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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Stable Cottage – Not a Thoroughbred.

During the three weeks needed to refurbish our UK base we stayed in the holiday rental Stable Cottage of Watermill Farm, Kirkby Green, Lincoln, LN4 3PE.

When we entered the cottage, based on the website advertising, we were expecting to find a well groomed thoroughbred. Initial impressions were that perhaps we had, but as in the case of buying such an animal it is the close inspection that defines the truth. Regrettably what we found was an unkempt hack.

Directly opposite the main entrance, in fact the only entrance, is the kitchen, a very important room. On our first brief look around it appeared satisfactory except that there is only a fridge, no freezer, not even a fridge freezer. It was pointed out to us that there is a cabinet freezer in an out house. There is a washing machine but no tumble drying facilities in the property. It was pointed out that there is a tumble dryer available in the garage of the main house. Both locations are in different directions.

On arrival we didn't look any further into the kitchen facilities as we had to get to 'Sainsburys in Lincoln for provisions' However on our return it became apparent that there was insufficient cupboard space to store non-refrigerated food items. As a result these items had to be left on the worktops. It was at this time that we became aware that the kitchen had not been cleaned properly by either the owners or the previous occupiers. There were food crumbs lying in the corners and edges of both cupboards and worktops, and as experience has shown in other holiday rental properties, crumbs were left in the electric toaster. The stainless steel sink wasn't. The cure for this was a newly purchased green sink scourer, cream cleanser, bleach, and freely available elbow grease.

When we started to cook it soon became obvious that the equipment was limited and basic, below the standard we expected. The cleanliness of the oven of the cooker and the extractor fan above was unsatisfactory. The housing of the latter being covered in a film of grease with the disposable filter obviously way past its useful life, clearly indicated by the prominence of the visible bright red strip markings.

The time came to put the frozen food in the freezer in the outbuilding that houses three grass cutting machines, situated approximately 30 metres behind the cottage. The location is totally unacceptable. It is dirty, there is no where to deal with food other than in the cottage, necessitating multiple journeys to and fro, and insufficient lighting. In the autumn and winter months of the year when the dark nights arrive very early this is far from satisfactory.

A further problem that we experienced every morning in the kitchen was the sweet sickly smell of oil (diesel) from the, hot water and central heating, boiler situated in there. The first task when preparing breakfast was to turn on the greasy extractor fan to remove the burnt oil fumes. The kitchen is far too small to have the boiler in. An alternative location for it should have been sought so the property didn't contain the smell of burning oil.

At the time for bed one could not help but be impressed by the main bedroom with its high beamed ceiling and large window. First impressions are misleading. One can only look at the ceiling but the most important item in the room is the bed. This was far from satisfactory. The mattresses that made up the super king size double bed (two single beds combined) are shot, being way past their best, with large central sunken areas of ineffective springs. Several of the pillows were badly stained and none had pillow protectors or covers between inferior pillow and pillow slip.

Duvets are provided, rather than blankets, and for the first few nights we found we were cold in bed and as there were no spare blankets we used the duvet from the second bedroom as extra bedding. On checking we found that the owners had only provided a low tog value, summer, duvet and this being November was totally inadequate. On pointing their error to the owners a winter replacement was provided. There should not have been a need to ask. At the end of a week when it was time to change the bedding for clean duvet cover, sheet and pillow slips there were not enough of these provided and the wrong size sheet was given. The clean bedding was made up of a mishmash of items, not what one would expect. The poor quality bedding complimented the poor quality bed!

Wash day soon arrived and it was time to use the washing machine to clean our clothes. It is an easy model to understand the programmes to use, and the first hurdle was covered leaving just the detergent powder and fabric softener dispenser tray to negotiate. What greeted us can only be described as appalling. The tray and surrounding area was dirty with mould and slim, obviously totally omitted from any cleaning schedule.

The damp, misty, dull, and short winter days require the use of a tumble dryer to complete the drying and airing of the clothes and as mentioned before this is located in the garage of the main house, some 30 yards from the cottage. A shopping bag is needed to carry the washing as no laundry basket is provided. One has to hope the dryer is not in use when needed, otherwise there is the 'toing and froing' similar to the journeys to the freezer.

Not only did we use the washing machine for the clothes but also to try and clean the safety non-slip mat for the shower which was trying not to be outdone by the washing machine drawer. Despite attempts of both hand and machine washing we were unable to remove all the dirt and mould from the underside of the mat. It should have replaced by the owners before our rental.

Returning to the main bedroom with its high beamed ceiling this picturesque feature presents two problems to users.

Because of the height and volume of the ceiling area any heat supplied by the underfloor heating in the room is convected up into the void leaving the lower area cold, even with the thermostat set in the high twenties. Because of the design of the roof it acts as an acoustic sound resonator of the traffic using the road which is less than 25 metres away. Despite it being a countryside road there is a considerably larger volume of traffic than expected especially between 05:30 to 08:30 hrs. This resulted in a disturbed morning sleep. Despite not wanting to get up into a cold bedroom there was not point in lying in bed. High volumes of traffic noise were experience again from 16:00 to 18:00 hrs.

Our stay at Stable Cottage was less than satisfactory and not value for money despite paying a discounted rental. We believe that the property was not prepared properly and a review of the quality of facilities, furniture, and equipment needs to be undertaken if it wants to be considered as a thoroughbred, as the advertising suggests it is.

Click on any photograph to see an enlargement.

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