Yesterday was the day that the National Trust with other organisations designated to be a typical day, and they encouraged everyone to write a blog to be archived for posterity to show typical life in October, 2006. Good idea, yes; I wrote mine, but came to find on submission that there's a 4k limit on post size; great shame to find that late in the day when I had writ 10k Perhaps my life is too much for the National Trust?
Anyways ... I'll share some here!
On a typical day - 17th October 2006
I rose at somewhere between 03:00 and 03:30.
Gonna be another looooooong day.
My wife Lisa and I opened a business hotel to add to our open source training company last week and as always seems to happen, the builders were almost done at the right time but there are a few snags to work through yet. By 04:00 our (home) dishwasher was cleared, reloaded, running again and the first load of sparkling clean plates ready to go up the road.
Lisa was home late last night after a meeting to edit the Bowerhill Villager newsletter - I was asleep when she crept in and I didn't here her. A quick early email check even before the dishwasher was loaded included a copy of an email from [her] son Tyler in Florida, telling us that he's no longer living with his Dad but with his girlfriend, and they plan to get married. "Just got internet so I got in touch, Mum". There's a long story that I won't tell here; Lisa joined me in the UK several years after she split with Tyler's Dad ... Tyler was due to come over too, all agreed, but then Dad went back on his word. Pity the kid ...
I post to a number of forums - moderate two, answer questions on another, write my own technical blog. So a quiet hour or so waking up, reading, writing some sample code and posting. Then back upstairs for a few minutes with Lisa before I left. As you can imagine, a discussion on Tyler; on one hand, when you hear out of the blue that your 18 year old is out on his own, with girlfriend, planning to marry it's breathtaking and concerning but on the other hand I think we're both glad he's rather less under the control of the guy we regard as a complete $%^&. Time will tell on the detail, mind you.
And, d'you know, that wasn't the only subject of discussion. A new member of staff joined our team yesterday - now we're five ... and we wish and need to ensure that everyone fits in well with inevitable re-arrangements. Ah - the fun of managing staff. And having to help and reassure team members as things change. Hey - you open a hotel and it WILL change your life!
Lisa has a Food health and safety exam later today (I'm writing this at 08:00 on 17th) and I left at a quarter past five to start on the breakfast preparations, with Lisa doing some last minute revision.
To "The Manor" with a carload of cuttlery, crockery, and breakfast supplies. Crept in through the staff entrance, dropped them off ready for new starter Martin who should be in by 06:30, then off to Tesco in Trowbridge.
"Open 24 hours" screams the sign at the front and I know from past experience it's not usually busy at this time ... but this looks exceptionally quiet. I walk up to the front door. "Hours during refurbishment ... 07:00 to ..." says the sign. Yikes - what am I going to do for breakfast. A solitary chap is tidying trollies. "Not open 24 hours? Why are you advertising it still?"; "We're refurbishing" he says. "Where's the nearest 24 store" I ask and he replies "our petrol station opens at 06:00". I give up as a bad job - I'm getting answers to different questions than the one's I'm asking. Need to find another solution.
I'm home again, via "The Manor" by 6 ((yes, this is going to be a long day)) having picked up a pile of unbaked and semi-baked bread products from the hotel freezer; overs switched on, bread in ... alternative breakfast underway. Thank goodness we're continental only. And a few minutes break - a chance to stroke the cat, discuss the 'trick'yness of some of the Health and Safety questions that Lisa has to answer today, and collect more supplies before joining Martin at 06:30.
Coffee machine serviced for the day. Ah - the smell of real ground coffee and fresh bread, and our guests are coming downstairs in dribs and drabs from 07:30. "Come as a student, leave as a friend" we say and indeed they're all friends - they were delegates on the first day of the MySQL course I presented yesterday, and they'll be on today's course too. So it's a lovely, homely atmosphere here.
We've bought breakfast service / coffee machine / juicer that do NOT need constant attention. We have a used tray / dirty plates rack that people can clear to themselves. So we can actually sit back and do a few other things while breakfast runs itself, with just one ear open to needs. Martin and I review the first couple of days and come up with a few things that we need to do / that will make housekeeping easier. We discuss things like Lisa's specification that the hospitality kettle should always be left empty for new guests (because people don't want to think they have someone else's stale water) and that the lights in the room should be left switched ON (because we have an energy saver system, and we want people to know what's on the controls when they slot their card in).
A fresh email from Tyler asks us to set up an email account for his girlfriend; easy - done in a couple of minutes and it looks like we might be back and well in touch. I quietly catch up on a few emails - notes to staff on plans, etc, and start on this blog entry having head on the radio on my way to Tesco that the National Trust and others are looking to record a typical day in people's lives for posterity. Well ... this is my day; I don't have a typical day, but you'll get a typical flavour.
Lisa has popped by to grab some breakfast ... we'd co-ordinated that via a Skype chat that we're finding invaluable; she's also brought over course certificates for me to hand out when I conclude this evening, and invoices for delegates who are paying for themselves (as opposed to company placed people)
[[08:30 .... more to come, no doubt. The day hasn't really started yet ...]]
At 08:45, an engineer turns up unexpectedly to check the electrical installation. Funny that ... hadn't been expecting him, and it's going to be great fun if we have a day of power cuts. And at 08:50 my daughter Kimberly pops by on her way to work to pick up an Apple Mac power supply we're loaning her for a few days.
09:00 - and work proper starts. I'm giving a MySQL course - five delegates from four different organisations, in our new "Wilts" training room. Typically, our delegates are men in their 20s or 30s, with the occasional one a little older or younger. Typically, they're highly intelligent, very interested in the topics I cover, and asking superb questions. The course is a mixture of presentations and practicals but the presentations always differ based on feedback I get from the attendees; little point in covering i, j, k where s, t, u are relevant to a particular group.
As with any major change to a venture - and our move to provide accommodation is a major new venture - you never know what's going to hit and how things will settle out in the first weeks. We're a team of five; that's Lisa, Leah, Martin and me full time and Christine part time. Today was the first "capacity" day - all rooms booked last night, all rooms needed to be changed today and prepared for new guests tonight ... not one staying on. Martin and Leah did us proud; it won't take two people to do the rooms on most days, and Leah will be in her more normal bookkeeping and admin role again tomorrow but it's so great to see the effective teamwork, and the looking at issues by both of them, suggesting solutions, resolving issues.
A midmorning coffee break during the course, and a short and unexpected power cut while the engineer worked through his tests. My Dad arrived to take some photos (he's something of an expert and has equipment that's great for photographing rooms too); took some pictures of rooms 3 and 4, done by that stage, and also of the delegates on the course. He arrived and left by bus - with a stop right outside, and now with a free pass, he finds it a convenient way to get around.
Just before lunchtime, two delegates arrived ready for tomorrow's course - we knew they would be checking in early as we had arranged their taxi from Bristol Airport, so rooms 3 and 4 were the first to be ready. I greeted them, offered a hand with bags (not taken up) and they headed up to their rooms. I've seen them go in and out a couple of times since, but they're, again, quiet guests. I could have predicted that, too. We're so lucky with our customers!
If you're on a course, you don't want the same dinners each day. We had Chinese yesterday, and today was a pub lunch. Messages from Lisa at home / the other office told me she was back from her exam, and we all met up down at "The Three Magpies". Tomorrow ... goodness knows ... we'll take a vote on the new course and see what people want.
An afternoon concluding the course - wrapping up all the final questions, making sure that I really had come back to each thing where I had earlier said "I'll come back to that later" .... and directions homewards for guests heading for Oxford, Liverpool, Harrogate and Bedford - a typical mix for us, and one of the reasons that we've opened the hotel; there's simply no-where that would be central for all of those, plus a hundred other, places.
And so I sit and write this day's diary, now at 17:30. In the last half hour, I've been to the station to pick up one of next week's delegates, vacuumed and cleared the conference room, and responded back to a prospective customer looking for a three day course for three delegates. And a few minutes of pause to write up some notes.
Flagging ... yet it's only 18:15. Just phoned in a food order - pizza - for delivery; four out of five guests checked in for the new course, the fifth arrives, well, goodness know when. Driving down from Leeds, and the door buzzer that should ring out at home was installed 10 days ago but we've not been told how to set up our number in it. Highly frustrating, but we're making the most of being here. I'll post this blog now before I Zzzzzz ... Zzzzzzz ... Zzzzzzz
(written 2006-10-18, updated 2006-10-23)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesM300 - Well House Manor - Behind the scenes 
Well House Staff Party - (2012-12-22) 
Rooms ready for guests - each time, every time, thanks to good system design - (2012-08-20) 
Sunday - no longer a day of rest - (2012-05-28) 
How many toilet rolls - hotel inventory and useage - (2010-12-18) 
Initial handling of phone calls and walk in visitors - (2010-09-19) 
The Well House team - September 2010 - (2010-09-19) 
Testing the robustness of our hotel and training systems - holiday and sickness times - (2010-08-11) 
Robust - testing the system - (2010-08-09) 
Easing off in our 50s? - (2009-09-06) 
A day in the life of a hotelier - (2009-06-18) 
We have lost a regular business guest - (2009-04-10) 
Rules for a King - (2009-01-13) 
Required Request - (2009-01-03) 
Why are cooks bad tempered? - (2008-12-22) 
Blame Culture - (2008-12-17) 
Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23) 
Table Topics - (2008-11-22) 
Three Seasonal Pictures - (2008-10-25) 
Providing exceptional service - and carrying on doing so. - (2008-05-09) 
Await guests in the early hours - (2008-03-12) 
Terms and Conditions - Hotel, England - plain English - (2008-01-26) 
Keeping staff up to date on hotel room status - (2008-01-22) 
Software to record day to day events and keep an action list - (2007-12-31) 
On cancellations, rebooking, and pricing schemes - (2007-11-22) 
Hotel in Melksham at Christmas - (2007-09-29) 
One business, four different angles! - (2007-09-28) 
Customer feedback - lifeblood of a business - (2007-08-25) 
What do people look for on a hotel web site? - (2007-08-20) 
In the army, or in civvie street? - (2007-07-31) 
Meet, greet and welcome - (2007-05-16) 
Sizing sheets and other domestic issues - (2007-05-07) 
It can take more that one plus one to get two. - (2007-04-22) 
A week is a long time in the life of a conference centre - (2007-03-10) 
Behind the scenes - (2007-02-17) 
One Thousand Posts and still going strong - (2006-12-18) 
What happened at Geekmas - (2006-11-28) 
Swipe cards for hotel rooms - Security issues - (2006-11-23) 
Before and After - Well House Manor - (2006-11-18) 
Hotel door furniture - (2006-11-15) 
Smoking, or no - (2006-09-16) 
Monday Morning at Well House Consultants Melksham - (2006-07-24) 
King Edward VII - days of empire - (2006-06-20) 
A visit from the solicitor - (2006-06-03) 
Sympathetic development - (2006-04-09) 
Holes in on line information - (2005-02-05)Z100 - Daily life 
Five lessons learned or re-learned on my travels - (2013-12-15) 
Changes to morning routines - (2011-12-16) 
Busy weekend of contrasts. - (2011-10-03) 
Moving on - a task for the hotel staff! - (2011-06-08) 
Twitter Phishing Trips ... and a great new alert service - (2011-06-04) 
The family is defunct. Long live the family. - (2011-01-09) 
A move towards the family - (2010-07-12) 
C course inspires new teaching examples - (2010-01-16) 
Family Gathering at 404, The Spa - (2009-10-11) 
Back Tomorrow - (2009-09-10) 
Quiet summer days? I think not! - (2009-08-22) 
Learning about others private lives - (2009-06-30) 
Enjoying the summer weather - (2009-06-04) 
Updating my public profile - Graham Ellis - (2009-05-09) 
A long day to guess where - (2009-05-06) 
Town Crier competiton - (2009-04-25) 
Out in the Vale of Pewsey - (2009-04-07) 
Spring Sprung - (2009-04-05) 
Learning to Twitter / what is Twitter? - (2009-03-28) 
Hire Car, from Atlanta Airport - (2009-03-27) 
Melksham to Georgia - (2009-03-19) 
Playing Catchup - (2009-03-06) 
East of Melksham Countryside - (2009-03-02) 
Through Snow and Flood to Linux and Tomcat - (2009-02-10) 
The final step to being British - (2009-02-07) 
Who sticks by you in the snow? - (2009-02-05) 
Carry on Training - in spite of the weather - (2009-02-03) 
The Month Ahead - What is happening in Melksham - (2009-01-25) 
2000th article - Remember the background and basics - (2009-01-18) 
Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05) 
End of Training, 2008 - (2008-12-20) 
Middle aged subsidise young and old - (2008-09-26) 
A lack of technical content - (2008-05-16) 
Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11) 
Heading Upstate New York - (2007-08-14) 
Behind closed doors? - (2007-07-22) 
Ducking stool for Melksham? - (2007-05-06) 
Gordon Dodge, R.I.P. - (2007-04-16) 
The Holiday - unlikely romantic comedy? - (2007-04-08) 
Wondering where I have been - (2007-03-06) 
Take vehicles off the road - put all the passengers into one - (2007-02-01) 
Selling by phone and Skype - our policy - (2007-01-30) 
Another frantic posting! - (2007-01-30) 
Enthusiastic, but .... - (2006-12-16) 
Wellhouse Manor, Hotel, Melksham - (2006-12-10) 
French Exchange - (2006-11-11) 
Letter Home - (2006-11-01) 
And so to Inverness - (2006-10-29) 
Rocks, hard places, trains and funerals. - (2006-09-30) 
To join an organisation? - (2006-08-23) 
Working on Weekend in Wiltshire and others - (2006-07-29) 
On Crosby sands - (2006-06-25) 
Over zealous police activity? - (2006-06-09) 
Helping mental health through diet, exercise and other lifestyle matters - (2006-05-18) 
May day away - (2006-05-01) 
Catch up weekend - (2006-04-24) 
Healthier eating - (2006-04-20) 
Can some food be TOO different? - (2006-03-23) 
Making use of disabled facilities - (2006-03-22) 
Lost Camel - (2006-03-14) 
Odd one out. - (2006-03-06) 
Behind every face is a person and a story - (2006-02-25) 
Greetings from Dublin - (2006-02-20) 
Coming or going? - (2006-02-18) 
Design your day with a walk - (2006-02-13) 
Loosing breath with Gerald - (2006-01-31) 
What to do with milk - (2006-01-28) 
Open source questions? Anyone can ask. - (2005-12-03) 
Vintage Bus Day - (2005-10-23) 
Looking different in town - (2005-10-22) 
A Stengthening day - (2005-10-04) 
Up early - (2005-09-16) 
Greetings from Edinburgh - (2005-06-29) 
An O level comes in handy - (2005-05-30) 
Farming yesterday - (2005-05-10) 
Natural or man-made? - (2005-04-18) 
Different course every day - (2005-04-07) 
Difficulties with a trolley - (2005-03-07) 
Diverse activities - (2005-03-01) 
Beard Justification - (2005-02-26) 
Fox and Python - (2005-02-08) 
Fish stocks - (2004-12-12) 
Friday, busy week! - (2004-11-05) 
Matching Cat - (2004-08-24) 
Not two the same - (2004-08-20) 
interesting products and subjects - (2004-08-19)
Some other Articles
Python - listing out the contents of all variablesPython - function v methodPython - extend v append on a listCourses at Well House ManorToo much for the National TrustPHP - good coding practise and sticky radio buttonsWelcome, MartinWhere quality costs lessVisibilityA pattern in change