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Not a good start to a holiday…

I went away for a few days last week to a cottage in the Cotswolds. It’s somewhere I pass through often, usually on my way to a customer meeting, but it’s been several years since I have spent time pottering around. There are a lot of Roman ruins around Cirencester, and I particularly wanted to have another look at Chedworth Roman Villa and the Corinium Museum in Cirencester.

I’d booked a small holiday cottage in a village between Cirencester and Fairford, on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, and within easy reach of the main sites. But the holiday did not get off to a good start.

Check-in was from 15:00 and I got there at 15:30 last Monday. The landlady lived next door, and the instructions were to pick up the keys from her. So I knocked on the door, only to be greeted by a very flustered elderly woman who looked very surprised to see me. She said the cottage wasn’t ready, but handed me the key anyway. But it wouldn’t turn in the lock. I knocked on her door again to say I couldn’t get in, so she took the key off me and let herself in through the back door. She then put the key on the side.

For the next half hour she pottered in and out between her house and the cottage, bringing sheets, towels, loo roll, tea towels, etc etc – all the things that should have been done before guests arrive. The cottage clearly hadn’t been hoovered or dusted since the previous guests had departed, but I didn’t want her hanging around any longer so I was prepared to overlook that.

But at some point in that half hour, the keys vanished! I can only think that she must have absent-mindedly picked them up on one of her trips into the house, as I turned the place upside down and couldn’t find them. The landlady said she would give me the spare set of keys – so far so good. But she clearly had never checked that they worked when she got them cut – the key shaft was too wide and would not even go into the keyhole, let alone turn. So that meant that I couldn’t lock up the cottage, either from the inside or the outside!

That really wasn’t good enough and although the cottage was otherwise ok and in a good location, I wasn’t happy about having to carry my iPad with me at all times, let alone having to sleep knowing that the back door was unlocked. The weather wasn’t very good either, so once I’d seen the main sites I was interested in I decided to cut my losses and come home a day early.