Getting the balance right

Last season was our first experience of running a B&B. Between the two of us (a high school maths teacher and an engineering project manager) we have plenty of marketable skills to offer but in VERY different industry sectors, so we had a lot to learn! Then consider that we had just moved to France post Brexit at the tail end of COVID, that we were coming to terms with the administration of starting a new life here and not to mention learning the language, it is not surprising that it was all a bit ‘full-on’.

This year, whilst we are clearly by no means experts and are still learning all the time about the B&B, admin here in France and of course the language, we are much more confident all-round and so we have been more relaxed as the season has really ramped-up this month.

Our bookings for this year and next are very strong, the feedback we have had is lovely and our ‘imposter syndrome’ feelings are diminishing. We have not been afraid to close the house on the booking platforms for 2 or 3 nights at a time so we can have some down time, enjoy the house, garden and pool to ourselves, take the van away for a couple of nights, or spend a boozy evening with friends without having to worry about getting up early for breakfast.

Throughout my life and my various jobs, I have been a firm believer in working hard and doing the best I can, but getting the balance right between work and play has not always been easy and has taken me longer to get the hang of. Tom still tells me that I need to just switch off and relax more, but this year we are doing much better at it than last!

Early in June we were fully booked for all 4 rooms on a Wednesday night with all guests checking out on the Thursday and the next lot arriving for a long weekend the same day. Some guests came down for breakfast at 8am, some much later, some checked out by 10am others needed to stay until 2pm. The first of the new arrivals for the day were here at 9:30am (mid breakfast service…) and the last arrived ~2am the following morning before we got up to start again the next day.

It is a lot of work on days like that, but then we had a few days with no check-ins or changeovers so after breakfast and room refreshes, the rest of the day is pretty much our own, the balance was restored and the following week we blocked all the rooms off for a couple of nights to give ourselves some down-time.

As I was writing this, an article was published in The Sunday Times about a trend towards ‘semi-retirement’ which fits nicely with my ‘getting the balance right’ post this month, and there are me and Tom featured in the middle of the article including our photo taken in Eymet village square – my five minutes of fame!

Now its July already and we are about to start what was our busiest 2 months last year. Schools close here next week, the summer festivals and night markets have started, and the summer season is officially in full swing. Bring it on et à la prochaine…