I was very happy to contribute to the Month of Celebration again this year. I've not been as active on the AIrbnb community this year, because I've not been as active on Airbnb, but I'm trusting it will return. Immediately I wanted to share my positive memories of the year, and how I feel it has given us more time as a family - and time with our guests.
First a bit about us. We are a family of 4 living on an old farm in Northern Jutland in Denmark. Two grownups, and two girls on 4 and 5. The farm consists of four buildings built around a closed courtyard. We live in one of the buildings, two are functional – storage and stuff, and the fourth building is a guest house with dining hall, kitchen, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It used to be where the animals lived, so the bedrooms are actually in the old pig sty. But it doesn’t smell, I promise, though it has kept the farmhouse charm. In addition to the courtyard and all the buildings we also have a huge garden with vegetable patches, a flower spiral labyrinth thing, fruit orchard and everything you could possibly dream of.
An Airbnb year for us normally sees lots of guests coming and going. Lots of Norwegians passing through for one night only on their way back home to Norway or as the first stopover on the way further down to Europe as we are conveniently 20 minutes from the ferries to Norway. Some Danish weekend guests wanting to get to know their own country a bit better or on a romantic getaway. Some Germans or Dutch doing tourism things. A group or two of Americans looking to find their ancestors. So a mix of short and long stays, some Danish people, but mostly internationals. Some we get to know, some just passing through.
This year started differently because we got new roof on our main building – which was a huge undertaking - and so we closed our Airbnb business while construction went on, not wanting guests to have to struggle getting past construction cranes and muddy fields. We used the downtime to paint the bedrooms and the kitchen and just generally update stuff – new shower curtains, light sensors in the hallways etc. From cold white walls, all the bedrooms now got individual coloring in a color scheme inspired by classical English farmhouses. I like it so much more 😍
And then we planned on opening for a new, busy, season….
And then the country locked down. And Europe locked down. And all the summer activities and football cups and markets that normally draws tourist to our area got cancelled.
And then our own summer holiday trip to Norway to visit maternal grandparents got cancelled.
And then – almost instantly - our summer weeks got booked up by Danish families planning holidays in their own country. Not a weekend or a day or two, but 5 days, a full week, or even 10 days. Everyone staying put, travelling to explore their own country.
So we made the most of our staycation at home, choosing to not do anything really, not going anywhere, being more cautious than many of our friends due to having vulnerable grandparents we rely on in our daily lime. The kids were in on it – do you want to go to Legoland and not see grandma and grandpa for two weeks, or would you rather spend time with the grandparents? The answer was easy: Grandparents!
So instead we took it easy. We built a long planned for and awaited playhouse for the girls. We got to the bottom of all the old stuff stored by generations in the barn. I finally cleaned up the enormous flower bed in front of the house.
And we got to know our guests, as they all had made their stay with us their holiday that year and all stayed for longer. We had bbq’s and brunches together. The girls made friends with the visiting Airbnb kids and tears were shed when they inevitably left for home. Promises were made to come back and to stay in touch.
Looking back at the year - both in Airbnb terms and in other terms, I think the girls and us will remember the year as different, but not as a bad year. I hope the girls will remember the year as a year where we had more time, and less obligations. I hope I will remember to relax more in years to come, not running around having to do stuff all the time. The value of staying put. The value of slow mornings because there's no office to run off to. The value of just being present.
The long awaited Playhouse:
The bedrooms before and after.
After, with new paint:
Like everyone, it's a been an upside down year.
In February, me and Mr Elena enjoyed a couple of short trips to London.
Inside the Metro newspaper from the Underground, still have the copy, covid was mentioned only on page 9 briefly as being a faraway problem yet.
My last international guests were from Brazil back in early March and suddenly, kaboom, all bookings were vapourised, including creamy ones for the UEFA Euros.
After the lockdown, things picked up with staycationers too here.
With more free time, we enjoyed having time to complete side projects, long dog walks in empty streets and each evening the wonders of Danish TV mini series.
Nailed The Bridge, Forbrydelsen, Borgen, Grayzone, Friheden, Sommerdahl (so,so) but best was Badehotellet..only can't find the last two seasons, yet !
lovely to see you again @Solveig0
What year were the farm buildings originally built do you know?
Country people tend to be very innovative at utilizing older buildings.
What type of timber are they made of?
I adore the way your daughters and playhouse color co-ordinate together.
It's great they have made new friends who I'm sure one day when they are older will travel to meet up with again.
Hi @Helen427 , nice hearing from you!
the house is from 1870, so 150 years this year. We had planned a big party, but obviously that didn’t happen. It’s all built of bricks, like most buildings in Denmark. Not many woods around.
Lovely to hear what you have been up to @Solveig0 - it looks like you've been busy! The colour schemes look great, subtle but stylish. I bet the girls had fun with the playhouse too!
I have also found this year a time to get on top of all of those little jobs and projects which I had been meaning to do for ages - it feels good to tick them off the list 📃
Have you found that there are differences with hosting local guests?
It is different! And its been widely discussed in the Danish Airbnb groups. And it feeds on the problem with Airbnb's review system where only a 5 star is seen as acceptable. Danish people, especially from Jutland, would never give something full star rating, never! So many of us hosts here in Denmark have lost of superhost status (not that it really matters) and seen rating go down this year, simply because in Danish culture, 4 out of 5 is seen as excellent.
Thank you @Solveig0 , for sharing your lovely thoughts and story. The year certainly has been a different one! As you say with negatives and positives.
Well done and kudos for chomping through those long time jobs.I however, need to still attack some of those to do lists!
The being allowed to be in the present really should be valued. We all need to ensure the things that we value, stay high in our lists for that life balance in the future. 💐
Thanks @Cathie19 ! Do you think there's any way we can remember this post-covid? I'm afraid we'll all just go back to the rat race, but I wish we as humanity can remember this time and the benefits. For example I think its crazy how many fewer babies are born too early here in Denmark, I mean - that must be because we're less stressed?
Time together is definitely valuable @Solveig0 , due to our National lockdown here in NZ (earlier this year ) we had more time for each other as a family. We learned to re evaluate what was most important to us , as others did too. We would see more family bonding ‘ Bubbles’, and so much more activity in general.
‘Thank you for sharing your post.
Warm wishes with sunshine sent your way⭐️
Thanks @Laura2484! I hope we remember this year by the good things. There's so much talk about how the world will be different post-corona. I believe we'll be very fast at going back to how it was, but I hope we'll remember to be more present in our lives, take more time to do less, but I fear we're just returning to the rat race ❤
I feel @Solveig0, that Covid19 will stay on our minds for a very long time.....
Even if life appears to go back to BC (BEFORE Covid19), I do believe we as individuals will be less tolerant of losing the basic human values of time with people that matter, or the opportunity to expand and be more creative as individuals. The balance to run like the wind, or stop and smell the roses.
I think people if they are feeling too much like a mouse on a treadmill, or being on a merry go round, will shout out for it to stop, or will choose something different in their working life that helps them reach newer and better personal horizons. Values matter.
They may wait till a job is available before resigning, but overworked and demanding timelines from work, that do not treat individuals as a collective asset of individuals, rather than drones , will lose out. We will demand the better side of the coin!
But I must say, I feel saddened for individuals/families who have been caught up in abusive or domestic violence scenarios through lockdown. That must be an oppressive and amplified hell. Return to normal may be their only sanctuary.......
I wish everyone courage for what they need. 💐