Tag Archives: restaurant

Travelling


The lure of watching a dance demonstration by Alejandro Hernandez and Kerry Donaldason took us down to  Wales at the weekend.

Ah yes, Wales. Land of my Fathers (well, my mother, anyway). Land of laver bread (disgusting stuff) and land of the longest vowel sounds in the entire world. Ah yes, Wales. There’s lovely, look you, izzenet, boyo?

Not only Wales but Porthcawl, deepest, darkest welshest Wales, where speaking Welsh is the norm and not a novelty. Not even my Mum spoke Welsh and she was from Cardiff.

The plan for the weekend was to take a few days off work and meander up and down down the country, stopping off where we fancied and then ending up in Torquay to see some family before heading back. We stopped off at Cheltenham first. What a beautiful place. I was so glad we went but wished we could have stayed longer to explore it properly. The hotel we stayed in was gorgeous. A bit on the quite side but that’s  not entirely unexpected for the second week in January. Dinner was in a huge and deserted restaurant that seemed to echo slightly.  The atmosphere wasn’t so much one of cosy intimacy as much as a doctor’s waiting room.

The huge  crystal chandeliers, twinkling away at no one in particular, seemed a bit incongruous, as if they were waiting for a masked ball  to start or Cinderella to arrive or something exciting to happen.  If I was a chandelier in there I’d have taken the night off and given the shift to a couple of table lamps and a few candles instead to bring the room in a bit and make it less, well, roomy and create a bit of ambience.    In this huge cavernous room there was the sum total of  us and one other couple.  No wonder it echoed. Whispered conversations were the order of the evening as you could have heard a pin drop. That is until my food arrived and then all anyone could hear was me going, “MMMMM……..MMMMMM……..MMMMMMMMM.”   Beautiful fresh scallops followed by a delicious, tender ribeye steak. Manna from heaven.

A group of four women came in at one point with shrill voices of the pitch that can only be attained when a group of women are together. Their  heels clacked loudly on the polished wooden floor  between them they seemed to fill the entire space. Having eventually got settled at a table they  decided to cause a bit of  chaos and have  the waiter running around a bit. Then they complained that the menu wasn’t the same as it was in November and  left  – after   questioning if they had to pay for the drinks they’d just quaffed.  Cheeky sods!

That was pretty much the entertainment for the evening and to be honest,  because by then I was quite enjoying the quiet and peaceful surroundings, I was glad to see them go and tranquility restored. I’m pretty sure the waiter was glad to see them go as well.

Later on in the bar however, we somehow got the whole room talking to each other and we all ended up in one great big, jolly group. After the bar closed we adjourned to the lounge and carried on with our chat. The spirit of bonhomie carried us right  through the evening and into the wee hours. How lovely to make a whole new bunch of friends in one evening.  It’s fair to say we paid for it a bit the morning after, I think may have had a little bit too much of the of the spirit that lubricates the bonhomie.

Next stop, Porthcawl. Tune in for the next exciting installment.

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Eggy Mc Nasty


Hey!! The sun’s shining and it’s hot, hot, hot so I thought I’d celebrate with a new and summery look for the blog. Fab, innit?

Not so keen on the font though so I’ll have to work our how to change it.

So. Back to our jolly hols:

Having got on the ship, found our cupboar…I mean cabin and did the emergency drill.

Ha. Emergency drill. It always amazes me how people just don’t listen. While they were being told and shown what to do in the case of an emergency loads of people fiddled with or put on their life jackets, despite being told not to, or chatted amongst themselves, gazed around the room and generally ignored what was going on.  The there was the other side of that coin – those who stared intently at the crew, hanging on to every word and paying very close attention as obviously disaster was inevitable and why did they even consider coming on a ship anyway. Stupid idea.

I like to think I was somewhere in the middle.

Boofuls and me thought we’d treat ourselves to some nice food in the Marco Pierre White restaurant on the ship. We dashed up to book hoping that we’d be able to get a table. I was a bit surprised to see that it was on an upper level in the atrium, basically a corridor that had been roped off and a few tables and chairs shoved in it.. Hhhm, not what I was expecting but never mind.

We approached the desk.

The very sniffy waiter looked us up and down. “We are very busy,” in a voice that would have frozen water. I’m glad we were sailing in warm seas or an iceberg would have been imminent.

“Oh well, we’ll come another night.”

“Well, I suppose I could sit you over there.”

We were duly shown to our table in the half empty ‘busy’ restaurant.

Having sat down we took in our surroundings. “Is it me or is it freezing in here?”

It was perishing! Me, Boofuls and the other 6 diners sat rubbing our arms (our own arms, we didn’t rub each others, that would have been downright weird) to generate a bit of warmth. Crikey, enough with the air conditioning already!

We perused the menu.  being a Marco Pierre White restaurant we were expecting big things. I was a bit surprised when I saw egg mayonnaise and watercress salad on the menu. Egg mayonnaise? Boring, much. Hhhmm or maybe not. If it’s been given the Marco treatment I bet it will taste like manna from heaven. Boofuls agreed with me. “Let’s have that then.” So that was the starter.

In due course, along came Eggy McNasty.

What arrived was a plate with two boiled eggs on it.

A whole egg rolled around the pile of undressed iceberg lettuce and watercress on the plate, it’s coating of mayonnaise making it look like a pale and  flabby seven stone weakling.

The other egg had been cut in half and had a bit of mayonnaise piped on the cut halves, creating the look  of two very surprised eyeballs staring up at us from the plate.

The whole egg continued to roll around the plate, trying to cover it’s nakedness until eventually it landed in a dusting of paprika.  The effect of that was that the egg then started to look amazingly like one of the many Scottish contingent on board, pasty faced, pale skinned and topped with a shock of red hair. A situation which changed for the Scots as the days wore on and they became more and more boiled lobsteresque in their appearance.  Not so for our eggy hero though. He remained pale and wan to the end when he was most likely snached up by an unfussy seagull as he was ditched overboard with all the other uneaten food.

However, I digress.

The egg with his new found Caledonian looks and confidence looked up at the watercress and in a voice not unlike one Taggart would have  if he was an egg, growled quietly  and threateningly:

“Aye. My name’s Eggy McNasty, so it is,  and I can see you sittin’ up there naked on your iceberg tower. Don’t you look down at me. I know where you live”

The watercress looked down fearfully, it seemed to be trembling with fear but that may have been the vibration of the ship.

The two eggy eyeballs seemed to get even wider as they waited to see what would happen next.

Boofuls and me stared at each other in surprise.

“What’s all this about, then?  Nice food?  There’s nothing nice about this food.  Take it away, waiter!

I just don’t get it


Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve really enjoyed watching Britain’s Got Talent.

Yes, yes, I know, it’s trashy tv and I should be ashamed of myself and tune in immediately to the arts channel but you know what? You can’t beat a bit of ‘easy on the brain’ tv when your just plain knackered.

Of course I have every right to be knackered since in the last week Boofuls and me have been to Wales (twice for me), Glasgow, Manchester, Oxford for Boofuls today, then York next Saturday and that’s without mentioning all the downloading, backing up , processing and everyday business stuff we’ve been getting on with on between times. Oh yes, and don’t forget the doggie portrait session I did yesterday.

Never mind, we’re well into mad June and it won’t be long now till it’s over and we’re off on our jollies.

So. Back to the plot: Britain’s got Talent. Did you see the young lad  with the blonde hair, the dancer? Wonderful dancer, graceful, light and a joy to watch. Except.

I just don’t ‘get’ contemporary dance. There’s music, there’s dancing but there’s no link between the two that I can distinguish. Does that make me a total pleb?

This young lad was dollying round the stage, leaping and twirling while a very nice piece of music played but could I make it fit? Could I hell.

Twirl, twirl, twirl, jump, pirouette, flail arms round a bit and drop to the floor at the end. As for the music, it went: lilt, lilt, lilt.

Try as I might I couldn’t make it fit. My brow furrowed with concentration as I attempted to understand the interpretation and understand it all but nope, I failed miserably.

Give me a nice bit of ballroom, latin or ballet any day, I can make sense of that.

*********

The Glasgow trip was interesting. I’m not totally sure it justified the 400 mile round trip or the money it cost us for the seminar and hotel but it was ……..ok….ish.

Talking of the hotel – I don’t usually  give out onions and roses to the same thing at the same time but I’m going to  make an exception this time.

I’d really been looking forward to dinner in the hotel we were at as the restaurant had rave reviews.

It was with a great sense of excitement and occasion that we sat down at our table.

Boofuls ordered a bottle of wine and I’d ordered my customary g & t since as we all know me and wine aren’t the best of friends due to my allergy to it.

We began to peruse the menu.

The menu was lovely, pricey but lovely. I baulked at paying £23 for a 5 oz fillet steak  but I justified it by telling myself it was good restaurant and it would be worth it.

For my starter I went for the haggis fritters, well, you know, when in Rome and all that. Boofuls went for garlic mushrooms.

Both starters went immediately back to the kitchen as they arrived at room temperature. Disappointing. Sigh.

Little did I know that was only the beginning.

We ordered our steaks, as normal, rare for me and medium for Boofuls. That was the plan anyway. When they arrived mine was  ‘medium to well done’ and Boofuls’ was a chunk of wood, black on the outside, solid and dry in the middle. We really could  have done with some steak knives as well but none were forthcoming.

“Excuse me, I don’t want to be a nuisance but…”

My steak went back to the kitchen, Boofuls decided to persevere with his, a decision he later regretted.

My second steak duly arrived, I prodded it with my finger. ‘Hhhmm it’s obviously not overcooked but…’

Sure enough, it was still mooing, a good vet could have revived it. It was the bluest of blue steaks. Not only that but it had not one, not two but three huge veins of gristle criss crossing it.

I pushed it to one side, bored with it all at this point.

Me? Bored with food? Unheard of!

The manager came across to us, “Is everything ok?

“Well….”

“Let me get you something else.”

No, thanks. I’ll eat the potatoes ( dauphinoise, very buttery and nice) and order a pudding.”

“Well the dessert and your wine is on us.”

So, along came the dessert menu. Of course I stopped reading as soon as I saw licorice ice cream. Yum, yum, yum. I love licorice. It came with a vanilla creme brulee which I thought was a funny combination but hey ho.

Pudding arrived, followed a minute or so later by the manager who by this time was almost wringing his hands with desperation, hoping to find happy customers.

“Is dessert ok?”

“Well……..yes, but….. is that licorice ice cream? It looks and tastes like vanilla to me.”

The manager’s eyes nearly popped right out of his head when he saw the little white blobs of vanilla ice cream on my plate. I’m sure I saw them quake with fear and try to hide behind the creme brulee pot at the look he gave them.

“I’ll kill him,” He audibly muttered under his breath.

He snatched up the dish of ice cream and marched off with it towards the kitchen, looking a bit manic, like Basil Fawlty trying to keep his cool and failing.  I don’t know what he said to the chef when he got to the kitchen but I’m glad I wasn’t in his shoes because that was one irate manager.

By this time it had all become a big joke for me and Boofuls, helped along by the fact that I’d decided to help myself to his  wine and the combination of that and not much to eat was playing a big part in helping me to see the funny side of it all. The rest of the evening past by in a merry, blurry haze. A merry, blurry haze I greatly regretted the next morning, I can tell you. When will I ever learn to leave the wine WELL ALONE?!

Unusually for an onions and roses I’m not going to name and shame the restaurant.

It’ll have to be an anonymous  because I don’t think it would be fair to name them.

Although the food was dire the manager was brilliant and handled everything superbly. The bill for the entire meal was cancelled, including the wine, so me and Boofuls left very happy if a bit hungry and quite squiffy.

So there were are.

Onions and roses for the same place on the same day. Nasty big stinky onions to the inept chef but a huge lovely bunch of fragrant roses for the manager – and all the other staff at the hotel because everything else was spot on.

How not to start the day


Shuffling bleary eyed  into the home office in my dressing gown and slippers with my cup of hot water with lemon in my hand, as normal I plopped myself down at my computer this morning  to see what’s going on in the world.

‘I wonder what those new galleries look like on the website?’ I thought.   We’ve been having a lot of work done getting password protected galleries on the website and Boofuls has been working really hard to make it all happen.  I however, have been getting more and more frustrated with PayPal and setting up the bank account. I’m not terribly good at going round in circles and that seems to be all it wants to do.  Gggrrrr.

Logging on to the website and navigating through to the galleries page, I nearly choked on my hot water. it really isn’t nice when you snort your drink and it goes up your nose. I stared goggle eyed and shocked at the computer screen while hot water and lemon ran down my nose and chin.

The website chappie in his infinite wisdom had only decided to create a test gallery and used another photographer’s image to do it!!! Not only that, he’d even put our watermark on it!!  Jesus!! Get me sued, why don’t you.?

It wasn’t even a good photo. I wouldn’t have minded so much if he’d plagiarised a good photo but he’d plagiarised a bag of shit! So get me sued for a bag of shit, why don’t you?

Apopleptic, I snatched up the phone and rang Boofuls at work. Well, eventually I rang Boofuls at work. The first time I just pressed redial which turned out to be 1471.  The second time I misdialled but caught it before I’d finished dialling. Thank God, the last thing I would have wanted is to grovel to some irate stranger for disturbing them first thing in the morning.

Boofuls of course in his normal calm manner removed the photo  and calmed me down with soothing words and peace was restored.

****

Last night, after another day of implementing operation TLC, me and Boofuls went to our latest favourite restaurant.  Now we’ve been in a few times the staff have gone from being coolly polite to being over the top friendly.

After we’d finished our dinner last night, ( sea bass, very nice ) the waiter attacked us with a barrage of questions about our careers, where we worked, where we live, how much money we make.    I suppose that means we’re part of the family now.

It’ll be time to find a new favourite restaurant soon. In my experience, this kind of thing only escalates.  A bit of  chit chat at the beginning or the end of a meal is fine but ten minutes of interrogation at the end of my day when I want to relax with Boofuls isn’t my idea of an evening out. Does that make me a horrible person?

They do make damn fine food though.

 

 

 

 

Bits and pieces


So, that’s the first wedding of this year over and done with.  A gorgeously tall, elegant, beautiful, confident bride married her very sweet, honey monster looky like during an exceedingly short ceremony. Blink and you’d have missed it.

Even the registrar said to me” God, I’ll have to pad this out or the other registrar won’t have time to fill in the marriage certificate.”

It was definitely a case of: ‘Do you? Do you? You’re married.’

Still, it gave us a bit more time for photographs which is a good job because they’d forgotten to tell us they had a receiving line and that took half an hour off our time. You can shoot a lot of photos in half an hour so I wasn’t totally impressed.

In that lull between the wedding seasons I always forget how much like walking a tightrope over a pit of crocodiles wedding photography can be. It’s a good job I love the adrenalin rush,  work fast and  have such a pleasant and laid back disposition. Hahaha.

Lesser women have crumbled under the pressure of herding the cats…er I mean guests into the correct combinations for the photos  they’ll moan like hell about if you don’t manage to get.

So tell me again why  am I a wedding photographer?

Oh yes.

The weather forced us inside for the couple’s ‘special’ pictures.  The light was amazing in there, soft and romantic. You know instantly when you’ve bagged a special shot and there were quite a few. I couldn’t wait to get home and download the images and I wasn’t disappointed.

That’s why I shoot weddings – because  it it’s exciting, it gives me a chance to get creative and because I  just love everything about them.

***********

The trouble with frameless glasses is that I can never find the buggers when I’ve put them down. This morning I’ve wasted more time than is sensible looking for them only to discover they were right on the desk in front of me. I need reading glasses to find my reading glasses!

********

Big N seems to have forgotten that he’s not a chef any more.  He came home from work on Friday and announced that he was making a sticky toffee pudding. ‘Yum, nice Friday night treat.’ I thought.

He then went on to make a restaurant sized pudding, 24 portions if you please.

That’s eight portions each!

24 portions of sticky toffee pudding sitting in my fridge along with a huge tub of extra sticky toffee sauce. That’s just torture. How the hell am I going to keep my mitts off that?

To make it even worse, when Boofuls went out to get our Chinese take away last night (special chow mein, very nice)  he also came back with a family sized bar of  Dairy Milk with Crunchie. Aaaaarrrgghh!!

Definitely a lesson in self control.

*********

Did I mention that our house is off the market?

I’ll say that again. off the market.

After three years, four estate agents, £50,000 reduction off the price and a couple of false hopes of a sale we have decided to stay put until the property market picks up again.

Do you wanna buy a farm? Well it’s too late, mate. You had your chance.

Heheheeeeee.

Apart from all the really good reasons we had, and still have,  for selling up and moving, I never really wanted to go. Which is probably exactly why it didn’t sell, if you believe in universal energy.

Now of course I want to get on and do all the work that needs doing round here. You know, all the jobs we have been deliberately leaving because we thought we were moving out.

Tardy


I know, I know, I’ve been a bit tardy with the posting this week. Sorry.

To be honest, after our trip to the hospital the other day nothing else seemed very important.

We went out for dinner the other night to celebrate the fact that B isn’t going to shuffle off his mortal coil anytime soon – unless he gets run over by a bus.

6  million brownie points if you know (without googling it) where the expression ‘to shuffle off ‘ etc. comes from.

The choice as to where togo for dinner was mine – as was the suggestion to go out for dinner actually, God, I’m soooo idle!!  My restaurant of choice was the posh Chinese place up the hill. B looked a bit crestfallen as he’d secretly been harbouring fantasies of tucking into a huge fillet steak but he was very stoic about it. “Wherever you want to go darling is fine by me.”   Maybe the choice should have been his – it was after all his nip that had been set about with a hole punch.

Pulling up at the Chinese we noticed it looked a bit quiet even for a Tuesday.  Of course it was shut – even though there was a ginormous sign advertising the Tuesday – Friday early bird specials.  Dagnabbit!!!  Obviously the universe had taken pity on B and engineered it so that he got his steak – the next restaurant along  on this particular road is the Italian one that he really likes.  Oh well.

We were shown straight to our table, a well placed one near the window so we cold both watch all the goings on. A dim looking waitress came to take our drinks order:  1 large glass of red, 1 large glass of white and a diet coke.  That’s not hard is it?

Two minutes later a young lad arrived with 2 glasses of red and a coke. We pointed out the mistake to him, he clearly wasn’t very happy but hey ho, such is life. Next thing we know he’s putting down the glass of red wine and his tray starts to wobble. For a second he looked like he was putting on a show for us by juggling everything but oh no – next thing we knew there was was a huge CRASH as his tray hit the floor and rolled off between the legs of the couple on the next table. Down went the two remaining drinks, mostly down the waiter  and down my legs, into my best leather shoes but also all over the table and floor.

The poor chap stood there stunned for a moment then said a weak, “ow.”

“Are you hurt?” I enquired. To be honest he did look a bit like an extra from ‘Nightmare on Elm St’  Most of the red wine had gone on to his nice white shirt. The poor lad was dripping all over the place and horribly aware that everyone was staring at him.

We were quickly moved to another, not as good, table and the waiter disappeared. When we enquired about his whereabouts we were informed that he was too embarrassed to come back and was working in a back room. Poor thing.  Made me laugh though, cheered me up no end in fact.

Carrying on with the cheering up theme:  While we were away on  holiday my little tube of travel wash seemed to have rotted all my knickers, they were in tatters!!   Not only that but I was incapable of finding a matching pair of socks on account of not having the brains to get rid of both socks when one became worn out. The end result of this obviously was a drawer full of single socks. It was like a sock lonely hearts club in my sock drawer.

So, where else is a girl to go when she needs knickers and socks? M & S obviously.

No, silly. Not M & S  as in bezzie mate and husband. M & S as in Marks and Sparks, knicker champion for the whole British Isles and further.  The M & S in our town isn’t a massive store. We get the Per Una leftovers when the bigger stores have spit them out. The sad thing is that we fall on them so gratefully!  Our M & S store has an escalator. Just the one, it goes in an upward direction.  That’s great if you’re going up but not so great if you’re going down. I mention this not as a user of  said escalator. My preference has always been to take the steps next to it and mentally challenge myself to get to the top before the person on the escalator next to me.  I always win!

No, the reason I mention it is because of the average age of the customers.  It goes without saying that huge swathes of an M & S store are no go areas for anyone under the age of 85. Elasticated pants and pleated, flower print, crimplene skirts just aren’t for me – and if I ever do develop a liking for them or for ridiculous amounts of beige clothing,  my daughter has strict instructions to euthenise me.  It always amuses me that our ‘poor’ pensioners stand at the checkout in the food hall  on a weekly basis with trollies laden high with overpriced goodies that we can only afford to treat ourselves to occasionally. A client once said to me that when she could afford to do her weekly food shop in M & S she knew she’s made it in the world.

Anyway, back to the plot. Hoardes of pensioners were taking the escalator up to the first floor, going into the cafe for a cup of tea and a garibaldi then making their way back to the escalator only to discover that the only way down was via the steps. Oh dear Lord!! I saw at least three pensioners clinging on to the hand rail terrified of moving, falling  and landing headfirst in a heap by the velour tracksuits. At least one was clearly struggling to catch his breath, he looked like he could have done with a quick whiff of oxygen to get him moving again. A couple looked like they were about to have strokes.  I did actually feel very sorry for  them, they  were clearly having huge problems negotiating the steps. In a store that’s known for the being popular with our more  – ahem- mature citizens I’d expect at least an up and a down escalator.

The plight of the pensioners was soon forgotten once I hit the first floor and got possessed by the shopping frenzy. I bought all manner of new underpinnings and left the store feeling pleased with my new items, no more raiding B’s sock draw!  I’ll have it on record here that I have never raided his knicker draw – my knickers weren’t that tattered and I was never that desperate for clean underpinnings that I’d resort to Y fronts – a girl has to have some standards, you know.

This morning I went to get the result of my health check.  As I told them in the first place – I’m not ill. If I was I’d have gone to see a doctor, wouldn’t I?  Actually, I’m told I’m very healthy for an old bird, fit as a butcher’s dog, in fact.  I was quite impressed that they knew I exercised regularly by my cholesterol count. Clever that, eh?  The only thing wrong with me is that my bout of extreme gardening on Saturday has left me with a bad back. I can hardly bloody move. Fit as a butcher’s dog that can’t move, then.

This morning’s dance lesson was a hoot. have you ever tried to dance a samba when you can’t move?  It’s not easy, take it from me.  Out teacher made the comment that he’s normally trying to get me to calm it  all down by about 10% but today I’d calmed it down by 98%!!   Poor old poochie wont be getting out for her long walks with me for a few days. I hope it gets better soon, I don’t do pain terribly well. It makes me a tad grumpy.