Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Dalston Hall 2
The room at Dalston Hall was well-mirrored. There was the one on the bedhead. Personally I think it was to reflect the apparitions (or do ghosts not have reflections? or am I thinking about zombies?). There was one over the desk. And then there was this one. All were intricately carved, well-dusted and, I should imagine, expensive.
And the bath: I occasionally watch house-buying programmes and people who appear on these programmes often want roll-top baths. Now, I'm old enough to remember these in the 50s, when people prided themselves on getting rid of them. I admit that they look quite interesting, maybe especially in a turret bathroom, but I've always thought of them as not very practical. I'm now able to report that I was right.
Where, crucially, do you balance your book while you wash? As I suspected, you try to sit it on the round edge of the bath but it teeters and then falls to the floor. (Or into the water, though in my case, it was the floor.) After the first night I was forced to have a bookless bath; and I can tell you that lying regarding one's stomach is not so relaxing as getting on with the biography of Gertrude Jekyll, which is what I wanted to be doing. It may depend on your stomach, of course. Possibly you can regard yours with complacency.
Arguably more important (though it's debatable) - where do you put the soap? You have to swap it from hand to hand while washing your more distant bits, and then drop in on to the bath mat. Or in the water, I suppose.
It was very strange being the only guests (apart from the girl we saw on the first morning). It felt a bit like staying at Northanger Abbey. Mr Life and I would sail down the massive staircase, our footsteps ringing (well, ok, padding on the carpets). We would enter the empty dining room and like magic, someone would come and take our order. (Surveillance cameras?) We would eat. Someone else would come and enquire if everything was all right. It was, very much so. We would depart. We did bring slightly dressier clothes to wear for dinner, but it didn't seem worth putting them on just to impress each other, so we didn't.
On the last night, the owner had "Fawlty Towers" on in the bar, where we were ushered before dinner. He stood watching it and laughing. I ventured to suggest that his hotel wasn't at all like this. "Oh, you'd be surprised," he chuckled. "Some of the guests we get... ."
I did wonder if we're going to be on some candid camera show but if so, we're unlikely to see it so will never know.
It's a lovely hotel, though. I recommend it. And now I know what it would be like to live in a private manor house, with staff. One could easily get used to it.