Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.
Such as the Sports Fanatic.
Before I go any further I think I should mention that although we live along a quiet lane we are only a five minute walk to the village. In the centre is the local Co-op. The frontage is very old fashioned; it’s an old building. For years there’s has been talk of building a new store on the outskirts (actually about five hundred metres behind the existing one, on the edge of common land) but nothing has come of it. In winter the place trundles sleepily along; goods not available because of snow somewhere up country. the odd garbled message over the tannoy that everyone ignores, staff huddled in corners exchanging local gossip, wandering around, trying not to make eye contact in case you want to ask them something. It’s a place to meet up with local people who haven’t been visible all summer due to being too busy keeping holiday visitors entertained.
Which, as an aside, reminds me of a time I asked Husband to go and buy a red cabbage from the Co-op.
After half an hour he returns, empty handed and looking stunned.
‘No red cabbage?’ I enquire.
‘No, couldn’t find one. Asked an assistant. She said cabbages were on the veg stall and there was red food colouring in the baking section.’ He shook his head. ‘You couldn’t make it up!’
In summer the place comes alive: more than one assistant on the tills, lots of bustle, filling up shelves,assistants eager to help. Lots of happy visitors always glad for a natter, which inevitable ends with the comment,”you are so lucky to live here.’
I don’t argue… we are.
The visitors! (Should add here there is a sign asking customers not to shop in their nightwear) Apparently beach wear is acceptable. Nowhere else have I seen people shop half undressed: men in shorts (even Speedos … don’t think too long on that image; not nice mostly), bare chests and nothing on their feet, accompanied by shoals of similarly dressed and bare-footed children. All very jolly… until someone runs over toes with a trolley. Or they step in something.
None of this, by the way, has anything at all to do with the Sports Fanatic.
The couple arrived late one Saturday evening. The man struggled out of the car and walked, wincing, slowly along the drive, using two sticks, irritated-looking wife marching in front of him.
‘He’s sprained his ankle,’ she said, tilting her head towards him and without introducing herself. ‘happened yesterday. I came home from work and there he was, lying on the settee, bandaged up. Apparently,’ she stressed the word, ‘apparently our neighbour took him to hospital.’
‘Good of him,’ her husband said. ‘Nice chap.’
Wife snorted. ‘Fine start to our week,’ she said.
‘Mrs Morris?’ I asked. I knew they were down for a family reunion. Her family reunion.
She ignored me. ‘This way, is it?’ Pointing towards the apartment door and stomping off.
‘She’s a bit cross,’ her husband offered. Struggling with sticks he held his hand out to Husband and shook it. ‘I’m Simon,’he said, ‘you got Sky Sports in there?’
The following day it was the the reunion. The husband apparently had hardly moved from the settee in the living room of the apartment.
Mrs Morris was no less cross than before. ‘He’ll have to stay here,’ she said. ‘he says he’s in a lot of pain and can hardly stand.’ She stared at Husband. ‘I’ll be out all day. Would you go in and see if he’s okay every now and then, perhaps give him a cup of tea. I’ve left sandwiches on the coffee table for his lunch.It really is a nuisance.’
Husband was clenching jaw, the ears were giving off warning signs..
‘It’s fine,’I said, hurriedly. ‘Don’t worry.’
Half an hour after she’d driven off Husband went in to the apartment ‘ I can’t find him, he said.
‘In the loo?’I offered.
‘No! Anyhow, he’s not supposed to be able to move around at all.’
The implications of that suddenly struck us.
‘I’m not bloody clearing up after him if anything happens,’ Husband says.
I don’t answer but I knew it wouldn’t be me, either.
We searched around the apartment, then the garden.
‘He won’t be out here,’I said. ‘He can’t walk.
Just then Mr Morris came running around the corner of the house, a pack of six cans of pale ale in his arms.
We stood and looked at one another
Then, without an ounce of shame, he said, ‘can’t stand her family. Anyway, there’s loads of sport on the telly I don’t want to miss.’
And with that he grinned, walked past us and into the apartment.
Not quite sure what happened the rest of the week but Mrs Morris left on the Friday and the last we saw of Mr Morris was him trudging off the drive, carrying his suitcase, to make his way to the railway station on the Saturday morning