Tag Archives: hotel life

…and take a deep breath


Just a short three months ago I was looking at the prospect of a long season in front of us and thinking I can’t do it! I can’t do it! I can’t do it!

With Boofuls on death’s doorstep and Lashes about to give birth and the disappointment of losing the sale of the business, and the consequential change of attitude towards paying guests, the business as a whole and life in general I really couldn’t see how it was going to happen.

But it did.

Yesterday morning we were sitting outside with the staff having an apres breakfast service coffee and it suddenly struck me that that we’d done it. The season is over. Hundreds of happy guests have gone home having eaten a sizeable mountain of food between them and had a jolly good time doing it. I have to say my game face is damn good! No one realised anything was or had been amiss.

So here we are on the doorstep of September. Boofuls is still alive and kicking. The staff are returning to school/college next week. Guests have been drifting away and the rooms aren’t filling before we’ve even had time to service them. An air of calm has returned.

Now we can take a deep breath, slow down a bit and enjoy what’s left of the summer.

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August people


When I talk about August people I do mean ‘August’ people and not ‘august’ people, people that are greatly respected and of the highest social class. We don’t get many of those at any time, (although we did have an Arab princess once), and we definitely don’t get them in August.

So. What exactly are ‘August people’?

They are the people who go on holiday in August. They’re the ones who leave their brains behind when they lock their front door. The ones who stuff their faces till they feel sick because the breakfast is ‘free’ and then sneak out with bananas to eat later although they never do, they leave them in their bedrooms rotting and stinking. The ones who ring the bell in reception causing us to stop whatever we are doing so we can answer some inane question like, “Is the sightseeing bus running?” The ones who disrespect other guests and the property they are staying in, which happens to be our home.

This week alone we have had a man knocking on the door at 10pm. “Hello, he said brightly, I have a reservation.”

“Have you really? I replied, that’s a bit of a surprise because we are full.”

“Well I have a reservation somewhere round here and I can’t remember where and I can’t check it because my phone has died so I just knocked on the first hotel door I came to.”

Sigh

“Come in, we’ll see if we can work it out for you.” We did.

A couple came to stay with their son and his girlfriend. The couple, very nice, spent the whole week moaning about their son and his partner. When we walked into their room we found out why. They had broken the headboard, the chandelier, got stains all over the carpet, the walls, the walls in the corridor, the mirror, let’s not even discuss the bathroom. The mattress was hanging off the bed. It took a team of us two hours to clean that room and make it fit for the next guests.

On the flip side of that. We have laughed. A lot. Most of the guests are just lovely. Now we are up to the bank holiday weekend and the end is in sight I’m almost sad that it’s coming to an end (almost). In a few days, the Brits will be back at work, the kids will be back at school. The foreign tourists will have gone home and the summer season will be over. Peace and normality will be restored.

Only a few more days to go and We’ve done it. We survived the season.

Now I am looking forward to September and all the lovely things we have planned.

.

I’m soooooooooooooo busy!


Crikey! August is here.

It’s been a funny old season so far.

Nationwide, in fact world wide, according to the B&B forums, it’s been a far quieter year than normal this year.  Then it started to pick up. First it was the Scandinavians and the Germans. Usually here in May and June they arrived in July and August. Is this a sign that the season is shifting?

Then we got the school holidays.

Then we got busy. Soooooooooooooooo busy!

We’ve been meeting ourselves coming back, we have been so busy.

This morning, right after service and as we’d just about finished cleaning the kitchen and were about to stop for a well earned coffee, Boofuls pooped his head round the door. “We have a visitor.”  Of course, my first thought was that it was a surprise visit from family but the smiling face that greeted me was not family but the environmental health officer.

“Oh hello! I’ve been expecting you. I’d give you a hug but I’m all greasy and sweaty.”

“I’ll have a hug anyway, she replied.”

Our younger staff looked on terrified and also slightly bemused that we greeted each other so warmly. Mostly because every time they do something wrong I say, “What if the environmental health officer walked in now and saw that? Do you think she’d be impressed?” Little do they know that we have worked very closely with her ever since we moved in, organising Q&A sessions with new B&Bers, promoting her training courses and basically working together to take the fear out of her visits and spread the word that she is not the enemy. We have a fantastic relationship with her.

Anyway, inspection completed and found to be completely satisfactory on all counts, in fact, our fridges were declared to be ‘perfect’, we got awarded another 5* rating.  Happy days!

After she’d left I went to find the staff to see how they were going on servicing the rooms. They all looked at me and said, “Well?”  I just laughed and told them that all was well. They all breathed a sigh of relief knowing that they hadn’t inadvertently caused a problem with something they’d done. Obviously, I trained them well.

Bless ’em. They are so conscientious. I’m going to miss them when they get back to college next month. These staff have been the best I’ve ever had. When Boofuls was on death’s doorstep they rallied round brilliantly.

That’s not to say I haven’t got a whole host of funny stories involving them to tell. Ask me about the instant coffee incident…

Sausage Roulette


I love a good game of sausage roulette in the morning. I mean. Who doesn’t love a game of sausage roulette?

Right.

Wash your mind out right now!

Sausage roulette involving actual sausages from the butcher. Honestly, what are you? Twelve?

Never heard of it? It’s a game we hoteliers love to play on a daily basis. How many guests have we got in? How many are going to want sausages? How many shall I actually cook?

It can be a risky game. I’ve held my nerve on many occasions and won, doing a little victory lap around the kitchen with a roasting tin devoid of sausages held aloft. I’ve lost my nerve on many occasions and wished I’d held tight. I’ve never outright lost and needed a sausage and not had one but I’ve had sausages leftover on many occasions. Douggie the doggie never complains and neither do the staff.

This weekend I was going to win. No doubt about it. Three vegetarians, one vegan, four meat eaters. Strangely, I have discovered that the fewer guests we have the more likely they are to want a full English breakfast so I put in four sausages.

The vegetarian/vegan group came down to breakfast first. I stood in the kitchen awaiting their order, hand on the freezer door ready to pull out a pack of Linda McCartney’s.

“One scrambled egg on toast. One hash browns, tomato and beans. One hash browns mushrooms and beans and one full English.”

“Veggie full English?”
“No. Full English, bacon, sausage, the works.”

“What? No. They can’t. They’re vegetarian.”
“Not today they’re not.”

Bugger. I set to making their breakfasts and then contemplated my hand in the game of sausage roulette. Four people due for breakfast. Only three sausages. Hold my nerve or cave?

I held my nerve. The next couple came down for breakfast. “Two full English, Please.”

I was starting to panic. Two guests, one sausage.

Then I remembered that I’d caught sight of the remaining couple when they checked in. Fair to say they enjoyed their food. I caved. In went another sausage.

The last couple came down. The washer upper, Lashes and I stood and waited with bated breath for the order to come in.

Boofuls came in with the order.

“You lose.”

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!

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.

Good times


Boofuls Towers is a bit quiet at the moment. In fact, we only have one room booked out this weekend so if you fancy a nice weekend in Devon, give me a shout, I am certain I could find a little discount under the fridge.

Anyway, making the most of the peace and quiet we decided to crack on with a few jobs. Room seven has been beautified, just in time for the hotel inspector’s visit.

What a pularver that was, untucking my beautifully made beds so she could feel the mattress.
“It’s a bit lumpy, time you changed it.”
“It’s a new bed.”
“Hhmm, well put a topper on it then.”
“It’s got a topper on it, all our matresses have toppers on them.”

It was like she was determined to find something to criticise even when there was clearly nothing. Overall, she told what we need to do to improve our star rating and surprise, surprise we already knew. Fancy us knowing what needs doing in our own house?!

It does make me wonder what exactly it is that we pay for with Visit England other than using the logo and having the star rating plaque outside.

We started her tour in what we knew was our worst room and progressed from there. Suggestions were made to change the usage of a couple of our rooms from family rooms to suites. tempting idea, not taking kids but it’s oh so lucrative. These suggestions fell on stony ground with Boofuls who, when he heard them, just harrumphed and walked off.

When she reached room 7, which I’d been saving till last, she actually let out a squeal of delight. “Now THIS is what I’m talking about.” Obviously the bright yellow wall teamed with graphite grey worked for her. I must say, I’m very pleased with it. Even though I had a few collywobbles when I chose the colours but it does work, I’ll post photos for you when I get around to taking them.

So. Back to yesterday.

“Let’s have a bar night.” Boofuls said last week.

A bar night is when the hoteliers with bars fill up the long winter evenings by all going round to each others bars for food and drinkies. The host provides everything for the evening and it can get a bit pricey but then everyone takes a turn so it evens out over the course of the year.

For ease of catering we decided that cheese and biscuits would work well for the food. Beer, wine, prosecco are generally the drinks of choice so we make sure we are well stocked up. Approximately twenty hoteliers rocked up and with seconds of them arriving the party was in full swing. I have never seen a party kick off so quickly. There was no polite small talk, it was straight in to belly laughs and general silliness. What a great night.

Boofuls and our, bordering on being a giant, friend decided to have a karaoke. Dear Lord, what a racket.

People had tears streaming down their faces, I’m not sure if it was because they were laughing so hard or because their ears hurt but it was hysterical to watch.

It’s a hard job being a hotelier and during the summer we don’t even see our friends but my God, we make up for it in winter.

Next social – Tuesday!

Can you just loosen this?


You couldn’t make this stuff up!

We’ve had a couple fo really nice ladies staying with us while they attended a family wedding. This morning was their last morning.

As they came into the dining room I noticed that one of them was carrying a flask. She asked Boofuls if he would open it for her as she was unable to remove the lid. Being the gentleman that he is he duly obliged.

Just as he gave the lid an almighty turn one of the ladies said, “Be careful, it’s had a fruit smoothie in, it might explo……….

As the words left her mouth, the three-day old fruit smoothie  exploded. Clearly having been fermenting in the warm room it left the flask with the force of a rocket. The chairs, tables, floor, crockery and people were all covered in purple smelly slime.  Everyone jumped back in surprise as the lid went flying across the dining room to land three tables away.

The ladies were mortified. Being of that age where they have to step in to clean up rather than watch another person do it, they immediately started trying to clean it up – with my cream damask napkins. Oh no! L et’s make a bad situation worse and destroy some expensive napkins, I don’t think so!

I quickly jumped in and removed them from her hand. “Leave it to me, ladies, it won’t take a moment to clean up”. Still they hovered and faffed trying their best to be helpful but actually just getting in the way. “Sit down, girls, we’ll get you some tea.” They continued to stand there flapping their hands and trying to grab napkins to mop up the mess. By now my smile was starting to slip. “SIT down! I ordered in what I hoped was a jollying along kind of voice and not a ‘I’m going to lose my temper in a minute’ kind of voice.

Finally they did sit and the clean up operation took a couple of minutes. The trouble with the carpet in the dining room is that it is a typical English hotel carpet, very busy and colourful and about thirty years old ( I only mention that fact to remind Boofuls that it’s days are very much numbered). If anyone drops anything not this carpet they have to get down to ground level, ear to the ground like a red Indian scout listening for rattlesnakes, and scan the floor. That’s because it’s height will give it away, trying to find anything on it from a standing position is almost impossible, I once lost Douggie the doggie on it.

The reason I mention the carpet is because I’m hoping that we did actually manage to clean up all the slime. If not then I can pretty much guarantee some guest will come walking in with bare feet and walk straight in it. Ugh, doesn’t bear thinking about. Look out for THAT review!

Sssshhhhhh…listen…I think they’ve all gone


After a mad flurry last weekend, the house is now empty of paying guests and peace has been restored.

I do have to question whether we are in the right job as we are always so thrilled when we have no one in but then I remind myself that we’ve had exactly three days off since March and I’m feeling a bit entitled to some r&r.

Our last guests were a mixture of UKIP disciples, some repeat guests who have become friends, leading to some ridiculous, alchohol fuelled and very funny conversations in the bar of an evening, and a couple who flew in from Dubai for a funeral, flying out again after only three days. Poor buggers.

At this point I hasten to state that the UKIP-ers politics are not my own and I actively tried to avoid conversations with them. It only took a moment of conversation for the opinions they harbour about all sorts of things to surface and I find most of it deeply offensive. They were hilarious at breakfast though.

One of the ladies ordered a full English breakfast and then asked for mustard with it. It’s quite unusual for anyone to order mustard anyway but the instructions that came with the request made me laugh. “It must be ENGLISH mustard, I don’t want any other kind, it has to be ENGLISH.” I was tempted to go out and say to her, enjoy your English mustard along with your German sausage, your Danish bacon and Spanish tomatoes but I didn’t. Mostly because a paying guest still deserves to be treated politely and actually, all our food is locally sourced. The thought of it made me chuckle enough to put it on the hoteliers forum on Facebook though. Bugger me, three other hoteliers had had exactly the same conversations in their dining rooms! Patriotism a step too far methinks.

So. Now we have an empty house, what to do with our free time?

We could…or…maybe we could…or…just sleep. Blessed sleep.

Yes please! Let’s do that. See you soon, folks, I’m off for the first of many little naps.

Tie dye, bleach and general clothing customisation


Oooooh, what’s this? A new line of business?

I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking that I’d gone into the hippy clothing business since Torbay is so close to Totnes, that Mecca for hippies, artists and musicians but no.

What I’m talking about is an entirely different way of customising clothes. I’m talking about the ‘cleaning a bathroom and accidentally getting bleach everywhere’ approach to dying clothes. It’s reaching ridiculous proportions.

Yesterday I had to go out and buy myself half a dozen new tee shirts and work trousers as I’m starting to look a bit bleached out, and not in a good way. This week alone two tee shirts and a pair of pants have bitten the dust. By pants I mean trousers, not knickers, even I haven’t managed to bleach my knickers yet. Although I did manage to bleach my eyeball this morning. All I can say about that is, BLOODY OW!!! Anyway, I digress.

To be fair I quite enjoyed my little foray into town for some new clothes. It offset the trauma of going to the dentist and having my gums jet washed. Again – BLOODY OW!

Now that most of the tourists have gone home it’s quite nice in town. The beggars have buggered off since they know they aren’t getting anything from the locals who all know that these ‘homeless’ folk climb into a nice car and drive to their homes after a hard days begging. I kid you not. Not only that but the jay walkers who don’t seem to realise they are supposed to stay on the pavements and the foreign drivers who drive round with a look of pure terror on their faces, usually on the right side of the road but not always, have also gone. During the height of the season it’s like a three ring circus on the main road in town I flatly refuse to drive in that part of town during July and August. Anyway, I digress again.

After two and a half years of running a lodging emporium you’d think I’d be quite adept at cleaning the bathrooms without spraying bleach everywhere but no, no matter how careful I am I still manage to get it everywhere. In an attempt to try and look at least a little professional in case any stray guests happen to still be around I popped on a nice new pair of trousers and a new tee shirt before starting to service the rooms this morning and within half an hour I’d sprayed them both with bleach- along with my aforementioned eyeball.

With the benefit of hind sight, my brilliant idea of putting the bleach into a spray bottle was not such a brilliant idea after all. It wasn’t so much a spray as a powerful jet that ricocheted off the tiles and all over me. Sigh.

Maybe I should just embrace the concept of bleach speckled clothing and call it a fashion statement.