LIZ JONES’S DIARY: we row about the mini-break bill

It was all going so well. We set off for our mini-break in Devon in high spirits, the puppies in the back. We finally got to Dartmoor at 9.30pm. It was pouring with rain and misty. I felt optimistic. The hotel was really a pub, and we were shown to our room: a double four-poster bed, a bathroom. It was fine though we were told, Fawlty Towers fashion, ‘The restaurant does actually close at 9pm.’ David hadn’t touched me once while we were in London, but I wasn’t worried. We were both tired. The next day, we set off for lunch at The Pig at Combe. The countryside was glorious, and as we drove there, I felt content, happy, even though despite the website trumpeting how relaxed The Pig is, I was told dogs are not allowed inside the main house. ‘Could you leave them in the car?’ the waitress suggested. I gave up the habit of a lifetime and just said, ‘Oh, OK. I suppose it’s dull and breezy.’

David ordered me a glass of champagne and I ordered my favourite dish: stuffed courgette flowers, picked only moments before. He had three courses, and Campari and tonic. I’m sorry if this sounds like a restaurant review: my point is that lunch cost £148. I paid. We then drove to Sidmouth, where I took the dogs on the red sandy beach; David couldn’t walk so sat and waited for me, smoking. I told him tales of how I had holidayed here as a child and showed him the house at the top of the hill where my dad had rented a flat for a week. My poor mum still had to cook all our meals and butter rolls for the beach, which we ate, cowering, behind a windbreak.

David was quiet, which isn’t unusual. But he didn’t laugh or hug me; I tried my best, lying on the bed in Myla knickers, but to no avail. That night, the dogs clambered on to the bed as usual. David disappeared for a smoke, so I looked at his texts. Lots and lots to a male friend, arranging to meet up and have coffee. When he returned, I was asleep, Gracie sprawled on his pillow. ‘I can’t even get into f***ing bed!’ he shouted. He banged around, waking me up, and put his pillow on the sofa. ‘Why don’t you just laugh about it,’ I said. ‘You moan and pine for me, yet when you have me and the puppies, you are like a mime artist: mute. Why not just get her a biscuit?’

I didn’t let it bother me. I just didn’t care, and went straight to sleep. When we checked out the next day, it turned out the price for three nights wasn’t £295, as stated on; as there were two people in the room, they charged me double. ‘You are not really worth an extra £100 a night,’ I told David; he thought I was joking. The next day, I dropped him in Exeter so he could catch the train back to London. No sooner had I pulled away, than he was sending me texts, saying he was on the train, that it was ‘all fine his end’ and that I must text him when I get home safely. So why so morose and silent when he is actually by my side?

I puzzled over this, then dismissed the thought. I’d been enchanted by Devon and started to think about moving there. I got home eight hours later, went to bed and woke to a text from David, sent at 2am, full of plans and excitement. I had told him of my new rule: I’m not going to look at texts, emails or my phone on a Sunday, so he’d written, ‘You don’t have to read this till Monday!’ But I couldn’t help myself. I replied: ‘That’s the most animated you’ve been in a week! Why were you so monosyllabic on our mini-break, so miserable?’

‘Thanks,’ he replied. ‘I think you should stick to your rule of not using your phone on Sundays.’

I replied: ‘Oh, and you need to pay your half of the hotel, as they charged me double. You had a free meal at Moro. A free meal at Farmacy. A free meal at The Pig!’

‘Send me the details and I will call them. I paid my way: dinner at the Saddle Room, dinner on our last night.’

‘Send you the details? What am I, your PA? You stayed there! Find the details yourself!’

So that was it. Our Devon mini-break ended in tears. My mum and dad never rowed over the bill. It wasn’t my fault, was it?

Illustration: Bee Murphy