How far is “a short stroll”?
It’s a question to which I’m applying way too much thought at present.
I’m talking, of course, about my struggle to find a suitable villa to rent in Spain this summer. The ideal villa would be “a short stroll” from the beach, shops, cafes and restaurants. For me, that would be anything up to about 300 metres (500 at a push) but, add in a pushchair, a 7-year-old, a baby in a pram and a mother-in-law whose fastest walking speed is “shuffle”, and you can halve that.
But owners of Spanish holiday villas are super-competent speed-walkers, it seems, for they have different ideas to me of what comprises a “short stroll”.
And I know this, not because they admit how far it is to the beach from their €1,000-a-night piles, but because I have on my side a secret weapon: DH, Super-Sleuth.
While I spend my days poring over the internet, printing out possible villas, DH, after I’ve gone to bed, calls up Google Maps and double-checks the locations, identifying the villas by things as random as the shape of the pool and the positions of the palm trees. He even goes into “street view”, identifies the villa in real view and “virtually” walks the route to the beach.
And you’d be surprised how many times the owners “accidentally” place the map pin locating their villas a kilometre closer to the beach than it really is. Or on the “better” side of the highway.
You’d be surprised how “a short stroll” can actually mean a kilometre of hard slog with no pavements, followed by crossing a four-lane highway with concrete central reservations. And even then to get to a stony beach with no facilities. You’d be surprised how “2 mins to the nearest shop” actually translates as “2 mins to the petrol station”.
“A short stroll”? My word, if you’re renting any villa this summer, please check out Google Maps first.
If you like property porn, you can view my ideal Spanish villa here.