“ Address: East End / Scaldwell NN6 9LB / Northamptonshire „
~ Chocolate Box Pretty ~
When I got a job in Northants a few years ago I needed a place to stay in the area and I couldn't face the idea of spending several weeks in a faceless chain hotel. So I searched around the internet and found The Old House in the tiny pretty village of Scaldwell. Over a month and a half I went back and forth to this B&B and stayed in several of the rooms so I can fairly say that I know this place very well. At its best, Old House B&B can offer a really authentic small country village experience in a gorgeous old traditional stone house. At its worst, the place can be intensely frustrating and can leave you feeling rather unwelcome.
First the location. Scaldwell is drop-dead-gorgeous - the type of village that looks as if it's just waiting for a film crew to turn up with a bus load of actors to film a period frock-flick of the type that the BBC adores. It's only a couple of miles off the A508 - the road from Northampton to Market Harborough - and it's seriously pretty. The houses are mostly of the local dark honey coloured Moulton Ironstone and the gardens are picture-postcard perfect. There's a little village green, a cute little church and that really is about it. No, I tell a lie - there's a post box and a bus stop as well. If you want ANYTHING more, you'll need to travel to one of the other villages and you'll struggle to survive if you don't have your own transport.
~ The Old House ~
The Old House is on a small road just off the village green in the centre of Scaldwell. There's no car park and most of the time that's fine because there's enough space on the surrounding roads to park your car. However sometimes it can be a squeeze to find somewhere convenient or to actually turn around on the narrow roads.
As a B&B that's part of a family home, you can't just assume that there will always be someone at home and I found this a bit freaky at times. I felt a bit like I was staying with slightly judgemental relatives and had to be home before it got dark. I never really felt comfortable or truly 'at home' at the Old House. There's a beautiful large garden where the man of the house grows lots of vegetables but I was never invited to sit in it and if I'd asked I'm sure it would have been OK, but I just didn't feel I should need to ask. There was also a problem that the garden for some reason I never identified always smelled a bit 'odd'. Perhaps it was manure on the garden or something like that.
Whenever possible I tried to get the big bedroom - a very pleasant large period room with lots of books and magazines strewn around and a big comfortable bed. There were tea and coffee facilities and fresh milk was provided each day. There was a tiny bathroom tucked into what looked like a cupboard and plenty of space to spread out. The problem was that even with a block booking for an extended period I couldn't always get the room I'd asked for in advance - if the owner got a booking for a couple who needed a double and I was there on my own, I could get back in the evening and find all my stuff had been packed up and moved. At one point I was even moved out to a neighbour's house and - whilst I was asked if that was OK, it was clear that the expected answer was that it would be. When you are living out of a suitcase for an extended period, it's unsettling to be moved around.
~ What to eat???? ~
I also struggled about food since no meals other than breakfast were provided and there's nowhere nearby to eat. I'm not the type to go and eat in a pub on my own. The website talks a lot about fresh organic food but I'm really not sure whether the Old House now offers evening meals or if it just does breakfast. Breakfast was always very good but rather time consuming and was offered at a shared breakfast table with places set for whoever was staying. There's a big warm kitchen with an Aga where I sometimes stopped to chat to the owner but, as I mentioned before, I never really felt inclined to linger.
~ Recommendation ~
If you are looking for an opportunity to stay in a beautiful old house in a fantastic Northamptonshire village and are only needing a room for a couple of nights I'd say that this could well be perfect. For couples who are happy to go out and find dinner in the many lovely country pubs in surrounding villages, it's a great base. It's just rather lonely on your own and if you need a place for an extended period though, you may need to be willing to be a bit more flexible than normal.
Note - no credit cards are accepted and cash is probably preferred if you have it.