Although there’s lots of maintenance work to do over the next few months, and we still have plenty of people staying with us, I finally have enough time to attempt reviewing our first Summer camping season at Mena. But where to start?
We took over Mena in April in the midst of the Easter holidays, and the time has flown by in a bit of a blur. Already, in just six months, Mena has grown and accomplished more than we had expected, with all thanks due to our lovely guests.
Taking on a campsite was quite a departure for us. My background is in publishing, and Neil comes from the engineering management consultancy world. But having spent years commuting and working away from home, we decided that the time was right to do something for ourselves.
Having viewed numerous properties, we fell in love with Mena and knew this is where we would make our home. From day one, we have thrown ourselves into the renovation and development of the site, and ensuring our guests have the best holiday possible. We’ve launched our first phase of glamping accommodation, renovated the old farmhouse for holiday rentals, re-branded, had a new website built and implemented a new booking system. It has been a year of firsts for us in many ways, from that incident with the chicken(!), to oiling pigs, rescuing campers from the odd storm, and a non-stop process of clearing, building, cleaning and fixing, in between running the campsite – and thanks to you lovely folk, it’s been a lot of fun along the way.
Many people have asked what our first season was like. For us, like the rest of Cornwall, the Summer hasn’t been the best weather-wise, but our hardy campers have turned up, stayed, and made the most of what Cornwall has to offer regardless. The weather in Cornwall is so localised and changeable, you can generally always find some sunshine somewhere, so you just need to keep a close eye on the forecast.
April was a little slow, but the sun shone for the whole month, despite chilly winds. May was busier, and we were around half-full for half-term, proving to Neil and I that we were able to cope with just the two of us.
June was when things started to take off for us, with many of our guests visiting from the continent, prompting one regular to say that we were like the UN, there were so many different nationalities, and languages to be heard on the site. This Summer I’ve really come to love how sociable, helpful and accepting campers are of each other, regardless of where they come from, and whether they’re complete novices, or seasoned campers.
And then came the school holidays…we took a deep breath and finally came back up for air at the end of August. I think we were running on adrenaline for most of the time, but the evenings more than made up for it. Mena is made for families, and it was at its best during August. The play area is at the centre of the main camping field, so parents can relax back at their pitch with the kids in full view. Hearing the children playing, the chatter and the laughter around the camping field, made all our hard work worthwhile. August also saw the achievement of a major milestone for us, which was Mena filled to capacity for the first time – we were turning people away at one point. And in the latter part of the month, Farmer John came to clear the rear fields for silage, which was good entertainment for our campers.
Somehow, we made it into September. The Indian Summer we so often have here in Cornwall failed to materialise, and the weather continued to be unsettled, but you continued to visit, and we hosted our first regional Caravan and Camping Club rally.
October was much more balmy, interspersed by the arrival of storms Ophelia and Brian, and that carried on into November. Only now has the temperature started to drop, and we’re frantically trying to do as much as we can out in the fields before the short days arrive, although Mena will remain open all year. We have a number of bookings already for the Christmas period, and for 2018.
Neil and I are enormously grateful for all the support that you all have given us. We can’t tell you how grateful we are for those of you who have shared your ideas and feedback, to everyone who has come to stay, honeymooned with us, made us laugh, smile, endured the rain, cloud and occasional heatwave, whether you stayed for weeks or for just a night, thank you very, very, much.