Monday 12 December 2016

Unwelcome present from guests at the cottage

We currently allow guests at our holiday cottage to bring their pets (up to 2) to stay with them on holiday. Normally there's no problems with this, but we might change our minds and not allow pets. This weekend I popped in to the cottage to check it after our last set of guests had checked out. They are regular visitors and normally leave the place clean and tidy, though they do switch off the heating and leave the upstairs windows open when they depart. This is not the most sensible idea in December.

After this most recent stay they left an unwelcome present on the bedroom floor. It was a pile of dog poo.

This couple, and pet dog, book through an agency so we don't have their contact details. I'll challenge them the next time they arrive to see what is their version of the story.

Sunday 2 October 2016

A new fence for the cottage

Our cottage is a Victorian terrace block of three houses. They are small 2 Up 2 Down style buildings built originally for quarry workers. When they were build there were no bath rooms, the toilet was in a an outhouse and the bin was a tin tub in the kitchen. The back yards of the cottages is an open brick surfaced area shared between the cottages. 

When we purchased the place a couple of years ago there was a tatty dividing wooden picket fence across the back yard to separate us from the neighbouring house. The fence is not our "responsibility" as in was owned by next-door's landlord.

We are a pet friendly holiday cottage which means we have to make sure any guests' pets do not stray from the back yard. We renewed all of the fences around the property when we refurbished the place, except for the neighbour's yard fence. However the extent of wood rot in the neighbours fence became so great the fence fell over. So this summer I built a new fence from raw timber and with our neighbour's permission installed a new fence in the yard.  Another expense to be charged against out "profits".

Thank heavens for PostCrete to assist in installing the fence and gateposts. My own design picket gate swings nicely and latches reliably every time.

Will they use our orchard?

Part of the deal in our holiday cottage is access to our orchard. The orchard is a one acre site with the River Ecclesbourne running along one side. The orchard can be accessed from the road, via a local bus, public footpath  along the riverside or just a short walk from the local railway station (Ecclesbourne Valley Railway). There's a couple of great pubs nearby.

We took on the orchard site a couple of years ago. It was a piece of waste land overgrown with weeds and thorn bushes plus some un-managed woodland to one side. We've put a lot of work into clearing the land, rebuilding the hedges, installing fences, hanging new gates and planting fruit trees.  We've even added a barbecue area as well. More detail can be found here.

The fruit trees are growing well and there some nice areas to set up a picnic on the grass.

Sadly though no one has yet taken up the offer to access the orchard. Here's hoping people will do so.

Problem guests

Most of the guests staying in our holiday cottage are delightful and we enjoy having them stay. However there are those who stretch our patience and we wish they'd never booked in the first place, let alone do a repeat booking. We don't make a fortune from the rental fees so it is not as though we are offering the Ritz in terms of accommodation. Sometimes people expect too much.

We allow guests to bring their pet, for example a large dog or two small ones. We have two boisterous German Shepherd Dogs in our own home and know that dogs, if properly trained are no problem and cause no real damage. They do make carpets dirtier and sometimes scratch paint work, but we've already allowed for that in our cleaning/decorating budget. From the pet owner's side there is the obvious benefit that they save of boarding fees and their pets are less likely to be distressed.  

We recently had a couple arrive and they had a large dog. They arrived straight from their journey to Derbyshire, but had not given their dog a chance to "stretch its legs". I was showing the guests around the cottage and their male Labrador lifted its hind leg and urinated over the settee and carpet. After they'd left we had to get a professional cleaner in to clean the carpet and furniture to remove the "markers" left by the dog.

Another couple complained to the rental company because I'd taken too long in showing them around the cottage on arrival and because the security light over the back yard wasn't working. If they'd listened to my greetings briefing they'd remember I'd said "call me (via a freephone) if anything wasn't working as it should be and we'll try and fix it". This same couple left the cottage dirty and rubbish on the kitchen work tops. They also left wet towels on the bed on departure causing us to have to swap out the bed mattress in time for hand over to the following guests. We installed a new security light over the back door before handover to the next guests.

Other guests have left dog poo in the garden even though we provide free dog poo bags.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Paint Job

People who've stayed in out cottage will know the road outside is quite busy and close to the front door. I noticed the paint on the door was cracking just a couple of years after we had the place redecorated in preparation for us opening for business. So over the past month when the weather has permitted I've been sanding off the old paint  on the door down to the bare wood to prepare it for repainting. At the time I wondered if it might be better to remove the door and replace it with a temporary door.  I could have then taken the door to my cellar where I have good workshop facilities to perform the stripping and repainting.  

However I didn't think it was worth the effort /cost of a temporary door so I did the work in-situ. It took a lot of sanding, chemical stripper and dust to achieve the desired result over a period of three days. The glass windows and glazing bars in the door made the work more complex - I could not use a heat gun.  As I'd been working to remove the old paint I'd realised the previous decoration had not properly sealed the door windows allowing the rain and spray to soak the underlying wood. In turn this caused the paint surface to crack and allow further leakage.

Just as I had completed the first stage of the work the spell of fine weather was coming to an end so I had to quickly seal the windows to prevent leakage. I then had to apply a coat of of primer/undercoat paint to protect the door.  Literally as I finished the undercoat and it was touch dry, the icy weather, rain and snow returned for a week or so.  After a week's further wait the weather improved and I was able to return to the house to apply a coat of red top coat gloss paint to the door.

As the gloss paint was drying I noticed the next problem. Dust and debris from the road was whipped up by passing vehicles and it was landing on the sticky paint surface. I knew I'd have to sand the new surface before applying a second coat of gloss, but the problem of dust would not go away. My thoughts turned again to removing the original door and installing a temporary replacement while I finished the paint work. I came up with a better solution. 

I went back to my workshop where I built a lightweight door with a timber frame which could be mounted outside the existing door. I used polyethylene sheet to skin the temporary door. Once the temporary door had been transported to the site and screwed in place I was able to open the front door and work inside the house to re-sand the gloss door surface and apply the top coat. The temporary outer door also allowed me to leave the front door open while the paint dried. I must say the door now looks very smart with its new coat of red gloss paint and it is free from dust blemishes on the surface. It certainly looks much more weather proof than what I'd replaced.