For part of our grand tour around the UK we were to be joined by The Son. Two hotel rooms would have been an expensive option, so instead we decided on a series of Airbnb rentals; three country cottages and one city apartment. They were all good, but two stood out.

Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the place to be in the north west (allegedly); and for one night our home was an apartment slap in the middle of the action. It was an unremarkable space; but what made it stand out was the fact that it was positively stuffed with stuff; as if the owner had furnished it, not for rental, but for him to live in. The lady who showed us round confirmed that the owner had spent months buying items to furnish and decorate the place. Very trusting, it would just take one dodgy renter to come along and completely fuck it up.

I rather liked the view out of the window too.

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The other special place was a cottage in Northumberland. It was similar to the other cottages we rented, walls a metre thick, quirky ceilings, log fires..

…but it also offered access to a private estate (with fishing rights if desired). This read a bit like sales talk, but the reality was far grander than we had imagined.

This was just some of the land, part of an estate surrounding a beautiful house which was presently unoccupied; which meant we had the grounds to ourselves and could also stare through the windows at the opulence contained within the mansion.

I came over all socialist for a while, but then wandered off and consoled myself by picking apples from the private orchard.

There were deer and red squirrels to be seen on the estate, so I was out every morning with my camera, but never saw more than a rabbit.

This cottage also won our award for the best welcome pack:

I am sure that an Airbnb experience can go horribly wrong, but it worked well for us. You can choose a hotel room and whatever horrors await for breakfast; or dine in your private estate with Prosecco, toast and honey for breakfast.