Friday 27 March 2020

Redecorating during Covid-19

With the lockdown on holiday homes and suspension of bookings we taken the time to redecorate our holiday home. We already have a cache of paint and started work until the rules tightened preventing non-essential travel. We now visit once a week to comply with insurance obligations, but that is just one person alone in the car and a door to door trip, not interacting with other people.

However when we were preparing to decorate we found a pair of the bed pillows tucked away out of sight in one the high cupboards in the cottage. One of our guests had used them as a dog bed without any protective covers. The pillows are covered with dog hair and will have to be binned. Another £20 down the drain. I'm beginning to wonder if the majority of guests think it acceptable to behave anti-socially. We should perhaps cease to allow guests to bring their pets to stay at the cottage.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Derbyshire Dales Council not helping local business

We just had an annual reminder to complete a business waste collection form for the local council. As our cottage is open all year, it is treated as a business for taxation purposes. This means we have to pay for trade waste collection of the rubbish generated by our guests. A sneaky note in the letter mentions that the price to collect a single green trade waste bin bag has increased to £2.84 each. That represents an 11.8% increase. These are not massive bags they hold about 90 litres max, probably closer to 50 in usage.   Last year they made the collections once every two weeks, rather than weekly, so effectively halving service levels.

A pity that the rentals we are paid have not increased in three years.

Monday 9 March 2020

I have this theory... about bad guests

When I upgraded the WiFi network for the holiday cottage I gained the ability to monitor the identity of the devices accessing the network. I can tell when a device attaches and leaves the network. I can also see how much data the device has loaded.

As the WiFi network for the cottage is a private password protected network, I'm able to work out when our guests are using the network. If necessary I can access journal records to detail exactly which device accesses the network at any given time.

I've noticed a correlation between bad guests,  (i.e. they moan about issues without good cause) and the amount of use they make of the Wifi they use during their stay. Most people come for a holiday and are out of the cottage a lot of the time, these people complain the least and usually give us a good rating.  People who stay inside the cottage most of the time have a tendency to moan, but people who do not use our WiFi network often moan about minor things. 

It's early days yet, but it will be interesting to see how this theory stands up to the test of time.

Friday 6 March 2020

Planning for Coronavirus / Covid-19 in the holiday home rental

We've done some planning in preparation for Covid-19 in relation to our holiday home. We're assuming business as usual, but have already topped up with supplies such as guest soap, toilet paper, disinfectant.  This is the notice that will greet our guests in addition to the normal handbook:

Covid-19/Corona Virus guidance

The holiday cottage is a low risk location of exposure to the virus, but as it is effectively a public space some measures are in place as a precaution. It is believed the virus is mainly spread by the droplets from coughs and sneezes. These droplets land on the person or on surfaces a person may touch. Infection may occur if you breathe in the droplets or touch your mouth, eyes or nose with infected hands. It is believed the virus can remain active for 10 days on surfaces.

For Guests

Please wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water if you’ve been in public areas which might have been infected. Do this also before meals. before preparing food and after using the toilet.

If you cough or sneeze, direct it into a tissue, then dispose of the tissue.

If you believe you may have been infected and show symptoms during your stay, or within 10 days after your departure. Call 111 on your phone for advice and then please let the cottage owners and Sykes know immediately.

We have provided a water based biocide in a spray bottle kept under the kitchen sink. It can be used to treat hard surfaces. Do not use it on food, electrical items, fabrics or naked skin. Do not breath in the spray or get it in your eyes. Wipe off after use with a paper kitchen towel.

By the owners

As routine we clean the premises between guest stays in the cottage. We swap out bed linen and towels. We clean the bathroom and the kitchen surfaces. We also check crockery, saucepans, cutlery, etc. and clean as necessary.

While there is a Covid-19 alert, during the end of rental “turn-around” we will treat additional areas that are exposed to human touch. We use a professional antibacterial/biocide which is effective on virus. We’ll leave a checklist for the guests, but typically this will include door and equipment handles, table tops, work surfaces, bathroom fittings, furniture handles, stair bannisters, light switches, phone, TV controls, key safe, equipment controls, brush handles, bin lids.

All left over food stuffs, cans, packets will be disposed of or cleaned as appropriate.

In the event of a known or suspected infection linked to the cottage, we’ll advise guests via Sykes Holiday Cottages. We will then arrange for the cottage to be closed for deep clean, unless special arrangements are required for self-isolation.

Note: having had sewer/river flooding in our home during last November has given us too much experience of safely clearing up smelly infectious surfaces. A deep clean in the cottage is relatively straight forward in comparison, but it will take more than the three hours allowed for a normal changeover.

What the virus could be like?

Edit 26/5/20: more recent news on the precautions is listed here:

Monday 2 March 2020

Weather Station for the cottage.

We like to have a weather station in the cottage kitchen so that our guests can see the temperature inside and outside of the cottage. I've just changed the batteries on the indoor unit because the display was "fading", but at the same time I discovered the external (outdoor) monitor had failed. It is supposed to be weatherproof but was soggy inside, and despite drying it out the device did not recover. 

I've tried to purchase a replacement  external unit, but given its Chinese manufacture these are no longer available. I've found a cheaper replacement (AcuRite 77008EM) for the whole system. At just under £10 including delivery it was not over-expensive and was delivered a day after ordering online.  It has less functionality than the original, e.g. I have to set the clock manually, but overall it meets our needs.

To prevent the new external sensor from dying in wet weather, I've heat-sealed it in some heavy duty lay flat clear polyethylene tube, together with a 10 gm sachet of silica gel to absorb any moisture. When the batteries eventually die, I'll snip open the tubing to replace the batteries and reseal the existing, or some new, polyethylene tubing.

I had tried to protect the original external unit by housing it in a plastic Tupperware box, but helpful guests repeatedly "investigated" the box in the garden, eventually breaking the catch on the box. The polythene tubing only costs a couple of pence and works well.