 2: Plants...
We utilised what little resources we had to start a (very) small nursery. This was basically using 3 small plastic greenhouses, various windowsills and one tiny cold frame to produce seedlings (now plants) which we are selling from our gazebo/stall every other weekend. We have had 2 sale days so far and what with pre-orders and work colleagues orders we are doing relatively well in a business sense and things can only get better as we advertise more and word of mouth gets around. It helps that we are selling different plants than our 'competitors' around here, obviously we can't compete with big nurseries but are trying hard to be be unique amongst local stalls in our area. By next year we hope to have upgraded our equipment and to have grown a larger selection of mainly perennial plants which will prove popular.

Element 3: Woodwork...
Matt has skill in making animal housing, chicken coops, bird boxes, plant/storage containers for the garden etc. We will use monies made to buy materials to get this element off the ground. Items to be sold on our stall or online.

All 3 elements are in their infancy but we are fully confident that we can make this work given time. Every business has to start somewhere and ours has at least got off the ground, now it's just a question of every sense :)

In the meantime Lisa has taken a job as a support care worker in a residential home. Sometimes the hours are long but it is always rewarding and keeps our heads above water.

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.