SoŸ?íŸ?í. The Paula Tour continues! I’ve had a couple of fab weekends away lately, and decided it would be fun to squeeze another one in before Christmas. We discussed the usual Ÿ??festiveŸ? venues such as York, or maybe Chester, but having checked out the accommodation situation, all the city centre hotels were either fully booked up, or rather expensive. I’m not quite sure how we came upon the next suggestion, or indeed why, but the City of Nottingham was put forward as a possible candidate. A vote was held, and once all the results were in, Nottingham came out as a winner. I immediately went to work on the various hotel websites and managed to find accommodation at a Travelodge on Maid Marion Way, which appeared to be pretty central. It didn’t have a car park, but was a five minute walk from a NCP car park that I was able to pre-book for the princely sum of ô?11-68 for the weekend. Happy days! The accommodation was booked, the car park was booked, and a Friday off work was booked. That was all the easy stuff dealt with, now all I had to do was choose some outfits and pack my case! Thursday night saw me hanging various dresses, coats, sweaters, and jeans on hangers around the bedroom, as well as the various underwear, hair, and footwear that we girls inevitably need. I was sure I had everything, but as I get ever more confident, I tend to think that what I haven’t got I will either manage without, or buy when I get there! Even so, there was probably enough stuff out to keep an all-female dance troupe on the road for a week! Friday morning saw me in work or 6-15am, and leaving work at 8-45am. A proper working day. It was then off back home, suitcase pack, shower, shave, shampoo, make-up, outfit, hair, last minute check, and off! Straight over to Manchester to pick my friend up, and then away to Nottingham. We chose to go via Macclesfield and Derby rather than the motorway Ÿ?? just for a more scenic route really. By 2-30pm, we were scanning our prepaid carpark ticket and waiting for the barrier to raise and let us in. It worked! Technology gone mad! We parked up, leaving the cases in the car, and immediately headed off into to shopping area in search of food and drink. We only wanted a snack, so it didn’t take long for us to be sitting in the British Home Stores caf€÷ / restaurant drinking Diet Coke, and eating Eccles cakes. Mmmm. Next job was a quick look around the centre to establish a few bearings for future shopping, drinking, and eating exercises. It didn’t take long and we had a rough idea what there was and where it was! The Christmas markets were on, so plenty to see and do. Having walked around the shops for a while, we returned to the car park, collected our cases, and announced out arrival at Travelodge. Everything was booked and as planned, and we were soon making ourselves comfortable on the fourth floor, before nipping down to the first floor and checking out the bar. It appeared to be in order, but we ordered a couple of large wine and sodas just to check it out. And then another one each just to make sure. A third was extremely tempting, but we agreed that a third might result in a fourth and no night out, so we resisted the temptation and went upstairs to change ready for the evening. We were both pretty tired, and were also feeling the results of two large glasses of wine sitting on nothing much more than an Eccles cake, so we agreed not to go too far and have a semi early night so that we were ready to tackle Saturday head on. With this in mind, we left the hotel, turned left, walked about 20 yards down the pavement, turned left again and entered Curry77 Ÿ?? an Indian Restaurant located next door to Travelodge. It was reasonably busy, but they had no problem in sitting us at a nicely positioned table and we were soon drinking more wine and eating poppadum’s. These were followed by Chicken Balti and pilau rice for my friend and King Prawn Jalfrezi with mushroom rice for me. It was served in good time, and we both managed to scrape our plates clean. There was nothing special about it, but there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with it. We chatted, had another drink, and then made our excuses, ready for the long walk next door, back to the hotel bar! I didn’t pay for the curry, but looking at the menus it didn’t look over expensive and a lot of the clientele were student younger type people, so I would imagine it must be reasonably priced. Our first impression of Nottingham was good Ÿ?? people seemed friendly, and no-one appeared to be perturbed by the fact that they had a globetrotting TV in their midst. One more drink in the hotel bar saw us heading upwards ready for a good night’s sleep. Saturday morning soon came around, and we were up bright and early, ready to go on the hunt for some breakfast. We had once again gone room only, giving us the option of having brekkie Ÿ??outŸ?. We donned suitable attire for shopping on a dry but very windy day, and headed off into the shopping centre where we fell upon Yates. Two traditional breakfasts, two extra toasts and two orange juices for ô?6-98. You can’t beat that! Fed and watered, we were soon ready to hit the streets. We shopped, and shopped. Then we shopped, and finally, we shopped. New underwear, shoes, bling, and some Christmas presents were amongst the bags that we found ourselves dragging around. I’d almost forgotten how much hard work this shopping could be. We had a small break mid-afternoon for a drink and cake in Costa, before a last round of shopping and then back to the hotelŸ?í. Yes, you guessed it, bar. This time, only one drink each, before heading back upstairs to once again change and get ready for out. We hadn’t booked anywhere, but we had come across a street with various Restaurants on it, so we were confident we would find a table somewhere. We left the hotel, and headed for the said street. We both knew where it was, so no problems there. Except for one minor hiccup. We actually didn’t both know where it was! In fact, neither of us actually knew where it was. We both had theories about roughly where it was, but Nottingham seemed somewhat different in the dark. To add to this, it was really very windy. One could almost say it was extremely windy. Talk about hang onto your hair! Anyway, we wandered past various things and places we recognised, each one convincing us that we were just around the corner from food. Each one being totally misleading, until I saw a modern building on the corner of a street that I really did recognise. Ÿ??It’s down there!Ÿ? I squealed with excitement. And it was. The first Restaurant to stand out was Jamie Oliver’s. I have eaten in Jamie’s on many occasions in Manchester, so had no qualms about trying out the Nottingham branch. In we went, and requested a table for two. The young lady explained that they were full, but could fit us in about 45 minutes later. She then added that there had been a Ÿ??no showŸ?, so she might possibly be able to give us their table. We were welcome to sit at the bar and wait. As we were in no rush, this seemed perfect, so we made ourselves comfortable at the bar along with a couple of wine and sodas. They obviously decided to give us the Ÿ??no showŸ? table, because within 10 minutes a waiter came into the bar and announced Ÿ??table for PaulaŸ?. He showed us to the table, provided us with menus, and left us with the difficult job of choosing nosh. We were sat in a small dining room with about another half a dozen tables, all of which were full. The table next to us was occupied by four young couples Ÿ?? early twenties I guess, being all grown up and having a meal before they hit the piss! I so love to see youngsters out having a good time. They were really friendly, and before long one girl in particular was making conversation with us. Early signs were that Paula was amongst friends. My friend decided to start off with Porcini Arancini – fried balls of mushroom risotto with mozzarella & Italian cheese fondue, whilst I fancied the Garlic and Chilli Prawns – cooked in their shells with chilli, garlic butter, ciabatta & parsley, served with baked garlic buns. They were good choices. Served fairly quickly, and both very tasty (we swapped a bit off each other’s just because we could). I decided to follow this with the Gennaros Famous Porchetta – slow-cooked pork belly filled with garlic, chilli & herbs, served with roasted root veg, spiced apple sauce & salsa verde, and my friend found herself staring into a plateful of Italian Steak Frites – flash-grilled prime beef steak, served with Italian-spiced skinny fries & rainbow slaw. As you would expect, we also ordered a couple of sides just to pad things out a little Ÿ?? chilli fries, and seasonal greens. Our main courses were perfect, and between the usual incessant chattering, and the comments to the adjoining table, we managed to clear both plates and both side dishes. Sergeants stripes all round! We had another drink during the meal, and were also provided with a jug of tap water complete with ice. Now all we had to do was decide if puddings were to be sampled. We had enjoyed a full breakfast each earlier in the day, but apart from a small cake in Costa, we hadn’t eaten anything else. We also hadn’t had puddings the night before, so I think we can safely conclude that on this occasion, puddings would be allowable. That was my excuse anyway, and I stuck with it right through the Trial! When our waitress cleared away the main course crockery, and asked us if we fancied a dessert, we did not hesitate in saying Ÿ??yesŸ?. So she soon returned armed with a couple of menus. My friend studied the menu hard and eventually managed to single out the Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake – velvety mascarpone & lemon cheesecake topped with Italian meringue, served with lemon curd & blackcurrants. I on the other hand, didn’t study my menu hard Ÿ?? I didn’t need to. I simply chose the Apple and Blackberry Pavlova – gooey meringue with whipped mascarpone, limoncello-soaked blackberries, apple compote & spiced crumble. Have you noticed, one dessert was velvety, and one was gooey? Have you also noticed who had which one? I rest my case! We sat and chatted and chilled, both well fed and feeling content. The table of youngsters had finished their meal, so they split the bill up and one of the girls started sorting the cash out, prior to handing it over to the waitress. The girls were sorting their makeup out, and the boys were showing the signs of having had a couple of drinks Ÿ?? being all boyish, but in a nice way. They each and every one of them said goodbye to us, and whatever they may or may not have said out of earshot, they were extremely accepting of me and polite to my face. That’s all that matters to me. We also paid our bill Ÿ?? a very reasonable ô?70-00 including tip, put on our jackets, and wandered off down the street in search of fun. We walked back down into the centre, and then along James’s Street which has several bars on it. The first one we tried was Bla Bla Bar Ÿ??it was dark, it was noisy, but it was fun. We had a couple of drinks, and had no hassle whatsoever, but it was just too noisy for us. Next we headed back towards the hotel, where we stumbled across Ye Old Salutation Inn. Wow, now there was an experience! It describes itself as a Rock Pub, and it isn’t far wrong. Two Manchester Girls, dressed up to the nines, on a windy Saturday night certainly stood out in Ye Old Salutation Inn! One of them more than the other! We were certainly made to feel welcome. Actually on a couple of occasions I felt slightly more welcome than I wanted to feel. Let’s put it this way Ÿ?? I certainly wasn’t short of people offering to keep me warm later in the evening (or morning as it was now well past midnight). I managed to tactfully say Ÿ??thanks Ÿ?? but no thanksŸ?, and we eventually left having had a damn good night. We were only on the next street to the hotel, so it wasn’t long before we were having a nightcap back at the hotel bar. Finally, well fed and watered, we turned in. Sunday morning brought with it the inevitable depression you feel when it’s home time. Showers were had, make up was applied, hair was sorted, but worst of all, suitcases were packed. We said our goodbyes and thank you’s to the Staff behind the hotel reception, and trudged off down to the car park to dump the bags. We weren’t leaving just yet. Nottingham was going to suffer a little longer! After all, we needed breakfast. We were going to go to Yates again, but on our way noticed a similar venue called The Bank Ÿ?? a large Yates / Weatherspoon’s type place that seemed to fit the bill. The prices and quality were very similar to Yates, and we were soon refuelled having polished off a breakfast, extra toast, and orange juice each. Oh, and a coffee and additional orange juice Ÿ?? I guess on account of last night’s alcohol. We then had a last wander around the shops, bought the usual last minute items, and then at about 2-00pm we set off home. It was a quieter journey than the one down Ÿ?? partly because we were tired out, and partly because we wanted an extra night in Nottingham. Never mind, we can always go again. I can only answer the three questions as I did for Liverpool in a general sort of way, but here goes: Is Nottingham TV friendly? Didn’t see a single other Girl like me, but this one had a whale of a time. I did everything I wanted to do; everywhere I wanted to do it without hassle or comment. Value for money? What can I say? Didn’t feel ripped off anywhere, so I guess it’s a Ÿ??YesŸ? Go again? Would love to. As with Liverpool, we didn’t do anything cultural, so maybe next timeŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í.