My recent break (the first in 15 years) proved to be quite an experience. Sadly, it was not the experience I had hoped for. A lot of preparation was done at home to ensure that ‘strimming queen’ Clare had everything she needed and knew everything there was to know about the animals, the yard, the land and the quirky old house, to stay over and be able to handle all eventualities. I packed in haste the night before though I did pay close attention to the luggage information which I was not familiar with (obviously) to ensure my baggage was the correct size and weight and anything that needed to be in a clear bottle or a plastic bag, was. It was only when I set off for the airport that I finally registered the enormity of the occasion.
But even after reading the airline’s instructions several times, I still had my in-flight snack of home-made stewed apple and yoghurt confiscated at security. Had I been a baby, I would have been able to keep it. “What if a baby’s mother was up to no good” I mused to myself? Otherwise, the outward journey ran to time which was some compensation for suffering the indignity of a budget airline – mental note, never again!
It went downhill from there. I was travelling with my friend Sue and when we finally arrived at the hotel late that night, we looked at each other in disbelief – it was not the upmarket, peaceful Spa resort we had imagined. Disappointed, we went off to find our third companion, 80 year old Rozalind (who I consider to be my ‘spiritual mother’ having studied a form of ‘energy medicine’ called Radionics with her some 35 years ago). Roz, who had travelled from a different airport by herself (a true warrior queen), informed me that the sea-view room which was booked for the two of us, lacked any glimpse of water. So a hotel error meant we were unable to unpack until we moved to another room the following day, wasting a whole precious morning in a holiday of just one week.
In the new room, nothing worked, most importantly the air conditioning which made for sleepless nights due to the heat, exacerbated by street noise, the hotel’s disco directly beneath us and dear Roz’s nightly ‘big band’ sound effects. I pushed my ear plugs in tight, so tight that I lost the hearing in one ear until a few days ago…..
There’s more – the food was dreadful and it was all self-service (poor Roz is a traditional white table cloth and waiter service person) and the eateries were so noisy it was impossible to have a meaningful conversation. Housekeeping was summoned daily to fix things in the room which were broken and which remained malfunctioning for the duration of the holiday. Plus there was an intermittent waft of sewerage from somewhere outside. Basically, I found myself in a ‘Butlins’ type establishment, the complete antithesis of my normal habitat rewilding in Wales and about the last ‘holiday’ I would ever have chosen had I only known!
The only saving grace were the couple of days we spent out and about taking in the astonishing Maltese history and antiquity.
To top the ‘holiday’ off, the day Sue and I flew back a storm kicked off. Thunder and lightening delayed the flight by four hours, which meant I finally climbed into my own bed at 6.30 in the morning. Three hours later, I was back on the yard doing horse duties which, frankly, was a relief. I was tired and grumpy for a few days but got over it and some big lessons were learned. For instance:
- I will choose my own holidays in future (if I ever had another one). If someone else chooses it for you, no matter how well you know them, they will probably want slightly different things from a holiday or have different requirements.
- I will research hotels and the areas they are in and avoid travel companies which appear to be totally dysfunctional.
- I don’t like big hotels. I never did but was taken in by the implied tranquillity of the term ‘spa’, which was nothing short of deception.
- I will never share a room again, ever, no matter how much I love the person. Sleeping has nothing to do with love!
Thankfully, all was not lost. Since I have been back, I have had a couple of (potentially life-changing) revelations connected to the holiday, which will be a story for another time. In future, though, I will be asking for revelations in the comfort of my own home which will save a considerable amount of time, hassle and money.
….One other thing, I certainly appreciate my home life all the more for having had the experience and am fortunate that, although life is full on and physically hard, living and working in the remote but exquisite countryside makes every day a holiday.
Pics: Out and about in the historic Maltese capital of Valetta. Yes, I pretty much live in sports clothes which are so comfortable and versatile.
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