I arrived at the Bluebell Hotel in Middlesbrough. I was confused by the building, there was a lot of ‘hotel’ stuck on the side of it. To be honest, I first thought it was 1960’s social housing and I wasn’t sure if I was in the right car park.
I checked in and was given the key to my room. Room 13. Unlucky. I walked down the corridor of doom and was reminded, especially because of some of the signage, of the nuclear bunker we visited in the summer.
I text Adam, ‘I’ve arrived in 1960’s Warsaw. I’m going to go and queue for some bread now.’
Down in the bar a couple in their 50’s (late 40’s? Hard life?) were making out/ getting it on – full on! I circumnavigated them and made my way to a cubbyhole where I perused the menu and counted the number of different patterns used in the furnishing and decor. Fourteen.
I also kept an eye on the man in the hunting jacket with the ‘God of Vengeance’ book. Just as I was tucking into my burger and curly fries a man went by and said, ‘Eating alone love?!’ followed by a loud sniggery laugh.
My burger was alright really, and the staff we all very nice, but I felt quite uncomfortable so I hurried off back to room 13.
There was something slightly ‘holiday prefab’ about the place, but a bit (lot) more prison or institution-like. I locked the door and piled my bags against it.
I was treated to loud snoring and mild flatulence from my neighbour, and then silence. It was a very quiet night. The mattress was lumpy and clunky, I rolled into the middle (where the two singles joined) and managed to get wedged there, fairly comfortably, for the duration.
The only real problem (considering the price!) I had was the damp and the mould. I woke up quite wheezy with red swollen eyes, a runny nose and a swollen mouth.
The lady on reception was either used to this effect on guests, or so shocked by the state of my face that she immediately offered to move me upstairs for my second nights stay. I thought about it, and then I cried.
The staff were very lovely to me, and they didn’t charge me a pip, but I felt so poorly I just wanted to get out of there. I checked out, got it the car, took an antihistamine and ate my oversized chocolate coin.
I drove to Hartlepool, put on my big old army coat and went for a walk by the sea.
All things made much better by the cold air, bright sun and glistening sand, I headed over to Cleveland College of Art and Design to talk (more on that here) to a really friendly bunch of Photography students in a most awesome Victorian building.
I looked like I’d had a really heavy night on the Whiskey and had to explain to the students that this was most definitely not the case. Probably affirming their beliefs that this really was most definitely the case! They were very kind to me, everyone was lovely, and I left feeling that all the mouldy-tramp-face had been worth it.
Over to Rachel’s house for a lovely dinner with her parents, then on to Hardwick Hall Hotel (where I would have stayed had it not been fully booked) to a ‘party night’ where Rachel was representing the charity she works for, Daisy Chain.
By pimping raffle tickets we managed to raise £230. Then we judged a dance competition, (won by a man who did the worm, obviously!) watched a bit of an embarrassing Fake That band, and went home, after spotting these shoes on The Spice Girls biggest fan!
I left Rachel’s at 10.30pm and drove home. Much of the A1 was closed and it took me 4 hours, but it was so much better than staying in a bad hotel, and although Rachel’s family would have kindly put me up, I needed to get home – two fat cats were waiting for me, one happy to see me, and one still angry I’d left!