Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sandon - a superb Armidale B&B

 P1020613 Over on Personal Reflections, Sunday Snippets - a crabby Sunday morning, continues my present somewhat crabby mood.

To ease this, I decided this morning to indulge myself by giving a special plug to Sandon B&B in Armidale. I have referred to them several times, but this is my personal targeted plug intended to get direct internet coverage.

I had gone to Armidale to deliver a paper at the University. Normally, I stay in town. This time, graduation was on and I could find no accommodation. The very friendly and efficient Louise at the Armidale Visitor Information Centre found me a room at the Sandon B&B and Woodturnery abut thirteen minutes drive outside town.

This is the story of my stay. All contact details are at the end of the post.

I left Sydney late, so that it was dark when I arrived. I had directions, but I still had some problems in finding the place. The location is beautiful in daylight, but even though there are signs, I had to stop several times to check becauseP1020615 of the trees.

Now there is a lesson. You will find it, but it is easier if you properly check the directions before you go. 

The photo shows the collected and very Australian collection of letter boxes at the junction leading down to the B&B. This is among the trees at the end of the road at the left.    

My hosts, Tini & Gerard Oude Avenhuis were waiting for me when I arrived. I was a little late, and they were worried. I had been rushing to leave Sydney, and had not rung. Best to confirm your details with them when you get the booking confirmation. 

This is not a big B&B. There is, I think, only one wonderful fully self-contained room suitable for a single or a couple. There is private access, so you are quite private.

P1020621 The next shot is of the room itself. It is a big room with a table on the side, a walk-in wardrobe, an en-suite, plus a TV and a fridge. 

That bed was quite wonderful. I was very tired when arrived, and really had the best night's sleep that I had had in ages.

Even though Tini and Gerard had moved to Armidale while I was first a very regular visitor and then living again in the city, I hadn't actually met them. So it was interesting to learn about them.

Gerard was a chemical engineer. They came to Australia under the mass migration program, where Gerard worked first in his profession in various places including Newcastle. Interesting stories there from both of a world that has now gone.  Gerard came to Armidale initially to work with the now long gone New England Milk Industries, and then did one of those career shifts to work as a technical assistant in the Theatre Studies Department at the University of New England.

P1020620 The next shot shows one of the masks Gerard made for a classical Greek tragedy, now stored in the garage.

Really Gerard did everything: set design, set construction, play organisation. Meantime, Tini became actively involved in other things, including working at PLC, one of the local girls school.

Part of Gerard's time at UNE coincided with my time as a postgrad student. We actually shared the same staff room. I was embarrassed not to remember!

I must write something on the UNE Theatre Studies Department, for it has had a remarkable influence.  

With B&B's there is sometimes a fine line between hosts who seem indifferent and those who are over friendly, not giving the guests real space. I thought that Tini and Gerard got the balance pretty right.

They don't make much money from the B&B, it's an interest, and they are naturally friendly people. Otherwise, why do it? Yet they don't presume. They let you take your own time to decide how friendly you want to be.

One issue with the B&B is that it's thirteen minutes from Armidale. This is not really an issue if you live in the metropolitan centres, but it is an issue when you go out to dinner in these days of mass police patrols. I guess that that's a trade-off if you want the rural peace.P1020617

The next shot looking down the drive shows the friendly collies. Just how many B&B's will give you this!

To manage the distance, you can either bring dinner back to the room or bring drinks back.

Tini and Gerard are happy to provide plates or wine glasses.

The B&B price includes a full breakfast. This is provided in the front lounge. I got into a little trouble on the first morning because I did not finish the tomatoes!  Tini was concerned because they were home grown. They were nice, but I was full.

The next shot shows me at breakfast. Look at the view. It was just so nice sitting there in the morning.

P1020609 On my last day, Tini sat me down and in a slightly embarrassed fashion asked me about the price they were charging. Should they increase it?

I fear that I spoiled the market for everybody else by saying that I thought that it was too low!

Really, it was just out of kilter with prices charged in the city itself, even accepting the distance factor.

If you want to share the experience that I enjoyed, you can book your stay though the Armidale Visitor Information Centre

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