Paula Falisia

Most people who have visited Manchester Concord on a Wednesday evening will know Paula Falisis. Paula has written many reviews & tails of her experiences out and about in restaurants throughout the North West and occasionally beyond. They make for fabulous reading – funny and inspiring. They have given many of us, without Paula’s adventurousness and confidence,  the push we’ve often needed to venture to places previously thought to be out-of-bounds.

We hope you enjoy them as much as we have. Apologies if some of the test has glitches – these are due to errors in conversion from our old website.

 

02-10-2016-Canal Boat – Romance

When I was a young Ÿ??girlŸ? at primary school, I vaguely remember going on a school trip along the Manchester Ship Canal. I’m sure I have mentioned my fascination for canals, and I have to admit that lately, I have had a hankering to repeat this said trip. I mentioned it to Sue, and she was more than up for the idea, so I made a few enquires, and eventually managed to book a cruise on a Thursday. It was to be a 6 hour cruise from Manchester to Liverpool, a couple of hours in Liverpool, and then a coach trip back. Sorted! Alas, things were not to be. A couple of weeks before the cruise, I received an email to say that due to Ÿ??an incidentŸ? with one of the boats the trip was cancelled. My money was duly returned to my bank account, and I was left feeling disappointed. We replaced the trip with a day out shopping in Liverpool, but that is another story. As we were due one of our Friday nights out, I decided for some reason, to type the words Ÿ??canalŸ? and Ÿ??dinnerŸ? into my Google search box (other search engines are available!). Would you believe that only a 20 minute drive from where we live there is a Company that operate canal boats, and offer various dining experiences thereon? You can do Sunday lunch trips, afternoon tea trips, and dinner trips. Details can be found at www./canalboatcruises.co.uk . Better still, there was a trip available on the coming Friday evening. It was a Tapas menu on this occasion rather than a full meal, but I still fancied giving it a try. An email was promptly dispatched, which was equally promptly answered confirming that Sue and Paula were booked on. I didn’t tell Sue of my plans Ÿ?? I thought the element of surprise would be a nice change, so on the said night, we rushed home from work, showered, made up, dressed, and set off on our Ÿ??magical mystery tourŸ?. The canal boat company is based adjacent to a pub appropriately named Ÿ??The Boatyard InnŸ?, so my plan was to go there for a drink and let Sue think that was our final destination. We headed off down the M65 motorway, left at junction 3, and pointed the car towards Riley Green. Ÿ??Isn’t the Boatyard down here?Ÿ? Sue enquired. I put on a mock grimace, and lead here to believe she had busted me. This plan would have been OK, apart from one minor detail. Actually, in fairness, it was a pretty major detail Ÿ?? The Boatyard was totally closed for a refurbishment and resembled a building site. I pretended to be disappointed and headed for a nearby pub called the Royal Oak. In my other life, my Company carried out all the electrical repair works at the Royal Oak, so I thought this could be interesting. It was Ÿ?? but for another reason. As we entered there were four Ÿ??old croniesŸ? sat at the bar in two pairs, sideways to the bar, facing each other. They were what I would describe as the snobby type, and as I walked past them, one with his back to me quite obviously sniggered and said to the others Ÿ??That was a conversation stopper!Ÿ? Now as you all know, I am fully aware of who and what I am, and I usually take such very infrequent comments with a pinch of salt, but there was something about this particular Ÿ??gentleman’sŸ? attitude that shall we say rubbed me up a bit. His two friends that were facing me were obviously embarrassed, and were trying to give him the nod that I was stood behind him, so I thought it only fair that I should help them out and let him know personally. I leant my head between him and his friend, and quite politely pointed out that he should feel free to continue his conversation and on no account would I expect him to stop it on my behalf. He nearly fell off his stool! I got a half mumbled apology, which I accepted, and then I ordered my drink and left them to continue their conversation. I don’t think they found it easy with me stood behind them, but I was only having the one drink, so I didn’t feel inclined to move. In fairness to them, when Sue and I left, they did all make the effort to say goodbye, and I gave them the respect of a civilised reply. Just! I know none of the above relates to food or canal boats, but I wanted you to know that although they are massively rare occurrences, I, like all the rest of us am vulnerable to public opinion. Anyway, now what were we to do? As we walked back to the car Sue was wondering what my back up plan was. I suggested we went back to The Boatyard, just to check it really was shut, which was really quite ludicrous! It was fenced off with construction barriers and in total darkness, but Sue humoured me. As we pulled back onto the car park, I pointed at a large canal boat moored up at the far end and said Ÿ??we could always eat thereŸ?. I must admit, I had won this one. Sue did not have a clue! We parked up and made our way to the boat, where we were met and welcomed aboard. It was down 3 or 4 rather steep steps with very little headroom. The type of situation where one could imagine quite easily losing your hair. I was very, very careful. We were last to board, and as we were shown to our table I was able to count around 30 people already sitting down waiting. It was lovely. A proper little table with table cloth, LED candle lights, and the appropriate cutlery and accessories. There was background music playing and fairy lights flashing, helping to provide a lovely atmosphere. The boat was aptly, or aptly not, called Ÿ??RomanceŸ?. Within a few minutes we were Ÿ??casting offŸ? and backing out of the Marina, ready to start our trip along the Leeds Liverpool canal. There were four young ladies and a young man, all wearing matching black outfits with multi coloured scarfs who very quickly went along the full length of the boat taking drinks orders, and again, pretty quickly, the same team then came along with our first dish of food which was Mixed olives with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and artisan bread. After a few minutes, they came along with more bread which was very tasty indeed. All the while, we were chugging along at about 4 miles per hour, enjoying the scenery in the fast fading light. I have to admit, if it had been Sue and Dave instead of Sue and Paula, it could have been quite romantic! The boat is aptly named. As it went darker, spotlights were switched on, and the scenery on the canal bank was stunning. Wildlife could be seen scurrying about in the dark, and the silhouettes of the trees and fences looked beautiful. The serving team quickly cleared our dishes and appeared with the next course which was Vegetable Paella, and so this process was repeated with servings of Salt and pepper chicken wings, baked camembert and roasted garlic with more bread, BBQ Ribs, Mini Bruschetta’s topped with chorizo and red onion, and Patatas Bravas. After about 40 minutes cruising we turned around and headed back towards the Marina, which we then sailed past in the opposite direction for a further 40 minutes or so before turning round again and heading back to base. We were served vanilla ice cream for dessert, and Sue asked for a coffee which was promptly and politely provided. All in all the experience lasted two and a half hours, and we were back Ÿ??in dockŸ? at 10-00pm. The girls (and boy) came around with our bills and chocolate mints, and we all said our thank yous and goodbyes. The cost of the Tapas cruise is ô?19-50 per head, but due o the fact that Sue consumed a reasonably large amount of Rose wine equaled by my capacity for Diet Coke, and adding the cost of the coffee on, our bill ended up at ô?71-00. I was still more than happy with that. We have both said that we fancy trying other meals on the boat, so I don’t think you have heard the last of this one. The crew was all really friendly and polite, and Sue managed to reward their diligence with a Ÿ??head crunchŸ? on her way up the steps off the boat. I reckon it was the Rose wine rather than the lack of headroom, but it wasn’t for me to surmise Ÿ?? I know when and when not to comment! So, what do we think? How are we going to summarize this one? Let’s see shall weŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. Is Romance TV friendly? It was brilliant Ÿ?? smiles all round from crew and passengers alike. You aren’t exactly in the public domain, but the audience you do have is pretty captive! No worries here. Value for money? I think so Ÿ?? you can’t complain at ô?19-50 per head, and let’s face it, you don’t have to add a vast amount to it unless you want to. Would I go again? I will definitely be going again. I quite fancy the Sunday lunch trip next, and Sue has said that her and her friend Sue will be trying it out.


01-09-2016-Lincoln – in general

Having enjoyed my recent weekends away, I reckoned it was time for another one. We didn’t really have an agenda, or any special reason to go to any special place, so it was a case of having a look at what took our fancy. We didn’t want to travel too far, but we wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before. I got a good old fashioned map book out and had a gander at the cities surrounding Manchester in an ever increasing circle. As you can imagine, we had at least visited most of them, if not indeed stayed overnight at them. The first place to stick out from the crowd was Lincoln. The reason beingŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í.. there was no reason! I Googled Lincoln, and noted that it appeared to have everything we would need and more, so I classed it as a decision made. A bit more research led me to the fact that most of the City Centre accommodation was booked up, but I was able to book in at a hotel called Huckleberry’s Bar and Grill located at 30 Clasketgate, Lincoln, LN2 1 JS ( www. huckleberrysbarandgrill.co.uk ). It was well located very close to the Centre, had a Restaurant in case of emergencies, and had a Bar! Happy Days! Rooms were booked in Paula’s name, and the journey was planned with precision. Well, the postcode was typed into the Sat Nav! Suppose that’s as much planning as is required nowadays. We left Manchester Around lunchtime on a Friday, and by mid-afternoon the newly installed Manager at Huckleberry’s was being introduced to Paula Falisa. He was totally unfazed, helped us carry luggage upstairs, and made sure we were aware of all the facilities available to us. He was also helpful with regard to places to eat, both for Breakfast and for Dinner. We made ourselves at home, unpacking our various outfits and shoes etc. and then decided to go and explore Lincoln a little. We had a wander around the shops, and quickly spotted Stokes High Bridge Caf€÷ – A traditional caf€÷ serving freshly roasted coffees located on Lincoln’s High Bridge, the country’s oldest bridge that still has buildings in use on it. We had a sandwich and a drink each, followed by scones, strawberry preserve, and clotted cream. Yum Yum! I already liked Lincoln a lot. Once we had demolished the scones, it was time to return back to Huckleberry’s, where we had a quick drink before going up to change for the evening. By 8-00pm we were back on our way out again Ÿ?? this time the jeans, tee shirts and Ÿ??flattiesŸ? had been replaced with dresses and heels. We were ready to hit the Town! First stop was food, so we wandered up High Street and found Cote Brasserie, where we had a main course and dessert each – we passed on the starters on account of the scones! I won’t bore you with all the details, but it was good and cost us ô?58-67 including drinks and a 12.5% optional gratuity. From there we wandered further along the street and found The Cardinals Hat Ÿ?? a good old fashioned pub that seemed to be a bit of a Ÿ??real aleŸ? type of place. We managed to interact with a couple of guys who were sampling a pint or three, and a certain amount of flirting took place. They knew who and what I was, but sufficient ale had been sampled to ease the pain, and lower any inhibitions they may have set off with, and by the end of the night it was touch and go whether I would remain a Ÿ??single girlŸ? much longer! Needless to say, I was not wearing my beer goggles, nor was I suffering the symptoms of over indulgence, so I kept a penny tight between my knees and remained a good girl. After a thoroughly good night, we decided to head back to the Hotel and have a reasonably early night ready for tomorrow. This was a great idea until we walked past Lola Lo. Actually, this is where the problem lies. We didn’t quite walk past Lola Lo. We sort of walked up as far as Lola Lo, and then we walked into Lola Lo. Why we walked into Lola Lo, I’m not quite sure Ÿ?? I think it may have been because the guy on the door invited us in free of charge on account of us being Ÿ??ladiesŸ?. Anyway, the whys and what fors don’t really matter, the fact is that we went in and didn’t come back out until some time later. Some considerable time later! Several Cocktails later. It was nearer breakfast time than teatime when we let ourselves into the back door at Huckleberry’s and crept up to bed. Despite our late night, we were both up, dressed, and ready for breakfast by 9-00am. We ventured out and found ourselves looking for Patisserie Valerie on the recommendation of the Manager at Huckleberry’s, where we both tucked into a full English breakfast. It was much needed! I don’t know how much it cost Ÿ?? I didn’t pay. Saturday then saw us roaming around the shops, going on a one hour canal boat trip setting off from the Waterfront, sitting watching the Dragon Boat Racing in the Marina, and generally enjoying a relaxed, chilled day. We had a coffee in a small caf€÷, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called. We people watched, chatted, walked, sat, and did everything you should do on a leisurely weekend away. Teatime saw us heading back to the hotel where we had a quick drink before once again heading upstairs and transforming our look. This time we decided to head back down to the Waterfront where there is a host of Restaurants and Eateries. We opted for Italian, and managed to find a table in Ask Italian. Here, we had a starter each, a main course each, and a shared dessert along with a drink each for ô?55-00 including a tip. We chatted and watched people walking to and fro along the Waterfront, probably both being a little bitchier than we should have been! Once our food had settled, we walked back up onto High Street and had another drink in The Cardinals Hat. Lincoln really is buzzing at night time and there is a lot of choice of places to go. I guess we opted for the same out of laziness to be honest Ÿ?? we enjoyed it on Friday, so why not Saturday? This time we pledged to give Lola Lo’s a miss. We were successful with this pledge, and headed back to the hotel at the reasonable time of about 1-00am, but just our luck – the Staff were just finishing tidying up and were sitting having a drink. The second we walked through the door, we were invited to sit and have a drink with them. The Proprietor was also sat with them as well as the Manager, so it would just have been downright rude to refuse. The result of this valiant display of good manners was a somewhat later night than planned, we did however have a great laugh and conversation with everyone, and once again I was flattered by the unreserved way they treated me. Bedtime soon brought around morning, only this time it was Sunday. Packing day already. We packed our cases and loaded them into the car, and then wandered off back down onto the Waterfront for our final breakfast. This time it was Harvester that enjoyed our company. We had the unlimited breakfast do-dah which cost us the princely sum of ô?4-99 each. Another wander round saw us slowly heading back towards the car, and finally leaving the city of Lincoln early Sunday afternoon for our journey home. The three questions go as follows: Is Lincoln TV friendly? Didn’t see any others, but I was treated fantastically. I was chatted up, high fived, smiled at (no doubt laughed at somewhere along the line), and treated exactly as I would have wanted. Value for money? Doesn’t really apply apart from the fact that we paid reasonable prices for reasonable food. We didn’t consider the Hotel to be overpriced, and there are enough shops of all types to be able to buy what you might need at the right price. Would I go again? I certainly would. We didn’t get time to visit the Cathedral, and there’s certainly plenty of unexplored nightlife to last another weekend


01-07-2016-Edinburgh – in general

This blog is slightly different to the usual ones, as it covers a four day trip, so I don’t intend to bore you to death with details of every morsel of food we ate, but merely to let you know where we went and how we got on. Elton John is as Artist I have always enjoyed and admired. I suppose the fact that I have been to see him live on several occasions at places as far away as Wembley and Paris, as well as more local venues probably makes me what you would describe as a Ÿ??fanŸ?. I’m more than happy to accept that label, and so when I heard he was on tour this year, I decided to see where he was playing, and if I was able to see him once again. I logged on to the appropriate website and was pleased to see that he was indeed playing as local as Liverpool. I immediately decided to go and see him on what may be his final years touring. He is now 69 years of age, and has more than hinted that this may be the Ÿ??last oneŸ?. The Liverpool Gig was on a Tuesday evening, mid-June. Perfect. Then, however, my mind started to do its usual overtime working, and I decided that finishing work early on a Tuesday and fighting with the pre tea-time traffic around Liverpool might not be such fun after all. Where else was he playing – preferably on a Friday or Saturday? Edinburgh on Saturday 25th June. Mmmmm, never been to Edinburgh since I was a young Ÿ??girlŸ?, Sue had been recently and raved about how nice a place it was, and 25th June is my late Mums birthday, so something to keep me occupied would be a good idea. Edinburgh is quite a long way to travel (201 miles to be precise), so maybe I could go the day before and make a trip out of it? Maybe I could go a couple of days before and make a bloody good trip out of it? A plan was forming, and with no more ado, I ordered two tickets. I hadn’t asked Sue at this stage if she wanted to go, or indeed if she minded me going, but these were details that could be sorted later. As it happens she had an important horse show on Sunday 26th, so she couldn’t in fact go, but my friend Yvonne was more than happy to join me, so I booked some accommodation and it was decided that we would leave Thursday morning and travel back home Sunday afternoon. Something to look forward to! I made all the appropriate arrangements at work, putting in extra hours to get ahead, working harder the week before, and making sure my sister Anne was happy to hold the fort whilst I Ÿ??did oneŸ? for a couple of days, and even went home early the Wednesday evening after attending Concord to ensure I wasn’t overtired on my Ÿ??holidayŸ?. Thursday morning saw me packing my two suitcases with numerous casual daytime outfits suitable for all weathers, along with a couple of posh night time outfits for the inevitable jaunts. I had decided to wear a jumpsuit for the Concert Ÿ?? smart, but more practical for sitting down in and travelling on public transport in. Yvonne arrived at our house where she was leaving her car, and shortly after 10-00am we were on the road like two excited schoolgirls. We made good progress, and had reached a strategically positioned service area in the Gretna Green area at a suitable time for a lunch break. We went into the food hall, and decided that Burger King was the unfortunate place that was going to suffer the company of an excited, travelling TV. We ordered soft drinks and food, found a table, and enjoyed our food in total comfort. Not one person appeared to notice that there was a girl with a difference amongst them, and after a visit to the Ladies, we left Gretna behind with our marital status remaining as was, and totally happy with my first encounter with the Scottish Public. Another couple of hours or so saw us tackling the streets of Edinburgh, seeking out the NCP car park near our Hotel. With the help of my iPhone Sat Nav, and a bit of crafty navigating by Yvonne, we were soon parked up and wheeling our suitcases out of the adjoining shopping centre, heading for the Hotel. When I say Hotel, I actually mean Travelodge, but for the purpose of our visit it was more than adequate. The rooms were clean and tidy, the bathrooms were perfect for real girls and pretend girls, and the location was perfect. Right at the end of Princes Street. We introduced ourselves, collected our keys, and chatted to the Receptionist about possible night time venues, as well as ideas for our journey to the Concert. Having parked the car up, I was determined to use public transport for the next few days if possible. She was really helpful, providing us with local maps, and adding several biro marks to indicate suitable places for us to go. We made ourselves comfortable, and then headed off out for a walk along Princes Street to see what was where. All the usual shops were there to be seen, but the drinking and eating venues were mainly a couple of streets back. We walked the full length of the street and back, finishing our journey in a local caf€÷ bar / bistro next the Hotel called Martone. Here we ordered a soft drink each just to quench our thirst prior to going and getting changed ready for the night time. This was to the first of two visits to Martone, so I’ll save the details for later. Having donned posh frocks, we met up ready for our night out, and discussed where we might go. I had spotted a Jazz Bar on the map, and quite fancied a visit, so I checked out Yvonne’s thoughts with regard to live Jazz music. They were positive, so a decision was made. We would walk towards the Jazz Bar which was on Chambers Street, and see what we could spot food wise on the way. It didn’t take long before we had stumbled on a small Whiskey Bar / Restaurant called The Royal MacGregor, located at 154 High St. Here we were able to go in and enjoy some good pub type grub, which was promptly served and reasonably priced. Needless to say, they didn’t appear to have any issues with serving a TV from over the Border. Once we were fed and watered we continued our walk, and were soon stood on Chambers St. at the top of the stairs that led down to The Jazz Bar. We went down the stairs where we had to pay a ô?7-00 entrance fee, and then entered the Club. It was obviously located in a basement, and had all the hallmarks of a James Bond set. Booths, dark almost seedy atmosphere, bar at one side, and a stage at the far end. A trio were busy performing live jazz music, and all that was missing was lots of cigar smoke and a husky voiced female singer. We sat at a table, ordered drinks Ÿ?? which were reasonably priced, and sat back to listen to the music. The clientele was surprisingly mixed from a young single lad, to a couple of girls, to a middle aged couple, to a much older couple, and pretty much everything in-between. The trio left the stage around midnight, and were replaced by a five piece local band who were playing funk fusion and jazz, this time with some vocals. As time went on, the place got busier, and by the time we left somewhere around 2-30am, it was pretty full! We managed to hail a cab within 10m of the door, and were soon heading up to bed back at the Travelodge. Friday morning saw us up bright and breezy (ish), and we were soon setting off out to look for some breakfast. This particular Travelodge didn’t have breakfast facilities, but we wouldn’t have used them anyway Ÿ?? we prefer to Ÿ??eat outŸ?. It didn’t take long for us to locate The Booking Office which is the Wetherspoons venue located next to the vast Waverley railway station. Two large Scottish breakfasts were ordered along with fresh orange and coffee. A big mistake! Two large Scottish breakfasts would feed four people! Believe it or not, we did manage to finish them off, but we decided that the following day we would just have Scottish breakfasts. Not large Scottish breakfasts. As always with Wetherspoons, the price was right, and the service was efficient. It was a very busy place with hen parties starting the day off, and lots of blokes about. If Paula was going to have any mither, this may be the place it would happen. She didn’t. Everyone was perfect. Next on the agenda was a walk up onto the Royal Mile, where we would proceed to The Palace of Holyrood House. This is where the Queen entertains when in the capital, and is well worth a tour. We did the full touristy thing with the audio commentary on the way round, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. We toured the house, the gardens, and the adjoining Abbey ruins, finishing off with a cold drink at the Caf€÷ at the Palace. The cakes and other food looked very tempting, but we were still busy working off two large Scottish breakfasts, so I’m afraid cold drinks it was. After that, we walked back along the Royal Mile and called in at The Scottish Museum. Again, very interesting. Another hour or so later saw us heading back towards Princes St. where we did a little shopping and then nipped up Fredrick St. where we happened to fall upon a little bar called The Boozy Cow. How appropriate! We sat outside and enjoyed a couple of beers (through straws of course!), before heading back to the hotel to change. It was on this journey that Paula had her first experience of a one to one opinion from an Edinburgh resident. We were stood at some traffic lights waiting for the little red man to go green when a girl in front of me turned around, looked me in the eye, and in a lovely Scottish accent said Ÿ??You look fucking greatŸ?. I blushed and said I thought not, but she replied with another reassurance that I did. Hell, now I know why I do this! Talk about feel good! Anyway, two showers, and two frocks later, we were once again ready to set off out. We jumped into a cab and went to George St. which runs parallel with Princes St. and which houses lots of eateries. It was Friday night, and we hadn’t booked, so we just took pot luck. There was a Gusto, but we had just eaten at Gusto in Manchester, so we decided to do Browns. It was very busy, but they managed to find a nicely positioned table for two and we were well looked after by a very friendly, very young Waiter. He was extremely polite and chatty, and didn’t appear to be one bit worried that he had drawn the short straw and ended up with The Tranny! We had a nice meal Ÿ?? 3 courses, drinks, coffee for Yvonne, and a Baileys for me. Total price including tip – ô?100-00. About right for what we had and where we had it. By the time we had finished it was after midnight, so we decided to call it a do and get a taxi straight back. This turned out to be a wise decision, as by the time we got back to the hotel it started to rain. Hard! Saturday morning saw a repeat performance of Friday morning, but as previously mentioned we downscaled the breakfasts. Just the right amount to set us up for the rest of the day. We then crossed the road and jumped onto an open top tour bus which took us around the streets of Edinburgh for about an hour, complete with pre-recorded commentary. Very interesting, and definitely worth the ô?15-00 hop-on hop-off ticket price. By the time we had finished the tour it was time to get a late lunch. Tonight was Concert night, so we had to be ready for out by about 5-30pm. We hadn’t a clue where we were going or exactly how we were going to get there, but we knew there were buses, and we knew it wasn’t too far away, so we decided to make an adventure out of it. Late lunch saw us in Martone again. Martone is an Italian establishment that is open throughout the day advertising everything from breakfast to dinner. It would appear that their speciality is homemade ice cream! I think we know where this is heading! We started off with a steak sandwich and chips each followed by the inevitable, largest, stickiest, most calorie ridden Ice Cream Sundaes you have ever seen! I’ll never get in most of my dresses ever again at this rate! Washed down with a cold beer, it was perfect. Next, it was back to the room, shower, yet another make up application, and dress ready for the concert. The weather forecast was a bit mixed, with the possibility of early evening showers. This wouldn’t have been a massive problem apart from one minor fact. The concert was outdoor. We debated what jackets to wear, and whether to take waterproofs or not. It was warm, and didn’t actually look like rain, so we decided to risk it and go out with little denim jackets. It was that warm, we weren’t even wearing them. We went outside to the bus stop and were soon chatting to some locals where it was decided that pretty much any bus coming this way would get us to Meadowbank where the concert was being held, so when an X14 arrived, we all jumped on with no more ado. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, we were alighting about 200 yards past the venue. We walked back to the gates, showed our tickets, and were soon stood inside the arena. Yvonne decided to pay a visit to the Ladies (portaloo!), and I was left standing on the grass wondering why I had decided to wear platform shoes with about 5Ÿ? heels. I soon got the answer as a Scottish girl came across to me, complimented the shoes, complimented my jump suit, and complimented me in general. By the time Yvonne arrived back we chatting away along with her boyfriend as if we were long lost friends. All through a pair of shoes (Oh, and a bit of make up as well perhaps!). Unfortunately, whilst all this chatter was going on, a large black cloud had parked itself overhead, and was now depositing its water content over us. It was soon raining pretty hard. There was nowhere to go, other than our seats, which of course, were now pretty wet. We found our places, counted to three, and sat down on the soaking wet seat, putting our little jackets over our heads. What a horrible feeling as the rain soaked up through the thin material of the jump suit into the rather flimsy underwear I was wearing. We had the brief inquest as to why we had not come more prepared, laughed, and decided to enjoy it whatever the weather. Besides, there were still lots of blue sky around and I was sure it was only a shower. Thankfully I was right, and by 7-00pm it was fine and sunny again. That said, a wet bum is a wet bum, and my knickers were still clinging to my arse several hours later! Lol. The concert was superb. Elton as I said earlier is 69 now, and to be fair, he looks it. He moved around the stage a lot slower, and fluffed a couple of lines, but we forgave him. The overall event was great, and he literally reduced me to tears with the second to the last number as he sang Candle In The Wind Ÿ?? my all-time favourite song. I think it was a mixture of Mums Birthday, Elton’s song, and Paula’s hormones all kicking in at once, but whatever it was, I made a very serious attempt at smudging my mascara. The end came all too soon, and it wasn’t long before we were filing out of the stadium, thankful to be stood back on tarmac. Now all we had to do was find a bus stop, find a bus that went where we wanted to go, and then find enough space to get on it! I think we did rather well Ÿ?? by 11-15pm we were back on Princes St. It was too early to go back in, so we took a detour via The Booking Office, where we discovered their wine and sodas are just as good as their breakfasts. They threw us out somewhere around 1-30am, when we rolled off back to the hotel. Sunday morning. It was horrible. We had done the meals out, we had done the touristy bits, we had done the concert, and now we had to do the packing. I was seriously pissed off. I had really enjoyed my visit to Edinburgh but felt there was more for Paula to see and do. I suppose the only thing to do, is maybe go back again sometime? Anyway, we packed and took our cases to the car, and then went for one final breakfast in The Booking Office, before hitting the road and heading for home. We left sunshine and 21 degrees in Edinburgh and within an hour of travelling had the wipers on and a temperature of 13 degrees. As always, I have to admit that it was nice to get home, but I must also admit that I secretly wanted another day or two away! That said, seven shaves and seven make-up applications in four days begins to get monotonous and uncomfortable. A stark reminder why to me it will never be more than a hobby. No disrespect you full time girls, but full time isn’t for me. So, now to sum Edinburgh up: Is it TV friendly? I’ll say it is! I did not see any other obvious transgendered people, but this one got treated perfectly. Value for money? This doesn’t really apply apart from the fact that all I can say is we spent a few bob, but didn’t feel we had been ripped off anywhere. Would I go again? I think you all know the answer to this one.


06-06-2016-Gusto, Manchester

So, one of my friends decided the other week that she would like to see Menopause The Musical which was on at the Opera House in Manchester. The burning question was Ÿ??Did I want to go as well?Ÿ? Of course I did. I absolutely adore shows and musicals, so I didn’t have to be asked twice. It was a Saturday night and the show started at 7-30pm, so my first thought was Ÿ??Why don’t we do Dinner before the Show?Ÿ? And, indeed, why wouldn’t we? Exactly. No reason whatsoever! I did a bit of research, looking for somewhere local to The Opera House that I hadn’t been to, and before long, I came up with Gusto ( www.gustorestaurants.uk.com/restaurants/Manchester ). Located at 4 Lloyd Street (off Deansgate), Manchester, M2 5AB, it is literally 5 minutes’ walk from the Theatre. A quick phone call reserved a table for 5-30pm, and as far as I was concerned that was that sorted. I must admit, I usually book by email Ÿ?? it saves the male voice / girls name scenario cropping up, but on this occasion I wanted to check times with regard to serving us on time for the Show, so I resorted to the telephone. As you can guess, it went tits up when they called back a couple of days later to Ÿ??confirm the bookingŸ?. They asked for Paul, I said they had the wrong number unless they wanted Paula. They said who they were, and I explained it was Paula they needed to speak to. I then said she wasn’t available, but that I could take a message. It all worked in the end, and I guess they will draw their own conclusions once they have met Paula in the flesh. Saturday soon arrived, and I finished work early, showered, pampered, made up, dressed, accessorized, and did all the usual things I have to do to turn from property basher into Diva. By 4-00pm I was burning rubber towards Manchester heading to pick my friend up on the way in. 5-15pm saw us parking on a side street across from the Opera house, and 5-20pm saw us arriving at Gusto. Military precision isn’t in it! I was amazed at how busy it was at that time in the evening. It’s quite a big place and it was more full than empty. There were lots of people around the bar, and also plenty of diners seated at tables. We introduced ourselves, and had no problems with the Paul / Paula mix up. We were referred to as Ladies, and treated like Ladies all the time we were there. The Staff were politically correct and perfect. We were shown up some steps to a table on a raised area, and our chairs were pulled out from under the table for us to sit on. I was beginning to like it here! Drinks were offered and ordered Ÿ?? a white wine and soda for my friend, and a diet coke pour moi. We were also left with menus to peruse and discuss. I noticed the five ladies on the next table had Opera House tickets out on the table, so no points for guessing what their plans for the evening were. We ordered a Garlic Pizza Bread with rosemary and sea salt to be going on with, and then set about the usual debate as to what we fancied to eat. The choice was good, and it didn’t take us long to come up with a plan. It was a simple plan, and it went something like thisŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í I was to start with Tiger prawns in a garlic, tomato and cream sauce with grilled ciabatta, and my friend was to have the creamed Garlic mushrooms with grilled ciabatta and crispy shallots, I was then to follow this choice with pan fried salmon fillet, tomato and avocado salsa and spiced crumb, whilst my menopausal partner was to tackle the roast lamb rump, with truffled cheese flavored piccolo ravioli and tomato sauce. To this order, we added sides of creamy mashed potato with pesto, and french beans with shallots. As I said, a simple plan, but cunning nevertheless! The garlic bread had by now arrived, and it was massive. Was this going to be classic case of bigger eyes than bellies? Let’s see. We cut it up with the pizza cutting wheel they provided, and sat chomping away; pausing only for the usual bubbly conversation we have together. Slowly, but very surely it disappeared, and at what can only be described as a perfectly timed moment, our starters arrived. Again, we diligently plodded our way through the starters, working as a team until the plates were empty. Our plates were cleared, and we were given a little time to let things settle, before a further delivery to the table saw it covered in food laden porcelain once again. We tackled the main courses with the same level of enthusiasm as the previous two courses, sampling a bit of each other’s choice, sharing out the side dishes, and generally showing the World how proficient we really are at this eating lark. It just isn’t a problem to us at all! Our Waitress checked that everything was OK, and we were pampered without being pestered. We chatted and ate, ate and chatted, and before too long, we were in a position to send some squeaky clean crockery back towards the kitchen. The food was lovely, and there wasn’t a scrap left on either plate. I must admit, I was pretty full by now, and when the inevitable threat of a dessert menu was aimed our way, I really did wonder whether we would be able to meet the challenge. We agreed to have a look just in case, but the general feeling was that we may on this occasion pass on the pudding! At this point, I would ask that you maybe hit the Gusto website, and check out the desserts. This may help you understand why we ordered one each. It may help you to understand that we really just couldn’t resist what was on offer, and it may go towards helping you to realise that we aren’t greedy Ÿ?? just weak willed. The Jury was out for less than five seconds before it came in with a verdict of death by dessert, sentencing us to two summer berry and prosecco jelly with tropical fruit salsa and Eton mess ice creams. To be eaten one each by the accused as and when served by the staff. It was a stiff sentence, but we were brave and took our punishment well, showing the highest levels of self-respect possible. Once again we triumphed and sent the Waitress back with empty dishes. Throughout our meal, the Clientele of the Restaurant changed, people leaving, and people arriving, continually busy all the time we were there. Nobody gave me any unwanted attention, and as I mentioned before, the staff were great. The timing had worked out perfectly, with the time now being about 6-45pm. Just nice time for us to have a large Baileys on ice each. A superb end to what I would class as a superb meal. We finally left our table and paid our bill at 7-10pm, leaving us with a 5 minute walk along a busy Deansgate back to the Opera House, where I had the pleasure of standing next to and smiling at the lady from my accountants who comes every 3 months and does our VAT returns. She hadn’t a clue who I was, and I left it that way until she comes next time. She knows about Paula and has seen the many pics on my office wall, but as she was with another few ladies, I felt it more appropriate to be discreet. The show was hilarious, and if you ever get chance to see it, you must. Followed by a few drinks in The Village, 3-00am saw us feeling the effects of an early start and hectic night out! I will of course now answer the three questions that are the overall cause of all this writing in the first place: Is Gusto TV friendly? Yes, very much so. Apart from the mix up with the Paul/Paula which I guess is inevitable on a telephone, everything was perfect. Value for money? The bill for the meal described above was ô?91-95, which we rounded up to ô?100-00 including a tip. Overall, I felt this was about right Ÿ?? it’s a big place, with a lot of staff and other overheads, and the food and service was spot on. Unfortunately, I have sat and read the bill in order to write this, and the fact that we were charged ô?4-00 for a diet coke, and ô?8-00 for a glass of what in effect would be house white wine, bites me. It’s just the sheer principle of it. That said, I am going to stick with my original feeling that the bill was right for what we got, and say that I believe we got value for money. Overall. Forgetting the diet coke and the wine! Would I go again? I most certainly would, and hopefully before too long! I guess the drinks prices weren’t that bad after all.


04-06-2016-The Red Pump Inn, Bashall Eaves

What a year this has been! Busy isn’t a strong enough word. Sue is finding retail work harder and harder all the time as the Sector strives for more profit from less staff, and most of her weekends are tied up with either horse shows or preparation for horse shows. I have been equally as busy, and am now mid-way through ripping another property apart and putting it back together. I have also gained a new granddaughter who I am trying to visit regularly as well as getting out in a dress from time to time! The result of such Ÿ??busynessŸ? is that when we go out, we tend to go somewhere last minute and it’s usually somewhere we’ve been before. Hence the lack of new reviews on here of late. However, the sun is shining, and we are trying to get our social life back on track. What better opportunity than the other day when our 28th wedding anniversary crept up and smacked us on the back of the heads. It was on the Friday, and by Thursday night, we had plannedŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. Nothing. What a surprise! A quick conversation revealed that we did fancy going out to celebrate, and Sue was happy to go out with Paula rather than the man she walked down the aisle with. Strange, but true. I left it to her to book somewhere, and she came up with the Red Pump Inn. Located at Clitheroe Road, Bashall Eaves, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 3DA, you can check it out on http://www.theredpumpinn.co.uk on the good old interweb. We had tried to book here before in January, but it was closed for some refurbishment works, so we went elsewhere and put it on the back burner. It was now time to move it forward, and a further attempt to book was successful, with a table being left especially empty for us at 8-00pm on the Friday evening. I finished work, a quick visit to the sunbed, and rushed home for a shower and the usual transformation from something male and plain to something slightly less male, and plain. I chose a Khaki bodycon dress, complete with suitable matching accessories, black shoes and handbag, and the usual blonde hair. A small amount of makeup was applied, and by 7-15pm I was fit to travel. Sue had raced in just after 7-00pm and was Ÿ??whooshingŸ? around the house multitasking as only a woman can. By 7-40pm we were sitting in the car ready to drive the short journey to Bashall Eaves, arriving there about a minute early. The car park was pretty full Ÿ?? only two available spaces left, but I’m not sure where everyone was. The restaurant wasn’t particularly busy Ÿ?? about 20-25 people I guess. In fairness there is a bar section into which I couldn’t quite see, and there are also letting bedrooms, so that may account for the abundance of vehicles. We trotted in and made our presence felt, and were soon being shown to a nice central table in the dining room. The welcome we received was pretty disappointing Ÿ?? no one seemed to notice anything different about us. I haven’t quite worked out the psychology of it all yet Ÿ?? I spend ages trying to look as feminine and Ÿ??normalŸ? as possible, then I walk into a room and want everyone to stare at me. On the odd occasion I do get stared at, I then feel offended! What exactly do I want? Answers on a postcard please. Anyway, we sat down, and were soon offered drinks and presented with menus. Sue had a nice glass of dry white wine with ice, and I had the obligatory diet coke. Then, we poured over the menus, seeing what tempted us and what didn’t. It didn’t take long, and I had chosen my first two courses. Sue was only seconds behind me, and we were in a position to place an order. I started off with garlic and chilli king prawns, and Sue went with the woodland mushrooms in garlic sauce. The prawns were proper king prawns, served just as they had come out of the water, and I was also provided with a proper finger bowl complete with hot water and lemon and a serviette so that I could tackle them in a Ÿ??hands onŸ? way. I didn’t get to see much of Sue’s starter, as it disappeared pretty rapidly, but I managed to extract a report from her that indicated it was very good. Main courses soon followed on and saw Sue taking on butterfly chicken, served with the usual Ÿ??green sh*tŸ? whilst I fancied the belly pork which was served in a dish type plate along with a rich sauce containing mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and all the usual things a cheffy type person puts in such a sauce. We added a side dish of onion rings, a side dish of hand cut chips, and a side dish of cauliflower cheese. The food was well presented and tasty, and after a few minutes silence, we were both sat in front of empty plates. The service was pleasant, but did tend to be a little amateurish. My first diet coke came in a wine type glass, and our second drinks order returned to the table missing my drink altogether. When I reminded our waiter about my drink, he returned with a pint glass of diet coke Ÿ?? a definite change from a wine glass. They also forgot the ice in Sue’s wine. The waitress asked who was having the chicken, so when we informed her it was Sue; she then asked who was having the belly pork. There were only two meals and two people. Having established who was having one of the meals, I would have thought that the most simple of logistical calculations would have revealed who was likely to be having the other? Maybe not. Perhaps I’m being over critical? To be fair, they were all young, and all polite. There is also a good chance that they hadn’t come across a real life TV before, so perhaps they were a little Ÿ??nervousŸ?. We thoroughly enjoyed the food, and can’t honestly say that anything detracted from it. As always happens at this stage of proceedings, we were presented with the dessert menus. There was a good choice, but both Sue and I were petty full and it had been a hot day, so we both opted for the ice cream. It was ô?1-50 a scoop, and there were several flavours to choose from. Sue had mint choc chip and strawberry, whilst I had chocolate and strawberry. Northing to report about the ice cream, other than it was cold and fattening. More calories to fight off! Sue finished off with a Cappuccino, and we had an interesting debate about the view out of the window. We had become slightly disorientated whilst entering and walking through the property, and so the view we could see didn’t seem to be in the right direction. Sue was adamant it was Waddington Fell, but I knew it was Wiswell Moor. They are exactly opposite each other, so you can see, it was a pretty strong debate, but I must hasten to add, it was a debate, not an argument. Not on our 28th anniversary! Further investigations after we left the building proved me to be correct, but we knew that already! Lol. Whilst dining I had checked in on Facebook, and one of our friends responded by telling us they were regulars at the Red Pump, so when the lady who we believed to be the proprietor arrived at our table, we introduced ourselves as friends of the said couple, and it was enough to spark off a more than friendly conversation. One thing for certain, she was more than happy to have Paula as a customer, and made it clear that she hoped to see us again. Once we had exhausted the debate about which direction we were facing, and Sue had finished her coffee, it was time to head for home. We paid the bill at the bar, and were made to feel more than welcome by the girl who took our money, once again being asked to return soon. The total bill was ô?65-65, so a tip rounded it off to ô?70-00. More than fair as far as I’m concerned. A different route home took us back through Clitheroe, and 15 minutes later we were back at home, kicking the shoes off and reflecting back over the day, and indeed, over the last approximately 10,220 days (not taking into account leap years). The conclusion of that conversation was that things have definitely changed! SoŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. The usual three questions have to be asked, and then of course, answered. Is The Red Pump Inn TV friendly? Yes, no more to say. Not a second glance from customers or staff. Value for money? Already touched on this above. As far as IŸ??m concerned, no worries. Would I go again? Yes I would. Nothing jumped out that makes we want to go next week, but I certainly wouldn’t have to be dragged back screaming!


16-03-2016-The Ribchester Arms, Ribchester

On our many visits to Angels Ÿ?? one of our favourite local Restaurants, we have often noticed The Ribchester Arms on our way. The reasons we have noticed it are firstly we drive right past it every time, but more importantly, secondly, because the car park is always busy. Applying a limited amount of Blonde logic to this scenario has me believing that the venue itself must also therefore be busy. And, in my mind, a busy place is usually at bare minimum, an Ÿ??all rightŸ? place. Sue and I therefore decided that The Ribchester Arms deserved a visit. It was a cold, dark, Friday evening when we headed towards Blackburn Road, Ribchester, Preston PR3 3ZQ ( www.theribchesterarms.com ) and found ourselves a place to park. As previously noted, the car park was busy, and we had to right to the back corner to get what was pretty much the last space. We had booked a table for 8-30pm, but had arrived a little after 8-000pm. This wasn’t a problem, I was sure I would enjoy a drink at the Bar before our meal. We walked in, and introduced ourselves at the Bar. As predicted, it was pretty busy, with most people appearing to be sat down consuming food. There were a few people at the bar, but not many. Unexpectedly, our table was ready, even though we were early, and we were whisked straight into a dining room, just off the main pub area. This room housed many tables varying in size from tables for two, up to a central table which had a party of eight adults and several children at it ( I couldn’t count the children Ÿ?? they wouldn’t stay still long enough!) There was a mixed Patronage, from young couples through to a threesome that appeared to beŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í.. well, past retiring age anyway! We sat down and made ourselves comfortable, having attracted a small amount of attention as we entered the room, and we were left with menus, offered drinks, and left to choose our preferred food options. The food is definitely more Ÿ??Pub FoodŸ? than Manchester posh Restaurant food, nonetheless, there was a varied choice, and we didn’t have any mither in managing to pick out something to eat. Our drinks were delivered to our table, and soon after our waitress appeared to take an order. Whilst waiting, I took the chance to have a good glance round and was pleased to note that my presence had not caused any untoward attention once we had sat down. Even the children from the central table were far too busy playing hide and seek under the table and generally being children to even notice, so no worries so far. I guess it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to have children moving around a dining room, but we were in a local Village Pub, it was reasonably early evening, and it was Friday night. To put a different slant on the old saying, if you don’t want to come across the Romans, don’t book a table in the middle of Rome! I expect people to accept and put up with me being who and what I want to be, so why shouldn’t I put up with a few kids getting rid of what little energy they had left on a Friday evening after a week at school. I knew they would tire before I did! Sure enough by the time our food was being served, they were in the midst of saying their goodbyes, paying the bill, and going off home to bed. At which point, I am reminded why we are here Ÿ?? food. Our starter order had consisted of Chefs homemade soup for Sue Ÿ?? French Onion, and a prawn cocktail for me. Once again we have to compliment the dedication of the Chef Ÿ?? he takes the trouble to make the soup at home. I’m sure it would be easier to just make it in the kitchen at work, but hey! What do I know about making soup? They were brought to the table in good time, and judging by the two empty dishes we produced, were of a more than satisfactory standard. We had already noticed that we were getting our share of the staff. So far every stage of the meal had been dealt with by a different person Ÿ?? this quite often happens, and I suspect it’s due to the kitchen grapevine inducing curiosity amongst the ranks. Perhaps I’m being paranoid, but I’m pretty sure it’s just so that everyone can get a look. I don’t mind Ÿ?? I come across a lot of Ÿ??curiousŸ? people on my travels as Paula, but it does make me smile to myself! Once our starter dishes had been cleared, we were left to chat for a short while before yet another waiter person brought our main courses. I had chosen a grilled sea bass dish which was served with an assortment of vegetables and potatoes, whilst Sue had decided to try the pie of the day which so happened to be chicken and mushroom. This was also served with the obligatory vegetables and potatoes Ÿ?? so, on this occasion, no need for any side orders. As with the starters, the food was basic, but it was the right temperature, well presented, and was certainly tasty enough. The portions were generous, and the mix of vegetables was colourful and varied. We fell silent for a short time whilst we enjoyed our food, and it didn’t take us long before we were sliding our cutlery together on empty porcelain surfaces. Our plates were cleared (yes, you guessed it Ÿ?? another new face!), and the menus were returned so that we could torture ourselves over the great dessert debate. I must admit, I had previously decided that I probably wouldn’t have a dessert. I was feeling a little bulky; as we do from time to time, and thought maybe I should give it a miss. Sue however, quickly pointed her finger at the menu, enthusing over the thought of having a dish of Eton Mess placed in front of her. That was fine, and I had no problem in sitting with her whilst she enjoyed it. Sue however, then decided that if I wasn’t bothering, she wouldn’t bother. I insisted that she did, pointing out it wasn’t a problem, but she put the wounded dog look on, explaining it just wouldn’t be right her having one without me. This was very unfair. It was moral blackmail at its very lowest! I knew exactly what she was doing, but, I was powerless to react. It was either not have a dessert and live with the fact that I had deprived Sue of hers, or change my mind and have one to make her feel better. I know where my bread is buttered, and it didn’t take much working out for me to realise that the best thing I could do was order a dessert with Sue. I managed to find a healthy looking option of Fruit Cocktail and ordered it, but deep down I knew I had been stuffed! In fairness, she enjoyed her Mess, so I suppose somewhere along the line I will reap the rewards in one way or another. Once we had finished our food, the table was cleared, and we were offered coffee. We declined, and Sue suggested that seeing as we hadn’t had chance of a drink at the Bar on our arrival, we could have one before we left. Now she was talking my kind of language. Over the course of the evening, the place had gradually emptied, and I hadn’t had much chance of making an impact on Ribchester. Maybe, now was my chance? We were soon stood at the Bar, but things were not necessarily well! We appeared to be the last of the Diners left. We also appeared to be the last two Ÿ??femalesŸ? left. There was however quite a large group of local males. Quite a large group of local males who didn’t know how to react to the two Ÿ??girlsŸ? now standing at the Bar. It soon became us and them. Ÿ??UsŸ? were standing towards the left hand end of the Bar ordering our drinks, and Ÿ??themŸ? were stood as far away as possible at the right hand end of the Bar. Our drinks came, and I swapped notes with Sue. She was in agreement. We were the odd ones out! In more ways than one! By this time I had managed to weigh the opposition up. There were twenty two of them, ages ranging from early twenties through to retirement, mainly local farming stock. They were huddled in groups, all discussing who, or indeed what, was at the other end of the Bar. The only consolation at this moment was that I felt more comfortable than they looked. In fairness, I did actually, still feel comfortable. I was aware I was the topic of conversation, but I was also aware that I was in control. Sue and I had as much of the bar as they did Ÿ?? and there were twenty two of them. We stood our ground, drank our drinks, looked at them as often as we could without being offensive, and generally let them know that we weren’t scared. I decided to order a second drink Ÿ?? as much to make a stand as anything else, and was quite surprised when one of the guys broke ranks and walked along the bar to where we were stood. He introduced himself, and asked if we had been dining. We said we had, and enlarged on the conversation by telling him what we had eaten and how much we had enjoyed it. He explained that he was the chef from another local pub, and had come for a drink after he had finished his shift. He had only recently returned from Thailand and was introducing some different dishes on his menu. He suggested we should try the place he worked at next time we fancied a meal. During the course of this conversation, another gentleman Ÿ?? obviously a friend of his came along and joined in with us, happy to have a chat, and within ten minutes or so, the Ÿ??usŸ? and Ÿ??themŸ? had become pretty much Ÿ??usŸ?. We were surrounded by men, all chatting away, eager to know Ÿ??what the score wasŸ?. I thanked the first guy for coming over, and he laughed Ÿ?? as he put it, once you’ve worked in Thailand you’ve seen it all. It turned out that he and his mate had Ÿ??won a betŸ? for coming over, but his reasoning didn’t matter Ÿ??he had done it and it had broken enough Ice to keep Canal Street going all year. Sue and I ended up having a third drink Ÿ?? paid for by others, before we paid our bill and said a cheery goodbye to our twenty two new friends. SoŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. The all-important three questions: Is The Ribchester Arms TV friendly? It turned out to be, but in fairness, it’s maybe not for the faint hearted. In its defence, despite the obvious curiosity from the staff, the venue itself treated us perfectly. As, indeed, did the Clientele. Eventually! Lol Value for Money? The food and two drinks each was ô?60-00including a tip. No worries on that front. Would I go again? I would go back again, yes. In reality, I doubt we will rush back in the immediate future, but only because we tend to keep trying new places, and only return to very very special ones. This was good, but I can’t include it on my very very special list.


07-03-2016-Las Iguanas, Manchester

Having had a spell of repeat visits, Theatre Shows, and other distractions, I finally managed to go to a Restaurant that I hadn’t visited before! As always it was a last minute decision, and it was a Saturday night, so some of my preferred choices weren’t available, but, I suppose that means they are still there to be enjoyed another day. I was however, able to book a table at Las Iguanas, 84 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2ER ( http://www.iguanas.co.uk ). Albeit, it was a late table Ÿ?? 9.30pm, nevertheless, it was a table. As you would expect, we had an earlier start in The Village Ÿ?? sampling a drink or two in New Union, before we stood at the side of the road on Princess Street with me flashing ample amounts of thigh in order to attract a black cab. Or at least, a black cab driver. It worked. We got a black cab, with a black cab driver Ÿ?? as in a driver that was black. Results all round! No more ado and he was whisking us back towards Town as best he could. I say as best he could, because I don’t know if many of you have travelled across Manchester on a Saturday night lately, but believe me, it is a nightmare. There are so many roads closed or restricted due to the roadworks associated with the new Ÿ??Travel Across Manchester FasterŸ? campaign, that by the time you get to where you want to go, you have just about lost the will to live. You have also lost a substantial amount out of your purse. Due to the detours and additional Ÿ??hanging around at junctionŸ? times, the journey cost over ô?7-00 instead of the normal ô?4-00. I feel an email to the Council coming on. Anyway, you know me, a slow journey across Town and hefty taxi charge isn’t going to spoil the night, so we laughed it off, jumped out of the cab (OK, we climbed out slowly then!), and made our way across the busy pavement towards the front door of Las Iguanas. I heard a passing lad tell his mate that there was a tranny around, but try as I might, I wasn’t able to spot her. They seem to get everywhere nowadays. In we went, and the first thing to hit us was the amount of people in there. It was heaving. There were people just having a drink, and lots and lots of people sat at tables. I really do believe it was full. Full as in no room for any more people. I was wondering if they had remembered we were coming. They had, and we were soon shown to the one available table, which was round in the main body of the Restaurant. We were furnished with menus, served drinks, and given time to put our glasses on, and begin the major debate as to what to have. It was late, neither of us had eaten, and we were hungry. Choosing food wasn’t going to be that difficult tonight. I could tell. It wasn’t. By the time the waiter returned to our table, we were ready and waiting with a list of requirements. I was going to start off with smoked haddock croquettas – Crispy panko-coated croquettas with potato, parsley, red chilli & cheese, served with salsa Ÿ??Las Iguanas’, whilst my friend had decided to try out the Lamb Empanadas – two crispy pasties filled with tender lamb braised in mint, tomato & chipotle. They were good choices, and our chatter soon quietened down to a series of murmurs, dribbles, and head nods. It wasn’t long at all before we were handing two perfectly empty plates back to the waiter along with our compliments to the Chef. A short interlude took place, before the delivery of our main course. We were able to have a good look around and Ÿ??weigh things upŸ?. It was still busy, although obviously, as it was later on, the earlier diners were beginning to leave. Everyone seemed jovial and chatty, and we were able to interact with a group on the next table who were busy taking photographs of themselves, each other, and anyone else who happened to be in the range of the camera lens. They were a young group Ÿ?? all in their twenties I guess, but certainly multi-cultural. It’s good to see such mixed groups out and about together, and it always makes me question as to why there are so many problems in the World. People on the whole are pretty good at getting on with each other, and indeed would be happy to do so if left alone by the few extremists that seem intent on stirring things up. SoŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í back to the food. Our waiter was on his way back, and we made ourselves busy moving cutlery out of the way, checking our napkins, and generally making sure we were prepared for the next stage of the meal. My friend had ordered Picanha Steak Ÿ?? which was an 8oz rump cap steak, char-grilled, rested, sliced & sprinkled with sea salt, served with molho €˜ campanha; tomato, chilli, onion, green pepper, lime & parsley salsa, served with cassava fries and salad. I had stuck to my usual healthy eating regime, and opted for the Sea Bass fillet on a bed of spring onion rice with white crab, peeled king prawns in a tomato, coriander, basil, parsley, achiote, and red pepper sauce. Just to make sure we didn’t go hungry, we also ordered a side dish of sweet potato fries. As with the starters, we thoroughly enjoyed our food and only stopped rattling the cutlery around once the plates were empty. Our waiter returned during our main course to check how things were, and we also grabbed the opportunity to order more drinks. By the time we finished our main course, the evening was getting on, and the customer base had thinned out somewhat, but there were still enough people in to make an atmosphere, and our friends on the next table were showing no signs of leaving at all. They were far too busy recording their own photo album of events and informing the rest of the World what they were up to by the use of social media. Oh to be young! Once the empty porcelain had been removed from the table, we sat back and relaxed, both having enjoyed all we had eaten. It was now that slightly scary part of the evening when you sit there awaiting the inevitable. You know that really you should make your excuses, jump up from the table, pay your bill, and escape into the cold night air, but you also know that this is not going to happen. You know that in reality, you are going to be offered desserts. You know that out of sheer manners you are going to agree to at least look at the menus, and you also know that there’s a fair chance that you will order something. I class myself as being a pretty strong character, and I know that deep down I can do just about anything within my capabilities if I set my mind to it, so why do I become a quivering, wreck of a woman as soon as a piece of card with the word Ÿ??DessertsŸ? on it comes into view. In fairness, I’m pretty much reduced to a quivering wreck long before the menus even arrive. Just the sheer knowledge of the fact they are in the building is enough! As you would expect, it all went as predicted. The menus arrived. We looked Ÿ?? out of politeness of course. We ordered a Dessert. Each. I ended up sat awaiting the arrival of Passion Fruit Pave – a delicious dish of Brazilian-style tiramisu with layers of sweet soaked sponge topped with passion fruit cream, whilst my friend prepared for the onslaught of a Dulce De Leche Macadamia Cheesecake Ÿ?? a creamy vanilla cheesecake with roasted macadamia nuts and dulce de leche sauce. I have to say, despite our initial fears, it wasn’t half as bad as we expected. The puddings arrived, we picked up our spoons and started to eat them, and before long the puddings had disappeared. It all worked out pretty well really. Our waiter returned for a final time, offering us more drinks, or coffee, but we both declined, having had more than enough food and drink for the time being. We didn’t rush, choosing instead to sit and take in the last of the atmosphere before the place became pretty empty. We weren’t the last to leave, but we weren’t far off. A quick visit to the Ladies was made, and I’m pleased to say that despite the fact that it had been a busy night, they were in pretty good order. Everything was there that you needed, and all was in good clean condition. There was a bit of toilet paper strewn on the floor, but in fairness, you can only blame the Clientele for that, not the establishment. The bill was paid at the table – ô?60-75 plus a tip, jackets were put on, and we said our goodbyes before we went out onto Deansgate in search of a taxi for the return journey. This time the journey was quicker and cheaper, and it wasn’t long before we were stood in Churchill’s sipping drinks and saying Ÿ??HiŸ? to all our friends. Now the night proper could begin! Ok then, before I leave you in peace, I will, as per usual, answer those all important questions: Is Las Iguanas TV friendly? I presume so. Although I heard the lads outside say they had seen one, I didn’t spot her, so I can only presume that all was well on the TV front. I certainly didn’t see anything to the contrary. Value for money? As I said above, the whole meal including two drinks each was just over sixty quid. Even with a tip added on, I don’t think you could hassle over the price. Would I go again? I certainly would. It is a bit more Ÿ??chainŸ? than Ÿ??uniqueŸ? both in food choice and presentation, but that is more a comment than a criticism. I think for what you pay it’s more than acceptable. The staff are very friendly, the service and surroundings were good, and the people on the next table were cool!


16-01-2016-The Spread Eagle, Sawley, Nr. Clitheroe

It was 28 years this June that Sue and I last went to The Spread Eagle at Sawley near Clitheroe. ( http://www.spreadeaglesawley.co.uk ) It was on June 3rd. 1988 to be precise. The reason I can be so sure, is that it was our Ÿ??Wedding DoŸ?! Back in the day, it was one of the posher places in our area, so it wasn’t a big do Ÿ?? 23 people Sue informs me, and a few more at the night do. We couldn’t really afford that, never mind any more! From what I can remember, it was a good day, and we must have got something right Ÿ?? God knows how, but we’re still together! Now for some reason, we’ve never been back. I would imagine that in the early days of our marriage we just couldn’t afford posh places, and then as time went on, I guess it just fell off the radar. Anyway, on Boxing Day we went to the Tempest Arms for lunch, and whilst we were there, we noticed that the same group also owned the Spread. That got us thinking, and we decided it would be nice to revisit. So, when Sue suggested booking a table for dinner, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and give it a try. As usual, we decided Friday night was a good night to go out, so I sent them an email to see if they were still functioning Ÿ?? a funny question you may think, but Sawley has had more than its fair share of water lately as the River Ribble flows right past the Spread and on our way to the Tempest Arms on Boxing Day we drove past a rather wet and miserable looking Village that was well and truly flooded. I soon got a very enthusiastic reply informing me that they Ÿ??were indeedŸ? open, and that a table had been reserved for us at 8-30pm. Brill! Job on! As the saying goes. Friday night saw a prompt finish at work, and a race home to grab the bathroom before our daughter Farrah. Farrah left home about 4 years ago, but she lives on a farm with her boyfriend in a static caravan. A lovely big static caravan with a super shower, but Farrah being Farrah, she prefers baths. This means that several days a week she comes Ÿ??homeŸ? for a bath. I knew she was also out on Friday, and I knew she would want to use the bathroom. I was right! And she got home before me! All I could do was get my outfit ready, choose the jewellery, and basically get all the prep work done prior to regaining possession of the bathroom. We have a second bathroom, but it only has a shower, and I prefer the added size of a bath when carrying out all the various tasks I have to perform to turn myself from you know who into Paula. To be fair, she wasn’t long, and I was soon hard at work getting ready. I had already got half my make up on when Sue arrived home, and was able to take my time and enjoy the process of making myself look pretty. By 7-45pm we were both looking good, feeling good, and ready for the off. I drove as I don’t bother about drinking, and the journey took us no longer than 10 minutes. The Spread Eagle has changed! I suppose after nearly 30 years it is inevitable, but I could hardly recognise it from the place we had danced around some 28 years earlier. To be honest, it is a good change. It is much more homely, and has the appearance of a typical country pub with flagged floor areas, thick corded carpets and d€÷cor to match. We walked in through the front door, and found ourselves at the bar. It was fairly busy, people sat at the bar drinking, and people sat at various tables in the bar area both drinking, and eating. We introduced ourselves and ordered drinks. So far so good. Nobody had yet noticed that Sue was wearing a bright orange top (or the fact that she was with a TV!). I think they probably had noticed, but it wasn’t causing any mither. We got our drinks, and one of the young men from behind the bar grabbed some menus and offered to show us to our table. He led us past the corner of the bar through into a larger dining area which we recognised as the former function room that we had spent that fateful day in so many years ago. It was different. It was very different! It was also pretty busy Ÿ?? I reckon very nearly full. We were shown to a lovely table by the window, which, had it been daylight, would have afforded us a great view of the river. The first thing that struck me was the size of the table. It was more than adequate. I find so many times that you struggle to Ÿ??make yourself at homeŸ? on many Restaurant tables as they tend to use ever decreasing table sizes just to squeeze more people in. The Spread Eagle had lots more room, and could have got several more people into it, but they have chosen to space things out and it makes for a better eating experience in my opinion. We both commented as to what a great Ÿ??diningŸ? atmosphere it was. Anyway, after all this waffle, I guess we had better turn out attentions to the food side of things. We had been left with the menus which were loose pieces of paper held onto a hardboard Ÿ??clipboardŸ? with a bulldog clip. Great! I grabbed my glasses out of my handbag, and began the ever difficult task of choosing some food. It didn’t take us long to be fair. There was the usual menu, and also some Ÿ??specialsŸ? which were also on a piece of paper. Hooray! At last, specials we can read properly instead of staring over someone else’s table trying to read a half erased blackboard! Sue quickly chose the soup which we had previously been informed was cauliflower and onion, and I decided to start proceedings with the prawn and crayfish cocktail. This was to be followed up by pan fried escalope of salmon set upon buttered crushed potatoes, finished by a tartare veloute and baby spinach for Paula Falisia and Spread Eagle fish pie topped with cheesy mash served with buttered garden peas for Sue. As you will no doubt expect, we added a couple of sundry items to the order in the form of skinny fries, and battered onion rings. It’s not greed Ÿ?? we just like our food! Both courses were served in an efficient manner by a selection of young waiters and waitresses, and the waiting time for the starter and between courses was just about right. Long enough to chill, not too long as to make you think you had been forgotten. I will take the opportunity here to emphasise my use of the word young whilst describing the staff. I realise that due to the rates of pay available, most waiting on staff tend to be on the young side, however, there is usually an evidence of some Ÿ??adult supervisionŸ? somewhere in the background of things. Both Sue and I noticed that we did not see anyone that appeared to be over the age of 21! Granted, appearances can be deceiving, but on this occasion, I don’t think they were. So whoever was in charge was either leading from the rear and keeping out of the limelight, or was very young. Whichever it was, it worked. Young, or not, they were polite, proficient, and efficient. None of them had any obvious difficulty with my status, and I was treated with total respect. I also noticed that none of the other Diners appeared to have found me to be a problem. Not that they should, but as you all know, it’s nice when it actually works out that way. We enjoyed our food, and we also enjoyed the challenge of trying to remember the shape and layout of the room 28 years ago. We couldn’t! It’s changed, things have moved on, and that is that. The Spread Eagle today, is not the Spread Eagle of 1988. But as Sue pointed out, I am hardly the person she walked down the Aisle with, so change has to be absorbed and accepted where possible. And in fairness, the Spread Eagle has certainly moved with the times. It’s a great dining venue. We had slowly but surely worked our way through two courses of food, and an additional drink each, and had as usual succeeded in returning nothing but empty crockery back to the wash up area. Now it was crunch time. It was that time when you have to come up with some form of suitable excuse for eating a pudding. You know you are going to eat it. You also know that you probably shouldn’t. All that is needed to merge the two separate issues is a viable excuse. As I am sure you are already aware, I have no shortage of excuses. You are my main one! I always feel that I have a sense of duty towards anyone that may read this to ensure that I offer a full and comprehensive review of the Restaurant I have visited. This obviously entails having to sample drinks, and at least three courses. So Ÿ?? just to keep you all well informed, I decided that I should really try to eat a Dessert. Part of being together for near 30 years is the fact that Sue and I support each other where and when we can. She therefore felt it right that she should help me out with this particular matter, and very bravely agreed to also sample some pud. As it happens, we both chose the same thing so I suppose there is some argument here that one of us could have sat on the bench so to speak, but that just wouldn’t have been fair! The Dessert menu was varied and tempting, but the overall winner on the day was the floating island – lightly steamed soft meringue, served with a vanilla sauce, sprinkled with an almond praline. Wow! It had us both purring with pleasure! Sue finished off with a cappuccino, and we sat, still reminiscing about our special day. The dining area had gradually started to empty as the evening had progressed, and whilst we weren’t the last to leave, we certainly weren’t amongst the first. We left our table and went to the bar to pay the bill, which came in at exactly ô?61-00. A tip saw it rise a little, but all in all, damn good value for money as far as we were concerned. It was worth that just for the memories! We didn’t use the Ladies, so I can’t inform you as to their condition, but by overall appearances, I guess they will be more than satisfactory. We said our goodbyes, and were given a more than cheery Ÿ??goodbyeŸ? by the Staff. I have no reason to suspect that Paula was anything else other than welcome. Then, it was off out into the cold, frost night for our homeward journey. We had both been down memory lane, and had both enjoyed the trip. So, all I have to do now is answer the three questions, the answers to which you will already have worked out: Is The Spread Eagle Sawley TV friendly? Without doubt! Value for money? All right, we had the added bonus of a million pounds worth of memories, but even without those, you couldn’t complain. Go again? I certainly hope so, and at my age, I had better not leave it another 28 years!


11-12-2015-Nottingham – in general

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.