Blimey -

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What a year !!!

And I write that with mixed blessings.

It all started when the all new, mega huge Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel log cabin was bought and delivered. To be built ready for our 10th year of trading in 2019.

Slow progress can be seen on our Instagram account.

We - my husband Chris and I - cleared the entire back half of our garden and started to build the foundations.

And then it snowed !!!

And snowed again !!!

Little did we realise how the weather was going to have such an impact on just about everything. What was even more unexpected was the marked increase in guests having to be accommodated. I had people literally begging for their pets to stay. And at that time I was struggling to keep everyone warm, what a turn around when just months later I was struggling to keep everyone cool. Including myself. I love summer but I hate the heat.

Fans, ice pods, water, water and more water and I walked miles checking on everyone every 10/15 minutes. Small animals, in particular, are advised to avoid extremes of temperature. I have never been so worried about my guests as I have this summer.

What a lot of our customers didn't realise, and only a few know now, is that during all of this, our youngest daughter - Maddi - moved back in as she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After a whistle-stop tour of doctors, appointments and tests she had a 9 hour operation to remove her entire thyroid and a string of lymph nodes that surround her neck and chest. After a week in hospital she is now home recuperating, but this is a long journey and the reason I can no longer allow visits or customers into our house. Understandably, we want her to recover in as peaceful environment as possible, which is why I am now meeting everyone outside our house. It's not ideal, but I do hope everyone understands that until I have sorted out an alternative system to receive our guests this is what has to happen for the foreseeable future.

Part of Maddi's treatment is to take a radioactive iodine course. What this does is kill off any cancer possibly left from the operation. Basically, the body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. Therefore any iodine ingested automatically travels to the thyroid area. The radioactivity will then do its stuff. To be given this course Maddi will need to be in hospital for a few days in a special lead-lined isolation room, basically a radiation bunker. Even the nurses will only be able to visit her for 10 minutes at a time. This isolation continues when she returns home but decreases over time as the radioactivity can take up to 6 months to leave her system entirely.

During this time, she cannot be near people for any length of time, especially pregnant women, children and our dogs. Our guests will be perfectly safe as they will be in a separate room, which Maddi does not enter, but if you are at all worried about the potential health issue to your pet, please don't feel you will hurt my feelings by booking accommodation elsewhere. I understand our circumstances are extraordinary and unusual and they will obviously have a knock on effect.

I can only apologise for any inconvenience caused but I will do my best to keep everyone informed of any changes.

Unfortunately, as a consequence of everything that has happened this year, including losing a number of my own dear piggies due to ill-health and old age, my husband's job moving to Southampton, which is leading to redundancy and Maddi's health, I am experiencing the negative effects of stress-response hyperstimulated anxiety, which will take me, in particular, a while to recover from.

I wish I was more like my fantastic daughter - Maddi has been so brave, so strong and has been amazing throughout her treatment.

Please bear with us, this experience will lead us to make some life changing decisions, it's just something our family has to go through and hopefully make us stronger in the process.

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