Tomorrow’s Layers

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

When you run an English B&B you need a constant supply of eggs. Many of them. If you have four rooms, all of them occupied, you can end up using 16 eggs every morning. And that’s just for breakfast. If you bake cakes and need eggs for yourself and your family, it really is worth investing in your own production line. In the three weeks since opening, we have been self-sufficient in eggs, with the hens producing more than enough for the moment, but hens don’t lay at the same rate all year round, and they don’t last forever. These little creatures are the latest additions to the household and will hopefully be next season’s layers.

Best Time of the Year

Friday, May 11th, 2018

This is the best time of year for this garden. It’s a short. intense season. This weekend’s guests are lucky.



Laundry Mountains

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

One of the most time-consuming chores when running a B&B is dealing with the laundry. I knew there would be a lot of it, but I didn’t imagine the volume of stuff to wash and iron would be quite so huge. Here’s last weekend’s assortment of sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases, cloths and napkins, washed and folded and waiting to be pressed. It doesn’t include the towels, face cloths, bath mats and bath robes that also had to be washed. To iron that pile will keep me busy me for most of tomorrow. I am now thinking in terms of converting a redundant bathroom into a laundry room, and installing a couple of large washing machines and dryers. Otherwise, my domestic-sized washing machine will simply crack up under the strain.


Pink Explosions

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

I couldn’t have wished for better weather to launch this B&B. Three sets of guests have stayed since Wednesday 2nd, and I’m expecting a couple and a family this evening. The garden is exploding in all directions, with flower buds opening before one’s very eyes.



Opening Day

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Bressenden opened its doors yesterday. An abominably wet and windy day ended with a few rays of evening sun just as the first two guests arrived from the Netherlands. Georgie, the ginger cat, seemed excited by the arrival of the guests and gave one of them a big hug!

The house was still full of workmen on the previous day, and I was busy painting the ceiling of the guests’ kitchen. Now everything is in place and this venture feels real for the first time after two years of house refurbishment and preparation.

B&B hosting will seem easy in comparison with what has led up to it. However, I could not function without the marvellous Ikiru checklist app. Things to do the day before guests arrive, things to do on the day, lists of stock and supplies, shopping lists for everyday items, inventories, breakfast checklists, and everything else besides. My card reader with its associated iPad app also processed its first transaction. This convenient facility worked without any trouble. The payment goes straight to my account and a receipt goes through to the guest’s email or phone. I suspect that most guests will choose cashless methods of payment.

Now to prepare for the busy bank holiday weekend coming up!

Signs of Life

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

The wounded slow worm has recovered well and will be released today, along with another that was rescued before it had a chance to fall victim to cats’ teeth and claws, but which has lost the tip of its tail — a frequent occurrence with these creatures. Here they are, happy in each other’s company.

We were surprised to find very healthy signs of life in the pond too. We thought all the fish had either been frozen to death when the pond was a block of ice for ten days this past winter or been taken by herons that regularly come down to feed. They are very clever at hiding in the murky depths. There’s a good population of newts too.


Saturday, April 21st, 2018

The east wall of the house has had a badly needed makeover. A previous decorator, for reasons known only to himself, had painted the decorative brickwork. I suspect it started off as mistake on one window and he then had to paint all the others to match. Thank goodness he didn’t do that to the front façade. I have long since wanted to restore that brickwork, but knew it would be a tough job. I had a go at the downstairs windows, but after treatment with several pots of paint stripper I’d only managed to peel off a few layers. It was a messy job, and I decided to leave it to the professionals. Here are the before and after images.


Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Three mandarin ducks have adopted what was once an owl’s nesting box. They have been here for a few days. The photo is blurred because it is on full zoom from a hand-held phone. I shall report back if chicks emerge!

Peonie (the black cat) has discovered a nest or colony of slow worms at the foot of the south-facing front wall of the house. She is pulling them out one by one. We are rescuing them if we can, but one that she brought indoors was rather badly wounded. We hope it will recover and survive. Another has already been relocated to the woods, out of harm’s (or Peonie’s) way.



Winter continues

Friday, April 13th, 2018

This time last year, some of the azaleas shrubs were in full bloom, dotting vivid splashes of colour around the garden. This year, they and others of the rhododendron family are very reluctant to open their flower buds, and the trees slow to leaf. It is cold outside. The camelia doesn’t seem to mind the cold, however.

The First Rhododendron

East Sunday, April 1st, 2018

The rhododendron season peaks at the end of May and beginning of June, with blooms of every hue of pink, red and purple, plus a few yellow ones. Topping and tailing the season, appearing many months apart from each other, are two white varieties at opposite corners of the garden. They were probably planted at the same time as all the other rhododendrons in 1930 or thereabouts. Many have now reached the ends of their lives and will need to be replaced very soon. As I looked out of the window this morning, I noticed the early one in bloom, in its usual place. The photo is a bit blurred because it was on full zoom from my bedroom window.

Later in the day I went to inspect the blooms. Because they are so high up, the only way I could see them properly was by getting the camera lens to zoom in on them.