Living the Dream – 41. Guest Season

Guest season is upon us. We have two sets during the month of April. They are looking forward to it, we’re looking forward to it. I just hope that the weather Gods got the memo.

Not surprisingly, moving to a house with a pool, in a hot climate makes for a higher visitor count. Of course, this is in part, because we are much further from friends and family now, so it’s not as though we can hook up for a quick coffee any more: But the proximity of the beach helps.

Guest Season Management

Turns out that living cheek by jowl with other people is not the same as being friends with them. Things are further complicated by the fact that the guests are on holiday, but for us, it’s another week. Having guests is a privilege, and I don’t intend to ignore them totally, but these posts won’t write themselves and contrary to what you may have heard, Nero’s Notes does require a little bit of work from me too.

Cyprus is blessed with a wonderful coastline and gorgeous beaches, but my Celtic skin is not best-suited to beach days, so those will be the times when I get my work done. When it comes to long barbecues and cold beers however, I will be front and centre.

I have been tasked with writing the house rules. These aren’t actually rules, more a plea, “Let’s talk about stuff.” In our experience, the key things to work out are meals and plans. We can’t put our lives on hold every time that we have guests, but we want our guests to have the holiday that they want. So the rules are an ice-breaker, an enjoinder to start a dialogue before everybody ticks everybody else off.

Money

In true British fashion, a source of awkwardness is money. We’re happy to provide people with breakfast and a light lunch, but thereafter, things need to be split.

“Should everyone pay for what they consume? Shall we split evenly? Your turn, our turn?”

“But you had a bottle of expensive wine and I only had a sip! I didn’t have a starter, and he had a dessert.”

The British way is to find a way that suits nobody, pretend that everything is fine and then complain bitterly to your partner in private.

To avert this, I have declared a kitty. Each person pitches in a cash amount to fund communal evening meals at home and communal meals / drinks out. This is the start point, and we adjust from there if there is an obvious inequity in consumption.

(Put another way, I’m not allowed to outdrink guests four to one)

What could possibly go wrong?

There. You’ve heard the theory. If you don’t hear from me again, assume I’m at the beach, having beer for breakfast.

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Living the Dream -35. Guest Management

Guest Management is hard. We have had 3 sets now and are still learning. Don’t get me wrong, we see having people come to stay as a privilege, but there is no doubt, guests in the house changes how life works. Guest Management is a thing.

Examples

  1. Eating. Some people eat breakfast. Others don’t. Some eat early, others late. Some break their fast in two minutes flat, others want to spend two hours doing it.
  2. Showers. For many people, showers are an essential ritual of the beginning of the day, others shower before lunch, dinner and bed.
  3. Some folk leave every door and window open, and others, the opposite.
  4. Some people like to plan, some people like to freewheel and improvise.

Such is life. When at a hotel, we all get on with what suits us. However, being a house guest is a different dynamic. Guests want to fit in, to go with the flow. They “don’t want to be any trouble.” Often, this means that the hosts are doing, not what they want to do, but what they feel the guests want to do. The guests are doing what they feel the hosts want to do. The result is that nobody is doing what they want to do. Out of a wish to be polite and accommodating, everyone is feeling a bit out of rhythm. “Awks.”

Communication

The key, of course, is communication. The trouble is, that everyone is being so nice and diplomatic, that seldom do people speak the truth.

Of course, I’m perfectly able to avoid all these issues. My default setting is to rise early, drink coffee and work. I can easily absent myself entirely from the morning routine, by having coffee early and going down to the office. This, of course, resolves nothing, placing the entire burden on Margaret. Tempting though.

I’m seriously considering a questionnaire, to be completed by all guests. It will need to be carefully designed, with multiple choice questions, designed to winkle out the truth, defeating attempts to answer every question “oh, I don’t mind”. I might need to get Belbin to design it.

This questionnaire, along with a detailed set of house rules will seem way over the top, but will make everyone’s life (well, mine at least) so much easier.

Rules

In the absence of the questionnaire, here are some sample rules, just around breakfast, if I was writing them.

  • Breakfast is from 7 till 9. There’s coffee, tea, cereal and toast. If in season, there’s fruit too.  Scrambled eggs or devilled kidneys? See *.  Breakfast at ten? See *.

  • We use a Nespresso machine for coffee. We have a kettle. Need a latte or a teapot? See *.

  • When I say, give me a shout if you need tea or coffee, what I actually mean is “between 7 and 9, I’ll make you a coffee. If you need one at 0930, see *, if you decide to help yourself, rooting through my cupboards, I’ll shoot you with a crossbow.”

*: A mere 12 minutes drive away is a beach, with not one, not two, but three restaurants catering to every taste and budget.

Conclusion

I think that my rules will soon have breakfast tamed, leaving only, off the top of my head,

  1. Water management
  2. Doors and nets management
  3. Lunches
  4. Dinners
  5. Pool use
  6. Bill splitting
  7. Car usage
  8. Car parking
  9. Shopping kitty
  10. TV use
  11. Toilet use
  12. Meal planning
  13. Event planning
  14. Leaving and arriving

Blimey. Guest management is complicated.