I was offered the opportunity to take an NVQ4 in training and decided that, if our plans for expansion are to go ahead, this would be a useful skill to have.
It has caused my husband Simon and I much merriment as I worked on the first unit, "appraising training needs". It was patently clear from the assessment of skills we require that we rely heavily on personality qualities, believing we can train in the technical bits.
It is not surprising, then, that we have a staff of "characters" - ranging from Di, who was virtually unable to work last week due to the loss of her make-up bag, to Jan, who had to be reminded that members of the public eating in our dining room are not serving community service orders.
In discussion with my trainer, I was reminded of the story of Parker Pens, which commissioned a company to assess who its largest competitor was. They were much surprised to be told that it was Timex watches. The assessors had discovered that they were in the giftware market rather than in the pen market.
It had me wondering about whether we sometimes are in the entertainment rather than the catering market.
Certainly, the strong and vibrant personalities that we employ contribute massively to the business. Simon and I are strongly of the opinion that work is to be enjoyed, and that pleasure does seem to shine through most of the time.
Pride in the staff
So it was with considerable pride that I read a letter from the Wales Tourist Board informing me that many of my staff had received nominations from the public for the annual Welcome Host of the Year competition.
I was asked to assist the judges in their decision and I found myself in a quandary. Should I pick Mandy or Julie, my stalwart assistants; anyone of the front of house team, who make the customers laugh and who are so loyal; Simon's kitchen team, who have learnt their skills from scratch and are fiercely dedicated to quality; or Heather and her helpers, who slave to ensure that every resident has everything it is within their power to supply?
It is an impossible task. The Lodge Repertory Company (not touring) has "players" and the stars change depending on what play we are performing. The casting is complete for our appearance in Newport, and there is one star, but it is only for one performance. In their individual ways each one of them is a star.
I was recently exhorted by a younger member of staff to "get a life". Joint actor/manager of this professional troupe suits me fine, thanks.
Next diary from Barbara Baldon is on 20 November