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  • Diana Taylor

New Year, New Beginings & New Piggies!!

Happy New Year! Firstly, let me start by apologising for being so absent here since we opened, its been a brilliant but crazy time as we adjusted to welcoming people to Cavies and Cake. We’ve had a wonderful few months after opening in May last year, meeting a whole mix of people and welcoming new guinea pigs to the therapy team. The beginning of a new year marks so much more than simply ending a year and moving forward into the next. Its a moment in time when we tend to stop and reflect on the past and look forward towards the future; the present isn’t necessarily considered. Going into 2022 Diana and myself are trying to get a balance between all three.

Way back in autumn 2020, Cavies and Cake was a tiny nugget of an idea which came about between two friends as we battled through the minefield that was that year! By that December our vision was becoming clearer, we had found our home at Stable Cottage and we raced into 2021 with our enthusiasm and endless rambling lists of goals to achieve and jobs to do. January through to May we roller-coasted around, ricocheting from the business plan and website design to the physical never-ending decoration of the building; whilst all the time reminding ourselves that what we were doing was setting the foundations for the long term, a marathon not a sprint…...very aware that we still needed to hang on to our excitement for our May opening and not lose it in a haze of magnolia and white gloss paint! Another gentle reminder to stay present and not get caught up in future plans.

When we opened our doors in the middle of May, things started slow, but it allowed us the opportunity to process where we had gotten to and the chance to enjoy the time with our early customers. These early weeks were important as we trialled different ways to run the sessions, finding a gentle balance between animal handling and quiet time, which benefited both our guests and our piggie tribe! Without realising we slowed down, not rushing to make changes, but instead, reflecting on each session as we went, considering what had worked and what hadn’t, what we had enjoyed from the time whilst we considered any future changes. Taking things gently and not panicking about the business-y side of Cavies has given us permission to allow it to grow as it should; with our animals and guests at the centre of what we do.

We have progressed steadily through the year, meeting and welcoming people from every social and cultural background; those who consider themselves neuro-typical or neuro-diverse; care home, school and nursery visits; families and those on their own looking to meet new friends; people who feel more at ease with the covid restrictions and those who are more cautious; couples on dates, SENCo’s with small groups, local folk who visit regularly and holiday makers visiting for a one off; university students taking a breather from study, people with assistance dogs, work colleagues on a lunch break, homeschoolers, care-givers and care receivers….. we have been so humbled by the stories which have been told over some tea, cake and guinea pig cuddles. Its a wonderful privilege listening to what people choose to share with us.

Today we are sitting in the bright winter sunshine at Cavies HQ feeling a mix of emotions as we drink our tea and ponder over what the previous twelve months has brought, but mostly we are so excited by it all. 2021 has exceeded our expectations and we hope to build on our successes for the coming year; but for now we are focussing on today, enjoying our tea before we plough forward with our 2022 plans. We look forward to sharing with you!

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