Thursday, 20 August 2009

Some great people along the way...

I met some very professional managers and owners of accommodation. The ones I remember, though, were not perfectionists...they were more interested in making sure I had a good time, and that I left with a sense of place - they wanted me to know why their little spot on the planet was so special to them. Many of my favourite hosts had been born or had grown up in their area, and the landscape was fused to their bones. I realise now that I remember the people as much as I do the postcard views...

1. Trevor Lowther at Lowther House in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Trevor is a walking, talking encyclopaedia. I have no way of proving this, but I am sure he knows everything about the Lake District, and in particular the coastal area near Whitehaven. But while he knows plenty, he is also fanatically zealous. He is only too happy to show people around, giving them an entertaining and informative tour.

2. Paul and Alyson Rhind and their three kids (Adam, Fraser and Aylee) at Newstead Housein Silecroft, in the Lake District in England. The Rhinds were friendly and frank, and I felt pretty homesick when I left, because they reminded me of my family - a bit crazy (like all families!)

3. Christian Drew at Corriegour Lodge, Spean Bridge, Scotland. This fantastic lady was the friendliest person I met. She is born and bred in the Highlands, and tartan-coloured blood flows in her veins. She gave me many reasons to one day marry a Scottish woman.

4. Annie Cooper at Boscombe House in Llandudno, Wales. Annie fed me up, did my laundry, showed me around the pretty town of Llandudno, and made me feel like I was her son. On a long trip alone, that's a pretty good thing!

5. Tom and Mary Watson at South Whittlieburn Farm near Largs, Scotland. At first I couldn't understand a word of what Tom and Mary were saying, but it didn't matter, because it sounded wonderful. And more than anyone I stayed with, they were proud to live on the land of their birth.

There were obviously plenty of other hosts who made me feel welcome. And in amongst all the other people I met, I only had one slightly offish experience, and that was being sworn at by a drunk in Edinburgh...for the rest, everyone was decent and kind. Most friendly people? I'd have to say the Welsh...if you want to get friendly with a Welshman, either buy him an ale or start talking rugby.