WHAT IS THAT SMELL?! The horror of the post-holiday homecoming

By Lynnie | January 3 2013 | 19 Comments

I am not one of those people who says things like “sure there’s nothing like your own bed” in an attempt to convince myself that I’m only fecking delighted to be back home after a lovely holiday.

You see, I love holidays. I heart them. I heart them so much that that my post-holiday comedown invariably starts a day or two before they’re actually over in anticipation of getting back to the everyday normal.

To minimise the pain of the post-holiday comedown and after years of arriving home to a place that looked like a clothes bomb had exploded and we’d subsequently been burgled, we now try to leave the gaff reasonably clean and tidy before heading off. So when we got home late Tuesday night after our Christmas trip, I was feeling pretty smug… right up to the moment we opened the door.

We paused on the front step, both wondering if we were imagining the decidedly strange whiff that wafted out to greet us.

Unfortunately, we weren’t. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I tell you I nearly lost every breakfast, lunch and dinner of the holliers when Himself opened the fridge door and then immediately slammed it shut again.

Yep. In the mad dash to pack, tidy up, and drop the dog to his minder’s, it turned out we’d completely forgotten to clear out the fridge. I’d been really careful with our grocery shopping in the run up to our trip so at least it wasn’t full, but even so it was absolutely putrid. Meats, cheeses, mixes for two Christmas puddings that didn’t work out, leftovers, orange juice: all were gone off and stinking to high heavens. Even Kim and Aggie would have been bent double and heaving into their Marigolds it was so bad.

I don’t know how Himself managed to chuck out the rancid contents of the fridge without chucking up (full body HazMat suit with its own isolated air supply, I reckon) but I’m very, very grateful that he did the job solo; just thinking about it now is making my stomach churn.

Have you any post-holiday horror stories? And please do feel free to share your own tales of gone-off produce, too.

They might help make me feel a bit less disgusting!

Image source: CS Monitor

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19 Replies to "WHAT IS THAT SMELL?! The horror of the post-holiday homecoming"

  • Emmylou says:

    Just had a massive laugh reading that, no longer feel ashamed of my return to the apartment yesterday to be greeted with the same. The offender? Brie in the fridge. I’ll be burning candles for a month to eliminate the stench

  • le smurf says:

    Ugh – it’s always a job I remember to do before I head home for the hols! I just remember my Dad having to do a job on our fridge at home one summer after we had been away for a week and he never forgot to do it after that experience!

    But do pray tell Lynnie – were the fish alright on your return???

  • daisydaisy says:

    I once put a cooked chicken in the microwave coz I had no room in the fridge, put it in the microwave with the full intention to be eating it within the next 24 hours…fast forward 2/3 weeks and I opened said microwave to put in beans or something (i don’t use it that often) and there was a lovely sight to behold….I nearly died, so everything went into the bin, plate, the whole lot. So stupid of me….

  • fififinx says:

    OMG, turn the immersion off, fine. Turn the bloody fridge off? Never. What about all the stuff in the freezer? Nope. Never turn the fridge off.

  • Lauren says:

    This may have happened me a few times at uni! I would return back to my uni house after the holidays and something would have turned. Recently though I had a leaky milk bottle in the fridge, but I didn’t realise just how bad the leak was; milk had went right to the bottom and went off. Oh. My. God. The smell. I have cleaned the fridge and washed all the shelves and put a tub of baking powder in it but it is still awful! :(

  • Lynnie says:

    Emmylou & Lauren – I was terrified we’d never get the smell out of it but thankfully it seems to have dissipated. Lauren, apparently coffee grounds, banana/orange peels, wadded up newspapers are also supposed to be good for dealing with fridge stinkiness. Or you could try spreading your baking soda onto a shallow pan or layer of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the fridge to increase the surface area that can absorb odours. Hope you get it sorted soon.

    le smurf – lol, all present and accounted for ;)

    daisydaisy – eek!

  • Fiona says:

    I came back after Christmas one year to find the cat (which the neighbours had been looking after while I was away) had caught and beheaded a bird, and left the body in my bed as a little welcome home gift.

    After the big clean-up, I still couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from – only to find the head in a shoe under the bed the next day.


  • babodpower says:

    Glad it’s not just me who forgets these things,only my fridge was’nt the main offender…I forgot to take out the bin in the kitchen and out last meal the night before we left for our hols was salmon fillets,which i had skinned and left them in the bin….We nearly closed the door and head back to the airport when we opened the door!!! The most disgusting thing i have ever smelled,took 2 days,a new bin,a bottle of milton and a strong Yankee Candle for the smell to leave the house!

  • Orla says:

    We left for the christmas on the 19th and I left work early that day so I could go home and clean out the fridge and make sure there was nothing stinky left… returned to realise that I should have asked my housemate to do the same, there’s still a lasagne in the fridge that she made 3 weeks ago. Found fluffy blue mashed potatoes in the microwave & some very very dodgy veg in her side of the fridge… EEEEwwww!

  • Bunnybun says:

    We went on hols once and left the best part of a sliced Pan in a press for the fortnight. That would be innocous enough I hear you thinking…. Eh.. NO! It was a blue mold fest when we got back and I swear it took about 6 months and all the smell battling techniques that the tinternerd could offer up before I could open said press without getting a hint of the smell. REVOLTING!!!

  • Lynnie says:

    Fiona – Oh. Em. Gee.

    Don Catleone, wha’? ;)

    babodpower – ugh, fish is the WORST.

    Orla – oh noes, after all your good work!

  • Peppermint Patty says:

    A few months back myself and the boyfriend forgot about some cooked bacon that was sitting in the grill. We hardly ever cook so weeks went by without us using the grill again and not so much as the faintest of dodgy whiffs came from the cooker to tell us something was up.

    The next time we went to use the grill there was a giant mound of green hairy mould sitting there pratically ready to talk to us. I was horrified, sickened, revolted … and strangely fascintated.

    Out it went into the bin, carried by himself – NO WAY was I touching that thing!

  • Fiona says:

    Had one of these experiences only yesterday! I was wondering what the whiff from a corner of the kitchen was… There was a bag of spuds there, all seemed to be fine except for one spud which had become a rancid, decaying mess. Once I dug it out I’d never smelled anything quite like it. The only thing I can think to compare it to is junkie piss. Awful :(

  • Praxis says:

    My mum is neurotic about cleaning the fridge for even two nights away, and Ive inherited that gene without even thinking abut it.

    I do have a fab tip for the post holiday come down – put clean sheets on your bed before you go away, so your come home to a lovely made up bed. Barring really early starts I’ve been doing this for a few years, and it does work.

  • Anna says:

    Fiona, gone-off potatoes smell amazingly appalling. We left some in a press in our kitchen last summer when we went away and the smell is STILL there, despite copious amounts of baking soda.

    Am now trying to decide which discovery would be worse, the chicken left in the microwave or the bird’s head in a shoe…

  • Shygirl says:

    Fiona how horrible!
    Thats a great tip about putting on clean sheets before you go away.
    I heard that if you cut up an onion and leave half in the fridge it will absorb the odours. Dunno how effective that is.

  • Grá says:

    Hell yea! Our office smells and it was only closed for three days! One of my collegues bleached the crap out of everything in the kitchen yesterday but this morning it still stunk. Operation kill everything with bleach has begun. The water tray in the fridge is next on our list…..Even though we do have cleaners they aren’t the best at their job.

  • Jane says:

    Obsessive about cleaning up before i go so was horrified on one occasion!
    A bird fell down the chimney and died after bashing itself all over my sitting room. Blood, feathers, poop…
    Still remember the smell!

  • Therese says:

    Oh how well I know the stench coming back from holiday! After a three week holiday away we came home to the news that our electricity had been cut off due to maintenance in the building…but didn’t come back on so the freezer and fridge sat there, with food in, in summer, for three weeks. We couldn’t even identify the food it was so rotten, the smell was so foul I threw up while cleaning it out. We had to wash out the whole fridge freezer 6 or 7 times before the smell even started going away. I got one of those gel thingys you hang in the fridge and it eventually got rid of the smell!

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