Monday, 5 March 2007

Edwardian Towers

Edwardian Towers is vast and looming in the raining darkness. When we get there we find all the lights blazing, and the house deserted. The door creaks open and inside there's total silence, except for the ticking of a clock. I half expect Vincent Price or Peter Lorre to emerge from the dining room. Roger Corman would be sitting in a swivel chair in the lounge.

We try and make a lot of noise on the wooden floor and bang the front door a few times. After about ten minutes a youthful Mrs P bounces into the vast hallway. I'm sure she looks like Ligeia, but perhaps it's just the stunning black hair.

We're shown the family room, which is probably about the floor area of our entire house. Squirrel gets a double bed all to herself; Tiger immediately goes for the bed next to the fridge, and Shark heads off to the bed near the huge window where she reasons she can watch the birds in the morning. The bed that me and Dig get looks like it should be reserved for royalty. It's possibly the largest bed I've ever seen and may be the size of a small Pacific island. I wonder if there are special sheets Ligeia has to buy or whether she gets them made specially.

Ligeia bounces in and out, fussing over us, talking about when we might take dinner and how the hens have been waiting for us all day to drop eggs for tomorrow's breakfast.

We're the only guests in the hotel. It's deeply out of season, and it's deeply embedded in the hills, at the end of a single-track stretch, twisting and turning from the main road. Everything is slightly unreal, from the soaring stone turrets and the bathroom towels which are several inches thick, to Ligeia herself. She should be lying in a coffin somewhere waiting for darkness, and there she is, bouncing up and down, beaming a huge smile. But I lock the room door, just in case.

And after a comfortable night, and breakfast, the room's cleared, the bill's paid, and Monday 1pm comes, and we all squeeze inside Re's Cottage. It's a bit of a trial, and with the estate agent there, plus her clipboard, we need a rota for turning round in the only downstairs room. Dig's still optimistic. The ventilation shaft is still there, not wheezing now, but huge and solid, waiting for opening time.

Now we can only think about the bolthole. It's less than thirty minutes drive away from Edwardian Towers and Ligeia. Unlike last night, inside the bolthole we can stack the kids and Aunty Dee up, one above the other, with ladders to connect them. Me and Dig would have our feet in the fireplace and our heads in the fridge. Are we mad for even thinking it?