I have just been on holiday and, yes, I had a lovely time thank you, the weather was good and the company almost perfect – my husband was the perfect part, other people the almost!
We did a clockwise drive around Nova Scotia, staying in mid-range-priced hotels/motels/lodges and B&Bs, a different place each night. The experiences were so varied that no conclusions can be made, even if we add them together with all our previous vacational-nights ever, but I am left wondering a little bit if it is possible for an introverted couple to stay at a bed-and-breakfast.
The B&Bs I am talking about are where you stay in a room in somebody’s home, a building originally designed for family life but now (probably coinciding with their teenagers moving out) adapted so provide en-suite rooms for a few discerning couples. So not the seedy-looking places near town-centre train stations with a “DSS accepted” notice given pride of place.
One we stayed in was like an elegant museum: polished wooden floors, Farrow-and-Ball painted walls with matching prints of four-masted sailing ships, lace inserts on the bedside tables, satin-upholstered Chippendale chairs and a mock-four-poster Queen-sized bed. It was a beautiful room. Another had a modern pastel flavour in pink and green, co-ordinated towels (oh I forgot to mention the last one had red/white/blue towels to fit with the nautical theme) and more cushions than we could count. You probably can’t see what I am fussing about.
It’s not the rooms per se, assuming you can cope with the not-so-modern soundproofing between them. Maybe I should be generous here as Nova Scotia is mainly wooden framed homes and some of them clearly created before even a bathroom was integral to a home, let alone an en-suite shower. All the rooms had attractive features, individual and for the most part tasteful (I am discounting the strange one in Wales with fairy lights around a four poster bed in a 10 foot square room, a bunk bed obstructing the door to the bathroom and so much clutter on the dressing table you wondered if the previous occupants were still staying there). Nor is it the generally very soft beds, some with an even softer memory foam topper – have you tried sleeping on your front on (or in) a memory foam mattress?
What we found oh so difficult was breakfast.
Maybe it is because I’m a Londoner (Hubert Gregg, 1947) but most B&Bs I have encountered in UK have dining rooms with several small tables spread around the edges, usually set for two (I have just this moment recalled a long-back hotel where we were asked to move mid-order because we were occupying a table set for four which then remained empty for the duration). Not so it seems on the other side of the Atlantic. With one exception, the B&Bs all had one large catholic-sized dining table with place settings for exactly the number of guests. Only in the first one we didn’t know this until the appointed hour.
8:10 am, down the stairs, Kindles in hand, vocal cords as yet untried ….
“AAAH, HERE YOU ARE!” with Frankish overtones, clearly we were “late”.
Realisation dawning, a feeble attempt to rescue ourselves “Where would you like us to sit?” There were only two empty spaces, my husband slid into the innermost, chivalry allowing me the possibly protected end space. Not so: the barrage of “Where are you from?” “Oh I was there once” “Are you on holiday?” “You brought the rain with you” “Where are you going to today?” “Have you seen….”
Please, it’s not even nine o’clock. 😦
Resigned to being in the group which the host describes as “Some guests are just difficult” we parried with answers just slightly less rude than “Somewhere else” and “None of your business” and escaped as soon as the coffee cooled down enough to drink.
That reminds me, the most upsetting distinction between a motel and B&B was that the former generally provide coffee-making facilities in the room, the latter …. And you expect me to be sociable before caffeine?
The second B&B we were prepared, scouted the facilities beforehand and left by the back door as discretely as an honest middle-aged couple can be – after all we did have to settle up before driving off. They were oh so kind and gave us take-away breakfast: yoghurt and cinnamon buns. Sadly, for him, my husband likes neither, so guess who ate well that day! Another occasion had us breakfasting at Tim Horton’s with Truckers and local workers (TH seems to be as ubiquitous as Starbucks in London or McDonalds in the Home Counties, just not quite so nice, though I accept its down to personal taste). One place did actually have separate tables, and was, like all the other establishments, a very pleasant place, but I didn’t have a clue what “strada” was or whether I wanted hollandaise sauce or blueberry salsa with it.
Is it a Canadian thing to have apple crumble for breakfast, muffins or pastries?
In the normal run of things breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, the one I most look forward to: solitude in a mug of coffee, where it doesn’t matter if I cant here you because I am crunching or chewing (at my age bone conduction is better than air) because you aren’t talking to me – 30 years together and we know that we aren’t good with being sociable at this time of day.
We have friends who run a B&B and I can hear them now suggesting we make an effort, like at a summer camp where “we should all work very hard to be outgoing”. But that’s the thing – I don’t want to win friends and influence people at breakfast time, to turn the meal into a group assignment, I like being quiet, I like reading with my toast. And if, as one website declares, “one of the treats of a B&B is meeting and eating with all sorts of people” then I am happy to forgo that sociable event and go for an introverted “Bed without breakfast” please.
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
― A.A. Milne