The one thing I absolutely wanted to do during this strange year was to go on holiday to Padstow. Like everyone, we’ve seen a ridiculous number of things cancelled this year, but I kept telling myself that, as long as we could go to Padstow, it would be OK. We go on holiday to Padstow every single year and we always go self-catering (apart from last year when we had a short break in an Airbnb).
It didn’t look good for a while. Holiday places were only allowed to open from 4th July and our initial booking was cancelled. We were offered a different house for a holiday two weeks later, which wasn’t ideal as it would have clashed with GCSE results day. There was the potential for a holiday in the building we’d originally booked, but a different apartment, on the original date. In the end, we ended up at at yet another flat in the original building, a week after we’d originally booked.
This was all slightly stressful, but to me it didn’t really matter exactly where we went or when we went, as long as we went. Huge credit to Harbour Holidays for sorting that out for us. No doubt they had the same situation for many other people too.
There were new covid-19 rules when we arrived at the house too, but nothing too arduous. Usually, you can get inside a self-catering property from 2pm on arrival day, then you have to be out by 10am on your departure day. With the extra cleaning required for coronavirus, including door handles and light switches, arrival time was 5pm and departure time was 9am. As we always set off from home at 6am and arrive in Padstow at around 10am to beat the worst of the traffic, that’s not ideal. But it’s OK when you’re in your favourite place in the world. My sister had a self-catering holiday in Padstow a couple of weeks before us and she couldn’t get into her house until 7pm.
The flat definitely did look very clean inside, but then they usually do. It was good to feel confident that literally everything was hygienically clean though. As a germaphobe, I do always feel slightly uncomfortable for the first few hours in a self-catering place. I wonder whether the previous people actually washed the glasses and cutlery properly, or whether they just rinsed them up under the tap or gave them a wipe with a dirty dishcloth. Is that just me? Despite the cleanliness, my daughter still decided to go round and wipe all the door handles and light switches with anti-bacterial wipes – much to my husband and son’s amusement.
Normally in holiday houses there will be a small supply of board games and books for rainy days (which you are always guaranteed in Padstow!). Sometimes there are CDs and DVDs. At one house we stayed in, there was even an Xbox and games. Due to coronavirus, all of these things had been removed. This is completely understandable. You can’t clean a book or a board game easily. We never look at the books, CDs or DVDs, but we do usually play Scrabble or Monopoly. Literally the only times we play board games are at Christmas and when we’re on holiday. We missed the Scrabble so much that we took a special trip into Wadebridge to buy it. We had been warned in advance that these things would be missing, but we didn’t actually have our own Scrabble to bring from home.
We were also warned that there would no cushions or ornaments – other things which are hard to clean and unnecessary. Cushions and ornaments can give a holiday house its character, but we didn’t miss them.
I did miss a clothes horse to hang washing on and a shelf or cabinet in the bathroom to store my toothbrush and deodorant, but I suspect the lack of those wasn’t too do with coronavirus and was more down to creating a flat that looked beautiful, but wasn’t 100% functional.
At the end of the week, we had to strip the beds and bag the sheets, as well as bag the towels. To be honest, we always strip the beds and collect the towels together into one pile to help the cleaners. This isn’t usually something we are required to do, but we do it to be helpful.
Cleaners usually empty the bins at the end of the week, with holidaymakers emptying them during the week. But due to covid-19, we had to empty all of the bins and put the rubbish out ourselves at the end of our stay. They also took away the recycling facilities, which I couldn’t see any logic in. We ended up taking our recycling home to Gloucestershire, because facilities are woeful in Padstow even under normal circumstances and there was no way I was throwing it away.
We were even advised by the holiday company to bring food with us, to avoid overcrowding the supermarket. There is one small Tesco in Padstow and it gets rammed at the best of times. I do tend to take a fair bit with me anyway, but we also usually have a few trips to Tesco. So I took a bit more stuff with me than usual, which was easier with one less person in the car as my eldest didn’t go with us. We also timed our two Tesco trips for quieter times.
So that’s what a self-catering holiday looks like during covid-19. It’s a bit different, but not very different, and most of the time you don’t notice the differences at all. I’m just so glad we were still able to go away.
Look out for Padstow during covid-19 in my next post.