400miles and 5 hours driving and the first thing they do is log onto Ipad and tablet….
Some time ago I was lucky enough to win some IVHE (www.ivhe.com) home share credits from Silver Travel Advisors (www.silvertraveladvisor.com) and had the brilliant idea of taking a three bedroomed flat in Canary Wharf over Christmas with the fantasy that all of my family would follow me down there and stay for at least some of the holiday! What a fool I am. Only three of us actually made it but we did meet up with brother, nephew and nephew’s girlfriend while we were there.
IVHE do home swaps all over the world and some of the properties look amazing. I was tempted by a studio on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and also by a beautiful cottage in Brittany before plumping for this lovely apartment.
With some trepidation we booked the cat into the cattery attached to our vets, asked the nurses there to keep an eye on him, left pages of instructions about his medication and ignored his wails of accusation as we drove off to that London.
The journey was uneventful apart from a traffic queue on the Newham expressway and we arrived only 15 minutes late (a record for me!).
The flat owner welcomed us to the apartment, coming out onto the street to guide us into the underground car park and our allotted space. She gave us a tour of the apartment, including important information about the little eccentricities of the microwave, fan oven, dripping tap in the bath (don’t let your toes drift into its path, it’s hot!) and, manna to my ears, invited us to ‘use up anything in the cupboards’. To someone more accustomed to renting holiday villas or apartments this was the main advantage of a house swap; it was just like being in your own house but better. We had all of the advantages of home; Wi-Fi, Satellite TV (although the signal was down for a lot of the time; presumably because of Storm Eva) and all the comforts of a fully stocked kitchen, together with all of the novelty of a holiday place; new restaurants to visit, good transport links to Central London and a view.
That evening we ate at Jamie’s Italian in Canary Wharf. It was, sadly, unmemorable except for one thing; the toilets. They were a Victorian plumbing dream. From the second you walked into the women’s loos you are surrounded by the most beautiful tiling and decoration. There were clean and simple small brick shaped green tiles on the walls of each cubicle plus a stylish cistern bearing the legend ‘Crapper’s Valveless Waste Prevention Unit’ (or something similar – I didn’t have my notebook to hand when I visited the loo). The highlight of the evening…unfortunately.