Hearts, flowers and surgical stockings


When couples first get married and have that “no-one has ever been as much in love as we are’ smugness about them, it’s all about hearts and flowers, bedroom gymnastics, and romantic gestures.

God, I used to see it all the time when I was a wedding photographer. “There’ll never be another wedding like ours”, couples would coo as they glanced smugly at each other. It used to take all I had not to say, “Well actually, love, they’re all much of a muchness.” I always thought it would be too cruel to burst their bubble though so I’d just smile sweetly and agree that they were indeed unique. Often at the same time as wondering if they’d still be together when the ink had dried on their marriage certificate. What? Cynical? Me?

I remember it well. Vowing that we’d get old together and taking all that that brings with it but not being able to imagine it. Ah yes. Fast forward thirty three years. When it isn’t so much bedroom gymnastics as a low impact workout while trying to avoid straining the bits that ache, cramp or just don’t move in that direction any more. Flowers are saved for special occasions, a romantic gesture is giving up the tv remote control and love settles into a comfortable companionship.

When I first got married I had no concept of how marriage would change as the years went on. Some days it’s considered a success to have got through the day and not bludgeoned each other to death. Other days we are completely content when we snuggle up on the sofa and watch a bit of telly together, happy just to be.

What am I wittering on about?

Well, dear reader, let me tell you.

Boofuls had his long awaited hip replacement surgery a little over three weeks ago.

His embarrassment at me having to help him to wash. “I’m your wife”, I told him. “This stuff goes with the job description.”  Helping him into and out of the shower while holding a plastic bag over his stitches and using a hand towel like a windscreen wiper to keep any stray drops of water from seeping through. Cutting his toenails, helping him to get dressed and the truest test of love.

Back in the day when I was on my knees in front of him it wasn’t to put his surgical stockings back on.  My God, has there ever been a more difficult task than putting on and taking off surgical stockings? How times have changed.

Aside of the personal hygiene stuff. How did I not know that he has six million cups of tea every day? It wasn’t till I had to make them all that I realised. How is it even possible to imbibe that much liquid?

His frustration at not being able to perform everyday tasks and my poor nursing skills have meant that tempers may have frayed a bit recently. We have both bitten our tongues until they are black and blue but we muddle through.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it isn’t the grand gestures that make for a happy marriage.  Anyone who tells me they have never had a cross word in their marriage is either telling lies or one of the partners has been severely compromising to keep the peace. I think what it boils down to is still being able to love each other when the romance is in short supply and the reality of advancing years and ill health become part of your everyday life.

Mind you, the occasional grand gesture never goes amiss.

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What a strange ​week​ that was!


Actually, the strange week started some weeks ago when I was talking to a local business woman via email.

“Oh, by the way, do you know anyone who might be looking for some work? I need someone for a few hours a week.” I quickly put myself forward for the position as Boofuls Towers Lodging Emporium has gone more than a little bit quiet for the winter. Keeping the proverbial wolf from the door has moved higher up my priority list over the last few weeks.

“I haven’t worked in an office or been employed by anyone except myself for over twenty years.  I can’t do spreadsheets, never used a PC for many a year, cappuccino drinking Mac user that I am. Boofuls Towers has to take priority so hours will need to be flexible.”

“Ok, come and talk to me.”

So I did.

We agreed that we would give each other a month’s trial and at the end of that time if either of us wasn’t happy then we would call it a day with no hard feelings. It sounded like a plan to me.

On Monday I rocked up at the appointed hour, having quickly prepped, cooked and served breakfast to our B&B guests. Stressed wasn’t in it!  Acutely aware that I smelt of bacon and eggs I sat my designated computer and began to familiarise myself with its workings. “Can you just knock me out a quick spreadsheet?” came a cheery voice from the office next door.

“I..er..um..of course.”

Not so much knocked out as dragged kicking and screaming out I eventually managed to produce a fairy passable spreadsheet. A spreadsheet I might add that was promptly laid on one side and not even glanced at.

That was the start of a learning curve that set off  in a vertical direction dragging my poor aching brain behind it.  “Do this, cross reference it to that, log it on this ledger, that has to be cross-referenced with this, file that, make a note on here and it all has to be spot on as we can be inspected by the FSA at any point. No pressure.”

” No pressure? There were times when I thought I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my brain exploding or my heart exploding from its many palpitations.

At the end of day one I sloped out at the appointed hour crestfallen, tired, headachy and glad to be leaving. On day two I left positively depressed ( is that a contradiction in terms?), the headache had developed to a migraine. Day three I got home to a dog bouncing off the walls demanding to be taken for a walk, a ton of my normal work to do and an alarm on my phone telling me I had an appointment in ten minutes. At that point I burst into tears and admitted to Boofuls that I hated the job.

I hated the quiet, tap tap tap of the computers, I hated the quiet efficiency.  I hated the lack of bustle. I hated not knowing what I was doing. I hated being out of my depth and overwhelmed by the responsible nature of the job.  On day four I went in and resigned. Although I know my employer was disappointed, I suggested that it was better if I left while I was still completely useless rather than after I achieved a level of usefulness.

I was sorry that it didn’t work out as I’d hoped. If I had enjoyed the job I could probably have coped with the rest of the disruption to my life but I can honestly say that they were four of the worst days of my life. I was so relieved as I left for the last time.

So. What have I learnt from this debacle?

Mostly I have learnt that squiggle shaped pegs do not fit into square holes. Every single person who knows me knew that job wouldn’t suit me, as they all told me later.

Noise, a certain amount of chaos, creativity, music and laughter – along with a good dose of organisation, hard work and responsibility. Those are the elements that will make up the perfect job for me. Hmmmmm.

Any ideas, anyone?

The last minute plans are the best!


Some time ago, about April, our choir master told us some news about a possible gig. It’s a biggie, if you can do it, it will be worth it.  Other than that he didn’t say much other than ‘save the date’.

A couple of weeks later, he mentioned it again, this time he was much more excited about it. “Guess what? We have been asked to sing at The BBC Proms in the Park in London. OH YEAH!!!!!”

“When?”

“September.”

“Oh.”

Boofuls, Lashes and I all looked at each other disappointed. “Well, that’s that then. September, we’ll still be busy with the lodging emporium. Boofuls is due his new hip on 10th September, we won’t be going.” We sat and tried not to look churlish as groups of people excitedly  made plans for coaches, overnight stays and weekend breaks.

There are times when I hate being a hotelier. All the good stuff happens in summer and we miss it all.

Every week for weeks and weeks all anyone talked about was the Proms and the big surprise. Pfffftttt. Still we smiled and listened to all the planning going on.

Summer flew by in a whirl of faces, sunshine, tons of bacon and eggs and quite a few screaming children.

Then. One day. A message popped up on the choir Facebook page. “I can’t go to the Proms now. If anyone would like my ticket and seat on the coach just pm me.”  I looked at the diary and said to Boofuls,”Look Boofuls, we could have gone. It’s quiet next week, your operation has been cancelled till October, we could have done it.” Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.

“You go.”

“What.”

“You go to the Proms. I know you really wanted to. You take the ticket.”

My mind raced. Torn between really wanting to go and leaving Boofuls, who also really wanted to go but wouldn’t have managed with his lack of mobility.

“No, Boofuls. I’m not going without you. No, it’s not right, we do everything together, No…no…no………………….oh ok then!”

AS much as I’d tried to pretend I wasn’t bothered, I really, really was. All our friends were going on the coach together. I got in touch with the organiser of the trip and asked if the seat on the coach and the ticket was still available. “Oh no! They’ve just gone!!!”

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

“Wait! Wait! One woman hasn’t decided if she’s going on the train or the coach. If she decides it’s the train, the seat is yours. You can go and buy a Prom ticket online. It all depends on what her hospital consultant says this morning.

We waited and fidgeted until eventually, I got a call back. “She’s going on the train!!!! The seat is yours!!!!”

Happy days!!!

I very nearly exploded with excitement. I’ve never done anything like this in my life before.

The day arrived.

We met at the coach station at 9.00a.m. Every time another one of the group turned up we all leapt to our feet and started to sing, “It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.”

We got a few funny looks from other waiting passengers but we really didn’t care. There was singing, dancing, lots of laughter and a fair amount of giddiness. Twenty four women, and one man, all singing, chattering and getting stupidly excited that there was a toilet on board. The coach driver informed us sombrely, “Now ladies, I know you are terribly excited that there is a toilet on board but let me tell you, when it’s full, it’s full.”

The journey to London passed in a blur while we sang our entire repertoire. Mae videos to send to our choir master and took selfies, so many selfies. I did feel for the driver. His ears must have been bleeding by the time we arrive at Hyde Park.

I’m going to let the photos tell the rest of the story: Enjoy.

Wild? It was livid!


What’s going on? First it was months and months of stupidly hot weather. Now it’s storm after storm after storm. It’s so windy! I wondered if I was going to end up under a fallen down tree, it was so windy. Wild? It’s worse than that, it’s livid! Great for drying the washing except that the washing will end up in Somerset!

Last night I had to take Douggie the doggie for a walk. The rain was sweeping down and I wondered if I should put on my waterproof trousers. Nah!! It’s only that fine rain, we’ll only be out ten minutes, it’ll be ok.

Ten minutes, soaked to the skin later I was trudging upstairs for a change of clothes. It’s true you know. That fine rain DOES soak you through!

Tonight we will be braving the wind, but thankfully  not the rain, again when we go out for our nightly stroll and training session on the local leisure centre car park.  Douggie the doggie is competing in a heelwork to music Halloween themed competition and we have got a whole routine to put together in a month.

Night after night we train on the car park, watched we know by the leisure centre staff on the CCTV. We know this because as we leave they are  occasionally outside the side entrance on a break and make comments such as “Britain’s got talent for you is it then, love?” My answer to that is of course no. Douggie the doggie in that situation would just plonk his backside on the floor and start scratching. Even for a massive dog lover like Simon Cowell that isn’t really much of an act, is it?

What I should do is film Douggie in training when he performs brilliantly time after time and show that to our trainer. The reason being that Douggie has very definite diva tendencies when it comes to performing.  If all the elements aren’t exactly right or he feels even slightly ill at ease he just won’t do it.

At a fun charity demonstration a few weeks ago we were all lined up ready to start our routine. Douggie watched me with his eyes shining, ready to do his new dance to music from The Greatest Showman. I gave the cue to start the music. Nothing happened.  I gave the cue again. The man doing the music shrugged. Douggie looked at me as if to say, ‘well get on with it, I’m ready’. The music was clearly not going to play.

While we waited Douggie and I showed off a few moves and tricks just so we weren’t standing there like lemons. He did really well.

Still the music didn’t play so we left the arena.

When the music system had been fixed we were given a new place in the line up. IN BETWEEN TWO CRUFTS PERFORMERS!!!

Douggie, clearly thinking he’d already done his bit he wasn’t about to do it again no matter how many people were watching. He flatly refused to play. I jollied him on and he gave me the dog equivalent of two fingers. Oh, the  shame!

It’s a long walk to get out of the arena when a hundred disappointed eyes are watching you.

Our trainer has suggested on more than one occasion that I get another dog as Douggie hides his dancing light under yet another bushel while I protest, “But he can do this PERFECTLY at home.”  Don’t worry, Douggie. I won’t be trading you in for a collie just yet.

That’ll be £430… or nothing please


It’s been dentist week in our house. First it was my turn for my six monthly check up and visit to the hygienist, who jet washed my teeth and told me that my teeth are fantastic but my gums are buggered. That’ll be £130 please.

Next it was Lashes turn to be seen. She had the same six monthly check up and visit to the hygienist. Another £130.

Then it was Booful’s turn. One extraction, one false tooth and £335 later Boofuls came home with an aching mouth and an aching wallet.

My God, I missed my way in life, I should have been a dentist! Why did I waste all those years getting a degree in photography? I should have gone on to the far more lucrative world of dentistry.

Today Boofuls had to go back. The new falsie wasn’t fitting well and he was struggling with it. While he was there he questioned the dentist about his discoloured front tooth (Boofuls front tooth, not the dentist’s).

“Well, I can do this to it for £430. I can do that for it for £85 but it won’t last. Which option would you like?” He looked expectantly at Boofuls for an answer.

“Well, are those my only options?”

Maybe the dentist was starting to feel a bit guilty about the ludicrous amount of money he’s taken from us this week so he said:

“Er. Well, I could try cleaning it.”

“What will that cost?”

“Nothing.”

“I’ll take that option then, please.”

He picked up what looked like a grinding tool and proceeded to scrub away at Boofuls front tooth. One minute. I’ll type that again. ONE MINUTE later Boofuls had a lovely gleaming white front tooth. He’s been grinning a wide mouthed toothy smile all afternoon. To be fair he does look slightly crazed but I’ll let him off with that for today since he’s regained the confidence to actually properly smile after two years of trying not to show his manky teeth.

I’m really annoyed that the dentist has left that tooth looking horrible for so long and would have taken hundreds off pounds off Boofuls to do unnecessary work instead of just doing the clean that took him one minute.

Is it just me or does anyone else think that it’s morally wrong to try and deceive a patient into having expensive and unnecessary work done to their teeth? Gggrrrr.

There’s nowt so queer as folk


August is in full swing! The hoteliers’ Facebook groups are full of stories of weird, wonderful and not so wonderful stories of the ‘August People’.

This week we had a very nice Austrian couple turn up for a four night stay.

Boofuls showed them up to their room. “Oh no. This won’t do at all. It’s on the ground floor, I want to be able to open the windows.” Boofuls explained that he could open the windows as much as he wanted because of the giant ‘well’ to accommodate the windows for the dining room below them which is in the basement. It would take Spiderman to be able to get across there and into the room. “No. No. It won’t do. I want an upstairs room.” Boofuls explained that we were fully booked and we didn’t have a spare upstairs room. That was that.

Boofuls went back downstairs.

Two minutes later, the man was back. “Where is the sea view? We booked a four star hotel and a sea view. Where is my sea view?” Boofuls looked at the man aghast. Well, we aren’t a hotel we are a B&B and we don’t have a sea view, not unless we knock down the six hundred year old abbey that stands between us and the sea – and the neighbours house. I’m pretty sure that could be considered un-neighbourly.

“It clearly says on Bonking.effingcom that you are a 4* hotel and you have a sea view. I’ve seen pictures of it.”

Boofuls has the patience of a saint, really he does. I’d have been getting a bit short with the chap at this point.

“Sir, we are a 4* silver bed and breakfast, it does not say the word ‘hotel’ anywhere on our bonkers.com page. Also. Any pictures you have seen of the sea on our page are pictures of the surrounding area. With the greatest of respect, sir, we could not possibly have views of all those different places even if we were situated actually IN the sea, not unless we were a mobile bed and breakfast.”

The man decided that he wasn’t happy and was going to book an actual hotel with a sea view. Boofuls pointed him in the right direction. “I’ll see what I can find and then we’ll move. We’ll pay you for the first night.” Boofuls stopped him right there. “Excuse me but you’ll pay for all four nights. We have taken those rooms off the market for you and we won’t be able to resell them at this stage. They must be paid for.” The man actually paid without the usual argument.

He found himself a room at a sea front hotel and off he went. We know the hotel and we knew that although it has sea views the rooms are a bit grim and they wouldn’t like it there. However, not our problem.

I posted the story on to a hoteliers FB page. The point of my tale was that guests repeatedly fail to do any research and then blame us when they aren’t happy. Expensive mistake.

Anyway, One of our fairly close neighbours said they’d exactly the same situation with an Austrian couple. Austrian? They weren’t called Blah and Blah were they? THEY WERE!!!!

So. They had been to the hotel. Didn’t like it. Ended up at our friends B&B (not hotel), further away from the sea (no views) than we are and on a much busier road. An hour after they arrived they said that the chap had been called back to work so they couldn’t stay..and they left.

Some people obviously have more money than sense. They paid us, they paid at the hotel and then they paid at another B&B and didn’t stay with any one of us.

Tsk. August people. *shakes head* You couldn’t make it up!

Daily prompt – communication


There has been a little lull in the bar at Boofuls Towers for the last couple of days. Although we are run off our feet we have at least had the last couple of evenings to catch our breath and even to, wait for it…watch a bit of telly!

So. While I’ve been deliberately doing nothing I decided to have a catch up with my little blogette. Sitting down in front of my computer and pulling the keyboard towards me I pondered on what little tales from the last week or two I should delight you with. Um…er…sigh…I know! Er….maybe not…*drums fingers on desk*. Ok, I admit it, I’m all out of ideas.

It’s not that nothing has happened. Quite the opposite, so much has happened I’m in sensory overload. Ask me anything more difficult than my own name and I’ll be stumped.  Even poor old Douggie the doggie has had to take a back seat as we’ve been so busy. He’s definitely been short changed in the walk and training department. Mind you, with all that hot weather we had he hasn’t really been up for much.

Anyway, enough waffling. In my attempt to find something to talk about I went to the Daily Prompt page for inspiration.  The prompt was ‘communication.’

Communi-bloody-cation? Can I pick another one?

I spend my whole life comm-bloody-unicating! I’m trying to get a break from that! “Can you tell me where to go today?” Yes indeed I can tell you where to go, you can go and….”   I say brightly and then notice Boofuls giving me a stern look as he knows what’s in my head and is praying I don’t say it out loud.

So here’s a typical conversation:

Me: “Hello, room service.”

Guest: “We don’t need anything today, thanks.”

Me: “Ok, have a great day.”

Fast forward to five hours later just as we raise the first forkful of our dinner to our mouths. That’s on the days we get dinner, usually we grab a sandwich in between all the mayhem…*knock knock* “Can we have a toilet roll, and some milk pots, oh, and some hot chocolate and oh yeah, some of those little biscuits. No one came into our room today. *shocked face*

Me: “We came to your room. You said you didn’t need anything.”

Guest: ” Well we didn’t then.”

Me:  “Yes, but we top everything up in the morning for the day.  The staff go home at lunchtime.” *sigh* sits down eventually to another cold meal.

Yet another card payment has failed just now when Boofuls has put it through. That from the pious family who are going to visit a whole list of churches recommended to them by their parish priest. The ones with the rude, silent, dirty look giving, not able to answer when asked a direct question kids. That includes the one who whispered to her dad that she wanted to see the dog she’d seen on the website and when I brought him to see her her face didn’t even twitch, she totally ignored me and the dog. It was like he was invisible.  He should have peed up her leg!

Am I communicating a vibe?

It’s August.  I’m tired, grumpy and sick of being nice to chuffing morons. We haven’t had a day off for months. And if one more person ties my net curtains in a knot, nicks stuff, damages stuff and says nothing or hangs their knickers out of the window to dry I’m going to punch ’em (the person,  not the knickers).

……………………………………………..dog walk break

So…It’s a couple of hours later, I’ve just been in the bar with the most delightful and funny couple. We have chatted and had a good old laugh about, well, nothing really. It was fun.

That reminded me about the lady who came to stay a couple of nights ago. She turned up very late, 10pm. She looked a little bit odd. I thought maybe she’d had a bad journey so I asked her a bit about her day. She was clearly struggling to control her emotions. I asked her if she was ok. The floodgates opened. This poor woman was here to visit her mother and she was worried sick about her. She told us the whole sorry tale. Hugs were exchanged and after a while I showed her up to her room. She seemed much calmer and able to cope.

Reflecting on all of this while I was out with Douggie I have realised that actually, the majority of people are lovely. When we’re busy it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and irritated with all the small stuff. I’ll still be glad when it all calms down though. Roll on October!

 

so easy to please


The two sixteen year old chambermaids we have working for us at the moment are still a delight to work with. Not once in the last few weeks have I wanted to kill either of them. They turn up for work on time, every time with smiley faces and great attitudes.

They still make a lot of mistakes but they do try their best and I can work with that.

This morning was a particularly busy breakfast service and we had four full room changes to do as well.  It was hot and humid and we were tired but determined to get through it quickly.

We put the quieter of the two girls on to room refreshes as it’s an easier job and less stressful for her. At one point she came into see me, while I had my head down a particularly gruesome toilet, to ask me if I’d taken her master key.

If there is one thing I can fault with these girls is that they have been careless about making sure their master key has been put back safely when they have finished work. I have stressed umpteen times that it gives access to every single room in the house and the security risk that that poses. Several times one or the other of them has taken it home after work with them only to get an angry phone call from us telling them to return it immediately.

So, back to today. Bridie stood at the door of the aforementioned bathroom, out of strangling reach, and asked if I had her key. “It’s just disappeared”, she told me. “Well, it can’t just disappear, where was it last?” It turned out that it was in the door. of the room she was currently servicing. We deduced that these were  the guests with the kids in one room and the parents in another. They were in and out of each other’s rooms, they saw the key in the lock, thought it was theirs and took it out with them. Oh my Gawd!

A quick phone all to the guest established this to be exactly what happened. They promised they would be straight back and they were. End of drama. Not Bridie’s fault but she was really upset about it.

To be fair to the guest the master key looks exactly like theirs, until it’s turned over. When they did turn it over they were horrified and full of apologies, returning within minutes to give it back.

I was wracking my brains for a solution to stop this from happening again and came up with the idea of putting the keys onto a lanyard so it was safe around the girls’ necks at all times. I mentioned the idea to Bridie.

“You mean one of those straps around your neck with a name badge on?” She threw up her hands in delight. “REALLY? OH WOW! That’ s amazing! I’m getting a lanyard!”

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit surprised at her very positive reaction. “Yeah, I’ll get you a sparkly one of you like.” I said laughingly. “OH MY GOD! REALLY? WOW!” Her eyes shone with delight. She walked off up the corridor laughing and singing, “I’m getting a lanyard.” She bumped into our male waiter and told him excitedly, “We’re getting lanyards, how cool is that?”

Like I said. So easy to please.

Let’s get to the point


We have three new members of staff. Two sixteen year old girls and one very, very Welsh chap. All three are shaping up beautifully, they are hard working, pleasant, punctual and helpful.

I was working with one of the girls, I’ll all her Gracie because that’s her name. “Make sure that toilet roll has a point on it.” I said to her. “Of course”, she said as she almost skipped into the bathroom. She came back out looking horrified. “It hasn’t got a point on it.”

“It hasn’t, Oh God! What shall we do about it?”

She stood and stared at me like a rabbit in the headlights. “I don’t know. Shall I see if I can find one with a point on it?”

“Well, let’s go and see if we can  fix this one first”, I said to her, struggling to not guffaw out loud.

We walked into the bathroom together and I folded the toilet roll to a neat point. “Phew. That could have been nasty. Thank goodness we fixed it.

She looked at me shocked, disgusted and then started to laugh. “Oh my God, I can’t believe I just fell for that!”

Hahahaaa. Small pleasures.

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