Airbnb Host

People, both friends and those I meet walking, ask me what I do with myself. My roles are many and varied. I had a some business cards printed that say a multitude of things and so I thought I would write a series of post unpacking what those things mean.

airbnbI am going to start with Airbnb hosting for a number of reasons; one it comes first on my business cards, two is comes first alphabetically, and three it does hold the structure of my day in place.

There are many articles that can be found giving Airbnb a bad name, but I think a lot of that is because, as Brits especially we do like to moan, don’t really like something entrepreneurial and do enjoy a bad story. For myself as both host and guest I think it is great. We have a dog and that means that finding campsites and hotels that allow dogs can be hard work, but the Airbnb filters let us search for dog friendly places to stay.  Yes I know these can be put on other websites for looking for hotels and bed&breakfast establishment, but I have done this before via a site, booked and paid for a dog-friendly room, arrived at the hotel and they have looked at my dog in amazement because the part about having a dog had not been passed on by the website. With Airbnb there is a chance to chat via the Airbnb app to the host and make sure they understood about the dog.

Also as a host, being able to chat to your guest before they arrive is nice, though sometimes it does mean that I have form presumptions about people before they arrive as I have mentioned before 🙂

So why do we host strangers via the Airbnb site? One reason is that we can pick and choosebnb_billboard_011 when we have people. The calendar is easy to use and so holidays for us are possible. Also Airbnb do have a vetting service or sorts, though that is more just to check the people are real! We wanted to make some money and this gives us a way to rent out our rooms easily. Airbnb do take their cut, which is making the guys who set it up rich, but you know for me I think that’s ok. It’s a great idea and by the moment of people using it show how popular it is so why not let them make some money. Really it is just lots of little bits. We are not put out by them taking their small cut and our guests say they still find it cheaper even paying the service charge.

The big thing for me is that we get people like us coming to stay, people who enjoy a chat, want to learn about the area, and want a cheap holiday. My husband says it is like having the world come to us. So far in this house we have had Italians, Polish, Australians, Welsh, English, Latvians, Malaysians, Singaporeans, and more. Most we have had chance to chat to, share breakfast with, eat supper with, learn something from. And it is also something we can do when we have family and friends to stay. Over the last couple of weekends we have had friends as well as Airbnb guests staying. So we sit down to breakfast with our friends, the Airbnb guests grab their breakfast and our friend is teasing our Brazilian guest about football. My husband breaks his foot the day before we are having a new bed for a new Airbnb room we will launch soon delivered and friend and Airbnb guest carry bed to top floor. I couldn’t have asked that if we had been running a hotel!

Also we can say what we want to supply for our guests. We do not need to do a full English breakfast. Our listing says there is bread and cereal if required in the kitchen. We do not supply an evening meal but do allow our kitchen to be used by our Airbnb guests to cook in.

Woman Changing SheetFor me there is a lot of cleaning and changing of beds and washing that needs to be done. But actually I was looking round the house today I realised that because of having guests so often the house is always clean and tidy. We were very lucky that when we moved into this house the previous owners had left it spotless, well decorated and with amazing carpet and curtains. That was a great help to the running of things. So I spend 2 hours a day keeping things up together. Sometimes it is a pain, like this Sunday when we had 2 couples leave Sunday morning and 2  couples arrive Sunday evening. I will give out my business cards to Airbnb guest that we have enjoyed saying and so we do have Airbnb guests who text to ask to come again. This was how we had this big change round on the weekend. So, because we then had paying guest on both floors of our house I had to spend about 3-4 hours cleaning everything. Also one of the couples who left on the Sunday were friends and so the housework had slipped a bit. But this does not happen that often. On the whole it is a steady stream of guests and cleaning and I can pace myself.

The reason it is controlling of my time is that it does need to be done. Airbnb use a rating system both for hosts and guests, and one of the scores is on cleanliness. I work hard to get 5 stars for everything every time. I find this very rewarding.

The hard things about hosting is that we meet such lovely people and then have to say goodbye. We know in truth that we will never see them again even though we all promise 13600090_10153796842010698_7018399500870131622_nto stay in touch. We know deep down we won’t. This is where we need to take guidance from our dog. Renly is loving and welcoming to everyone who stays, after he has done the initial barking when they arrive.  He is friend, follows them everywhere, sits at their feet, wags his tail when they come back from trips and then when he sees them go for the last time with their bags and I start to strip the bed he goes to sleep. His friendships are deep but the ties easily cut. If we are to do this well we do need to make sure we do this more; to love the people whilst they stay and then just let them go. We hoped that we would have a hospitality house where we could bless people on their journeys. With this we have a double portion – being blessed as we do the blessing 🙂

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Presumptions

Wow! Have I been learning about presumptions of late! As you know we are renting rooms via Airbnb which is a very open site which says encourages people to give a profile about themselves so both host and guest sort of know what they are letting themselves into. patentlawpic858Well when we had a Malaysian girl staying for a month and working at the local hospital I had decided she must be a nurse. No she was a trainee doctor and a fascinating person too. Just last week we had a French guy book in for him and his girlfriend so I just presumed they were both from France. No she was from Russia and he was studying in UK. Again a mistake made. Then our latest guest, I could not quite make out the name but for some reason had decided that we had a man staying. Imagine my surprise when I met this lovely woman.

I am never sure how I make these presumptions but I know we all do. We have boxes we put people in and for some reason that is how we view the world. I am sure some of it is because it makes life easier in the broad sense. But I also think this is where we can make so many mistakes. I have often had people say to me that I am nice for a Christian or that I don’t behave like a Christian. I remember once when living in Belfast and going to a lovely church that was really into reaching out to the people who lived in the more deprived part, which was actually where we lived, one of the ladies being supported saying that she couldn’t believe I was “church” as she said. Why? It was her presumptions. I couldn’t be a Christian, be “church”, if I lived where she lived, spoke like she did, let my kid play with hers maybe. But that was something that was holding her back, and many like her from getting to know God.

I also think in this run up to this EU referendum we have to down to personalities and that euthen gives rise to presumptions. If Boris supports Leave then it will look like “x” but if Patrick Stewart supports Remain then it will look like “y”. Why do we think that? Because our preconceived ideas cannot cope with certain people being in certain camps and then us joining with them.

How do we get beyond that? I think we need to be aware of it. So I need to be aware when I make a presumption about one of our guests that I have done that. I need to look at why I my first thought for a Malaysian girl coming here to work in a hospital was that she must be a nurse, that I couldn’t imagine a French person going out with anyone other than another French person, and that somehow the wording on things make me decide gender.

Just recently Airbnb has been pulled up because of prejudices from its hosts – which actually is a silly thing to pull the company up for. It is basically a forum to help people find cheaper accommodation not an employer. And also its host rating system is based on those who stay not on those who don’t. There are a few people I would have liked to have given 1 stars to who never got back to me, or who stayed with us but did not do reviews for us, but that is not how the system works. Ok so its not foolproof but the ratings do work ap22304414966_wide-555ee6d2536f14d3ced3468bd4730e9843676057-s400-c85for when people stay so … But the point is we do not know where the prejudices from these hosts who have refused come from. Perhaps when they see that someone is of a different colour, race, religion, sexual orientation they have some presumption of the character of that person. Should legislation force them to have these people in their homes? I don’t think so. We cannot change people’s hearts by forcing them. I know if I was forced to have someone in my home I did not feel comfortable with for whatever reason I would not behave well. I have had one or two that I have wondered about beforehand but have let them stay and all has been fine. But that was my choice not a law telling me I had to.

So how do we change people’s preconceived ideas? We can’t. As with everything we can only change our own. But then we can share with others in a kind way. We are part of a Bible study group that have their own presumptions about things. We cannot tell them they are wrong but we can say about those we know who are different colour, race, religion or sexual orientation to us, but also we have to accept these people as lovely people and not be prejudice against them. In fact I think this is one of the hardest things to deal with – not being prejudiced against people who have prejudices we disagree with. If we do not love the gun toting right wing fundamental then how can they ever change?

My presumptions could lead to prejudices which could lead to me not allowing people into mayaangelou101310my home, not let me speak to people in a supportive way, and I need to be aware of that. The only person I can really change is me but the only way I can do that is by being aware.

Be Prepared

be-prepared-boyscoutsSo this is a boy scout motto but also something Jesus said and that was repeated in James’ letter toward the end of the Bible. Jesus said to be prepared because we don’t know when He’s coming back and we should always be ready. James said not to make our own plans because we didn’t know what was round the corner, which to a point is like be prepared for anything.

As you know we have a room that we rent out on Airbnb. It has been bit slow going, as actually it was last year where we use to live – though we have had a whole month with a lovely girl from Malaysia staying which was fun and helped us to see if we were ready for long term lodgers. Anyway she left on Friday and from then we had another Airbnb guest for 2 nights, a young friend who we hadn’t seen in ages and my daughter staying. I spent yesterday washing sheets and towels. And of course the housework didn’t

sheets-in-the-breeze
Not our backyard though

get done much over the weekend because of friends and family staying so we were doing things, and it was my birthday. So yesterday I started to catch up and today was supposed to be the day for getting on. Well the sun is shining and I just wanted to do other things but I did bits and pieces. I was debating whether to make up the beds, trying to decide if it was better to leave them for a booking or having things sort of ready. I stopped to have a drink having done over an hour’s cleaning and checked my phone. There was a booking asking if I would accept it for tonight!! Well I had prayed earlier in the day that God would send people and had looked at the spaces on the calendar. So I said yes. This did mean that I had to push on and get the Airbnb room cleaned and sorted and also the bits of the house that our guest would pass through. He is arriving within the hour. I had 2 hours to get things sorted.

7eb393d8579853a90ed8c076c79bcd23But to me it very much said to “be ready in season and our of season.” We have chosen to use the Airbnb and, hopefully rent other rooms too, to make some money so that I can stay home and write and be here for whatever. But today I was almost not ready. It has been a bit of a rush, but not too much as I do have time to write this.

I have really felt God saying to me that this is His vision for our home and for it to be my role to prepare it but today I was tired and was thinking of other things. Yes I am blessed that to a point my day is  my own but within that I do have to remember, and have been reminded, that I am meant to keep this house up together for guests coming.

Sometimes I think we all get caught in a rut and get lost in other things, some just other people stuff, that we forget our calling, our vision, and for me that can be the ordinariness of the vision. Mind you for most of us – Christian or not Christian – our callings are to be there for each other, to love each other, to support each other. So for me this afternoon has been a reminder.

And strange though it may seem just doing what I am meant to do has brought me back closer to God. No I haven’t read my Bible or done anything great but I have done what He has said I’m meant to do.

Easter Saturday

tumblr_inline_mkj5cj217t1qz4rgpEaster Saturday, the space between death and resurrection life. The hard place to be. For those first followers of Jesus it must have been so awful because they did not know for sure that Jesus would rise again. We do so we go about our daily lives, do some DIY, go shopping, eat, drink, etc. For the Christian now I believe that Easter Saturday, and often even Good Friday, has lost its impetuous. But in our own lives Easter Saturday can be very real.

I feel like I have been in that place between death and resurrection life for a long time; probably since I finished my job in December

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Found this picture when googling for “liminal space”. Wonder if this is why God’s put us so close to a beach?

2014 and got to grips with dealing with my grief and pain and reordering my life without sister, father in law and some friends. Even with this house move I have blogged about being in liminal places, inbetween times. I do pop my head above the surface at times, like a crocus, but then it stops again. Actually that space between the end of something and the resurrection of the new isn’t a clear one day thing as it is in the Christian calendar. I believe for each of us it is a long slow journey. I was journalling all this when I checked my emails to see Day 50 of 100 days for 100 years of history, a prayer for Ireland initiative. Steve Cave says so much better what I am feeling but he says it for a land that I was only praying for last week:

Here are some quotes:

I can’t help but feel we are still living in Easter Saturday here; we know something significant has happened with the transition to politics instead of terror, but we haven’t yet experienced resurrection to something new. We’re still fighting, albeit it is usually now just with words.

we’re still in between what has happened and what we still long for – it’s still Easter Saturday to an extent and we’re waiting for resurrection.

For me, for us, so much has happened but when Ian says “what are we here for?” I have to vulnerability21answer honestly “I’m not sure.” Yes we started our Airbnb rentals yesterday. Yes we have had friends and family up. Yes we have met up with some people here that could be friends. Yes I did feel my heart get majorly lifted and healed last week whilst we were praying about hearts in Ireland. Things did change. I do know something significant has happened, that I am in transition.

What do I long for? I often wonder if I am ready to ask that of myself? I do want to write, but am struggling to do much more than blog and write emails to friends. I do want to get back into praying for the land of Europe but can feel that is a “wait” word. I do want to run a hospitality house but I find it so hard at the moment and find that things can really gallery_write_gallerystress me out. Like with these first guests – it turns out that the radiator in the Airbnb room doesn’t work. Ian sorted them out, got them to move rooms, etc but I was upset by it all and couldn’t come up with a solution. I still feel weary; weary that I don’t want to do anything at the moment. I am down to start work with an agency doing temporary schools work, but I’m not sure if I should.

I do feel like I am still in between what has happened, the healings and the moving, but am still in that waiting place. It is very much that whole thing, as I have blogged so much before, of waiting, not pushing, but letting God. It all goes back to trusting Him. A wonderful learning curve!

Missing the Familiar

quote-aziz-ansari-one-of-the-big-things-i-miss-60676
similar thing

Whilst not having any internet last week I did some therapeutic writing about what I was missing having moved. From it came not that I was missing anything major but that I was missing the trivial and the familiar. I was missing knowing the names of dogs when I was out walking, knowing where to buy certain things, being able to recognise someone from a distance by the way they walked or what they were wearing. I missed knowing where to buy the things to make up my home-made muesli, or where to get an organic veg box, where to get biodegradable dog poo bags, and even where to buy a hat stand. All these things I would have known where to go and what to get but here its all new. I did also miss not having the car just outside. At the moment as it is our only car Ian is taking it to work as he finds that less stressful than going by public transport, and it’s an easy drive whereas the public transport is harder. Mind you not that I would have gone anywhere in the car because I didn’t know where to go, where to park once I got there and all that sort of stuff.

Since writing the piece my daughter came to visit, which made me happy as I hadn’t seen

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this is the butchers 🙂 

her since 1st January. Then we got the internet and so I’ve been able to google and get an organic veg box delivered, find that we have health food shop in Abergele which I have just visited. It isn’t as extensive as the one where I was but I’m sure I can make it mine after a while, but it did have the basics I needed. I went to my butcher, who I have been cultivating since arriving, and as well as being able to get the chicken wings for the dog he also had rabbit. Now I can’t remember how much is was in the local farm shop near where we were but I know it wasn’t cheap. Here it was £5 a pound and the butcher could tell me who’d shot it too if I wanted to know. The familiar is coming together.

Also this morning I got coerced  into going to a prayer meeting for my lovely Interweave friend. Yes I did sort of want to go but again that lack of the familiar was making me feel shy and a bit scared. Well God was doing the coercing. Firstly a lovely lady phoned me up and said she would meet me on the bus as she got on a stop or two before me. I agreed but was going to chicken out when another lady knocked on my door yesterday and said she would be round to mine at just after 10am to pick me up and take me. It wasn’t so much pressured as God making sure I was going to go. Well I went as I had no choice and the funny thing is that the familiar is in prayer meetings. Everyone wants to hear from God and pray for the person. It was a well set out one too. I loved it and I remembered that actually I am an intercessor. I like to pray. And I’m a bit good at it 🙂 The lady who had given me a lift was going on elsewhere but the other lady was going to show me how to get

82e06994e322e49fc4f39713dc701dae
the second hand furniture shop and cafe

back on the bus but first of all we went for lunch because she was going on elsewhere. So she took me to a lovely cheap little cafe that does great snacks but also has a great second hand furniture store incorporated in it. There was some lovely stuff there and I will definitely drag Ian along on the weekend 🙂 So she introduced me to the familiar.

When moving somewhere new, even if it is the right thing and feels like home there are still so many things to have to sort out, so many things to miss. Sometimes you just need a friendly had to guide you, point you in the right direction, be a bit firm about things. Goodness we have only had the keys for this house 3 weeks on Friday and have only been living here for 2 weeks and 2 days. It all takes time, but knowing where to get certain items makes me feel much more comfortable and settled.

Statio

There’s a word for where we are at the moment – Statio. It means “the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgement that in the spacethreshold1_0 of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.” (Christine Valters Painter PhD)

Ok so we are stopped between one thing and the next but have we really acknowledged that this is what we are doing? To a point, No! What we really want to do is move on. We are both struggling with the lack of knowing what tomorrow might bring, the lack of things in the diary to keep the world in order, the lack of something to get up for. We are packed, the house is clean, we’ve done our goodbyes, we have finished work. All is done! And we are struggling. We want to be working, filling the diary with new things, unpacking, planning. But we are in Statio – stopping between the end of one thing and the beginning of the other.

thresholdThe challenge is “In this in-between place of stillness, can you consciously and with intention, release what came before and prepare to enter fully into what comes next?” So can we? Are we willing and able to release what came before and prepare for what comes next? And what does that mean in practise?

For me I think a lot of it meant realising who I was really saying goodbye to and what friends I was always going to be in touch with, realising who I have a heart connection with. Like my friend who I have journeyed through her marriage and her husband’s suicide, we are joined at the heart forever because of what we both endured. I can never let her go. For many of my friendship it is an endurance, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, but of moving away, keeping in touch via letter, email, phone calls, and of knowing what we have done once we can do again. So for me the preparing comes with looking at relationship.

After reading this from Abbey of the Arts this morning, whilst out walking the dog instead05-lambs-on-the-cliffs-ruth-walking-the-gower-peninsula of saying that we wouldn’t be doing this walk for much longer I said goodbye to things; to the sparrows, the sheep, the trees, the styles, etc. I will do that again tomorrow and the next day – consciously say goodbye to things that are very much part of my dog walking landscape. As I drive through our town I will start to say goodbye to things too, things that I’ve been use to, even things that annoy me. The town I live in is a beautiful town but I don’t think we will come back and visit it much after we’ve gone, and if we do it will be as visitors not as residents anyway.

I am going to work on releasing the experiences that I have had here, some good, some bad, some really horribly, some amazing. I will let them go and let them stay in this place. That doesn’t mean that I will box them up and try to forget them but that they will become a part of here.

il_570xn-678785025_23y4And I will start to prepare for what comes next. I’m already on 2 agencies for working in schools with either learning support or teaching assistant jobs. I have things that I have acquired to go in my new “room-of-my-own”. But also I am going to pray and release the things to come that I do not know of. A friend prayed for us last Sunday and asked of Diane and Ian shaped spaces where we are going and for good neighbours and friends. I am a people person, as recognised with the importance of relationships earlier on in this, and for me people are part of the tapestry of what is to come. Also if we are offering hospitality then we do need people in that equation 🙂

We are off on Friday to spend a week in Anglesey. Dear Ian will only get a 2 day holiday because he has to start work on Monday but I am hoping that having me close to come home to each evening will help his transition into the next stage of his working life. I can be praying and supporting because also I have realised that my marriage is something that I need to be supportive of. This has come out of this “statio” time, of letting go and welcoming in. Again the prayer last Sunday was that we would remember why we got old_windmill_no-_2_at_gaerwen_anglesey_-_geograph-org-uk_-_48070married to each other. This week has not been easy with the uncertainty that has gone on and I can do my bit to support, even if it is just being there a week on Monday to welcome Ian home with a cooked meal and a listening ear.

So my plan (&I am a natural planner, that’s how God made me) for these next 6 days here is to consciously let go of here and consciously welcome in what is to come – even though I don’t know what that will be. I know now that I don’t need dates and fixtures but I do need a rough idea of how to spend my time. We’ve other things to do, like say goodbye to our rabbit for a while who is going into long term fostering with a friend, and some seeing people stuff, but on the whole it will be a statio time of letting go and waiting.