New Venture for Possum Valley!

Henry at work

Your host Paul, has launched into a new venture to start early June.  It will be only part time, but very exciting and challenging.  Please be assured that accommodation services will be maintained to the highest standard, or at least to the highest standard I am capable of, which is what you have been getting so far.  My eldest daughter has volunteered me for a day care centre.  She is returning to work as a nurse in accident and emergency after a lengthy period off with the feeble excuse of looking after her kids now aged 3 and 1 and a bit.  So she has been lazing around, taking advantage of maternity leave with the occasional chore of washing an infant and feeding them now and again.  I mean how hard can that be?  And now she is back to the real world of gainful employment.  I hope she can handle the pace and get back up to speed after the life of leisure she has been enjoying.  

So I will be looking after them for a day or two to fill in the idle time I have operating a B&B.  I intend to get these infants organised as soon as possible along the lines of Baron Von Trapp (Sound of Music).  Get them used to a strict regime and able to obey every command in an instant.  Eating and sleeping to a schedule, and saying ‘thank you’ at every opportunity.  Shouldn’t be too hard, I’ve done it before, though memory is hazy and I don’t think it went quite like that, but I do have a much more developed brain and vastly more experience.  What could possibly go wrong?  A couple of infants with a proclivity for grovelling in mud, which I will quickly stop despite mud being freely available around the property, and a belief that every material is potential foodstuff will surely be easy to curtail.  I will report back to you my successes and triumphs in child raising.  

Henry at work

Henry at work

A couple of days ago I was chatting to a guest on the veranda, when his gaze went over my shoulder and I could see he wasn’t listening to a thing that I said.  Don’t you hate it when that happens and you realise they haven’t the slightest interest in what you are saying?  As I spluttered to a stop, he pointed behind me and there was a cassowary about 30m away.  It was a juvenile looking a bit uncertain about its exploration of the world.  It stayed around for a few minutes and I am pleased his family got to see it before it disappeared into the forest.  

Also the platypus entertained the guests over the weekend just around Blackbean Cottage.  I am pleased to say after a couple of years absence, they are now well ensconced in the pool next to the cottage.  Tonight as I was having dinner of chicken satay with rice, homemade coleslaw and avocados stuffed with hommus (I’m sure you wanted to know that), I heard the GALUMPH GALUMPH of a wallaby hopping across the veranda.  I’m used to the pitter-patter of tiny feet on a wooden floor, and it is usually possums, but the sound of a wallaby on a wooden floor is a magnitude louder.  It paused for a moment at the entrance to the dining room before hopping across and under the table.  Now you may consider this a bit wussy of me, but it was within a meter of my naked legs and feet and I couldn’t see it, so I moved.  It scrambled for the exit.

Wish me luck in my new venture. 

Operating a B&B Part 2

Relaxed Wallaby

Ok, having recently written a blog (see “Operating a B&B”), but failing to get round to the subject, I had better continue.  In short, it is great.  I get to stay at home in a beautiful place, people come here, give me money and leave again.  What a sweet deal.  I once had a guest tell me I had the second best job in the world.  I thought for a bit and knew I was being suckered into the asking the obvious question, but asked it anyway.  “OK, who has the best job?”  “David Attenborough”.  Fair enough, I don’t mind coming second to the bro.  

Nearly 100% of my guests are really good people I am pleased to meet and I have enjoyed the chats I have had with many.  Nearly 100% treat the place with respect and some are even too diligent and collect the linen and some even mop their way out the door.  For the record, I actually prefer guests not to strip the beds or remake used beds, but I do appreciate the kind thought.  Just take everything you came with, so I don’t have to forward things all over the country, and leave all my stuff.  It’s my role to do the bed stripping and cleaning and stuff.  Do guests pinch stuff?  Quite the reverse.  I have missed a few pillows, probably because some people bring their own and mistake the ones they take home., but the number left accidentally or deliberately, far exceeds that paltry number.  And kitchen equipment!!!! Some guests have remarked about the range of pots pans and kitchen utensils and I modestly blush and mumble something about trying to do my best, when in fact most of it has been left by guests.  I could open a shop for secondhand frypans and utensils, but somehow doubt the market would be strong enough.  

The nicest thing is that some guests have become people I consider friends.  Hi Martin, Robert, Chantall, Sue & Iain, Ross etc etc and many have given me so much help and equipment over the years.  Of the array of IT equipment before me for instance, I was given the desktop computer (and installation and setup), the screen, the modem, the router etc.  I bought only the $39 printer which I barely use.  I had guests/friends diagnose a tricky problem with my tumble-dryer just before Xmas dinner.  I doubt you can imagine the scale of the catastrophe of having a B&B at the busiest time of the year, in the wet season, in a tropical rainforest, if you don’t have a working dryer.  Civilisation would cease.  I was able to order some special solenoids from the US over the internet that arrived in time to avert the collapse of my business.  Thanks guys.  My world would be a much smaller place without you.

General notes on operating a B&B.  Modest income well below national wage levels.  Must have no mortgage, or have another off-property income.  Must actually like people of all ages, shapes, colours, nationalities, political persuasions and abilities.  Must have sense of humour to handle odd-ball situations.  Also a sense of humour highly recommended for guests and travellers as well.  From experience, a very robust sense of humour required for travelling in Africa.  You will find it more than matched by the beautiful African sense of humour, well developed as a survival strategy.  That is if it isn’t trumped by the need to earn a crust, an even more important survival strategy.  The operator must also be flexible in working hours.  Actually, it is a pretty slack job, but with bursts of activity according to guest comings and goings.  

And finally the operator must get satisfaction from providing a generous, relaxing, renewing, educational, enjoyable experience.  In other words, my happiness depends on yours.  Having just written that, I think it could be a catch-call for world peace, but hey, I operate in a small sphere and only apply it to myself.  I take particular satisfaction in providing a wild experience for kids.  A few kids can’t handle it and may get technology withdrawal symptoms, but most like the wildness and the mystery of what is over the ridge? behind the next tree?  Dr Suzuki has remarked (paraphrasing) that kids these days get 90% of what they know about the natural world from the television but there is no substitute for touching, smelling and feeling.  It engages the emotional parts of the brain and has a much more powerful influence.  Now that there is remote sensing of brain activity without the inconvenience of drilling holes in kids heads and shoving wires into the brain, the research seems to be getting greater approval from the ethics committees.  Can’t imagine why.  Anyway, it seems that kids brains really light up in all areas and prioritise memories that have emotional content.  A BGO.  Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious.  Scientists should have saved the expense of machines costing a million dollars each and just asked Mary Poppins.  

Very relaxed wallaby

Very relaxed wallaby

I took this pic a few minutes ago just outside my kitchen window.  A very relaxed wallaby just 4m from my kitchen sink.  I have seen a lot of wallabies , and today I have seen at least a dozen without looking for them, but I have never seen one sitting on it’s bum before.  Nothing to do with the blog, but I thought you would like to see it.

Operating a B&B

I have been operating a B&B continuously now for a quarter of a century now, so I guess I am getting close to being qualified to say something about it.  I do so with a little trepidation as many dear readers will be regular guests and will … [Continue reading]

Water Water Everywhere

"Nor any drop to drink".   Samuel Coleridge from the "rime of the ancient mariner".  Well that was the situation here at Possum Valley recently.  Showers or storms every day adding to the abundant flow in the creek.  As major … [Continue reading]

Catching Up

I have had a 2 month visit from an old friend, Richard from the UK.  Leeds to be precise.  When I say old, we both have to admit to that, but also old in the sense that we haven't seen each other in 45 years.  Like many people we … [Continue reading]

Merry Christmas

When my girls were at Possum Valley I used to make a bit of a fuss about Xmas and follow most of the traditions, however ridiculous and inappropriately imported from the northern hemisphere.  All that stuff about snow and reindeers racing … [Continue reading]

How to Report Nothing

In this latest review into viability status, customer satisfaction and management performance, it has been found that ongoing policy settings are achieving their aims of furthering the company's objectives. An analysis of current outcomes compared … [Continue reading]

Possum Valley Meltdown

Temperatures at Possum Valley have cooled down in the last day or two after a period of 4 or 5 days of heat wave. I have endured the hottest temps in the 40 years I have been here with the exception of just one day about 15 years ago when it was 1C … [Continue reading]