Our area is fast becoming a magnet for holidaymakers looking for beautiful countryside, good food and drink and a comfortable place to stay. Bed and breakfast accommodations still form the backbone of the British tourist industry and, between them, Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell offer a fine selection.
While Alan and Kate attest that 99.9% of guests were wonderful and indeed many became friends and visited repeatedly, it’s the 0.1% of ‘more unusual’ guests that have stuck in their minds. Like the party of 30-somethings who, after consuming rather more than their recommended weekly alcohol intake in just one night, proceeded to educate the rest of the house with a selection of four-letter words at the tops of their voices. Reluctant to throw them out as they were so inebriated, Kate asked them to be quiet and waited to speak to them at breakfast. None of them appeared and, to top off their stay, they left without paying – an issue solved only with a little help from the local constabulary.
And then there were the sleep walkers who needed to be returned to their rooms long after lights out. One gentleman in particular woke Kate and Alan twice in one night looking for the bathroom but eventually decided the emergency exit was the solution to his problem... On another occasion, a party of Hell’s Angels was staying and one of the group asked that if he paid extra would it be alright to bring a ‘dancing girl’ back with him for the night. The answer was obviously yes as both pillowcases and towels bore the brunt of said lady’s scarlet hair dye the next morning. Kate, however, would like to point out that the Hell’s Angels were otherwise lovely guests, more interested in drinking nettle tea than raising hell.
While Alan and Kate attest that 99.9% of guests were wonderful and indeed many became friends and visited repeatedly, it’s the 0.1% of ‘more unusual’ guests that have stuck in their minds.
Beds are half of the business, breakfast is the other. Most guests now expect a little flexibility in the breakfast menu, and Kate and Alan went the extra mile to provide home-made bread, a gluten-free menu and even eggs royale. However, despite the large choice on the breakfast menu, Kate still got asked for bell peppers and onions by one transatlantic guest, which she was pleased to provide the next day after she’d been shopping!
Local knowledge is also a requirement of owning a b&b so that guests can get the most from their stay. Kate was more than a little perplexed, though, when she enquired of another transatlantic guest what their plans were for that day and was informed that they intended visiting both Oxford and the Lake District – on the same day!
Now happily retired, Kate and Alan no longer have to make and remake beds constantly or cope with nocturnal visits from itinerant guests. Their breakfasts are free from endless rounds of coffee and tea and peculiar requests of the vegetable kind. But plenty of people are still in the business, welcoming holidaymakers both locally and further afield. As someone who gets cranky if friends or relatives stay longer than three days and who takes weeks to launder the resulting bed linen, I can only admire those who not only do this for a living but actually enjoy themselves at the same time. Just remind me to leave it to those with patience and a predilection for bed-making and getting up early next time I’m tempted to let out my spare room!