I must have read this little piece in some travel magazine in a dentist’s waiting room, so it was way before COVID and the associated suggestion that anything you touched might carry the virus!! It’s always amazing just how many copies of magazines are published weekly and monthly; in the UK it’s about 2800 magazines each year. The more upmarket the dentist’s Practice, the more up-to-date the reading material.
If you don’t buy magazines, then arriving slightly earlier than the appointed time will give you a chance to catch up; fortunately the days of year-old magazines seems to have disappeared! Some of you may remember I saw a photograph in one-such magazine of a chap doing yoga and sweating profusely; this led to me asking a friend what type of yoga made you sweat and off we went to the Bikram Yoga Studio in Balham one Wednesday evening. That class was on 11th March 2009; never looked back and now it’s a vital part of my life.
I digress; I think it best to simply reproduce the story entitled ‘The Holiday Swap’ verbatim:
“Annie and I had thought for some time about doing a house swap abroad for a couple of week’s holiday. We had read how people had become frequent ‘swappers’ and had loved the random nature of the places available to them. Not for them the standard Time Share in Torremolinos in Spain (Note 1) or the second home on the Falmouth Estuary in Cornwall. We had invested in neither but, knowing that we were swapping with someone who was going to live in our home, it felt like we could trust the arrangements. What could go wrong, I thought? (Note 2) We would each treat the others’ house as our own. One advertisement stood out from hundreds of others on www.holidayswapsfunguaranteed.com , a beach house in the Bahamas.
“We’re open to swapping with a professional non-smoking couple for two weeks in May. No children. Go to www.seashorevilla.co.bs for photos etc.” Nice and simple; their website showed a beach house in Red Bay on the north of the largest island, one we could easily live in and Trip Advisor confirmed others had loved it.
Once we had established what would be included and what not, for instance car insurance, and would they look after our cats, eventually we decided this was ‘good to go’, as they say.
“Tropical Storm Rupert has the potential to turn into a hurricane and may head towards the coast of Florida and further east”; the radio murmured in the background as I put the final items into the suitcase and I rue the day that that particular news item didn’t register, didn’t have me reaching for a map. Instead we simply locked the house front door and headed to the airport.
We flew into Nassau in the Bahamas a few hours late and found our little aeroplane that would take us out to the island. A friendly customs official informed us that, although Tropical Storm Rupert had not developed into a hurricane as forecast, the west coast had suffered a very small tidal surge 12 hours before; a certain amount of damage had occurred. We gulped as we recalled that our villa was on that side, but the sun was shining and we hoped our ‘seashore villa’ would be intact. On landing, a taxi took us on our way and we looked expectantly around every bend on the road, glancing down at a photograph of the villa and trying to identify it.
We both shrieked, for there it was ….. in a very sorry state …… a corner of the tiled roof had been torn off, the sea-side of the house was missing six feet, two of the supports for the decking had been washed away leaving it at a crazy angle and a palm tree lent drunkenly across the carport. Fortunately the taxi driver was able to suggest a couple of local hotels and, after a few telephone calls, we found a more suitable location for our two weeks in the tropical sun.
“Oh well” we thought; at least David and Ted will have a great time in Clapham.
(Over in London )
“Look! Here it is, No 11 Elms Road” exclaimed David to his husband Ted, as they peered out of the cab at the wide Victorian mid-terraced house. It sort-of looked like the photos Annie and Mike had sent us – but we glanced up and down the street and realised they all looked the same.
The keys are under the flower pot. We lifted the edge of the pot, found some house keys, and opened the front door. It was much as we expected although in our mind’s eye the decoration was a little different. And where were the cats, we thought? We had been there an hour when we were startled to hear a key being put in the front door lock ……
We had got confused between ‘Elms Road’ and ‘Elms Row”. Thirty minutes later, as we were unpacking in the right house, David’s mobile rang.
“David. It’s Mike in The Bahamas. I am afraid I have some very bad news …..”
It was attributed to Mike Palette. Sort of puts you off doing something like this, doesn’t it?
Richard 12th August 2022
PS In this Tuesday’s Times a news story about The Bahamas and a shark attack!!
Note 1 My mother and step-father almost got sucked into investing in a Time Share apartment in the Algarve, such was their popularity in the 1980s; fortunately they decided against it. And then, a year after I moved to London in 1987 I spent an evening off Leicester Square in London, listening to a very polished ‘Time Share’ sale’s pitch. I had actually gone for the amusement and to take away the ‘Silver Tea Set’ – available with no commitment! It wouldn’t have lasted 2 days of use!
Note 2 Somehow reading this I know something bad’s going to happen!