Castle in Dornoch by Andrea Kovacs“On Saturday evening after struggling our way through all the possible means of public transport, we finally succeeded to arrive at Inverness in Scotland. As the hotel was located far away from the city on a large property, we received a car and after a while we were heading for Dornoch.
At first our accomodation was a cottage which was situated a bit away from my workplace (from the castle), so later we requested our replacement to the castle. In the first month there was a training which means that we were collaborating with an experienced colleague who showed us the ins and outs of the profession. That was indeed a great help and there was enough time left for learning about the job.
Possible workshifts were the followings: between 7.00 – 15 30; (early) 8.00 – 16 30; 9.00 – 17 30; 10.00 – 19; 12 – 21.00; (mid) 14 30 – 23.00. (late). Normally, we got the first and last one.
The morning (early) shift started out with cleaning up the ground which was divided into 4 different sections; and in the morning two of us started, then at 8 o’clock the helping hands arrived. Each of us was given different section, when finished, one had to help the other colleagues or go to the laundry.
After we completed the tasks(about 8.30), the next to-do was delegated by either the supervisor or the housekeeping manager. We got the worksheet and were given the bed-clothes, towels from the laundry or the store-room, which we had to pack in and carry to the proper floor, or those who worked outside had to pack the bed-clothes in the car by which they got by.
In the laundry two attendants were employed separately; one fix attendant who always worked there and one substitutor, who could drop in on day-offs. The laundry attendant finished at 17 30 and afterwards the employees in the evening (late) shift took over the laundry. No attendant was assigned to deal with the cleaning of the public area (only in case of less work), but three times a week one of us was appointed to do it.
Only one of us had driving license, so usually she had to clean up the guest-lodgings by driving up there. In the castle there were 21 rooms on the three floors, and together with the guest lodgings there were 53 rooms; and about 16 housemaidens were dealing with them. The proportions were a bit more proper than at home. Of course, tidying up a room takes more than 20 minutes, only making the bed takes 10 minutes (especially, if the sheets you’ve prepared are pretty dirty).
Those who arrived by 9.00 had to go straight to the office to get the worksheet on which one could prepare the clean and neat towels, sheets and we were ready for starting off. The ones who were working at the castle got one floor with 7 rooms to tidy up. Since the guest-lodgings were scattered around the property near or farther, my colleagues had to ride round and round in a car or buggie; in general, we had 3 houses. All the guest-lodging had a kitchen, a living room, 3 bedrooms and an own bathroom. After cleaing up the rooms we had to make a list of all missing items or kits, and we had to top up them.
The late shift set out with cleaning up the personnel toilets/bathrooms. The toilets that belonged to each office or floor was the first task or the breakfast room (though it was usually done during the early shift). Then, we could move on to the next to-do; most of the time was spent in the laundry, except for having jobs left behind. In the evening we needed to do a ’turn down’ in all of the rooms, which meant that all the faucets, bath tubs and shower cabins needed dry cleaning and there was no need for cleaning up. In the rooms all the courtains were to be drawn together, the sheets and covers to be removed as well as beds to be made, hot water bottles and cookies (tablet jars) to be placed in the room. Londeeners put bottles of warm waters in the beds, so-called hotties, or we did so if they had no time or were dealing with the cottages. It was followed by the laundry to-do: towels needed washing, drying, folding and put into their place. When the guests were having dinner in the castle, after dinner (at 22.00) we had to help cleaning the tables, remove the flowers, decorations etc.
During 4 months we took part in the so-called ’introduction day’, which is to be held for the newcomers at the beginning, though we managed to pass this day only after 3 months. It does not matter, it was great fun all the way. On this day there were lectures based on Skibo and his business policies, then the lunch was taking place where the guests were having lunch. After lunch we were carried around the property and told the story, then the directing manager was lecturing on the importance of the right service (at the end there was a quiz aboout the lectures and the winner was rewarded a bottle of fine champaigne). We could choose some of the programs provided for the guests (riding a horse, swimming, shooting and quad). We chose the latter one, which was a good decision (let alone the fatigue-fever afterwards). I think it was a great idea to see things with the eyes of the guests.
Concerning the managers and colleagues, we were really satisfied with them. I must admit that they were quite supportive and friendly. We’ve never experienced like that before; we will miss them a lot, for sure. On the last day we were bid farewell packed with great gifts and references. We can heartfully recommend this opportunity for everyone, it’s a life-long experience! We’ve tried it and loved it.”