Delighted to welcome Judith Barrow to the Archive Series and she is going to share some of her more hilarious and unexpected moments hosting guests in her holiday let.
Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected by Judith Barrow
Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.
Such as the Sports Fanatic.
Before I go any further I think I should mention that although we live along a quiet lane we are only a five minute walk to the village. In the centre is the local Co-op. The frontage is very old fashioned; it’s an old building. For years there’s has been talk of building a new store on the outskirts (actually about five hundred metres behind the existing one, on the edge of common land) but nothing has come of it. In winter the place trundles sleepily along; goods not available because of snow somewhere up country. the odd garbled message over the tannoy that everyone ignores, staff huddled in corners exchanging local gossip, wandering around, trying not to make eye contact in case you want to ask them something. It’s a place to meet up with local people who haven’t been visible all summer due to being too busy keeping holiday visitors entertained.
Which, as an aside, reminds me of a time I asked Husband to go and buy a red cabbage from the Co-op.
After half an hour he returns, empty handed and looking stunned.
‘No red cabbage?’ I enquire.
‘No, couldn’t find one. Asked an assistant. She said cabbages were on the veg stall and there was red food colouring in the baking section.’ He shook his head. ‘You couldn’t make it up!’
In summer the place comes alive: more than one assistant on the tills, lots of bustle, filling up shelves,assistants eager to help. Lots of happy visitors always glad for a natter, which inevitable ends with the comment,”you are so lucky to live here.’
I don’t argue… we are.
The visitors! (Should add here there is a sign asking customers not to shop in their nightwear) Apparently beach wear is acceptable. Nowhere else have I seen people shop half undressed: men in shorts (even Speedos … don’t think too long on that image; not nice mostly), bare chests and nothing on their feet, accompanied by shoals of similarly dressed and bare-footed children. All very jolly… until someone runs over toes with a trolley. Or they step in something.
None of this, by the way, has anything at all to do with the Sports Fanatic.
The couple arrived late one Saturday evening. The man struggled out of the car and walked, wincing, slowly along the drive, using two sticks, irritated-looking wife marching in front of him.
‘He’s sprained his ankle,’ she said, tilting her head towards him and without introducing herself. ‘happened yesterday. I came home from work and there he was, lying on the settee, bandaged up. Apparently,’ she stressed the word, ‘apparently our neighbour took him to hospital.’
‘Good of him,’ her husband said. ‘Nice chap.’
Wife snorted. ‘Fine start to our week,’ she said.
‘Mrs Morris?’ I asked. I knew they were down for a family reunion. Her family reunion.
She ignored me. ‘This way, is it?’ Pointing towards the apartment door and stomping off.
‘She’s a bit cross,’ her husband offered. Struggling with sticks he held his hand out to Husband and shook it. ‘I’m Simon,’he said, ‘you got Sky Sports in there?’
The following day it was the the reunion. The husband apparently had hardly moved from the settee in the living room of the apartment.
Mrs Morris was no less cross than before. ‘He’ll have to stay here,’ she said. ‘he says he’s in a lot of pain and can hardly stand.’ She stared at Husband. ‘I’ll be out all day. Would you go in and see if he’s okay every now and then, perhaps give him a cup of tea. I’ve left sandwiches on the coffee table for his lunch. It really is a nuisance.’
Husband was clenching jaw, the ears were giving off warning signs..
‘It’s fine,’I said, hurriedly. ‘Don’t worry.’
Half an hour after she’d driven off Husband went in to the apartment ‘ I can’t find him, he said.
‘In the loo?’I offered.
‘No! Anyhow, he’s not supposed to be able to move around at all.’
The implications of that suddenly struck us.
‘I’m not bloody clearing up after him if anything happens,’ Husband says.
I don’t answer but I knew it wouldn’t be me, either.
We searched around the apartment, then the garden.
‘He won’t be out here,’I said. ‘He can’t walk.
Just then Mr Morris came running around the corner of the house, a pack of six cans of pale ale in his arms.
We stood and looked at one another
Then, without an ounce of shame, he said, ‘can’t stand her family. Anyway, there’s loads of sport on the telly I don’t want to miss.’
And with that he grinned, walked past us and into the apartment.
Not quite sure what happened the rest of the week but Mrs Morris left on the Friday and the last we saw of Mr Morris was him trudging off the drive, carrying his suitcase, to make his way to the railway station on the Saturday morning
©Judith Barrow January 2017
My thanks to Judith for sharing this very entertaining experience and I have a feeling that husband was going to home to hot tongue and cold shoulder. Join us next week for another of Judith’s adventures.
About Judith Barrow
Although I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, for the last forty years I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place.
I’ve written all my life and have had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. But only started to seriously write novels after I’d had breast cancer twenty years ago. Four novels safely stashed away, never to see the light of day again, I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. The prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads will be published in August 2017. Hopefully then the family in this series will leave me alone to explore something else!
I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing. I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run workshops on all genres.
Along with friend and fellow author, Thorne Moore, I also organise a book fair in September. This year we’ve changed venues. Here’s the link that tells all!! Narberth Book Fair. When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m doing research for my writing, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline or reading and reviewing books for Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT, along with some other brilliant authors and bloggers.
Books by Judith Barrow
A Hundred Tiny Threads is a prequel to the three books featuring the Howarth family.
About A Hundred Tiny Threads
It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother.
The scars of Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood linger. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife.
Meeting her friend Honora’s silver-tongued brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down. But Honora and Conal disappear, after a suffrage rally turns into a riot, and abandoned Winifred has nowhere to turn but home.
The Great War intervenes, sending Bill abroad to be hardened in a furnace of carnage and loss. When he returns his dream is still of Winifred and the life they might have had… Back in Lancashire, worn down by work and the barbed comments of narrow-minded townsfolk, Winifred faces difficult choices in love and life.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Judith Barrow’s extremely well crafted, gritty, no-nonsense characters- a trademark in all of her novels – simply grab hold of the insides of your gut. In her stories so far, there always seems to be a strong, compelling well-written female protagonist and a strong, compelling yet deeply despicable man. Her characters stifle cries of outrage within the reader and in this particular book- which is the prequel to her family saga trilogy- she demands that you study the tiny threads, the origins that create the Duffy/Howarth family’s tapestry. Also, the tiny threads creating the flipside family rope that so often strangles hope – the hope of them ever breaking out of unhealthy family patterns, passed down through the generations, seen in the trilogy.
We observe the bravery of the Suffragette movement and the gear change in women’s thinking, bringing challenges on the domestic front through the eyes of Winifred and absorb the compelling backdrop of the dire First World War and the unforgiving callous behaviour of the Black and Tans. Judith pushes the reader into these frontlines and into these volatile worlds where we can, I think, surely comprehend- though with unease – that even the most undesirable character can be called nasty and a victim at the same time, and in the same breath.
The prequel and the trilogy make for a gripping read.
Head over read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR
Also by Judith Barrow
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow
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