I’m An Accountant!

My accountant said it would shave £250 off his bill if I sorted out my income/expenditure myself, instead of making him do it.

Well – if you think about it, that’s the equivalent of renting out one of my rooms for two nights.  So I decided to gird my loins, not be so lazy, and get on with it.

My pile of receipts is four inches high, each one stuffed into a plastic wallet every time I spend anything.

First I had to separate them out into what I could put against the B&B, and what is private expenditure.

Then I had to sort the first pile of receipts into spending that could be entirely set against tax, eg food bought for my guests; and the ones that I could set 55% against tax, eg room refurbishment and repairs.

It took me the entire day to go through them all – right down to itemising every bunch of grapes I’d bought over the year.  There would have been over fifty Tesco receipts, each one averaging around forty different B&B items mixed in with private purchases.

After hours and hours, I reached the grand total: £22,000. And then I looked at the dates again. April 2016-2017. The previous tax year.  Already completed.

First Dates

I’m going to be on it! Well probably anyway – they’re going to call at 11am today and I’ve got to Skype myself in my best gear going about my business in my home, so that they can get a handle on my personality and interests.

The first problem, as you can imagine, was getting the Skype app onto my stone-age devices. The programme-makers can also use Facetime (which I don’t think I’ve got either), but they can’t Whatsapp, which is the only one I can manage.

My mobile downloaded the app OK, but it got stuck after that. I yelled upstairs for Will to sort it out, while I departed for a slap-up dinner at Prince Hall, courtesy my great mate, Richard.

I had found myself with verbal diarrhea, speaking on the phone to the programme’s assistant producer, Jane.

“What sort of person would you like to meet?” she asked.

“I don’t know – someone who’s stronger than me, and good company?” I said.

“Would it matter how tall they were? Would 70 be OK?” she said.

Aghh – they’ve got some dwarf old grandpa in mind for me.

“Well they need to weigh more than I do, which is easier now I’ve lost nearly two stone,” I replied, “but they’d have to be really really charming and nice if they were that old.  Seventy-year-olds have wrinkly saggy boobs.”

I am most excited – the timing is fantastic.  This is coinciding with my ‘Meet the Author’ evening and will give me the chance to bang on about the most expensive B&B on Dartmoor and, even more importantly, my non-burgeoning career as an aspiring author.

Well, now I’ve nearly finished breakfast, I’d better put on a face and find some cleanish glad rags!  How terrifying! This could result in me getting publicly rejected in front of millions! Eeek!

Punching

This is a word young people use to describe someone who is ‘punching above their weight’ ie going out with somebody who ‘could do better’.

Presumably ‘could do better’ is a purely subjective assessment, but personally I think it’s pretty easy to spot the punchers.

I am resolved never again to get involved with one.  I don’t think Ex was punching, but I do think the majority of the men in my life were.

As a result of them living off me, expecting me to provide a lovely place for them to stay, food, drink, and fine-dining, just because I am richer (work harder) than they are, I have turned into an arch anti-feminist.

A feminist man, on the other hand, by definition finds it  acceptable for the woman to be more successful than he is, so then she can pay for him and look after him – handy!

Living the first thirty years of my life in the middle of what most people would assume to be the centre of male chauvanism – Eton College, one of the last remaining all-boys schools – I have been lucky enough never once in my life to have experienced the faintest whiff of it.  I’m sure it still exists in some places, but I do think the feminists are terribly vocal and rather unattractive in their views about what must be a relatively minor problem these days.

Well – ooops. This attitude of mine is beginning to get me into trouble.

Last week I had dinner with two barristers.  One of them had been at Exeter University with me; the other was Cambridge- educated; and all their children went to Oxbridge.

Conversation flowed with energy, warmth and enthusiasm, until I mentioned the jolly A’levels my daughter Faye, who wants to be an actress, is taking (drama, film studies and music tech). And how, to my delight, as a result of her achieving her dream (or, more likely, becoming a waitress) she will never have to pay back her student loan, so it becomes a generous gift from the government.

On top of which she will be able to respect a nice, mediocre, gentle, kind, moderately successful husband who will look after her, she can be an involved stay-at-home Mum and caring housewife, and live happily ever after, just as nature, over the millennia, has decreed.  As opposed to a lonely, bitter, manless, childless, over-achieving, stressed-out Cheltenham Ladies College/Oxbridge-educated terrifying merchant banker who makes men quiver in their boots.

The merry atmosphere froze, and we drove home in silence.

This Thursday we have Faye’s school’s parent/teachers meeting, where I shall be facing some renowned ‘FemiNazi’ who teaches Faye her fourth subject (probably to be dropped at the end of the first year), English Literature. Faye achieved a ‘7’ in English at GCSE, thanks to excellent teaching and elder brother Will’s input into her ‘The Inspector Calls’ coursework essay.  A knowledge of famous written works, we informed a reluctant Faye, will add depth and breadth to her overall knowledge and understanding of the Performing Arts.

Poor thing has found herself in a class of only eight children, two of whom achieved straight 9s at GCSE. These youngsters devour books for breakfast, for fun! It takes Faye a month to plough through just one! She is completely out of her league, indoctrinated by my old-fashioned thinking, and yesterday, the FemiNazi  bully made her cry.

I am enormously looking forward to a jolly good row on Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, I am so over-educated, over-achieving and over-competent that I have inadvertently emasculated almost every man I have ever gone out with.  And now, reduced to scouring Encounters and Muddy Matches nationally, I still cannot find a single man of any appeal. My new skinny brownness, not to mention my up-my-own-arsedness, is not going to help with this punching problem.  I’m hoping that Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine’s ‘Week of Love’, focussing on on-line dating every day this week, might help further reduce the taboo, and that some decent men might finally sign up.

So I think I might have another go on Tinder. Although round here I shall probably find myself swiping cows and ponies left and right, as opposed to actual human beings.

My dermatologist friend’s daughter is about to marry somebody she met on Tinder.  Both are Cambridge graduates.

Oh no.  I have discovered that neither my mobile phone nor my ‘Google Notebook’ are up-to-date enough to accept the Tinder ‘app’. Excuse me while I just disappear pop out through the garden gate for a minute, to shag a sheep.

Watchdog?

Is NOT a hotel – also haunted
Located on a country road with no signage. Impossibly creepy, like a horror film, and there is a man in the house roaming room to room.

One of the weirdest albeit most fun experiences I’ve had. However, the room is FILTHY; bugs everywhere, damp sheets, once we closed the curtains all hell broke loose as a thousand bugs appeared/emerged and crawled all over the place.

Truly scary weird place but at the same time an experience I will never forget. But this is not a hotel.

It’s a nightmare.

Awful
I would never recommend this place to anyone. Wasn’t signposted very well ended up going past it. When we pulled up we had to ring a number to be given a code for the for that door key. Got in and couldn’t find our room. There was 6 unattended children following and hanging around us making us feel very uncomfortable. One of the youngest children was spitting at my son so disgusting. Then the children were blocking my children from walking down the stairs as we were leaving as we were not staying in a place we didn’t feel comfortable In and that there was no one to ask about how to get to our room. Please anyone do not even book here. I never saw any adults around either.

Don’t go there

A warning to anyone looking at staying there, got given a code to get in it didn’t work once we did get in you couldn’t get though the next door we tried the main door that didn’t open eventually someone opened the door for us.
Once we got into the room it was disgusting the bathroom was dirty wallpaper hanging off the wall cobwebs hanging from the ceiling stains on the carpet and toilet brush was disgusting. The sheet didn’t fit the bed the quilt hanging out the duvet cover. They charged £75.00 a night we would never go there again

Don’t book.
Turned up and code we had been given was wrong to gain access to house keys. Then they didn’t work as was a key in the lock on the inside. Though turned out entry could be gained by any one of three unlocked back doors. Room then turned out to not be made up. Seems one of other guests had friends over and none of rooms are locked if not in use. 

took one look at the establishment and walked out
Drove into an untidy car park and the outside of the building gave me cause for concern. Walked into the bar area which was dirty with ripped carpets, asked to see the room and was shown up a badly decorated staircase to a tiny room. The twin beds were barely a foot apart and the beds looked like they had already been slept in.
The whole place made me creep and I decided to cancel my stay

Smellydelly
Dirty, Mouldy, Smelly, no hot water
The room was horrendous, it was dirty, mouldy, grubby, hair in the bed, no hot water, no shower only a filthy bath, just bleeuugghh. Booked 4 nights through but only stayed for 1 it was that bad then couldn’t get money back. Had to fork out again and book the rest of the stay at a different hotel down the road.

Room Tip: just don’t book for any reason

Totally ripped off….This place should be condemned…where are the hotel inspectors? Safety inspectors?

Absolutely disgusting hotel..The local people feel it shames the town…..I agree.
Filthy room,,,,,dust and litter under the bed and between furniture I found a magazine under the bed among the dust which was a month old..Don’t expect to hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner here…
Daily excuses as to why there was no hot water.,,,this apparently is par for the course at this horrible nasty hotel.
I bought a bucket and used the kettle to wash myself with a flannel.daily.
Please wipe your feet when leaving the building..

Room Tip: You will not find a clean room here..I’m speechless

Avoid discusting!
This hotel needs closing down! Mould, dirty, no hot water.made my skin crawl! Stayed one night, because couldn’t get anywhere else to stay at such short notice. Slept in my clothes as didn’t want to touch anything.discusting!

Terrible
Please do not enter – you will regret – as simple as that. I am surprised that it is still open. Only popped in for a drink, no beers (just lager) – it smelt and was simply gross. 

This is just a tiny handful of recent TripAdvisor reviews of some of the properties owned by the organisation that has taken over my erstwhile favourite pub.

According to Facebook there are various lawsuits pending, and in June they were  fined £thousands for refusing to comply with fire regulations. Across all the properties owned by this organisation, the average TripAdvisor blob-rating is just over two out of five.

Why on earth do they continue to add to their portfolio, and why do the agents continue to represent them, when it would appear that they don’t have a clue how to run their properties, causing such misery, frustration and disappointment to so many guests? It seems totally bonkers to me, and I would have thought that in due course a Watchdog TV programme will start an investigation.

After a flying start – exquisite food; cosy, characterful, welcoming, warm ambiance; friendly efficient service; all at a fair price (what more could anybody want?) – the chef and at least nine other staff (most of whom are my mates) have walked out over a period of less than two months.  Meanwhile another friend of mine, waiting for a reimbursement having booked a non-existent dinner for ten friends attending a funeral, got yelled at in the street, in front of the entire village!

The whole thing is tragic.  Everyday something new happens resulting in my jaw dropping closer and closer to the ground. I am increasingly astonished, and dismayed.

“Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.” Goethe

“Whoopsadaisy!” yelled Matt, as the Honda CM 125 reared up in the dark, and described a perfect backward somersault.

“Perhaps Si should ride it back?” suggested Will.

“YIKES!” shouted Antony, flying over the handlebars of our new E-bike, and slithering down lane towards home.

I had just received one of the most joyous phone calls of my life – a dream come true after two decades of failure.

Will and his two mates – best friends since they first met at prep school over a decade ago – had been visiting The Forest Inn at the end of our lane, for a drink and a game of pool. Matt, wearing a bandeau, had gone there riding Will’s scrambler, and the other two were on the E-bikes. “We’ll be back about nine to cook you a steak!” they shouted merrily, as we passed each other in the lane, my horses remaining remarkably calm in the general milieu.

I was a bit worried that they might upset the locals and my B&Ber who was dining there, with their posh, loud, excited voices.

The call was from Will saying, “We’ve joined up with Si, Rob and Jez, and after a bit more pool we’ll all be coming back to the Bothy to chill.  So I’m afraid we won’t be doing your steak.”

It’s taken twenty years, but finally, unbelievably, at last, thanks to our jolly pub up the road, Will seems to have been accepted as part of the local community.

Skinny and Brown

I have now been skinny and brown for the whole summer.  What for? Nobody has seen the beautiful new me, and nobody cares.  And now my lovely tan is flaking off like snow onto the inside of my black leggings (I’ve gone down from an M&S Size 16 to 12, so most of my clothes don’t fit anymore).

I have combed both Encounters and Muddy Matches nationally, looking in vain for somebody I might like. Nobody at all.

Yet I’ve enjoyed one of the most wonderful summers of my life! A lot has to do with the weather. And more because there’s been a child or two here, keeping me sunny company ever since June. Perhaps I don’t really need a bloke in my life after all!

Today I’m delivering Will to the dentist for a filling, meanwhile Ben is dropping off a guitar that Will lent his son a year ago.  It is clear that Ben wants to catch me, rather than bringing it along earlier in the day.  Well I don’t want to see him.  Will can tell him that I’m ‘parking the car’ which will take me a remarkably long time.  Then I shall go and buy some flowers and eggs before my next lot of guests arrive at teatime.

Nell has just informed me that a journalist from the Chagford Herald thinks I might be interesting to interview at my ‘Authors Talk’ next week. And says he’s single. Oh dear. Call me arrogant but I would be a lot more interested he were editor of the Times or something.

BUT.  You never know what anything might lead on to. So I am very excited.  Perhaps from this small acorn a socking great oak might grow!

The Great Divide

“Faye did rather as expected – 4 As; 5 Bs and a naughty C in French which she’s studied since she was 7!!  How lovely of you to be interested!” I responded to Jane, our lovely ‘Pretend Granny’s’ kind enquiry regarding my 16 year old daughter’s GCSE results. And, without thinking about it, to everybody else on our ‘thread’, which actually related to Mum’s health. In our world these grades are nothing special.  If she’d been at Eton or somewhere, she’d have been kicked out with anything less than six As!

I received a slightly curt response back from one of my favourite people in the world, who has been Mum’s staunchest rock and support for more than two decades, never once letting her down whatever else was going on in their tiny hamlet in deepest, darkest, remotest Dorset.  This lady’s family were delighted with their son’s results of 5 C’s and 1 B, she told me: “I suppose that’s a reflection on the divide in our education system.”

Agh! What to do or say to that? She is absolutely the very last person in the world that I would ever want to offend. She is just the kindest, most thoughtful, long suffering, patient and friendly individual, and I know Mum’s not the only one she loves, and looks after so well.

To reply, or not to reply, was the question.

So I did what I thought my dearly loved and most highly respected Dad would have done, and undertook some research.

God I am shocked! Now I understand what the point of the massive private school fees is!  ‘The great divide’ is nothing short of scandalous!

I discovered that this year, 2/3rds of children altogether achieved A-C grades in GCSE’s, so that compared with the national average Faye’s results are outstanding! I also found that at A’level, the titchy number of private schools, compared with state schools and colleges, account for literally double the A/A* grades awarded! No wonder people go to such lengths to pay, if they possibly can!

I don’t know what should be done to balance things out. I hate it that the two educational systems exist. My suspicion is that were they to scrap private schools, then all the rich people would move to live near the good state schools and price everyone else out of that location. There doesn’t seem to be an answer, yet the level system seems fine in France and America and everywhere else.

I have always absolutely hated it that the current system separates my children from potential friends around here, and am thrilled that Freya has since reconnected with her old mates through working in the local pub/hotel/pony club etc..

The whole thing is deeply unsatisfactory and absolutely infuriating for everybody concerned. At least the universities are trying to equal opportunities up a bit. I had a guest here only last month, whose son achieved straight A*s throughout his GCSE’s and A’levels at Eton, yet he was refused entry to Cambridge – presumably in favour of somebody from a less privileged background.

I apologised profusely for my crassness.