| 10.6°C Dublin

Having strangers stay in my home forced me to polish up my act

I've guests staying at the moment. It's actually great, because before they came I was forced do a major de-cluttering and spring-cleaning session.

There are four guests in total so they take up quite bit of space. I had to get a skip and chuck out a lot of stuff that had been hogging valuable space in my home.

After that I decided to do a bit of painting to jazz-up the bathroom and the sitting room. But I hadn't actually realised how long it takes to paint rooms. I was two whole days out with the brushes and a ladder.

Then, when the walls were looking nice, I 
decided the carpets looked a bit tired. And I 
reckoned blinds would look better in the rooms than curtains.

I'd go for the black-out blinds, as I seem to be waking up at an ungodly hour of the morning these past few weeks. I wouldn't want my guests to be awake at 5.30 every morning, so I thought I'd better get the blinds in before they arrived.

I started fretting about everything then. Did the hedge need clipping? Maybe the gate could do with a lick of paint, too?

The pressure in my shower has been a bit weak of late - I've been meaning to get a plumber in for ages. But time was marching on and I couldn't do everything. Maybe the guests could have baths instead. Would they be okay with that?

I spent the week before my guests' arrival on my hands and knees. I scrubbed the place until it 
resembled a show house. I tidied and folded to make room in my closets for the family-of-four. I cleared my fridge and had it gleaming. Now they could put their own stuff into it.

Then I cleared my car of all rubbish and 
hoovered the inside before taking it to the car wash. Why? Well, just in case the guests wanted 
to use it, or I had to give them a lift somewhere.


When I went to the shop where they sold curtains and blinds, I explained to the owner that I was getting a bit stressed. Would the guests like my home? I was so anxious.

He shook his head. "If they don't like it, that's their problem," he said. "I can't tell you how many people have been in here this week ordering new stuff because of guests coming. It'd be cheaper to put people up in a B&B."

You know something? He was probably right! But I had already gone past the point of no return. I couldn't just offer to park my guests elsewhere for a few nights because I had changed my mind about hosting them.

"Are they friends or family?" The shop man was curious.

"Neither," I said. "I don't know them. I met them on the internet."

His eyes widened.

"We're dong a house-swap. They stay with me for a week and then we stay with them. In Madrid. Our kids are the same age."

"Interesting," he said.

"Interesting," I agreed. "And maybe a bit crazy.'

> Marisa Mackle