A Year in Wemyss

In a week’s time we will have had the flat for a year. We started letting it out in April as an Airbnb and since then we’ve hosted 10 times. We had 2 single men (although one definitely wined and dined a friend), followed by a writer finishing her book, a couple who stayed for 2 months as they were between houses, a couple visiting family in the village, a woman wanting time to get her head back together, a visitor from Germany, a single woman travelling alone and recently 3 couples just getting away from it all and they’ve all left great reviews and some lovely comments in the guest book.

We also have a couple of bookings coming up – a couple from the Shetlands and a young couple who want it for a month to travel around Scotland. AND we’re already booked up for Christmas. Due to this, I’ve ensured I’ve blocked off New Year so we can go down and celebrate the bells in the village. Hopefully the community pub will still be open and the piper will be there this year to pipe us all out to the coastal path to watch the fireworks in Edinburgh.

On the whole, it has been stress free running an Airbnb. We’ve recovered all the money we’ve spent in doing it up and it is now paying for itself. Some exciting news is that OH is now a Superhost. And just in case you’re wondering what requirements have to be met to achieve that position, I’ve copied and pasted them here for you.

  • Completed at least 10 trips OR completed 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
  • Maintained a 90% response rate or higher
  • Maintained a 1% cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower, with exceptions made for those that fall under our Extenuating Circumstances policy
  • Maintained a 4.8 overall rating (this rating looks at the past 365 days of reviews, based on the date the guest left a review, not the date the guest checked out)

So there you go. I’m married to a super hero, I mean superhost.

As well as hosting, we’ve got to know the village and it’s inhabitants. We’ve become accustomed to a menu of lobster, crab and mackerel and become regulars in the community pub.

Covid aside, it’s been a pretty special year.

If you’re interested in spending a couple of nights in a flat on the Fife coast, with some stunning views, please don’t hesitate to ask for the link.

Out of sight, out of mind

I haven’t been writing much about the flat recently and that’s because we have had a couple stay in it for the last 2 months. They just left on Friday. Prior to that we had back to back bookings too so apart from buying welcome packs I haven’t had much to do with the flat – it’s OH’s baby and I let him look after her (or him). I just like buying it stuff.

Vegan welcome pack

It was a quick turnaround this weekend as we received the bookings before we had really experienced hosting. Our naivety led to us having a booking for 2 months swiftly followed by a 5 night booking, which meant OH had to get the marigolds on sharpish. Now we make sure there is plenty prep time between people staying.

I had always intended to tell you about the people that have stayed in the flat but now I’m wondering about confidentiality. Is there some AirBnb code of conduct that prevents me telling? Would the people staying even see this blog? Not that I know much about them (due to Covid we have been leaving a key in a wee key safe and not meeting our visitors) but I have realised you can tell quite a bit by what is left behind. For instance, one young chap had obviously been entertaining – perhaps an Italian themed night. An ornamental jug had been moved from the bedroom to the kitchen and had wilted flowers in it. Red sauce splatters coated the cooker splash back, pizza dough and tins of tomatoes were left in the cupboard and empty prosecco bottles were next to the bin. I’m not sure if his prowess in the kitchen led to success though as there was also evidence that the bed settee in the living room had been used.

The 2 monthers, who were between houses, moved all the furniture round to suit there needs. I liked that they moved the writing desk in front of the window with the best view. They also moved the ornamental jug but this time to the bathroom. Does that mean they hated it or loved it? I’ve just had a thought. Were they using it whilst in the bath? Oh.

Although we haven’t been able to access the flat, we have still been visiting the village and going out on the boat. There has been some fantastic weather recently and going out fishing whilst the mackerel has been in season has been a highlight. OH has a creel so regularly goes out to see what has crawled into it. The majority get flung back as he only keeps what will be eaten or to bait his creel but smoked mackerel and lobster risotto have been menu favourites.

Now the Covid restrictions have eased we even managed a visit to the community pub. A pint of Best, a gin n tonic and a diet coke = £5.20. With those prices, coupled with the free (very fresh) seafood, you can see why I love the village so much. Now we just need a lull in the bookings so we can get back down and enjoy the flat before the evenings start to get dark again.

Runaround now!

Last week, after our first guest had been and gone, we tidied up and gave the flat a quick clean. The duvet cover, sheets and towels were all washed and hung up on a clothes drier. We didn’t do a deep clean because we thought we had plenty of time before our next set of visitors arrived and as it was going to be my son and his partner, we weren’t overly worried about it.

Back home, feeling pleased with ourselves and glad to have our first paying guest under our belts, we relaxed and opened a bottle of wine. Half way through the bottle the laptop pinged. It was a message from Airbnb with a request from someone to stay for a week, which was great news. The bad news was they wanted to come the following day. Argghhhh. The washing was still up in the flat drying and there was no way either of us were legal to drive.

After a wine fuelled brainstorm, we decided I could get up stupid early, buy stuff for the welcome pack, go to the flat, get rid of the washing and give it another going over before I went to work. We then wrote back and said we were happy with the booking but as it was short notice it wasn’t leaving us a lot of time to properly prepare. He was happy with this and said he wouldn’t be there until after 6pm anyway. This was great news (mainly because it meant I didn’t have to get up stupid early and could finish my glass of wine).

The next day OH went in the afternoon and deep cleaned and I went after work with fresh bits and pieces to make him feel welcome. We also changed the settings on the Airbnb site so the short notice thing wouldn’t happen again (once bitten and all that).

So, that all happened last week, and therefore, today was the day he was checking out and the day I get to find out if he wrote in the guest book.

He did! He wrote that he had seen seals, the beaches were fantastic, he had been to the caves at East Wemyss and the ice cream shop there was also worth a visit.

Never mind the (fantastic) ice cream shop – all the rushing about had been worth it.

And I’m so glad he has set a precedent in the guest book – roll on more top tips for future guests. He also left a review on the Airbnb website –

“I really enjoyed my stay. Wonderful location and a truly great flat with everything you need. Everything was clean and nice. I would happily return another time.”

I feel another smug glass of wine coming on…

Gone Guest

It was with much excitement (and lots of anxiety) we welcomed our first guest this week. Well, I say ‘we welcomed’ because due to Covid, we left the key in a key safe and allowed our guest to let himself in.

An essential worker who, due to work schedules, regularly has to stay for 4 nights in the area. (we decided that he must be a doctor working in the nearby hospital but then I googled/stalked him and found out he was a medical professional just not at the hospital) He was due to arrive last Wednesday.

I had left him a note explaining how the heating worked and the times it went on and off but also how to override the system so he could operate it himself. For his entire stay I monitored/stalked the heating app on my phone and he didn’t put the heating up or down. Was he even in the house?

We heard nothing from him at all.

He was to be checked out today (Sunday) at 11am so we went down to clean the flat and hopefully to read what he had written in the Guest Book.

When we drove up to the flat we wondered, might he still be in the flat?

We knocked the door. We waited. Nothing. We went in.

I opened the fridge. The milk was unopened. I opened the bread bin. The bread was unopened.

Like goldilocks, I opened the bedroom door.

The bed had been stripped! He had been there!

I ran to the guest book – excitement gripped me – I flicked through the book – it was empty.

Oh.

But the chocolates I had left him were gone. I went back through to the kitchen and opened the kitchen cupboard. The shortbread was gone.

So our sweet toothed ghost of a guest has been and gone. He’s left the flat tidy and clean so I’m not complaining at all but now I’m desperately waiting to see what review he will leave on Airbnb.

*presses refresh*

Oh, oh, oh….he has left a review. *Anxiously clicks*

Obviously a man of few words…(I’m still not complaining)

Very nice and clean flat. Great location!

and relax.

Essential Maintenance

OH has been busy during lockdown pimping the flat for Airbnb guests and getting some essential maintenance carried out. My definition of essential maintenance is having to spend a shed load of money on things that you can’t see and isn’t half as much fun as buying co-ordinating accessories.

He has had electricians in to keep us up to date with all the electrical legal requirements for letting out a flat – a new consumer unit, hard wired smoke detectors and a fan in the bathroom. They also put up a fancy outdoor light with a sensor to help guests to find and open the keysafe.

He has had roofers in to fix the leaky roof, which involved a scaffold that looked as sturdy as a Meccano set, being built around the flat. The roofers did a great job replacing broken tiles and scrapping off the porridge to make it look a lot tidier. However, the scaffolders managed to break the new light, which hadn’t been up long enough for anyone to use. The rotters didn’t even tell us – OH found the bowl and shade from the light in the bin so they definitely knew they had broken it. OH has had a word with the roofer who replied, “leave it with me” so watch this space.

Whilst the professionals have been in, OH has used the time to remove all the old paint from the outside railings and paint them a lovely champagne colour to match the walls and what a difference it makes (btw he still has the reinforcing poles to do so no need to point that out). What was great was that the neighbours all offered to help pay for the paint without being asked AND one of them hasn’t been to their house in over a year.

As well as the railings, OH has painted the bathroom and tiled the kitchen so everything is looking lovely and fresh for our first guests to arrive.

Oh, by the way, if you’re reading this on Easter Monday you might be interested to know my book, The Same Individuals, which is available on Amazon, is free to download today. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006ZVN2CQ

If you’re reading this any other day, tough, you’ll need to pay for it ;p

Green Jean, Wemyss Castle

Wemyss Castle in Fife, is a short walk from the flat and was built in 1421. Possibly one of it’s most famous visitors was Mary Queen of Scots who met her future husband, Lord Darnley, there in 1565.

Part of the castle

Like many castles in Scotland, Wemyss Castle has a ghost and since moving to West Wemyss I have heard the mention of Green Jean or Green Jeanie a few times. The locals say the green lady, who appears as a tall apparition, glides through the castle wearing a dress of green silk, which rustles as she floats along the corridors. Notably, she is only seen just prior to a death. (If you are interested in more stories about Green Jean I’ve found some tales of her here https://www.thecastlesofscotland.co.uk/the-best-castles/grand-castles/wemyss-castle/)

Although I had never heard of Green Jean, it was old news to OH who knew where her cave was. Why she has a cave is anyone’s guess, especially when she has a whole castle to haunt. However, we mere peasants aren’t allowed in the castle but we can get into the cave so obviously I had to see it.

Up the hill that is Croftamorie (trying saying that without thinking of Dean Martin), behind the graveyard, is an entrance into Wemyss Estate. The path takes you up to Coaltown of Wemyss (where there’s a handy corner shop) but if you take the right hand fork in the path it takes you into some old woods. It looks like this area could have been beautiful landscaped gardens in it’s time as there is an ornate brick circle and evidence of raised flower beds.

Ornate brick circle

Continuing along the path you come to a set of stone steps that warns you not to go up them. Actually the razor wire screams it.

Keep Out!

Veer away from the scary stairs and go down the hill a short distance until you see a gap in the rocks. This is the entrance to Green Jean’s cave.

Entrance to Green Jean’s cave

Inside there’s evidence of a doorway that has been bricked up. I’ve been told this was done when the Queen Mother was visiting the castle and as this was a secret way into the castle it had to be bricked up as it was a security breach. I’ve no idea if this is true or not as I did try to research it and couldn’t find any mention of it.

Not Green Jean

So there you have it, a ghost within haunting distance of the flat – what’s not to like?

It’s go, go, go!

The last time I wrote about paintings because I had nothing else to say as we hadn’t been visiting and (yawn) we still hadn’t taken delivery of the teal sofa. Well, now things have taken a massive turn because the sofa has arrived (hurrah and it’s not just teal it’s TEAL!) and we thought we were good to go!

Well, you know what thought did….with all this horrible weather we’ve been having, it turns out water has seeped into the roof and has been running down the chimney breast causing a damp spot to appear. Therefore, we now need a roofer and some scaffolding. Arghh. Apparently, whoever repaired it before, threw porridge at the flashings. Don’t ask, I’ve just heard it being said.

On top of this we also had an electrician visit to give us a quote for all the essential electrical stuff we need doing like upgrading the fuse box and fitting hard wired smoke detectors etc. Not one to miss an opportunity to visit the flat, I went round taking pics and registering an account with Airbnb.

After much discussion about Covid, people wanting to holiday in Scotland and wishing to book something sooner rather than later, we decided to advertise but block off the calendar until April 1st so we could get all the work done. So with much excitement, I pressed the button that made the listing public. Then it was time to sit back and wait. Well, the wait wasn’t long at all because we’ve already had someone wanting to book the flat – for 2 whole months!! It’s still up in the air as they want to visit the flat before they decide but oh my gosh! I wasn’t expecting that. The good news is, if it does happen, it means all the repairs will be paid for, which is something to raise a glass to.

Picture this

OH and I have stopped visiting the flat due to the current lockdown. However, as there needed to be some essential maintenance carried out (an inspector was coming to peer in our attic to check for woodworm, which I feel is pretty essential because I still want to have an attic post covid) we used the opportunity to take down all the bits and bobs intended for the flat that had been accumulating at home. The majority of these things were for the walls.

This resplendent Highland stag is now in the bedroom and is a print on 3 wooden panels.

This ancient parish map of Fife in 1847 is in the living room and, although it doesn’t show the Fife Coastal Path (because it wasn’t a thing back then) it does show you the Fife coastline and where the flat sits on it.

This print, on canvas, of well balanced rocks is one of many cairns on the beach just along from the flat. Families spend ages layering the rocks and getting creative with their structures so now we have a mini Stonehenge on our doorstep. However, this particular rock formation is special because OH and our grandson built it.

The living room is large with high ceilings and huge blank walls so I wanted something equally large but colourful and arty to contrast against the masses of white. I also wanted it to have the main colours of the room, teal and gold, so I commissioned a local artist to paint something in keeping with the flat. This is what he came up with – it’s his interpretation (in acrylics) of the view along the coast towards Largo Law and is fantastic. My photos don’t do it justice as, like any scenery, it changes with the light. Its massive and vibrant and full of colour. The texture and detail in the sea buckthorn is just amazing and I love it (if you don’t that’s fine, art is a subjective thing).

Now all we are waiting for is the teal sofa, which has been delayed yet again. We now have a date of mid Feb arghhh. Saying that by then, hopefully, we can open as an Airbnb without any restrictions being in place (not that I really want anyone staying here, obviously ;p).

Short and sweet

This weekend, in preparation for our first booking, we should have been cleaning the flat like there had been a murder in it but because of the pandemic, we had to cancel. Well, I say cancel but the writer that was due to stay still wants to come at some point so not cancelled but postponed. Hurrah, I will get to clean like a serial killer at some point.

The pandemic has also meant that we haven’t been able to visit either. Not because it’s in another tier or another health board area but because we don’t want to be seen as the incomers that are endangering the village bringing in our ‘foreign’ breath – no-one there will know that we’ve only travelled 10 miles to get there.

However, before we left and before Nicola implemented the lockdown, we did get some visitors. Callum, our grandson, came to see us with his mum and we all went for a walk down to the shore. As we all walked west along the Fife Coastal Path we managed to spot some seals.

Callum is a dab-hand at stone balancing so before heading back to the flat for hot chocolate, him and his grandad sat for ages watching to see when the waves would knock his tower down (spoiler – he had built it so well the waves didn’t stand a chance and, eventually, he kicked it down).

So I’m not sure when we will go back to the flat to stay. OH will visit and check the pipes haven’t frozen and do any odd diy jobs he can find to keep him busy but for now the Fife flat fun has to finish. *sad face* I guess it gives me some time to work out how letting on Airbnb works and write some blurb to accompany the listing.

It’s a dog’s life

OH is the main dog walker. It’s his dog, he’s the alpha male, the dog does nothing I ask it so why should I pick up it’s shit?

Biddy

Anyway, when we’re at the flat, OH has taken to saying things like, “I’m just going to take the dog up and down the street.” He then disappears for 2 hours. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be very interesting. This morning he returned from his travels with amazing anecdotes about paedophiles after meeting a retired policeman. I genuinely don’t know how OH manages it. I mean, I’m a friendly enough person, I always smile and say hi to everyone I pass on the coastal path but that’s as far as it goes. No-one stops and opens up about their life to me, never mind giving me juicy morsels about how they managed to apprehend a paedophile not only once but twice!

They say everyone has a book in them and that is certainly true about all the people that OH returns home to tell me about. The other day he regaled me with golfing tales about a young lad that travels the world caddying for sheiks. Another is a music teacher at the local prestigious university. One is an ambulance driver who offered up some really sad information about transporting Covid victims and another retired chap is thinking about taking up creeling lobsters for a living.

It just goes to show that village life isn’t as bland and quiet as it looks on the surface and you can find some really colourful and vibrant characters that are happy to share if you just take the time to ask.

So obviously, I’m now thinking about new book plots. I’m also thinking maybe I should start walking the dog more. Just the walking bit though, I still don’t want to be picking up poo.