Mieux vaut être seule, que mal accompagnée!

So that's 7 recouches and 7 blancs. Excellent I say as I trudge up to the third floor using the very narrow and badly carpeted stairs, (there is no lift and even if there was, I doubt it would work). I have just come back off of my 2 day break and am working, as always on a Wednesday, on my tod...

An Australian lady who stayed one night (instead of the 3 reserved) referred to the little hotel that I work at as Fawlty Towers. At this point I had only been there 3 days, eager to please and thankful that someone had finally agreed to employ me! What do you say to that? In any case over the weeks that followed, I began to agree.

Now I'm not Manuel (thank goodness they don't hit me), there isn't a restaurant anymore (they don't like working in the evening) and they don't breathe down my neck (although sneaking up on the unsuspecting chambermaid is a favourite pastime!) but in 20 years of working, I have never been so amazed by the lack of organisation, attention to detail and frankly words fail me! My bosses clearly don't give a flying monkeys!

Now I am what you call a Jack of all trades but my speciality lies in paperwork, deadlines and office work. What, I hear you say, are you doing in a hotel then?? To cut a long story short, I moved to La Baule in December last year to follow my dream of partner, home, family etc...leaving behind a perfectly good position in a hotel as a directors assistant, a perfectly nice flat and all that goes with it and a bloody good social life.

Unfortunately my new location is very touristy and I don't know anybody so no word of mouth and no one knows what I can do. No pieces of paper to say that I'm intelligent and capable and no letters after my name. The (now ex) boyfriend doesn't want me working Sundays and Bank Holidays so all the good reception jobs are out and no one in the offices wants me....can't even get in the door and I don't have a car so another black mark.

So after going stir crazy walking along the 8kms of beach during January, February and March (very blowy and rather salty), I manage to get some cleaning work as an "Extra" in a residence. Unfortunately its only part-time and then even less than part-time so of little use. Next I see an add for an "Employée du Ménage". I race to the hotel, run the interview myself (that should probably have been a clue) and tell them I'll be back the next day to show them what I can do so they can decide if they want to employ me or not.

I arrive the next morning for my "essai". The boss gives me a basket of cleaning products (all unlabelled), opens the door to a room and says there you go then. This one needs cleaning, the clients left this morning and leaves me to it... :o!

Anyway, resourceful Jack of all trades that I am, I get on with it, all goes well and I am employed -Woohoo!

In the meantime, my partner, home, family dream bites the dust. I am sadly not skinny enough for him and he doesn't like my silhouette, (I would point out that I've dropped 10 kilos since January), I don't behave or dress in a manner that pleases him and on and on. More importantly I've already been replaced by someone who supposedly fills these criteria. I'm not bitter but he could've said something sooner...like before I moved here!!!

So I'm heading back down South. I can probably get my old job back (apparently my replacement is "not me" whatever that means) and I can even have my old flat back if I want...almost as if I'd never left...

Now the last 6 months seem to have been a bit of a nightmare but at the same time I have learnt many things...if you are not already asleep, this is the meaningful part of my post...

I am going to pick up my new (second hand) car tomorrow - I've called her Capuscine (I don't know why but I like it) and she is a Peugeot 206. If I'd stayed in Lourdes, I doubt I'd be buying a car right now.

I've realised that I truly love living in and around Lourdes, despite all my grumblings about tourists. It is also an area that allows me to make best use of my talents and yes everyone knows "la petite anglaise qui parle des langues étrangères".

The weather is SO much better down South! So is the food and the wine and the "aperatif'" ;)

The people that count the most for me are there (excepting of course my family who are all over the planet).

Most importantly of all, of all the places that I have been, either to visit or lived in, Lourdes is the one place where I wake up in the morning and I am truly happy and when I stick my head out of the window and look at the gorgeous pyrenées, I breathe in deep and the joy inside tingles all way down to my toes!

Love & Light - Blessed Be <3

Hi Lorraine,

I am indeed back, settled and loving it! I am SO grateful that I came back and things have turned out surprisingly well...a few little glitches at the moment and all but one my own silly fault, for not paying more attention to paperwork LOL!

How are you? xx

Hi hope all is well and you've settled back into life in the Pyrenees


Nice one Roger! I don't think that has happened here yet....but give it time ;)

Anyone want to hear another "Fawlty" story???? Well I'll tell you anyway! Twas my last day working on a contract in Tunbridge Wells. We had a massive booze-up planned. I checked into the little hotel in question at about 6pm and disappeared for the evening. When I reappeared and let myself in at 2am there was, unsurprisingly, not a soul still up. I went to bed and more or less passed out. Came the dawn. The silence was the first thing that struck me. Not a sound. So I got showered and dressed and headed down for a leisurely breakfast. It was when I turned the second corner on the staircase that the the flashing lights and the burglar alarm tore into my booze riddled brain. The noise was unbelievable. I got to the breakfast room. No-one. Reception and kitchen the same. Aaaarggghh! The NOISE!!!! It was like the Marie Celeste. So I cobbled together a bite and a drink of juice and returned to my room, packed, and left. As I exited the hotel a gormless looking gardener gawped at me and his gaze followed my car out of the gate. Later that afternoon, at home, while I was sat in front of the TV, the phone rang. It was "Fawlty Towers". "We're terribly sorry Mr Bruton. We forgot that (only) you had checked in, and decided to go away for the weekend." The Kent Constabulary called us this morning, and it was then that we remembered"!!!! I got a free nights lodging.

I can second that the Pyrenees are a bloody good tonic for most things!

Thank you to all for the lovely comments - this is my first blog and I wasn't sure how well I would get on but I can bore you silly with all sorts of stuff now ;) Only joking!!

Catharine, I am indeed better of alone with my cat! She at least understands me and whilst she regularly back-chats, she'll always be quiet for a chicken flavour temptation! :D Thanks x

Like Johnny says, yours is a real slice of life and for a social anthropologist (moi) this is ethnography of the finest, highest standard. I prefer my ethnography funny because of what I have seen that is humourless too often when working. Hotels are a study in themselves. Even large global chains have somehow let a unique character creep into each hotel. Small ones run by Basil Fawltys are just so amusing for me that every 'hardship' is a part of the story. Even the guests who complain about everything are key actors in this scenario. Long may the small hotelier thrive and vive the eccentricities.

Sounds like you are way better off without him!!


"Yes, my little piranha fish"

Wow what an experience. I have worked in 3 hotels and one residence and each had their own little quirks. It certainly adds a certain charm but unfortunately not everyone sees it that way ;)

My absolute favourite was the temporary accomodation I had in Beijing. UNICEF booked me in because it was called the International Place. What? I have no Mandarin or other Chinese language whatsoever so had no idea what was going on. Each time I arrived back in the evening the desk clerk picked up a bunch of keys that must have weighed five or six kilos and inevitably took me to the wrong room. Once in the door was locked. I was held prisoner effectively. At six sharp one heard the rattle of keys and by about twenty past six my door was opened. There was half of my floor, the second, and four more to go and I only hoped that nobdy had a seven o'clock appointment. Breakfast was in plasrtic bags handed out to us as we left. An American fellow consultant complained after four days, I held out a few days longer until four of us were found an apartment in the diplomatic quarter. I was sad, my Mandarin speaking Manuel was the only person I had ever seen at the place and his engaging smile was missed when thrust amongst people who missed their Hershey Bars and all the rest of that junk.

Ha ha thanks for that Brian. Having worked there for 2 months now, I must admit that it does have its charm and when all the power fails because I plugged the iron in, I just stand there in the dark and laugh until someone switches it back on again.

Feel free to track it down, my bosses don't always "get" my sense of humour LOL!

Damaris, a Fawlty Towers hotel is a matter of taste. I have been in so many and in so many countries that I almost prefer them. Nothing is pretended at all, they are simply awful but, conditional on having a sense of humour like mine, they are hilarious. After a day's work I would often rather have a good laugh than a dinner. But I promise on the lives of all the people who assemble at the Massabielle rock that I shall not try to track your one down and have a laugh at your expense.