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Thursday, 15 September 2011

The B&B experience begins

Well its started finally. After about a year and a half of planning and discussion and the propect of the whole thing being cancelled at the last minute, finally we are here.
We settled in Friday to our 'shed' where we will be living for the next two weeks and then headed off into town for a beer.
Saturday morning was an early start (6am alarm going off) and we were to report for kitchen duties at 6.45am. It all sounds very official but really its all quite laid back. The owners of the B&B have been doing this for 27 years so they know what they are doing and have a good routine. It was up to us to take it all in in two days before they left us in charge for two weeks.
The host has a very good system for cooking and by the end of the morning we had a list of timings for everything from the time the warming cupboard goes on (its all mod cons here you know) to the time to remove the sausages from the oven and turn on the oil for frying eggs.
So that was that and all went well. We cleared the breakfast table and then had to start on the rooms. Well today there was a change over so I had a swift lesson in laundry, which linen sets to use in which room and how often to change them - I was a little bemused by the end of it but I am sure I can tell the difference between a valance and a bottom sheet.
Hoovering, dusting and trays done it just left time for a cup of tea and chocolate buscuit (diet starts when I get back). We were finished about mid-day so we went off for lunch and the papers to our favourite spot on Porthcressa Beach - Dibble and Grub.
After an evening of the start of Strictly we were up early again for more training. We had decided before we got here that Dulcie would do front of house, with her northern sense of humour and witty one liners we hoped she would have the punters chuckling away over breakfast. I was cook of the mess and in charge of running the kitchen. Well Sunday we still only had 4 breakfasts to do as the owners were staying in one of the rooms. One couple only wanted cereal and toast so the pressure was off, however that meant that we would have to face the onslaught of 6 breakfasts on our own. I will just point out at this junction that we have a strict regime here in that everyone has breakfast at 8.15am, there's no dilly dallying here and laying in bed til 8.59am to get to breakfast for 9 its strictly all come at once which is great until you have 6 cooked breakfasts all going out at the same time. However more on that in a moment.
Sunday afternoon we pottered in town after our hostess had made us a lovely lunch. We got back and helped with computer problems and also managed to cadge salmon sandwiches and more cherry pie!!
SO Monday the host and hostess were still here but the idea being we were left to it. Still only 4 breakfasts and still two wanting cereal and toast so only 1 cooked for me to organise. The methodical approach is a good one and everything generally goes to plan except then I suddenly realise I have forgotten to put something on or can't remember what the oven temperature should be! Anyway it all went fairly smoothly except that I burnt the bloody bacon - OMG well it was only a bit of the fat but I had to hoik it out from under the grill and find the scissors and cut that bit off. You know I cook bacon on a near daily basis at home and never burn the stuff unless Dulcie wants it that way (I always do everything she tells me). The first time I cook bacon using a grill and someone elses timings I bugger it up!! Typical.
However Tuesday arrived. We had 2 new guests in and suddenly kippers were up on the board and you know what happens when one person sees what someone else is having - they want it too. Luckily people put down what they want the night before so we know about this which was fine. Then one of the new guests also wanted poached eggs and so of course another guest wanted them, then someone wanted scrambled eggs so Mr Kippers also wanted scrambled eggs with his! Well I had been shown the poached egg device and in true perparedness fashion we decided to try it out on Monday evening so after eating the sausages that needed using up, I then poached an egg using this rubbery plastic thing but it took eleven minutes and we only had one - well I had seen on a cooking porgramme we were watching while in america, a woman who cooked her poached eggs then left them on a tea towel until they were needed and just immersed them in hot water for a few seconds. We tried that as well but the egg didn't look great, it took too long and how on earth was I going to get three done in time. So we scrapped that and went back to the old fashion way of dropping them in hot water and thought the presentation much more acceptable - you have to think of these things you know. So after sausages and sea beet, plus two eggs on the newly made bread I was a bit stuffed.
So Tuesday morning came and I was really quite nervous. As many of you know I have done a lot of cooking and for large numbers of poeple on occasions but cooking for people who are paying is a whole other stress I can tell you. The routine went fine and after much discussion about how to cook the kippers, for how long and where bearing in mind I had 4 poached eggs to cook as well as scrambled, finally we made a plan and spaced ourselves out.
The scrambled eggs went fine (we decided that the pinging of microwaves is  not a thing you want guests hearing in the morning so we cooked the scrambled in a pan) and so did the poached and I have to say I was quite pleased with them - not sure what the punters thought but they ate them and that is the main thing.
We both breathed a huge sign of relief when the final cooked breakfast went out and after the high five and lots of sighs of relief we got on with the clearing up.

Kathryn

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