Change Management

We have just returned from a few days in the Blue Mountains. It was decided that we needed a few days to ourselves and we thought it would be nice to spend them where we used to live and traipse through our memories for a bit.

We did not, however, choose to stay in Katoomba (where we lived once upon a midnight clearly) but in Leura, the village-like town before Katoomba. We booked into Leura House and away we sped, borrowing Bob’s little racing green sports car, with the roof down and the wind in our hair.

I forgot to mention that I now have a brand new camera (it’s my graduation present). Here’s a shot of the car:

Mirinda set to drive us up the mountains

Leura House was built sometime around 1880 and was a prime example of the cool, bachelor pad of the time. After a bit it became a convent and, during the Terrible Fire of 1957 it was about the only building that did not burn down. The reason for this is because it was surrounded by statues of the Virgin Mary. Clearly this would help hold back the flames. In fact, the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (for it was they that lived in Leura House at the time) claimed God protected the convent because of the statues. They do not appear to have explained why God didn’t help anyone else in Leura, particularly the guy just across the road whose house was completely destroyed. I’m not 100% sure but I’ve not seen anything in the Bible that claims having a few statues in your garden would please God more than anything else. Surely Leura wasn’t a modern day Sodom or Gomorah!

Anyway…eventually the Daughters left and Leura House became a guest house again. If you’d like to read a better, more detailed history of Leura House, they have just updated their website here.

Bob & Claire and Mirinda have each stayed there before and have loved it. The house is lovely, the location pretty good, being just across the freeway from Leura Village – an easy walk. It is also not cheap which generally ensures a nice, quiet, comfortable stay. Let me tell you about the shower in room 7 (apparently Mother Superior’s old room).

The bathroom is nice and big, with black and white tiles. The shower stall is a good, decent size, particularly nice for a fully grown man of Gary size. The shower rose is big and water flows from it like a waterfall. The water temperature is excellent and the pressure perfect. In fact, I can’t fault the shower. But let me tell you about the balcony attached to room 7.

The balcony is big enough for a couple of chairs. It overlooks the lawn and flower beds. This photo shows the balcony from the carpark. Other than this small place, the balcony is nice and private. Well, apart from in the middle of the lawn, of course.

The balcony of our room at Leura House

It was lovely sitting on the balcony, reading, enjoying a cup of coffee. Here is the view from the balcony, looking into the garden.

The view from room 7, Leura House

But let me tell you about the bed.

The bed was very comfortable and enjoyed the occasional breezes through the balcony doors, making sleeping in the oppressive heat, bearable. Actually, the heat wasn’t so bad as the temperature drops about 10 degrees at the altitude of Leura.

OK, the room sounds perfect so let me tell you about the rest of Leura House. There’s a massive guest’s lounge where we were invited to take tea/coffee whenever we felt like it. The room is full of various lounges and coffee tables. It would make a lovely afternoon spot for enjoying a relaxing read.

The breakfast, too, is lovely. Fried eggs, bacon and a tomato, all cooked beautifully. All served in a lovely room looking into a bit of garden at the front of the building.

It all sounds perfect, doesn’t it. Sadly, it was not perfect. Without being unnecessarily cruel, and trying to be constructive, here’s some things that made our stay a little less than ideal.

The new couple who run the hotel both smoke. This wouldn’t normally bother me as I’m not a rabid non-smoker like some. However, they choose to smoke just outside the guest’s lounge area which means the smoke drifts up to the balcony of room 7 and floats inside. I’m sure it also invades the lounge area.

Also, sitting on the balcony of our room, was an ashtray which indicates that it is ok to smoke on the balcony, although they state on their website that should a guest fill the room with smoke, they would be charged an extra nights fee! This is not the only ashtray located within the environs of the house.

Around the house there is a verandah with a delightfully sloping floor. Dotted around this verandah are chairs and tables for the guests to relax upon. Each table has an ashtray. Again, not a problem in the best of all possible worlds except this is not and the tables are located outside windows that lead to other guest rooms.

While this was all quite acceptable in the dark years of the 70s, 80s and 90s, in 2010, it is pretty unacceptable to smell cigarette smoke in your room when you pay a high rate for the privilege.

Another issue is the massive guest’s lounge. While very comfortable and inviting, the true nature of this room becomes apparent when guests return from having dinner in the town. The far end (the end closest to the outside smoking area) has been ‘taken over’ by the new managers and their dogs. There is a giant flat screen TV on the wall which, the two nights we stayed, seemed stuck on sport channels. This was not very inviting.

They (the new managers) have two labradors. Like the new managers, these dogs have never been in a hotel before. When we returned from dinner (both nights) they started barking and came out to see who was invading their territory. This is only natural, however, they are big dogs with big barks. While I have no problem with dogs (especially big cuddly labradors) it could be very disconcerting to guests who do not like or own dogs to be confronted by two huge slathering beasts as they start to mount the stairs to their room. The guests, not the dogs!

I had intended for this blog entry to be a diatribe, completely laying bare the problems with Leura House under its new management however, when Mirinda paid the bill, she heard the new managers’ history and, seeing as it suddenly made it all more personal, she told me to tone my critique down a bit. Which I have.

Suffice to say, we shall not stay there again. Bob & Claire are unlikely to stay there again and, I firmly believe, anyone who stays there now will probably not return. It’s very sad because it’s a lovely place and deserves to be preserved as a quiet, restful spot for anyone who needs a break from the harsh world.

I realise I’ve twittered on about the accommodation and not said anything about our actual break. I shall rectify this tomorrow.

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