WELL, it finally happened. We had out first paying guests – six, including a tiny and remarkably quiet baby – last night. They were in Askrigg for a wedding and occupied all our rooms (two doubles and a single). Needless to say, I had known from the minute the first party booked about two months ago that it would all go horribly wrong. The rooms wouldn’t be finished on time, or if they were the furniture wouldn’t arrive. The guests would switch on the televisions which, if they’d managed to stay on the wall and not come crashing down because of faulty fittings, would not be properly tuned. The blinds wouldn’t be working properly, the showers would spout forth cold water, the toilets wouldn’t flush and they’d electrocute themselves as soon as they switched on the kettle for a reviving cup of tea. If they did make it through the night and down to breakfast, then of course there wouldn’t be enough food.
I awake in the early hours of the morning to a terrible realisation: I’d put the wrong cloth on the breakfast table. It was a flowery Cath Kidston job, and hadn’t somebody, somewhere, who knows about these things, said “The golden rule of successful b&b is a white tablecloth. If you screw up on everything else, get this right. Nothing else will do.” So at 2.30 in the morning I am contemplating the dining table, set for breakfast down to the last teaspoon, and wondering if I have the heart to remove everything and get out the white linen. Which of course would need ironing. I decide against it and resign myself to miserable failure – and that’s before I’ve even thought about the breakfast. I just remember Amanda and boys staying early last year and her saying, diplomatically, as we cleared their breakfast dishes in time for lunch: “You might find it easier to convert the place into apartments and forget the b&b.”
But we got there. And the guests, who were just the best we could have had, were delighted. Or so they said in the hastily constructed guest book. Modesty forbids I should reveal their comments but they left looking happy and well-fed and promising to return. Forget WeightWatchers (which now meets 18 miles away in Catterick; another story) – I had a bacon and sausage sandwich to celebrate. I knew I’d cooked too much.