I am starting to think my blog has become a request site. Can you play that song again - DJ? No I can’t so @~:# off. I must curtail my swearing as perhaps this post will see a wider audience than usual?
Not too long ago @Phzwart notified the world about the BLGH so I felt it only correct to direct him to my blog post. I did not foresee it would make it to the front page of the website and that now people other than myself read this thing. Nor did I suspect I would be back at BLGH and that Phzwart would have pre-warned them of my visit. Now the pressure was really on. I’ve already posted about a few BLGH related things - hidden by the change in website address - but I felt after the tweet:
@[xraymancouk](http://twitter.com/xraymancouk) The BLGH staff told me they had a shower meeting this morning. It seems the shower heads need redoing. (1/2) @[xraymancouk](http://twitter.com/xraymancouk) Also, they were frantically searching for your blog to say what you have to say about the BLGH (and might be reading this)(2/2)
that I had to post a full and frank truth. No holds barred to the death. Of course I had intended on posting this after I was safely in the UK but the masochist in me will not let me.
So what would I say to a new ALS user who had a swath of say 6 days of beamtime on 11.3.1. I would say rent yourself a car and a room in the town of Berkeley then assuming your team has another driver, if not then your it, drive to and from the site every 8 or if your sane 12 hours. DO IT. Do this for at least 4 days. Experience how the cost of the car and room per day are no more than that of a single night in the BLGH, experience the goat, deer and turkey dodging. The driving on the wrong side, the parking up a tree and when you have done all that then check yourself into the BLGH for 2 nights. Just normal rooms nothing special see what you think. See how you now feel sick as it takes you 2 minutes to walk from the station to your room. Rather than 2 minutes to figure out how to unlock the car, clear the wind screen find the exit and then your accommodation at the bottom of the hill. Yes I know in America you get petrol free with your coffee as oppose to the - wait for it - £4.54 or $7.04 per gallon. And it seems so much better down the hill. There is alcohol - which you can not drink as you are driving, there is food which is closed because you are working odd hours. But I understand your argument. Now you have done that you know where to stay next time your on beamtime don’t you!
So you are now in a weird place. You have experienced the better than IBIS style rooms the clean, stunning building and the views which to be honest are worth the trip up the hill no matter what. O’did I mention the beam has dropped out and will be back in 45 minutes. I’ll just head to the coffee room in the BLGH for some free coffee (three blends) what you are going to drive back down the hill and by the time you are in your room you are back in the car back up the hill. No, no I understand. Really the alcohol and the food, it all makes sense yes carry on with your argument…..
So the place is nice but it is not perfect, the warm sunny glow (which you actually get) of my memory did hide some obvious failings so I thought seeing as someone will possibly maybe read this then some little comments would not go a miss:
Twitter - get yourself a twitter account BLGH - something to do during the long lonely nights sat at the front desk - wink - “patient” times - nudge nudge say no more
Shower - sort out your special needs showers, the heads are fine they just need to have two or adjustable mounts
Knife - although I am sure some CA state or federal law prohibits the use of a sharp knife (see the k) to cut up food could you please see it in your soul to give us one? We reverted to plastic knives from Andronica’s supermarket which were rather perversely sharper than the metal ones in the kitchenette draw
Toilet - I think it is me, well I am British so I wasn’t going to say anything, but is there a special magic leaver to make the toilet flush properly. I bet the cleaners all hate me. But honestly I flush the toilet, once after erm my business, then again with the paper and again when I walk past the door on the way out and it never seemed quite right
Driving - I have to just say driving - really idiots do not do it
Froyo - The rooms are missing one critical thing, a froyo dispenser in every room so that you can have 24/7 froyo - the only thing really worth the effort down the hill
Staples - by this I do not mean the office supply store nor the little metal things designed to stab under your finger nails and or catch on any bit of skin or clothing - I mean salt, pepper, cooking oil - FYI cream cheese is NOT a good substitute for oil or butter when cooking an omelette
In short, I’d say that if you are going to be here more than a day and definitely if you are here for a weekend, get a kitchenette room. Do not tell your group how nice it will be, how big, how clean just invite them for breakfast the first day after getting coffee for them from the coffee room, or making it yourself with the coffee maker - after stealing filters and coffee from the coffee room. Put them into a normal room then all will be good. You do a big shop in the town and then your sorted. Cook, have breakfast and if needs be you can all work on the dinning room table in your room. Then when the bus service stops on Friday at 19:30 and the canteen closes at 14:00 everyday you have food, hot food cooked the way you like it and when you want it. Or you can if lazy order food up and eat it. Forgo the need to drink alcohol if you can for a few days and if you can’t resort to hard core drug use instead. You’ll actually find the lack of sleep and the drone of the vacuum pumps on the beamline leave a certain kind of buzz.
I am a world weary traveller who has stayed in some of the best hotels, the worst motels and hostile hostels and I can say that the BLGH is by far the best facilities related accommodation of the lot. Yes true I have now stayed in Ridgeway house at RAL (Daresbury lab south beamtime) and their rooms are very, very nice but their TV is smaller, the rooms not quite as sharp and their beds not as soft. Plus the views are erm rubbish if you ever get chance to look. Yes they have blackout blinds something the BLGH has not and something which on more than one occasion has caused me to walk into the chair which seems to have been designed by a women to injure a man in his most delicate of man vegetable parts. Yes too they have coffee and a kettle in the room with just enough milk to make one cup? Nothing on Pete’s coffee by the gallon at BLGH.
So the warts or Phzwarts have been exposed. The guest house is not perfect, sometimes there is no coffee in the coffee room and you will need to make it yourself - sometimes no plastic cup lids so you burn yourself staggering up to the beamline but if that is the worse I can say about it then I think you really need to give it a try yourself.
FYI if anyone at the guest house is trying to figure out who is writing this nonsense down and can not put a name to a face from my twitter account. Don’t worry you’ve all met me, you have all very friendly greeted me with a big smile and a hello, every eight hours for the past 7 days. Not once have you looked sad or down. Not once have you scorned me taking three cups of coffee (when you have lids) up to the beamline -Nor have you corrected my random use of the word morning when it has been 16:00. No no I will happily keep the name and the face separate for now just in case I find a horses head in my bed for some of my rather cheeky comments.
Gosh that was hard, posting a blog where I was able to reduce my profanity use to almost zero and the venom - thankfully normal service will return next time and requests well you can go onanises yourself from now one.