Unless absolutely necessary, I tend to avoid bed and breakfasts. I’ve stayed in many around Ireland and most experiences are nothing to write about – unless in a negative manner. Last year’s May Bank Holiday we were forced into B&B accommodation in Westport by weather unsuitable for camping. After we spent the evening avoiding a particularly racist guest, breakfast was enlivened by talk of the May Day flowers that had been left for our piseog-loving landlady. There was a landlady in Navan who thought we were only staying one night and could only offer us bed, no breakfast, for the second night. The best of the lot, however, has to be the Carlingford B&B where the bedroom was painted blood red – the walls, the ceiling, the skirting board, the bathroom even had a matching red toilet and bath! Most disturbing, I spent the night having nightmares about being trapped in a womb.
The one exception that I’ve come across in Ireland is a B&B just outside Ballymoney in County Antrim, that myself and the Husband stayed in years ago. We had a large, comfortable room, it was run by friendly but not too nosy proprietors and, best of all, they had alternatives to the usual fry-up breakfast – smoked salmon, pancakes and French toast were all for the eating if you gave notice the night before.
This weekend, en route to a wedding in Scotland, we discovered another wonderful B&B. We flew in to Inverness on Friday and, after searching through Organicholidays.co.uk, decided to spent the night at Shenval B&B. The Husband used to do a lot of walking in Glen Affric and was familiar with the area so, after hiring a car, we proceeded onwards to Drumnadrochit and went to stay with Pierre and Christiane Lebrun. Shenval is a small but comfortable B&B, with just three rooms (we ended up in the twin!) and a shared bathroom. After an afternoon snooze, an essential part of any holiday, we followed Pierre’s advice and took walked to Corrimony Cairn, just far enough to encourage enough appetite for dinner.
We sat down to the table with a pair of French birdwatchers, for a simple but substantial feed of Scottish specialities – haggis with clapshot, a mixture of turnip and potatoes, followed by Cranachan (a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey, and fresh raspberries topped with toasted oatmeal). With dinner, the four of us shared a bottle of wine which we had brought along, sitting over tea and shortbread afterwards with Pierre and Christiane. A relaxed breakfast the following morning, complete with tattie scone and homemade bread, set us up nicely for the day ahead. As we left to drive to Lossiemouth, Pierre and Christiane stood at the door to wave us off, making the whole experience feel more like a visit to friends than a necessary evil. Dinner, bed and breakfast for two was £70. Money well spent.