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Karen's Corner - 07.07.24

Welcome back to this week’s Karen’s Corner! Join me here each week to catch up with what I’ve been up to both in and out of work and what I’ve been loving and connect with me on Instagram

Karen xx


It’s been 6 weeks since the last Karen’s Corner and since then we’ve passed the half way point of the year so there’s lots to update you on!

We’ve had a succession of machinery failures these last few months - all of the grass-cutting variety - which has made keeping the property neat and tidy a challenge! Two lawn mowers plus the ride-on mower AND the flail mower that goes on the back of the quad bike all decided to go on strike, precisely at the moment in time when we need them the most. We replaced the 2 lawn mowers with another 2 shiny new ones but the other 2, more substantial pieces of kit, are still away being fixed. It’s been ‘fun’ trying to maintain a 77 acre estate with 2 lawn mowers and a strimmer! We’ve brought in some help in the form of Lee, our new part time gardener and he’s definitely helping us to get back on top of things and we employed the services of the local farmer to move our muck heap and tidy up the back of the stable block which has smartened up that area but let’s just say, we’re holding our breath until we can get all the machinery back and have all the pathways cut again.

We’ve held various different events in the last few months; The Playmakers’ summer performance which was a wonderful showcase of talent from the young people who attend this weekly Kids’ Club, a celebratory party on the final day of dad’s new annual golf tournament and most recently, a birthday party for my nephew Arran’s 9th birthday. It’s always lovely to invite guests and host events here at Fossoway Stables and despite the changeable Scottish climate, all these event were a big success. We’re now planning the next ones including the much anticipated launch of the Potting Shed Farm Shop and Cafe!

If I’m completely honest, the delay in opening the Potting Shed Farm Shop & Cafe is largely a result of me dragging my toes on the project. I’ve had a lot on my plate generally and a fair amount of uncertainty around other parts of the business which left me feeling a little paralysed in my ability to an extra thing to the load. We’ve made some progress now though - the water is in, the electricity is in, the tables and chairs have arrived, suppliers have been found and the action plan is written and being worked on daily now. At the golf party last week, I have a chat with one of the guests who really energised me around the project and all the ideas and energy has returned. He didn’t say anything I didn’t already know or make any suggestions I hadn’t already considered, but the excitement he brought to the conversation was really motivating and was just what I needed. I’m really hoping I can have it open now before the end of the month. The Potting Shed is very much my focus at the moment so it’s go, go go!

One of the things that had got me feeling so stuck was what to do with KA Equestrian - the horsey side of Fossoway Stables. KA Equestrian is 15 years old this year and has evolved continuously since it’s inception. Starting out as a backing and schooling yard in 2009, it was never my dream or intention to run a livery yard but when we bought Fossoway Stables in 2011, it made sense to add livery to the mix. Over the years, though my love for the animals has never waned, my interest in horse sport has changed and I’ve found it difficult to stay connected to what had been my dream and passion when I started out. Year by year, we did less training and coaching, I pulled away from working full time on the yard and offered more livery instead. The margins have always been extremely tight though and with ever increasing costs, it has been weighing on my mind how to make it work going forward. Because it makes far more sense for me to put my time into the parts of the business that not only excite me, but also bring in the level of income needed to sustain and grow an endeavour like Fossoway Stables, the decision has been made to scale back what we offer from the equestrian side of things, drop the KA Equestrian name and absorb the facility into Fossoway Stables as a whole. It’s been months and months of battling to keep it making sense out of a feeling of loyalty or obligation but having now made the decision and starting to make plans for what it looks like going forward, I must say it feels very much like the right thing to do and I’m ready for the next chapter.

The summer months are always chockablock in the Lodge and it’s lovely meeting lots of interesting people from around the globe. We’ll be creating a new parking area and garden for the Lodge come the autumn which will make a big difference for our guests and a way for us to keep investing in a really valuable part of the business.

Looking back at the plans we made for this calendar year in January, there’s definitely lots we’re behind on but that perhaps speaks more to our ambitious and rose-tinted dreams and goals rather than a lack of motivation and hard work. I’m often guilty of spreading myself too thin so for now until it’s open and running, my main focus really must be the Potting Shed. There’s plenty of time later to catch up on all the other plans!

Outside of work, life has been pretty busy too with Cora finishing up primary school and all the excitement of prom, we had 2 whole days of sunshine and warmth (!), John and I walked 1 hour and 45 mins to the 'local' pub and back again, I got a new haircut, my dad turned 70, my brother and his family came to visit from the states and we all spent a few days exploring in York.

Some of you will be very familiar with our little dog KenRobinson (or KR). He's been progressively getting more unwell over the last year but took a real turn recently and it looked very much like we were going to lose him a few weeks ago. There was a vet visit, a plan made and lots of tears but, miraculously, and thankfully, he pulled through and he's still here woofing at us for treats! We know he's on the decline but we hopefully have a little more time with him still. Anyone who will have had to say goodbye to a pet will know, it's really tough and I want to push that day as far down the line as is fair to do so but having that wee scare has reminded us all to enjoy every day we have left with him, our fiercely independent, often grumpy, perfect little dog.

Until next week,

K xx

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