It rolls around every year and yet it still seems to take us all by surprise. One minute it’s months away and then before you know it, it’s here. Here in all it’s noisy, messy, colourful, chaotic gloriousness.
I’m not going to lie, I really struggled to drum up a bit of Christmas spirit this year. Its been a hard year for many a reason and personally I can’t wait to see the back of it. But you know what? Me being a misery wasn’t going to make Christmas fun for anyone so I turned my frown upside down, with the help of a little bit of good news, cracked on.
First up was a trip ‘up country’ as they say round here to go and see the northern element of the family. Boofuls, Douggie the doggie, Munki and I all set off on our road trip. A long journey becomes both a lot more fun but also a lot more stressful with an eleven year old in tow. Constant chatter and requests. She wanted to stop at every service station to see if they sold katsu chicken because she loves it. Boofuls wasn’t so keen on the katsu but he did get a nice KFC. Funnily enough he had an overwhelming feeling that he was being watched while he ate it.
The whole journey was a munchie and music fest. At one point Munki was sitting in the back of the car listening to classical music. Multiple renditions of Offenbach’s Galop Infernal got a bit wearing after a while to be honest.
Once we reached grey and rainy Lancashire we headed for our home for the next few days. A lovely cottage up on the moors. All decked out with a Christmas tree and little treats here and there. A bowl of sweets and lots of thoughtful little touches, it all started to feel a bit more festive.
Then of course we went straight to see The Rev, Gembolina, Big N, Batty and Dangerous.
Isn’t it funny how you don’t realise quite how much you have missed someone until you see them again? It was very difficult to release them from my hugs. I was a bit surprised to see that Munki is now taller than her cousins and indeed her aunty (yes, ok, and me).
Amid much chatter and laughter plans for an early Christmas the following day were made. Chinese take away and presents. A Christmas with a difference. The time flew by.
Over the next few days we caught up with friends and family before we set off back to Boofuls Towers.
Munki had been given a laptop for Xmas but no cover for it so I made this little bag for it on Christmas Eve. I quite like it.
Christmas Day arrived for the second time!
Since Boofuls Lodging Emporium was closed to the public we divided the dining room to make it a bit cosier and had a glorious time. As mad as it is with small children around, Christmas is always better with them. Exhausting but better.
We played lots of silly party games all day. This turned out to be a cracking idea as it spread dinner out over a four hour period and kept the kids occupied. I don’t know where those kids get their energy from, they just kept going!
Baby Dougal’s first Christmas was so exciting for him. He tried his best to join in with everything. Such a sweet natured child. At half past midnight the kids were still up and raring to go having been singing carols on the karaoke for ages. Where did that time go? Mind you. Im not sure they stayed awake for many minutes after they got to bed. I know I didn’t!
No sophisticated or grown up decorations for the table this year. It was snowmen and elves all the way. Fabulous!
Douggie the doggie loves to open presents. At least this one was his. He’s not really fussy who’s gift he opens.
Little git was just bemused by the whole thing.
Since Lashes et al stayed over Boxing day was pretty much a repeat of Christmas Day except that we were all exhausted. The weather was grey and stormy and I was wishing I hadn’t commited to doing the annual Boxing Day dip for charity this year. But commit I had so my ‘dip’ buddy and I set off to the beach with the hundred or other mad souls who’d also talked themselves into it.
God, it was cold!!!!
Of course, once you get in the water its ok. We pranced about a bit and made a little video for our sponsors as evidence that we’d done it.
It was all worth it as we raised a goodly amount of money for our choir’s chosen charity this year which is Guide Dogs. We felt very virtuous on our way home to treat ourselves to a hot chocolate with brandy.
By lunchtime the excesses of the previous week were catching up. Lashes, Beardy guy and the kids went home and Boofuls and I settled down in peace, perfect peace to watch a fil…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Ok, we spent the afternoon asleep.
So there you are. That was our Christmas, how was yours?
Some weeks ago I received a letter from the bank telling me that they had to interview me before 3rd January or they may have to close down my account. Something to do with money laundering, proving who we are etc. Money laundering. Eh?
This account is the teeny, tiny, macro sized sewing business that my friend Sandra and I have set up. We make a few bags, bunting, Christmas decorations and sell them to people we know, mostly.
I duly booked the appointment with the bank, speaking to a very nice chap on the phone he told me what information I would need to have to hand. Again. Eh?
This lot seems to think we are an international, multi layered corporation turning over millions. Didn’t they look at our account before getting in touch?
Now I’m digging out proofs of identity, date the company started and all manner of other information that all seems a bit ridiculous. Still, we have to stay legal and transparent I suppose, especially with all tens of pounds that go through our account every month.
It’s not often much goes on around here outside of the tourist season so it was with great excitement that we heard about an art installation going on nearby.
The first I heard about it was when I was approached by a man and woman on the beach asking me if I would be interested in me and Douggie the doggie taking part in a dog ballet. “YES!” was my instant reply. He told me there would be a brass band, an opera singer, theatrical lights and dogs wearing coloured lights, coloured balls and they’d be doing what they normally do on the beach, but after dark. It all sounded very wacky and right up my street so I signed up there and then.
It turned out to be part of a wider exhibition covering various landmarks in the town. Over three nights, hundreds of people attended. It was all very happy and Arts Councilish, right up my street! The best bit was the murmuration. A large group of us all wearing headphones as if at a silent disco listened and moved in synchronicity to music and instructions that the audience couldn’t hear, just like a flock of birds. It was BRILLIANT!!! Lashes and I were completely lost in it and we were sad when it ended.
Other exhibits were…actually, let the pictures tell the story.
This little catch up post is a veritable smorgasbord of snippets. Any one of them would make a full post on its own but I haven’t got the time or energy for that, it’s been busier than an eight lane motorway at rush hour. So, it’s snippets or nowt, I’m afraid.
Munki and I were taking Douggie the doggie for a walk the other day. Out of the blue Munki suddenly said. Nanny, how many times a day do you walk the dog.?” Me: “Three. At 7am, a long walk mid afternoon then about 8pm. Why do you ask?
“Why aren’t you dead, nanny?
“You must be exhausted. All those breakfasts to cook, all those rooms to clean and guests to look after and now you sew every night as well as all the other things you do. I don’t know how you do it all every day. I couldn’t do what you do. I don’t know why you aren’t dead with it all.”
Aw. Bless her. It’s nice to be noticed.
On Saturday while Douggie and I were on the beach during the mid afternoon walk I got a phone all from Lashes. “Mum, baby has a rash.” “Don’t worry, love. Kids get rashes.”
“It doesn’t go away when I press a glass on it, he’s just screamed for an hour and a half and he’s really hot.
“Phone the doctor, right now.”
I start to rush home, Lashes phones me again. “Can you pick the kids up? There’s an ambulance on the way.”
Off I went to pick up the kids to find a paramedic outside the house. My God, that was quick. Baby was all hooked up to various machines and looking very pale and sorry for himself and with a rash that was developing before our eyes. “Right, I’m not messing about, I’m getting him in,” said the paramedic. Five minutes later up turned an ambulance. Lots of curtains twitched on Lashes quiet, uneventful road.
Poor little baby underwent two days of tests, prodding, examinations, ruminations and injections while they ruled out meningitis and an autoimmune disease called HSP. The end result was a non-identifiable viral infection that his little body wasn’t able to fight and it mimicked meningitis with it’s symptoms. Pumped full of antibiotics he was discharged from hospital this morning, not with a clean bill of health but with a clean enough to go home bill of health.
While all this was going on and we looked after Munki and her two step brothers, Ben and Jerry as well as the dog, fleabagpeebag.
The sleeping arrangements were a bit of a challenge. Although we live in a stonking great house, our part of it is really quite small and all the letting rooms had been let. So, time to get organising. “Boys sleep downstairs, girls sleep upstairs.” That meant that the boys had to share a single Zed bed and Boofuls got the sofa. Munki and I shared a double bed upstairs.
I quickly discovered that Munki has limpet tendencies. “Oh my God! Back off, child, I can’t breathe!!”
“Nanny, I’m going to pretend I’m a sheep and then count myself till I go to sleep.”
“One…………I’m still awake”
Cue twenty minutes of giggling.
While all this was going one we played mine host to competitors in the International Irish dance Championships. Twenty four girls and mums rocked up with dress carriers, huge cases and even bigger cases for their make up.
If you’ve never played host to a house full of excitable and nervous preteenage and teenage girls you’ve never lived. The breakfast orders were bizarre, I felt like I was on Four in a Bed, they couldn’t have been more difficult and picky if they tried. Two girls were vegetarian for three days and then decided they were vegan on the last day. Never in the history of B&B-ing has so much food been wasted.
After breakfast they drifted off to get ready for their particular rounds. As we did the rooms we were transfixed by the metamorphosis of little girls into teeny, tiny, identikit drag queen lookalikes. Every one of them had stupidly long eyelashes, mahogany tans and curly wigs and of course the obligatory short dance dresses. It was hard to tell one from another. Bizarrely, or maybe not considering all the exercise they get, they all had legs like sparrows.
It wasn’t hard to tell which side of the bed the dancer slept in. Want to know how we could tell? Its like the Turin shroud.
The bathrooms and towels looked like a crime scene:
As if all this wasn’t fun enough. Boofuls, full of a cold that had gone straight onto his chest, got a call from the doctors surgery. “Would you like a flu and pneumonia jab?” “No thank you, I’ve never had flu. Goodbye.”
I looked at him bemused. “Are you sure about this?” He phoned them back. “I’ve changed my mind.” They got him in that very evening, obviously thinking that if they didn’t catch him quickly he’d run away.
They duly gave him the injections, one in each arm. Over the next couple of days he developed flu symptoms on top of his cold. “Noooooo, not now, Boofuls, we’re too busy.” Poor Boofuls, coughed, sneezed, snuffled, ached and wheezed his way through the whole, full on weekend.
Now that Baby is out of hospital, the grandchildren and dog have all gone to their respective homes, the guests have all gone. The house is so peaceful I did wonder for a while if I’d gone deaf.
Boofuls and I are taking a day or two to catch our breath and recover. It’s peace perfect peace.
MInding my own business in the linen room I was unpacking and putting away the seven million tonnes of sheets, duvet covers and towels that the nice man from the laundry left for me.
I bent down to pick up a bale of towels I was suddenly and unexpectedly kicked in the ribs by a horse. What the fu…..? Fell out of my mouth as I dropped to my knees with the severity of the pain. I turned to see where this horse had been hiding as I hadn’t noticed any horses in the linen room when I went in. Sneaky little bastard packed a hell of a kick. Strangely, there was no horse, just the pain in my ribs that came from nowhere.
After a minute I got my breath back and gingerly carried on putting the linen away. Too scared to bend much in case it happened again.
When everything was away I went downstairs and told Boofuls what had just happened while I examined my aching ribs convinced that there should be a rapidly developing bruise there. No bruise. How odd. The rest of the day and the next couple of days I hobbled around clutching my side and waited for the pain to ease while still inspecting my side convinced that I would see a massive bruise there.
On the third day (Oh, it’s sounding a bit biblical now, isn’t it) I got up to cook breakfast for our many guests as normal, aware that my poor ribcage was feeling much, much worse. By the time we went up to service the rooms I could hardly walk upright. I would take a deep breath, hold on to a door frame and give the staff their instructions. As soon as they were out of sight I would slump down and cry with the pain.
This is bloody stupid, thought I as I hobbled into one of the bedrooms out of sight of the staff. At that point common sense kicked in and I phoned 111 giving them all the details and explained that I could hardly breathe never mind walk or work. The nice lady listened and then said, “Right, based on what you’ve told me I’m phoning an ambulance for you.”
“What? No! Ambulance? Why?”
“No. Rib pains. It’s not a heart attack.”
She asked me why I didn’t want to go to hospital so I told her the whole sorry saga about how I thought I was having a heart attack in April and wound up wasting valuable time and A&E services for nothing more than a panic attack. I was mortified at the time and didn’t want to repeat that experience when I absolutely knew this wasn’t my heart.
“Ok. I’ll get a paramedic to talk to you.” Anyway…long story short. After a chat with a lovely paramedic I waited all day for a doctor to phone me. That’s after being told to be ready to go immediately to an out of hours appointment. Eventually I saw a doctor. He told me I was suffering from something that used to be called the Devil’s grip. That’s dramatic but it did bloody feel like the devil had a firm grip on my ribs.
As it turned out I had torn one of the muscles between my ribs and that had become inflamed. Hence the sudden pain and burning. I was prescribed some fanbloodytasticIcouldselltheseforafortuneintown pain killers and told to rest. Ha! Rest. Doesn’t he know I run a lodging emporium? Actually, no, he doesn’t.
Lashes came and helped me as much as possible. In between tablets and sleep I eventually managed to get moving again but even now a month later I’m moving quite carefully.
Honestly, Boofuls and I have really had our money’s worth out of the NHS this year. We have practically been taking it in turns to be ill. On every one of the many occasions that we have needed help the staff and treatment we have received has been amazing. It’s very easy to criticise the NHS but we have seen first hand how the staff cope under ridiculous pressure put on them from further up the ladder. It’s time we realised what a fantastic resource we have there and start taking better care of it.
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.”
“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.
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…
Ok, I’m a proud grandma. Indulge me a bit while I show off a few photos I took of baby Dougal, Lashes and Munki. It’s beena while siunce I did a photo shoot of any kind never mind one with a new born baby. What a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.
Just in case you are wondering, Beardy Guy was at work while this impromptu shoot was going on, it’s his turn for photos on his next day off. I have some great ideas. I miss photography.
For those of you not familiar with Munki, let me introduce her.
She is our nine year old granddaughter, she lives here, along with her mother, Lashes at Booful’s Lodging Emporium.
Always a feisty child, she always has an opinion. Whoever gets this girl in later life will need to keep on their toes. She’s sharp. You never really know what she’s going to come out with next. I have a suspicion, for various reasons, that she may she may be on the ‘spectrum’. This girl just tells it like it is and there are zero filters between her mouth and her brain. As often as we talk about manners and not being rude, she still hasn’t managed to get a filter in place.
I once took her to an exhibition of local artists’ work. She stood in the middle of the hushed gallery and announced in strident tones, “Well, I don’t know why we are wasting our time here, Nanny. It’s all rubbish.” As much as I wished for the ground to swallow me whole it stayed steadfastly solid under my feet as everyone in the room (mostly the artists) glared at us. To be fair, it wasn’t the best exhibition I’ve ever seen but I’d rather she’d whispered it to me rather than bellowing it for all to hear. I really must locate her volume control.
Having said all that, she is loving, quirky, incredibly funny and quick witted as well as being a very talented artist. I love being in her company as she always has me in stitches of laughter.
Last night it was Lashes on the receiving end. Having had a busy day and not feeling great she decided to take the easy route for dinner. “What’s for dinner, mum?”, Munki enquired.
“You’re having soup today.”
“Soup? What flavour?”
“Tomato soup? Out of a tin? It’s like being in a war. Except we aren’t in a war, are we, mum? It’s just you too lazy to make a meal.”
Wow! Just wow! I think it might be time to have another chat about manners and respect. *stifles gales of laughter at her perceptive comment*
Rants, raves and ramblings about whatever takes my fancy