It wasn't until just before we left that I noticed that the description of the cottage that we had booked said 'with no electricity'. "It says 'with no electricity'", I observed to S. "What do you think that means?" "I expect it means that it hasn't got any electricity." The man is a genius of no small proportions.
WHAAAATTTT????!!!! That meant no lap top, no iPad, no iPod, no Kindle, no mobile phone charger, no hairdryer, no toothbrush, no television. No. Electric. Kettle. Tea!!!! How would we survive? Panic set in. But instead of doing the sensible thing, cancelling immediately and waving our deposit goodbye, we set off.
The house turned out to be a gamekeeper's cottage set in a wooded glade on the outskirts of the small village of Yoxford. Very Lady Chatterley's. We woke the first morning to a group of deer peering at us from just a few yards away. However, it was too chilly for frolics and daisy chains.
The cottage had open fires in the sitting room and bedroom and a wood burning stove, rather like an Aga but called an Esse, dealt with the cooking and heating. Light came from candles. (And a torch for the inevitable middle of the night trips to the loo. It's our age.) We got on well the first night. I cooked a ratatouille on the hob and it was delicious. Mellors, aka S, began to plan his first loaf of bread.
However, after that, we couldn't get the stove hot. It was hot enough to heat the water for tea and to give us bath water but the oven wasn't sufficiently hot for bread. Then it started to smoke from every orifice, setting off the carbon monoxide alarm twice, which made us a bit twitchy to say the least. And it is wrong to claim that there is no smoke without fire. We stank of smoke and there was no discernible fire in that stove. Although we didn't realise how bad we smelt until we got home. So, apologies to the delightful staff at the wonderful Crown and Castle Hotel in Orford, owned by Ruth Watson of Hotel Inspector fame. We thought we were oh so elegant when in fact we smelt like we'd been standing beside a pile of burning old tyres for a week.
On the Saturday morning, we couldn't get the kettle warm enough for tea. Disaster. We headed to Snape Maltings, but too early for it actually to be open. We were saved by the village shop. It was the last straw and we called for help. The estate managers, who look after the cottage, arrived bearing an electric kettle. Yes. An. Electric. Kettle. They removed part of the wall with an allen key and there were the sockets. The builders who had renovated the property had said it was mad to be 'with no electricity' because they wouldn't be able to use their drills to repair things. And so there was, in fact, 'electricity'. And I guess that explains the inverted commas. It's to protect against charges that they are contravening the Trade Descriptions Act. Because they say there is no electricity when there is. I'm not bitter.
All this aside, it was a lovely place to stay. Romantic and peaceful. Some pictures. And, if you want to book it, go to Best of Suffolk.