Next morning, still alive, it was such an amazing feeling to wake up. Bed was very warm due to its electric mattress, and I have to say, I’ve been missing putting my feet on a wooden floor when climbing out of the bed. The house felt familiar by now, no weird noises anymore, and we both got the cottagy feeling we were after.
I spotted some books written by our host Adele Nozedar about garden foraging and cooking traditional sweets, and could easily imagine someone working on ideas, recipes and photos in this atmosphere. When the sun came up, the house was amazingly lit, and I felt sad at the prospect of returning to our little Victorian conversion in noisy Brixton. It was such a short stay: should we have stayed for another night, we would have felt more at home for sure, and started planning if we could return with friends or family, and how soon.
There is a four-hour hike to the highest peak in South Wales, Pen y Fan, but skipping that we just rambled a little bit around the house and hills close to it. I heard a sound of a stream when we stepped outside, and curiously we set to investigate. On the big yard, which is on two levels, there was a magnificent tree by the stream; the tree’s drooping branches covered with bright green and greyish moss. The bridge over the stream lead to a fairy tale like area, and I was sure that little Welsh hill-trolls were crouching underneath the tiny little mounds formed of grass and earth. There were wires tied to a tree and disappearing in the distance, fallen trees with scary looking forms and fresh, cold Welsh air to breath.
After an hour’s rambling, we jumped in the car and started to drive towards Talybont-on-Usk to drop off the key at the village shop. But as we desperately wanted to extend our stay in the area, we popped into the Old Barn Tea Room just a few minutes drive away from the lodge, as Adele had mentioned it as a tasty stop along the way.
Ah, heavens on earth, the Tea Room was so welcoming for weary (yeah, strolling around for and hour takes its toll…) travellers. The barn which served as the Tea Room was old-fashioned and spacey with beams on the roof, and there was a selection of traditional cakes on display, of which the creamy strawberry cake caught my attention immediately. The coffee was by far the best I had on the whole trip, and the stop was the perfect ending to our little Welsh experience.
And, perhaps subconsciously, I forgot my hat on the Tea Room’s table.
Maybe Wales could be a place to hang my hat more permanently?
All in all, my first Airbnb experience was a success, and I will definitely use it again. I liked the fact that the place welcomes you into the area through the eyes of someone actually living there, and I did not miss the feeling of waking up in a sterile hotel room bed, knowing that I would be surrounded by dozens identical beds. In a word, I liked the uniqueness of Airbnb. I also liked the fact of heating up the house with real fire, and the smell brought back memories of my first remote experience, when working in a luxury fishing lodge, Delphi Lodge, in the western coast of Ireland, and being responsible of firing the lodge’s fireplaces before dinner time. And when do the scentless hotel rooms evoke memories like these in us?
Avalon Lodge was a perfect getaway for my London-weary mind, and both of us got a bit hype on the idea of actually moving to Wales. But then, approaching London during the blue hour, gliding in a stream of cars in between tall, glassy and shiny buildings, a greenish dome here and there, billboards towering towards the sky, I did sigh, and admitted: this is the city to live in.
That is, at least for now.