Our next camping trip, to Devon, required a bit of organising.
We planned to stay at the Little Meadow Campsite for over a week, so decided to take our larger Air beam tent. Meaning that our trailer and car would once again be packed full of all sorts of must have equipment for such an expedition!
We decided to stop overnight in Leeds, roughly half way from Glasgow to North Devon but finding a hotel or B&B that would be able to accommodate a trailer, was proving difficult.
During our online search, we would regularly see notifications for Airbnb accommodation and quickly discovered that we had more options available to us regards parking up our trailer. We had never used Airbnb before and the thought of staying in someone’s house seemed awkward but the more we looked into it and with the discovery of a mansion in a perfect spot in Leeds, we decided to register with Airbnb and book a room in the mansion for two nights. What’s the worst that could happen?
The reason we had booked for two nights was to solve another planning issue which we had created. Whilst checking out Leeds, we discovered that there was a Let’s Rock 80’s music festival on at the same time as we were passing by, so we bought a couple of tickets and then worked out how we would make it all fit together. Staying two nights in Leeds would help as we could arrive at the mansion and chill the first night then get up the next day, head to Leeds centre, go to the festival, head back to the mansion and be up early the next day to continue with our journey to North Devon with happy memories of 80’s music and staying in a mansion.
There was only one more thing to organise. The small matter of our small dog Sam!
Sam had never stayed overnight in a kennel before but it was becoming clear that he would have to on this occasion. Our Airbnb was dog friendly so that was sorted but if we were to go to the festival, Sam would need somewhere to stay during the day and overnight. We would pick him up on our way to North Devon. Sorted! At least on paper.
Aileen and I love organising but sometimes it’s a pain and this trip was beginning to feel like that but we were sure it would all work out ok in the end. Our positive mindset, organisation and willingness to take a risk and try new things has become our mantra.
The Airbnb mansion was located in a quiet but strangely average residential area of Leeds. This made it less than straightforward to find as we must have passed the entrance a couple of times as we drove up and down nearby street. Typical streets with typical two up two down houses. A mansion would have looked completely out of place. We began to wonder if we had just booked a fake Airbnb! Then by pure chance we were passing a sharp corner in the road and spotted gates and a long driveway. This had to be it. Tucked away off the main road and surrounded by a large garden, we could just about see a large house.
We made our way up the drive which split, creating a full circle, passing the front door. We took the left split and parked up in a spot that could accommodate our car and trailer. We were reasonably sure that we were at the correct address but the surroundings and the need for us to walk up to the large door of a mansion, ring the bell and find out for sure was still a bit unnerving. As it turned out, it was the correct address and we were met by a friendly girl in her mid-twenties who explained that she was the owner’s girlfriend. She showed us around, making us feel welcome in a chilled efficiency that must come from being used to strangers staying in her house. We would reflect back to this moment a few years later, when we were also considering becoming Airbnb hosts.
Our host informed us that she was going out to the pub with friends, so we would be home alone. ‘Just make yourself at home and make use of the kitchen, if you want to make something to eat’ and with that, she was gone!
Although it still felt odd, being left alone in a large house that we had only just arrived at less than an hour earlier, it also felt relaxing. Possibly because of our reception and, after a quick look around, it became apparent that our mansion was a work in progress. The ‘games room’ was full of clutter and DIY equipment. Other areas were closed off or under renovation, so it felt less intimidating and more down to earth. We also decided to go to the pub!
The local pub was dog friendly, had nice food and board games were available. I attempted to show Aileen how to play chess, to the amusement of our fellow drinkers. All adding to the general feeling of relaxation this stopover in Leeds was creating.
On return to our mansion for the night, we were unsure what to expect but all was quiet and we made our way up the narrow stairs to our bedroom at the top of the house, with a view over the large back garden. We drifted off to sleep but were soon awoken by the noise of several voices. Had our host come back from the pub and started a party – oh no! I tried to fine tune where the voices were coming from and soon worked out that they were coming from the back garden, right outside our window – oh no! I made my way to the window to investigate, fearing the worst but was met with a sight that can only be seen when you are looking out an English mansion window onto a large back garden at 2am in the morning. There below us was a game of Cricket in full swing, floodlight by a combination of the moon, candles and torches. Aileen and I just looked at each other, shook our heads and jumped back into bed.
The next morning was interesting. Aileen and I were up early as we had to take Sam to the Kennels then return and park up our car next to our trailer before then heading to Leeds town centre to figure out how to get to the Let’s Rock festival. As was walked into the kitchen, we discovered someone sleeping on a nearby couch with Pizza boxes and beer cans lying nearby. Again, it created a feeling that we were intruding but as we sat eating our breakfast and watched this extremely hungover guy try to make sense of his surrounding before disappearing out the front door, we felt more relaxed. At least we’d had a bedroom.
I won’t dwell too much on our Let’s Rock festival.
Suffice to say that we are experienced festival goers and we were disappointed in this one. The music was perfect with The Human League, Tony Hadley, Howard Jones, ABC, Roland Gift, Kid Creole, From the Jam and A Flock of Seagulls but the venue setup didn’t help. The toilets were out the way on top of a hill, the stage had a ‘VIP’ area in front of it, so regular folks like us were kept at a distance. The bar was badly organised with no real queuing system that worked anyway and our bus back to Leeds town centre involved a 2 hour wait!
Anyway, it was an interesting couple of days that created memories and some experiences that would be helpful a couple of years later but we still had one final job before we headed south. It was time to collect Sam from the kennel. Let’s just say he looked miserable and was in a major huff with us! Hopefully by the time we had reached Little Meadow Campsite, North Devon, he would have forgiven us.