We were warned that this would be a difficult hard day and they weren’t kidding. We are supposed to give the chalet a full deep clean once the guests have left; change the linen and towels (remaking beds to Kat’s exacting standards which we would describe as a straight jacket but achieved no leeway and folding towels into pretty arrangements) redo the flowers/roses for the spare toilet rolls – oh yes, we even have to do those silly pointy ends on the roll on the holder which I’m sure you’ll all have come across. We also have to clean the room, bathroom and balcony as you’d expect. Our army lads, 4 recently graduated from Sandhurst, had been considerate enough to not get up in time to have their rooms cleaned all week (or even have breakfast but were grateful for any leftover sausage, bacon or pastries) but the work had definatly built up over that time. Our lovely first guests even organised themselves to strip their beds so that made life so much easier. I did get summoned back down to the kitchen during my onslaught to join Roger whilst they showed their appreciation of our modest efforts and were very generous in their thanks (tips). It was good to have this opportunity to say goodbye to them as things were about to get manic. Despite everyone telling us to the contrary, we did not have a gap between parties, not even a tight one when we would have had to fly around to get everything completed in time. We had been informed on our training that the incoming guests should feel that no-one had stayed in the chalet before them, good theory! What if the previous guests meet them as their coach doesn’t leave until an hour after the subsequent ones arrive? This did make the cleaning and food prep quite a challenge; we were still doing a full day’s meal preparation and the work which had enabled us a mere 2 hours off the previous day had suddenly quadrupled and then some (but I don’t know what the word is). By midday we were fortunate enough to have the assistance of one of the ‘floaters’ and Fergus was a a sight of sore eyes; so quick and willing and cheerful and as transpired later, to be with us for the rest of the day and then each evening this week – yeah for Ferg! Roger and I had scrambled down to meet the bus, Roger traversing some of it on his bum as he slipped carrying the rubbish bags in his indoor shoes. The bus had already arrived so our welcome, complete with rubbish bags was not quite the look the company encouraged. Anyway, we were met with a group of quite sour faces. We expected 3 children and one elderly person but spotted 2 octagenarians and seemly swarms of kids. They didnt seem any more pleased to see the chalet and even less so with previous incumbents who had considerately taken their luggage down to the basement and taken themselves off for coffees etc but did need to return to collect their bags before departure. They had kindly gathered around the bench on the play area outside the chalet so I was fortunate enough to be able to say goodbye to all of them individually. Knowing what was in the chalet I was so tempted to resist their departure and send the new group back on the bus! I couldn’t even go to the only loo available to me at one point as I found 2 little boys hiding behind the door telling me to be quiet whilst they rampaged through the building with some rather large children playing hide and seek. I considered it a bit too early to start laying down the law, despite every bone in my body telling me to start how I mean to go on.
As the day wore on I was feeling worse and worse and by midafternoon had no voice at all and my throat disguised itself as razor – blades (some people will do anything to get out of making the welcome speech). The final straw hit me when Fergus enquired as to my knowledge of the 5 vegetarians, 1 vegan and a dairy intolerant guest (and another who thought she might be a bit). Our manifest had only informed us that 2 of guests ate fish which I did find a little suspicious but 5! Roger had been on kitchen duty all day and fortunately had everything under control when I finally got downstairs after Fergus and I finished 8 rooms, 2 landings and 3 staircases (I was just hoping that no-one would notice that I hadn’t cleaned the windows or balconies, particularly those where certain people had been waxing their skis all week! but they’re done now). It was 4pm and as Roger placated and sweet talked the appropriate mothers – who were not best pleased at our ignorance when it was confirmed that they had been explicit at the time of booking – Fergus got stuck into compiling the Victoria sponge, neatly incorporating a large slash in the top as the mouth of a big smiley face, for the children of course. I managed to assist in laying everything else out for tea and then grabbed an opportunity to walk to the stores to get some essential items and was grateful for a bit of fresh air. I was somewhat disappointed to arrive at the appropriate chalet to find it locked up and empty; I though there was no free time on changeover day. I trudged back to find our manager in the kitchen who had just informed us that we had Fergus for the rest of the day and that she would drop off what we needed (despite having no transport herself) I insisted on meeting her back at stores in a short while as again I was grateful to escape the some what oppressive atmosphere and get some more air. I was struggling to stay upright as well but just couldn’t play the jovial host part so offered my administration services to CM (chalet manager) but there wasn’t really anything I could help with. I asked if it was okay if I bunked off early as Fergus was around and Roger did appear to have it all in hand but still felt decidedly guilty at walking away at 6pm after only 11 hours work! I intended to return at 8pm to help with serving as plating up and taking out that many covers is quite demanding but despite my alarm ringing and ringing at 7.40 I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed, I’d go back at 9am and help with clearing up. Awaking again at 5 to 11 put paid to that idea and Roger rolled in about 10 mins later and dropped into bed exhausted but ready for another 6.15 start where they seem to have taken the breakfast 8-9am as an army roll call and all arrived at 8 ready for 16 individually cooked breakfasts at the same time! Come back last week’s people, we love you!!