Well, I woke up around 5AM on Thursday, January 17th and about 12 hours and 720 miles later, I completed the drive from Florida to Virginia. Now, I am officially the new Innkeeper and General Manager of the Brunswick Mineral Springs Bed and Breakfast!
Here's me with my mom, my daughter, my grand daughters and Kirby. Being surrounded by so much love helps make the transition easier.
I have my living quarters and office set up in the finished basement. I have the most gorgeous antique brass bed (which Einstein and Max let me sleep in... somewhere in the upper left-hand corner mostly) and a large wooden desk. There is also a living room, which has been named "The Dog Room," and a billiard room with the coolest fireplace and fieldstone floors, which must have made for an amazing challenge when it came to ensuring that the pool table was level.
Einstein and Max are having a blast. After spending most of their days in a tiny fenced-in back yard in or on the end of a leash, they truly enjoy having 29 acres of unfettered freedom. Our favorite new ritual is taking a daily hike around the nature trails. The cold air makes them all frisky.
Miss Sabrina sure does seem to love having two new brothers to play with. She's been the only pup around here since Mr. Henry passed away, but now she has someone to boss around again. She's found a special bond with Max. She's always flirting with him, sniffing his butt, and touching noses with him. I have never seen her little tail wiggle so much. Maybe it's because Max is closer to her in size. Or maybe he reminds her of Mr. Henry. In any case, she sure does sleep a lot more soundly.
One thing for sure, being an Innkeeper requires a lot of work, especially with a property of this size. Rooms must be prepared when a guest is going to arrive and then it's up at 6am to prepare breakfast. After they leave, you strip the beds down, wash the bedding, clean the bathrooms, empty trash cans, replenish any supplies and get the rooms all ready for the next guest.
Dad is showing me the proverbial ropes of the business and helping me with the many daily duties. He does a tremendous job keeping a mountain of wood loaded into the flatbed trailer and hauling it over to the wood boiler next to the pool house. Mom hurt her back so dad and I spend a lot of time making her sit down so she can heal.
With the colder, winter temperatures, I spend a lot of time hefting wood into the boiler so we can keep the pool heated. The boiler is a huge big beast, which eats about a cord of wood per day! Because it has such a ravenous appetite, I decided to name it Audrey. Every time I open the door to give it another "feeding" I am reminded of that giant, carnivorous plant from the musical -- Little Shop of Horrors.
My brother Ed came in from South Carolina for a few days. He was a big help, splitting and stacking a few cords of wood and setting up my Alexa gadgets.
Our youngest daughter, Brenna, came for a nice visit with her friend Lexi. They stayed in the Ravenscroft suite. They felt like little princesses sleeping in the canopied bed and they really loved the giant claw-foot bathtub. They promised they'll be back real soon.
The eldest daughter, Elizabeth, arrived on Saturday with the grand babies (Kalei and Kera) and my son-in-law (Kevin) came in on Sunday. It's been over three decades since I lived this close to my family and I'll be the first to tell you, there's a lot to that lyric in that John Denver song: "Hey it's good, to be back home again."
I've already had my first over-night guest -- Gayle Keith -- who stayed with us last Monday (the 21st). She's a delightful lady from Richmond who was in our area on business. Max took to her immediately and claimed her as his bestest new friend. After a nice hot, country breakfast at 7:30am, we shared hugs and well-wishes and Gayle went on merry way. She's stayed here twice now so, she's practically family now. Can't wait to see her again.
Bookings are coming in rather regularly now. Perhaps it's because people are getting tired of being cooped up for the winter and are coming down with an early case of Spring Fever, but we already have reservations scheduled through May!
On Wednesday (the 23rd) I hosted a fabulous luncheon and historical tour of the property for 22 of The Vintage Gals. The menu included a lovely strawberry kiwi salad with spinach leaves, blueberries candied walnuts and a raspberry vinegarrette dressing and tea sandwiches (cucumber with dill cream cheese, ham salad, egg salad and chicken salad). For dessert, we had the cutest little strawberry and lemon cupcakes ever!
The ladies were quite surprised to find out just how much history is attached to this place and they enjoyed learning about how our property was mentioned as a place Alexander Hunter visited when he wrote his personal account of his experiences during the Civil War in his book, Johnny Reb and Billy Yank.
I have created a photo gallery on the wall going up the steps to the second floor. Framed there are replicas of historical documents, newspaper articles and some of the faces of people who lived here over 100 years ago.
All in all, I have to admit I am having a lot of fun. There's something so satisfying about serving others and making them feel special. For me, being an Innkeeper exemplifies that saying by Confucius: "Find a job you love and you'll never work another day in your life."
Well, I need to go feed Audrey. It might be cold outside but the water in the pool is nice and warm!
Y'all come for a visit now, ya hear!