Our next port of call was Inverness and then on to our Airbnb stay in the Western Highlands. This was the view from the train en route to Inverness.
And this was the pretty view from my room in Inverness: also known as the world’s second smallest room. Oh how I hated that room. We had booked our stays in blocks with flexible travel days. So we had a place in Edinburgh for 5 days, then another 5 days in the Western Highlands with a flexible night inbetween. We saw that there were gazillions of B&Bs in Inverness so we decided to book it on the fly. So two nights before we left Edinburgh we booked the night via one of those hotel booking websites and paid for it in advance.
Now, I like the convenience of arranging things via the internet as much as pretty much anyone but this has bitten me in the ass before. When our power was knocked out in the ice storm of 2014, my partner (R) and I booked a couple of nights in a downtown hotel via hotwire. The room had power and heat so it was a definite step up from our place and they had a science documentary channel that is not included in our cable package. So far so good … until 7 am the following morning when the jackhammers started above our heads. This, of course, reminded me of Captain Sensible.
When I woke up this morning I was feelin’ fine
But this cat starts banging, man what a swine.
So I called reception but to no avail
That’s why I’m telling you this sorry tale.
It went bang. I said shut up
It went bang. I said wrap up.
Well I’m aware that the guy must do his work
But the piledriver man drove me berserk.
I, too, called reception to no avail. They told me that it was clearly stated on every booking confirmation that the hotel was undergoing renovations and that some noise was inevitable. Well, it hadn’t been on my confirmation from hotwire…. Too bad. Too late. Oh well.
Similarly, when we arrived at the bed and breakfast in Inverness, there was a sign on the door stating that it would be locked until 4 pm. Not only could we not check in, we could not even leave our luggage. I had been hoping to dump my bags and get a bus out to Urquhart Castle but instead we went searching for somewhere to eat and kill 4 hours. Yay. But!! I found Nellie Dean’s. Great staff, interesting patrons, cheap food. And if I ever find myself stuck in Inverness for several hours I would cheerfully return to Nellie Dean’s. So that was a bit of luck but the point is that there was no mention of this “piss off until 4 pm” business when we booked via one of those 3rd party sites.
Eventually 4 pm came and we entered the B&B and met the proprietor and were given keys to our rooms. OK, first: the proprietor was a sour man in his sixties with the droning, slightly whiny voice of a schoolteacher who believes that only vodka can replenish the vitality that his job daily drains from him. Except of course he runs a B&B so it is his guests who suck the life from him with their demands for keys and information and food and oh god will this incessant badgering never end?! Run down does not begin to describe the condition of the carpets and bed linens and … oh! and the television in my room required a 15 minute dissertation on how to operate it because you press this button first and if this happens, then you do the next thing but if the other thing happens when you press the button, then you have to do an intermediate thing before you can do the next thing. Keep in mind that he is kneeling on the bed and pushing buttons and twirling knobs on a TV that is precariously perched on a shelf hanging from the ceiling and I am in the hallway peering in to see if I can determine which button is the first one because there is not enough space for even one person to stand in the room, much less TWO.
But the best part is that each time he thinks he has the TV working, he has to make up another step. So he says, “there, that will do it” but it doesn’t work so he goes on to say that “sometimes you need to also…” and then, after five steps (with 4 factorial permutations = 4 * 3 *2 * 1 = 24 possible combinations of steps to operate the television) he says (and I could not make this up) “But you wouldn’t believe people. They call downstairs and say the television isn’t working. But you can see it works perfectly well.” And he is NOT kidding!!!!!!
I realise that I have used a lot of exclamation points and loads of bold text but this guy was simply astonishing. Even now I shake my head while I laugh thinking about it. But you know I’m the technical person in my family so I managed to work my way around the TV. The remote didn’t work because the battery cover was missing and the batteries would not stay in place. I tried to tape them in, but they just sprang out. But who needs a remote in a room so small? Just reach above your toes and change the channel on the set. No problem. I was excited to watch television because we hadn’t had a TV or a radio in the house in Edinburgh so I could catch up on news from the referendum that had taken place two nights previously.
And then. At 9:30 pm the TV just went off. The blaring TV in the room behind me went out 30 seconds later. And they stayed off until 11 pm when the TV in the room behind me came blaring back on again. I had tried to turn the TV back on again but I sure as hell wasn’t going to go downstairs to have him come back to wearily go through the whole procedure again. Mostly because I didn’t fancy standing in the hallway while he did it.
My mother’s room was nice, though. The wi-fi worked in her room (do I even need to mention that it didn’t work in my room?), she had a table, a chair, and a wardrobe in her room and you could even move between them. Two people could comfortably exist in her room simultaneously. You could fit three people, but then it might start to feel a bit cramped.
It was only one night but was I ever glad to leave.