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.

25-11-2015-Evuna, Manchester

Having had a bit of a mixed bag in the Ÿ??Tapas WorldŸ? recently, I was more than a little apprehensive when a long lost friend decided that we should spend some time together, and that some of that time should be spent making eyes at each other over a table of Tapas. The thought of making eyes over a table was cool. The thought of Tapas concerned me a little. The last two I have had, have both been spasmodically served. Is it a new trend? Is it the way forward in the Tapas World? Who knows, but it would appear that I was about to find out! Being the agreeable type of Girl that I am, I said Ÿ??yesŸ? to the invite, and decided that I shouldn’t worry too much about what may or may not happen. Well, at least not until it happened, anyway. We agreed to meet in the Village for a drink, from where we took a black cab to the designated eatery, which on this particular night turned out to be Evuna (http://evuna.com) which is located at 277 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EW. Our cab dropped us off on the nearest street corner, and we strolled off towards the Restaurant in our usual confident manner. It was a Saturday night, and Deansgate was reasonably busy, so it didn’t go unnoticed that the Girl walking towards Evuna dressed in a strapless black bodycon dress, black platform shoes, and nothing much else besides jewellery might not actually have been a Girl. People can be so damn observant sometimes! Anyway, we arrived untouched and unabused, and found Evuna to be busy. In actual fact, I think I can safely use the word Ÿ??fullŸ? without being contradicted. We had to kill a little time at the bar with a drink, until our table became available. It wasn’t a problem Ÿ?? it simply gave everyone more time to look at me, and me more time to look at them. It didn’t seem too long Ÿ?? maybe 15-20 minutes I guess, before we were shown to our table. It was a well-positioned table, pretty much in the thick of things. The waiter that showed us was extremely polite and helpful, and didn’t appear to have any issues with whom or what I was, as neither did any of the other staff or customers. We made ourselves comfortable, ordered a second drink, and perused the menus enthusiastically. As you would expect, it didn’t take long for us to rattle an order together and when our waiter returned we were more than ready for him. We set off with Pan Catalan – tomato bread, to which we added: Garlic Prawns with Chilli, Calamares Ÿ?? Special Squid, Carrilada de Cerdo Ÿ?? Pork, Garlic Mushrooms, Patatas Bravas, and Spanish Style Roasted Vegetables. We both reckoned that there should be enough to keep us occupied, and we weren’t far wrong. The only question remaining was how would it be served? Together? Or separate? Hooray!!! It came together. At last, peace had been restored in the Manchester Tapas World. Once again, it was safe to go out in Manchester and order Tapas. It just proves my earlier point Ÿ?? you shouldn’t worry about what might happen. It doesn’t always actually happen! We sat chatting, eating and drinking, and had a thoroughly good time. Once the table was covered in only empty plates, we ordered a third drink and discussed the ever problematic quandary otherwise known as the great pudding debate. We knew we would be offered dessert, and we knew that having eaten what we had just eaten we shouldn’t have one. We also knew that we were two equally weak specimens when it comes to refusing desserts. Sure enough, just as predicted, it happened. Our cheery waiter cleared our table, and then returned armed with two dessert menus. He didn’t ask, he simply placed them on the table in front of us. We looked at each other, and then looked at the menus sat on the table. We held hands over the table in a show of solidarity, both believing that we could actually see each other through this one. We held hands tighter, and our eyes met, and we gazed lovingly at each other. For a few seconds, this was a very romantic moment. Then my partner released my hands, grabbed one of the menus, and said Ÿ??I’m having one!Ÿ? I was momentarily heartbroken. I had been jilted for the sake of a pudding. A possible lifetime of love had been traded in for a pudding! With tear filled eyes, and a heavy heart, I also reached for a menu, realising that this was a classic Ÿ??if you can’t beat them Ÿ?? join themŸ? moment. I could only watch in silence as I took second place in my friend’s heart to a Cr€—me Catalana. The only small consolation available was to match the move by ordering myself a Pear in Sangria. As I’m sure you are all aware, I like a nice pear! We ate our desserts in relative silence, both knowing deep down that we had done wrong. Both knowing that we had put greed and gluttony before our love for each other. Over the many years we have known each other; we have had many ups and downs in our relationship. We have battled many demons presented to us by the World we live and socialise in, and managed to remain faithful and loyal to each other. It was an extremely sad occasion, but we both knew what we had done. Once our plates were empty, we looked at each other, but somehow it wasn’t the same. Our eyes were glazed over with cream and sticky things. We held hands once again, but even this wasn’t the same. Our hands were hands that had strayed. They were hands that had both held dessert spoons. Would things ever be the same again? It was nearly a relief to find myself wanting the Ladies. I felt the need to leave the table, and at least let the air clear a little. I grabbed my handbag, made my excuses, and wandered off into the toilets. They were fine, clean and tidy, and fitted with all the necessary porcelain. When I say tidy, the only thing out of place was a rather small looking pair of knickers on the cubicle floor. I tried not to let my imagination run too wild with reference as to why they might be there, and left them as they were as I exited the cubicle to wash my hands and apply a bit of slap. I was joined by a very red faced middle aged lady who turned out to be Irish. She was very excitable, and had the appearance of having had a drink or three. She also had the wonderful talent of being able to split single words into two to be able to insert Ÿ??fuckingŸ? in the middle of them. I have worked in the building trade all my life, and have rarely heard language like she was able to produce! It was all in good fun, but boy, was it raw! She was over on a Hen Party, and within no time, we were joined by another three or four of the party. One of the girls emerged from the cubicle I had used, delighted to have found the spare knickers. She immediately asked if they were mine, to which I replied I needed more rather than less knickerage, adding that I was in fact enclosed in two pairs as it was. The sweary lady immediately asked why. I explained in language that was a little coarse, but that I knew she would understand and was thrilled to bits by the fact that she actually hadn’t a clue until I told her. Don’t get me wrong, I realise it was due to her alcohol intake rather than my make-up skills and general appearance as a female, but nevertheless, I was still thrilled. She used the word Ÿ??fuckŸ? along with several variations of it about twenty times. I was really impressed and flattered! I nearly forgot the fact that I had nearly lost the love of my life over a pudding. I eventually managed to wrench myself away from the girls and made my way upstairs to join my friend. We looked at each other and smiled. Things were going to be OK. We have been through far too much to lose each other over a pud. The bill had very nicely been paid whilst I socialised downstairs, but I did ask how much it was so that I could report back to you, so all we had to do now was say goodbye to the Hen Party, and head off down Deansgate to see if we could rebuild our relationship. The atmosphere was fantastic as we left amidst cheers and shouts and Ÿ??fucksŸ? and goodbyes. The Hen Party were great, the other customers were great, the Staff were great, and our night had been great. So the usual three questions as always require answering: Is Evuna TV friendly? Oh yes, it most certainly is. Value for money? As I said I didn’t pay, but I am told including three drinks each it was Ÿ??about ô?80-00 including the tipŸ?. So I reckon that was fine. Go again? Yes please!

13-11-2015-Liverpool – in general

Having enjoyed Birmingham so much recently, I decided to try another weekend away. This time, we picked out Liverpool as a place that needed the attention of a fun loving Transvestite and her trusty friend. I’m not going to bore you any more than I have to by expecting you to read individual blogs on all the places we went, so I’ll just try and mention them all in one blog and give a general idea of the fun we had. I booked a room in The Travelodge on The Strand (the waterfront) and set off with suitcases packed on the Friday afternoon. I picked my friend up in Manchester, then headed of down the M62, and was soon parking on the Liverpool One car park, which was about a five minute walk from the Hotel. We arrived in Liverpool about 1-00pm, so it was too early to check in. This meant we had to leave our cases in the car and shop. What a pain! Lol Within 10 minutes I was walking out of New Look with a new dress. This was a good start to the weekend. We then wandered deeper into the shopping area and dropped ourselves into The Welkin (Wetherspoon’s) for a light lunch. I won’t go into major detail Ÿ?? needless to say it was Wetherspoons food at Wetherspoons prices Ÿ?? perfect for a mid-shopping snack. A bit more shopping, then it was time to go to the Hotel. We checked in without any snags, and I was soon unpacking in my room. Immaculately clean, but extremely short on storage space! One shelf and 5 coat hangers. That was it! Anyway, I managed to get everything somewhere and was soon stripping everything off prior to reapplying and getting ready for out. Less than an hour later, we were heading down in the lift towards the Caf€÷ Bar on the first floor. We entered to a barrage of singing and chanting from a group of about a dozen guys who were already well on the way to having a good time! I quickly realised that this could end up either way, so I plonked my handbag on the bar and left my friend to organise some drinks whilst I strolled across to the group, sat on the arm of one of the chairs and put my arm around the guy who was sitting in it. I asked him why he hadn’t come to my room as he had arranged, and was soon watching him on the receiving end of the banter rather than me! They moved around, made a couple of spaces for us, and we soon had them eating out of the palms of our hands. They were from Glasgow on a Stag do, and by pure chance, I had picked on the Stag when I first joined them. His best man was not at all impressed when he caught us swapping numbers later on!! We sat with them as long as it takes two girls to drink a bottle of wine, joined mid-way by a Hen Party. By the time we left the Hotel to tread the streets of Liverpool, we already had several new Ÿ??friendsŸ?. Next stop was Victoria Street, where we were informed that there was a good Chinese Restaurant. Our information was right Ÿ?? we soon found Mr Ho’s, where we sat and had a meal. We were in no rush, and just sat eating and talking. As I have already said, I am not going into detail Ÿ?? it was Chinese, it was good, I was accepted, and the price was right. Review of Mr Ho’s done! It was quite late when we left, so we decided to go back and have another drink in the Hotel, so that we weren’t too tired for Saturday (it’s an age thing!). As it happens, by the time we got back, most of the Stag party guys, and a good few of the Hen party girls had already returned before us. Maybe it isn’t an age thing after all. We sorted another bottle of wine out, and then it was time to retire. So far so good. Saturday morning saw us up in good time, ready to hit the day. We hadn’t booked breakfast in the Hotel, preferring instead to eat out. It was pouring with rain, but an umbrella sorted that out, and we were soon wandering along the waterfront heading towards Bills Restaurant on the edge of Liverpool One, where we both tucked into a traditional breakfast each. As you could have predicted, most of the Stag lads were already in there, so once again, we soon had a bit of banter flying. The breakfast was great, decent value, and no Transphobia issues. Next stop, Liverpool One, where we partook in yet more shopping. There’s a good variety of shops and boutiques in the centre of Liverpool, and we had no trouble in filling a morning in. My friend wanted to see the Cavern Club, so having stood outside it last time I came to Liverpool, I was able to steer us there without ado. It was open, and we decided it would be rude not to go in for a drink. Ten minutes later we were taking photographs and having drinks in the depths of Liverpool, in the very place that the Beatles found fame. The atmosphere was electric. Even more so, when a lone guy set himself up with a guitar and proceeded to play and sing 2 hours of Beatle songs. I was in my element, and spent the whole two hours dancing, singing, and generally being Paula. Photographs were taken, more drinks were drunk, and more Ÿ??friendsŸ? were made. Four ladies from Newcastle, another four ladies from Scotland, a couple from Liverpool and a girl from China. We staggered back out into the daylight just after 2-00pm, once again tramping the shops, buying a few bits and pieces as we went along. We finally gave in about 4-00pm, and headed back to the Hotel bar for a drink prior to changing and starting all over again. The bar staff in the Hotel were great Ÿ?? really helpful and complimentary. They both made me feel more than welcome. By 7-00pm we were back down in the bar, I was dressed to kill in a skin tight pale yellow bodycon dress with the usual heels, and a small black faux fur shrug. We met a couple of the Ÿ??StagsŸ? who had just returned from a day’s racing at Aintree. I think they had also had a few drinks as well as watching the racing. Not sure, but just got this feeling they may have done. We had a quick bottle of wine, and then headed off in the search of food. We hadn’t bothered with lunch, so we were both ready for solids. We didn’t have a plan Ÿ?? we had already spotted plenty of eateries last night, so decided to see what took our fancy. We passed a couple of places that looked full, and spotted La Vina Ÿ?? a Tapas restaurant that has a branch in Manchester. That looked like a possibility, but as we headed towards it, we noticed it was next door to Shiraz Ÿ?? a Turkish restaurant. Mmmmm, we hadn’t done Turkish for ages, so a quick change of mind found us sitting in Shiraz ordering food. It wasn’t particularly luxurious, but we both had a good meal in busy, pleasant surroundings. Once again, we found Shiraz to be TV friendly, good value, and satisfactory in all departments. Next job was to find a drink. We had been told to go to Matthew Street, so as good girls always do, we decided to do as we were told. We asked for directions, and were soon turning onto the said Street. It was strangely familiar. That was because it is the home to the Cavern Club. It’s a small World! We wandered down the street, getting various offers of free shots as we passed club after club. Soon, we saw the object of our desires Ÿ?? The Grapes. The Grapes is a traditional type pub right in the middle of Matthew Street. It was heaving, and you could feel the reassuring crunch of broken glass under your feet as you pushed your way to the bar. If anywhere was going to be the undoing of Paula Falisa, this could be the place. There was a live band playing, and a distinct buzz of Ÿ??ScouseŸ?. I held my head high, stuck my chest out, and continued my way towards the bar, ignoring the stares, deciding that confidence rather than fear was the emotion to show. I got served eventually, and then started to push my way to a small available space in one of the Ÿ??loungeŸ? areas. In fairness, I didn’t need to push too much. A path quickly formed to allow the tall girl with the long blonde hair through. Men nodded knowingly at me, and girls could be heard saying Ÿ??I’m sure it’s a TrannyŸ?. They were right. It was a Tranny. It was a Tranny, whose dad and grandad were both Scoucers, a Tranny who was proud to be a Tranny, and a Tranny who certainly wasn’t fazed by the position she had found herself in. We found a couple of stools, sat down, and in little or no time got smiled at, spoken to, and propositioned. Normality had returned to The Grapes in less than ten minutes after Paula’s arrival. She was comfortable with Liverpool, and Liverpool was comfortable with her. I don’t actually know what time we left The Grapes, but it was later rather than sooner. We tottered back to the Hotel, and polished another couple of glasses of wine off, once again chatting to some of the Hen party girls. The bar was open to 4-00am. We weren’t out that late, but it was certainly heading towards closing time as we headed back up in the lift to the ninth floor. Sunday morning saw that horrible empty feeling you get as you pack to go home from somewhere you don’t necessarily want to leave. We checked out, and took our cases back to the car, before wandering back into the centre, and back to the Welkin where we tucked into another big breakfast. The only thing to halt our incessant chatting was a two minute silence as a mark of respect for those that gave up so much for us in the War. A silence that was immaculately observed by all and sundry in the place Ÿ?? as it deserved. A final call into a couple of shops then saw us going back to the car, and starting our journey home. We chatted all the way home, but maybe a little less enthusiastically than we had on the way there. We have already decided that we will visit Liverpool again. We didn’t have time to any of the cultural stuff like the Albert Docks and the various museums, so they are for another day. SoŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í Liverpool Ÿ?? can we sum it up with the three usual questions? I suppose we can to a point, so here goes: Is Liverpool TV friendly? I actually didn’t see another TV all weekend. Not one. However, they were certainly friendly to this one. I didn’t experience a single Transphobic moment, and had a massive amount of fun and banter with lots of people. Value for Money? This one doesn’t apply Ÿ?? apart from saying that we didn’t feel we had got ripped off anywhere. Go again? Already told you that I will be going again. I can’t wait!

13-11-2015-Iberica, Manchester

For some unknown reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to visit the Coronation Street Tour before they dismantle it at the end of the year. It isn’t a programme that I have watched much of, and I certainly haven’t seen it recently, but I guess it is part of everyone’s life at some stage, so the decision was made. We would go and have a look. In fairness, it was very interesting Ÿ?? both on a cultural level, and in my case, on a technical level. It was fascinating to hear about all the little quirky things that go on behind the scenes to keep the British public happy. Due to the fact it is ending soon, it is pretty well booked up, so we ended up going at 12-40pm on a Tuesday afternoon. Not the time or day I would have chosen, but hey! A trip out as Paula is a trip out as Paula, whatever the time or the day! We had a quick drink in a little local coffee shop before the tour, and then thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours we spent wandering around the Studio and the cobbles of Wetherfield. Managed to get a few pictures (surprise!), including one behind the Bar in the Rovers Return. One lady next to me commented that it was a long hours and short skirts type of job working behind that particular bar, to which I replied Ÿ?? Ÿ??Long hours and short skirts? I can manage both of those admirably darling!Ÿ? She smiled and held my hand for a second. The young man who took us on our tour announced at the end that we had been a smashing group and explained that it was his first day taking tours on his own. Bet he was really pleased when I turned up! First day and he gets a TV!!! In at the deep end never hurt anybody Ÿ?? that’s what I say. Anyway, where is all this heading with reference to food? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s heading to the fact that by the time we had come out of Corrie, been and bought some new Ÿ??hairŸ? at my favourite hair shop, and wandered down Deansgate, it was time for our bellies to rumble. It was mid / late afternoon and neither of us had eaten lunch, so I suggested food. It was one of my better suggestions and my friend needed no persuasion to follow me as I headed into Spinningfields to see what was on offer. We soon came across Iberica Ÿ?? a Spanish Restaurant. Tapas suddenly seemed a good idea for a mid / late afternoon meal, so we toddled in. There was only another half a dozen or so people in, but I suppose it was a funny time of the day. Lunch had well gone, and teatime / evening meals had not yet arrived. We were quickly shown a table, provided with tap water, and left with menus to peruse. We had a natter, and picked a few items, and we were ready and waiting when our waitress returned. We decided to start off with bread and olives, and then ordered Potatoes with spicy brava or alioli sauce, Potatoes, egg & Piquillo peppers, Grilled prawns with mushrooms, Ib€÷rica burger with secreto pork loin & Piparra peppers, Twice cooked lamb, marinated cherry tomatoes & red peppers from El Bierzo, Grilled ib€÷rico pork pluma in moruno marinade & baked aubergine and Spanish rice. It was plenty to keep us occupied, but I have to say interestingly enough, they did the same as the last Tapas place I went to Ÿ?? they served everything in dribs and drabs. I am telling you now Mr Spanish Restaurant owner Ÿ?? it doesn’t work. We want our food all at once! Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t spoil my experience massively; it just isn’t how I want to eat Tapas. Anyway, however it was served, it must have worked because we sent nothing but empty plates and dishes back to the kitchen. We had a diet coke and a Latte as the meal was proceeding, and in order to ensure we had given the Restaurant a proper review, we agreed to at least look at the Dessert menus. Obviously, once we had seen the menus, we were going to order the dessert. It wasn’t if Ÿ?? it was what. We both went for the Caramelised Spanish rice pudding, which was lovely. The service was brisk. Nearly hurried, but I guess that will settle down at busier periods. The food was very tasty and looked the part Ÿ?? as I said earlier, a bit spasmodic with regard to its arrival at the table, but all in all, I couldn’t condemn Iberica for any particular failings. It is new, and it’s in Spinningfields, so it goes without saying that it looks the part. It’s called survival of the fittest. If you don’t look the part, you get trodden on. A bit like the Transvestite world actually! We didn’t make use of the facilities, so I can’t offer any comments on their appearance or functionality, but I would imagine they are OK. We paid our bill, said our goodbyes, and headed back onto Deansgate, back towards the car park and our transport home. I must say with all this building work that is currently being carried out in central Manchester it is a pleasure to tread the pavements of the city. I haven’t had as much rigger booted, high-vis vested attention for ages!! There’s only one thing better than a builder paying you attention Ÿ?? several builders paying you attention! AndŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í. The three questions: Is Iberica TV friendly? Yes. Called me a lady, and treated me like a lady. Value for money? The food and drink described above was a total of ô?66-46, including a service charge of ô?7-39 (12.5%). I think a 12.5% service charge is more than a little steep, so I suppose in a way I am questioning the value of this particular meal. I would have been happier paying ô?59-07 and being left to tip as I thought necessary. Go again? I would not refuse to go again, but to be honest it was pretty “ordinary”. I actually think unless I happen to be in the area stuck for choice, I probably won’t go back for some time!

17-10-2015-Carluccios Birmingham

During our recent weekend away to Birmingham, my friend and I needed somewhere to eat on the Saturday night. We had spent all day Saturday wandering around the shops, spending money on various items of clothing, with intermittent breaks to enable food and drink to be taken on board at various cafes around the centre. We had also enjoyed watching the many performers dotted around the City as part of the Birmingham Festival Weekend. The weather was perfect, and we were having a great time. During the day, we had made it our business to ask different people for ideas for somewhere to go for drink and food that night. The obvious place not to go, it would appear, was Broad Street. Apparently, this is the Ÿ??nightlifeŸ? street of Birmingham, which was described by one lady as Ÿ??vileŸ?, and by a rather attractive Birmingham Policeman as a Ÿ??zooŸ?. We were told, however, of an area called Brindley Place, which was located just off Broad Street. Seemingly, this was an area of eateries of a reasonable standard. It sounded good to us, and we were more than happy to nominate this area as our chosen venue for the night. We finished our afternoon off sat outside the Shakespeare Bar just off the centre, where we thoroughly enjoyed the attentions of the many drinkers who were enjoying the Birmingham sunshine. We watched a group of animal rights supporters boycotting a fur coat shop, along with the inevitable scuffle with the Police as they made attempts to disperse them. This, added to the fun of watching an old guy who was pushing a lawnmower and swigging cheap cider from a plastic bottle (he explained to us that he was a gardener!!) made for an eventful couple of hours. We slowly drank Lager through straws, watched the World go by, and soaked in the atmosphere. Next, it was back to the Hotel, where we sobered up, showered, and got made up ready for the night out. A short walk ensued, the end of which saw us getting into a cab and asking to be taken to Brindley Place. It seemed to be a long way away, but I don’t actually think it was Ÿ?? it was just a very complicated journey due to one way streets and road works. Anyway, 10 minutes or so saw us being dropped off at Brindley Place. The first Restaurant we tried was booked up, so we wandered along a bit further and found Carluccios (www.carluccios.com) which is located at The Water’s Edge, Brindley Place, Birmingham, West Midlands B1 2HP. It was busy, and we weren’t particularly hopeful, but, we were pleasantly surprised when the young lady we approached assured us that they would Ÿ??squeeze us inŸ?. I’m always happy when a girl can Ÿ??squeeze me in!Ÿ? lol. Tables were shuffled about a bit, and an odd chair or two was moved about, and hey presto, there was somewhere for us to sit and dine. We ordered a couple of wine and sodas to be going on with, and set about choosing some food. We had nibbled various things over the course of the day, but hadn’t really eaten properly since breakfast, so we were both hungryish It didn’t take me long to decide that my starter would be prawns marinara – marinated prawns in a sauce of olive oil, white wine, cherry tomatoes and fennel seeds, served with toasted focaccia bread for dipping, whilst my companion decided to tackle the bruschetta – fresh ripe tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil, and oregano on garlicky chargrilled ciabatta. They didn’t take long to arrive, and took an equally short time to disappear! That was round one very quickly and easily over, with us the obvious winners. Round two was soon to follow. For this particular bout, my friend had decided to don the gloves and go fisticuffs against the lamb rosmarino – tender lamb cutlets in a rosemary breadcrumb crust served with cavolo nero, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers & olives. It looked, and so I am informed, tasted delicious. I, on the other hand, took on a portion of branzino – pan fried sea bass fillets served with a salad of rocket, tomato salsa and barley. As always, we added a little extra in the form of rosemary and garlic potatoes and warm green beans. Both fights were easily won, with us being the obvious victors. Empty plates all round, and slightly fuller bellies being the official result. As I mentioned previously, we had not eaten a great deal during the day, and we had drunk a few lagers, so our appetites were what could be described as Ÿ??healthyŸ?. This meant that desserts were inevitable. It wasn’t a case of whether, it was a case of which! I studied the dessert menu carefully, and eventually decided that I would go head to head with the panna cotta – delicious vanilla and rum flavoured cream with candied orange, and my sparring partner threw a well-aimed punch at the Meringa con panna al frutto della passione Ÿ?? easy for you to say! – meringue with a passion fruit cream, fresh raspberries and a raspberry coulis. Very nice too!! We didn’t bother with coffee, or indeed with any further drinks. We decided it was time to go and explore a bit more of Birmingham! We did both pay a visit to the loos, and I can report that they were perfectly clean and well presented; they were however up a long staircase in an unheated part of the building. Not an expedition I would like to make many times in an evening! We paid the bill (or should I say my friend did Ÿ?? so I don’t know how much to be honest), enquired as to where we could get a taxi back to Town, and said our goodbyes. Next it was Broad Street. Yes, I know, we were warned against it, but that is where the cabs are! So off we wandered into the night wondering what Broad Street would be like. In fairness, the policeman who had described it as a zoo was unfair. It was worse. It was like the Wild West, There were cars cruising up and down the streets with youths hanging out of all windows shouting various opinions, there was music booming out of every club and pub doorway, there were police vans and ambulances parked along the pavement every few yards Ÿ?? not necessarily attending to anyone Ÿ?? just there ready for when they would have to. It was pandemonium. We pretty quickly decided not to bother with a drink, just to hail a cab. Oh no, it wasn’t that easy! You had to go to a certain area where the taxi marshals were and join a queue where you would wait to be allotted a cab. None of the cabs were allowed to pick up fares off the street. The queue was about 3 mile long, and consisted of approximately 3 million people, all under the age of 25 and all pissed. This was going to be fun, I had already thought myself lucky not to have experienced any hassle, but surely my luck couldn’t hold out amongst this lot? In fairness it did. After about 30 minutes, we finally got a cab, and I can honestly say I didn’t receive one single heckle, jibe, or disrespectful comment. I got looked at a time or two, but nothing obvious was said. Birmingham had remained a perfect host City. Back into the Centre, back into a little bar for a drink, and eventually, back to the Hotel having had as near a perfect day as you can possible have. As they say all’s well that ends well. And boy, did it end well! I can only really answer two of the questions we normally ask so here goes: Is Carluccios Birmingham TV friendly Ÿ?? Yes it is, and it would appear, so is Birmingham full stop. I had a brilliant weekend. Value for money Ÿ?? This is the one I can’t answer, but I don’t think it was particularly expensive Ÿ?? I didn’t hear any winging from my partner, so I guess it must be OK. Go again? Ÿ?? Certainly hope so!