Friday, December 12, 2014


Fantasies are fun.

There's one that my Tamara and I have talked about now and then that is unquestionably a fantasy - and not one that is so very different from what I hear from co-workers who dream of getting out of the office and into a vocation that offers 'freedom.'

Throughout the Maritimes of this country, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, there are little harbour towns that grew up around the timber industry.  Nowadays, the locals thrive a bit on the tourist trade, transforming grand old houses (that are fairly cheap, given that there's no work to be had and therefore no demand) on the water into bed & breakfasts.  A three-thousand square foot house can be gotten (by a savvy agent) for less than $200K, potentially with a dozen acres or more of untamed land.

Together, Tamara and I have worked in both food service and housekeeping.  We have a clear idea what sort of work is involved and how it certainly wouldn't be freedom - hotel work is slavery, as some neophytes discover to their sorrow.  It has two saving graces, however - the first being, if the people know what they're doing, a smart income can be made.  The second is that tourism is a seasonal activity.

For six months, your life outside work ends.  You begin as the sun rises and you are still at it long after the sun sets.  You suffer guests, you suffer things that break and deliveries that don't arrive. You suffer from inadequate staff and disgruntled staff and no staff at all.  People steal from you, people deface or destroy your property, people break into fights and ruin everyone's night.  For months on end, you're tired.  You are the dead walking.  For months, everything that you've been doing is done on fumes, mild drugs and auto-pilot.  Then it all stops and you rest . . . forgetting to give the attention your property needs, something that will bite you in the ass next Spring.

Why would anyone do this?  Pride of ownership.  Pride of service.  A sense that the world is working according to your timepiece, if the reader can make sense of that.

My own notion about this arrangement would be to run D&D for guests seven nights a week. Sessions would begin at seven and end after ten - during which time the kitchen would be largely closed, since I wouldn't be working there.  I imagine a selection of soups and a cold table would be made available, rich with pasta and potato salad, cold cuts and breads for sandwiches, that sort of thing.  But hot service would end at seven (my kitchen helper would manage for the last half hour while I prepared for play, before putting out the cold table, cleaning the kitchen and getting off shift around nine.

Obviously, the D&D games would have to be tailored into one night sessions - though I can think of ways to make it fun for someone to step into an ongoing campaign and enjoy some interaction before we stopped.  The hard-core people would arrange to be there a week, where they could wander the surrounding villages during the day, antiquing, fishing, enjoying a nearby beach, before heading back for a dinner meal and game play.

In the off-season, I would work on my world, write and adventure outwards myself, perhaps south into America or over to Europe.  If our income proved sufficient, I could give myself a half-day off now and then during the season - though I'd probably want that for sleep.

Realistically, I haven't stood in a kitchen for years - but I worked with plenty of fellows who were the age I am now.  Like anything, it's all in training yourself.  Tamara and I have often talked about the menu we would put together.  I suppose in that part of the world it would be much seafood, mixed with significant Italian and Greek entrees.  I make a very satisfying tandoori, every kind of stir fry imaginable and with a little practice I could certainly improve my butter chicken.  I spent a decade cooking breakfasts, so without question the morning menu would be thoroughly refreshing.  I've always thought a short, steady menu of solid food complimented by at least sixty to a hundred potential specials offers the best fare.

But this is a fantasy.  Because in the end, I'm never going to sacrifice that much of my time for something that isn't writing.  Still, nice to think about once in awhile.


JB said...

Ah...the dream of the B&B. I know it well. My wife would, unfortunately, never entertain such an idea: far too static a life for her.

If you ever do get around to setting up such a shop, please be sure to advertise here (for us folks who are interested in sampling your breakfasts).

VeronaKid said...

OK- I know this is a "fantasy," and all, but seriously- it this EVER happens, I promise you here and now that the missus and I are down for week at least every other year. You have my word as a gentleman.

D&D being run by someone who know what he is doing plus hearty home cooking plus the rugged Canadian coast equals something akin to what heaven must be like in my book.