BACK IN TIME AT ONE & ONLY REETHI RAH MALDIVES

WATER VILLA WITH POOL

€2,590 per night now but not much cheaper when we went a few years back

At our age one may wonder why a couple married for the length of time we have been decided to holiday in the Maldives where the only two things to do are sun worship or have an extraordinary amount of wild sex which is an activity not accredited to people our age as normally it’s a case of do you fancy it ?, answer no I can’t be arsed save it for tomorrow. God what happened to us, it’s called age mate and it’s a bit like being in the pub when someone says another pint and you think no thanks I fancy a full nights sleep rather than a broken night of multiple toilet visits, and that my friends is a fact of life so welcome to my world and this was as I mentioned above before we hit our mid sixties.

Being honest getting to the Maldives is a ball ache so we decided to splash even more hard earned and break the journey up by flying Emirates first class to Dubai to spend a few nights in a Disney desert before flying further. Now the wife likes Dubai and it’s not the £30 a glass champagne but a jeweller we now know who apparently makes to die for jewellery and who now knows us so well over the years insists on taking us for dinner with his wife every time we’re there. Must say that Emirates 1st with a cabin is excellent and the wines were exceptional in fact I would have been happy staying on the plane drinking myself into oblivion but life is not like that.

So we arrive in Mahe airport which is packed with travellers unfortunately mostly Russian as miraculously an Airoflop flight or two had landed at about the same time and having been on a Airoflot flight twice in my life it’s an experience I don’t want to repeat. Since we’ve been the airport has been rebuilt and revamped but for us it was just a sweaty concrete block and that’s about all I can remember except for any alcohol being taken off people at customs as it’s not allowed to be brought in. Once we cleared the multitude of people we were met by the guy from the One and Only and taken to the hotels private yacht which turned out to be a 56 foot monster putting everything else to shame at the dock and there was only us and another couple so the plebs travelled on other various ferry boats. We all decided that it would be a good idea to sit up top to take in the view and have a drink but this wasn’t offered and for a very good reason. The journey was about 45 mins passing various small atolls but the speed of the boat was such that we were completely drenched within minutes of setting out and Helen’s hair actually resembled a dead sheep as it turned into a 70’s Afro but we were all very happy for some stupid reason. Once we arrived very large fluffy white towels were distributed along with cool waters and wet towels to remove the salt water from our faces before checkin.


Actual boat but not my photos as never took photos a few years back.

At the time I think there were only 3 or 4 water villas of which we had one for the five days were there and they are amazing. On an outside deck we had a small plunge pool and steps leading down into the clearest sea I’ve ever seen, our private butler gave us all the traditional local greeting with a large bowl of water which we found out was to wash our feet in but that was his job. Now I’ve had my feet in a pair of trainers for an entire day and when not in an ac environment we’d been in temperatures in excess of 30c and the last thing on the planet I wanted was for some poor sap to have to wash my feet, bloody hell that was bad enough for me to do let alone a stranger and we just wouldn’t put our worst enemy through that and even with his protestations we still refused. The Villa was amazing with what was a whole wall of sliding glass doors opening up onto the Indian Ocean, outside was another deck area with what was supported netting with enormous cushions which you could lay on whilst watching the fish swim fifteen feet below you. The room itself was large and split into lounge, bedroom and bathroom all just perfectly furnished and luxurious, in fact I couldn’t find a single fault in any of it. Along with all this came a couple of bicycles and a private use golf buggy which was only available with a water Villa , not saying you actually need one as it’s not a massive island and can be walked around very easily but this was just added fun.

Just an amazing place.

To be honest it took us a while to take it all in but once unpacked it was do we cycle or take the buggy, so obviously buggy it was. So first stop was the main area which had a bar and restaurant and the first beer of the day was calling me. This gave us time to look over the offerings for the day and night. The first thing that jumped out at me was the wine list as they had a brilliant Burgundy from Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac which was a Morley Saint Denis village wine and all this guys wines are truly amazing but the price was just stratospheric at £150 per bottle so I had a £10 beer. One thing for certain is that everything is expensive here including the food.

After our first night we decided to rename the place Ruski Rah as it was absolutely full of Russians which actually made the place rather interesting as far as people watching went and boy are they a totally different breed from us. For a start we never saw any of them before 1pm and never any of the women until 8pm. All the guys were very large especially their waistlines and all were around late to middle age bald and looking like someone had just squeezed their nuts and all they seemed to do was drink. Now these guys were seriously rolling in money hitting the shots and beers at an alarming rate and if you’re spending the best part of a pony every couple of minutes that soon turns into a monkey before lunch. Now the next interesting thing is the way they eat as it’s like shovelling food into mouths and for the watchers like us I’ve seen washing going around in a machine with more grace than this. To top this they all sit at the table hunched over with their arms wrapped around the plate like convicts doing a life sentence in case anyone steals the food. The women are not slim but skinny, so so young, all bleached hair that it’s incredible hair still exists and dripping in anything by LV, Gucci or Prada regardless if you still look like a sack of shit or a kind of slimmed down Barbie, but then these guys trade them in at a rate of knots so they have try to look eighteen. These girls like I said only appear at night as the whole day is actually spent at the Spa and don’t laugh but they use the sun beds instead of the actual sun. I will always be trying to figure out wether these guys were built like bull elephants with the sexual capacity of a rutting rhino or if it’s just the size of their wallets that draws these girls?, and just to let you know I don’t actually reach any of those criteria.

The drive round the island was great we stopped first in the main reception area which housed a restaurant that did all day food and breakfast, lunch and dinner. Further on we found the beach restraint which was really good and open at night with tables so that the water can lap at your feet or the alternative stay dry numbers further up the beach. Following that there’s was an Asian place that sat above the water and you could watch the fish swimming around as the water was all lit up. All the food was fine and they all seemed very quiet as the Russians seemed to stay in the main bar area eating and drinking anything that stood still but funnily enough the girls didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t let things like calories past their lips. We did mention to the staff that they all ate like convicts and they said that many were crooks which I whole heartedly believed.

Like I mentioned there’s not a lot to do so we decided to wander off to the dock to see about the fishing and does anyone catch anything as for $200 per person I wanted something to boast about. We met a great Kuwaití couple who were doing the same and we saw a guy with fish. Asking the boat guys about it it turned out this bloke ( yes Russian) went everyday but visited another island where his bit on the side was reading while his wife was in the spa and the staff caught the fish, so to charter this boat as a solo person was €1200 so the mistress must have been incredible in the sack but that’s just how my mind works. Anyway us and our new Arab buddies took the boat out and yes we caught a few fish that would be cooked and served with great fanfare to us that night where we also had to pay for them again as a menu dish so this turned out to be the most expensive fish I’ve ever eaten and were they mine ?, I have no idea but we all had great fun. You can also take a seaplane ride which was a bit dodgy but hilarious. It’s used as an island hopper taxi and resembled a Second World War Fokker sea plane and by that I mean it was old. The pilot was a mad Aussie and to keep it cool he just left the door open, I can’t remember seat belts as the seats were like a welded steel tubular frame with canvas strung across them, why did I risk my life for a small fortune I wondered but it was great and I recommend it.

On the third day we well the wife ran Gordon Ramsay the chef off the track in his buggy as they were both playing chicken and neither would give way, and on that note we were asked if we would move from our water villa to a beach villa as Gordon and his wife wanted one, so that was a no even with a refund, why should I as I’ve eaten in his restaurants so I’ve already paid him enough so to speak. The five days is really enough to be here even though we enjoyed every moment and walking down the stairs from our deck into the water and swimming with Rays etc really is fantastic. The place is very luxurious and over the top with service and one night we had a private dinner on our deck which was lit by candles everywhere and served by our own private staff with a bottle of Dom Perignon which was complementary if you booked a water villa, incredible.

So we probably spent more money than England spent on Richard the Lionhearts Crusade and his bloody bloody ransom combined but this is a one off experience and something that I wouldn’t want to do again as it just wouldn’t be as magical but would push anybody to do at least once in your life.

Advertisement

1772 BRASSERIE, ELCOT PARK HOTEL

NEWBURY, WEST BERKSHIRE

£245 for two inc wine and service charge

This hotel has been around for years but has never shown up on our radar for some reason as it’s not that far from home about 15 miles and many times have we driven up the A4 from Newbury to Hungerford having only ever seen the road sign pointing to the hamlet of Elcot which is about the size of a budgies cage and apart from the hotel I have no idea what else is there as it’s pretty remote for a populated part of Berkshire and there seemed no point actually driving past the hotel to find out. It’s an attractive building built around 1770- 80 which makes it Georgian and in the reign of George 3rd the nutter who was probably bi polar or mad through the aristocracies love of incest is best, and being the king in those days was pretty good as they got to shag everything in sight and that’s a historical fact, but his medical condition all depends on what history lesson you had at whatever school or books you may have read but at least he was born in England and English was his first language rather than Hanoverian German like the first two.

The front of the building is so typical of the time it was built but to the rear and sides not much of the original has survived and the planners have slapped a listing on it which is grade2 meaning you can alter pretty much anything apart from the facade which has got to remain as is and repaired with original materials. The building sits on a slight rise overlooking absolutely nothing so I guess staying here is going to be quiet but I’m never going to find out as it’s so close to home.

No idea why some numpty stuck a very naf red and white awning under the portico as it’s not necessary and a bit cheap. Inside though the place has been very well fitted with what we think are nice nice colours and looked like it had been done fairly recently. Through reception is a dining and bar area which was surprisingly large along with a large extension area which is also a dining room which can be closed off if not busy, along with that they also have a private dining area. The bar was long and impressive with bar stools so plenty of room to have a pre lunch or dinner drink if they’re running late. As per normal for this area it was full of your older U.D.H. type character all dressed in the usual uniform of blazer usually navy, tan trousers or if no blazer a white shirt and grubby grey hair, along with this lot were the usual spattering of tweed outfits handed down through the generations as old money does this sort of thing along with their old country piles falling to bits. Quite a few of the other punters here did look like they just might be on their last legs with that vacant stare where you think nobody’s at home and that’s without them sipping the demon drink which we noticed hardly anyone had, very strange as we thought this may shorten the time waiting for the inheritance.

Once again it was a Sunday menu which is usually good value for money and is always cheaper than an evening meal so this was a good opportunity as we had to find a place nearby for dinner as we have a dinner with a a couple of our solicitors and their wives which is always a good laugh and has to be ok as we’ve got to eat it but it doesn’t have to be really serious. The dining room is nice but when you get the old money country set in these places the noise level is elevated as if you ever come across a gaggle of old school tie types they speak at a very high decibel level and spend must of their time braying and guffawing at each others tale of shooting whatever moves in the countryside and talking about the little lady at home while she sits there in headband and pearls with a turned up collar looking after little Tarquin and Lucinda, honestly these are normal names for this lot. So down to the food and straight away I thought I’ve got to have the crispy cauliflower popcorn as a nibble while looking at the rest and the wine list and an order of sourdough with the garlic butter and olive oil. The cauliflower popcorn whilst tasty was far from crispy as the sauce being nice was sticky and made the dish a bit flabby but still nice, the bread was a bit dry and the olive oil had no real flavour at all and the garlic butter was so strong it acted better than any other birth control on the planet with only one of you eating it. Starters were the beef carpaccio which worried me when it came as the beef was in fairly thick kind of slices but was exceptionally tender and surprisingly good, Helen had the terrine which was good but I thought she played that a bit safe. Mains were the roast beef and no complaints here either though for me the meat was a bit well done but looking at the clientele it was probably better like this and gumming it to death than watching dentures coming loose which would have been more entertaining though. The wine list was pretty comprehensive from Lay & Wheeler and we had a pretty good Savigny le Beaune from Prieure which we finished off with a cheese selection.

All in all a pretty good meal not up there with the greatest but what we had was very good and reasonably priced so we have booked this for our dinner with the lawyers and the place is very nice and comfortable. Is the evening menu different ?,I don’t know but it must be ok if a lunch is good as the head chef would normally be off but who knows.

PLAYA PADRE RESTAURANT

CALLE PLAYA del CABLE MARBELLA

It was a nice sunny day in November in fact it was el Dia de Los Muertos and about 24c so what else to do but to have lunch at what was really a beach club where you pay for sun beds and the drinks food etc. No idea why you would do this as it’s much cheaper to go to the beach hire a sun lounger and then buy a drink or food at a beach club or to save even more hard earned go to a beach bar. Ok the beach bar is usually nothing more than a temporary seasonal shack on the sand but some have been brilliant for food and drinks. This one we found as per usual on the internet, why we chose this one I have no idea but it’s going to be fun whichever we went to. Only a twenty minute drive down what was now becoming that old favourite the good old A7 coastal road. Again the problem is that a lot of Marbella is one side of the road and the beach side obviously the other, and another ball ache is that if you want to come off there are slip roads but you have to take the correct one. Not so bad if your coming from the west but we weren’t so it’s a sort of slip road to come off and then come directly back on after the traffic lights to get on the other carriageway hoping you’ve got the correct slip road, then your stuck in between two lanes of traffic where you hope your not the third car across and end up queueing in the fast lane of the west bound traffic, really great road planning but somehow it seems to work as we all crammed into a small space three cars deep. Yes it was going to be nailed on that we took the wrong slip road and having to do three different roundabouts and another dodgy crossing of the A7 to end up where I started from a bit like snakes and ladders. This time I got the correct road and noticed a sign pointing in sort of a general direction I was heading saying 200 metres Playa Padre. After that fuck all. All we could see was a kind of dodgy industrial estate, bugger all signs, no road names in fact absolutely nothing, even the sat nav told me I’d arrived but arrived where we couldn’t even see a beach. Having a modicum of common sense I decided to reverse back down the one way slip road thinking we’ve only passed two small roads on the right it’s got to be one of these, I then spotted a rare thing called a parking space and informed the other half that I don’t give a shit were walking till we find it, there ensued a quick five minute domestic fuck you and fuck you argument as once again the walking footwear of one of us wasn’t of the best design regardless of the fact that they cost more than my tax bill for that month. Once made up and all hunky dory again we set off down a very steep side road towards the sea surrounded by mechanics garages and various other interesting sights including the one in the photo below which left me wondering what type of neighbourhood we were in.

My first thought on seeing this was oh bugger this bars shut as I was actually gasping but they had left a table, a couple of chairs and it had a classy glass balcony. I just loved the Privado sign by the wooden door as if any idiot would decide to enter.

Passing this down steep lane we actually entered an industrial estate car park with various grubby buildings lining both sides and still no signage to this place. Walking between the buildings we finallly found the beach and about 50 metres further on was a thatched type building in fact it was the only one which meant it must be where we’re going or the Hells Angels Marbella drug warehouse, but as it’s a bank holiday I guess that’s why they shut even psychos need a day off. The entrance to the place was boarded so that made it easier to walk on and luckily it kept someone’s footwear off the sand until we passed through an indoor eating area onto a beach with table and chairs. Must admit it looked fun with sunshade and really soft sand which the blond wasn’t to happy about as the saying goes sand gets everywhere especially when it’s in your shoes, anyway it was justified to ignore that one as sooner or later the wittering would cease. I had to glean all the photos off the net as the wife was clearing space and deleted all the photos but the internet ones are pretty much the same and better than what I do.

The place was interesting and fun but it’s what is called an Instergramers, Facebook paradise and seeing that I have no idea or interest in any of that I had to ask one of the girls in the bar back at the hotel to fill me in on the actual meaning. Straight away we knew it was the sort of place ageing old farts don’t go to beyond a lunch time and I think that they wouldn’t actually allow us in after sun down as we’d just ruin all the perfect peoples photos as who the hell wants to see a couple of old wrinklies there and after seeing some evening shots we would be so out of place with the beautiful people. Entering the place we were confronted by a very pretty girl all made up with the Halloween make up but wearing a dress that was totally see through to which I can confirm she had a great body, maybe that’s why the wife wiped the pictures as I had a cracker of her, but putting aside my perversions and eye balls back in my head and already knowing my wallet wasn’t fat enough to do a Bernie Eccelstone we were shown to a table in the sand. Again really cool but why oh why were the tables and chairs the same height as a nursery school set making it somewhat difficult to get up plus the sand being nice and soft and deep no way can you pull up to the table.

Inside and outside done really nicely

Saying all that we still liked the place and the girls serving were good fun. The place is very very casual but it’s a beach and we weren’t expecting anything else and a few other people arrived who were a similar age to us so yes it is a younger crowd for the evening. While waiting for menus I had a quick look at the sun loungers Which looked comfortable but I have no idea what they cost as didn’t ask but did notice that there was a minimum charge for drinks so how much more that is no idea. Menu was ok and I went for a Wagyu burger which sounded good and Wagyu seems all the rage at the moment as its seriously expensive as it’s supposedly massaged by some sort of Geisha but I know that’s bullshit and why would you put such an expensive meat in a burger smothered with all the trimmings?. Unfortunately I didn’t have the so called orgasmic beetroot salad and am still trying to work that one out you’ve got to seriously have a fetish for beetroot and I’m yet to be convinced of anyone being orgasmic with a beetroot. Instead I had the tacos with lamb and they were very nice a slightly spicy shredded lamb concoction which went down easily. Helen plumped for the clams Jalisco , plenty of them and quite a nice stock but have no idea what the Jalisco was because as far as I’m concerned it’s a place in Mexico so maybe the stock was Mexican but who knows.

All the way along the walkway to the beach they had large skulls which were all painted differently apparently by a selection of local artists, as it was the day of the dead I wondered if these came out every year but they were very good and interesting along with the staff all made up as well.

Was my Wagyu burger Wagyu ? I have no idea but I doubt it and there’s no way of telling, it seemed ok but just a basic sort of burger and if it wasn’t then €31 is a bit steep for a burger. Helen had the pasta which was fine but also a bit pricey. So all in all a beer and two bottles of sparkling water and food was something like €130 which for what we had was pricey but it’s where you are Marbella is always more pricey because of the small or large drug dealers that populate this area which is well known for UK felons to hang out.

Yeah we enjoyed it as it was different and as long as your looking at the beach side it’s great, very expensive for what it is which was fine average and no more, would I return, No. plus it’s a bugger to find.

COSTA del SOL

Many many times have we visited this area but for whatever reason never the actual coast line apart from having an over priced lunch in the posing town of Puerto Banus where all the beautiful people flock to or so it’s said, and if you enjoy comparing Botox frozen features, large football like chest implants and lips bigger than Daffy Ducks all on women thinner than a broom handle then this is the place for you. In fact the blond was the only female walking around not looking like she was totally surprised or walking like her thong ( never in a million years would one of these be entertained I must say ) was two sizes too small and doing a lot more than a little chaffing. Not wanting to repeat seeing those sights we skipped it this time around.

MIJAS

Even though our hotel La Zambra had an address that said Mijas it isn’t actually in it, ok it’s in the commune but is actually just by Mijas Costa and that isn’t really worth talking about and by that I mean bloody awful as most of it is cut off from the sea front by the A7 coastal highway. The village of Mijas is something different as it’s a typical white washed pueblo up a hillside. I say it’s pretty even though there isn’t an awful lot there, plenty of the usual tourist knickknack crap shops and it seems full of basic restaurants feeding hordes of tourists. We drove into it and believe me if I lived there I’d be world famous as a mass murderer it’s just full of people and this is out of the main season. Another pain was parking which is pretty much impossible and I have no idea where people who live here park, so we parked on the edge of town as someone was leaving a space just as we drove up. We spent an hour wandering around and yes it’s nice but there really isn’t anything architecturally interesting to photograph. Shops were doing a fair old trade selling the stuff you get home and think I’ll just put that in a draw for the next twenty odd years to remind me. Restaurants were all a much of a muchness and we settled in the main square for a couple of quick straight forward pastas while a bloody tourist bus sat next to us with his bloody engine running bringing a whole new meaning to smoked food, lovely. Really nothing else to say about it except that there were some amazing houses further up the hillside and not affected by tourists but then again why pay a couple of mill for a big house with nowhere to go.

FUENGIROLA

The wife had actually visited this place back in the early 70’s when she lived in Northern Spain and wow has this changed. You always see this advertised as a Brit holiday destination in what I can only describe as cheap packages, I know some people don’t have a lot but Jesus Christ this place is the pits I’d rather sit boiling in the garden spraying myself with the hose pipe than come here. We always say if it isn’t as comfortable or better than my own home why am l here but again it all comes down to expectations and how high the bar is, believe me the world champion limbo dancer couldn’t wriggle under this one. There is no old town left if there ever was one but it was a small fishing village once and as you drive through the town to the sea front it’s just unbelievably depressing. We turned onto the sea front and I had an idea of what to expect but this actually blew my mind and as for the sights and smells it was nothing like my small narrow imagination could think of. The whole place is just lined with block upon block of apartments or some type of hotel put up in the 70’s and built in what can only be described as a cheap construction and it wouldn’t take an expert in building to see that. No way would you for one second think that you were in Spain. Every single building has a smallish well they look small bar or with a stretch of the imagination restaurant on the ground floor but not one of them is Spanish. All of these places are named after common pubs in the uk or there some kind of themed Irish bar called Murphy’s, please guys just a little bit of originality would make it at least more interesting to read. Not only are the memes the same but so are the menus all on blackboards on the pavements and make amazing reading. Full English breakfast and a pint for €6.00. Now at that price I’m going to wonder just what is in the sausages and just what is the bacon let alone the rest of the cardiac arrest grease it’s cooked in, also why a pint, it’s breakfast for gods sake and just to make it more British is the odd dodgy Indian curry house and the usual same menu Chinese places. Believe it or not this goes on for 8 very painful klicks and is full of a lot of egg shaped tourists but seeing as the main type of fare seems to be high calorie fried stuff and large beers it’s not surprising. As we approached the end which is a dead end with a roundabout one of the guys in the hotel told us to try a restaurant called Horizonte as he said it’s not typical of the place and the locals go there and it’s up that end which once you get there is slightly less depressing.


This is such a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of Fungusrola

The menu was large but modern Spanish interesting as we looked before we went in. As we were reading it a couple of English women actually walked up to us and said that they do foreign stuff in there. Was this serious or were they just taking the piss, we didn’t answer and they walked off but weren’t laughing so I gather they thought maybe that’s helpful and I think I must get the blond to change the colour of the old barnet, just too English. We sat at the back overlooking the beach which is fine it’s quite a nice beach and at this time of the year quiet. We both had the prawns which were large and brilliant followed by the black rice which was good if not a little salty, by no means the best we’d had that week but was fine. Other diners were locals except for a Scandinavian couple and their teenage daughters who had been here before. Service was ok but a bit like well they’re only tourists which I can understand. Not at all expensive but would we bother again. Nope.

view from restaurant

This is the really upmarket part as it looks ok opposite the restaurant


BENALMADINA

I thought that all these place joined up but we had to drive up the hill side above Fuengirola where there are some amazing houses and again we wondered why you would buy something here as going out is a no no and these places are a million or more but whatever floats your boat I guess as your sandwiched between the resort and the A7 behind which is a busy motorway so it must be audible to these places. Anyway BENALMADINA is a smaller Fuengirola and there really was no reason to get out of the car as it hurt the eyes as much as the previous place and driving here leads you onto the next place which is….

TORREMOLINOS

You pass under an arch type thing over the road and are automatically transferred into Torremolinos which is written at the top of the thing over the road which actually looks like cardboard, and yes even though it’s not the place is as cheap as the sign. In fact we drove 50 metres into the place then turned around and left it was that good. By now both of us had had enough of what was a wrist slashing day out and decided to hit that famous coastal highway the A7 and drive to Estepona about 45 miles away.

ESTEPONA

Estepona does have a very small original old town which is nothing to write home about and the whole place is stretched over three bays and god knows how many miles. It was another soulless place which I gather had had its heart ripped out and replaced by the standard Costa seaside resort, boring and uninteresting.

Would we return to this area ? No, the coast is in our opinion horrible ugly and destroyed. Inland is nice but there’s not a lot to see or do. Malaga we will return to as it’s a gem compared to the rest of southern Spain. We didn’t stop in Marbella as we’ve stayed there a few times so seen it and done it but we did do a wacky restaurant which I’ll write up later.

HOTEL PALACIO SOLECIO, MALAGA

Room from £150 per night

A QUICK TOUR OF MALAGA INCLUDED AFTER HOTEL REVIEW

We have stayed here before and thought it was great value for money and after driving from Almeria to Mijas which was awful and I will follow with that one later but Malaga we love. This time I actually drove to the hotel which was actually pretty stress free surprisingly. The hotel is in the old part and the only problem is it’s pedestrianised and last time the taxi dropped us at the end of the road leaving only a fifty metre walk. So being organised I Googled nearest car park which actually turned out to be pretty much opposite from where the taxi dropped us, so transferring this info into the Golf’s sat nav was no problem. One thing the Spaniards like are roundabouts but a few of these aren’t exactly round they happen to be egg shaped or overly elongated ovals with more exits than a consortium of octopuses ( yeah I had to look that one up), so I called the hotel and they said let them know ten minutes from arriving and one of their poor saps would meet us by the car park as the entrance was closed. Talk about luck if I hadn’t called that would have really set me off on one and being a Libra and evenly balanced proves that that’s a load of bollocks, so I then decided it would be a great idea to buy a Euro lottery ticket but that was pushing it as I won bugger all. So Malaga is an ok place to drive through as driving in London is all about who’s got the biggest dick and testosterone (or is that Toblerone) male driven aggression while here they will let you in or out of a space while I sit there thinking what’s he seen coming that I haven’t, this takes some getting used to as London is he who dares. Called them ten minutes out according to the sat nav and everything was rosey entering the final weird shaped roundabout and getting into the correct lane for the fourth exit which entailed pulling sharply across two lanes and blocking them both which at home I would have been hung drawn and quartered for but here not even a horn blast. Away at the lights and onto the fourth exit which as it turned out was actually the fifth, the fourth was a small road that actually went off to the right in what was a last minute fork unnoticed by yours truly and the blond who was probably concentrating on what shoes would go with that nights outfit. Oh shit that means i now have to traverse through Christ knows how many roads, roundabouts, lights and dawdling Spaniards to get back here. This took a while and the hotel called to ask where we were fifteen minutes later and yep I’m back at this bastard roundabout but prepared for this small bear right fork where upon paying attention right in front of me was the sign for aparcamiento Acazaba, so no problem and fifty meters down the road was the entrance to the car park and yes it was closed off but I was able to pull into the slip road entrance where the poor lad from the hotel was waiting, he took the car and said he would bring the bags so brilliant.

The hotel actually has 68 rooms which surprised me as I’ve never seen a multitude of people here and is a beautiful old building opposite a church where as the bells were ringing, we had a slight concern that Quassimodo was going to be leaping around tugging on the bell ropes every hour 24/7 but no they didn’t ring at night. I had no idea it was two buildings and always thought being opposite the church it was owned by them but no the main part was built by a Genoese bloke in 1798 who according to the staff made playing cards sold in the USA. This time we didn’t have a suite but the room was large and furnished just the same. The beds are extremely comfortable and the decor being a bit dark probably fits with the original ie heavy fabric curtains etc. Nespresso coffee machines are in all rooms but why do they use some cheap crappy capsules from another company that’s not really very good and kept our usage down to one each, some sort of mad cost saving rubbish going on me thinks. Bathrooms are good with a free standing bath and frosted glass shower, frosted why I have no idea as if your with the wife surely they’ve seen it all hanging out before or maybe lots of us are just modest. Our room was dual aspect looking down the street past the church with a small balcony which you could stand on, why you would I don’t know and the other window looked into a flat opposite as the street narrows and we could have nearly shaken hands with the couple opposite who were sitting in an open window with the shutters open, still cool though.


That night neither of us could be arsed finding a restaurant though there must be at least a dozen tapas bars within a five minute walk but they are all a little bit of a tourist trap but do look fantastically original. The menu was vastly improved from last year as it was all a bit experimental and not that good so the game had been upped here so a table at 8.30 it was. The chef holds a Michelin star but as in a lot of these places it’s his name only and he doesn’t cook here as he has his own premises in Malaga. The food though is very good but without the refinery of a so called star but then again with a lot of Michelin starred places you sometimes wonder how the hell did they achieve that, anyway have a gander at the hotel and food will be after.

Back to the food which last time was what you call an experimental menu, and after eating at The Fat Duck where Heston Blumenthal was one of the innovators of this cuisine and then eating at El Buli by the Aria brothers I still wanted a proper meal after leaving these places, as twenty odd plates of molecular cooking while clever and really bloody expensive sort of left me empty and needing something that was actually what it said without any foams made out of dogs bollocks and dry ice tasting like sweet breads and looking like food you want to eat, it was all just theatre and a bit of fun that gets boring after a while. The menu looked a lot more wholesome and normal and I had to go for the Malaga dog fish stew which came in a high bowl with a pastry topping hoping that it hard actually been cooked with that on to keep in all the flavour. It was fine like a weaker bouillabaisse and I didn’t get the crab or the spicy touch but it still ate fine. Helen had the Iberian ham which was good and is what I can spend all day eating especially 5 jotas brilliant. I followed this with the Lobster Tagliatelle which again was nice but not what I would expect if the actual named chef was cooking. H pumped for the Turbot which at €32 was a bargain seeing as what you pay for that in London and it was perfect as were the cockles. We washed this lot down with a bottle of Pinot Noir from Malaga so unusual but if your where you are you’ve got to try the local hootch, no way would I get Pinot Noir but then I always compare them to French Burgundy which is completely the wrong thing to do, it must have been ok as we drained the bottle.

Being in a city centre we surprisingly slept well probably because of a half bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc another glass of house champagne and a bottle of wine just might of helped somewhat, but as I said being in a city you are woken around 6.30am with the bin men collecting empty bins of bottles from all the bars and restaurants but when else can they do this in a pedestrianised zone and after this you get the load voices and shouting from the workforce of the city starting their day. We went out for breakfast as it’s not included in the price for some reason and there’s so many cafe bars with amazing looking baguettes, pastries and loads of other things with amazing coffee. We asked ourselves why do you only pay €1.60 for a cortado and €2.00 for a large cappuccino in Spain and three times that price for the same in a crappy Starbucks in the UK ?. So breakfast in a bar with the locals is recommended and everything is totally fresh. The hotel is a great place to stay if your in Malaga it’s comfortable and really well situated to see all of Malaga which is a cool place and well worth a visit unlike the rest of the Costa del Sol which I will cover later and will be short I think.

A WALK AROUND MALAGA

On leaving the hotel you turn right which is directly into the old town and the main shopping street which is all totally pedestrianised so the only danger is getting brushed or sucked up by a small mechanised street sweeping machine. The architecture is stunning and even at this time of year was fairly busy by 10am. A slightly strange thing are the paving stones in the street and we know this from before that they are extremely slippery and we made sure that the only shoes we wore were rubber soled as I have no idea how they walk on these in ordinary shoes without breaking ankles or necks and I just dont want to think what there like when wet.

Couple of photos of streets just a few yards from the hotel with nice shiny paving stones and no it hadn’t rained.

Wander down any of these streets and you come across bars and shops which are like a bygone age, especially when we came across a typical Spanish Jamon Serrano shop, in the past I have bought one of these and managed to get it through UK customs unnoticed kept it in the cellar and just had a few slices from it everyday amazing. Also some of the old tapas bars are incredible but in our opinion you have to be careful which one you pick as some are nothing more than glorified tourist haunts, so study the menus and not what’s advertised on the windows as it may look authentic but isn’t though to be honest I expect all would be happy in either. The main street is full of the usual shopping suspects but the buildings above the corporate windows is really attractive and kept me interested while the blond did the usual culture tour around certain clothing garments but there are many side streets leading to different plazas which are so interesting and picturesque.

Below are just a few of the amazing buildings in Malaga and they just go on and on

To top it all we had to do the big look at me I’m a tourist thing and that was a carriage ride. I must admit that feeling a bit of a plonker it was a great way to see many of the sights and have them explained, I gather that the drivers do have a certain amount of English but ours never asked but was very informative with dates history etc and all for only $35 and took 40 minutes so we’ll worth the money.

We only had one day here so didn’t have enough time to visit the old castle that sits overlooking the port and this is one place we will return to for a long weekend as there is just so much to see do and eat.


couple of tapas bars and the Iberian ham shop

LA ZAMBRA HOTEL MIJAS, MALAGA

€516 per night

Av. de Louison Bobet, 9, 29650, Málaga

Once again a renovated hotel under the Hyatt Group sitting on a golf course which there seems to be one on every corner of Marbella / Malaga area, so this is either going to be good or another fur coat no knickers experience. On arrival we had to let a group of six golfers cross the road who moved with the speed of a sloth and the agility of an arthritic rhino that I was starting to think that the sun would go down and rise before they actually crossed the road, and they say golf is exercise ?,well you could have fooled me. This is what you pay for as pulling up in front of the hotel three guys appeared from nowhere that I thought they were trained by the SAS in stealth approach and I was not even allowed to press the button to release the boot and god forbid that I even thought about even touching the baggage. It was also impressive that being dressed in t shirt flip flops and unpressed shorts without a designer label in sight no one even looked like “what is this pleb doing here” as the blond had already given me that up and down look with the really your going out dressed like that stare and you haven’t shaved it’s like living with a tramp, so my casual George Clooney stubble didn’t cut it with her but as I was in the car waiting and we had checked out of the previous hotel it was to late to change.

Entrance to La ZAMBRA


Hotel lobby was charming and they seem to have enough people at reception to control a small riot. All were immaculate in their beige and white uniforms hair all in place and perfectly made up including the girls. I had no idea that my personal life assistant had booked this with the new opening offer at a 30% discount which was a result but also we then found out that the main restaurant isn’t opening until Friday the day we leave and a few other things are apparently not finished but not noticeable as I think it’s rooms but we neither saw nor heard any evidence of work being done so at least I wasn’t going to confuse people here thinking I was a builder. Another bonus was it’s less than 50% full so there was also a choice of suites with different views. There’s obviously no sea view so we could have a view of a golf course with waddling middle aged plonkers knocking their little white balls everywhere or a garden room which being on the ground floor you look at a white wall as the planting hasn’t grown yet or the one we took a view of the hills and Mijas in the distance which was great as long as you didn’t use the balcony as there’s the car park but sitting in bed reading the papers and having a coffee you don’t see it and it’s top floor so no one above you. The room or junior suite as there called is only really a bigger than bog standard sized room with a sofa area a few feet from the bed so no it isn’t what I call a suite but due to costs most hotels now do this obviously as space is money but at least the bath was in the bathroom and not at the end of the bed which is a real wind up. Compared to the last hotel you realise immediately why we are paying 4 times as much here as the last hotel. Yes the rooms are smaller here but the finish to the building is a much higher grade as are the beds, linens and the towels which are enormous white and fluffy plus you get a ridiculous amount of them and are changed every time they get used without having those we don’t want to pay to have these washed so we can save the planet bollocks notices next to the bathroom sink. The quality of the bed and the feel of the sheets, mattress and a very thick mattress comforter makes it as good or if not better than your own home because why else would you leave your own house for something worse.

Photos of hotel lobby with water features outside and in courtyard by reception

I did find other water features and believe me this place has the licence for water features even having three swimming pools and enough really comfy sun beds to accommodate all those golf widows or people like us who are still breathing as all I can see from my sun bed is a procession of electric golf buggy’s doodling around and they call this exercise, I’m going to burn more calories by turning over and getting up to have lunch. The bar is also very comfortable and service excellent and most of the evenings we were the only ones here and I have no idea why as we were both washed and buffed and I’d even gone to the effort of putting on Bulgari aftershave (well the blond reminded me to use it) so no idea what others were doing maybe it had gone off but she didn’t complain. The only restaurant open was surprisingly good but I’d say pretty much beyond that and we did find out that the top two chefs are working or as we put it practising for the main one opening Friday night. We have two more nights here and have eaten here for the last two swapping our starters around but so far have gone for the black rice with these tiny prawns lightly dusted in flour and fried and small spots of alioli dotted around it truly is amazing but tonight I’ve got to move on, then again maybe not. All the staff are amazing but probably because we speak Spanish and it’s unusual for a guests to be able to have a conversation with them and they did say that people who have lived here for twenty odd years still don’t speak any.

I took some photos of the room as I thought it very good even if there’s no proper lounge, and view of Mijas from the room but couldn’t be arsed to show the car park as who’s interested in that.

I’ll finish up with the pool as I said there are three but ones very shallow and obviously for kids and that’s set far away so full marks for that Hilton. The other two are next to each other but at different heights so the elevated one has a kind of infinity effect and all are fairly large. The decks are cleaned all day but very discretely and service from the bar was excellent I wasn’t even allowed to carry a bottle of water it had to be delivered with an array of nuts, olives and crisps, these also came with a beer. Towels were plentiful large and fluffy what more could you ask for.

photo of pool deck, and a couple of the bar inside and out.

This is a very good hotel and very comfortable. As for returning we wouldn’t if the full price is asked for, with the opening discount it’s very good but at full price which for our room would be €670 per night places it in the same pricing sphere as a Mandarin Oriental and similar upmarket chains. Sorry but it’s good but has a long way to go before it can match that level of comfort and service and the junior suite is small for the money but it all comes down to different people’s expectations. We are looking forward to the next couple of nights here before we move on to Malaga.

CABOGATA BEACH HOTEL

ALMERÍA SPAIN

TERRACE SUITE €158 per night

So we’ve just had two nights here to check out the area for possible property purchase and it didn’t take long to answer that one with a resounding no. Let’s deal with the actual hotel first, as for the price we weren’t actually expecting it to be as good as it was. It’s not actually in Almería which believe me is a massive bonus but about ten minutes drive further to a what I call purpose built resort probably around the early eighties and they say this hotel was built 2005, but I would say it was renovated then and re done since. There’s actually nothing wrong with the place it’s light airy and service has been good, the place is comfortable with a couple of restaurants which you need as this time of year as not a lot is open outside and it’s very quiet obviously a very high percentage of second homeowners.


The hotel looks well maintained and is quite attractive as I’ve seen been and stayed in a lot worse costing a similar amount to Zimbabwe’s national debt for a night. Once checked in you soon realise that there are not going to be an awful lot of frills attached but then again for this amount of money our expectations weren’t high, it’s all very polite and here’s your room number and key card now sod off and find it, oh and take your own bags you lazy sods. Well it’s not that bad the girls at reception were lovely but you get my drift. So second floor it was and the first lift was out of order so we had to wander around to find another. On entering the room both of us were happily surprised at what was a large lounge with sofa, arm chair, desk and wall mounted tv, then move through to a good sized bedroom. Bed was large and looked fine and luckily the bathrobes were folded on the end of the bed and not into one of those naff elephants or swans as I hate this towel origami business as no it doesn’t make me feel special it’s just bloody annoying. They also stuck in another tv in case your to lazy to get out of bed. Bathroom was good with bath double basin and nice sized separate shower and loo. Most of our stuff had to go under the sink as I’ve never seen such a large array of toiletries, in fact I could have set up a beauticians parlour with all this stuff, so for the price we paid no way could you actually moan about it. The bed was on the firm side and I did find extra pillows in a wardrobe, sheets were fine not the greatest quality but felt fine and it was quiet and we slept ok.

Not sure my photos do it justice but the size of the suite was very generous and like I said what’s there to moan about. Well the view was a bit shit as we looked out onto the housing blocks opposite but then we didn’t spend a lot of time in the room apart from sleeping and there was a fairly large bonus to not having a sea view. The hotel being built in a U shape means that all the rooms apart from about 8 on the end face into the large court area and the pool where you have a DJ banging out a heavy beat late afternoon into the evening at the outdoor bar and then he was replaced by some old bloke who set up by the tapas bar where they have tables outside and started his set which was a bit like a Michael Buble tribute act performed by Speedy Gonzalez, what is it with Spanish hotels, seriously who wants this shit when all you want is a quiet drink and a chat. So we heard nothing from our side and could actually sleep if we wanted to from 11pm without the racket. The only problem we encountered was when we left the room and headed for a pre dinner drink and that was the smell of food, god it was everywhere except for our room thankfully, even the lift smelt of food and it was strong. The culprit was the buffet which seemed to be doing a brisk business as obviously it was cheap and pile it high. We sat in the tapas bar and it stank in there so we took our wines outside. Surely a suit who works here must have noticed it or the extraction system was busted or a junior chef pot washer in the kitchen had a brain fart and swapped what was supposed to be extraction for circulation. Being beyond what is known as snobs or posers we headed for the top restaurant where we were the only couple there and this was 9.30pm so not to early for a few Spaniards to begin eating as the place was full of them another bonus as most Brits abroad are morons. We both started with a risotto of smoked bacon which was one of the best we’ve had anywhere in the world, the guy who cooked this could make a fortune in any city in the world as it was beyond perfection, just what the hell is he doing here. The following corses were interesting and with a little more knowledge he could be brilliant, really this lad is wasted here.

Chucked in a couple of photos of the restaurant, tapas bar and outside seating.

We made a big mistake actually driving into Almería which can only be described as a shit hole and if the bubonic plague reappeared here you’d think thank god that’s gone. One or two buildings we saw were fabulous old Spain but everything was surrounded by a disgusting 1960’s or 1970’s block of truly crap architecture which a five year old wouldn’t have been happy creating and we didn’t even stop or get out of the car to investigate, god it’s depressing but good to know that planners the world over are dickheads. Further up the cost wasn’t a lot better in fact it’s just as bad. Roquetas del Mar is another place instantly forgettable and to be honest circumcising my self with a blunt knife would be preferable to living here it was even painful to look at and I thanked god that the A7 autopista was built so you can avoid the place. Not a lot is worth looking at for the next hours driving at about 120 kilometres an hour (75mph) where we thought a place called Nerja would be decent enough to have lunch. This place was a small village and now it’s spread along the coast. We actually found a place to park and wandered around looking for somewhere to eat and the whole place is full of grey haired Brits and Germans, the difference being that most of the Germans had some or were pretty good at Spanish, where as the Brits who lived here for Christ knows how many years just stuck with any restaurant owned by Brits and only spoke English. Most places seemed to serve up burgers and stuff Brits recognise but we found a little place that had Spanish waiters but served Italian food and was fairly empty, what a surprise. So knock that off the list and tomorrow we move up the coast to Mijas so let’s see.

THE FOXHAM

NEAR CHIPPENHAM WILTSHIRE

£100 Sunday Lunch For two

At the moment everywhere we go seems to be westward bound due to the M4 motorway into London having large sections closed due to the new fangled idea that we can turn our motorways into death traps by taking away the breakdown lane and making it a full time traffic lane. Deaths have occurred up north in the frozen wastelands of Yorkshire and besides it being an idea dreamt up by a muppet in the department of transport or whatever they call it and then rubber stamped by an elected MP, elected by a section of dangerous individuals called the people who are given a vote and then producing a minister for arse kissing thinking that will be my legacy to the planet. Really do pull another rabbit out of the hat, how in gods name can they make an extra lane 30 miles long when the M4 then funnels into a two lane flyover at Heston, isn’t that just kicking the can down the road. Fat difference it’s made as everyone still queues for bloody ages before the two lanes, absolutely ridiculous idea costing I dunno £160mill and they are still farting around with it every weekend but then again you don’t have to look to hard to fathom the incompetence of politicians in the UK.

Anyway we ambled down the M4 westwards for about 56 miles to the exit for Chippenham which is truly worth missing and took the first exit off the slip road for about 6 miles through the usual southern countryside passing a few small hamlets which let you know your on the edge of the Cotswolds but not actually in it as the older houses are built of Cotswold stone but are half the price until you hit Bath.

The Foxham is not really what you would call an architectural beauty, I guess it used to be a small pub but has got a few bits tacked onto it making it look a bit of a mish mash or what I would call the back end of a Hino truck. It seems that the local planners here lost the plot as normally they like the bricks to at least match the original or we have when we’ve built houses come across a self obsessed council planner who thinks it’s a great idea to use a completely shit material to show progress through the ages so you end up with a cheap wire cut brick and shit plastic windows and cheap concrete roof tiles like the house next door in the photo, so precedent is set by another council employee who couldn’t hack it in the real world and doesn’t have to make a decision off their own backs, “we have a meeting to bounce around the architectural merits of the area”. Bollocks your just a bunch of prat’s with the power.

Boring building as the blond marches purposefully searching for that elusive Sunday roast.

As you open the plastic double glazed door which is reminiscent of bad DIY in the 80’s you enter what is a pretty boring featureless room with a small bar and a couple of dark wood tables of which three are laid up for service. I mean the pub /bar area is totally void of anything decor wise just four walls. You are lead to a narrow short passageway up a couple of steps to another tacked on bit which is the main dining room. It’s fine, yes it’s featureless but someone tried as they left the ceiling open showing the A frame oak beams but the rest is just plain walls and another plastic door and a window. The kitchen is open I suppose they were trying to be trendy but it’s just a plain wire cut brick wall and the tables are just plain along with the chairs. Don’t get me wrong it’s not awful just boring and to be honest we’re not ones for decor and ambience I just want the food to be good.

Some imagination went into this place. Just not worth any other photos.

Service was really good friendly and prompt so everything fine in that department, so onto the menu. The first thing that hit me was the prices which I thought were extremely cheap or more politely put “value for money” and a good choice for a Sunday. Wild mushrooms on toast were very tasty a nice selection and not at all to creamy and just a hint of the sherry, Helen had the three large prawns which were nice and tender not over cooked so all well with life as the glass of a standard champagne slipped down easily. Mains were obvious as we both went for the roast beef. The meat was tender and pink in the middle but not enough to put the majority off, veg was oven roasted and the cabbage was nicely caramelised on one side, there was plenty of gravy or jus but I’ll call it gravy as we both thought it was bought in but for the price no way could that be a complaint. Must admit there was plenty of it and I agreed with my social secretary and life organiser that we share a desert which is a bit off the wall for us. So we had a small break before desert (well at least she did) with an extra glass of the Chilean Pinot while I eked out the small Spanish Syrah. The wine list is interesting nothing overly stood out but some nice wines and I would have been happy with a few of them which I also thought were a fair price for a restaurant. The apple and blackberry crumble was fine and the ice cream was ice cream. So no complaints about any of it and luckily we were finishing when in walked a couple with a brat and showed all the signs of what’s wrong with modern parenting as the little sod caused havoc and the idiot parents thought it really amusing until the father had the brains to realise the room was getting pissed off beyond belief and removed him from the premises. They must be following the advice of the over qualified Cambridge professor with some bullshit degree who said in the press that children should not be put on a naughty step or sent to their room on their own as it upsets them. Jesus Christ I’d have nailed the little sod to the corner of the wall and gagged him but then I’m evil.

So would I return ?. Yes if I was passing and fancied a meal but no I don’t think I’d drive this distance just for a meal even if it is great value and the food even though what I’d call basic fare was good I just wish it was closer to home.

OX BARN

Southrop Manor Estate, Southrop, Gloucestershire, GL7 3NX

Sunday lunch £187.88 for 2

Another Sunday where we thought it’s a nice sunny day let’s go for a drive and lunch. As per usual I sat watching the football, a re run of my teams Saturday early away day kick off a 3-1 defeat at a hell hole called Luton Town which was only put on this planet because God was having a bad day at the office, just the thing to put me in a good mood before hitting the road. Meanwhile my personal assistant perused the Sunday offerings available and to further erase the raised numbers on my Amex card though the new ones are numberless but just as painful. She chose this place as not only is it a restaurant but a hotel as well called Thyme and they also own a pub in the village plus she’d looked at it as a place to stay for a couple of nights which start at £285 a night so this could be a money saver in the long run.

Well to start this off it’s in an area of the UK called the Cotswolds which is a weekend magnet for all the save the planet Range Rover driving champagne socialists from London and their privately educated ADHD, nut, dairy, red meat and poor air quality allergy laden brats, but we couldn’t possibly move out of London darling so suck on the inhaler. All in all its a 150 acre estate and family run and in this part of the country with that for a garden your not exactly worrying about the next months mortgage payment, add to that the green energy, plant based food and whatever else is trendy at the moment with the right social connections your going to attract a certain clientele, but then there’s us or me anyway not old money, no correct school tie and wrong accent.

Walkway to the Ox Barn

I took the non motorway scenic route to Lechlade where the hamlet of Southrop is which was only around twenty minutes longer and much more interesting. Yes I missed the sign on the side of the road informing me that Thyme was on my right hand side, but then I was in ambling mode due to driving through the countryside and audio turned off on the sat nav. It’s a fair old way to the place as the drive is through the estate and you have to take it slowly as a rare breed of sheep are wandering all over the place and yes they also own the sheep, it’s fun stopping to bleat at the sheep as they bleat back have no idea what this means but probably “oh look another dick head who talks to sheep” but in our opinion much more interesting than talking to a load of humans some of the time. Car park was exactly as I thought it would be full of 4 wheel drive monsters which I admit had gone off road sort of, in a car park made of gravel and that’s further off road than they ever get so the blond’s 12 year old Mini slipped in between a Porsche Cayenne and a Discovery nicely, proudly advertising our DFL status (down from London) with my QPR FC logo stuck to the back window so Lucinda can mention to Tarquin that there’s some absolute commoners from W12 that place called Shepherds Bush.

Must admit the place is very cool and probably one of the biggest barns I’ve ever seen it’s absolutely cavernous. Straight away it’s obvious that a shit load of cash has been lavished here and I didn’t even see the hotel but I guess it’s pretty good. On entering there is a large lounge type area with an enormous French style fireplace flanked by a couple of wooden sheep and large lounge chairs and opposite that is an open style kitchen but far enough away not to be noisy plus a bar and there must be more than fifty tables in this place but today it was two thirds empty at 2.15 pm and I did wonder why.

Sheep side fire place
Open kitchen

I’d had a quick butchers at the sample menu on line, looked up the chef and thought yeah this could be good. Problem one was the sample menu was bigger and more interesting than what was offered and I did read about poor service which is total cajones as the people attending us were excellent so couldn’t see what people were on about unless they are the type to want all and sundry to fall all over them which I guess is normal for this type of client. Problem two was that the actual chef wasn’t here but then it is a Sunday and was quiet so fair play why bother. Anyway back to the menu which after glancing at and believe me that’s all it takes, both of us had difficulty finding something we wanted to eat and looking round at the females here (not being sexist honestly) they don’t actually eat anyway as they all looked like gym and spa bunnies. We started with all the snacks, and the Baba Ghanoush on a bit of crunchy toast was something I wanted in a bloody great jar so i could lather it on the bread and that would have made me immensely happy so stick it in a jars and flog it, as for the four little Parmesan beignets they had zip flavour and tasted like they were slightly under cooked you could get more flavour from a processed Kraft cheese slice. I actually wanted nothing off the starters but seeing as I’d driven for 90 minutes i was determined to have something so went for the selected tomato and shallot salad with some basil which was about as exciting as queueing up at the supermarket to buy the ingredients. The blond went for cods roe which was smooth and creamy on polenta, why polenta I have no idea apart from its trendy but pointless. Mains were difficult as neither of us like buggered beef as my idea is that if you have to braise it to a mush you shouldn’t be eating it or you have to remove your dentures to actually eat. So mine was the exciting chicken with a bit of truffle grated over the top and a few chips, this menu was full of excitement, Helen had cod which she asked not to be overcooked and it was cooked brilliantly but the mash was swimming in olive oil and butter which I would have hated. We shared a fancy Italian named chocolate torte which was nice and light though I’m not 100% sure that the sauce didn’t come out of a bottle. Still the linen napkins were good, so yes I noticed that..

Couldn’t actually drink because of driving but was also surprised at the wine offerings again short and sweet. I had a Braybrooke Helles Lager which was very good nice and light, H had a Pol Roger which was richer and rounder than we remembered form last drinking it. She followed this with the Armenian Pinot Noir her fav grape but never have we seen one from here so I looked it up on my phone, not the greatest but it retails at around £26-£28 a bottle and here it’s a £110, so a glass it is at £21 and that was small as well and on inspecting the colour, having a sniff and tasting well if anyone even a master of wine gets that as a Pinot I’ll happily circumcise myself without anaesthetic using a spoon, the cheap Rioja £7 a glass was vastly superior in our opinion.

Don’t usually photograph food but thought the chicken and truffle was a presentation worthy of a Michelin tyre

So the place is very attractive and well done but the food no, could be Sunday is a duffers day but if your staying here wouldn’t you want to eat and for the money it’s not worth it so no I don’t want to stay in the hotel as I don’t care what it looks like the whole place is style over substance and I’m not returning regardless of how trendy and on point it is with certain journalists and people from Fulham.


Certainly is a big impressive place and this isn’t even half of it.
Doors at end lead to hotel but just couldn’t be arsed.

I didn’t go to the loo but she did and said the soap had a really nice smell and are really nice but are this gender neutral bollocks so the blond had to sit with her legs wide apart to avoid the male drips all over the floor, funnily enough there weren’t too many men my age who could have a possible prostate problem so no, put in a male loo and a wall mounted number for bad aimers and upset the trendy set.

THE LOCH & TYNE

OLD WINDSOR

£490. For 4 plus two bottles champagne and corkage for three bottles


So onto another restaurant after blowing a monkey at the Shard the other week for a bog standard meal that was actually below bog standard probably cooked by an Albanian goat herder on work experience so live and learn as they say, nice views, waste of space and another couple of hours of my life passes by and shit could be worse if I counted calories, but I don’t as life’s already short enough. This place is our go to anytime fav and we have been so lucky to get in at short notice or maybe it’s because we use it nearly as much as I use my season ticket for footy but this time we booked after we ate a Sunday lunch here about ten days ago. I have written about it before and no matter how much we like it it’s still the strangest location to have a class eatery . It’s a very nice drive through Windsor Great Park and we pass the Long Walk which is quiet impressive but once you pass that and enter Old Windsor proper it all goes a bit down hill.

The Long Walk leads to the back door of Windsor Castle. Plebs not admitted

As you turn off the main road into Old Windsor your confronted by a thing called a Toby Carvery and for those of you who have no idea of this it’s the sort of place you would go to when a student and drank far to much the night before but for £8.99 you can pile your plate as high as Mount Everest at the Carvery, plus they do an upgrade for two quid extra where you can prove what years of practicing gluttony can do to your body. I’ve seen plates constructed beyond the height of the Burj Khalifa and more structurally sound where you would need qualifications of a structural engineer and I can’t imagine it’s changed not that I’ve been for many many years. Anyway these establishments are always in a similar location 1960’s housing estate type of area which I’m not knocking as it’s better than what I originated from, but generally you know a Toby is near by if the area looks like this or has a 1960’s local shopping precinct with the obligatory bookies, Indian or Chinese restaurant / takeaway looking like it’s been passed by the Ministry of Health on the other side of the road. Once through this and one more turning the countryside opens up on one side to fields and a few houses on the other and just beyond these is The Loch & Tyne and a pub of some sorts doing food and rooms as well. The Loch & Tyne used to be a dodgy pub and I mean that by serving pub grub and a few standard beers plus it has a couple of rooms to stay in that look good and are of a let’s say different style to the pub next door which also has rooms apparently, but I have no idea why you would stay here as the roads a dead end with a cemetery and if your going to spend time in Windsor you’d obviously stay there, but after seeing the castle why would you stay as it contains absolutely sod all else. We guess the financial backer lives nearby and wanted a decent restaurant to pop out to as the area is pretty bereft of good class eateries but there is a shit load of money that lives within a 5 mile plus radius so that’s why it does so well.


There was four of us which included our plumber and his wife as I owe him a lot, not in money terms as he already trousers a fortune plumbing our rental property’s but because he’s there when we need him and our tenants are amazed by how quick things get fixed plus they are a great couple and much younger than us so god knows why they enjoy the company of a couple of old farts.The restaurant also lets me bring my own wines which is a bonus and I’m very happy to pay corkage as I’d hate to think what some of these would cost in a wine merchants today let alone a restaurant. The chef Adam Handling has a few other places, The Frog in Covent Garden and Caribs Bay Hotel in Cornwall where he cooked for some sort of G7 leader thing so he is a very good chef but here in the Loch & Tyne his head chef Johnny does the cooking with his team and we think he’s even better and with his girlfriend Carolina at front of house the place runs extremely smoothly, if they get nicked and move away we will be sorely pissed off.

Above is a photo of the place not taken by me as we got a bit bladdered so can’t say I would be in a position to take any but then again I didn’t actually remember we could also go with I couldn’t be bothered so they will all be off the net but whats the difference it still looks the same. What the place looked like before as a bog standard pub I have no idea so what’s original and what’s new is anyones guess and I’m not overly interested what it was anyway. They still call it a pub or gastro pub but even though there is a bar with a few stools it’s not a place you’d just drive past and pop in for a quick one, plus with the location you would need to be a local or look up good places to eat and know its here because as I said the road goes nowhere. When opened it got plenty of coverage in the national press like the Guardian to pull in the champagne socialist types and the Times plus other assorted journalistic numbers of which all were impressed with the food.

Inside is nice and cosy in a very upmarket pub sort of way where most of the drinks are champagne, wines or cocktails with the usual greenery, plant and fruit offerings growing out of the glass where your scared a monkey is hiding in the aforementioned jungle waiting to jump out throwing you the bird, people love this sort of thing and espresso martinis seem popular here maybe because of the lack of botanicals in that one. Staff are very friendly and always have been even the first time we came and service is attentive and just at the right level. On a nice day you can eat out front as there’s a covered porch area but we prefer that for drinks on a warm evening, also there’s a garden area sort of done out in wood planks and old pallets, don’t laugh it works and is used for private parties and we had new year out there with nibbles, bar and a band and really good it was though not sure if the neighbours agreed.

Actually better than it looks

We kicked off with some sourdough bread and chicken butter which comes with small crispy chicken skin bits on top and a side dish of chicken jus for dipping which is outstanding and following this we had a couple of cheese doughnuts which are small but Christ knows what they do to the butt cheeks, so that’s the snacks out of the way along with the bottle of champagne. Two of us had the same starter which was the beef tartare with a confit egg yolk which once mashed into the tartare gave it a real richness. The wife had the burrata, courgettes and basil and the other had the chopped chicken which was a course terrine but must admit the mango salad put me off as fruit and meat is not surf and turf. All four of us had the Gloucester old spot pork which is a rare breed and is a fantastic flavour, when we lived in that county only certain butchers could get it and they all said you have to wait for someone to die to get a quota. Anyway it was very good all though the kimchi was something I could skip but problem is it’s trendy with hip people to me it’s just old pickled cabbage from Korea so we had a side of Green beans and rocket pesto, so much better.


Few interior shots

The wines if anyones interested were a white South African called Ataraxia which is a Chardonnay and could just could pass for a Puligny Montrachet, a 2015 Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuees from Louis Jadot, then A 1er Cru Rully which was over and a HL Vineyards Cab Sauv 2009 which was truly up there. All finished on cheese and another bottle of champagne off the wine list but can’t remember for obvious reasons and can’t be arsed to look it up as the blond paid and I never asked or looked at the cost but it was in the region of the crap we had for two at the shard. Says it all really.

Menu if interested.

The restaurant also has a private dining room which we have used for a birthday and that was incredible as we managed to request the whole Lobster cooked in Wagyu fat and that is truly memorable, it’s also a great room to be in and we’ve also done a Taittinger tasting including their incredible Comte de Champagne with a meal which was very good as well and we hope they will be doing more of these events. If you are ever in or near Windsor make sure you stop here and if it’s a few years down the line let me know and I’ll be happy to let you know if the same team are there cooking up the amazing menu.

Private dining room.