Unforgivable failure to blog for rather a long time, caused by having one of those weeks where everything that could possibly go wrong, did. Nothing 'big' but just lots of little moments that make life more stressful and complicated. Huge sense of relief as we finally got on the train to Brighton, some of the entourage making it with seconds to spare. In a reckless moment after last year's conference I decided it would be fun to rent out a whole house this year. This seemed like less of a good idea as the time approached, not least when a £1000 deposit payment appeared on my credit card. I will be frantically running round mopping up spillages all week - and was that a wine glass I heard smashing as I retired to bed last night?
True to form, actually getting into the house proved something of a nightmare. I'd been told by the booking agents that someone called Victor would let us in. Victor turned out to have left the property management company, and the new person said she didn't look after this particular property... Eventually I was given the number of someone called Martino. Judging from his ringtone as I left increasingly urgent voicemails, he was out of the country. The elusive Martino, who was indeed abroad, then told us that he didn't have any paperwork from our agents, but had paperwork from a different lettings agency which implied the property had been let out the day before... All this is taking place, by the way, as seven of us are actually on the train, within minutes of Brighton. Then I get told someone has the keys, but they can't get into Brighton from Hove because there's a demo going on. Then I get given an address of someone who might have a set, so jump in a cab which takes me almost out of Brighton in the opposite direction to Hove. Meanwhile the rest of the party have arrived at the street in question, only to discover that there's a man living in no.12 who is insistent that his house is not being let out to anyone! The keys have a number 53 on them... but the street only goes up to 47. Is it the road round the corner with a similar name? No. Eventually I get hold of Martino again. It's no.20. Huge cheer from the entourage as I try the keys - they work! And it turns out that I have booked the most swanky townhouse I have ever seen. Four storeys, a roof terrace, one of those huge kitchens you only ever see in magazines... (And in case anyone starts - we're paying for this, not the taxpayer. And it's worked out really cheap). And there's an organic supermarket round the corner which is vegan heaven. I think we'll have to get use of the camcorder before the week is out, just so we can really show off. Oh, and it's 10 mins walk to the secure zone too. We are sorted!