That’s the thrown together decor in the holiday flat I’m staying in, in North Wales. For the cost of a full week in Greece with flights, sunshine, a room with suspect wiring and a bronzed young man to bring me cold beers on the beach, I am staying in Self Catering Accommodation in the picturesque and charming town of Llandudno. Holiday flats by their very nature are kind of weird places to stay. They’re for transients to lay their heads, scuff their sandy feet and play the occasional game of Monopoly when it’s raining outside. The owner of a holiday flat seems to think that it should be made to feel ‘homely’ by filling every vacant space with shitty little nick-nacks (often quite surreal) which wouldn’t even make it to a car boot sale. You never see more vases full of clear, jelly-like stuff with faded silk flowers in than at a holiday flat. A part of me loves it. A part of me finds this very British rubbishness a bit of a joy – like knitted women toilet roll covers and seashell frogs. Another part of me thinks, for all the money you pay, why do you have to live in such abject squalor when you’re On Holiday? And, to top it all, they have the bare faced cheek to ask you to clean the flat and strip the beds before you leave. So what exactly are you paying all that money for? I’ll tell you what. I’ll describe what you pay all that money for…
I’m going to describe the one bedroom holiday flat for which a princely sum of £350 has been paid for the week – which is ‘cheap’. Then I will furnish my piece of prose with illustrative photographs of the splendour in which I am writing my blog (on the table in the corner of the ‘lounge’, covered with a grubby plastic tablecloth with red poppies on, overlooked by a standard lamp with a large, pink, fringed lampshade).
The flat has a sliding front door, and a lock that will only work after several attempts at wiggling both key and door until finding the millimetre where they both line up.
Into the little hallway with formica-topped table, obligatory doily, vase of silk flowers, mirror made to look a bit like a window, coat pegs. Walls are lilac woodchip. Carpet is orange swirls. Two small prints of farmyard scenes, blueing in their frames. You stand surrounded by fire doors.
Get the picture?
To the left is the bedroom. The corners are slightly blackened from condensation but there is no tell-tale whiff of damp. Ceilings are high and corniced, so the window is large with heavy pale green and gold drapes – which go so very well with the purple and blue wallpaper and paintwork. There are further prints, faded and blue in their frames. Two of birds, of course, and one large one of a small boat on a lake. They are framed in ornate gilt frames and are so tired and unloved it’s too depressing to look at them.
In the corner of the bedroom is a ‘vanity unit’. What it has got to do with vanity I truly can’t fathom. A sink, mirror and toothbrush holder in the corner of the room with a square cut out of the carpet to accommodate a small piece of linoleum in a faux greek mosaic design apparently smacks of vanity. Oh I could stand in that corner and preen myself all day – if I could get the lights above the mirror to work. But there is no switch.
There are a number of mismatched lamps with tulip shades or glass mock art deco. A 1980s mirror. More silk sodding flowers at every turn. Faded coasters to protect cheap furniture with the gold coloured trim peeling off. A blue carpet. A fitted wardrobe so shallow you can only hang things up front-facing. Blankets in nearly every bottom drawer. The faint odour of toilet duck emanating from the ‘en suite’. The bathroom is dark as its window overlooks the neighbour’s side wall. I fear the window is painted open.
Oh God it is such a gloomy bathroom. Too narrow, too dark, too chemically. The toilet brush resides in a large ceramic duck, next to a bottle of toilet duck, under a faded framed picture of a duck having a bath. Ducks are clearly the main feature in this damp cupboard of a bathroom. It brings no cheer. The shower is pretty good though, which makes up for the slightly mildewed shower curtain sticking to your legs and the unmentionable finger smearing on the wall and door by the toilet.
It reminds me a bit of a mini version of that bathroom in the first ‘Saw’ film. A bathroom made for horror films. God, it really is. How ever will I sleep now with that chamber of horrors next door?
I need to get out of here and have a walk in the sunshine before I return to describe the rest of the flat. The smell of dusty carpets and the thundering of small children’s feet in the flat above are making me rock backwards and forwards in my chair in a disconcerting fashion…