6 June 2008
Homestay, Billingham, Cleveland, England
Free of Charge
54°36'53.31"N 1°18'32.21"W
2 bedrooms including all meals
Private Arrangement


Again, we booked into this homestay at the insistence of the owners, and again even although there weren't enough beds to go around it seemed pleasant enough to give it a go. This homestay is a very pleasant single story house in a rather posh housing estate in Billingham, close to Middlesboro in the county of Cleveland/Teeside (depending on the age of the person you speak to). While Billingham doesn't have the colliery village atmosphere of Armthorpe, all of the surrounding neighbours seem pleasant enough.

The smallish but beautiful gardens are lovingly tended, and include a veggie garden and greenhouse containing various tomato and strawberry plants.

Originally a 3 bedroom house, the room behind the lounge was converted into a dining area almost 25 years ago, leaving a very large open plan living and dining area. The second (originally 3rd) bedroom is a bit on the small side and used as a storage area with wardrobes and drawers filled to capacity and a computer room. There is also a single bed for the occasional visitor, and the owners have a blow up mattress, perfectly sized to fit between the bed and wardrobe/computer desk, although opening the door or getting to the computer is a little difficult when it is in place. As during all previous visits, this mattress is not necessary, as where ever I sleep, Peter insists on joining me as soon as he thinks I'm asleep - whether he sneaks down to the mattress or up into the bed. During the night I regularly change where I'm sleeping, but every time I wake up he's realised that I'm not there and snuggled in next to me.

I should point out at this stage that there are strange, animal-like noises emmitting from the adjoining bedroom, but you become accustomed to them fairly quickly - just like living next to a railway track.

Meals are excellent here too, if again a little on the large side, and are usually followed by pudding. The owners here also have various health problems so it should be a fat and sugar free home, but there are generous supplies of everything that shouldn't eaten on hand 24 hours a day. Healthy cereal for breakfast is often followed by bacon, sausage, egg and fried bread unless you are very insistent that you couldn't possibly eat them. A light lunch and a healthy dinner follow, but there appears to be a lot of snacking going on between meals, and this seems to go on right until bedtime. The co-owner is not a snacker or big eater though, and has recently joined a seniors gym class which she attends 3 mornings per week doing light cardio and weight lifting exercises and appears to be doing her a great deal of good.

There is a seemingly non-stop stream of visits from members of the extended family, and surprisingly (as with the previous homestay) Peter says the little ones get away with things he would never have dared to try when he was their age.

There is ADSL internet available in the computer room/2nd bedroom, but a very strong and stable unsecured WiFi connection was being picked up from all area's of the house and garden - this actually saved me a lot of work as I was going to install a Wireless Router in the computer room on arrival so that I could test various applications with my new iPhone for which WiFi is the only way possible (unless you are either rich or stupid and pay for EDGE).

The homestay also comes with a 24 hour on-call chauffeur, complete with a very comfortable large car which was also available for our use should we be brave enough to drive it.

Excellent, hospitable homestay, and without hesitation we'll be back there at every given opportunity.