The Planet Pavilion Café – Jodrell Bank – May 2018 – chaos theory in action

When you are surrounded by such awesome science, you might expect the simple things like a cafe to be equally good. On a scorching bank holiday they were very busy, but that’s not necessarily a sign that they were any good, being possessors of a very literal captive audience (there are no other options for a good few miles unless you bring your own).

A reasonable queue, but one which was moving along nicely. The reason for that became clear as Mrs MOFAD ordered. They took your order for items on display. You paid. And then you go to your table, drop some stuff off, and go back to pick up your order. Which is still sitting in the cabinet, so other people could be ordering it, not knowing if they are going to be able have it, because one or more people could have already secured it ahead of them. It was chaos theory in action. Orders were coming out seemingly at random, and there were just not enough people around to organise this chaos.

Eventually we did get some tasty lunches and enormous portions (although you would expect these sizes for the price paid), but the overwhelming flavour was of chaos as opposed to coronation/lightly curried chicken. And there was a lot of celery in the salad. Who wants that? Celery is not MOFAD approved.

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It seems they are trading on the rather good views you get of this thing…

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Must try harder!

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Coach House Cafe, Rufford Abbey Country Park, Nottinghamshire, April 2018

We want plates. Today was the perfect example of why. On to the that in a moment.

We were in the area doing a few bits and pieces and decided to stop here for lunch and then maybe a bit of a wander around the grounds. It’s certainly worth staying a while to get value for money from the car park fee 🙂

So, on to plates. As you can see, the food below is served on a silly slate, not a plate. If you look closely, you might spot three halves of panino. Two of those halves are from the second attempt at making one. The other half is from the first attempt, and its counterpart never made it onto the slate, slipping down on to the floor with great speed. A plate would likely have stopped this, saving the cafe time and money, and the person who dropped it embarassment. The hungry customer (me) did rather well, as I got 50% extra free.

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The moral of this story is very definitely to use plates to serve up your tasty ham and cheese panino (it was very tasty indeed), because then you don’t waste money. The large thimble of coleslaw wasn’t much to write home about, but the rest was very nice.

A good place for a spot of lunch, just a shame that the weather didn’t hold out so that we could explore more of the grounds…

The Ale Cellar Tea Room, Lyme Park, April 2018

More National Trust action. NT membership means that you don’t have to pay their extortionate parking charges, and each visit to an NT car park “pays off” the membership fee each year. Nowadays it doesn’t take all that many visits for membership to be worthwhile.

Today we were back at Lyme Park for another walk, finishing off one we started over 2 days in 2014. The weather forecast was essentially overcast, an improvement on yesterday’s rain and mudfest, but still not the spring that we are waiting for.

The last time that we came to the Ale Cellar, they had run out of ale. No such problems today, but there was not a great deal of variety on the menu, and the portions were vaguely adequate at best. You’d expect some big doorstop sandwich rather than just some posh sliced white with a few crisps and token salad tossed in.

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It’s fair to say we were underwhelmed today, not really adequate sustenance for a dank and dreary April stroll. In summary, meh.

Royal Albert Hall, February 2018

How do you get to the Royal Albert Hall? Practice!

One of the oldest musical jokes in the world there. In my case, the answer was via Kensington Palace (grounds, above) and Kensington Gardens, after a walk through the snow. It was bitterly cold, with a “realfeel” of -10 celsius, aka “brrrrrrrrrr”. Much as I wanted to stay out strolling along the Serpentine and up to the Hyde Park bandstand, a little defrosting was required. As the Albert Memorial had just loomed into view (it’s hard to miss it!) it meant that his hall was not far away.

One day I’ll come here for a performance. I’ve so far missed all 208 of Eric Clapton’s appearances, the RAH’s most prolific living performer. Today, it was just for a nice warm cup of coffee and a chance to hang about in this historic building for half an hour. There’s a lot of building work going on at the minute, so this 1871 landmark is not quite at its best, although it is still mightily impressive. More ancient and steeped in history than the Sydney Opera House (we’ve been to a performance there!) but not as quirky.

The beer selection is awful (not a problem today), but the coffee was decent enough. A great place to stop even if you’re not catching a show. A welcome warm up after a chilly stroll.

Grounds Cafe, Hicks Lodge, February 2018

Another day out walking. Conditions underfoot today have been squelchy and squashy, much like they have for most of the winter. Luckily we knew that a warm welcome awaited in this cafe, as it’s somewhere that occasional MOFAD companion and triple pork nirvana chaser Dan has been a lot.

We arrived after 2pm for a late lunch, which was probably not a bad idea as a few tables had become free (it’s very popular as there are loads of cycle trails around this former coal mining site).

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A nice simple lunch today, chicken, bacon and cheese panino (although it was a baguette pretending to be a panino), with a little bit of salad on the side. Once again I left the sad iceberg lettuce to its own devices and ate the rest, including some very nice cherry tomatoes.

This little cafe is great if you are walking or cycling in the area. They are open until 4pm on winter weekdays, 5pm at weekends and also 5pm all week between February and October half terms. They open until 9pm every Thursday all year round.

Laura in the Lakes, Keswick, December 2017

Another quick lunchtime post. A day of dull today, so we were trundling around the shops in Keswick today. We decided to try something different for lunch, one of the many quirky little cafes in Keswick, in the form of Laura in the Lakes.

We’ve walked by countless times, it’s hard to miss with its eye catching cutesy sheep/butterfly branding. Today was the day to pop in for a later lunch. Loads to choose from, including panini, wraps, baguettes, rolls, pizza breads, quiches, soups, broths, stews, curries, lasagne, pies, pastries and jacket spuds.

I had ham & cheese panino (always predictable), it was simple and tasty, perfect to warm up on a miserable day in winter.

If you’re out and about in Keswick, then this compact little cafe will do nicely.

Ellis’ Tea Room, Rothley Station (Great Central Railway), November 2017

The Great Central Railway is the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway. It’s the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other – just as it was when steam ruled the rails. And it’s just down the road from us, which is rather handy. We’ve been to various bits of it over the years, been to the beer festival (every September), been on the dining experience trip (many years ago), and Mrs MOFAD had her 40th birthday party in one of the carriages as we steamed to Leicester and back. It was a great night.

Trains run every weekend of the year, bank holidays and selected weekdays throughout the summer.  The railway has won a number of awards including “independent railway of the year”, a gold award for the East Midlands’ best visitor experience and is a quality assured visitor attraction as designated by Enjoy England.

The latest project is to reconnect the northern part of the line which ran towards Nottingham (the clock tower outside the Victoria Centre is all that remains of Nottingham Victoria station). You can see more about the project here:-

Each station along the line (Loughborough, Quorn and Woodhouse, Rothley and Leicester North) has its own food and drink offerings. Loughborough has a buffet cafe and a shop on the main platform. Quorn and Woodhouse has the Butler Henderson cafe and the NAAFI tearoom. Leicester North as the Station tearoom (tea, coffee, snacks, cakes).

Our destination was Rothely station, and Ellis’ Tea Room. There’s also the Station tearoom on the platform, but Ellis’ Tea Room is separate to that. The building which houses it was built in 1899 when the Great Central Railway was opened. Local firm Joseph Ellis and Sons Ltd used it to store corn and coal, ready to be collected by wagons and sent around the country by train. The building fell out of use well before the GCR was preserved but has now been fully restored and carefully converted to a tea room. It serves hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes, sandwiches, light lunches and ice creams.

Today we both had panini, ham and cheese for me, tuna melt for Mrs MOFAD. The cafe was very busy and our lunch took a while to arrive but it was very tasty when it did. They do prioritise lunches for those people who have a train to catch, which makes sense.

A simple lunch today, just what was required on a crisp autumn day. And no visit to a steam railway is complete without taking a photo or two of a train. Obvs.