– Two six two four three double four. Charles Farmer speaking.
– Hello, Charles. It’s Joan — Joan Cook.
– Hello Joan, how are you?
– I’m very well thanks. How are you?
– Oh, not so bad, you know.
– Good. I rang to ask if you know anything about hotels on the Costa Brava.
– No, I’m afraid I can’t be very much help to you there, why?
– Well it’s just that we’ve been thinking of taking the family to Spain this summer and at this rather late stage we’re trying to organize ourselves a suitable hotel. But I thought that you’d been to the Costa Brava.
– I have. Several times. But I’ve always taken a tent and done it the hard way.
– Oh I see. I didn’t realize that.
– Yes. Great one for the open air, you know.
– Oh, it must be nice. But we could never contemplate it with our lot. We’re terribly disorganized as a family, you know, and we’d be in chaos in no time. And in any case the car isn’t big enough to get all of us in and camping equipment as well, so we simply must find ourselves a nice hotel where they’ll put up with noisy kids.
– Mm, you have got a problem. And it’s certainly a bit late. But there are masses of adverts. Have you looked at those?
– Well, yes. As a matter of fact I was reading one advert only this morning in the Sunday paper which sounded marvellous.
– For a hotel?
– Yes. Just outside Barcelona. And I thought to myself I’ll give Charles a ring. He’s an expert on the Costa Brava. He may even know it.
– Oh dear, I am a dead loss, aren’t I. But tell me about the advert.
– It said that this hotel was right on the beach, and that’s essential as far as we’re concerned, because the kids are really only interested in scrabbling in the sand and popping into the sea every five minutes, so we must be close to it — the closer the better.
– I know just how it is.
– And all the rooms have balconies facing the sea and overlooking the beach so it should be possible for mum and dad to keep half an eye on the kids while they’re playing and manage a quiet snooze at the same time occasionally.
– Sounds too good to be true. Expensive?
-– No. That was the remarkable thing about it. The prices were appreciably lower than in any of the other adverts I’ve seen, and yet the facilities were as good or even better. You know, even allowing for a bit of exaggeration in the advert, it seemed to have a lot to offer.
– Had it?
– Yes. It’s got its own swimming-pool, and even if there’s no need to use it very often that means there are diving boards and water chutes and that kind of thing to amuse the children if they do happen to get tired of the beach.
– Which is unlikely with yours, from the sound of it.
– Well, yes, but you can never tell, can you? And the food’s good — according to the advert, again — but they’re bound to say that.
– Of course. The only way to find out for certain is to go and try it. And that’s taking rather a risk. I tell you what, though. It’s just occurred to me — Mr. and Mrs. Croft from over the road have been to that part of Spain several times, and I seem to remember them saying they always use the same hotel.
– Do they?
– Yes. At least I think that’s what they said. I’ll pop round later this evening, and if they do know anything that might be of use to you I’ll get one or the other of them to give you a ring.
– Would you? That’s very kind of you. They won’t mind, will they?
– No of course not. I’m sure they’ll be pleased to help.
– Well that’s marvellous.
– Did you say something about taking the car?
– Yes. We’ve got a passage booked on the hovercraft — you see we’ve done at least something to begin organizing ourselves — and we plan to spend three or four days driving down through France. No need to rush, because Doug’s got an extra week’s holiday this year.
– Lucky Doug. But isn’t it rather a long drive — what with the children and the holiday traffic?
– Well, strange as it may seem, the kids are very good in the car, and as we shall be driving quite a lot of the way on secondary roads we should miss the worst of the traffic. But both Doug and I are very fond of pottering about in little French towns, looking at all those marvellous shops. In fact I think we’d rather do that than sit on a beach. And if you go by train or air you don’t see much on the way — you’re sort of insulated from all the lovely places you’re passing.
– Yes, I agree with you.
– But I’m sure you must have better things to do than listen to me rattling on.
– Oh that’s all right. It’s nice to hear from you. But I will drop in on the Crofts and ask them to phone you. Don’t expect to hear anything until after nine, though, because they’re usually out on Sunday until some time in the evening.
– Well I shall be around whatever time they ring. Busy getting things ready for school tomorrow. And thanks again, Charles. It really is very kind of you to go to all this trouble.
– No trouble at all. Only too glad to help if I can.
– Well thanks anyway. Bye bye Charles.
– Bye for now, Joan.