You treat this place like a hotel!


No. Wait. Ok, it IS a hotel but you don’t need to treat it like one.

So what am I wittering on about today?

Munki. That’s what.

She’s got into the habit of strolling into the kitchen during breakfast service and ordering as a guest would.

For those of you who don’t know, Munki is our eight year old granddaughter who lives with us here at the Boofuls Towers B & B lodging emporium.

Yesterday she wandering in, looked around disdainfully, walked out again and into the guest dining room. Two minutes later she returned with a giant bowlful of the fruit salad, having taken all the strawberries and blueberries out of it and left the bits she didn’t like for the actual paying guests. Once she’d finished that – and I’d finished refreshing the fruit salad, she returned to the kitchen, “Can I just have two slices of bacon today please?” If I’m not too busy I’ll generally make it for her and yesterday she was lucky.

This morning we only had two guests in for breakfast and only one of them wanting a cooked breakfast. Service was over in about three minutes, long enough to produce two poached eggs on toast.

Munki strolled into the kitchen at her usual time. Her face fell. “What? Have I missed breakfast? I’m not late!”

I explained to her that breakfast was over and suggested she make herself some toast since she isn’t actually a paying guest. Her little face lit up and off she went.

The only trouble with Munki having toast is that she absolutely slathers it in my home made lemon curd. I can’t keep up with her demand for it. Only last week I made a fresh batch and it’s almost gone already. I may have to start rationing it. It wouldn’t be too bad if only I could stop her putting the knife into the jar after it’s been used for butter. Ugh. I can’t serve that to guests now. If I’ve told her once not to do that I’ve told her a thousand times, No exaggeration!

I think it’s a ploy she uses she she can have it all.

Anyway, still on the subject of Munki:

Her mum, Lashes has been picking up her old hobby of doing magic tricks.

She got really quite good at it at one point but then as so often happens at that age she lost interest and moved on to other things, boys, mostly.

Now she has started doing magic again. Please note that I was very careful not to say she was doing tricks. I said that last week to someone and then stood there mystified as they doubled up with laughter. I’m so innocent sometimes it’s ridiculous. I had no idea what I’d just said.

Anyway, I digress.

Lashes had just learned the old ‘coin in a bottle trick.’ She did it using a plastic bottle and we were all mighty impressed when this coin magically appeared inside it. She showed the same trick to MUnki who was astounded, begging her mum to do the trick again and pleading with her to show her how it was done.

Lashes, in the manner of all good magicians didn’t do the trick again but handed the bottle to Munki, “See if you can work it out.”

Lashes walked off smirking as Munki shook, rattled, peered into and generally gave the bottle a good inspection.

Five minutes later she came into see me. “Nanny, can I borrow some scissors, please?” Without giving giving a thought I handed over a pair of scissors and Munki disappeared into her bedroom.

Five minutes later again I heard a shout, “Why would you do that? Why? You’ve completely destroyed it.” Munki had only taken a pair of scissors to the plastic bottle to see the mechanics of the trick. Lashes was LIVID.

Well, you did tell her to see if she could work it out. You didn’t say she couldn’t destroy it to find the answer.

She’ll go far, that kid!

A bit of sprucing up


The year is marching on at Boofuls Towers and we have been busily decorating, tidying, rearranging and generally sprucing the place up before this years massive influx of holidaymakers.

We have toned down the pink, shiny, heavily patterned, 1980’s granny’s bedroom wallpaper teamed with mushroom coloured woodwork that clashed horribly with the predominantly blue and red heavily patterned carpet on all the corridors and stairs by painting over it.

Ideally we would have got rid of the whole lot and started again from scratch but since money is very much an object we decided to paint it. We picked out the neutral colours in the carpet and played the rest down. Now we have a nice, gentle sand colour below the dado rail and a warm and welcoming ‘bisque tint’ (warm white) above it. The blue and red have receded into the background and the gentler warmer colours make it much more welcoming. My eyeballs thank me for the change every time I step onto the corridor. My nerves no longer jangle when I see it. Altogether much nicer.

However. It came at a price.

Normally, it would be me who does the decorating but since I have been out of action (recovering nicely, thank you) we decided to get in a decorator.

After making and re-arranging his plans to start work several times he eventually turned up. He tied his horse, Trigger up outside and adjusted his stetson before entering the building. That was my first, second and third clue. I should have called a halt to it there and then but desperate times call for desperate measures. We were due to host a coffee morning for 50+ hoteliers and there were jobs we needed completing before they arrived.

Roy set to work.

He stripped two walls in a bedroom ready to put the new, contrasting wallpaper on. I was amazed at how fast he worked. Oh dear. Another clue ignored.

He put the lining paper on and then went to start work on the corridors while the walls dried in the bedroom. He got all the paint and brushes ready, cut it all in with a large brush and then proceeded to fill it all in with a roller. Brilliant, he’ll be done in no time, I thought as I strolled down the stairs.

What? Wait? STOP!!!!

“What are you doing? My carpets!! Put some dust sheets down!”

He was happily painting the corridors using roller and failed to protect the carpets, pictures, mirrors and any of the woodwork. Great big splatters of paint were all over the place.

His response? “Oh, well. I can leave if you like.” Delivered in an aggressive and confrontational tome of voice.
“Leave? I don’t want you to leave but neither do I want my house destroying. Please put some dust sheets down.”

Next thing I know he’s downstairs, having walked paint right through the house, and saying to Boofuls that he wasn’t going to be spoken to like that and he was going to leave. Attack being the best form of defence, I suppose.

Boofuls, being the diplomat that I am so obviously not, encouraged him back upstairs to continue wallpapering the bedroom. When he left at the end of the day he was back to his winking, joking, jolly, Jack the lad usual self.

Once he’d got back onto Trigger and rode off into the sunset I went to inspect his work.

Let’s just say that the quality of his work was such that we have just paid another decorator £500 to undo and redo everything he did.

It took me hours to remove the paint splatters from the mirrors and pictures and as for the carpet, I should have shares in Vanish carpet cleaner as I’ve used gallons of the damn stuff.

I wish we’d found the new chap in the first place, he’s brilliant.

Calm, efficient, clean and tidy with no flirting, winking or tantrums. Also, no photos taken of my daughter while she lay asleep on her sofa. Don’t even start me off on that one!!!

As for the hoteliers coffee morning, we were left with no option but to put signs up saying “please excuse us while we change.”

Rant over.

In other news… Munki strode into the lounge today and demanded to know, “Where’s your squirtle?”

Not quite sure what to answer to that one I hesitated and she continued. “It’s in this room somewhere. You need to find it and throw a Pokeball at it.”

Phew, the relief as I realised what she meant and it all became clear. Clear? Really? I can hear you saying.

Well, yes. It’s obvious if you live with an eight year old Pokemon maniac.

She’s spent the whole morning creating Pokemon out of paper and sellotape and hiding them around the house so we could have out own private Pokemon hunt. Bless her.

It really boring for her when we are all busy with guests. We are so lucky that she entertains herself and creates all manner of weird and wonderful things from paper and sellotape. It keeps her amused for hours. I have a feeling that this little girl will end up working in some kind of creative industry when she’s older, all the signs are there. She’s a creative genius with a vivid imagination, she’ll go far with her talents.

Practice what you preach


It’s taken me week or two to be able to write this post, every time I thought about it I was filled with lets say less than christian feelings.

Some friends of ours, Marks and Spencer, came to visit us for a few days. They are thinking of moving to the area after having been to stay with us a few times and realised how very lovely it is in Devon.

Proud to show off our new home and surrounding area we decided that a trip to Buckfast Abbey was an absolute must. It’s a stunning place, absolutely breathtaking in fact and I couldn’t wait to show it to them.

After a tasty breakfast we packed ourselves and Douggie the Doggie into the car and set off to Buckfastleigh where we spent some time admiring the beautiful quaint old railway station with it’s characterful old steam trains before we headed off to Buckfast Abbey.

Buckfast Abbey interior

Buckfast Abbey exterior

As both our friends are disabled we managed to park right outside the entrance using those ever so useful blue badges, worth their weight in gold they are. I was bit disappointed to see that the entrance to the abbey was covered in scaffolding and shrouded to try and hide it all but they covered all the shrouding in pretty, evocative photos of the interior of the abbey so it could have been worse. As building work goes it was as non-intrusive as you can get.

We strolled through the grounds, obviously heeding the signs to keep dogs on leads. After all, we were in the grounds of a magnificent, working abbey and due respect should be given such a place. Dogs rampaging round the gardens would be so disrespectful. Douggie was tethered to my side the whole time, much to his disgust. The gardens were a delight. The lavender garden was just lovely, I can imagine what it must be like in summer.

As we walked it quickly became very apparent to me that I’d massively overestimated my recovery after my operations and this amount of walking was way too much way too soon. I was starting to struggle but trying not to show it. With nowhere to sit I had no choice but to plod on.

A heavy downpour of rain encouraged Marks and Spencer to go inside the abbey. I was so pleased.

Me, Marks and Spencer all went into the abbey. Boofuls stayed out with Douggie in the rain.

Marks and Spencer went off to admire that abbey in all it’s splendour. I stood for a moment, knowing I was in too much pain to go with them and aware that Boofuls was outside in the rain. So. I scanned the entrance inside and out for signs saying if dogs were allowed or not. No sign of any signs. Happy days.

“Boofuls, there is nothing to say dogs aren’t allowed. Why don’t you come in. I’ll sit quietly in the pew by the door with Douggie the doggie and you can go and be tour guide for Marks and Spencer.”

So that’s what we did.

Dougie tucked himself in by my feet and settled down and I revelled in sitting in such a beautiful place, enjoying the atmosphere and feeling so grateful just to be sitting and easing my poor aching body.

Then came a tap on my arm. “I’m sorry, you can’t come in here with a dog.”

“What? It doesn’t say dogs can’t come in. Does God not like dogs?”

“You have to leave, dogs aren’t allowed in the grounds never mind in the abbey.”

At this point, the ignominy of being thrown out was overtaken by my body screaming at me to SIT DOWN! YOU’VE DONE TOO MUCH!

I sighed. “Right. Look, the thing is, I had a large operation three weeks ago. I just need to sit for a few minutes. If I can’t sit in here can I at least sit outside in the entrance porch?”

“No. No dogs allowed.”

By this time Boofuls had disappeared. I left the abbey, close to tears and in extreme pain. Knowing I couldn’t walk as far as the car and Boofuls had the keys anyway. I hobbled up to and sat on the nearest steps in the wind and the rain and tried not to cry as Douggie the doggie cuddled up to me.

Luckily I had my phone with me and sent Boofuls a text message.’I’ve been thrown out.’

After a few minutes, a few minutes where people stared at me like I was a mad woman, sitting in the thankfully now light rain on the wet steps and looking a picture of misery, Boofuls appeared.

He helped me back to the car and we waited for Marks and Spencer to return.

As we waited I stopped being upset and started being angry. So very angry.

At this point it had stopped being about the dog. I had no real issue with that. I know I don’t have the right to take him wherever I want. Their house, their rules and all that …or did I have an issue? It turns out I did.

No dogs allowed in the grounds the woman had said. Why then were there signs all over the place saying to keep your dog on a lead? Are dogs allowed or are they not? It turns out there is a very long and convoluted answer to that which involves a public footpath running right through the abbey grounds.

I ranted about how thrilled God must have been at their display of christian kindness to a person in need. No. Wait. What I meant was their very unchristian jobsworth attitude to a person in need. I ranted about their mixed message dog policy. I ranted about the embarrassment of sitting outside on the rainy steps while abbey staff walked past staring at me, not one asking me if there was an problem.

Such was my ranting that Boofuls offered to go back down to the abbey and register my discontent. Off he went.

After having registered my discontent he was helpfully informed that there were in fact ‘no dogs’ signs at the entrance. Oh really? As a dog owner we always make a point of looking to see if dogs are allowed or not. They call it responsible dog ownership.

We searched and searched for them. Eventually we found them. On the wall at the entrance, two small signs completely covered by scaffolding and the picture covered shrouds covering it. There is no way we could have seen them.

Time and time again Boofuls and I have come across this attitude of people who claim to be christians but who’s christian attitude leaves a lot to be desired. We have left more than one church because they were less about doing the work of God and more about the egos and holier than thou attitudes of the church members.

Sadly, this unfortunate incident at Buckfast Abbey has done nothing to change my view.

Rant over.

Food glorious food!


Ah yes, food glorious food, cold jelly and custard.. and so on.

I’m a big fan of food, big being the operative word, a testament in fact to my love of food.

Many times I’ve wished I had Booful’s attitude to food. To him it’s little more than fuel to keep him alive. A few exceptions include fillet steak, cheese, bread and chocolate. When we go out for meal together I don’t even bother to ask what he’s going to eat as I already know – fillet steak, chips and a blue cheese sauce.

In the 31 years we’ve been married I have realised that the food no go list is extensive. It includes, but is not limited to: fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, any kind of grain, yoghurts, anything spiced or flavourful, anything that requires chewing. I could go on.

When we first got married for the first three weeks I cooked us a lovely Sunday roast. On the fourth week he said, “do we have to have a meal, can I not just have a sandwich? And so it began. When I ask him what he wants to eat he generally replies with, “Ooh, I dunno. Egg on, beans on, cheese on.”

Over the next few years all attempts to get him to eat good food have fallen on stony ground. One small success is that he now eats his steak medium rare rather than cremated. At one memorable dinner party I cried in the bedroom when he left the table to make himself beans on toast after turning his nose up at salmon in champagne sauce. Not one of our best dinner parties.

Since I refused to join him in his eating habits I have got into the habit of making two meals. Generally something on toast for him and a real meal for me. It’s annoying but since it takes about two minutes to make beans, egg or cheese on toast it’s not the biggest pain.

Being included to fat I would shun ready meals, bottled sauces, packet foods or in fact anything pre prepared, preferring instead to know exactly what’s going into my food. Such was my food nazi-ism, I would mock anyone who bought pre cut vegetables. “How lazy can you get”, I’d proclaim, “it takes two minutes to prepare vegetables.”

My, how times have changed.

Now I’m feeling bit sheepish at my holier than thou attitude to food preparation. These days, it’s packets, preprepared vegetables, anything in fact that makes life easier. Fling it in a slow cooker, and Bob’s yer uncle. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

So what brought about this amazing volte-face?

Time.

Time and a change of lifestyle.

Being lucky enough to have always been self employed and have a relatively large amount of free time it was easy to shop for and cook healthy, nutritious and delicious food.

Since becoming the proud owner of a bed and breakfast emporium and latterly having rest and relaxation forced onto me after my big op, I’ve realised the only way I’m going to get a decent meal is by letting someone else take the strain. Hello ready prepared vegetables. Hello bottled sauces. It’s either that or join Boofuls with the egg on, beans on, cheese on diet.

Yesterday’s offering was a beef and lentil stew which took me about two seconds to prepare. Throw in a packet of veg, a stock pot, a packet of cubed beef and a handful of lentils and let the slow cooker work it’s magic.

I’ve discovered that it’s really ok to make life easier for yourself. If time, lifestyle and inclination permits then go for it. If not, that’s ok too. No pressure, no guilt it’s all good.

I’m getting to enjoy this


Enforced rest and relaxation. Six whole weeks of it. GAAAAHHHH!!!

For a woman who generally skips around like Tigger on speed I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with it. The prospect of six weeks of Jeremy Kyle and other daytime tv offerings sent me into a depression just thinking about it. The massive operation I had to undergo a seemed a far less frightening prospect.

So. Surgery out of the way and two weeks down the line how has it been I can hear you ask, dear reader.

Why, thank you for asking, that’s very nice of you.

It’s been bloody boring, that’s how it’s been. I’ve slept like a sleeping thing. I’ve slept so much that I could make your average dormouse look like a beginner in a sleeping competition. Now I’m not saying I could sleep as much as Lashes who’s capacity for sleep never ceases to amaze me but me and my bed are certainly besties at the moment. Every time I say I’m going to do something Boofuls looks at me horrified and says, You can’t do that!” “Yes I can, I’m not a bloody invalid!” “yes you are, that’s exactly what you are.” “Oh shit, I suppose I am.”

Other hoteliers may have decided to close their doors for a few weeks and call it a mini holiday but since it is January which is notoriously quiet we decided to stay open. It’s not as though the diary had anything in it, from New Year to 26th January we had not a single booking.

What the hell happened then?!? Where the hell have all these people suddenly come from? We are almost full this weekend!

Lashes and Boofuls have picked up the reigns leaving me feeling guilty, useless and helpless because I physically can’t do anything and weepy because I feel surplus to requirements and if I try to help Im just in the way. I do like to pull my substantial weight.

Poor old Douggie the doggie thinks I’ve fallen out of love with him because we aren’t having our three walks a day. Boofuls and my wonderful friend, Fiz have taken care of that.

It would appear that I’m not indispensable after all.

Efforts to push myself to ‘crack on’ have ended up with me crying and in pain. I’ve had to learn the hard way that I just can’t do it.

Ok then. I surrender! I’ll rest, alright?

What? Wait!

Now I’ve stopped fighting it all I’m quite enjoying pottering about. Read a book, watch a film, have a little doze. No pressure. Potter about some more if I feel like it. Take Douggie the doggie out for a short, slow walk under close supervision from Boofuls who drives the car down to meet me so I don’t walk back up the hill. Fancy a lie in? Yeah, why not. Turn that alarm off and snuggle down.

All of that, along with being taken out for lunch, enjoying the sunshine on the beach while Boofuls throws stones into the water for Douggie. Coffee with my friends, being bought flowers and chocolates, invitations to drive me to places and events, and of course time to sit and write a blog post if I feel like it.

What have I been fighting it all for?

What’s all the fuss about?

I should be embracing this time off! God knows that as of the end of March there will be precious little time off till October.

It’s amazing what a change of attitude can do. Now that I know Lashes and Boofuls are more than capable of taking care of things I can relax, chill out and get on with the important task of getting back up to full strength. Then it’ll be a case of: Watch out world, I’m coming to get ya!

Blog it!


I’ve been sitting here at my desk for a few minutes now wondering what I can write about now that I have the time to write.

Of course my head is blank. All I’ve done for the last two weeks is sleep, not a lot to write about there then.

Such is my blankness that I’ve even googled ‘ideas for a blog post’

Hhhmmm, let’s see…

1. Run a contest. I don’t know how to do that.

2. Review a book. Ooh, I can do that, I’ve just finished reading ‘the girl on the train’. Dammit, I’ve forgotten most of it. It’s about a girl on a train and it was obviously not that memorable.

3. Criticise a website/blog/person. No!! How mean can you get? Remember the old adage – If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all.

4. Tell a secret. Ok. I scoffed a load of shortbread biscuits last night and spent all night farting. It was like the Trumpet Voluntary in my bedroom. I was offensive to myself.

Wot?

It said tell a secret. That was a secret, I haven’t told anyone else about it. Actually, I did. I told my friend Fiz about it earlier while we were chatting in the queue at a coffee shop about bowel movements, or in her case, lack of them.

5.Post a cool infographic. What’s an infographic?

6. Sing a song. Ok………………Did you enjoy it?

7. Share your blogs income and traffic info. £0.00 and 4 viewers today. Wow! Record breaking.

8. Post a picture.

Full English breakfast
Full English breakfast

9. Post an obvious lie. I’m a BBC newsreader and a size 10.

10.Share food recipes. Ok. here’s my recipe for my yummy breakfast pots that I serve to the guests. Mix together, oats, almond milk, honey and vanilla extract. Leave to soak overnight. Into the bottom of small kilner jars I put various fruits, strawberry and blueberry being a favourite. Stewed apple works really nicely with it and sometimes I mix peanut butter into the oat mix and slice banana into the kilner jar. I might put cocoa into the oat mix and put mandarins in the jar, anything you like really. They are very tasty, gluten and dairy free and filling. My friend who has a B&B up the road says I serve my guests cold porridge and stewed fruit. I suppose he’s not wrong. Enjoy.

Breakfast pots
Breakfast pots

I think these were chocolate and cherry.

So there you are. Theres’ my ‘no post ideas’ post.

Did you enjoy it?

Design Flaws


Sometimes I think that women have some serious design flaws.

I mean, really, is it necessary at the end of our useful reproductive life to have to go through the hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain and all the other stuff that comes with menopause? Does childbearing and birthing have to wreak such havoc on a woman’s body? Wouldn’t it be much better just to have it all spring back into shape as if nothing had happened?

It wouldn’t be so bad if the menopause happened over a two week period and that was the end of that. You know, like a mega menstrual cycle to get rid of all the stuff you don’t need any more. But oh no, that’s too simple. Mother nature decided that once we are no longer useful for reproducing things don’t need to be in tip top condition. It can all run to rack and ruin. I suppose the rationale being that once we aren’t useful for breeding then the caveman will move on to a younger, fitter woman and the old birds can just die. Not being able to run so fast and not having a caveman to protect us probably meant we would be eaten by a dinosaur and that would be the end of that. Survival of the fittest and all that. No need to keep things ticketyboo in the old birds.

Does mother nature, and by mother nature I mean that nasty old bitch, nature, not know that times have changed? These days we are more likely to live past the age of forty and our useful life isn’t at an end. Not only that, these days most people don’t end up as dinosaur fodder when they slow down a bit. It would be nice if the decline into old age was a bit gentler and kinder.

What the hell am I talking about? I’ll tell you, dear reader.

I won’t tell you in all the gory details so don’t worry, I’ll keep detail to a minimum.

It’s no secret that I am a woman of *ahem* a certain age. Few several years now I have suffered the indignity of hot flushes, blah, blah, blah, you name it, bring on the menopause symptoms. Note the use of the word ‘years’. Years! For God’s sake!

Anyway, that aside, over the last year or two there have been other things going on in my body. Wrinkles have caused my once fairly pretty face to look stern and old. My once voluptuous breasts now look like boulders in a giant sock. My friend with not quite so extravagant mammaries says hers now look like spaniels ears. My once pert bottom now looks like a saggy, dimply lump of jelly and my stomach, let’s not even talk about that. Everything has headed south. Not only headed south but headed south and taken everything useful or beautiful with it and massively fucked off. If I ever win the lottery I’ll book myself in for plastic surgery and tell the surgeon to pick me up by my hair, give me a good shake, trim off all the excess skin, sew it back up and that should sort it all out.

Changes on the outside are one thing. Changes on the inside are another thing entirely. Gravity, weak muscles and the damage wreaked from giving birth to and nurturing three kids has apparently caused my innards to give up the ghost and collapse into a heap onto my pelvic floor like a pile of dirty washing. Thanks for your brilliant design, mother nature. Bitch.

Eventually realising that things weren’t quite right in the nether regions I went to see my doctor who in turn referred me to a specialist.

Rather too jolly and farmer-ish for my delicate sensibilities he announced in a loud and booming voice to everyone within a three mile radius, “Right, bit of a mess in there. I can’t tell if your uterus needs to come out till I give it a good pull and see what happens. I can’t really do that while you’re awake. So we’ll put you to sleep. It if moves I’ll remove it. I mean, it’s not like you need it any more, is it? Hahahahahah!!!!!”

Not usually sensitive but I found myself upset and wounded by his words, telling myself to get over it. It isn’t as if I need it any more, is it?

So. I was duly put on the waiting list to have my innards tidied up and a possible hysterectomy. That was about nine weeks ago. A few days ago I got a phone call telling me that a place was available. I had my operation this Wednesday.

I’ve never been in hospital other to have my kids. I was terrified.

People moan about the NHS. I can’t fault it. Every single person I came across was friendly, professional and very capable. I felt completely safe in their hands. After chatting with the anaesthetist the next thing I remember is waking up in a ward hours later. It must be odd being an anaesthetist, conversations being cut short all day long. I remember we were talking about her lovely necklace and then…nothing.

So, it turns out that I had not one, not two but three operations Wednesday. Suffice to say I’m a bit sore at the moment. They tidied round, threw out some stuff they didn’t need, did a couple of repair jobs and some embroidery, generally making everything neat and tidy.

Now I sit here thinking about the looooooooong weeks ahead of me where I can’t go out, drive, do housework ( ok, not too upset about that bit) or any kind of exertion for the next 6-8 weeks. After that I have been told I must never lift anything heavy again or I will undo all the work that has been done and end up worse that I was before. That’s going to be difficult for woman who generally behaves like Tigger on speed. Sitting still really isn’t my forte. Maybe I should take up basket weaving?

December catch up and Merry Christmas one and all!


It’s been a long Christmas this year.

It started around the 1st of December and since then it’s been a party of one kind or another every other night right up until the Christmas Day. Along with the parties we’ve earned ourselves a few God points by attending a carol service here and there as well as some festive lantern and wreath making. It’s a good job we’ve had very few guests in, we’ve been far too busy having fun to work!img_3944

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In between all this we managed a few days ‘up country’ as they say down here and had an early Christmas with family and friends in Lancashire. That was lovely but hectic. Two full Christmas Days and half a dozen meals out, lots of laughs, cuddles and catch ups. It was fantastic to see everyone but I always get more than a pang of sadness when it’s time to leave. We used a fairly central pub as a base for our entertaining. By the end of the trip we were on first name terms and exchanging B & B tips with the landlord. I’m pretty sure he’ll remember us haha.

On our way back from there we stopped overnight in the midlands for a dog show. Dougie the Doggie and me danced in a heel work to music competition and managed to come third! Get in!!!

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Straight from there and still in Christmas leggings we went for a lovely posh lunch and catch up with little sis and after that we headed off home.

It’s exhausting having all this fun!

On Thursday night Boofuls and I left the last party of the season, high fived each other and said “We’ve done it! We got through all the parties and survived.” Of course we had forgotten about the dog walker’s cocktails at a lovely bar near the beach. Oh well, one more night out won’t kill us!

Christmas has been a blessed relief. We’ve been glad of the break from all the parties! Mind you, we’ll be kicking it off again in the next few days as it’s our turn to host the ‘bar club’ meeting for all the B & B owners who have bars on their premises. After that we have a murder mystery dinner party planned.

To be honest, I was a bit worried about Christmas Day. Last year we went back up north for Christmas business as usual but this year it was just the four of us here in Devon. Would it be too quiet, tense, grim? Nah! It was bloody brilliant!

We changed the guest dining room around and basically sectioned half of it off to give us our own dining room, a luxury these days. We trimmed it up, ok, when I say ‘we’I mean ‘I’ with the gaudiest, tinselliest, sparkliest decorations I could find along with all the new and gaudy laser lights that Boxfuls has been investing in this year. The dining room glittered and twinkled like a magic grotto. Tacky in the extreme. It was BRILLIANT. I’d never let a guest see it. So far as they are concerned our restrained and tasteful decorations are the standard by which the bar is set. Haha little do they know what goes on behind the door of our little flat. Here’s little visual of our Christmas. Munki has grown a lot, hasn’t she?

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Let’s talk for a moment about the word ‘tacky’. In my day tacky meant slightly sticky. When did it start being used in place of the much more elegant word ‘vulgar? One of my mum’s favourite words, vulgar.

Oh yes. I know when it was. When our American cousins imported it into the UK via popular culture. I don’t like it. In this house ‘tacky’ will continue to describe not quite dry paint or nail varnish and anything else that is slightly sticky. Ostentatious, poor taste displays of well, anything, will henceforth be known as vulgar.

Anyway, back to Christmas. The day passed in a merry and laid back blur of jollity and laughter. By the time Dr Who came in we were starting to flag a bit but rallied round for a nice game of Pictionary. After that it was choccies, port and telly before bed.

Boxing day morning rose clear, cold and bright. A perfect day for a swim in the sea. Wait? What? Swim in the sea? In December? are you mad?

Apparently so. I donned the fetching wet suit that my lovely friend bought me as a gift, the Santa hat, a belt of tinsel and some fetching red and green bauble earrings and joined a hundred other swimmers in various stages of fancy dress for ‘The Boxing Day Dip’ Several hundred people lined the steps of the promenade to watch as we all ran into the sea whooping and laughing. It was so much fun, I could hardly stand for laughing. Still I carried on and got up to my shoulders in water before swimming back to the shore. I was so excited I went back in for another dip. Fair to say it was a bit bracing but I’ll be doing it agin next year. I love a bit of festive eccentricity and it certainly got rid of any cobwebs!

It’s almost two years since we moved to the bay and on an almost daily basis I am still amazed at how our lives have changed.

Our lives bear no resemblance to our old life up in Lancashire and every single day I thank God for the life we have now.

Ok, it’s bonkers. Working eighteen hour days in summer and struggling to get any business in at all in winter. Would I change it? Nope. My only regret is that we didn’t do it years ago. If there is any sadness at all it’s that I miss my family and friends. If only I could get a few key people to move to Devon, that’d be perfection!

Now we have opened the doors to the public again and are gearing up for the new year celebrations. So far working has been a lot less tiring that all the partying we’ve been doing. I’m glad to get back to work for the rest.

May I take this opportunity to say I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and may the new year bring you health, wealth and above all happiness. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Flick


Boofuls and yours truly went to church the other day.

Not just any old church but a special one. We went to the spooks.

I can hear you thinking, ‘what the hell is she wittering on about now. Spooks? What the…?’

The spiritualist church. Or, as Lashes used to call it when she was a small child and sitting on the back row of the church with a colouring book and pens, the spirilitch church.

Some time ago we went to the spooks all the time for a spot of God bothering. At the spooks we immediately felt accepted, and of all the religions we’d looked at (one, the one we were born into) this one felt like a good fit. For many years we were active members of the local spooks and sat in development circles, meditated for hours, practised healing, made lovely friends and spouted home spun philosophy to each other. Good times.

Then came the not so good times. Then came the times when my good old mum, bless her deceased heart, went though a stage of being not so mentally sound. No need for any details except the ones relevant to this story.

My mum decided that, as avid spooks goers and having been introduced to the church in the first place by her, we had stolen her religion from her.

Bit of a blow, that.

As I’m writing his I’m resurrecting feelings of hurt, confusion, guilt, anger and loss which I have never really dealt with. How do you deal with being accused of stealing someone’s religion from them? It was never our intention to steal anything from anyone. We thought the church was there for anyone who wanted to attend it. Obviously we were mistaken. The end result was that we stopped attending the church, stopped sitting in meditation circles, stopped going away for weekends on various courses and left the world of spooks, spirits, ghoulies and ghosties behind us.

*thinks* this is kind of ballsing up the witty, funny little story I had lined up for you. Damn those memories!

So. Shaking off the past and moving on…

Since mum is long gone and we have a new life down in the deep south we have thought several times we might have a look at the local spiritualist church.

So on Monday we did.

Off we popped and arrived in good time for the service. As we arrived at the door we were surprised to see a very busy and bustling church. The lady at the door asked us for our tickets. “It’s a ticket do tonight.”

Oh no!! We didn’t know there was a special speaker on.

“You can buy a ticket on the door if you like.”

“Brilliant, how much.”

“£15.00 each.”

WHAAAAA……..are you kidding? It used to be a fiver for a special at our church.”

“It’s a great speaker, it’s up to you.”

We decided to go in, it had been a bugger of a day and we felt we deserved it.

We took our seats on a row nearish to the back, an excitable crowd of people sat in front of us. Just as I was saying to Boofuls that the rows were very close together and I felt like I was in a plane, the woman in front of me flicked her hair back and hit me straight in the face with it!

I jumped back into my chair,it’s a good job the seat behind was empty or I’d have headbutted them.

The excited throng ( I said THRONG not THONG! Tsk!) settled down eventually as the speaker was introduced.

“Ey up!” he said. “It’s bin a long while sin’ I were in Paignton. Me mate Val W used t’ come ‘ere a lot.”

“Blimey, I thought, “He’s from up north. Val W? THE Val W? We know her!”

We settled down to listen to a medium who not only gave amazing evidence of life after death but was also a very good public speaker. It’s quite unusual to get a person who can do both and I was starting to enjoy myself.

“Now, if you understand what I’m talking about, stick yer ‘and up in th’ air. When I speak to you, answer me because I work on a voice link and they *nods towards heaven* need to hear you. Otherwise it’s like being on t’ phone and just nodding. Alright? That’s not too difficult is it?”

It would appear that it was in fact too difficult. The row of people in front of us, which of course included Flicky hair, who at this point was pulling her clothes around as if they were incredibly itchy and she was wanting to remove them, looked at each other every time the medium spoke and started to whisper to each other “That’s us! That’s us! instead of sticking their hand up in th’ air as instructed.

Eventually he noticed their looks, gestures and whispers and spoke to them. They received a wonderful message which included some very good evidence.I was pleased as it turned out they’d recently suffered a major loss and were in need of a bit of comfort.

However.

My lovely, fluffy and warm feelings towards them rapidly turned to intense irritation when after their message they proceeded to chat amongst themselves discussing it.

Rude.

I didn’t pay £30 to listen to them chat amongst themselves.

Boxfuls, sensing my irritation and fearing that I’d lean over and tell them in words of no more than one syllable each to be quiet, kept touching my arm and giving me warning looks. “Just keep calm. They don’t know the etiquette.”

Etiquette? It’s got nothing to do with etiquette, it’s simple good manners not to talk during any performance but especially a speaker in church.

‘It’s nothing more than good manners,’ I quietly fumed too myself as I watched Flicky hair pull her clothes around and lean across three people to talk to her bestie at the other end of the row. BY this point I had stopped enjoying the service and couldn’t wait to get out of the place.

I was bitterly disappointed with the whole evening, not because we didn’t get a message but because my fragile hold on a pleasant evening after an awful day had been thwarted by a few rude strangers.

Boofuls and I drove home in silence. What a shame, we should have just kept hold of the £30.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, you are just destined to have a crap day.

Ah well, it’s over with now.

Tursey and tinkle


Somewhere along the line I seem to remember someone saying to us that summer’s were busy in B&B land but we’d have the winter to count our millions and have a few months off.

I WAS MIS SOLD!

I haven’t noticed any millions and we’ve had a total of four days off in eight months!

However, every morning I walk Douggie the doggie along the sea front and thank my lucky stars. I love my new life and I’m truly grateful for everything we have.

Not that I’m tired or anything but I was chatting to my friend on the phone the other day and I mentioned about the tursey and tinkle weekends.

“The WHAT?” She hollered down the phone before descending into cackles of derision.

At that point when I mentally replayed the conversation I realised what I’d said.

Oh bloody hell. Turkey and tinsel.

While I’m out I’ve noticed that the coaches I see are decorated up for Christmas.

Yup. It’s that time again, folks. Torbay is awash with pensioners enjoying their annual tinsel and turkey weekends. A guest was telling me he’d stayed in another hotel recently and was astounded to see dozens of inebriated pensioners having a good old Christmas knees up. “It was their Christmas day”, he told us. “Christmas dinner, party hats, crackers, the lot!”

You should see them round town, scores of rowdy pensioners with zimmer frames coming at you like drunken, belligerent snow ploughs. You’d better get out of their way because they sure ain’t getting out of yours. Bless ’em.

I suppose it will break us in gently for the young farmer’s conference next year.

Now things have calmed down a bit and most of the guests have gone home we are getting on with some decorating and revamping. I missed my way, I should have been an interior designer. I love it!

On Tuesday we are having a table top sale of all our old curtain, pictures, lamps, shades and all manner of other stuff we need to get rid of.The other hoteliers will descend like a plague of locusts in search of a bargain. It’s very true what they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Here are a few random photos from this summer. I think I might get a few together and put a little slideshow on of beautiful Torbay just to give you a little taste of how lovely it is here.

Bye for now folks.

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