We had a splendid time at half term, and I was really pleased to see all my hard work in the corner of the garden where this photo was taken, being appreciated by all. The comments from the children were brilliant and uplifting. There are nice low branches for even the smallest of the children to climb on, and a lovely soft bed of leaves underneath...!
Now we're looking forward to Christmas - can you believe it? We have two special 'event days' before Christmas - one fully booked and the other with only 2 spaces left as I write this.
We don't usually open our Christmas doors until after the big event, but this year, 8 lucky children per day get some Secret Garden Special Festive treatment, with our pre Christmas fun ending with an optional visit to the Crib service in our beautiful neighbouring Parish church on Christmas Eve - that part at no cost of course!
After Christmas we have 4 more days - for those who are tired of the sight of turkey, presents and wrapping paper! We will be finalizing those days' activities once we've had a look at the long range weather forecast. What fun we'd have if it snowed! I should be careful what I say because we've always been very lucky with the weather - and more often than not we get what we wish for!
We have less spaces this Christmas, so it might be an idea to book as soon as possible - we've been taking bookings from regulars since October and it always breaks our hearts to turn children we know and love away. But we've tried to squeeze a few extra in on a couple of occasions and it dilutes the experience for all. So we're sticking to our numbers and reducing them in some cases.
Sadly, we have had a few issues lately where new clients have booked in and not paid, and then cancelled a day or so before the 2 week cut off period which has been after we have turned regulars away and they have made other plans. This is, to be honest, rather unacceptable. Although we know and completely understand that our people are only human, and family plans do change, we are also noticing a few new clients (NONE of our regulars I might add), who we feel are booking in to 'hedge their bets', probably with the intention to review and have a proper think about what they're going to do at a later date. Some cancellations are absolutely genuine and unavoidable, but some are probably not. We lose hundreds of pounds in this way, and I waste hours on paperwork preparing and sending invoices - but most of all, children who wanted to come here and have grown up coming here are disappointed and have to go somewhere else.
To this end, I have new rules regarding booking. People we see as regulars will be given priority - once dates are announced, you will have two weeks when no bookings will be taken from new clients.
After this 2 week period we will open for everyone to book, but all new clients will be required to pay for their places at time of booking. This rule could also be applied to people who have cancelled late on more than 2 occasions at our discretion.
People soon become part of our Secret Garden family, and I love how, once this has happened, people 'get us' - we are here to give your children an enchanting time. Yes, we have rules (see 'rules and stuff' page!!), for parents and children (hehe) but they are just part of the ingredients for a beautiful and magical holiday experience. For the children, and for us!
How lucky I am - I know you all now as friends, and I'd like to thank you for all your efforts to keep your children coming to this magical place and helping to make it what it is.