After each of my videos my producer-granddaughter has reviewed my efforts. Last week, rather like the Roman Emperor in Gladiator, her thumb remained firmly tilted down. ‘You must look at the camera.’ She rebuked Not easy to do, when reading a story unless you are a bluebottle, able to adjust your eyes for 360 degree vision or the possessor of a teleprompter. So today we are attempting the heath-robinson approach, although I have no doubt today’s children remain ignorant of that particular expression. To my granddaughter we are simply attaching paper to a rigid piece of card!
Yesterday, I announced I was reading Dug Up. Today, I’ve changed my mind. It wasn’t quite long enough. So Boats, Bungalows and B & B’s it will have to be.
Cornwall is unlike any other county in the UK and the only one to which I will never return. In fact my strength of feeling is so er … er … strong I am about to pen a letter to the County Council suggesting that before next summer they install electronic signboards on the A30 and A38, at their crossing point into Cornwall.
‘Why?’ I hear you ask.
Out of consideration for visitors.
Imagine their gratitude if, before embarking on the final sixty miles, they were forewarned about parking:
Perrenporth Beach - 2 spaces
Truro -- good possibility
Mevagissy – no chance
Cornwall – full to bursting – try again next year.
Besides which, it might just avert a bloodbath between motorists struggling to get into the same parking place, egged on by precocious children and an irritable wife, fed-up with spending two hours stuck in traffic.
Meanwhile, spare a thought for the poor residents. For them summers have to be pure unadulterated hell.
Which brings me to the English institution of Bed and Breakfast. I vaguely remember during a family holiday shortly after the war, my mother complaining most bitterly about the boarding house in Deal, where the landlady, despite having our food coupons for the week, had served up cornflakes with watered-down milk.
I am not stating that B&B's have not progressed in sixty years, I am only saying, my recent experience leads me to wonder if they have.
First there was the parking.
On the side of a cliff, where no council official in their right mind would possibly have considered granting a licence for a ten room B&B where only five parking spaces existed; meaning , you either curtailed your day’s activities returning early to grab a parking space or wandered back and forth all night like a wailing banshee.
Then there were the fire doors.
The one at the top of the main staircase actually sat on the top step and since its spring was designed to increase the pulling-power of a weight lifter, this proved quite a challenge. Once open, you held it open with your bottom long enough to negotiate the first step. Otherwise, the door slammed into your back with such force you broke the eighty-yard indoor sprint record on the way down.
Then there were the bedroom doors.
All new, they should have been fitted with a can of WD40 taped to the door handle. As you pushed down the handle, excruciating squeaks, rather like a pig being slaughtered, emanated from the hinge, while the key turning in the lock, mimicked the sound-effects in a Hammer Horror Film.
Tragically, I belong to the fraternity that has to get up at night to go to the loo. The cacophony of sounds, which accompanied my nervous journey to the bathroom, was of the ilk to encourage some ambitious teenager, had he heard them, into starting up a new pop group.
SCREECH-CLATTER went my lock, SQUEAK my bedroom door opened, BANG it shut. (My poor neighbour, who had been snoring peacefully, awoke with a start as the thin partition wall vibrated.) (How do I know this? I heard him click on the light!). THUD said the fire-door, through which I had to pass on my way to the bathroom, despite an inch by inch effort to close it softly, CREAK went the bathroom door, CLICK-BUZZ– the pull-on light cord resonated as with a WHIRRING noise the extractor fan started up.
Mouse-like, I CLICKED, CREAKED, THUDDED, BANGED and SQUEAKED my way back to my bedroom. (Have I mentioned turning the key in the lock?)
Terrified I might need the loo again, I lay awake. And guess what …?
Still, I dare not get up. No way could I face that again. Doubtless, twice in one night would herald a lynch mob outside my door at dawn waiting for me to emerge? Crossing my legs, I forced myself to endure and stay in bed, too timid to run the assault course again – even if I had paid handsomely for the room.
Then there was breakfast.
With neatly set-up tables in straight lines, every so often the door creaked open to admit a series of couples who hovered awkwardly at the entrance, hoping a waitress would appear and direct them to a table, not already 'bagged' by the couple who had arrived two or three days previously. Once seated, they began a conversation in stilted whispers all about stuff they would never dream of talking about at home – such as Aunty Bessie going into hospital for a hip replacement.
The waitress appeared asking 'tea or coffee' before handing me an elaborate, leather bound, menu, extolling the virtues of the extensive and traditional English breakfast, including brown and white toast and several varieties of egg.
'Do you have any fruit?'
'Fruit? I don't think so.'
The second day, I perused the leather bound volume more thoroughly, and discovered the magical word 'yoghurt' tucked away under 'All-bran'. It was as if the landlady was saying somewhat apologetically: I have to offer it, you know, some people like it.
Okay so the views are wonderful. Magical even. But once you've seen them, you've seen them. Next time I consider taking a holiday in England, I shall inform all and sundry I will be away for the week, stock up on fresh coffee and croissant, luxurious strawberry jam and peaches, draw the curtains and spend my days looking at all my old holiday snaps – full of wonderful views.
And have a great time.
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