Going home - only somewhere else

Going home - only somewhere else

Perhaps it was the romantic view of turreted Tigh Mor or the seductive Tuscan haze of Stigliano that captivated me as I leafed through the travel section of a smart magazine.

Then again there was the reassuring smile of Ms Chalmers – a lady well trusted to know about such things. After all, if it was good enough for Judith then surely it was at least worth finding out more. At the time a modest endowment was about to mature, and the idea of doing something special and interesting with it had been a source of on-and-off discussion for some weeks. No harm in sending off the coupon, I thought. “You’ll be pestered forever!” was the comment from Other Half, ever the source of encouragement.

On the contrary, having perused the papers in the pack which followed and drooling over the glossy pictures, we forgot about them until the arrival of an invitation to visit Sibton Park, a short drive from our home in Kent. This was all in 2004 and, needless to say, we plunged in. Within a few weeks we were fully signed up and booking our first break: a half-week at Le Mont de St Siméon in the Île de France.

Warm glow

Stepping inside our homely, pristine cottage, with its welcome tray, tasteful décor and quality, sink-into-me furnishings provided the comfortable, warm glow to be repeated many times wherever we happen to be in HPB World. The very knowledge that everything’s going to be up to scratch on arrival adds to the anticipation and gets each holiday kick-started in a cosy, familiar manner!

It has to be said in all fairness that HPB is not for everyone. If self-catering and the freedom afforded by flexible timing and local exploration fail to constitute one’s idea of a perfect holiday, then not even HPB’s assurance of cleanliness, quality and attention to detail are likely to change that. But to those who happily embrace HPB and its advantages nothing beats that almost magical anticipation of arriving at the site.

For the first four years as Bondholders we headed abroad. Trips to Saint Siméon and Constant were worked into meandering itineraries which enabled us to visit friends en route. Having found La Reserva de Biniorella in August rather too hot for our taste we began going there in February: an early Mallorcan spring, alive with almond-blossom, is definitely a morale boost after a long winter!

Beautiful Britain

More recently, the decision was made to get HPB-ing on home soil: time for the car to head northward for a change! Yorkshire it was, then – to Lodge Yard and the Dales, soon to be followed by a foray into the splendid Lake District, with Braithwaite Court as our base. Having walked ourselves ragged both times and been bowled over in both places by the beauty of our own country it is certain that more British sites will be on our list – among our foreign favourites, of course.

So, has HPB served us well so far? Well, 13 HPB holidays later we’re still hooked! From a stately apartment in Le Manoir du Hilguy in Brittany to the heights of Encosta Cabo Girão in Madeira, the sheer variety of the sites has never yet disappointed. Now in the enviable position of being able to take advantage of the Points-free system, we feel we’ve hardly started!

Mostly, our Holiday Points will be used to enable our children and their families to enjoy HPB in the future. In time we hope that all our offspring will be singing the praises of the HPB style of holidays: a subtle, please-yourself blend of homely comforts and new discoveries.

Thank you, Ms Chalmers – we knew you’d be right!

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