When the news to lock down finally came from Boris 20th March 2020 we closed both Highcliffe B&B and INDIdog Eatery immediately. If I’m honest it was a relief. Financially it was terrifying but what mattered more was the threat of the virus.

The Reality Hit

We had seen the turnover of INDIdog decline rapidly in the week leading up to 20th March and all anyone could talk about was COVID and the ‘what ifs’. The level of concern varied greatly. In hindsight it took some people more time to adjust to the reality of the situation. We have alot of customers who live alone and I think looking back, it was they who came in to INDIdog early in the morning to talk about it and enjoy us cooking for them. I suppose it didn’t feel quite so real for me at first as I had not met anyone who had it or even knew of it third party. It was only really when I spoke to my best friend Clare who lives in Manchester, that I realised the fuller situation. Claire had taken all 3 of her children out of school a week earlier because she had 2 friends pass away after testing positive to Covid 19 and knew many more people who had it. Parents from her children’s school had it so imagine how scary that was for her. Around May time, a very dear friend of mine Jay contracted Covid and so then did her fiance. She is a nurse in Cardiff hospital and works still on the Covid ward. She was very poorly but I’m pleased to say she has come through it. In the first week we sat, like most of Britain, watching the 5pm announcements each day hoping for better news, a miracle maybe? It’s a time I can say I will never forget and I’m sure you’ll all agree with that.

Act fast with no idea of our future

For us we wanted to arrange furlough for the employees immediately. That was made so easy thank goodness. We then spent the next two weeks drilling through paperwork on INDIDog & Highcliffe with our accountants and our book keeper readying ourselves for VAT returns, Company accounts & CBILS. Thankfully Highcliffe is 12 years old with good performance levels and no rateable value so we were able to hold off until the government released help. Thank goodness for Highcliffe because INDIdog has fallen through every aid gap. Unfortunately, INDIdog has only 8 months of accounts, is a LTD company, has a rateable value above £51K and we obviously don’t draw a salary whilst it’s so new. It’s been a challenge and there have been nights when I’ve given up trying to sleep and watched Netflix or Now TV into the early hours. What got us through was being proactive, talking to the staff who came forward with their support and lots of ZOOM meetings with the town team, Falmouth BIDS, our friends of course our family.

Perhaps like you, we have worked really hard over this 3 months of lockdown. We have given Highcliffe alot of TLC without spending of course & done loads of planning, marketing and background tech support for INDIdog’s re- opening. In fact INDIdog has an entirely new business plan.

Can Covid 19 teach us something?

We had loads of fun running a series of pop up ‘TAKE OUT’ events down at INDIdog each Saturday in April & May. It was hard work as all our staff were furloughed and unless they popped in on their own accord we couldn’t ask them for help. Actually, we couldn’t keep head chef Barnaby away. I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for him to watch me cook in his kitchen but he was extremely kind. Just a few little tips and he left me to it. I think he quite liked coming in just to make a proper coffee. He’s a pretty smokin’ barista too. Lucas (or lovely Lucas as he’s better known) our bar supervisor bought something from us every Saturday and gave our daughter Izzy glowing feedback on her coffees. Izzy was our head barista. I’m so proud of how may coffees she managed to put out. One Saturday she did 60 coffees in 3 hours. Every week we learnt something new about working though Covid restrictions and as it’s important to make lemonade from lemons, we have really learnt alot. Some of it good, some of it bad but all in the end invaluable. Simon was our front man. He stood behind his table with his ‘please stand here’ sign and said hello to loads of our INDIdog regulars. (Wearing an INDIdog hat to cover his very, very long hair). The support was so heart warming. My favourite day was the BBQ afternoon. It was that super hot week in May and we decided to do a pop up BBQ on the terrace. Lobster and fries and half a chuck and cous cous. Barnaby came of course – literally couldn’t keep him away and encouraged loads of the INDIdog team to drop by aswell. We sold so many lobsters and mohitos. Really showed us that people were wanting those treat items that aren’t so easy to do at home.

Today we have news that we are on amber warning. What great news that is. Still alot of uncertainty out there and by no means are we through it yet but still, better news.

We’ve now updated the Highcliffe B&B website with a covid 19 charter and details of all the changes we’ve made to keep everyone safe. It’s a sad change as it’s fundamentally a plan to keep us all apart, but……if it means that everyone gets a holiday that’s the way it will need to be.

I hope that your lockdown time was filled with good times despite the invisible horror of Covid. This virus has been so very unfair. Here’s to the second phase of 2020 and to hoping that it will be much, much better than the first.

Best wishes

Vanessa x