This morning, I went out into the garden just before our guests came upstairs for their breakfast. The intense heat of the last couple of days had subsided. Dampness from the ocean had completed its usual task of staining the walkways, and the plants were fresh with crystal drops of dew. Something new was here: fall was distinctly present and all about, with prescient glimpses of the days to come.
I could just envision those now – liquid drops on the roses forming encrustments of glittering rime in the not too distant future. Funny, how we dread the onset of winter and yet, in some part of ourselves, long for it, as well. The shorter days, the cozy nights next to the fire. The dreams of coming seasons.
While I stood observing, I realized a shift in nature sounds, as well. The air was full of chatter, some from birds, and some from small furry creatures. Their pursuit was identical: the time had come to fill their larders against the onset of inclement seasons. And much there was to be had! A massive nut tree overhead was shaken limb to limb and relieved of its bounty (I could only imagine the number of little seedlings – mini nut trees – that I’d be pulling out of the garden the following spring!) The rowan berries appeared to have reached the pinnacle of their autumn ripeness, and were highly sought after by cheeky, chastising birds. And then there were the apples, flushed with an autumnal russet tone, and juicy on the branch. How they were eyed, with envy and longing, by ambitious squirrels, not quite up to the task.
And in the pumpkin patch, risking their all as they sidled past Alfredo, our marmalade mouser, tiny rodents scuttled through tangled vines and oversized leaves, collecting the detritus of expended seed pods and decaying gourds.
These are the days of wind down and contemplation. What needs to be done, and what will be done differently next year. Days which continue to be filled with hard labor and yet, have about them a sense of peacefulness, too; a sense of resignation. A time for every purpose under Heaven.
We are frequently asked whether or not we accept small dogs and cats at our B & B. We’ve really struggled with this, as our spaces are very pristine, and it is important to us that they stay so. We understand the needs of those who suffer from allergies, as we do, ourselves.
That said, we also understand that pets are family, and that often, family members holiday together. Bearing in mind that we have 2 very social senior pussycats on duty at all times in the garden, we have taken our cue from the policies of the best hotels, and this is now our written policy:
We will accept small dogs (20 pounds and under), into our ‘Ocean Dreams’ suite only, under the following circumstances:
• no animals allowed on furniture ever, including not on beds
• no animals left unattended in suites. An immediate $200 levy will be charged if this rule is breached. This means that animals will accompany owners to breakfast, and must be heeled (leashed) or kenneled.
• we will accept a $150 fully refundable damage deposit at the time of booking
• Doggie sitting may be arranged with management for those wishing to go out for dinner. 2 hour maximum at a fee of $30.
• There will be a charge of $45 for cleaning at the time of departure
We truly hope that this answers questions, and that it provides a fair and safe way for our guests to travel with qualifying pets.
Did you ever wonder what it might be like to run a B & B?
It seems that there’s a breed of us, who harbor the soft little fantasy that some day, god willing, we’ll do just that. We’ll make that dream come true. We’ll create a special place, and we’ll bring people to it, somehow, and they will experience our fantasy with us.
We’ll make sure that they have a wonderful time, and that they’ll remember this time in their lives, and that, if we’re really lucky, they’ll return. Well, that’s how the fantasy goes in my head, anyway. I can’t speak for others, but I’m sure it isn’t always the same.
What’s really behind that? It can be many things.
Perhaps it really is the altruistic wish to provide people with a break from their regular lives, and maybe leave them with a little more hope, just to carry on with some burden they’re carrying. Maybe it’s the desire to share some beautiful place you either live in, or have created. Surround people with that. Or maybe, it’s just the mundane desire to make some money; after all, we all have bills to pay.
The truth is that, for us, it’s been all of those things. But there’s one more, as well.
I’ve always believed that we attract into our lives the things and the people we need. So for me, it’s been quite a fascinating process watching the stream of people who’ve found themselves marching through our doors. (And just so you know, there’s always just a little bit of trepidation before you meet your next guests.
- What will they be like?
- Will they be friendly?
- Will they want to chat?
- To talk, even?
- Will they like the place, and appreciate the extra lengths to which we’ve been willing to go?)
Guests, of course, come in all shapes and sizes. They’re there for a variety of reasons. And the truth is that, despite your best efforts, you cannot please everyone. Off season guests may be carrying burdens you know nothing about. Sometimes, you’ve just got to give them space. Summer guests tend to be a happy lot. They’re on vacation, and looking for adventure. They tend to be quite delighted with the service you provide them, and leave happy. If you’re lucky, they write all about it on Trip Advisor!
But every once in awhile, a special guest will arrive at your door.
We knew that Pauline would be special long before we met her in person. We spoke on the phone a month ahead of time, and I got off saying, ‘I can’t wait til she gets here; I really feel like one of my old best friends is coming for a visit!’ She would be spending nearly a week with us.
James was home to greet Pauline when she arrived, and he asked me afterwards:
‘Have you met her yet? She’s really something, this one! We’re in for a good time!’
But it was more than just a good time with Pauline. For here was someone who not only was willing to talk enthusiastically; she was an avid listener. And though she had planned her holiday brilliantly, so that she would share just the right balance of time with her local friends, she knew enough to have her boundaries clearly drawn. Pauline could never be a burden to anyone. Far from it; the fact is, she left you wanting more of her company! And we felt very privileged that, within the balance she had created, she made a good amount of time to visit with her new friends. And that was us.
Life is a funny thing. So often, it brings you what you need, more than what you want. And like old friends, we soon realized that the ups and downs of our lives had some overlaps and parallels. But we shared from a place of joy. And gratitude. We’re old and wise now, we said! We’ve survived all that, and still, we’re happy! And life is an adventure, every day!
But then, Pauline brought something to my attention.
‘You’ve been doing this for more than a year,’ she said, ‘but there is no journal or guest book in my room. Why not? I want to leave my words behind.
How stunningly obvious. How had we missed that?
So today, we are heading into the village. Our favorite little gallery did a post just last evening. New journals, it said. Perfect for you.
Pauline did leave her words behind, just for us, and we will cherish them, sure that our paths will cross again. She said, ‘People come into our lives at different times, and we keep them in our hearts forever.’
We thank her for that gift, and for reminding us that, when you want to, it’s always good to leave your words behind.
So many thanks go out to Ariel and Brian Stott, who spent their time with us last summer, as they prepared for and enjoyed their wedding, in the Cowichan Valley.
We were so happy to provide them with a sanctuary in which to work on their flower arrangements (I was delighted to complete bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids) and the remaining details for their big day.
More importantly, when they returned to champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries, and all the comforts of our ‘Memories of Paris’ suite, they knew they had made the best choice for themselves. Breakfast on the patio each morning of their stay was replete with the antics of Lucky, our tuxedo kitty, who makes his appearance in Ariel’s photos, draining our patio fountain!
The morning after their wedding, and following breakfast, Ariel made her way around the garden, and made an exquisite job of committing to memory our flowers of summer. We look forward to their next visit, and thank them for making us a part of such an important time.
It was our pleasure playing a part in such an important day. We have come to realize that it is a segment of business that suits us very well, and which we would really like to develop. Our property lends itself to weddings of an intimate size (30 people and fewer), and our gardens provide a wealth of floral backdrop.
In addition, the preparation of flower arrangements, bouquets, and even wedding cakes to fit the occasion are part of the services we would like to provide. Moreover, we have the perfect set up to provide ideal pre-wedding preparation space, for dressing and make up application. Our suites are really tailor made for honeymooning or for use by parents and others related to the wedding, as the most lovely and comfortable accommodation.
We would truly love to have the opportunity to help you create and host your ideal day to remember.