Category Archives: Family

Christmas troubles

Saturday 23 December

Back in April, we spent so many hours trying to find somewhere to stay to be near our daughter, Flic, with her young son and eventually settled on a house in Maidenhead advertised through HomeAway, a company we have rented through before and at a cost of over £1500 were hoping for a good property.


Crappy house

Christmas Property


The two reviews on HomeAway were good albeit a year old and whilst we knew parking could be problematic, we were not prepared at all for what we found when we gained access to the property. The parking was the least of our troubles – in fact we had no issues with the on street parking.

Mismatched furniture, some of it dating from probably the 1950s, three different styles of settees in the living area, one of which has a door underneath the cushion which whilst providing some support, is loose and had to be pulled up to stop the cushions sagging.

This is a potential hazard for fingers, especially those of youngsters. Would question whether two of the settees have fire retardant certificates, I would doubt if a charity shop would accept them.

The property has not been renovated or maintained for many years, the decor is worn and dated, especially in the kitchen

There were many other issues:-

  1. Loose tiles in the dining area by the fireplace, again a potential for injury
  2. One other settee  ( a bed settee ) in the living room has been bolstered by a spare settee cushion
  3. Ill fitting kitchen units dating from probably the 1970s. The whole kitchen is in need of refurbishment. The kitchen units are de-laminating resulting in bits falling into food.
  4. Absolutely filthy cooking pans/dishes and a not particularly clean oven
  5. No washing up bowl and no matching crockery, very thin cutlery and inappropriate cooking utensils which are not suitable for using whilst cooking as they are too thin.
  6. Handwritten Instructions written on the inside of the kitchen cupboards as to where to put crockery and glasses that was overwriting other written instructions is not the sign of a homely environment.
  7. Mismatching drinking glasses, only one egg cup
  8. Cleaning liquids in a cupboard that does not have a child protection lock on it. If unsupervised, it could cause serious illness to children.
  9. Dangerous and loose floorboards on the ground floor especially outside the kitchen, to the extent that shoes need to be worn throughout to prevent trapped toes.
  10. Very steep and thin stairs to the first floor with a loose banister
  11. Dirty carpets on the stairs and landing
  12. No banister on the stairs from the 1st floor to the Attic.
  13. No working radiator in either the Attic bedroom or it’s en-suite bathroom (temperatures 3 degrees C some days!) which has no stand up shower ability, just a shower unit over the bath but no curtain or screen.
  14. Bath waste water leaks on the floor at a join in the pipe behind the sink.
  15. A stained sanitary pad left in a cupboard in the Attic bathroom
  16. Hair left in the bath plug in the Attic bathroom
  17. 3 lights in the Attic not working and no clothes hanging space.
  18. The main “pink” bathroom has two showers over the bath, one of which appears not to function well whilst the other is supposed to be the back up.
  19. The main “pink” bathroom has a translucent door allowing other guests to be able to see you in the bathroom.
  20. The 5 page house instructions provided to us after we had paid the final amount of rent indicated that the house has a car parking space outside the house. This is a joke as all the road is available for anyone to park in, there is no reserved car parking space.  In fact from arrival to 27 December, the same red car was parked Directly outside the house, it didn’t move.
  21. We were supposed to have a food waste recycling bin: nothing was provided and for general waste, just a bucket was provided
  22. The “high chair” provided is an old, wheeled office chair with straps which is totally unsuitable.
  23. We had specifically asked if a Christmas tree would be left for us, we were told “no” so Sarah brought one from Jersey, we brought the decorations from home and: you guessed it; a decorated Christmas tree had been left!
  24. It is only when you pay the final balance are you told that no visitors are allowed: not very Christian like for Christmas!


Anyway, some photos from inside the property wouldn’t go amiss here just so that you can get the feeling of it.


So, understandably we were not impressed and apart from all the family being with us, it spoilt Christmas.

We had sent an immediate message on arrival to say that we were not happy and were later that evening advised that the caretaker would call between 10 & 11 tomorrow morning, in fact it was virtually 11 am when he turned up.

He seemed to appreciate the poor quality of the kitchen cooking pans and the water leak from the bathroom, and got on the phone and went away saying he would be back having also taken with him the sanitary pad left by the previous occupiers.

When he did return, he brought new cooking pans, cleaned the cooker, tried to mend the bathroom leak but could do nothing about the non working radiator in the attic bedroom.

On Christmas Day, the bath still leaked but obviously nothing could be done about that so a message advising the continued leak was only sent late at night.

Somehow, the Christmas meal was cooked (thank you Sarah), served and consumed before the ritual of present giving got under way, toys played with, TV watched before we retired to (for us in the attic) a freezing cold bedroom.

Boxing Day and the rest of the week was spent away as much as we could from this house and we left the following Saturday somewhat pleased that we had left – Sarah, Ali, Harry and Mel having left the previous day to go to Jersey and we had spent Friday with Viv in Fleet.

We were eventually able to extract a payment from the owner for the “inconvenience” but this in no way compensated for such an appalling excuse for a rental property. My review on Trip Advisor was eventually published and, somewhat surprising, the review on Home Away was also eventually published but probably because I said to them that I doubted it would get published in view of the appalling nature of the comments.

However, it has now disappeared (as of mid Feb 2018).  Surprising that (not).

Fortunately, our visits on the way home to John & Dierdre (for New Year) and Sally’s cousin Alan partially made up for it.  Sarah’s crossing home on the ferry was very rough, she was glad of a cabin.

Nothing specific planned for 2018 which is unusual for us, but no doubt our diary will soon fill up.


Broadway Tower & Anniversaries

IMG_5121Friday 13 October

A day visit with Flic, Gary and Cody to this folly overlooking the Worcestershire town of Broadway.

First stop the cafe for lunch followed by a walk to the Privately owned tower which is somewhere I had been as a child at a Scout Camp at nearby Stanway all those years ago.

The cafe is not particularly large but there were enough tables to house a German family, some American tourists and some Japanese tourists but does have a large outside seating area.


Red Buck

Today though is too windy, even though it is 20C, remarkable for mid October.


Red deer

A short walk up the road to the tower past some deer with a seated Red Buck admiring his harem.

Sal stays with the pram whilst the rest of us go up, passing through rooms with Curtains and wallpaper designed by William Morris, another floor about the history of the folly and one about the nearby listening post used for military purposes.


William Morris fabric & wallpaper

Broadway Tower was the brainchild of the great 18th Century landscape designer, Capability Brown. His vision was carried out for George William 6th Earl of Coventry with the help of renowned architect James Wyatt and completed in 1798. [this paragraph from the tower’s website ]


Broadway from Broadway Tower

Wonderful views out over the countryside from the top but it is so windy!


Flic, Gary & Cody

We now head for Honeyborne where there is a little zoo, café and shop, perhaps something for Cody when he is older.

We say goodbye to Flic, Gary & Cody who head off home and we head for Gloucester Water Park and the de Vere hotel there for a special celebration.

Saturday 14 October

50th Wedding anniversary celebrations with Phillip & Sylvia – ours is not far behind (in numbers) but we do share the same day.

We have been invited to a meal at the de Vere hotel to celebrate with their family and close friends. Some of their friends we have met before and of course the family we know well although have not seen them for a few years.


Old houses at Bilbury

The morning was spent driving around some of the Cotswold villages we had not been too before including Bibury, a place where many tourists go for the picturesque houses – so many tourists, how do the locals cope.


Phillip & Sylvia

A lovely evening meal with a magician for entertainment and a “slide show” of some family photos spreading over many years, some of which included us.

We had found some photos of us all together and much to their daughter Andrea’s delight, we had managed to unearth one they hadn’t been able to find.

Sunday 15 October

Back on the late ferry from Liverpool, not as rough as was expected bearing in mind the following day we were hit by the ex Hurricane Ophelia.

Off on our next adventure soon.IMG_5147

New Grandson

20170519_1408325 May

Afternoon ferry under a beautiful blue sky albeit a tad breezy and an opportunity to watch another Episode of Rake with an overnight stay at HIE Bromsgrove.

6 May

20170717_100943Our house in the Forest would have needed cleaning but the last few days were not occupied so Rob was able to do this before he went on his Skittles tour.

Nevertheless, we visited anyway to ensure all was well and to say our farewells to the gardener who is leaving the area at the end of the month.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t speak to Ken the neighbour who fixed our door for us in an emergency so head off to Flic’s who is still heavily pregnant, before venturing to our friend, Viv’s house who has volunteered to have us as house guests for a week.

7 May

Not a significant family birthday but nevertheless, a meal out at the Black Boy followed by a gentle stroll around local ponds.


Elvetham ponds

8 May

Viv off on a holiday with a friend and I am taking them to the station in Fleet for a train just after 5AM.  Not surprisingly, not a lot of other traffic.

9 to 13 May

Various trips helping Flic who is getting frustrated about still being pregnant.  She is now overdue and we have a ferry tomorrow.

Collect Viv from railway station after her French trip about midnight – she had a great time and we of course are so thankful for the stay.

14 May

We are coming back to the UK later in the week anyway so try and get ferry changed but at a cost of over £200 it is not financially viable so head up the motorway for a couple of days at home.

17 May

Ferry to Liverpool and overnight at HIE Shrewsbury but can’t wait to get to see the new arrival.

18 May


New Grandson

Flic is staying in hospital due to complications with the birth – and of course we head straight there for our first cuddles.

A very contented little boy but Flic is understandably very tired so we head off early to the Holiday Inn at Reading for our stay.

19 May


Mel’s cuddle time


Pick up Mel from Wokingham and spend about an hour with Flic, Gary and baby in the hospital before we leave for our trip to London to watch the Beach Boys at the Royal Albert Hall.

Another fantastic performance preceded by a meal which was very good value for money at the Elgar Restaurant.


Beach Boys in concert at the Royal Albert Hall

The train to London from Winnersh Triangle was surprisingly busy as was the return train from Paddington to Reading.

Flic had kindly arranged for a taxi to pick us up and return us to the Hotel.

20 May


Laura’s cuddles time

A bit of shopping and then off to hospital for more cuddles – Laura joins us as well and managed a pose in front of a suitably painted wall in Flic’s room in the hospital!

Many thanks to the staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Another trek up the Motorway to Liverpool for a ferry journey back home.

29 May – 3 June

Flic had a C Section and as Gary has returned to work, we are off to Reading to help Flic as she can’t drive.

EasyJet flights this time to Gatwick with train to and from Earley and a week of helping her (as she can’t drive) and we stay this time at the Crowne Plaza using some points from previous stays.

We have to get back home on the Saturday morning as we have visitors arriving the following day for the Annual TT races in the IoM as we offer a Homestay facility.

It is so hard to say goodbye to such a contented little grandson al though we will be back after TT near the end of June.