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Christmas and New Year

December 27, 2021
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Where to start! We had a slow start to the year then some of the busiest months we have ever had, including a hectic December. January appears to be quieter so we can catch up on some overdue jobs at the end of the month. We have had a wonderful Christmas full of the most gorgeous guests, at one stage in the year we thought we would close for the Christmas period but I’m so glad we changed our minds as it has been so much fun.

We have had lots of new guests join us this year and most of them have been back for more visits and have booked for 2022 which is so good. We have had so much support from our wonderful customers this year, all small businesses have struggled over the pandemic and we feel very blessed to still be here and going strong as I know a lot of people have had to pack in their dreams of running their own businesses, hopefully things will recover in the coming months.

The donkeys are all really well and Holly and Percy have been out spreading smiles at local care homes. The last one we went to just before Christmas we took Ted the Shetland and he was a superstar. It was a neurological unit and Holly wore her Christmas hat and Ted donned his antlers and they went down a storm with the residents. We have big news on the four legged front, Ted has a new best friend called Tony. Tony is a six month old miniature Shetland pony who has joined us as part of the cat entertainment team. He is such a little gem, cheeky but extremely cute and very lovable! Ted thinks he is the best toy ever and the donkeys don’t know quite what to make of him. It’s so funny as when I go out in the morning Ted and Tony are normally asleep outside whatever the weather but the donkeys are always in the barn on their soft straw beds, totally dry and warm.

The farm still looks beautiful, we are so lucky to have our resident deer grazing in the fields and the buzzards flying over head. We totally love being here. We are replacing all the fencing in the Spring and having the oak trees pollarded so busy time ahead.

Our prices will increase on the 1st January, I’m just about to update that page now before heading back out to entertain the guests.

Wishing you all good health and happiness for 2022.

Jackie xx

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Autumn arrives at Hotel Cat

October 14, 2021
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Well after a fantastic summer Autumn has now arrived. After a slow start the Cat Hotel filled quickly and we have never been so busy, we literally could have filled it three times over and it was almost a full time job just turning people away. It quietens right down at the end of October and we are looking forward to catching our breath again.

We have had so many wonderful guests this summer and really do feel blessed that people want us to care for such amazing cats. All of our guests are so adored at home and really crave the attention that we love to give so it really is a wonderful way to spend our days.

The donkeys are all really well and are loving the late sunshine. The adore sunbathing so it’s lovely to watch them soaking up the last bit of heat before the cold of winter. We treated them to some lovely new mattresses for both their barn and their stables. They should be much warmer for them to lay on and more comfortable too. Holly, who is now our oldest donkey has been having lots of remedial work done on her teeth as they are not good. It’s obviously working though as she is in lovely condition with plenty of weight which they need to have going into winter. Ted the mischievous Shetland has also had quite a few vet visits this summer, including one for colic just this week! He has a problem with his stifle, which is his rear knee and so he is now on an exercise regime to try and build up muscle around this area, fingers crossed it’s working otherwise it means he has to have an operation.

A few of you met our beautiful little Yorkshire Terrier, Wickie Woo, when you came here. We were lucky enough to have been chosen to rehome her from a charity in 2018 when she was just ten weeks old. She was handed into the charity by her breeder as she only had one eye and virtually no hair. We completely and utterly adored her, she was just the sweetest little dog and was smaller than the cats. I would quite often have her on one side of me and Stella the cat on the other as they would both love to snuggle in. Unfortunately she started to look under the weather and after blood tests were taken it was found that she was in acute kidney failure. The scan showed that her kidneys were shriveled and the vets told us that she would have had the condition since birth and couldn’t believe that she had been so well for so long. It was just five and a half weeks after her diagnosis that we lost her and it was just heartbreaking. Losing any animal that is such an integral part of your family is so hard, but when they are so young it just seems so cruel. We shall all miss her forever.

Life on the farm goes on and the family of deer are all really well. This years twins are a boy and a girl and we can get so close to them on our daily walks. It is such a privilege and we still pinch ourselves daily that we live in such a beautiful place. Our apple trees in the drive have been so full this year which has kept the donkeys, Ted, the sheep and Hercules the goat very happy. Every day for the past six weeks they have had a bucket of fallers and they queue up along the fence waiting for me to feed them. Every night the foxes and a pair of badgers come and eat the ones on the drive, we can watch them on the gate cameras and it’s so lovely to see them.

We have a huge amount of bookings coming in for next year, more than we would normally have and a number of dates are full already. If you have any dates you would like held please do let us know as soon as you can.

Unfortunately due to our bills all going up our prices will be going up by £2 per day from the 1st January 2022. We have not put the prices up for four years so hope you understand.

I’m off to kiss my guests goodnight and to give them their bedtime dreamies. The heating is on in all the suites now and it’s warmer in the hotel than it is in the house!

Jackie xx

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Summer on the farm

July 7, 2021
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Business is back with a bang again and we are super busy. We are meeting lots of new customers and welcoming back our lovely regulars, I can’t tell you how lovely it is to see the hotel in full purr.

The farm and gardens really do come into their own during the summer and it all looks beautiful. Due to the weather we still haven’t been able to cut our hay, but fingers crossed it can be done in the next couple of weeks.

Our deer had twins this year, we were fortunate to see them on the day she had them and they were tiny! They are two months old now and have grown so quickly, they are incredibly quick too. Last years two daughters are also still here and we are hoping they stay and have their young here next year.

The mischievous donkeys are all really well – probably a bit too well due to all the excess grass! Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Cookie in May, as a lot of you know he was our oldest donkey, estimated to be at least 35. He was struggling to get on to his feet in the mornings and although we could normally assist him we could see on his final day that he had no fight left. It still breaks my heart, he was such a precious soul and we were truly blessed to have him in our lives for the last twelve years. He is buried at the top of the paddock as we made him a promise that he would never leave. The other donkeys all came to say goodbye before he was buried and Holly who he adored has been like a youngster since he went. I think she slowed her pace down for him and they would amble around together but now she causes all kinds of donkey antics and they can regularly be seen hurtling around the field with her in the lead!

Dare we hope that things are returning to a form of normality? Can any of us even believe that the last eighteen months have happened? What an experience to have lived through, a lot of negativity but also a lot of positivity which really showed the resilience and kindness of the human race.

Really looking forward to meeting all the new cats who are due in next month and to giving all the old favourites a big cuddle on their return.

I must go, I have a full hotel of beautiful guest who are demanding my attention – and I couldn’t be happier to be writing that!

Good health and happiness to you all,

Jackie xx

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What a Year!

March 19, 2021
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Well, it’s been a year since the world turned on it’s head and life as we knew it was changed forever. This time last year we had just finished redecorating the Cat Hotel and were ready for another busy year with a really full diary. The bookings started to cancel slowly at first, then a crescendo until the diary was empty. I’ve never felt so desperate, it wasn’t just the lack of income that was so needed just to keep all our animals fed, but the way that it all happened so quickly – it was scarey and surreal.

Then the sun came out, blisteringly hot for so early in the year and the roads were so quiet as were the skies. We were able to do jobs around the farm that have needed doing for years but we never had time to do them. We spent hours clearing brambles and old barbed wire from the hedgerows and enjoyed the slower pace of life. I left the house early every Saturday morning to go shopping then the car went back behind the gates until the following week. We spent real quality time together as a family and realized that this was something that money could not buy.

We launched a crowdfunding pay it forward scheme so that people could save money by buying vouchers for their cats next holiday at a reduced rate. Whatever we raised was matched by Solent LEP and this kept us going for a while. We did have a handful of bookings over the summer but were down by 70% on the year. We also had some simply amazing customers who sent donations or who refused to not pay for their cats stay even though they had to cancel, I cannot begin to tell you how much this meant to us and their kindness and generosity will never be forgotten.

I think this last year has been a steep learning curve for us all. I think most people have wobbled more than once, I know I have, but I do feel truly blessed to live in such a beautiful place and to have my family at home. The animals have been wonderful therapy and just being able to go and spend time with the donkeys has helped keep me sane on days that seem so tough. I will never forget talking to one of my customers, who works in a hospital in Hackney ,who told me that their biggest concern was the amount of patients struggling with their mental health over the lockdown period. I suppose I never thought about the large families who share small flats in the cities, no balconies and mattresses on the floor, it was very humbling and such a reality check.

Everyone has had a different journey with both ups and downs and one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, we will be able to get together and laugh again. I think that’s one of the things I’m really missing, laughter in a group of friends, but I know it will be back.

This coming year won’t be easy as business is still slow to recover but from August onwards we are getting quite a few bookings and some dates in September are already full. We are also getting a huge amount of bookings for 2022 so there is real positivity for next year.

Thank you all for sticking with us and for keeping in touch. We really miss seeing you all and having guests to cuddle!

Keep healthy & happy,

Jackie xx

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Our First Guests Return

June 27, 2020
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We are so happy that our lovely cat hotel is purring again, it has been a long time since it was filled with furry heartbeats and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. We have had so much support during the pandemic and this will never be forgotten, I knew that the families who use us were special and cannot thank you all enough.

The gardens are looking so lovely now and it is a perfect time to start again. All the trees and shrubs we planted nearly seven years ago are now looking mature and are perfect places for the many wild birds to nest. We actually had a family of robins nest in the box bush right outside the door of the hotel!

More fantastic news is that our deer family have new babies. We had our hay cut last week and knew that we had at least one baby in the fields as we had seen it, but imagine our delight when we walked around the farm that evening and saw the mother deer with three babies! Apparently this is quite unusual as they normally have twins and it is the most fantastic sight to see. I have been walking around with the camera to try and get some photos but haven’t managed any yet.

Bookings are starting to come in daily now so if you do have any dates you would like held please do get in touch. We are already fully booked for Christmas and a number of dates for next year are almost full due to people moving their holidays forward by a year.

Wishing you all good health,

Jackie xx

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