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.
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.