What have the last 2 years taught you about running a small business during such a struggle?
Paddy "To stop blaming others. When you can't find your favourite knife and you are the only person using it, it becomes clear who the culprit is. To stop putting things off until later. Do it now, because later never gets things done."
Hannah "How incredibly lucky we are to live in a country where the government offers support to businesses like ours. Lockdown also gave us time to take stock and focus more clearly on the direction we want to go in.”
During COVID and after I had Elliot, I found myself gravitating towards the store more so than usual. I was even buying dresses that a) didn’t fit me and b) I couldn’t really wear anywhere due to COVID. So I asked myself, what’s happening here? What are you doing Dena? Then it hit me like a bomb. These beautiful frocks were a signification of hope. They were a sign that one day, all this misery will be over and you can go out again and feel fancy. They were something to look forward to and get excited about. They signified a dream of a date night with John and a fancy restaurant.
They source all their ingredients locally, choosing the highest quality. The tastes of the dishes are a beautiful mixture of fine dining and home-cooked all wrapped in one.
Having experienced the dishes first-hand, I knew that it was important to keep them in their natural context to show their beauty and the personality of Roundwood.
After Elliot went to bed and the other guests had finished their dinner, they joined us in the lounge to relax and unwind. Paddy followed shortly after with his guitar and his colleague, Ellie was coerced into a singalong before she went home (much much later on!). They were amazing!
What are both your passions as people?
“Music for Paddy. He was a full-time musician before moving to Roundwood. In the early years of taking over the business, music had to take a back foot as we were so busy running the house and also bringing up small children. Lockdown last year gave him the opportunity to rekindle his passion and he's completely hooked again. He now has his own family band with the kids and is in his element playing with them but also writing and recording his own music most nights until the early hours. Hannah has a variety of interests but no one overriding passion. She is hoping to discover it in retirement!”
The next day was filled with hours wandering around the enchanted grounds where Elliot could meet the local chickens, ducks, dogs, guinea pigs, cats and many more animals roaming freely around.
The time at Roundwood House is so incredibly special. Hannah and Paddy have put in years of hard work and love and it shows! Like-minded people attract here from far and wide to create a warm intimate gathering of strangers who more often than not become friends. Well done to you both!
What are the big passions and ethos of Roundwood?
“The restoration of the house and gardens. We don't strive for perfection though as we believe a 300-year-old house like Roundwood should show its age. Lack of money will always ensure we never get even close to a point of perfection anyway! We see ourselves as caretakers of the house and love that our guests get the opportunity to immerse themselves in a house of such character and architectural beauty. Our other big passion is food and we feel incredibly lucky to have such an abundance of good local produce available to us.”
What advice could you give to anyone starting a small guest house establishment?
“Try not to be a busy fool. Focus on which parts of the business suit your personality and the house and try and develop those. Get better at saying no. We used to take every booking that came our way as we felt that saying no was bad business but have learned that this is not the case. Staff well. If you end up doing menial chores you'll never have enough time to focus on important aspects of the business such as accounts and marketing. Never lose focus on the importance of work and family life balance, no matter how difficult that can be at times. “
If you could have three people over for dinner, who would they be?
“Chris Hadfield, Malala and Daniel Lanois. Someone who has stepped back to see the bigger picture, someone who is bravely changing it every day, and the guy who will make the picture's soundtrack.”