East Ruston Cottages really was rather a happy accident! There was no business plan, no burning desire to start a dog friendly holiday business, no desire to start a business at all really! To be honest I was more interested in GOING on holiday with my dogs but I was rather fed up with working in a 9 - 5 job and in 2006 we were lucky enough to be able to buy the farm buildings next to our little cottage, one of which was an old pig unit.
The planning department decreed that the only thing we were allowed to do with it was to turn it into holiday accommodation.
As we regularly holidayed with friends and between us had 5 dogs we knew how tricky it was to find somewhere that would allow us to bring all 5 without making us feel like second class citizens, pay a lot of money just to clean a little bit of extra dog hair or make us stay in decidedly 'doggy' accommodation.
So we set out to make something that WE were always looking for when we wanted to go on holiday - a really nice, comfortable, easy place, genuinely welcoming to dogs. A home from home with no charges for dogs and no limits on numbers, a properly secure outside space but nice inside and so the Old Piggery was converted and started taking bookings in April 2008.
We got bookings through agencies at first but as they seemed to want not just an arm and a leg in commission but a few bits of soul as well
I decided to set up a website and do it myself so www.eastrustoncottages.co.uk came into being with a simple website made for me by a friend (Leonie, the owner of Orchard Cottage) and run from an old PC in the corner of my living room! (the website has undergone a couple of reincarnations and I work on a laptop now but it's all still done in a corner of my living room!!).
And it went quite well and the word spread and we got some great bookings and some more bookings! We hoped for 50% occupancy within 3 years but our first year was nearly 100% full and it's carried on like that to this day - the Piggery remains one of the most popular properties on the website. We've grown organically, with people asking us to add them - nearly all friends or people we know which definitely helps keep things friendly.
So that's the story so far. I am having a LOT of fun running East Ruston Cottages despite many of them not being in East Ruston! But it's where it all started with my husband Dermot and we think it's the very best area in Norfolk.
I love what I do and am passionate about offering properly dog friendly accommodation (rather than dog tolerant) that pleases owners as well as their dogs.
I still get excited about new bookings and work very hard at the marketing and promotion as I want people to come here and love Norfolk as we do.
I've learnt loads, worked harder than I have ever done before in my life and have met so many lovely guests, some of whom are now friends and help us by spreading the word about East Ruston Cottages.
Last, but absolutely NOT least, are the people who help make this possible. I absolutely couldn't run ERC without the great admin and accounts support of my very good, efficient and trusted long term friend, Caroline 'Caz' Walker, who works part time, self employed, from her home about half an hour away. We often use social events to hand over paperwork and can often be found in the kitchen at parties....... discussing spreadsheets!
Darren at Broadland Computers in Stalham is the lynchpin of the website - designing, modifying and generally keeping it in good health and putting up with my constant requests to change this and that with humour and professionalism. He allows me pretty much free rein over the site contents so any glaring errors are usually my fault!
Then there's Stephen Mole of Stephen Mole Photography who takes many of the photos of the properties and Penel of Penel Malby Photography who did them in the early days and still takes fabulous images when she is up here to that she lets me use. Then there is Truly Local co-operative shop in Stalham who supply many of the welcome pack items and Jan at Nero's Kitchen - all local and supplying their goodies to the welcome packs too.
Last but very much not least, all the owners who work so hard to keep their properties in good shape and their guests happy and a whole team of hardworking cleaners. Couldn't do this without them.
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We are members of this organisation, English Association of Self Catering Operators. Book with the confidence that you are using a bona fide and reputable business that has committed to the EASCO Code of Practice. In the unlikely event of a complaint that cannot be resolved with us, you can use the EASCO Dispute Resolution Service that provides for low-cost arbitration.
East Ruston Cottages Limited
Reg.No. 10048164 At Companies House, Cardiff
Mill Road, East Ruston
Norfolk NR12 9HS