Two years after receiving planning permission to make the changes to Elm House and we are finally getting back to some family life and a bit of normality. It’s been a long slog but very much worth the actual blood, sweat and tears that went into changing Elm House into 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms. It’s fair to say that the first 2 years have been work, work and more work.
From a business perspective, the Bistro opened on time in May 2016, but on a personal level there was still a small matter of Mark building a house for us to live in. A stunning vaulted open plan 2-bedroom single storey abode tucked away on the back corner of the house and cleverly angled with a glass gable end allowing beautiful views over the fells.
August 2016 and the start of the house build began, foundations were a fairly quick and painless process but whilst Mark and Jonathan (our only other full-time employee on the build) are both excellent joiners, the block work dragged on a little longer than expected but was all done by the end of September. Early October saw the oak-framed gable end and the main roof supports being craned into place – we had what was starting to look like a house. The roof was a real challenge; “a cathedral roof” with 3 pitched roofs projecting from one point at 45-degree angle from the main house but with 10 tonnes of reclaimed Westmorland slate and several huge pieces of double glazed panels later, we were water tight in time for Christmas.
A couple more weeks of plastering, electrics and plumbing and then the real fun started with choosing a kitchen and bathroom, wallpapers and colour schemes. We had friends coming to visit so we set ourselves a moving in target for 17th February so every spare minute (which there aren’t many of) was spent painting, tiling, grouting and papering but as always, we did it (by the skin of our teeth!).
You’d be forgiven for thinking that now we had our lovely little home we would be sitting back and relaxing a bit, but oh no, we still had the not so small matter of renovating the second floor, where we used to live, into two luxury suites. This was one of the most challenging aspects of the whole process as work could only be carried out after breakfast and before guests returned to their rooms each day, leaving a very short window for any of the ‘noisy’ jobs to be done and water and electric to be turned off. Taking a bit longer and (a lot!) more money than originally planned, this breathtaking pair of suites opened to guests on 14 July this year.
Now those of you that know us may be wondering what our son Joseph was doing whilst all this was going on, well he was studying for his GCSEs and despite the upheaval and disruption of living in a building site throughout, he got excellent results in the summer and is going on to study Chemistry, Biology and English Literature at A level. Someone asked him recently if he would eventually take over the running of 1863 and his response was “Don’t be ridiculous, have you seen how hard these people work?”.
And yes, we do all work hard but it’s so rewarding when you get guests and customers coming back time and again not just for the amazing food and beautiful surroundings but because they want to be part of the 1863 story. Now that the building work has finished we are going to reward ourselves with a little holiday to Italy and will hopefully come back refreshed and full of new and interesting ideas to try.
On a final note none of the above would have been possible without the amazing team we have around us so a big thank you to them all and of course to all of our guests and customers for your continued support.
See you soon
Mark & Anne