Wheatsheaf Hotel, Ingleton, July 2018

It’s the classic “first night of holiday” trip to the pub. We are in Yorkshire for a week of camping, and we have the Yorkshire three peaks ahead of us this week, as well as some other, flatter, walks. We decided to stroll down to the village of Ingleton from the camp site, and settled on the Wheatsheaf Inn. It seems that a local couple had also settled on it as their wedding reception venue, as there was a lot of activity out the back, and a large number of wedding guests milling around the bar.

The first pint was a familiar one from across the border, Moorhouse’s Brewery’s Pride of Pendle, full of caramel and malt.

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What to choose to eat when in an unfamiliar pub? Gammon of course, my “go to” dish when trying out a new pub. It was off to a good start before it even arrived, as it was to be accompanied by egg and pineapple. It should always be accompanied by both, never a choice of one or the other. Pineapple has a definite place in savoury dishes, and boo to all those pineapple haters out there (you know who you are). It was also to be accompanied by big fat chips and peas, the classic partners.

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As you can see, it was exactly as advertised, and was really nice. The only let down was the mustard, cheap stuff in a sachet which is never as good as something freshly made. Accompanied by a pint of Gale’s Seafarers Ale, now a Fuller’s beer.

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This was Blandy McBlandface. I swear it was better before they were taken over by Fuller’s but it’s been quite a few years since I had it, so the mind could be playing tricks.

A pleasant town centre pub, just a bit too popular on this particular Saturday night.

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The Old Mill Coffee House and Bistro, Chipping Norton, July 2018

A rare thing in more recent times, a breakfast post! It’s been a while since we’ve been out for breakfast, but as we were camping down the road and planning on a mooch around Chippy, we decided to pop in for breakfast/brunch. This place was recommended to us by an RAC employee who Hazel and Matt met yesterday after a minor issue with their Romanian automobile. And by minor I mean their towbar was just moments away from falling off as it hadn’t been installed properly. And that towbar had a caravan attached to it. By some miracle, it didn’t fall off.

A lovely warm day in this currently endless summer found us here in reasonable time for some breakfast/brunch. The staff shuffled a couple of tables around and we had a nice space in the corner, underneath the Velux windows which were open for some breeze, but with their integral blinds (great Velux feature) pulled down to keep the sun out.

Lots of breakfast options to choose from. Full English (usual stuff), Big Breakfast (Full English with another sausage, another egg, black pudding and 2 hash browns), breakfast bap, beans on toast. There are also the usual sandwich/bap/baguette offerings as well as eggs on toast. I opted for the Full English…

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It was a good breakfast (with decent toast – not pictured). Everything cooked perfectly, and all very flavoursome. A lovely little cafe doing good food and tea/coffee etc. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Chipping Norton.

The Plank & Leggit, Sawley, July 2018

This is another of those occasions where we don’t get to choose the pub. We’d been out walking with friends around Shardlow and Castle Donington earlier in the day, and were due to meet more friends here early in the evening. We abandoned the second part of our walk due to the scorchio temperatures and headed to the pub early. Normally this is a cause for celebration. In the case of a Greene King “IPA” establishment, it’s a cause for lime and soda.

So we sat back with some refreshing not-beer, and planned some future walks whilst waiting for other friends to arrive. When they began to arrive, I headed to the bar to order food, and another tasty pint of lime and soda.

Tonight’s dinner was “Route 66”, a burger topped with cheese, BBQ pulled pork rib meat, 2 hash browns and a free-range fried egg. Reasonable fodder, nothing special. Enough to replace lost calories afer a warm walk in the heat of the day…

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Another of those pub visits where you know that all of the beer that you own has been looked after far better than the dull casks delivered here each week.

Buddy’s Restaurant, Albufeira, Algarve, October 2017

Albufeira, the Skegness of the Algarve. As you approach the area, you come through lovely countryside, and some nice old buildings. This soon deteriorates as you get to a tribute version of any tacky English seaside town, somewhere where they sport “kiss me quick” hats etc.

Before tourism and package holidays exploded into life in the 1950s and 1960s, farmers who owned areas of land away from the coast where the people with the money in this area. Land by the coast wasn’t viable for farming, so wasn’t worth a lot. When holiday resorts and hotel complexes came knocking, the landowners by the coast were suddenly sitting on a goldmine, and they were the people with the money.

Goodbye characterful area, hello to identikit hotels with pools surrounded by sunbeds, and pubs serving a full English breakfast all day every day. That’s not really what I want when I’m going on holiday, I want something that is different to what I can find at home.

This is the dichotomy of Albufeira. Keep things like they were, and nowhere near as much tourist trade comes your way. Ruin your town, and your local economy produces enough money to support your population. A tough call.

A very philosophical start to a quick blog post about a club sandwich and some chips, in one of those aforementioned bars which doesn’t appear to have anything reflective of local culture. Maybe the token olive on a cocktail stick feels slightly local, but I don’t think the Portugese nation was built on chips, sliced white and club sandwiches.

This was essentially fodder for the rest of the day, nothing special, just enough to fill a hole.

If you’re coming to the Algarve, don’t come to Albufeira.

Skipton Park Guest O’tel, September 2017

On our previous visit to Skipton, we stayed at Fawlty Towers. This was due to the late nature of our booking, so we didn’t have a lot of choice.

This time, we had choice. We booked Skipton Park Guest O’tel (their abuse of English, not mine), back in October 2016 whilst we were in Southwold. It looked quirky, but in a good way.

We arrived not long after lunch on Friday afternoon, and were met by Jenny, one of the owners, who gave us an effusive welcome and explained everything about the hotel in forensic detail.

We were out for most of the day, and then up for breakfast on Saturday morning. Hazel & Mrs MOFAD needed fuel for their Yarndale exploits, Matt & I needed fuel for our walking tour of Skipton. This was a decent hotel fry up (a bit more colour on that sausage wouldn’t have gone amiss, but nothing to complain about).

Fast forward a day, and you get something very similar, just with some lightly toastesd toast on the side. All cooked by Ken, who is heard but seldom seen throughout your stay. Lots of very flavoursome ingredients make a cracking hotel breakfast.

After the craziness of Fawlty Towers in 2015, this was an enormous improvement. Lovely breakfasts, perfectly located for Skipton town centre (just  a short walk away, but far enough to be quiet at night) and friendly owners make for a lovely stay. I think we’ll be back next time we come to Skipton for a walking tour.

The Tudor Arms #4, Slimbridge, September 2017

Oh dear. It had all been going so well. After 2 good dinners and a decent breakfast, the wheels came off today. The normal chef had a family matter to deal with, and the relief chef hadn’t turned up to take over. This left a pub full of diners waiting for breakfasts. However, we didn’t find out about this until later on in proceedings. We ordered, we got teas and coffees. No mention of any problems.

An hour later, no sign of breakfast. We were informed that they were prioritising their residential guests first. Shame you didn’t tell us that earlier on. We managed to twist their arms into giving us some more tea and coffee. It shouldn’t have taken arm twisting, and the feeling of “other customers are more important than you” did rather put a dampener on our lovely weekend.

A much sadder offering today, the sign of a kitchen out of their depth and desperate to get plates out. Eventually. A shame things had to end like this, and a shame that they weren’t really interested in trying to treat all of their customers equally.

Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, May 2017

Going away at this time of year usually means a camping trip, but something a bit different here. A hotel stay for a friend’s wedding, just for one night, and just down the road off the A5 in Hinckley.

The place name “Hinckley Island” may confuse you, particularly if you know that Hinckley is in Leicestershire, famed for not being a county where islands are generally found. I think the island is a reference to the shape of the hotel, which is a five pointed palm shape (in the style of the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, but on a much smaller scale).

Our room was right at the back of the hotel, and there was an unpleasant smell upon arrival, which was soon dealt with by the use of the flushing mechanism. How do these things not get spotted by cleaners?

We booked this trip ages ago, and there was a special deal which included bed and breakfast and a free bottle of prosecco. It did take us 10 minutes to convince the hotel to give us our free bottle, eventually they relented. They even found us an ice bucket, as they hadn’t managed to chill enough bottles, forgetting perhaps that multple wedding guests might want to claim the offer that they had paid for…

It was just as well they did, otherwise it would have been Pedigree all night. A rebrand can’t hide what’s inside, unbalanced bitterness and a beer that has had its time.

The final thing to report on in any hotel, is the breakfast. Your usual self service buffet affair here, the bacon was a bit insipid and watery, the sausages were good, and the hash browns were crispy. A decent runny fried egg too.

Not the most amazing hotel stay in the world, functional and competent, but not much more. At least it only took 25 minutes to get home.