Not the most obvious of places to write about as it’s so far south west of London that you are in danger of falling of the edge of the world but thought I’d put down the experience as we have a horse running in a hurdle race and last time we were unable to go due to the plague and he bloody well won. So we are faced with a three and a half hour drive or three hours on good old Great Western rail service with the added pain of faffing around with taxis from home to station and station to racecourse and having to spend that time in a carriage impersonating Wild West bandidos. The thought was go by rail, have a few beers on the train and then a few more in the owners and trainers bar and a leisurely train journey home. All well and good until we found out the actual price of two return tickets, £240 and that’s in pleb class, Jesus Christ your having a laugh, let the train take the strain so the advert goes, well sod that we can fly to the Canary Islands and back four hours each way for less then that and that’s a lot further than 130 miles to Newton Abbot so M4 & M5 motorways it is with a 9am start. Still waking up today and the rain is lashing down and looking at BBC weather it’s even worse in carrot crunchers country so don’t know if the racetrack is good or a farmers market in disguise. Actually got a text from the yard early this morning and Fergal (the trainer) had walked the course and deemed it to heavy for the Boss to run so good call as we’ve never seen a horse run in flippers mask and a snorkel and he has now been entered in a race at Stratford over the sticks on Thursday with doubts that he probably wont go there either so nothing to get excited about yet, but we have avoided an horrendous car journey.
So this is nothing to do with restaurants or hotels but an article of news I saw by CNBC and which really pissed me off. My wife and I both hold BA American Express cards which we have had since they were launched in the UK. As per usual this card now offers new punters a 100K welcome bonus after spending $5,000 on purchases £3,643.73 in GB Sterling within the first three months, all well and good and it’s something we’re used to as with banks etc long standing customers get sod all as it’s new customers only and as time progresses these offers become better as they try to entice more people to spend.
We get royally shafted here in the UK as new customers only get 5,000 Avios after spending £1,000, the American contingent then revert back to 3 Avios points per dollar while we get 1.5 for every pound and that’s with a premium plus card which is more expensive, then to rub it in a bit more Americans enjoy no foreign transaction fees plus a discount on BA flights to the UK and guess what here we get f**k all.
The real pisser here as well is the fee for said card. Stateside the annual fee is $95, please explain my £250.00 UK annual fee. My wife’s companion card is also changing from £30 per annum to £250.00, why in any normal world would any idiot have a companion card ?, so have cancelled that bugger straight away. Also our APR is a flat 22.99% regardless of credit score while again Americans benefit from a good rating with an APR starting at 15.99%. Having now cancelled that we have also cancelled our black Centurion cards being told these would never be offered again as the waiting list is so long. Well I couldn’t give a toss about exclusivity as they were costing thousands per year and in our opinion not worth it and so it now appears to be the same with the BA card. So the costs and changes are to ensure we can continue to offer the existing range of rewards and benefits linked to your card, no shit Sherlock. Plus trying to book a companion seat here in the UK is not easy as I bet they’ve only increase these available seats from two to four haha.
It really is no surprise that the UK is known as the land of milk and honey to retailers and banks.
Evening meal around £185 inc one glass of Krug & 2 Chablis
We have eaten at Adam Handling’s restaurants in London so as this isn’t far from home so decided to give it a shot as it’s always been fine elsewhere.
So having never been to Old Windsor it was slap into the sat nav and follow instructions to destination which took about 30 mins using the M4 with all its speed restrictions while it’s being turned into a new smart death trap motorway, the back roads are actually quicker and the drive is nicer. Once we passed Windsor great park I got the order to turn right which being a bloke and not paying attention I missed, no big deal as the next right was only 50 meters further on. Things got a bit weird though as we had to negotiate a few turns through a typical 60’s early 70’s council estate though probably all privately owned with the usual row of bad looking shops with the obligatory Indian takeaway passed by the ministry of health on the other side of the road. This bought us out onto the road we should have been on originally passing a slightly more modern array of similar buildings we had just been through. About 100 meters beyond this we arrived at our destination on the right hand side which is on a slightly raised position where you have the option of parking in front or round the back which I chose only because I wasn’t looking again. Walking around to the front there was a few steps to negotiate but much less than if you parked in front, thinking about it I have no idea if any disabled access ramps were anywhere but I suppose they must have them somewhere.
This place actually has rooms above but after learning about the location neither of us could understand why anyone would stay here. Ok it’s near Windsor but there’s plenty of that in the actual town, asking what was further down the road we were told the cemetery, “really”. Seeing as all of us will be spending a fair while in one of these places and the map showed it to be a dead end road it was beyond my imagination as to why that would be a draw. It was a warm night so we sat outside with the car park below and overlooking the cars parked opposite ( they belong to the people down the road without a drive or garage) and a field opposite. No sign of a Loch ? or the Tyne ?, why Tyne the Thames is pretty much next door so the name was something we couldn’t figure out. Money has been spent on the place which I guess was some sort of pub or maybe not, as a dodgy pub restaurant with rooms is also next door at an obvious cheaper option. Our other guess was that maybe the main cash injector lives nearby so could use it daily.
Staff were very young and lovely but as far as actual service goes we’re more useless than a guide dog for the blind without any training. The young girl that served us was knowledgeable about the dishes but you get the impression that this had been learnt from a script and that they actually hadn’t eaten anything on the menu. Great wines by the glass and i started with a glass of Domaine Laroche Chablis which I hadn’t had for a while and it’s excellent, the blonde had a glass of Krug also excellent so I gather they have a Coravin wine saving system.
We started with some sourdough and chicken butter both excellent and a haggis scotch egg also excellent. Neither of us had side plates and when this was noticed we did say it’s not important but neither of us realised we had no napkins so when the wife asked for napkins only one arrived, so if you ask for anything here make sure you all ask. I started with the Scallops, smoked eel and lovage. Cooked perfectly with the whole dish balancing perfectly. The blonde one went Lobster tart which was no good. Cutting into it was like releasing the Hoover dam, seriously runny it just poured out everywhere. The poor young girl doing her duty asked if all’s ok, “well not really this shouldn’t be like this” “oh it’s supposed to be set loosely” she replied, well that’s correct but someone’s overcooked the leeks left them with all the water in them and that’s the reason it’s not even remotely set. Fair enough she said she’d tell the kitchen and fair play to them they took it off the bill and offered something else but my starter was enough for two anyway. Both of us took the Lobster Wagyu which is the lobster cooked in the beef fat and this was perfect both of us saying it was one of the best lobsters we’ve had. Couldn’t see the point of boiled potatoes so went for fries but seeing as my wife asked for fries for both of us she got them and I got the Jersey Royals. This turned out a triumph as it’s not just boiled spuds but a potato salad with mayo, chives and spring onion very tasty but why not say that on the menu ?.
The wife asked for another glass of Krug before the mains came and duly got another Chablis strangely enough which I was drinking so don’t worry I’ll have that, the bottle of Krug arrived but was poured into her previous half filled glass. Like I said training ? surely the monkey in charge would know that you use a fresh glass let alone charging £30 odd per glass and getting a half measure, so while I said the staff are lovely the restaurant manager should go back to the Toby Carvery job they came from.
Can’t mention the deserts as were not really interested in deserts and were full anyway, at this point some kids on push bikes shot through the car park waving and shouting hello which was quite amusing as being Windsor and posh was not what was expected as normally it would have been the usual go forth and multiply you rich bastards. All in all we will return if only for a scotch egg and the Lobster, service we can forgive as they were nice but things in that department will have to improve as not all around us found it funny. I guess that Adam Handling building his empire (also opened in Cornwall) with the backers pumping this much into it will never cook here but if it’s good it doesn’t matter, I really need to ask the G7 characters at Carbis Bay if it’s better because that’s where the actual named chef was working that week.
£180.40 per couple inc 3 bottles wine + £209 Canapés for 6 people and 1 bottle Ruinart Blanc de Blanc.
This was our first evening meal out since Christmas Eve and we were all hoping for a dry night as it was obviously outside and we had been warned that it could be called off as weather reports were a bit iffy. We have been quite a few times here and it has always been pretty good but have never eaten outside even in the summer. The terrace had been covered completely so unless we had a howling gale it looked as though we could all stay dry. We were seated right next to a patio heater of which there were only two, both at opposite ends of the terrace so people in the centre had no warmth at all. Neither did we for that matter and we were sat right next to one, I guess the problem was that it was more for the aesthetics as they were the posh looking ones with the glass tube showing the flame, honestly thought it was just a red piece of tissue paper flapping around as we couldn’t feel even the remotest degree of heat.
Still while the sun was still up (6.45pm) a jumper and sweatshirt was enough. Onto the QR code menu and attention was straight onto the scallops and pork belly as a starter and then a fixation on the loin of pork, so pork on pork.
Service was quick and efficient and all starters appeared promptly and as usual I can only comment on what I ate. Three scallops were excellently cooked and was I thought a generous portion as normally one is all you get in a Michelin establishment, the belly pork cubes were crispy outside and soft inside with the fat rendered down perfectly. No complaints here at all. The main was not as good. The pork loin though was well cooked and not dried out which many places find difficult, but the disappointment was the piece of belly pork as it didn’t exactly look the part. It looked like it had been run over by a steam roller and was like two thin sliced rectangles bearing no resemblance to said offering at all. In fact the whole dish was pretty boring with a bit of extra charge broccoli not exactly beefing up expectations this was backed up by my respective other half who had the same. After the starters it was a big let down and we would have been better off with two starters.
The sun had now disappeared and it was now turning into al fresco dining at the ice hotel or something akin to the series Terror minus the polar bear, what idiot ordered cheese and a desert. It really is no fault of the restaurant as the weather is what it is but the bloody patio heaters were failing completely and the table on the other side of us were there shivering and they arrived after us and hadn’t yet eaten. Our Burgundy was also beginning to get slightly chilled and there was no need for the water to be kept chilled artificially.
To cap it all the staff are great, starters were excellent and main course poor. If this was our first time here I’m not sure I would be back, but after what every restaurant has been through and the effort they put in to make us as comfortable as possible plus you’ve got no idea if the full kitchen is back to a full compliment or not we were just happy to be there.
Sunday Lunch £230 inc drinks, though cheaper if you drink something different from me.
We have now been four or five times to this restaurant and have enjoyed each occasion. This time we ate on the roof patio area which we knew existed but had never been up to as this is now the only part allowed to be open during the latest pandemic.
Our table was booked opening doors at 12 so arrived at 11.55 behind another couple who were showed upstairs, so as no one was at the reception area we decided to shoot off to the loos. On returning we were met by a female receptionist (I guess) who told us that “we’re not open yet” well two people before us were shown upstairs before us a couple of minutes ago and it is 11.58. She insisted that we’re not open yet so I need to go and check, fine ok well wait here shall we. Off she went to a set of stairs and disappeared from view where we could hear here calling to someone and then just shouted at us to follow so as your out of sight and half way up the stairs we though we’d better go as she also sounded like a KGB agent barking orders to march or die.
What the hell it’s not a problem I was just looking forward to eating out again. The terrace was completely covered by awnings and heaters were above each table so it was nicely warm and sheltered from most of the wind. The menu whilst not large still contained a couple of dishes that we had tried before so very happy to eat them again. The wine list is interesting and some top wines are available by using the Coaravin system, champagne by the glass is also well covered.
So with two glasses of Taittanger 2013 vintage it was onto the menu which is as per normal now accessed by a QR code. I started with the seafood ravioli in lobster bisque which is quite rich but great flavour though would have liked the ravioli a touch finer. The blonde kicked off with beef tartare, don’t know why as she’s not keen on truffle and found it a little to powerful but I can say it’s very good as I benefited from that choice. Both had the same mains a Tournedos Rossini which neither of us had seen for years which was great fillet with a side of foie gras and very smooth potato purée guaranteed to take you back to the eighties. No desert as not a pair of sugar bunnies so just a small selection of cheese. All this was washed down with a couple of glasses of Rully and a Leoville Barton which does inflate the price of the meal by a bit
Service was lovely even with the young commie commissario at reception all were very attentive. The rest of the congregation looked your typical Marylebone/Fitzrovia London luvvies or champagne socialists though to be honest there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other home grown homies left in London these days.
This place is well worth a visit as it’s enjoyable and not full of part time London dwellers and the food is good.
The wife arranged this one to coincide with a quick exchange trip to Harvey Nichols as any bloke would understand that a quick (doesn’t exist in my world) or any other mention of shopping would need a large dangling carrot to get me through the experience of being the bag carrying mule. Generally the wife’s idea of lunch at these times involves a quick snack and a sparkling mineral water then onwards and upwards to the racks of materials hanging in stores, while mine is minimum two courses and a bottle of wine over a couple of hours and to ponder over thoughts that it would actually be cheaper to hire a human to follow her around for the day.
The table was booked for 2pm and as is the law all seating was outside. The restaurant has a large outdoor area in a type of courtyard which was good as we were sheltered from the cold wind that blew even though it was a nice sunny day. Both of us kicked off with Ruinart Rose Champagne as we were given a menu. This was shorter than the last time we came pre lockdown but was still excellent but simpler I guess due to the times. Unusually we ended up with a Harold and Hilda menu ordering exactly the same things.
Being out for the first time in about five months worked well as the blonde decided that lunch would be a longer affair and finding that they served Krug by the glass helped her settle in. The first course was a salad of peas and beans with herbs, sounding so simple but the balance of herbs and aldente veg was stunning, bread was fantastic as well the crust good enough to cause damage to the teeth. Main course was a curried monkfish perfectly cooked the curry sauce good and spicy but not enough to overpower the fish. As we sat, the sun began to enter the courtyard which warned us up considerably and we had been sat on the correct side to benefit from this. To be honest people couldn’t have cared less as we all sat there in jumpers, jackets, leathers and furry things with blankets provided by the restaurant. No one actually cared about the weather it was just a amazing to be eating out and I wondered how many had been putting up with cold soggy food from Deliveroo or whatever. Both of us passed on deserts and cheese and just sat, her finishing the second glass of Krug and me my large glass of Ch Kirwan, loved every minute of it and service was fantastic and friendly.
Well there’s still no hotels, restaurants or any other pleasure to write about so I thought I’d write about another subject that has wound me up no end and that’s this so called European Super League bollocks that some of our English clubs have signed up to.
Clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United who are owned by faceless American billionaires who have no idea or understanding of what this game means to a supporter and I mean that in true supporter terms and not the corporate posing dickheads that now populate these stadiums. Of the other clubs you have Chelsea owned by a pal of Putins, Abramovich who’s pumped millions into a plaything and now lives in Israel, the others are Tottenham owned by a Jewish British bloke who’s dreaming of riches and Manchester City owned by some UAE princeling who has clubs collected like Green Shield Stamp. Three of these clubs are sitting in 5th, 7th and 9th position so what makes you think your a cut above the rest except for money.
The point I’m making is that these clubs were started by a bunch of Victorian blokes who either belonged to a church, working men’s club or a factory that grew into something akin to a religious sect. This meant every Saturday generations of these characters would trudge off to a ramshackle stadia to watch their local heroes in what became their local turf and was a working mans release from a weeks labour. Ok I understand that things change and all sport became richer but it didn’t need to come to this and this support is sadly dying out.
When my little team Queens Park Rangers (I was born in this area) re entered the premier league all my mates had great expectations of the season ahead. It wasn’t that we ended up being shit and relegated it was partly to having stupid rich owners who looked at us and thought let’s build a new global brand forgetting that we may be West London Shepherds Bush, but it’s not exactly Kensington & Chelsea where every rich nob wants to be associated with, then throw into the mix that actually visiting the clubs mentioned above was the most boring least atmospheric places we’ve ever been for a football match. Gone were the derogatory songs about the opposing team, chants relating to the good and the great ( and rubbish players) it was akin to watching football in a morgue. Obviously gone was the rush to get another pint down your neck and back in place for the second half as half the seats would be empty for the first 15 mins as people stayed in the bar which was probably more comfortable than their own living room and probably more atmosphere watching on Sky’s TV blanket coverage of every other game that day. Another disappointment was away fans when we played at home, why were they there ? no noise and bugger all support, the whole thing was just neutral except for us. The smaller premier clubs few people had heard of like Burnley for example still had that true supporter feel and a noisy crowd but if you go there it’s obvious why nobody outside of a Burnley supports them which is a bit like us and any other non fashionable district.
So I say goodbye and sod off and play your meaningless games with no tradition as the only people who will be interested are any UK saddo moron more worried about their image or any Middle East or Far Eastern twat who will buy the shirt and say they are supporters even though they couldn’t put the club on a map and talk about the glory years and “our history”but have never been closer to the club than transiting through Heathrow airport
As far as English players being threatened with not playing for England if they play for one of these clubs then who cares as most only field one or two players from the British Isles anyway so even now I couldn’t care less if Manchester City win the European cup as the majority are foreigners anyway. I really can’t wait for the day when this Americanism takes over and say Liverpool become a franchise and start playing their games in Seoul, Beijing of Jeddah, then I look forward to the riots that will take place in Liverpool because as supporters that are just about retaining a semblance of support but the famous roar from the Kop is slowly dying as that part of the ground will be taken over by the Michelin Star restaurant franchise and cost upwards of £300 per ticket and any local who can’t afford it can bugger off somewhere else as far as the club is concerned.
Our football is built on generations of tradition and is in a complete mess and until someone or something is done to regain its senses it will slowly die from a thousand cuts and be lost forever. I’m sure I’m not being a sentimental old fool but for gods sake watching this sterile mess has made me give up on what a lot of us call the Premiershite and please let’s do something to stop this ridiculous analysis on TV about pass rate stats, shots on goal and dissecting every part of the game, it’s shite boring and crap which is fine for American football as it’s stop start anyway. Putting the ball in the net is what it’s all about and if you don’t do that you lose regardless it’s really a simple game.
This whole lockdown holiday crap is just getting more confusing here in the UK as we will now be fined £5,000 for going to the airport to be turned back, meanwhile the Times newspaper reports 10,000 travellers per week entering the UK of which 4,000 are tourists. What the bloody hell is going on when somebody from sodding Peru which is rampant for this new plague is allowed entry when they fill out the corona form saying that they have come to see Big Ben, it’s covered in scaffolding for repairs you dick. So while this is going on we can’t even pass wind within 6 feet of another person on a park bench without being arrested and to top it all where in gods name are they staying! It wouldn’t surprise me if they were allowed out on a day trip from their quarantine hotel to the joy of all the lefty swan hugging green save the world oddball Greta Thongbirds
Anyway onto the next place I will not be going to boost another economy, though I do include anywhere ending in istan and that is China but I admit we have been there to see Pandas, Terracotta Army, Great Wall and such like some years back. Apart from the sights nothing changed our minds that it is mainly full of spitting, hawking, smoking, nose picking and I mean serious excavation in full public view, with the concentration of a masters degree exam from Oxford University ignorant peasants who before COVID populated any of the designer outlets in Harrods or any other designer label shop in Knightsbridge the majority doing one or all of the previous mentioned interests.
The country while interesting is the pits, not only for pollution and smog but also China Airways, who’s idea of a timetable is thought up by someone with fewer brain cells than a retarded Panda. As for food well what a laugh that was. Again even going to a good restaurant in Beijing that sells more duck than anywhere else on the planet is a real third world experience as it’s very difficult to enjoy with earth shattering nose clearing, where unfortunately no handkerchief is involved just get it back down the throat to save on laundry, then there’s the view of people tumble drying their food, mouths wide open so you can see all the different stages of mastication.
Then after all that you then have to weigh up the problem of their elected government wanting total world domination and pretty soon they will want to claim Mars the Moon and anything else they fancy. I know you can’t blame most of the populace as the government does it’s best to quell anything that might change its status quo but I admit I have no intention of returning and there really is no need to as I can experience the whole culture every time we pop into the shops in Knightsbridge.
Our esteemed government has now decreed that us Brits will not be travelling abroad until August and that it is illegal to leave our green and pleasant land unless we can prove its essential. Meanwhile any Tom Dick or Harry can waltz in here pretty much un-aposed regardless of lockdown, quarantine and ten years imprisonments imposed by my dicks bigger than yours government ministers laws which don’t seem to apply to many. Apart from all this bluster we have booked and looked at future vacations but the one I definitely won’t be doing in the future regardless is going to Qatar for that raucous feast of football called the World Cup.
I was lucky to attend 1966 as a boy but was unfortunate to attend South Africa’s awful footy feast from start to finish, and those bloody annoying droning plastic bugles nullifying any atmosphere but did help keep me awake from the mostly boring fare unfolding on the pitch.
So onto the controversial site of Qatar and the short conversation with the wife that I have no intention of going on holiday to watch this whatsoever. I mean who in their right mind would want to go ?, and in the world of football who the bloody hell are Qatar, it’s a bit like saying QPR are playing in the Champions League and no normal person would turn up. I did a stop over in Qatar from SA after the World Cup and unless the regime has changed I have no idea or comprehension as to how this place is going to control football fans though I must admit some of them don’t deserve any human rights. People complain about the cost of a beer in London well just wait until you see the ball breaking prices over there. Will they actually open the beaches and allow half naked, bald, fat and tattooed blokes to frolic and fight hurling chairs and empty bottles at each other. In a country so in favour of human rights getting banged up in one of their but fuck motels might be an eye opener cure all to some.
Apart from (even in winter) the appalling temperatures are going to render the matches to walking spectacles as I can attest to the heat after spending five years in Jeddah and playing in a local European company league out there until the Saudis said they would ban it unless we let some local teams in, then they got really arsed when we kept beating them.
God knows what the hotels will be charging as there high to start with without the usual price hikes for a World Cup. I got told off for wandering into a salon in the Four Seasons wearing shorts, maybe it’s changed since I don’t know to be honest and actually don’t care. Since a couple of European teams have taken what amounts to a futile stand against the slave labour and deaths caused by building the stadiums I would be really impressed and supportive of our national team and FA (yes it does stand for that) if they said stuff your tournament.
Rant over and I might bore everyone by droning on about other places I have been contemplating not going or going back to since this lockdown year.
At long last we can start looking for an escape thanks to our numerous UK data driven medical professors who never once actually realised that most of the population either insanely bright, sensibly normal or born clinically dim really didn’t give a shit about Chris Whitty’s next slide or any of the mind bending statistical graphs of death and destruction, along with the majority of MP’s who I’m not sure fit into any of the mentioned categories. I no longer wish to see inside an ICU hospital ward every night on the impartial (lefty swan hugging) BBC news along with people going on about their family deaths, Jesus Christ who in their right mind would want to share something as personal as that with millions of bloody strangers on a national TVchannel. So I now get to the point. Whilst hitting the internet searching for a decent hotel we soon noticed that what ever search you put in ie: top ten luxury hotels, top boutique hotels etc you always end up at Booking.com. No matter what you stick in as soon as you go to book, whumph you end up in booking.bloodycom.
Even going onto that fairly useless Trip Advisor (you need to really look at people’s expectations and what their used to) whatever you click on goes to, you’ve guessed it Booking.com. It now seems that this outfit own the worlds entire booking system and that every hotel needs to be signed up to it to survive. It’s so bloody annoying when the bullshit flag appears that 2,4,6 or however many people are looking at this site or have booked it in the last few minutes. Well it might force some dopey twat into thinking “my god I must book before all the rooms are gone” after seeing the other annoying only two rooms are left, but it just seems to piss me off and many others I have spoken to as well. Plus I don’t seem to be able to check where the people who post reviews have stayed elsewhere as there all usually 9. something, so have no idea of what they usually stay in or expect, you can on Trip Advisor but then again that’s owned by Booking.com.
You may ask how this dopey idiot doesn’t know this and the answer is we usually look for a hotel and phone our account person at AMEX and get them to book the whole thing which is a lot more sensible as if it’s an AMEX hotel some benefits are usually thrown in, ie: upgrade where possible and $200 credit on food booze or spa stuff plus I don’t get to increase my blood pressure getting sent somewhere on the internet I don’t want to go and I’m not talking about Shitsville resort on the Costa whatever but a bloody web site I’m not interested in telling me how wonderful it is, with AMEX flights likewise and insurance are included, pretty sure this option on said web site is not included and I’m not going to find out if I’m completely wrong as I just can’t be arsed to fart around looking the boring stuff up.
So rant over and we’re back to three hotels which AMEX are looking into in Greece and my whole input has been looking at hotels web site photos, menus, wine lists so missing out all the bullshit of pushing you into it as if it’s booked it’s booked move on.