4 August 2014

Be prepared

Hands up if your holiday packing list has ever included a fridge thermometer or a radiator key. No? What, not one of you? Not even those who take self-catering holidays in the UK? 

I admit, these items may seem a little strange, but their inclusion on my own list is based on past experience of more than a dozen rental cottages. While my boyfriend and I have never stayed in a bad one, many have had quirks, failings or faults that have caused problems. My desire to ensure the perfect experience in future has led me, in response, to pack accordingly.

Image courtesy of nuttakit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There was the super-efficient fridge at the cottage in the Peak District that I set so low - to avoid food contamination - that I froze half the contents. Hence the thermometer.

Then there were the radiators in the house in North Wales that had so much air in them that they stuck at lukewarm. Hardly ideal in October - I repeat, in North Wales. Hence the key.

From there, the list has grown to include other unusual articles: old newspapers, on which to deposit wet shoes; a head torch, to navigate unlit lanes to the pub; and an apron and oven glove, to afford protection to clothes and hands when cooking.

Some places also come curiously ill-equipped. There was the beautiful bungalow in North Yorkshire with a washing machine, but no clothes' airer or washing line. After we did an emergency wash, we had to drape items over the radiators and hook hangers off every available ledge, turning a lovely interior into something of an eyesore. I haven't yet resorted to packing an airer, but, come to think of it, string and pegs wouldn't take up much space...

And then there are some situations that you just can't plan for. 

In our chocolate-box cottage in Dorset, we only managed to spark some of the radiators into life by bleeding them (which, at least, vindicated taking the key on holiday for three years), the toilet cistern in the en suite dripped constantly and the water supply to the kitchen went off twice. We really needed a plumber and a heating engineer; unfortunately, I had failed to pack either.

Image courtesy of franky242/
On our last trip, in July, to a beautiful cottage in Somerset, we encountered our strangest problem yet: the front door couldn't be unlocked from the inside. Fortunately, the building was one storey, with French doors from the kitchen and one bedroom, so we were able to get out; which was just as well, as we had no mobile signal and otherwise would have had to email for help - luckily, the Wi-Fi worked.

Next time around, we should hire a minibus and rent a house that will accommodate at least a dozen, so that we can take all the tradespeople we might need with us: heating engineer, plumber, electrician, locksmith, TV/satellite engineer...

After all, as any Scout - and perfectionist - knows, you should always 'be prepared'.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Helen, you certainly don't have boring vacations (I mean holidays :))!

Helen Barbour said...

Indeed, ocdtalk - I had to turn escape artist on the last one!