There were some things about it that didn’t seem right. It did look like a normal hotel; that was true. But there were some odd things. At first, it just seemed as odd as any new place we’d never been before. But rather than fading away back to the normal, the ordinary, things started getting stranger.
The hotel itself was old. It was a coaching inn, dating back to about the 1700s. It was the typical white and black of the era with exposed beams in the roofs, heavy wooden panels on the walls and uneven floors and ceilings that undulated as though caught as a frozen sea.
The inn itself was in one of those small out of the way villages that find themselves – through happenstance and the vagaries of landscape - as a place people will go for holidays.
Now Cathy and I were older, without a herd of screaming children in tow, we no longer had to make the annual pilgrimage to the seashore. Cathy has never been that fond of flying – not since that summer of 1978 anyway, for what I suppose are obvious enough reasons. She says still has occasional nightmares about the flaming plane skidding along the runway in the dark and the rain.
Anyway, I think I first noticed something was not right about the hotel when we were ambling back to our room from a rather pleasant - and very filling - long dinner on the first evening. There were pictures along the wall, climbing up the wall alongside the rickety and creaky staircase. Some were drawings and paintings, as well as some from seemingly all stages of the history of photography.
What struck me, though, were the faces of many of those who stood in awkward poses outside the hotel for the formal photographs, and those caught by the painter or sketch artists. Many of those people in the pictures looked the same in each picture, not just as in a family likeness, but the same as though someone had inserted themselves into the historical pieces at a later date. It reminded me of something: some film, or book where someone had done something of that nature, inserting themselves into old photographs of significant events for some reason I was not sure of.
Then, as I noticed this, I also noticed that the stairs and the corridors of the hotel seemed to shift and alter with staircases not ended where you’d expect and corridors leading away from where you wanted to go, instead of towards it. I put all this confusion down to it being a strange place and the unfamiliar wine - and other alcohol - with the meal.
But, as I said, these confusions did not ease as the holiday progressed, they became worse – then it stopped being a holiday altogether and became something very different.