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December 3rd, 2014
Almost a year since the last entry. The question though is: does anyone really read this blog? If not, then it should be discontinued no?


January 14th, 2014
Pffft!! This blog hasn't seen much activity recently. Most activity takes place on Facebook of course. 
Other than recent price increases, not much is new. Art Hotel downtown is about to open but there are still some administrative issues that are dragging. The new By The Lemon Tree extension across the street is also slowly (very slowly) working through the various stages of negotiation. So not much really, is new. The recent price increases however, have brought about an increase in our lease rates applicable from March 1st of this year. Our run-in with the tax department also has resulted in our rates having to take account of Sales Tax now. 

November 1st, 2013
We are apparently fairly close to making an announcement of some import. We've been here before in the past eight months, but this time all indications are that it will happen... Stand by!

October 16th, 2013
We are one person down By The Lemon Tree so it is all hands on deck till we can find a replacement. 
I was on the roof terrace this morning doing some cleaning when the girls showed up for their morning exercise session which I usually lead. In my absence they came up with their lap top and a DVD of the Insanity Workout. As the girls were going through the motions as dictated by their virtual coach, I was washing windows. My consolation of course is that I was getting the real "wax on, wax off" training making me all the stronger I am sure.
We've been running pretty much fully booked now for two months. This situation will last till about November 10th. Given the mix of By The Lemon Tree's guests and their occupations, changes in plans are common and although we keep one room vacant in order to front the possibility that a guest may need to extend his/her stay, there have been times when more than one guest requires an extension. As this has happened rather often in the past two months, we could not help but notice that, particularly amongst the long term guests, a sense of community has been fostered in the absence of which we could never have accommodated everyone's change of plans. 
If feels good.

September 25, 2013
The art work on one of the glass sliding doors is complete just in time for winter when these doors will be in use again. Other than contributing to the aesthetics of the interior, the art work should also result in fewer bruised noses. At the same time we've decided to take out some of the original works of art we had mothballed long ago during the first Gulf War when it seemed like we might up sticks. 
Everything will be displayed in the common areas rather than in the rooms purely because we want the rooms to be easy and quick to clean. Although all the Italian paintings are contemporary abstract works, some of them are still sporting their original early 50s frame. I am in two minds as to whether I should substitute the original frames with modern models. This is a work in progress.

September 18, 2013
It was bound to happen sooner or later. We are now off Booking.com - we are not a hotel and the entire premise of booking.com is geared towards hotels and, in that regard, it works perfectly well. It works less well for us. By far my greatest pet peeve with Booking.com is that it affords no dialogue between us and the guests that want to stay By The Lemon Tree. Rather, between us and guests whom think they want to stay By The Lemon Tree.
Since our foray into Booking.com in January of this year, we gathered the single highest review score of all hotels in Jordan and likely the region, bar none. We were scoring 9.6 till we got off the site last week. But our unexpected success also drew the attention of dolts that are incapable of reading or do not want to read the information provided on the very limited and heavily redacted page afforded us by Booking.com. The result was an avalanche of booking requests from simpletons that thought they were going to stay in a swanky hotel at rock bottom prices. Along with their reservations, these dopes were attaching messages along the lines of: "High floor with a view". No "please", no "hello", no "kiss my ass" - just "high floor with view". 

Inevitably, upon my following Booking.com reservations with an email informing them we have cats and dogs around the house, these nitwits, faced with a reality that to them must appear to be straight out of (should they know what it is) a parallel universe, would often cancel their reservation. But cancellations were hard fought: "what you mean you have dogs in hotel?".

All of which dove tails nicely with my next subject. 

By The Lemon Tree is not a hotel. This is our house. As such, dialogue with potential guests is very important. We must be able to have the opportunity to form an opinion of the people that stay with us. In this regard, though limited by its very nature, the exchange of emails allows both parties to form an idea of the character of the other. The Booking.com platform precludes this a priori. On Booking.com, guests click on "book now" and we are stuck with the reservation. Some guests don't even read the follow up email I send and are surprised to pull up to a house (when they finally find it) instead of a hotel.

So it was a few days ago, that we received a Facebook inquiry from a potential guest. After the exchange of a handful of messages, I did not feel comfortable having her stay By The Lemon Tree. As the opportunity arose to give out the only room available for the dates in question to another guest, I informed the Facebook inquirer that we could not host her... which prompted a general throwing-of-the-toys-out-of-her-pram moment for our potential guest. You can read RJS17's review on Tripadvisor for a stay that did not happen

If you are interested in the message exchange you can read it copy/pasted here.

This teaches us an important lesson. We are not a hotel and we are most certainly not a corporation. There is no need for us to perfect the skill of picking up turds by the clean end as Political Correctness ostensibly behooves us. I should have simply told Rebecca that I did not wish her to stay here and, maybe, that would have been it.

Live and learn... yet again. Life By The Lemon Tree!


August 24th, 2013
A bunch of things today. I thought I should probably make different blog entries but then this is more a stream of consciousness blog than something structured and logical.

For the first time today, I told off a guest. Succinctly, this is what happened. 

Someone made a reservation to stay By The Lemon Tree. The platform she used to make the reservation specified that check-in and check-out times are flexible. Since check-in is flexible, the guest said she was arriving at 3:30am and expected to receive her room. I pointed out to the guest that checking in that early in the morning would be considered as checking in the prior day. We however had a room available and I relented. 
On the day of her arrival, it was clear that the person at my door was not the person I had corresponded with. Given her age, I assumed the couple that arrived must have been either the parents or relatives of the person that made the booking. Despite some uneasiness, I allowed the couple in because I did not wish to make a scene at 3:30am in the morning.
I however immediately sent a message to the person I corresponded with to seek clarification. Sure enough, the couple that arrived were the parents of the person that made the reservation. Worse still, they spoke no English at all.

Despite a difficult beginning, the guests were relatively pleasant and relations cordial... till this morning... the day they are supposed to check out. 

This morning at breakfast, the mother informs me that their flight departs at 3:00am tomorrow and that since our check-out time is flexible they intended to keep the room till 1:00am. When I informed her that due to the fact we are fully booked that was not possible, she threw a hissy fit. 

And that was that. As you know, this is not a corporate hotel. You throw a hissy fit and I might very well give you a piece of my mind rather than bending over and telling you you are the king. 

I fired off a mildly nasty email to the daughter to signify my displeasure at her and her mother's attitude and have told the guests that if they wished to stay By The Lemon Tree whilst awaiting to go to the airport they could make use of the common areas but they have to vacate the room. 

Not a good start to the day.

In other developments, more happily, I learned something last Thursday.

Some of you may know we had a Thai guest in house whom offered to prepare Tom Yum. Crucially, she had left Thailand with some key ingredients in her bag; notably, Thai ginger and lime leaves. 

The Tom Yum turned out very well indeed and here's what I learned. 

I have always made soups starting from a pan fried base. Indeed I have always been under the impression that depth and intensity of flavor could only be achieved by making a fried basis of vegetables and either bones or shells depending on the type of soup. Last Thursday however, I was shown that flavor concentration, intensity, can very well be achieved simply by boiling the ingredients together. 

It was a fun and edifying lunch and I had the left overs for dinner the same day and lunch the next day.

Heartfelt thanks to our new friend Ploy.



August 16th, 2013
I have been remiss long enough. Lots of new things By The Lemon Tree since the last post. 
Some of you may know that we have some new projects underway. One project is a proper hotel, with a reception desk and all and it is scheduled to open down town within the following 3 months. This is going to be purely a tourist hotel and although it is not owned by us we have been asked to manage it. What we are really excited about however, is that this week we received permission to break ground on a new hotel... this project is two years down the line but it will be interesting because it will be modeled on By The Lemon Tree... it will be a proper hotel with a license and all but, crucially, will not look nor will it feel like a hotel. It'll be just like By The Lemon Tree with a few added amenities and embellishments. There is also another project under way but nothing is finalized yet so we'll keep it to ourselves for now.
One other thing worthy of note that happened in the past month is that, apparently, the new Disi water line is up and running. You may know that for the past few years Jordan has been laying a pipeline from the Disi aquifer in the south of the Kingdom all the way to Amman. Apparently as of last month we have started enjoying the results of the project. 
Finally, we are delighted to host some repeat guests By The Lemon Tree. Although we did not mark the occasion, last June By The Lemon Tree turned 1 year old so we are glad to see a number of our original guests returning for their yearly missions. Little things make us happy.
In other developments, our bread making skills are improving and we've dabbled with some new potato and vegetable recipes to vary the breakfast offering. 
All in all a busy but satisfying few weeks for us all.



July 23rd, 2013
We got stung!
The email heading was anonymous. The address "latenitelullaby@gmail.com" only sported the letters "N M" in lieu of the name. Yet the message was written in casual and familiar style as if the sender knew me personally. N M was inquiring about a room for one night. 

I must admit here my first mistake. Thinking it was someone I knew, at the same time that I asked whom he might be, I also informed N M that a room was available.

The response came quickly enough saying it was "Nizar" thus clarifying it was not someone I knew. But here was the first clue of trouble. The writing style of the message indicated either someone with a poor grasp of english or someone that was upset.

As is often the case in these situations, my first mistake was quickly followed by my second mistake and instead of declining to host this strange fish, I carried on with the reservation. 

Be that as it may and as we always do, I offered Nizar the option to be picked up at the airport so as to be driven straight to our location. I explained to Nizar that if he wished to be picked up we needed his flight details. His reply was not only and yet again, ambiguous, but it was incomplete as he only gave us his arrival time but did not tell us neither what the flight number was nor where he was coming from.
 
As I tried unsuccessfully to raise an answer from Nizar regarding his flight details, the day of his presumed arrival was upon us. The only thing left to do was to send the driver to the airport at the time of Nizar's ostensible arrival, with a sign saying "Nizar".

Nizar was picked up and brought By The Lemon Tree. He turned out to be a young Lebanese/American man with long hair and an exceedingly irritating and clearly contrived pseudo American accent. His grasp of english was indeed poor as he kept trying to use words that made no sense in the context of the conversation. The nasal voice did not help to endear him either. But he looked harmless and appeared to be on the slow side. In hind sight, I am wondering if it was an act.

We come here to my third mistake at which point I clearly crossed into cluster**ck territory.

Though uneventful the first night was, Nizar rings me the next day in the evening; the day he was supposed to check out 4 hours prior. His tone was grave. He needed to see me. As I invited him downstairs and offered him a drink, Nizar proceeded to tell me that his project was going to keep him in Jordan much longer than he expected and that he needed to find accommodation for at least one month. The problem however was that the apartments he had seen that morning were dismal. Nizar asked me whether I could make him an offer for a room for the month. Since we could not agree on the price however, he asked whether he could stay one more night..... to which I agreed. Nizar promised to check out by 1pm the next day.

The next day came and by 4pm Nizar had not yet checked out. As I called him to inquire what his intentions were, he told me that: "since I kept quiet I thought it was understood I was going to stay the night!". 

I kid you not. It was clear the guy was not playing with a full deck.

As I finally regained my senses, I let him stay the night and informed him he could not stay By The Lemon Tree any longer.

The next day I applied mild pressure on Nizar to check out. When Nizar finally came to settle he was short some money. We settled and he promised to return the next day to pay what he owed. 

Of course Nizar never showed up again. Not only that but, as we realized later, Nizar also helped himself to some of our sheets and towels along with a satellite receiver and sundry side lamps from the room next door.

And that is the first sting we have suffered in over a year.

Live and learn.




July 11th, 2013
Other than for a handful of days so far, this weather does not feel like summer in Jordan. 
This morning in particular, despite a terse and clear sky, the light is reminiscent of fall (autumn). The early morning sustained wind also contributes to this autumn feeling. Incidentally, so far this year, we have only used air conditioning on a handful of occasions in the living room during gatherings. We have not yet however, used the a/c at night in our room.
Bring on global warming please.


July 10th, 2013
Just back from a jolly in Aqaba. It had been several months we had not taken a week end together as a family. We stayed at a "5 star" hotel for two nights and I came back with the intention of leaving a comment on Tripadvisor. After reading through three pages of comments for the same hotel, I realized I had nothing to add that might be any use to anyone. Like most 5 star hotels, this one has several dozen pages of comments the grand sum of which boils down to: average. It doesn't help either that I have graduated in hotel management and have spent about 15 years in 5 star branded hotels and have left the industry because, but for a very few exceptions, it is... average... if not mediocre... but always and everywhere, overpriced. 

I am not sure when the term "5 star" was supposed to be a guarantee of elegance and exalted gastronomy. Certainly since my early days in the hotel industry in the mid eighties, 5* had to do with appearance far more than with substance. It does not help either that five star hotels today have several hundred rooms in each property. It is difficult to provide conscientious service and food that is gastronomically interesting when you have to serve several hundred guests, day in and day out. It can be done of course but it requires a set of social, economic and professional circumstances that are difficult to find simultaneously and consistently in locales as disparate as Malindi, Tenerife or, indeed, Aqaba.

To speak of Aqaba in particular but Jordan in general, the hotel and food offering is, by and large, mediocre because it is overpriced. In some cases it is way overpriced. JD8 for a local beer! Really!? JD16 for a plate of fried rice that was supposed to have South East Asian overtones but was in all similar to Capse rice with a dose of ginger? And this in a town that is supposed to be a low tax area of the country? A sorry excuse for vegetable curry at JD12 made out of a packet of frozen string beans and carrots?

But the thing that always gets me in all of Jordan's hotels is this. A non stick pan is just that: non stick. The only person not to know that however, seems to be the little cook at the ubiquitous egg station at all the just as ubiquitous buffets. You ask for an omelet? The cook starts with a ladle of oil. Fried eggs? Another ladle of oil. Scrambled eggs? A ladle of oil.... in a non stick pan!!!? In Jordan your egg preparation of choice is generally boiled in oil. In our particular hotel, our cook was not even shown how to pan fry the mushroom before folding it into the omelet. Want an omelet? You get a ladle of oil followed by a slurry of what one hopes are beaten eggs, followed by a handful of culture mushrooms thrown in raw. 

And one other thing. Never have I seen such busy beach hotels with all guests clustered around the fresh water swimming pools. In the two days we were there, not one of the hotel guests swam in the sea. They were all piled into the pools, some of them fully dressed and not one of them ever even took the short walk to the sea to take a look. It begs the question of what the point might be to travel to Aqaba to presumably spend time by the sea side. But that's just me.



July 7th, 2013
Kidney stone.
Spent the early hours of today at the nearby hospital. I noticed something was not right with my plumbing earlier last night. Then around midnight when I went about my ablutions, I felt the discomfort moving around my waist to my back. For a fraction of a second I was fascinated and intrigued by this new sensation... but not for long... next thing I know I was writhing on the floor in fetal position calling mommy. Got in the car and nipped to the hospital next door. A Voltaren injection later, the pain began to subside to the point that I found myself thinking something along the lines of: "what the f*@k was that?" But like in all the best horror movies when danger seems to have gone away for ever and the sun's glare heralds a new dawn,  sneaky little piece of rock was on the move again. This time to the front of my innards. 
Voltaren clearly was not doing it anymore and though my recollection is hazy, I seem to remember threatening the orderly with visits from my Sicilian cousins if he did not supply me with morphine... large portions of it and keep it coming... 
Although not as good as morphine I imagine, the doctors on duty did nonetheless drug me, probably using something more suitable to my condition and, thankfully, legal.
After a CT scan and some more writhing on the floor at home, it would appear that this morning I am fine. With any luck, the piece of rock will have moved through... 
Tomorrow is another day...


June 23rd, 2013
The miracle of life.
I was cleaning the little sleeve of garden this morning. As I was scooping up dried leaves and sundry unwanted crap, I came across some smooth white objects I thought might be river rocks. As I ran the broom over them ever more forcefully to try to dislodge them, it turns out they were eggs. Trouble is that the only animals I can think of that might lay eggs on the ground in our garden are the tortoises. These eggs however, seem inordinately large to have come out of any of our tortoises. I guess we'll have to wait and see what cracks out of these things. The other puzzle is that we've had these three tortoises for well over a decade and never have I come across any eggs nor, indeed, have we ever had any baby tortoises scuttling about. Time will tell hopefully.

June 17th, 2013
We just finished installing all the smoke detectors. I can picture nights of panic if some of these things go off for spurious reasons... not to worry though... I have a cunning plan. If indeed we should get a spurious scare, I'll have some libation at hand so we can throw an impromptu celebration in the middle of the night and, who knows, sleep might be induced once again.

In other developments, just when we thought we could not ever possibly meet anyone more detached from reality than anyone we have met so far, we are surprised.  So it was, on this nippy but bright morning that we were treated to an exploit of intellectual acrobatics that must surely originate from a distant albeit parallel universe.

 A couple that elected to stay By The Lemon Tree but chose to be driven by one of the myriad tour companies commonly found on any street corner in the Hashemite capital, were kept pinging around Jabel Webdeh for about 80 minutes looking for our location. Depending on how you look at it, this stunt may have given our guests the opportunity to take a little shufty around our area of town. But of course, this was not the case as the wily driver not only asked his boss to call me for directions but also cunningly co-opted the efforts of hapless pedestrians whom he asked to call me to ask for directions. 80 minutes and five phone calls later, the driver did eventually pull up exclaiming he knew exactly where he was going and that, in fact, he'd driven past our door several times. When asked why he had not stopped at the address as indicated on the map, he replied that since there was no sign, he decided the address was wrong and was determined to find a sign... somewhere... at some point... in a galaxy far, far away... 



June 16th, 2013
The smoke alarms are in. All rooms and some common areas are going to get fitted with one.


June 9th, 2013
The sauna is up and running. We cracked the champagne on it today.... but that's not what I wished to write about today.
This month we are celebrating our first year By The Lemon Tree. Since last June, we have been honored with some rather good references both personal and online in open forums. Today then, we received a 7.5 out of a possible maximum of 10 on Booking.com. The reason ostensibly is because we have no toiletries in our bathrooms. Apparently the room was not dirty nor the breakfast mediocre and the premises were not tatty nor indeed are they outdated... but there were no toiletries in the bathroom... so we got a 7.5... On the other hand, the bottle of wine the guest received for free which was promptly scoffed did not make it into the rating system. Oh Tempora, Oh Mores!
I think I'll go for a sauna now.

April 1st, 2013
The sauna is in. This is no April's Fool. It is finally in albeit in pieces in the garage. Taking it down actually took a lot longer than we expected. Granted it did not help that it was 37 degrees yesterday and that we had celebrated with one too many bottles of the amber nectar before hand... you know... just to put us in the mood. Now we have to clean all the pieces, make some mild repairs and then ferry the whole thing up four floors to the roof... pictures will be posted on our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/bythelemontree


May 15th, 2013
When it rains, it pours. Never has this saying been so true as these days. Not only is it literally pouring with rain making this month of May the coldest on record I suspect, but hot on the heels of our run-in with the authorities, we now had a run-in with Tripadvisor. 
Tripadvisor is objecting to our classification as a B&B because our linen is refreshed every five night stay. Their solution is to classify us under "speciality lodging" with a bunch of other hotels. 
Apparently, in Tripadvisor's logic, we cannot be a B&B or a condominium but we can be a hotel.
Go figure.
And the reason they found out that we do not refresh linen daily is because.... our web site says so... Far from me to doubt that the remaining handful of B&Bs in Amman refresh the linen daily but this certainly feels like truth in advertising is not recommended in Tripadvisor's books.


May 14th, 2013
It is 5pm local time. Pimm's session is in progress. Join if you are in the neighborhood. Some interesting people here... bound to be an interesting evening and, possibly, night... 

ADDENDUM: It did not fail. More friends turned up and other than an in depth discussion on oil and the geopolitical ramifications thereof, we also finalized the art work for the sliding doors. In the deal, the balmy air and the falling lemons inspired the one and only Sheikh of Amman to create two drawings in striking Roubens style. The decoration of the new bar is off to a very good start.


May 13th, 2013
Freak rain storm yesterday. We first had a brief ten second shower at about 7:30am. But the sky seemed clear. Clear enough that we kept the breakfast setting under the lemon tree. By the time everyone had breakfast, at about 10:30am the sky opened up and it started pouring down in sheets.  
Funny thing is that about four days prior, I noticed our cats doing things they only do in winter when rain is expected. I did make a remark to Lucy whom gave me the puzzled but understanding look the British are well known for. The even funnier thing however is that although it rained over pretty much the majority of Amman yesterday, apparently, it did not rain in the area where Lucy works. When I sent Lucy a "a ha!" text she had no idea what I was on about.

ADDENDUM - It rained on and off all day. Yoga was still held out on the terrace between showers but then the session was interrupted by a good old fashioned thunder storm with lightning show and sheets of rain. It cooled too overnight... and we are in mid May... 

Here's my thought for the day. Someone better do something about this global warming thing quick, because we're freezing down here.


May 9th, 2013
Keen observers will notice a slight change in By The Lemon Tree's narrative on our home page. It is a slight change I grant you but a change it is nonetheless.


May7th, 2013
Something important is afoot. Speaking in I-Ching terms, there is an opportunity in here somewhere. 

This blog entry has been modified since the original was posted three days ago. 


May 4th, 2013
Lunch started late at about 2pm yesterday. Then out came the Condrieu and the Pinot Noir followed by some fresh pizza later in the evening. Some guests were checking out late for a 1am flight, others returned to say goodbye after their tour of Jordan and stayed for a drink. Still others dropped in specifically to taste the Pinot Noir and stayed. When all was said and done, it was 11pm. 

As usual, conversation and debate ranged from making pasta dough, to the intricacies of Swiss watches. The result of last night's conversation however is our new Facebook page for By The Lemon Tree. Is this blog now obsolete? 


April 30th, 2013
BLOODY MARIES AND THE NEW BAR - 
I am not sure what happened first. The bar was supposed to be delivered last week on Wednesday, then on Thursday, then on Saturday (Friday is the weekly holiday), then on Sunday... Right now it is Tuesday evening and my recollection is hazy. I am not sure whether Neal proposed bloody Maries before or after I received word the bar would finally be delivered this morning. "Yeah! Right!" I thought.  Either way, I seem to remember taking the first sip as Leah left to go to school at around 8:30am. Some of our guests joyfully shared a Bloody Mary or two too... at least initially... Breakfast stretched late into the morning and the lemons are lazily dropping from the tree. By the time the bottle of Smirnoff was at the quarter level, the boys with the bar turned up at the door. The stage we were at, it seemed almost pointless to bring a bar in after the fact. Nonetheless, it is now in and the crystal has been taken out of its shock proof wrapping and displayed behind it. 
Considering we've been at it since early this morning, we thought it inappropriate to inaugurate the bar tonight... but it'll probably be done in the next 48 hours. Bar proppers unite! We now have a new venue in Amman.


April 28th, 2013
A bunch of things today. Subsequent to the destruction occasioned by high winds on the roof terrace earlier this month, we are taking the opportunity to rearrange things a bit. The table will be gone shortly. It will be replaced by three sets of low seating rattan couches and tables. This will not only increase seating capacity but it will at once provide more intimate seating for two to four people without mentioning that it will also de-clutter the terrace area. That table never fit properly in the space available and was awkward. Each new set of seats will have an umbrella. 
We have also (and finally) taken out the sculpture that was given in 1962 by Lorenzo Guerrini as wedding gift to my parents. It is an iron headboard for a bed. As we were installing it, I remembered the racket it used to make at the slightest move of the bed. The dam thing never did before and still won't sit flat against the wall. It is rather wobbly and I still remember how you could hear it rattle and clunk simply when my parents turned in bed.... and suddenly it hit me! ... How the heck did my parents ever get to do what they presumably had to do in bed with discretion?... But I digress... Anyway. This time around, I have affixed the sculpture on a wood frame hoping it will steady the contraption. That's the theory. There is a guest in the room so let's see what he says after a couple of nights trial... 

April 24th, 2013
Although not strictly related to By The Lemon Tree, last night I had the privilege to be invited by my friend Omar The Winemaker, to a very intimate tasting of some outstanding Chateauneuf du Pape in the company of none other than M. Jean Pierre Durand himself. Although on a personal visit to the Kingdom, M. Durand made himself available to us and in a spectacular tour de force, shared his views, news and plans with us common mortals. 

I should mention too here that something else happened last night at the wine tasting. I was told that a "promising" young Jordanian chef would be preparing a tasting menu to accompany the wines. I can't count the times I have been introduced to "promising" young Jordanian chefs so, in typical sardonic fashion, I prepared to receive what would usually be a sequence of amateurish dishes... ... ... and I was stunned. Although, cantankerous bum that I am, I still think it may have been a fluke, I am sufficiently impressed with both the culinary skills I witnessed that ranged from depth and balance of flavor to presentation that I think this girl may be for real and should be kept an eye on. Of particular note was her ability to overcome what is essentially very poor local produce to create dishes that were elegant in style and substance. 

Yet another epic night in Amman.    


April 18th, 2013
Crappy weather again. Last night we were supposed to inaugurate the garden for the summer season but it was not to be. Some people are talking about snow by the end of the month??? We cannot dismiss the occurrence of a freak storm out of hand. Jordan does enjoy the occasional blizzard once every 15 years or so... and if memory serves we are overdue for one. The last memorable snow storm goes back to 1992 when Jordanians woke up to 150cm of snow in Amman and more in outlaying areas, in April. Looks like I'll have to increase the heating cycles for the rooms again.
Needless to say, breakfast is now served back inside in the veranda.


April 13, 2013
Yesterday we began serving breakfast outside by the lemon tree. I am a bit annoyed because in repainting the wood furniture outside, we used a darker stain which highlights dirt and dust. We have unwittingly created more work for ourselves as this wood will now need to be wiped down regularly. Live and learn I guess.

For the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" file, a few days ago a guest made her way to us at about 10pm in an airport taxi. Needless to say, other than a vague knowledge of the general area of town we are located in, the hapless driver had no idea where he was going. This time however, we were treated to an uncommon intellectual feat. The guest had my telephone number which she promptly handed to the driver in order to get directions. In turn, the driver, whose reasoning abilities were by now stretched well beyond the full extent allowed by the handful of brain cells pinging around in his frontal lobe, had a cunning plan. He decided to stop by a .... computer store.... and ask the person within to call my number to get directions on his behalf... as you do of course... 

Of course, if that were ever possible, the geezer in the computer store had even less of an idea of our location... but the thing is, I thought I was speaking to the driver... I did not realize I was speaking to a third party till I was well into explaining to him how to get to our location... 

The long and the short of this story is that the driver did eventually make his way fairly close to our b&b. What happened next is typical. The driver knew he was now very close to our b&b. So close in fact that as he spotted a number "1" on a building, his synapses went into a tizzy of excitement and he rang the bell completely omitting to first check the street name. Thankfully the neighbor was not too put out by the mistake almost as if he was inured to this sort of thing happening.... because it does happen rather often... 

The moral of the story? If you intend to make your way to us from the Airport, call Mr. Mansour.


April 5th, 2013

Days of destruction!

Gale force winds yesterday afternoon completely destroyed the wood panelling on the roof terrace in the process also taking down the stone slabs they were anchored to. One of the glass panes on the table flew off and crashed into one of the wood panels shattering in a million pieces. We now have shattered glass all over the garden beneath. We've had to segregate the dogs to the lower garage to protect them from all the glass that is carpeting our garden. The roof terrace looks like a scene out of a war movie.
Needless to say we have delayed bringing the sauna as we need time to repair the damage and make the roof terrace practicable again. 


April 4th, 2013
We received the set of antique silverware I bought off of an estate sale in Spain. Our family set has been decimated over the decades and it had been some time I had wanted to either complete it or buy another set. When the opportunity came up, I snapped it up and had it shipped to Jordan. Clearing it from customs was not as difficult as I anticipated as they only asked for JD377 overall. More satisfying still, is that some guests have already remarked upon our new acquisition. 

In other developments, the bar has been commissioned and a friend has donated to us a number of crystal decanters with assorted solid silver tags. We want the bar area to have an old world look complete with wood and spirits poured out of crystal vessels.

I am looking to buy more antique silverware and crystal for us and for the b&b so that in time we should be able to offer true old world elegance.

Our Swedish friend Kent is finally leaving Jordan. I like Kent and am sorry he is leaving but the upshot is that we are getting his sauna. This is an original wood fired Swedish sauna Kent has built himself. We are excited that it will now sit on our roof terrace and we are looking forward to some fun evenings particularly next winter. Tonight we are going to have one last sauna session at Kent's and then tomorrow we are going to dismantle it in order to transport it to our b&b and we'll rebuild it on our roof. It'll be a six hours affair that will take a few beers and some bbq to accomplish and, perhaps, a few bottles of wine. But it should be fun. Then on Monday I'll have it ready for our first bath right after yoga.

Fun times ahead.

 

April 2nd - 2013
I decided to start this page of notes a bit because I need to keep in mind certain events and people that come through By The Lemon Tree and a bit because it allows me to record moments of note as they happen.

First of all today, we start yoga sessions on the roof from 19:00 for about 75 minutes. This will be so every Monday till further notice.

Last night is a good case in point to highlight the need for this blog. For the past week and for the coming week, By The Lemon Tree is running at full occupancy and we are lucky to have some very interesting guests staying with us. 

It had been some time since we had a good discussion with some of our guests and last night, though only briefly, we were treated to some interesting and edifying discussion spanning from global warming to the monetary system, via the difference between democracy and electoral politics and the effect of cancer on the viability of Universal Care with a brief but detailed insight in the life of trees.

Last night was epic on several levels not least because the usual ethylic catalyst that triggers these events was missing. What we did have however, was a handful of guests that boast a varied professional and academic background and genuine constructive curiosity. 

This is what makes running a guest house fun.

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