Be high or low, the road from France to Scotland is a long one, therefore within my route planning I must include stopovers in hotels.

Hotels, are those commercial establishments providing board and lodging, for their paying guests. To qualify as a hotel, an establishment must have a minimum of six letting bedrooms, at least three of which must have attached (en suite) private bathroom facilities.

 I have not actually stayed in a British hotel since 1974. I daresay they have changed somewhat.

Before mum opted for camping in France in the summer of 1974, our spring and summer getaways were always in hotels.

Hotel holidays. Never relaxing affairs for us kids

You had to dress up to stay in a hotel, or at least you thought you had to, because hotels were supposed to be posh. At least they were filled with people like mum,  who thought themselves posh.

Children – if the hotel accepted them – had at least, to be seen and not heard, but if they could also remain unseen, it was even better.

I remember some hotels we stayed in were actually better disposed to animals than children.

Never upset regular or long-staying residential guests. i.e. don’t run round making noise, don’t set foot in the bar and NEVER EVER change channels in the TV room, even if one of the aforementioned species of guest, has long since dozed off in front of a boring wildlife documentary, that is preventing you from watching a good film on another channel. One flick of the switch will rouse the old dinosaur and incur his Jurassic wrath, normally with the words; “How dare you! I was watching that you little XXXXXXX.” (The severity of the reproach and the expletive used depend entirely on just how much alcohol the dinosaur has imbibed at lunchtime.)

Never complain, although there was often a lot to complain about.

Taking all the above into consideration, it is a wonder why mum ever bothered with hotel holidays. We could have gone self-catering, although in the early 70’s you would talk of “renting a country cottage”.

Reasons for hotel holidays were simple

On the practical side, Gran was in her late seventies and getting just a little too much to handle for mum. I don’t know if anyone ever talked much about Alzheimer’s in the early to mid seventies. Old people simply “lost their marbles” and that was that.

Around the age of 76,  Gran got her first signs of Alzheimer’s. Memory loss, and losing control over her bodily functions. We could never be too far from a loo. Hotels provided the ideal holiday solution. There was an army of staff to wait hand and foot on Gran, something which my mum did all year at home. Other advantages to hotels – according to mum (in her own words) “no bloody housework or cooking.”

Mum didn’t have a huge salary, so she scrimped and saved all year for the hotel break, but the benefits for her must have been worth it.

Mum also liked hotels because they were posh. She was very much like Gran in this respect. You could live in a hovel, but for two weeks at the hotel, you could live in that luxury to which you were totally unaccustomed the rest of the year. Swimming pools, colour TV, waiter service at table – true trappings of luxury for us. Of course you only got this at the better hotels, but then, if you’re going to stay in a hotel, make it a good one (so said mum).

I always think that all the places we stayed, were peopled with families like us. All year bumping along the bottom, and then two weeks in a four star hotel to play at being posh. All the husbands were company directors, the wives didn’t work and the children all went to private schools. You would even find some kids who would wear their school uniforms to dinner in the evening – just to bring the point home to the rest of us. Mum never went this far, but the eternal tracksuits that she clothed us in all year, were swapped for M&S shirts and corduroy trousers.

Being a recent widow though, mum had it hard – an unaccompanied lady – other females took this as a possible threat. Therefore she invented her “husband away” stories, that she told on pretty much every holiday for the next ten years.

I think the “posh hotel” has rubbed off on me. For work or for holidays, I can’t see the point of stopping over in a “cheap hotel”. I’ve done plenty of cheap hotels in France – sleepless nights, shared loos and showers and bug bites. “You might as well ay a bit more and have somewhere decent to sleep,” mum used to say.” Couldn’t agree more.

It seems quite fitting that mum has been scattered in the Tay at  Dunkeld House – now a four star hotel, part of the Hilton chain.

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