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The Foreign Guest by Frederick Daniel Hardy, 1859

The Foreign Guest by Frederick Daniel Hardy, 1859

As much as I desired to stick to certain phases of decorating Diamondleaf Cottage, I find it far cheaper to purchase items as sales arise. I do my best to focus on certain rooms, but my reality is all over the place, flitting from one chamber to the next, fussing over décor.

Oddly, my Guest Room is closer to completion than any other area. This is fortuitous, as I had my first over-night guest at the cottage this past weekend. Oh sure, it was my mother, but let us not lose sight of the milestone. I am woefully unprepared for an overnight visitor and feel like a crummy Victorian hostess.

I researched Victorian guest amenities provided by hospitable Victorian ladies and transposed them below for our benefit. Some are additional items or services that are befitting to our modern sensibilities and realities.

  • Guestbook: Mine is a plain journal, but it is on the inside that counts!
  • Best bed and linens: Working on this
  • A lady’s maid or man servant assigned to each guest: If only!
  • Candle/Nightlight: I have both.
  • Fresh flowers: While always beautiful, they are scarce in the desert climate. I shall do my best to provide, but above all to be sensitive to guest allergies.
  • Vanity/Mirror: In my case, just a mirror in the cottage. Perhaps the next house will allow space for a vanity.
  • Desk w/ stationary, envelopes, and quill: My great-grandmother’s antique desk sits in the guest room, still need to locate suitable stationary and quills
  • Reading material: In the Victorian house, guests had free reign of the host’s personal library. My library is a pile of books on the floor of the office at the moment. So I will be bringing things from my place of work to fulfill this service.
  • Clock: An alarm clock for us moderns, but something with a vintage flair. Naturally.
  • Wash Basin: Those beautiful pitchers and matching bowls seen in grand old estates . . . I do not believe I have the space for this at the cottage, but we shall see.
  • Extra towels, linens, and toiletries: This should go without saying. Including hair dryer and iron, if needed.
  • Kleenex: It is winter after all!
  • Nibbles: While I would like to stick with healthier fair; midnight snackers (a la my Father) tend to go for the biscuit over the apple.
  • Glass/pitcher of beverage: Goes along with the nibbles. Could be tea, water, a nightcap, coffee for the mornings, etc.
  • Robe and slippers: If one has the means.
  • Ottoman/Suitcase stand: Mine will be an ottoman, a small one.
  • Portraits/Photographs: Of previous guests and their visits. Constantly rotate, but make it personal.
  • Bible: I do this for amusement, similar to the hotels.
  • Local attractions/information: Local newspaper, lifestyle magazines, phonebook, pamphlets from the City Chamber of Commerce, list of local attractions, and in my case, inclusion of an outline of the visitation schedule and/or menu. I repeat, I am neurotic about details like that.

Mother and I had a rather relaxing time. She speculates it is the lack of technology (the television, for instance) in the cottage that makes it so restful. I treated her to a local “mom and pop” restaurant which trains and employs people with physical disabilities in the cooking industry. Additionally, the cuisine is divine. Mother had “the best clam chowder [she] ever tasted in [her] life!” This is quite the statement from a lady who has been all over the world, stayed at five-star locations, dined at the Ritz, and enjoyed the festivities at a Country Club in Cape Cod! After our sumptuous repast, we returned to Diamondleaf to repose and catch up. We read for a while; she on the chaise and I, curled up on my new antique sofa (courtesy of My Suitor and his mother). As night fell and my spotty heater blew cool air into the room (I must get that fixed!) I served up some blueberry tea in bone china and raspberry Linzers. We sipped our hot beverage by candlelight and discussed renovations, future dinner parties and soirees, and laughed until late in the evening.

The following day was far more industrious with cleaning, moving furniture and more painting. However, before she took leave, I had her sign the all important Guestbook; yet another milestone! I am rather please she humored me to pen in it. I must say, I am looking forward to hosting and filling up my Guestbook. I must make a concentrated effort to compile all guest amenities so I shall be more prepared as the proper Victorian hostess.