I always take the same approach, in a bid to ensure we have The Perfect Trip. It's not just a question of identifying the right destination and perfect accommodation, but also making sure I know about every last little thing to see and do in the area. After all, I'd hate to have someone ask, upon our return, 'Oh, did you visit...?' and go on to name somewhere fantastic that we missed for want of a bit of research and a 100m detour.
One such (somewhat longer) detour occurred during a trip to Rome in 2004. In addition to visiting the obvious sights, I dragged my boyfriend, Pete, on a quest to find a 4ft long marble foot, which had formed part of a much larger sculpture and was supposed to be quite impressive. It would have been, had it not been somewhat neglected and located in a scruffy, litter-strewn alley, which took us ages to find. Even I had to laugh at the fact that my careful planning had led us to this less than scenic spot*.
If we're self-catering, my research extends to where the nearest big supermarkets are, as well as potential pubs and restaurants for meals out. Ahead of our last trip, to Lincolnshire, I was short of time, so phoned the owner of our holiday cottage, to see if he could recommend some places for dinner on our first night, which I could then check out online before booking.
'What kind of thing are you looking for?' he asked.
'Just a good, pub meal would be fine,' I said.
He named a couple of venues, which I jotted down to investigate.
However, he then continued, 'I'll book The Heneage Arms for you. What time would you like?'
'Oh, that's all right,' I said, 'We don't want to put you out.' I couldn't delegate the decision to him - what if we didn't like what was on the menu, or the pub was just plain horrible?
|Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
'Honestly, I'm happy to do it,' I persevered.
'But I usually do it for people.' The forlorn tone of his voice betrayed his disappointment.
He was being so kind; I didn't have the heart to resist any longer. 'OK, then, that would be great, thanks,' I said, with fingers tightly crossed.
As it turned out, The Heneage Arms - a community-run pub - was lovely, and the food and service great. Certainly a vast improvement on a couple we've ended up at in the past, including the noisy, crowded one on Anglesey with a menu apparently inspired by a 1970s Little Chef. I still have no idea how that one got past my researcher radar.
Placing my trust in somebody else paid off this time, even though I felt as if I were taking a huge risk. In fact, for those of us who need to control situations in order to manage our anxiety, the art of delegation really is the equivalent of an extreme sport!
* * *
*I see here that this foot has had a revamp since our visit - it's still in the same alley, though.