Our children were all three still in primary school when we moved into Fairview. Within months I received my first paying guest and our children had to learn a new set of rules: ask before you take fruit out of the fruit bowl, tell me when you finish the juice or milk, no sport equipment lying around, no loud music, no loud shouting and the one that drove them to distraction - no telephone calls on my dedicated guest house telephone number! This was prior mobile telephones and even though we had a private number too, their friends would phone on the guest house number and that would not be tolerated as their teenage calls could go on for hours.
Last Saturday evening we went to bed early as we only had one couple staying - only to be cruelly awoken at 11.45 by the gate bell being rung - repeatedly... As I have a slight hearing impairment the bell is set to ring very loudly and to discourage people from ringing it repeatedly it is also set to ring loudly at the gate. Desmond went down to open the gate as we could see that these people were not taking 'no' for an answer.
To my surprise I could hear that he was actually booking them in - we normally, as a security measure, do not take off-street bookings after hours. It transpired that they had made an online booking earlier and for some reason the text message notification never came through on my mobile phone, so I did not know about their arrival as I never checked my computer between returning from a late afternoon movie, making dinner and retiring early. That they did not think it unacceptable to book in nearly midnight without prior arrangement just added to the chain of events of how things go very wrong when they start going wrong.
In March 2008 we had as guest the granddaughter of one of the Stander daughters. She sent me a poem written by her grand-mother. On weekends the daughters would stroll down to the Kat River and obviously, the young Maria met a young man from the other side of the river whom her parents did not approve of.
I have noticed that guest houses will often set the television to a news channel during breakfast.To me that is just one notch above listening to rap while having a meal - who wants to start his day with bad news, and let's face it, 'news' will inevitably be bad news. For seventeen years my background music of choice at the breakfast table has been light classical music, but I also have quite a collection of 'soothing' background CD's. I think one should be careful with vocals and I prefer to play soothing instrumental music if not light classical.
I have a few friends who also run B&B's and whenever we get together, you can be sure that within minutes we'll be sharing tips, recipes, a joke or a funny incident. Exactly a year ago my friend Liza encouraged me to write candidly about the joys (and frustrations) of running a guest house, categorized on my blog as "My B&B Life". This week I want to tackle tricky issues around accents and cultural differences.
An Afrikaans speaking person will ask for breakfast at 'half sewe' (6h30), someone from England will talk about 'half seven' (7h30) and another person may talk about 'half-past seven' - three different meanings to similar-sounding request, fertile ground for misunderstandings! I'm sure fellow B&B owners will sympathize with my frustration (because it's probably happened to them often!) when a guest who requested breakfast at 6.30 (which requires a wake-up time of 5.30 for the guest house owner) then casually waltzes in at 7.30. The problem is that you've been robbed of an hour of sleep with only yourself to blame as, chances are, you were the one who made the mistake with the half-past six / half six story.