- I had been encouraging moss to grown on the stone bird bath on the patio, I came back from one holiday to find it has been cleaned off
- The white sand I had brought home from the beach at Sanibel Island off the coast of Florida which was on a pretty plate and topped by my collection of shells from the same place had been washed down the sink because 'it was only sand'. I was so upset I couldn't speak for the rest of the day
- Every time we came home from a holiday I would find the house spotlessly clean, to the extent that full bottles of chemical cleaner had been purchased and used, despite my requests to use my own eco friendly products.
- I came home once to find that all my everyday jewellery, beads, bracelets etc that sits on my dressing table had been put into washed out margarine cartons, in fact my whole dressing table had been tidied so that I couldn't find a thing
Anyway as I said, I lived with that, put everything back to normal and threw out the chemicals when our guests left. However, living with the same relatives for the past 10 days has left my nerves jangling. I may be over sensitive, I may be unreasonable but here are a few of the comments I've received from the woman
- On arrival 'oh look how bare your garden is'. Excuse me, we live at 900' in the Scottish Borders and have just been through the worst winter ever, the alpine plants are glorious at the moment but you do need to get off your arse and look.
- Speaking about her obscenely large and hideous collection of china ornaments 'I need someone sensible to dispose of them out when I've gone but you're not sensible'. Sensible enough to bin them madam
- As we all sat at breakfast 'I've been knocking down some of your cobwebs but I see I've missed one there' Priceless.
My cousins always arrive with their own supply of preservative heavy cheap cakes, at least 8 boxes, their own shop bought jam rather than touch my homemade ones and an industrial sized vat of cheap spread because we use butter. I have in the past filled the cake tin for them before we've left on holiday only to return to find my baking untouched so I don't do that now. The woman was reluctant to eat any of the wholesome food I cooked, a vegetarian quiche was not sampled at all which I find insulting, and when I made a roast chicken dinner she would only have one small slice of breast meat (she doesn't eat stuffing or dark meat) and then plonked her own supply of cakes on the table and ate several.
It's a fine art to being a good house guest, in my experience it involves spending time away from your hosts so they have their space and providing plenty of wine, chocolates, intelligent conversation and periods of silence. I've been emailing my friend Pam over this time to release some of the pressure, this has been really helpful. Pam told me she has a three day rule, anyone can come and stay but after three days they have to leave. If I'd know that sooner I might have gone down to stay with Pam for three days as it is I just need to scream for quite a while and contemplate what the hell going to happen when we go to Italy later in the year.