In these days of TripAdvisor and other websites that carry reviews of people’s holiday experiences, I may have become a little blasé about what I expect to find when I reach my destination. It must be pretty good, mustn’t it, or no-one would go there? If it wasn’t close to perfect, it would have been exposed by dissatisfied customers, wouldn’t it?
In just such a frame of mind, tinged by the tiniest touch of trepidation, I travelled to Wales – to a cottage that I had found on the net but which did not seem to figure on the usual websites. I will not say exactly where in Wales, because I don’t want to put you off, or upset anyone.
The information online was a bit limited; so I rang to check exactly how far up the ramblers’ path it was situated. No distance, I was told – about two minutes – and I could park at the hotel.
In fact it was less than two minutes, if you were fairly fit. What wasn’t mentioned by anyone was that the narrow ramblers’ path in question ascended steeply from the main road, with loose stones and deep steps, some of them uneven and made of slippery slate. Oh, and the hotel car park was small and usually full; so you often had to park on the busy main road.
My wife had just twisted her knee; so progress was a bit slow, and I had to haul all the baggage up and down myself. I didn’t mind that – at least, not until the day we left, when it rained very hard throughout the process. Still, it was an interesting experience, and by then we had bought some on-offer walking poles.
The cottage itself was cold and a bit damp on arrival, but a girl from the hotel quickly explained the central heating to us, and we had no trouble from that point onwards. The bedroom closet was musty, but then it was Wales, wasn’t it?
The mirror in the bathroom had fallen off the wall and seemed to have lodged behind the taps. It lurched frighteningly towards me when I turned a tap on. Still, no problem. We moved it to somewhere safer. There were a few small holes in the outside door, but other than that the main room was comfortable and had everything we needed, though three of the lights didn’t seem to work.
The view was almost lovely, and would have been if you liked scaffolding. The hotel roof was being repaired, though I’m glad to say no work was done while we were there; so there was no noise problem. No WiFi either, and no phone signal. But to be fair, no-one had said there would be.
The ramblers’ path continued past the cottage and within a metre of the bedroom window, which was a bit worrying at first, though I don’t think a single rambler (other than us) used the path while we were there.
All these things made an impression on us in the first hour or so, and we were a little worried. It all seemed a bit edgy. What might go wrong?
But here’s the thing: nothing did. Electricity and water worked perfectly, as did the bath and shower. The kitchen was well enough equipped, and the bed was comfortable. The TV worked on various channels, and played DVDs. (Tip: Do not watch The Lady Musketeer. Ever.)
I am sure those who enjoy complaining could have had a field day here, right from the outset, but in fact we had a great week, and it was with a sense of disappointment that we negotiated the descent of the ramblers’ path for the last time. We had dinner in the hotel twice, and that was good too. We also reached the summit of Snowdon, but that’s another story.