A B&B Review

I’m not in the habit of reviewing the places where I stay for work because firstly – this is not really a travel blog and secondly, I stay in so many places that I’ve become a bit blunted to the finery and treat of staying in a Bed and Breakfast. For me, mostly, it’s a place away from home, where I’m forced to stay a night because of work.
I’m tired, generally starving and not in the mood to sleep in someone else’s bed.
Sleeping out is an ordeal that I try to get over as soon as possible.
Big was my surprise then – when I stayed at a really nice place.
The lodge’s name was Maruntwane and it’s situated between Groot Marico and Zeerust in our country’s lovely North West Province. It’s a hunting farm during the winter and as far as I can gather, quite a popular vacation retreat. I’ve driven past it a couple of times on my Zeerust trips, but I’ve never had the pleasure of staying there till this week.
The first thing that I liked about the lodge was that they helped me in a pinch. I had not known about my trip till the day before I actually had to leave. Frantically, I had called up my usual Zeerust haunts, only to find out that they were all booked full for some kind of military function. (Booked full in Zeerust doesn’t happen often…). They couldn’t help me, so I phoned up the information centre in Groot Marico. After I explained my predicament, the woman immediately referred me to Maruntwane. I didn’t waste any time to book my night, told the people that I’ll be there after four and went about my day with the usual touch of anticipation that always accompanied staying in a new place (you never know what you’re going to get).
On Wednesday I sailed into their farm well past five with the sun just setting around the Zeerust hills. I was in a good mood I have to admit, because my trip had been successful and the day had been beautiful. For once, I was in a bit of a holiday mood – (despite the fact that I had gotten up at 4am).
The owners greeted me kindly and warmly and, before I knew what was truly happening, they had me sit down for a meal with them and gave me a room in the family house so that I didn’t have to stay in the chalets on my own.
They showed understanding for my demanding job, showed genuine concern whenever I coughed and allowed me to watch the news with them. This sounds silly but it made me feel at home and it made me relax. I have learned in my years of traveling, that there is nothing better than human concern and interest at the end of a difficult day. The simple pleasure of sitting down for a meal with someone is luxury you only learn to appreciate when you’ve spend countless meals eating on your own.
The room that I was given was clean, the bedding warm and fresh – the mattress firm. I had a massive bathroom all for myself and despite the fact that the owners had a pack of Jack Russels, they never barked once (nor did they act in any way that dogs normally do that’s inappropriate).
I slept better there than I had in any Bed and Breakfast before. The farm was quiet, the area beautiful and I’d imagine that if I had kids, they’d have been more than satisfied with the space available to them.
If you’re in Zeerust, and you want a place to stay for the night – go to Marunthwane. It was worth it.

Working with Words

I have come to the conclusion that writers tend to think about the world a little bit differently than others. Speaking for myself, I yearn for experience (though not something which might actually destroy me…). Any experience as long as it teaches me something about how my characters might react in any situation. I find that’s why I’m generally (generally speaking, we all have our days) quite keen to do anything.
And, naturally – then there are the words.
More to the point, the amount of words.
We’ve had to write some articles for work again on all sorts of interesting things which can potentially go wrong in any chicken’s life. Admittedly, I had not been very excited about it – as I had written an article for my boss a few weeks back – only to have it shot down with the words: Let’s wait for the vet.
I had used credible sources, yet – because I am only me, my words weren’t good enough.
For these articles though, I sensed that the content might not be scrutinized as much as my article had been and, reluctantly, I agreed to spend two days at work to hack away at them. We were told that the articles much must short. A page or two. No more.
Of course, the writer in me immediately went… Well, how many words?
My colleagues didn’t understand.
“About a page,” my senior colleague had offered when I confronted her with it. “You know. A page.”
I looked at her and instantly realized that she had not yet explored the various word count options that a page could offer you. If you decrease the margins, or increase of font size, or change the font type, it could have a drastic effect on the amount of words that you had to write.
Pages could be manipulated, words couldn’t.
If you wrote bullet points, or long paragraphs, that also affected how much information you could give through in your words on an A4 piece of paper. But, I was like a lone voice in my pressure for a word count.
It was only at the end of today that my colleagues finally understood why I had wanted a simple measure with which we could unify our work. When all the articles were laid out, and all brought down to the same font and script, they varied tremendously.
“Ah,” My colleague had said as I stared over her back, not sure whether I should feel justified or irritated that she had not taken the time to listen. “I see why we needed to get a word count finalized. You were right.”
Yes. Of course.
I am a writer after all.

Never Alone.

It’s strangely hard, sleeping out for work. You find yourself in a strange place, with strange people – normally locked away in some desolate spot with almost no internet connection, too friendly B&B keepers and store bought food that you can’t cook (or take aways). If you’re like me, your day probably started at 4am, you’ve travelled over 220 miles, you’ve seen several farmers and in a sales kind of way begged them to try your products and you had bad coffee at McDonalds. All in all, it becomes very bleak and, when you find yourself stuck in a B&B where a turkey sleeps on your car…

You can’t make yourself feel very positive about the whole escapade.

But, of course, things are not quite that bad.

I find that, despite the fact that I’m here in the middle of nowhere, stuck next to a highway between elsewhere and somewhere in a room filled with spiders, I’m not alone.

Because tonight – I have about six kittens on my bed. Playing with my computer wires, messing up my clothes for the next day and jumping on me every now and again to remind me that I am allergic to cats. And, I’m happy. Content. I have animals around me (even if they are cats) and that makes me happy.

So, I can’t complain – though I’m not writing nearly as much as I should be at this stage – or planning my script frenzy project.

I’m playing with kittens and that’s enough to make me feel at home.

Sort of – if I don’t think about the empty bed beside me.

Going Nuts…

I discovered a macadamia nut of unknown age in my car today and when I finally stopped driving – decided to have a go at opening it. In general, I am very fond of them and they are a favorite snack of mine so I had a lot of high hopes for this locked up treasure.
I didn’t have any of the right tools with me to open it and because I was in an unknown environment I had to make do with what I had. I fumbled around a lot and almost lost an eye when the nut ricocheted off of the wall directly at my face. But, I managed to crack it open finally – only to find that the nut inside was shriveled with old age and mould.
My work, my effort and all my hopes had gone to nothing.
As I stared at this nut, I realized that it was a little bit of a reflection of my life. That this treasure that I had expected work to be turned out to be some what of a let down.
And, then – quite suddenly, I realized that I had to deal with it.
That moping about my job, and moping about my boss and the unreasonable demands on my time and life would bring me nowhere, only bringing me more unhappiness – most of my own making.
As I stood with the wisened nut in my hand, I realized that I had two choices. One, I could throw away the macadamia nut in disappointment and never try to open another one again, or I can actually go out – find another and set about the process again. Yes, it might be rotten on the inside as well, but then at least I tried.
You see, when I started this current job of mine, I was as ill equipped to deal with it as I had been this afternoon to open that nut. But, I dealt with it. I learned. I grew in myself and I succeeded.
Today another representative from a sister company send an email to our sales department, complimenting me on my excellent progress in the one region of our country. Their sales of our products there have almost doubled since I started going there.
And – in that email, I suddenly had proof.
It was send to my boss and he had to send me an email, congratulating me on my success.
Satisfaction in three words and – the sentence that I needed.
“Well done.”
Strangely enough, that was all that I needed. I needed to be acknowledged and told that I’m doing a good job.
Silly? Yes. Human? Absolutely.
So, I’m not disillusioned about my future at the company – I know that it will only be a matter of time when I have another day like I had yesterday. BUT – I can hold on for a little longer. I need this job to find another, and to find another, I need to be good at what I do here.
And, good – I will be.

I should be Lambing Right now…

In the small town of Brimfield, on the Shropshire, Herefordshire border of the United Kingdom, a flock of 4000 ewes is lambing with the assistance of 6 people, working in 2 shifts. Two of those people are working shifts of over 16 hours a day. There used to be three. But now I’m here, and one is ill so one stands alone.

I should be lambing in England right now. I should be amongst my sheep, tending to my flock. Taking care of the ewes, nursing the sick lambs in my tiddler pen and running back and forth in the middle of the night amidst snow and rain, searching for that one ewe that might be in trouble.

Instead I am here, on this warm continent in a job that I like but with a boss that I just cannot seem to get on with. There’s no love involved, no passion for my work. There’s only the dreary routine, the driving and the inevitable knowledge that somewhere in the future my boss was going to ask me to do another impossible task, insult my intelligence and call me a thief because I am presumably wasting his company’s money by drawing a salary. It doesn’t matter that I’ve brought in new business, that I’ve build up my own client base, that I assist the Master student above me with technical data. No. In my boss’s eyes it seems, I can do nothing right and even if my fellow employees keep telling me that they know it’s not true, it doesn’t make it any easier.

When I just got this job, I remember saying in a blog post that you have to be careful what you wish for and now those words ring true. I suspect that the irony is that I was happier waitressing. In the night. With difficult clients. At least there I got acknowledgement that I was good at what I did. My sales were on black and white not lost in the system of our distributors.

I don’t even know why they hired me.

But they did – and I have to get up every morning and face that. Tomorrow again, I have to drive miles away from home, sleep out and come back to the office to present my boss with a task he set before me this morning. One which by rights should take me a week but one which I only have a day or two for. Two days in fact – that I need to drive very far – and see a lot of clients. I will have to work at night – and risk being tired on the road. I can’t win this game. I don’t think that I knew the rules from the beginning. And, even if I find equilibrium in my company I know that I will never be as happy as I was in those years, in those cold nights in England.

I should be lambing right now.