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The alternative learnings

A while back I was asked to do a guest blog for the great guys at Escape the City summarising 10 things we’ve learned since making the leap… They’re  lessons I’ve learned the hard way and things that I now realise to be a good thing despite my scepticism at the time.

However, there are lots of random things we’ve learned (especially about human nature) since opening a guest house so here is my 10 (other) things I’ve learned since opening Little Leaf…

1. Contrary to the pages of every Cosmo / girlie mag I’ve ever read, people (on the whole) do not enjoy sleeping naked. More of our guests have pajamas than not and it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who prefers to wear something in bed.

2. People are ridiculously tidy. Despite knowing that their room will be cleaned every day it amazes me as to how many people make the bed – even when they are checking out that day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining (in fact I’d probably do the same) but it’s surprising; I thought people would be more laissez faire about tidiness when on holiday.

3. Danny and I have exceptionally large appetites. When staying at a B&B I am all about the second ‘B’. It starts with fruit and cereal, in the middle is a full English (every element cleaned off my plate), and I finish off with as much toast as I can eat before the proprietors start raising eyebrows. Granted, I will leave the table fit to bursting, but that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Apparently not. Many of our guests will ask for ‘smaller’ portions, leave toast and even opt to not have a cooked breakfast at all in deference to their digestive system. I could come to the conclusion that our guests don’t eat much, but I suspect that it’s more that Danny and I have the appetites of trainee gladiators.

Cartoon about big appetite

4. Cleaning is easy (and fun) if you are doing it for other people. I am embarrassed to let people into our bedroom yet proud to open the door to any of the guest bedrooms and communal areas. It’s curious as to why, with the vacuum cleaner still in hand and wearing my cleaning clothes, I would rather disinfect the kitchen floor than dust our television.

5. It’s as much fun to buy aprons as it used to be to buy stilletoes. Friends in London are probably burying their head in their hands at this admission but it’s true – I select the apron to use based on the outfit I am wearing and it’s often just as flattering to the figure as a well-heeled pair of shoes.

6. Things keep going wrong at the ‘right time’. Not sure if that’s possible, is there ever a right time for a TV to stop working or a shower to start leaking? However, every time something drastic has happened we’ve been incredibly fortunate in that it’s been at just the right time. For example, one morning it transpired that one particular shower was tripping the mains switch for the entire house. Every time the guest switched on the shower all the electrics went. After this had happened a few times (with us naiively switching the mains switch back on) the guest rightly gave up. LUCKILY (and I really mean ‘THANK GOD’) the guest was one of a bigger party staying at the guest house and was able to run down the stairs and use another shower in another room. Had this not been an option I can’t think what we would have done (our shower is not an option – see point 4).

7. As long as people have tea / coffee and toast it doesn’t matter if it takes longer than 5 minutes to get the breakfast out of the kitchen. An addendum to this is that everyone has been super lovely when we’ve been rushed off our feet and there’s been a ‘cooked breakfast’ delay. We have so much faith in our guests’ that we no longer put out the sign asking people to be patient when we are full.

8. We don’t need a sitting room. Without the 9 to 5 grind / routine a sitting room is pointless. We are either working in the kitchen, out, in the garden or tucked up in bed watching tele or reading. A sitting room (which we reluctantly gave over to the communal part of the house just days before we opened) would have been completely redundant. Who’d have thought it!? Not me!

9. Food safety is interesting. Our recent course gave me a real insight into the kind of risks associated with food preparation, and the nonchalant attitude with which we prepare food for ourselves cannot be applied to food for guests. Not that long ago I would have thought ‘use by’ dates a waste of time and a way in which supermarkets capitalise on our paranoia to make more money; to a certain extent I still think that but I now respect those dates a lot more and am happy to have them on our produce to protect ourselves and the people we are preparing food for.

10. Guests are wonderfully appreciative of little gestures. What Danny and I think are natural things to do, i.e. put wine glasses in a room when we see a wine bottle (so people don’t have to use our ‘picnic-style’ plastic glasses (predominantly used for toothbrush holding and water drinking) to drink their £40 bottle of wine, can really make someone’s day. It’s feels good to know that people appreciate the little things, and it just challenges us to think of more we can do to make each guests’ holiday or short break a memorable and lovely experience.

Alyson says:

Interesting, but how do you know your guests wear their pj’s in bed?

I always take mine when away for lounging in the room before lights out or after waking, in fact any time the curtains might be open or there might be a knock at the door. And the proprietor/cleaning staff might find them when tidying the room…. but have I worn them to sleep in?