27 May Be my guest
There’s the tired variety where years of experience in the ‘hospitality trade’ and a skill in poaching eggs somehow fail to compensate for the gradual neglect that any guest can see beyond the floral duvet and matching pillowcases. Maybe it was that bad season a few years back, those margins slimming to nothing, the cutting corners. Or just not seeing any more how standards slip while expectations grow. The room looks OK at first but the detail reveals a lapse somewhere, a blind eye turned. Those nails holding the soap dish to the wall in the shower cubicle have rusted so badly one has fallen out. Limescale and grime has accumulated where the metal frame meets the glass. In the breakfast room, heavy furniture displays treasured cups and saucers; a beige palette dominates the decor. There’s a dated quality to so many of these places, a bygone-ness. We pass through briefly, a single night on our travels but you can’t help but pick up the sadness, the sense of loneliness.
Arriving after a 16-miler in unremitting rain, the sociopathic landlord is the last thing you want. It’s quickly obvious that he really doesn’t like his fellow man or woman, has no interest in making them feel welcome nor offering any help or comfort. But he relishes an audience for his blend of caustic commentary and muted vitriol. The ambience here is cold and hostile. He sits watching on as you struggle through the disagreeably glutinous fish pie that his wife has ushered from freezer packaging via oven to plate, peas bundled alongside, sits watching like a malign, brooding presence ready with some comment he imagines is deftly humorous but is merely spiteful. Drab interiors are filled with the smell of dogs and the spillages of yesteryear. We reckoned bodies might be hidden under floorboards, dark deeds unleashed on previous guests. Thankful that our passage through is brief – a single night and we can leave and never see this man again.
So many experiences besides the long miles in the wet! Around 60 miles so far and many of them wet. Tomorrow looks better and we have fingers crossed for dry boots and a warm welcome at the hostelry.