Home Sweet Home

We had spent the night in a Brecon car park with a Victorian river garden adjacent. We walked the promenade and around the quaint village and enjoyed a rare, warm and dry evening in Wales. Just because we were in a van in a carpark doesn’t mean it was all stodgy pasta and plasticky water. Oh no no!

We had stopped for food to make a Rocket salad with vine tomatoes, avocado, real basil leaves (direct from a plant in the van) mozzarella slices, toasted pine nuts and some garlic olives. All topped with luxurious extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze, washed down with Hobgoblin IPA for me and Fancy Shmancy fruit cider for her. With the sun setting and full bellies we cuddled up in the van and watched some Netflix completely comfortably cramped.

We only spent one night in the van because between the mountain bikes, the associated clobber that goes with them, tools, wheels, work laptops, drone stuff and general clothing bags (some larger than others) it was cramped. But it was our own cramped space and everything was where it was meant to be. We knew how to live here for a night and enjoy the comforts it provided.

This morning we had arisen and departed the car park early, such is our body clocks routine. It seems that because vanning IS allowed here, the camper vanners all stayed a respectable distance from each other, there wasn’t any rubbish left around and it was nice and quiet all night, who-da thunk it….?!

We meandered our way through the hills and up towards a reservoir with a plug hole. We didn’t find it, but that’s ok, we were taking things easy today because tomorrow was Bike Park Wales and we wanted to be fresh. A short walk was all we needed, picked up some food for the week and headed to our Air Bnb for an early night before the big day mountain biking.

Except… the Air Bnb was not a relaxing place to arrive. I mean, it was dry and warm and it actually had a great view to even rival home. It was certainly larger than the van, making organising stuff and spreading out easy, but….. it was just crap. Do you need a list?

  • Shower was over the sloped end of the bath, and the water pressure so miserable  that you could barely get wet under it
  • The shower screen must have been 20 years old judging by the quantity and viscosity of mould surrounding it
  • The water it did produce was either scalding or freezing and you had to be a magician to find the sweet spot between
  • The plates and cutlery were not clean, they weren’t dirty so much as they had just been handled by someone who didn’t have clean hands so there were greasy smudges we had to wash off before using them.
  • Kitchen pans were rubbish so I used my own from the van
  • The built in fridge was not built in so the landlord had used a urinal pipe bracket to fashion an opening handle. It also wobbled and the shelves were grimy.
  • The sofa’s were all leather, which sounds great, but they were rock solid. In, what I assume was an attempt to make them more comfy, the owner had put fluffy throws over them which wouldn’t stay in place because leather is slippery and meant that if your bare thighs slipped off the throw, onto the leather you instantly got stuck and shocked by the cold. Not very good for relaxing
  • There was ketchup on the wall…. 
  • The house was full of single beds apart from 1 double, that had technically been repaired and could be slept on, but forced you to roll into your partner so much so that you had more personal space in my van.
  • The double bed was also creaky and bendy so I didn’t trust it for a nights sleep so I went to sleep on a single bed.
  • The single bed had an end, so as a 6ft 2in male I couldn’t stretch out as accustomed. It also had an excessively lumpy mattress.
  • The front and rear doors only had key locks, so if you wanted to go out, you had to get the key from the front door and unlock the back, and then visa versa. In an emergency like a fire, this could actually be dangerous, a thumb turn lock would be better.
  • The keys were not on a normal person keyring, they were tied up with what I can only presume is a piece of wire fencing…. Of all things.
  • There was only 1 single power socket per room – ridiculous
  • The TV was tiny and so far away from the sofa it looked like an animated postage stamp. In the end we just watched movies on my laptop because it was larger.
  • And last but not least… The whole of the upstairs floor was on the wonk. I dont mean, there was a skirting hanging off, I mean literally, the whole house’s floorboards and joists have sagged worse than the 200 year old house I’m helping renovate right now. I wish I had a marble to show you how much it would meander down the hallway because it literally confused me so much I felt seasick traversing it.
  • Oh shit and the stairs too! They were so narrow a pipe-cleaner person would struggle to fit through them. And, all the stair treads sloped towards the edge forcing you to be on tip toes the whole time. Going up the stairs forced you to lean right forwards and really trust your toes grip on the disgusting carpet and going back down was just plain hazardous.

And yet, the Visitors Book had loads of glowing praise and thanks for the wonderful house and hosts service.

Now, I’m aware that most of the above sounds trivial, but when you consider you are paying quite a lot for a week away with your partner, you want things to be nice. Also, I’d say most of my gripes with the house are really easily fixed with a bit of work, cleaning or maintenance and should really be done as a matter of course by a responsible owner? Firstly the house really needs a builder to look at the structure of it. When doors are parallelograms, that should be an indication something is wrong! 

And after my posh dinner the night before, I’m also aware that this complaining makes me sound horrendously stuck up. But upon reflection, I know what went wrong.

My expectations were WAAAYYYYY off base for what I thought we were renting. The standard of the house is lower than I would rent for a romantic trip to picturesque Wales with Aimi. But it’s bang on for a lads weekend away mountain biking and beer-ing. It actually reminds me of the house I rented in Stoke during my last year of Uni and I knew that was crap, but it was also greatest house ever.

We were really disappointed with the house when we turned up because our personal house is far superior, more comfortable, cleaner and cheaper, so why would we choose to come here? Well we are going to leave this place and have booked a proper hotel for later in the week. This is a holiday after all and we do want to feel comfortable and enjoy ourselves. But I’m no longer angry with the quality of the Air Bnb. When I arrived I was fit to blast out a scathing complaint to the host and demand our money back, but now I realise the error was in myself and my expectations and that’s not cool to take out on the owner.

Tomorrow is Bike Park Wales and I wont have gotten a good night’s sleep, which is irritating.