3 June 2008
Homestay, Armthorpe, Doncaster, England
Apartment
Free of Charge
53°32'10.98"N 1° 3'6.73"W
1 bedroom including all meals
Private Arrangement

 

Booked into this homestay at the insistence of the landlady, even though there weren't enough beds to go around it seemed pleasant enough to give it a go.

The good sized flat has one very large bedroom with only a single bed - you could easily fit an extra double in it without it being over crowded and even a massive king size bed would not look out of place in the extra large space. The bedroom has a beautiful aspect - nicely tended communal gardens and private, very colourful flowerbeds.

The lounge is of equal proportion to the bedroom, with a very comfy sofa long and wide enough to provide a good night's sleep. Experimentation showed that the sleeping arrangements could be improved by moving the huge cushions from the sofa and the chair onto the floor, giving a very comfortable double bed. The aspect from the lounge is similar to that of the bedroom, pleasant and peaceful communal gardens but not so many flowers as the neighborhood children have a tendency to stand on flowerbeds at the rear of the property.

After a surprisingly large and modern bathroom, the kitchen is a little on the small side, but more than sufficient for one or two people - thankfully, due to the size, the landlady is very territorial about her kitchen and going in there when she is around can lead to you being shooed out, especially if you're trying to do the washing up after a meal.

The location of the flat is great - minutes walk from local shops and a couple of fair sized supermarkets, as well as there being a library, doctor's surgery and pharmacy all within walking distance. Set in a beautiful garden area, there is no car parking in the immediate vicinity, although it is less than a minute to walk to the parking area, and means everything is very quiet. Armthorpe, in deepest, darkest South Yorkshire, is an ex (thank you Mrs Thatcher) coal mining village although it retains it's friendly, close knit community atmosphere. Despite the having been closed down some 20 years ago and the entrance removed shortly afterwards, you still get on the bus and ask for the pit gates to get to the landlady's daughters house - 5 minutes and more than a pound!!! It's also a very pleasant 30 minute walk on the way there, and due to a slight incline about mid-way, and around 25 minutes back, although it's much longer in both directions if you have either of the landlady's infant grandchildren with you.

Meals are excellent, if a little large, but as the landlady has various health problems there is virtually no fried, sugared or processed food in the kitchen apart from bags of sweeties for her grandchildren. Lots of cereal, fresh fruit and veggies every day make for a good diet, even if the portion sizes are a little on the large size - especially so if she thinks you look as though you need feeding up a bit which tends to be always.

On the downside, during my stay the heavy, thermal lined winter curtains had been banished to give way to the set of light summer curtains, which may as well not be there at 4am as the sun comes up - takes a few mornings to get used to it. (No, not a mistake. It really does get light at 4am and stays light until about 10pm during the months of June and July in England). No WiFi signals, secured or not were to be found in the surrounding area. The landlady also gets a little forgetful now and then, and jumps up in panic as she realises that it's tablet time (she consumes an amazing amount of said items several times daily - I want to get the generic names of all of them and check them out on the internet and make sure she really needs them all and they aren't acting against each other, but unfortunately I couldn't find her stash, just the plastic tubes divided into daily compartments for morning, midday, evening and bedtime. Next time I visit I'll sneak around, find the stash and write all the names down and set to work on google). There's also a tendency for her daughter or son-in-law calling by unannounced, with or without their 5 and 2 year old children.

Said children get away with murder, climbing on furniture (I used to get a slapped leg for doing that) etc, although I have to say that the landlady is showing good progress with her newly acquired knowledge of technology. Just in case she temporarily forgets how to use the set top box to get CeeBeebies, she knows how to use the DVD player which I believe came preloaded with a Telly Tubbies disk. In any case, the little ones both know how to use them, and occasional fights break out over Balamory and Spiderman or other such programs - I kept well out of it. Again, we used to get into trouble for fighting, but this landlady appears to be a totally different person to the one who brought us up, proven conclusively by the stock of sweeties, ice cream and soft drinks just sitting there waiting for Alex and Hannah. We got fruit and tapoline, as she used to call water. And Syrup of Figs. Every Sunday night. Followed by a spoonful of Cod Liver Oil, cotton buds poked so far into our eardrums it's a wonder they didn't burst, then the dreaded nit patrol. I blame my sister. My brother and I were never affected by head lice, but Christine got nits in her first week at nursery school. After that, all 3 of us endured years of 5 minutes worth of hell with the nit comb every Sunday night - I don't think she ever used it on herself, otherwise she'd have known just how much it hurt as it scraped across your scalp, taking a layer of skin off but never finding any nits. And no, she wouldn't just wait until we started scratching before looking for them. I recall getting a slapped leg for suggesting that. My suggestions were always practical and almost always ended with a slapped leg. I mean, what's wrong with a five year old coming up with the theory that you could wear your knickers inside out the next day and cut you white cotton washing load in half, or to not bother ironing knickers because nobody could see them? Slap! Hadn't developed the right skills for making suggestions at that age, so they probably came out more as sarcastic orders than helpful suggestions.

AND she doesn't care if these children get chocolate all over the furniture and carpet. When I were a lass.............

All in all, a good place to stay, and I'll be back there at the next opportunity