The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #2

A much nicer day today weather wise. After a relaxed start to the day, we headed out to bag 2 more Wainwrights, Little Hart Crag and Hartsop Dodd. I can just make out the route we took down as I’m sitting out in the awning writing this.

After a relaxed afternoon, we headed up to the pub for dinner. As it was a nicer night, more campers were having their BBQs so there were more tables to choose from. We chose the nice one in the corner with lovely fell views.

Another pint of Tirril Eden Valley for me, Mrs MOFAD opted for gin tonight, a Scottish gin called Rock Rose. A new special on the food menu tonight (meatballs) but we both opted for the normal menu again. Mrs MOFAD had what I had last night, the tasty smoked haddock linguine, with a creamy sauce, parmesan and some garlic bread. My choice was venison casserole, topped with sauteed kale and accompanied by sweet potato fries.

It was delicious, tender meat, a nice casserole sauce and crisp sweet potato fries. This was accompanied by another pint of Eden Valley. We hung around for a while and played a card game before returning to the van.

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The Batch Cafe, Greenhill Leisure Park, Oxfordshire, May 2017

This premises has featured here before, under previous ownership. Last year, we came to this camp site over Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend, and used the on site cafe every day, twice on Saturday and Sunday. It wasn’t a perfect experience by any means, the food was good but they just couldn’t cope with the camp site’s size.

This weekend, we were back at the site. The cafe has changed hands, but it hasn’t changed size. So how would they cope?

By shrinking the menu, and shrinking their opening hours. They don’t open in the evenings and they don’t open on Sundays. This morning was our only chance to visit, so we popped in for breakfast. No full English any more, so I had sausage and egg with oatcakes.

Note quirky charity shop china – the tea pots were of the same ilk! A very tasty breakfast, and it certainly arrived quicker than the last time we were in here. The changes have certainly improved things, but the reduced opening hours are less convenient. You can’t have it all though, so I think I’ll settle for improved service and reduced hours.

The Bubble Car Museum, camp site and cafe, Lincolnshire

A tale of two lunches.

We were staying at the camp site attached to the Bubble Car Museum in Lincolnshire for the weekend with some friends. A nice simple site, fairly unfussy, and with decent enough facilities for small numbers of campers.

We didn’t have much planned for the weekend, and actually spent most of it on site. This meant that we decided to have lunch in the museum cafe on both days. Sadly they don’t do breakfasts, and they are also quite clear about having “no crisps, no fizzy drinks”. Even though you can see crisps in the photos below, and there is also a fizzy drink not pictured (ginger beer, so what they really mean is no Coke/Pepsi/etc.)

They have a simple menu of good home made stuff. I do love a ploughmans (thanks to the Cheese bureau and the milk marketing board for popularising it). This one was a three cheese version with a wedge of pork pie – classic Lincolnshire.

Lots of tasty components here. The coloured cheddar was the least flavourful of the cheeses, good stilton and brie made up for that. The pork pie was classic and home made. Good salad leaves (not just limp iceberg), decent coleslaw, and an interesting Asian style shredded thing. Pickled gherkins (unusual but welcome) and pickled onions round off the ensemble, with a few crisps on the side. There’s also a basket of good wholemeal bread which really makes this a proper filling meal.

That was Saturday, here is Sunday:-

Pretty similar and certainly consistent. Tasty lunches on both days and very competitively priced – all of the TripAdvisor reviews comment on the prices in the cafe.

Recommended if you find yourself in the area. You won’t find many places like this around these days – a proper old fashioned family place. Relax and enjoy something that feels like it’s from a bygone era.

Greenhill Leisure Park cafe, Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire

A tale of Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend.

A new campsite for us, we are always on the lookout for sites in the Oxfordshire or nearby area, as it’s kind of in the middle for our friends who we meet up with over the summer (and occasionally in the winter).

A lovely site, friendly staff, good facilities, well maintained and several different areas to camp in.

On to the cafe. A new venture for 2016, this cafe has recently opened. An on-site cafe is usually a guaranteed money spinner – a captive audience of campers, many of whom will often fancy a break from cooking at some point during their stay.

We made several visits over a busy Bank Holiday weekend – the weather was pretty good throughout, which meant the camp site was fairly full – lots of potential customers.

We started Saturday morning with breakfast, predictably a full English for me:-

Mrs MOFAD had the “half full” and regular MOFAD companions Matt & Hazel had a full and half respectively. My breakfast was very tasty, although the beans and mushrooms could have done with being a larger portion than a spoonful. My dining companions found the sausages a bit of an odd flavour, but I was ok with them. Matt woud have preferred the eggs to be cooked more thoroughly, I like a runny yolk. And you can’t argue with a cup of tea for £1.

Onwards to Saturday evening. A hog roast was advertised, and a hog roast was duly delivered. It was set up just outside the front door to the cafe, and had been rotating and roasting all afternoon long. Delicious slow cooked pork in a bun, with your choice of salad, cous cous, and some other bits and pieces, as well as apple sauce, and lovely roasted new potatoes, which had been cooked above the pork. Go in to cafe, pay for food, receive poker chip, exchange for food. Simple mass catering with good ingredients makes for a perfect evening camping meal. Everyone who partook thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday morning arrives. Time for breakfast again. I enjoyed it yesterday, and with the likelihood of lunch being later on today, it was time for the full English again. Same issue as yesterday – more beans and mushrooms please! Tasty bacon again, and good sausage. Someone else to help out behind the counter or clearing tables might have come in handy. The bacon rolls on offer this morning were using up left over baps from last night’s hog roast.

To Sunday night. Like last night, they were advertising a special. Beer battered fish’n’chips. Sounds great. Everyone likes fish’n’chips, and if you’re advertising that, then perhaps some kind of van is arriving to cook fish’n’chips for everyone.

Err, no. It’s all being cooked in the cafe kitchen. Shouldn’t be a problem, because I’m sure they can cope with it.

Err, no. Their fryer can only do 2 fish at a time. So when the people before you order 6 portions, and you’ve ordered 3 portions, you think you might be in for a little bit of a wait.

Err, no. It turned out to be almost an hour that we had to wait.

I think it’s pretty irresponsible to advertise something like this knowing that you can’t really cope with all that much demand. If you put up a board outside with “Join us for fish’n’chips tonight – all welcome”, then you might rightly expect that board to increase demand. You need to increase supply to cope with that!

A dissapointing wait, but very nice fish’n’chips eventually!

On to the final part of this increasingly sorry tale. Breakfast on Bank Holiday Monday morning. We arrived at 10am, after starting to strike camp. We took a break for breakfast. It seemed more people had been doing this, as when we ordered, we were told that the sausages had run out. I guess someone forgot to look in the fridge yesterday lunchtime, and go out shopping for supplies. 2 sausages were replaced by one rasher of bacon, and an additional hash brown. Still no more beans and mushrooms though.

We waited for our teas and coffees. And waited. More customers arrived, and soon they were being turned away because the cafe had run out of breakfast completely.

Teas and coffees then arrived (again, a lack of bodies behind the counter) and then breakfast arrived. Again, tasty stuff, and well cooked (although they did mess up part of the order).

As the weekend wore on, the cracks started to show. I’m not sure they were ready for the level of customers you’re going to get on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend. They desperately needed more staff to help out, and they really need more space for a bigger kitchen and more tables. The quality of the food is good, but the premises is not big enough for the size of the camp site.

Look at somewhere like Merkins, who have a slightly larger cafe but a much smaller camp site.

Keep up the good work, but get more staff and think carefully about offering something you can’t cook a lot of! And don’t forget to go shopping!