I’ve mentioned before that I head to the paper shop early each morning and I pass by a whole area of boarding houses most of them with punny Shakespearean names. Hamlet House is just one of the more imaginative examples. Anyway I’m quite a Nosey Parker and I can’t help looking in the windows to study how the Stratford upon Avon landlady styles her rooms compared with her Blackpool equivalent. It’s quite illuminating (see what I did there?)
One thing that is very similar is that in almost every case the room at the ground floor front of the boarding house which at one time would have been the front room or lounge is now employed as the breakfast room. So you can have your bowlful of cornflakes followed by full English with overcooked tomatoes and undercooked sausages whilst watching the traffic or me passing by! Reality is I see very few breakfasts being served at 6am. Now it always puzzles me why they converted the lounge into the breakfast room. Doesn’t that probably mean the breakfast room is as far as you can now get from the kitchen which is invariably at the back of the house? It’s hardly convenient for serving. And assuming the house originally had a dining room adjacent to the kitchen, what do you imagine that room has been converted into? Turning it into a residents’ lounge area would be just too perverse -what would have been gained? And don’t all bedrooms come with a tv anyway? No I think the smarter landlady would convert it into a room that could generate some additional income like a bar area for residents during the evening offering snacks etc. Probably with one of those high level wall- mounted TV’s to show evening sports fixtures etc. You see how my mind works – all this just on the way to get a paper.
But one definite thing I have notice here is the fondness of the Stratford landlady for porcelain figurines, ceramic teapots in unusual shapes and pottery dogs and kittens. There must have been one hell of knick knacks salesman serving the Warwickshire area when these places were all converted to B&Bs because every one seems to have two or three of these pottery oddities on their window sills or ugly oak sideboards…
You don’t tend to get Lladro porcelain in Blackpool. It’s more like this one below to be honest as the ownership/clientele has changed a lot since I lived there. It’s a bit more bohemian these days as you’ll know if you ever watch C4’s Four in a Bed.
Knick knacks eh. Aren’t they just the most useless things but fabulous dust gatherers? I have to admit we had a collection of unrelated dust collectors when we were younger – some gifts and others gathered as part of our collecting phase like old glass bottles. My folks too were big collectors of display collateral. We bought them 6 cut glass whisky glasses as a present from a trip to Scotland long ago and within a year or so they’d collected every glass in the collection – wine glasses (for white and red wine plus champagne flutes), large decanters, sherry glasses, shot glasses, port glasses. They never used 3/4 of the things. Similarly I bought them an onyx cigarettes lighter as a Xmas pressie once and before you could say semi-precious green gemstone, they’d acquired a room full of matching items – ashtrays, serving plates, bowls picture frames, even a Liberace-inspired coffee table with onyx top and simulated gold legs. I seem to remember they also got a sterling silver coffee set with cigarette cards and proceeded to supplement it with every item of sterling silver table setting you can imagine. All of which needed to be cleaned on a regular basis to keep it from tarnishing. And given it was 20 odd pieces too, can you imagine the hours of work involved in that for my mum? Unbelievable.
So Caz and I took a decision when we returned from Italy to divest ourselves of any and all unessential happy crapola. So now we have very little except for some wall art and some elegant books. And it’s paid off because when we clean the place from top to bottom each Sunday, it takes us 2-3 hours tops. No tiresome knick knack cleaning and dusting. Hurrah! And I have to admit I’d have to walk out of any hotel that proudly displayed a collection of kitsch porcelain in its dining area. I just couldn’t eat.