Today in a year’s time – Covid-19 permitting – OH (other half) and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.
Our plans – like everyone’s for now – are on hold.
Today we will celebrate by going for a walk – just for a change! We have also ordered some food to be delivered – a first for us in 49 years of marriage!
In all these years we have had some wonderful, unforgettable holidays. The one that is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons is our honeymoon.
We spent it in Corsica on a Horizon holiday package tour. The hotel in Calvi was like something out of Fawlty Towers. All the guests were elderly, very genteel and English. We were by far the youngest people there.
We had booked a double bedroom (as you would on your honeymoon) only to find we had been given a room with twin beds. We had asked for a sea view but instead found we had an inland view of the chateau. Another couple, seeing our disappointment, very kindly offered to swap rooms with us. Afterwards we realised why. Yes, we had a sea view but we also had a view of all the hotel restaurant staff sunning themselves whenever they were on a break – and they of us. Our room was under the dining room and every day we would hear the loud scraping of chairs over our heads.
Our ensuite bathroom was separated from the bedroom by a creaky, thin, sliding plastic screen – one might as well have been sitting on a loo in the middle of the room for all the privacy it afforded!
OH (other half) and I have travelled extensively in France throughout our marriage. That hotel’s kitchen produced the worst French food we have ever experienced. And it is very difficult to find badly cooked French food. Even the simplest meal is normally cooked well. After our meal in the evening we would wander out of the hotel and into the town to find something to eat – that’s how bad the food was.
The hotel was quite regimented and the meals were all served at rigid times. One memorable night OH and I were busy in our bedroom doing what most people tend to do on their honeymoons when the phone in our room rang shrilly. “Mrs Neidle – you are late. We are waiting for you at your table!”
Sure enough, when we arrived upstairs we saw that none of the table occupants were eating. No one had been served. Every one was silently waiting for us to take our seats. There was a great deal of tut tutting which made us feel like naughty school children.
No one liked the food but we were the only ones ever to complain. On the last day of our holiday (which, despite the inadequacies of the hotel had been very enjoyable – who could not love Corsica?) OH found he had mislaid our room key. The coach was waiting outside to transport all the guests to the airport. Everyone was inside it. Except for us. We were at the reception desk apologising for our mislaid key.
“Here it is!” said the hotel receptionist (in French) holding up the key. She said that it had been found in the sand on the beach. OH and I found this quite unbelievable because the beach we frequented was about a twenty minute walk away. How could anyone find a key and know its place of origin? We suspected that this was a put up job because they had not liked us complaining about the food, coming late to the dining room and being young.
There then followed a disagreement because the hotel wanted us to pay for a replacement key – even though they had found what they said was our key. We were told that we would not be allowed to leave the hotel until we had paid. In those far off days – my older readers will remember – one was only permitted to take a limited amount of money abroad. The horn of the coach honked loudly. OH scraped together what little money he had and gave it to her.
She ungraciously took the money and said – and these words are etched into my memory – “If ever you return to Corsica you will be killed.”
We climbed on to the coach. More tut tutting.
Unsurprisingly, we have not been back to Corsica. And from then on we always took great care not to lose hotel keys.
© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems