I'm just back from the latest trip and thinking about the places we stayed and ate; which of them were great, which just ok and just what is it that makes the big difference? I've decided it all comes down to service and the general feeling of the place. Some places you just simply feel welcome and happy, others, well they just believe too much in their own myth.
I'm plagued by the fear of being "found out" that I'm not a proper fully functioning grown up, that I'm just pretending...at my job, parenting, adulthood generally. I mean sometimes I judge myself on my poor dog raising skills. Its most extreme manifestation is in a dream where I'm quivering at the edge of the 10 metre board, about to represent Great Britain with my extremely limited dive repertoire. In dreamland this consists of something called "an apron dive". No, I have no idea either and luckily I usually wake up before I find out.
I know this isn't a unique feeling, It's not just norms like me, I've read interviews of many successful people who've said the same thing. Is it this fear which keeps people and places on their toes?
We visited three places which I think may have lost that feeling. None were awful, in fact we would probably still return. But. They've all been lauded in my favourite papers, received awards from Michelin and other guides; they look the right way and serve the right things and they just, ever so slightly, make you feel like they are doing you the favour by sharing their wares, or no longer make the extra effort of the up and coming place.
You know the feeling, you've been allowed to hang out with the cool kids, just this once.
We did return somewhere that has been consistently good. We've stayed a number of times, sometimes when travelling under difficult circumstances, and we've always had a good time. Differing room grades vary in size but are all comfortable and well equipped. Food isn't innovative but its always good. And most important, the staff are always friendly and welcoming.
The Bear's Paw http://www.thebearspaw.co.uk at Warmingham, Cheshire we salute you!
They do a pretty good breakfast too.