The run up to Lockdown
Cumberland House first felt the effect of the looming Covid-19 Pandemic back in January 2020. Cancellations were coming in right, left and centre from guests who planned to travel to Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and China.
As the weeks progressed from January through to March, holiday cancellations were getting closer to home. By February Italy had become infected, then Spain, France then the UK.
By early March Cumberland House reservations had already come to a standstill. I would be lying if I told you I was not shaking in my boots. If there is an award for the ‘UK’s Best Panicker’ I would be top of the list, believe me.
The financial worry
We had paid the mortgage for March and had a tiny bit of money aside but without guests coming through the doors I was predicting a bumpy ride ahead. I could have kissed Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak when they announced of the Small Business Grant and we are very grateful for that help. A week later on 23rd March the whole country was put into Lockdown. It soon became very obvious that the Grant money would soon be soaked up during lockdown with the day to day running of Cumberland House. It’s amazing how we can think when we are out of our comfort zone.
Then I had a brainwave, here’s how it went.
Me: “Clive, I’ve got an idea….”
Clive: “How much is this going to cost me?”
Me: “You know our guests love our breakfasts. I just thought that we could cook breakfasts and sell them to the local residents of Horley on a Doorstep Delivery basis.”
Our Lockdown Project
I never promised ‘to obey’ when he married me. But Clive, give him his due he did come round to the idea of getting back to work. We got in loads of hand sanitiser, face masks, disposable cutlery and polystyrene boxes. I set up a Facebook page, told friends and advertised on local Facebook group pages. On the 8th April 2020 we launched Cumberland House Takeaway Breakfasts. We are in a good position on the main road through Horley so we made a make-shift sign and hung it outside the B&B. Locals passing by on their one hour of exercise or on their essential journey to the supermarket could see what we were up to.
I can honestly tell you that we have thoroughly enjoyed our Lockdown project. I do the cooking while Clive does the delivery….similar to running the B&B really. Clive normally drives our guests to Gatwick. We share the boxing up, we share taking the orders by telephone and of course we share the washing up!!! Even when we run the B&B we always ensure that we have locally sourced, good quality ingredients and now our breakfasts are complemented with timed delivery and collection slots. As the news of our breakfast delivery grew, we were soon working 7 mornings. I have never come across so many people who love black pudding.
The Mock Muffin was born
In addition to our Award Winning Full English we created the ‘Mock Muffin’ a toasted English muffin filled with either sausage patty or bacon and fried runny egg with hash brown on the side. Our breakfast delivery was the first of its kind in Horley. Before we knew it, people were ‘gifting’ a breakfast for a friend’s birthday in lockdown or enjoying a leisurely breakfast in bed. We have met so many lovely people through our breakfast delivery some who now enjoy a weekly treat. Our Breakfast Facebook page has exceeded 300 ‘Likes’.
Sometimes in life, we have to think outside the box. The income from the breakfasts has helped to keep Cumberland House afloat during our Lockdown. We have stayed on top of our mortgage payments and bills. Clive and I count our blessings every day that ‘we had such a bright idea’. Not only did we manage to keep our business going throughout Lockdown; our breakfast delivery also helped to keep Horley residents smiling, while our breakfasts added some joy, comfort and support to their day.
Yeah! We’re OPEN again!
The Lockdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic has been an emotional time at Cumberland House. However, we are are very optimistic again because Boris Johnston has allowed us to reopen our doors on 4th July 2020. Gatwick Airport are starting to open up. Cumberland House have additional cleaning procedures and working procedures in place to minimise the spread of Covid-19. Our telephone has already started ringing with guests either booking up their stay before a flight or planning a 3 Day Break exploring Surrey, Sussex and Kent. Cumberland House has been silent without our guests, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming you back. We really have missed you.