May 2017 – Glenprosen

As my wife and I both have busy work lives with very little down time, we decided to look for a rental property that would offer a week of peace and tranquillity in a remote setting.

We searched properties with the following criteria:-
• Remote & peaceful
• Enclosed garden (we have two dogs)
• Child friendly (we were taking our two year old granddaughter, Imogen)
• A property not too far away from home

We finally picked Glentaire Cottage in the middle of Glenprosen, Angus.

The description on matched our search criteria, with it only being 1½ hrs from our home (which proved a real bonus in the end!)

It was a bit pricy at £395 plus electricity, but due to the listing we booked it.

The cottage is set about a mile off the “main road”.
The track up to the cottage was rugged, but manageable. If you drive a low profile car, I would give it a miss though.

The cottage comes in to view with about ½ a mile to go.
The setting is stunning!

When you arrive at the cottage, there is plenty of room in the garden for a couple of cars, especially as the picnic table is no longer there.
• As mentioned in a couple of comments, the pictures on the listing are out of date. The owners have recognised this, but have done nothing to update them or reinstate the picnic table as promised.

Once the front gate was closed, we let the dogs out to stretch their legs…in the enclosed garden…only to quickly find that it wasn’t! With the property surrounded in all directions with sheep, this proved a problem; little did we know that this was to be the least of our worries.

As mentioned in the booking, the keys were left in the door.
Immediately on entering our hearts sank.

What was meant to be a weeklong re-boot of our systems, soon turned out to be a fight for survival (I know you will think I am being over dramatic here, but as you will learn, this was no understatement)

We had a very quick walk around the property and looked at each other in horror.
The cottage is very run-down and the smell was sickening in places.
Every single lamp was on, along with every hot electric blanket on all the beds. I think these had the unfortunate effect of accentuating the smell?

Looking into Carol’s eyes we asked ourselves the same question with saying a word “do we stay or do we turn-around and leave?”
 Let’s give it a go, what’s the worse that can happen?

I started to unpack the car, Imogen ran around with the dogs and Carol decided to put the kettle on.
Again, time to come across another problem…where to find a clean cup?

Our eyes met a few times as I continued taking in the bags; Carol boiled some water and now moved on to wash the cutlery, plates and a couple of cups.
She gave up with the pots & pans due to the level of mice droppings in the cupboards and in the pans!

We both knew what we were thinking…”how bad can it be” I said?
Turned out to a question we both could not have envisaged.

Finally a spot of luck…I forgot to pack Carol’s suitcase.

On any other holiday, this would have proved a bit of problem; on this occasion, it proved a life-saver.
We drove the hour and half home, picked up the suitcase, and then headed to Asda.
We ended up buying a supply of paper plates, paper cups, plastic glasses, a set of cutlery, a teapot, bottled water, a bottle of gin with some tonic and a box of wine!
The last couple of additions were more than needed.

We arrived back to the cottage later that night; unfortunately the drive up the dirt track was now filled with dread rather than anticipation.

As it was late, we didn’t light the coal fire that night. We had supper and settled down to watch some TV. We were prepared for some technology free time and had packed some reading material. In Imogen’s bag, we had a few videos pack so we put one on for her. The TV next to the fire has a built in DVD player, the buttons are on the top of the telly. With the lighting being a bit dim I pulled the lamp over to enable me to see the buttons…BIG MISTAKE.
As the light shone up the chimney it obviously woke or scared the mischief of mice or colony of rats.
We froze as the scurrying feet from within the ceiling was deafening.
Not wanting to worry Imogen, we poured another glass of wine and stared at the same page of our books for the rest of the night.
If it wasn’t for that glass of Merlot, we would have been home that night.

Sunday morning arrived and we had decided to give the Cottage another try.
We did next to nothing that day and tried to block out the previous evening.
The dogs had now to be tied up to the tow-bar of my car, Imogen played with her bike and Carol and I did nothing…as we had planned.

Unfortunately, knowing that the cottage had other occupants did nothing to make us relax.
We got through the day relatively unscathed.

On Monday we drove into Forfar and round Kirriemuir, then back to the Cottage.

Monday night proved a bit tricky.
Every evening when we turned the lights on or lit the fire, the vermin in the loft came alive.
That night Imogen had very bad night’s sleep. She kept screaming “NO…NO” when I went through to check on her, she was asleep. I took it she was dreaming or having a nightmare.

Tuesday came and we were struggling.
Carol started to feel unwell, Imogen started to run a temperature and one of our dogs started coughing.

We drove back in to Forfar for medicine and Zoflora.

If we thought Monday night was bad, Tuesday would trump it.
Imogen again started screaming “NO…NO” when I went through this time she was rubbing her hair and crying. As she never really woke up properly, I bedded her again but left every door open.
Carol left a detailed review in the guest-book, which I would be very surprised if it remains there?

We woke early Wednesday.
Imogen’s temperature was under control with the Calpol.
Carol on the other hand was feeling worse and worse as the day progressed.
By early afternoon we had had enough and decided to pack the cars and head home.
Several times during the packing I would come outside to find Carol on all fours retching and vomiting uncontrollably. This has continued for days to come.
On arrival at home, Carol went straight to bed, where she has remained for eight days and counting.

Since we arrived home:-
+ the dog has been to the vet and has apparently contracted Kennel Cough…this surprised us all as she is fully vaccinated, but who knows what she picked up at Glentaire?
+ Imogen has been under the weather, but doesn’t look to had suffered any long-term effects.
+ Carol has not been so fortunate…

She has been to the doctor who is very concerned with her symptoms.

Due to the length of incubation, they cannot rule out Weil’s Disease. If her condition does not improve by tomorrow, she has to go into Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and be tested by the specialist team there.
If you look up Weil’s Disease on-line, the effects can be serious, very serious indeed. And with her only having one kidney, these are very worrying times.
She asked how this could be possible; the doctor informed her that it could be passed on by contact with rat’s urine/faeces or more likely by contaminated water.
We had bought bottled water to try and mitigate this risk, but forgot about brushing our teeth and washing/bathing.
I know, silly mistake, but when we were paying which turned out to be over £400 for a break, you didn’t expect that?

I have had plenty of time now to review the comments on the website left by previous occupants.
Some are very positive, some are very damming.
A major concern is that the serious problems we had encountered were ALL mentioned previously and ALL were said to be addressed by the owner and ALL are still a concern.
Some of the concerns previously raised that are STILL relevant are:-
• 19th Oct 2013
o Caz – Family from Orkney
+ Dated & rickety furniture
+ Limited kitchen (especially as the cottage is meant to cater for five)
+ Water had failed a health check!
     + Washing machine from the 1970’s
• 10th May 2014
o Trever – Family from Oldham
+ Mice droppings throughout the cottage
• 24th May 2014
o Anthea – Couple from Lancaster
+ Damp and cold with mice
• 23rd August 2014
o Carolyn – Family from Newcastle
+ Furniture needing repaired
• 9th July 2016
o John – Couple from Peterhead
+ Unclean with mice droppings in kitchen cupboards
+ Furniture/carpets dirty & worn
 + Water problems
+ No outdoor table/chairs
+ Left on fourth day

As you can see these issues have been raised a few years ago…unfortunately they are still ALL there…the owners do not seem to be addressing them.

On a plus point, we have received a full refund for the price of the booking, but not the £27.06 electricity.
Unfortunately, we have had a vets bill for more than double that, Carol has been off work since returning home and the stress & worry is incalculable.

One of the biggest disappointments about the cottage is the neglect it obviously receives from the owner.
Personally I would love to own a property like this!
As I say in the video, if a few weeks rent was ploughed back into the cottage, it could be stunning all round.
Investment in the cottage has been kept to the bear minimum and it shows.
In it’s current state, the cottage is no more than a glorified Bothy, for which the MBA (and their members, of which we are) would be more than happy with, but to be charging the level of rents that is currently asked for is a cheek.

If anyone still fancies giving Glentaire Cottage a try, go prepared!