Thornton Nurseries, December 2018

What do you do when you go to the pub, only to find that it has shut down and is going to be turned into flats? We went to The Reservoir Inn in April, and had a lovely lunch. We had a pre-Christmas stroll around Thornton Reservoir this morning, with crisp winter skies presenting some good photo opportunities along the way.

As we knew the lovely pub was only a few minutes away, we decided to pop in for some lunch. Only to be greeted by a pub in darkness, and a planning application on the door. Another village pub that will no longer be a pub, just even more accommodation to attempt to satisfy a never ending demand.

So we needed emergency lunch. Just a few hundred yards back in the direction we came from sits Thornton Nurseries, a bit of a back to basics garden centre in a world of Dobbies and Wyevale who are hoovering up independent places faster than you can blink.

The cafe inside (just a small paved area with a counter and a few seats and tables) is very much along the lines of back to basics, with the simplest of menus from a bygone era. No superfood salads, smashed avocados or sriracha chicken wings here. Ham, cheese, tuna, bacon, sausage and not much else in a roll. Keep it simple is definitely the theme.

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Sausage bap, brown sauce. Can’t get much simpler than that, or much cheaper. Did the job for me today, along with a good old fashioned can of ginger beer. Mrs MOFAD was less impressed with her lunch, but as an emergency food stop it was ok by me.

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BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2018

So here we are again, the annual visit to the Good Food Show. A compressed trip this year, as we had a discounted ticket which meant you couldn’t get in before 11am, and Mrs MOFAD had an appointment with an aircraft this afternoon (off to Munich for work).

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Luckily, the show was smaller this year, so we managed to do everything in 4 hours. There seems to be a trend towards shrinking over the last few years, and there were so many producers missing. No Port of Lancaster smokehouse, no Dean’s Shortbread, no Geeta’s, no Debbie & Andrew’s. No White’s, no Wild, no Saucy Fish, no Yorkshire Provender.

The most startling thing was the lack of breweries. I think 2016 was probably the high point for this, whilst this year there were only 5 or 6. Barely any cider makers this year too. Still lots of gin dominating the drinks village. Good to see our friends at the Curry Sauce Co back again (and they are now available in Ocado too!)

I met some fellow ministers:-

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and as usual we sampled some good food and drink, the standard random selection of beer, cheese, apples, gin, chocolate, sausages, pears, biscuits, chutneys, sauces and chicken teryaki. Definitely a much smaller show this year, but we still returned with a decent haul (some items not pictured for reasons).

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Hilton, Glasgow, November 2018

A sad hotel breakfast. Hilton was one of those names that you always used to associate with high quality hotels. The Glasgow one has lovely views of the M8 (you could drop a packet of UHT milk onto it from my bedroom window) and pretty tired rooms. If you’re arriving on foot (from the very convenient airport bus), it’s a pretty unpleasant experience.

The main reception area is quite impressive, but as soon as you step out of the lifts on the higher floors, the age begins to show. The breakfast area also feels more modern, but the sad mass catering stuff that is left out in heated dishes soon dispels that feeling. And the coffee is utterly terrible, burnt beyond recognition.

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Overdone beans, hash browns that have been hanging around for too long, sad eggs, anaemic bacon. The sausages were reasonable at best. Fodder for a day of work, no more. If you have the choice, stay elsewhere. There was equally unimpressive catering at lunchtime for the meeting that I was at.

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.

Tesco Travesty, March 2018

When you’re on the go and have things to do then a supermarket sandwich can fill a hole in your day. When you get home and find that your “chicken, bacon and sausage” sandwich looks like this:-

Then something is not right in the world of supermarket sandwich makers. Even worse when this is a “premium” sandwich from the Finest range, which should definitely contain more than just half a teaspoon of bacon.

After eating this travesty I did tweet Tesco about it, and they later offered a refund which I accepted. I think that’s fair, given that the sandwich didn’t contain all of the things that it should have done.

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.