The overnighter with morning meal is available worldwide but ‘Ubernachtung mit Fruhstuck’, ‘Lit et Petit Dejeune’ or ‘Cama y Desayumo’ fail to send out the same warm, homely message we perceive in ‘Bed & Breakfast’. It’s probably the alliteration we like, and within its spoken delivery is the subliminal pleasure of flouting the grammatically correct ‘and’: fish ‘n’ chips, ‘bangers ‘n’ beans’…. ‘bed ‘n’ breakfast’! The fact that the words are in English helps as well… But before I get too carried away, let’s consider the joys of the good ol’ British Bed ‘n’ Breakfast and the Guest House…
For a start, it tends to be considerably cheaper than a hotel room and far less formal. For as little as £25.00 – yes, I know of such places – you can get a great night’s kip within fresh, clean sheets and a good fry-up in the morning. Not unusually you’re welcome in the living room and made to feel part of the family for a few hours. Your hosts will knock you up a packed lunch for a fair price and generally make you feel like you’ve gained some friends – and vice versa. How bad is that?
Importantly, you can expect to knock, unannounced, on the door of a B&B and get taken in there and then; none of that “Sorry, you need to book on-line” stuff though, of course, some prefer to do just that. You just get the nod, collect your bag of essentials and mosey on in. ‘Conditions’ are few and will vary around the country but there’s no longer a litany of rules you have to abide by: just sleep, eat and have a couple of floats on the water by 08.30.
At a farmhouse near Builth Wells in Wales, I spent much of the evening sat by the fireside like Uncle Max (few will remember him!) honing my hosts’ children’s reading skills; and at another B&B in the Norfolk Fens my pal and I became part of a family gathering – beers all round! But the real bonus here – and at every other Guest House and B&B – was the space and place to hang damp clothing; a freezer for the bait; somewhere to rearrange the back-pack and with the car parked right outside. I have stayed in one of the moto-lodge type places but a snap-decision to tie a few more traces for the morning was fraught with difficulties being two corridors, a lift, a reception area and fifty yards of tarmac and puddles away from my car – and in a dressing-gown and slippers!
But B&B’s are so interesting… as good as Premier Inns and Travel Lodges may be in terms of comfort and convenience, their sheer uniformity can make for a pretty bland experience; but at Mrs. Miggins’ Bed & Breakfast you get to know of her grandfather’s role at Ypres, 1915, (there are sepia photo’s up the stairway) and of her daughter’s accomplishments as a gymnast (see the trophies) I’ll concede that ‘bonding’ with your hosts is contrary to today’s expectations but isn’t this the very essence of the B&B? You’re ‘taken-in’ for a night or two, befriended and afforded a small corner within a hitherto stranger’s life and memory. They’ll often have the same effect on you and you’ll be back the following year – possibly at a small discount!
Are you planning a few days away with the rods? What’s it to be at the end of your sessions? A long drive back to ‘civilization’ on the main road, or a five minute drive to a marvellous cook who just happens to have a couple of spare beds for fifty pounds a night and a back-yard where you can sort out your gear? And when you wake and look out to see what the weather’s like, is it to be ‘Eddie Stobart’ that fills your eyes… or a skein of whooper swans heading for the river? I know which I prefer!
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