The Mimosa in Spring and a cat called Basil

Further memoirs of a hotelier…

mimosa-1798388_640After the typical uncertainty of the British winter, the first sighting of the golden Mimosa tree growing by the gate, always created a great upsurge of spirits. My favourite season was upon us: Spring, tra-la, with all its inherent delights. Our hotel bookings were steadily growing; recent paying guests, already ensnared by our seemingly good care and cooking…had re-booked for their summer holidays (hurray!) and several travelling salesmen, who regularly chanced Bournemouth’s way, had re-booked for their business trips. So, we must have been doing something right! It was a good feeling.

The good feeling was further nurtured by the sight of a beautiful, half-Persian cat – just out of the kitten stage – offered to us by Mrs. Solomon’s niece: ‘I can’t cope with any more felines…’ she admitted. Vis a vis “Faulty Towers” (of TV fame) – while our establishment was nicknamed “Faulty Towels” – we decided that Basil was a fitting name for the latest addition to our family. I had always been drawn to dogs rather than cats, but this gorgeous little bundle of fun stole my heart, and being greedy…stole youngest son Robert’s too. In fact, it soon proved to be a case of “Basil the heart-thief” as even guests who didn’t like cats, took to his winning ways. Both regal and cunning (doubtless like some kings in history) Basil had other seductive traits which served him well. But one day, he caused disruption when the Captain of our local Bowls team, who played on the pitch opposite our hotel, rang our bell with Basil under his arm. ‘He loves sleeping on our pitch and has stopped play twice!’ he announced, through gritted teeth, so I had to keep him in one room thereafter, whenever there was a bowls match.

sunset-3008779_640On the rare evenings I had an hour or so off duty to watch a programme on the TV or read, Basil would drape himself across my shoulders and neck like a fur boa and take a nap – he knew how to play it, all right! He even brought me gifts now and then – like a grasshopper or a petrified sparrow; sometimes a wee, comatose mouse, all of which I tried, desperately, to save… Mostly, we lived in complete harmony, despite him being naughty enough to sneak in rooms and lounge on any bed he could… until one, fateful night when he decided to explore the terrain adjacent to our parking lot. Tragically, while dashing across the road, he was killed outright by a motor bike. I never knew I had so many tears in me…. and as we were half-full of guests at the time, I had to save them until I was alone. Robert and the rest of the family were also shocked and grieving. Basil certainly left his mark on us, even though he had only lived out just two of his lives in real terms.

Meanwhile, there were needy guests to deal with, and while I had always been a voracious people- watcher, I didn’t realize just how pertinent that would become in the near future. Looking back, we were quite lucky with most of them, although one annoying woman loudly announced as I passed her dinner-table, “Oh, by the way, there’s a cobweb on our ceiling!” I naturally apologised and later removed the offensive object. We had our first vegetarian book a room for a break, but managed to please her. In fact, she seemed delighted with our efforts. Life was rarely the same most weeks and the variety of guests was entertaining to say the least,

afternoon-2049485_640A Mr. Ham (payment courtesy of the DHSS)* tried to evade paying his way but GB** was up to his game, and on hearing that he hadn’t received his usual cheque (a blatant lie) suggested two things. That either GB accompany him to the Post Office to cash his cheque or the local police station… The fact that the guy’s name was Ham and the next one to book a room for a few weeks was a Mr. Bone, tickled us. It didn’t take much… Mr Bone, as it turned out: a lanky (boneless?) character, was a bachelor and an oddity and he told us that he trawled the churches each Sunday, after services, favouring those offering free coffee or tea, and biscuits if you please! Finding usually only lone women of a certain age, he would ask (shyness not being a problem) ‘Are there are widder women looking for another man?’ I believe he was eventually “rumbled” and none-too-politely asked to leave. I was reminded of the old saying: “There’s nowt as queer as folk.” Another, memorable, couple who booked in for a week, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and told us ‘This is a first… we’ve never stayed in a hotel before!’ As we weren’t completely full that week, we were able to spoil them with extra-special treats, which was fun.

And so our customers came and went – one couple – he a salesman, she a local girl, became engaged and held their party in our dining room; and we had a party of four workmen: two Irish and two Scots. As they were working on a contract nearby and started work early, we cooked them breakfast an hour before the other guests, and to fill their obviously hollow legs, cooked them huge turkey legs and made meat pies and equally filling meals, which they ate with relish.

white-845071_640‘We’re on to a winner here, Mrs…’said one of the Scots. That was good to hear, especially after all GB’s – and my – hard work in the kitchen, but GB thought he was ‘taking the proverbial’ when he asked me to ‘Go to the store and buy me some new shirts.’ The cheek of the man.

After the workmen and Misters Ham and Bone left, we had a quietish week and then all systems go…as the summer season started. But, while we worked our butts off, we enjoyed the mainly jolly company of our paying guests who had stayed before and become friends – even if some ignored our “last drinks at eleven” ruling. The calm before a mini-storm comes to mind.

One evening, a young man booked in, ate a meal and went for a walk. He returned with a young lady and they watched TV in the lounge before smuggling her into his room, unbeknown to us. Come midnight, we heard their laughter…a tricky situation was afoot. I knocked on the door and asked him if he knew what time it was. He was flippant and rude when I asked the young lady to leave… but – banging the door behind them – a few minutes later, they both left. Relieved, I went to bed. He didn’t return, but left several police-1463975_640items of clothing behind and some underwear in a drawer. After two days passed, I rang the police and reported the incident. Two policemen arrived, examined what the guy had left behind, and hidden beneath the underwear, discovered a large knife, which disturbed a few hairs on my neck, literally speaking of course! I never saw “Joey Barton” again, but did hear he was later wanted by the police for staying in various hotels without paying. Hey ho.

For the remainder of our time in the hotel business, all remained harmonious and peaceful, except for one irate man – with family in tow – who ‘thought I’d booked a holiday!… ’ but hadn’t, during a Bank holiday period. I felt sorry for his family, but every bed was taken! Oh, the highs and lows of hotel life… A learning chapter to be sure.

*The Department of Health & Social Security

** GB – “Gordon Blue”

© Copyright Joy Lennick 2019

Photographs via


36 thoughts on “The Mimosa in Spring and a cat called Basil

  1. Librarylady 04/05/2019 / 6:39 pm

    This is very well written and you have some great stories. Glad I found you!

  2. willowdot21 04/05/2019 / 7:49 pm

    I really enjoyed your stories, Sybil, sorry I mean Joy ,🤭💜

  3. joylennickJoy Lennck 04/05/2019 / 8:19 pm

    So pleased you enjoyed it, Robbie. Carry on creating all your wonderful, artistic while noshy delights….Yum! x.

  4. joylennickJoy Lennck 04/05/2019 / 9:44 pm

    Glad you liked it, Jill. How delightful that you have those endearing little hummingbirds for neighbours They’re entrancing to watch. x

  5. Yeah, Another Blogger 04/05/2019 / 10:32 pm

    Hi Joy. I’m definitely not a cat person, but I can tell that I would have liked Basil very much.

    I enjoyed reading this story!


  6. Darlene 05/05/2019 / 9:21 am

    A delightful story about your days as a hotel proprietor. Basil sounds like a wonderful cat and I’m sure you missed him a lot! xo

  7. CarolCooks2 05/05/2019 / 9:37 am

    I love mimosa but not so cats although Basil sounds a joy and a character and sadly missed…Life was never boring by the sound it a lovely post, Joy 🙂 x

  8. Q G S Publishing 05/05/2019 / 10:47 am

    Delightful blog, Joy. You’ll never get “writers block” having lived such an entertaining life! x

  9. Marje @ Kyrosmagica 05/05/2019 / 12:26 pm

    My goodness Joy, that guest with the knife in his drawer must have given you such a fright. Love Basil curled round you, so sweet. Loved watching Faulty Towers back in the day…. 🙂

  10. joylennickJoy Lennick 05/05/2019 / 3:03 pm

    Yep, food for thought… Basil was so sweet – really sad his life was so short. Thanks for reading. Hugs x

  11. jwebster2 05/05/2019 / 11:35 pm

    Reblogged this on Jim Webster and commented:
    More from the life of a small business 🙂

  12. jenanita01 06/05/2019 / 10:20 am

    Running a hotel was always something I wanted to do, but somehow life never allowed. You make it sound hilarious, reminding me of all the fun I missed out on.

  13. Tandy | Lavender and Lime 06/05/2019 / 2:42 pm

    I think it is amazing how cobwebs can appear in just seconds – happened to us on the barge two weeks ago 🙂

  14. johnrieber 06/05/2019 / 6:09 pm

    What a crazy bunch of characters you’ve dealt with – some scarier than others! Terrific post

  15. dgkaye 06/05/2019 / 10:27 pm

    Lol, I love your stories Joy. You know how to pull the humor out of everything! When I read your hotel stories it’s like watching one of those British sitcoms, lol Faulty Towers? 🙂 ❤

  16. D. Wallace Peach 08/05/2019 / 4:15 pm

    “Misters Ham and Bone.” Ha ha ha. You just can’t make this stuff up, Joy. I’m sorry that Basil didn’t get to live a long nine lives with you, but it sounds like you had plenty of warm company after all. A fun read.

  17. joylennick 08/05/2019 / 4:21 pm

    Many thanks, Diana. Pleased you enjoyed it. x

  18. joylennick 12/05/2019 / 1:29 pm

    Thank you very much, Suzanne. Much appreciated. x

  19. joylennick 20/05/2019 / 5:32 pm

    Much appreciated Vijayagiri. Thanks a million. xx

  20. Nathan AM Smith 24/05/2019 / 8:55 pm

    Love this! Had a good laugh 🙂

  21. joylennick 25/05/2019 / 12:36 pm

    Thanks, Nathan. I love to make people smile, and if they laugh, even better! x

  22. Suzanne 27/06/2019 / 11:28 pm

    An interesting look back at your time running a hotel. Life must have been very full as the hotel became a crucible for so many stories.

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