LETS ALL KISS GOODBYE TO FOOTBALL

Ok so nothing to do with my usual stuff on restaurants, hotels or airlines as we just haven’t been going anywhere interesting so the next thing to really piss me off is the demise of football. I really don’t want to start a slanging match of you support so and so and deserve everything you get as thats not how i see supporters of other clubs, this is about football and the game and where its going for all of us. Whatever your allegence to see the likes of Derby, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading put through the financial wringer is awful and sad and i feel for all these clubs as mine QPR have suffered not from a points deduction as rules and laws have changed but we did end up with a world beating fine of £40 million which has maimed us and will take a decade or more to pay off. I hear the usual cries of you broke the rules took risks shortcuts and financial shenannigans but this is not the supporters its the people that own and run the club and basically have no idea what they are doing in terms of running the business or what they do to us the supporter and don’t give a shit as its a commodity a tax loss or a Mr look at my Big Bollocks ego booster.

Apart from these characters that buy the clubs amidst the fanfare and promises of world glory and pass the so called fit and proper test we also have a good number of idiots running the game in the Prem and EFL. Just a quick example is the new negotiations to show more EFL games plus on a Saturday at 3pm, something that has been spoken of as taboo for years. What sort of shit storm do these idiots think will come of this in the near future ?. For all of this the EFL all 72 clubs are looking at receiving £119 million, well whoopee shit thats nada compared to the Prems £4.9 billion. Other supporters from these clubs must be thinking the same as me especially as you go further down our division or the ones below, who the hell is going to be watching or even remotely interested unless your mad or a supporter of a lower league team living hours away from your home team. Television coverage is in my opinion destroying the game, take for example our away game to Barnsley who are bottom of the league, Sky changed it to 8pm on a Satuday night from 3pm. So as a supporter that is a ball-ache for travel as not all have a car and then who wants to drive after a match at 10pm and arrive home near London at 1am, as for trains life’s hard enough already, plus people have booked trains in advance to save money and now cant get a refund, people have also booked overnight stays as well. Now the match is back to 3pm Saturday as Sky decided Derby’s match is probably a bigger pull, all within a week. Arseholes the lot of them sod the supporter. Clubs are stuck with this and because of the contract with the EFL and can do nothing about it, thank you Sky you bunch of scumbags.

The whole thing is over exposure and as advertising proves (with most people) brainwashing works and people want to be associated with a winning team so no losers allowed which is why the BBC football chat show on 606 is full of southern morons talking about their love of Liverpool or Man U etc and generally the nearest they’ve been to these places is going past on the M6 for a holiday in the Lake District, so given up on that show.

Now we have countries buying football teams as in Man City and Newcastle with their fancy accountants and lawyers bypassing the FFP laws, then thinking about them i wonder what this woman at Newcastle who brokered the deal actually knows about football in general or is she just sitting there in the directors box sucking up to the next big commission draped in the usual scarf trying to blend in as an interested supporter. We all know where this is going as in the near future some of the top teams will be playing league or cup games in Jeddah, Beijing or wherever the larger populace buy the replica kit because thats where the money is and not in the actual home of the teams, support and tradition just wont enter the equation and like the USA some will actually move cities or even countries so becoming a meaningless franchise so some supporters need to be aware what they wish for but then again an awful lot just watch it on the box so who gives a shit where they play a game. Plus some of these foreign chaps think that clubs should change their colours the ones they’ve been playing in for 100 years or more so fair play to Cardiff City and Hull supporters for not putting up with this shit.

So none of this will probably ever bother me or any other follower of a smaller club as we will just cease to exist or be swallowed up as a feeder team for the big boys so kissing goodbye to tradition and rivalry of local derbys which will be played in front of a silent crowd most of which haven’t got a clue as to what’s going on or what’s actually happening without the televisions crap stats of how many passes, tackles, possession, shots and which designer underpants the goalkeepers wearing. But then who cares as kick off was Sunday at 5.30pm, just what is that all about football is played Saturday at 3pm and sod what time it is in Asia, oh sorry thats worth another god knows how much money. No word of a lie but the last time we ventured into the promised land it was crap, not just because we were shit and our rich idiots bought past it super star deadbeats picking up a last huge payday who didn’t give a shit about the club but the away crowds mostly were pants as far as atmosphere goes, and as for going to some of these large grounds you could have been in a library, so as far as the promised land goes you can keep it and i’ll stick with my no hope of winning anything team because its where i come from and is my patch of West London and the hope will never die that one day we might just might win something.

HARBOUR HOTEL PADSTOW CORNWALL

DELUXE HARBOUR VIEW DOUBLE ROOM £365.00 per night Breakfast included.

We were off to Exeter racecourse to watch one of our nags have a run out on a freezing November Sunday and decided to visit friends in Cornwall and stay the night. Cornwall is really beautiful as long as you avoid all the summer months and any other bank holiday in England as it is full of the lefty London lovies set with Giles, Rupert and Tarquin the small people being complete unsupervised undisciplined bastards in every venue, just expressing themselves to everyones amusement (bollocks). Top that off with not being able to drive on what passes for roads in Cornwall and having to park in a farmers field far away from where you want to be and avoiding mounds of cow or sheep shit you then find the picturesque hamlet full of tourists and every restaurant bar and fish and chip shop passed by the ministry of health on the other side of the road rammed to the rafters with guffawing idiots laughing about how they blocked the entire track / road with their essential city accessory the four wheel drive Chelsea tractor.

Anyway enough of that and all should enjoy Cornwall out of season but do expect most if it to be shut or on restricted hours, its a bit like living in permanent lockdown. Being bored with staying at Rick Steins and finding it getting a bit exhausted after so many years plus the sea food restaurant is nothing like it used to be we looked at the Harbour Hotel which had been taken over and totally revamped by this group. We have used another of their premises in Salcombe Devon and while the rooms are small they are quite comfortable. This hotel used to be called The Metropole and is a very ugly building over looking Steins place. Built in 1904 not an awful lot of this eras architecture is attractive so nothing they can do to the outside

Its looked like this since 1904

Before the renovation it was not a place we would have entertained as it was very tired in fact i’d call it exhausted as even Lazurus would have had trouble resurrecting this place. The hotel now has the company’s corporate make over which is very nice but once you have a successful formula why change it. The car park isn’t large enough as arriving at 7.30 pm we were lucky to get the last parking place and being even luckier we had the wifes Mini as anything bigger would have been a complete arse ache trying to manoeuvre into said space and anyone over 12st is going to have difficulty extracting themselves from the car as the spaces are somewhat tight. I have no idea if all were staying there as diners can park here as well which would have really pissed me off if i couldn’t have parked being a paying guest. Once checked in by the two beings behind the desk it was off you go to your room on the second floor, no worries i guess your both busy talking to each other. Again the decor on the way was nice and restful and our room was on the corner of the building overlooking the estuary.

The room was really nice large and airy and dual aspect with furniture and bedding pretty much like all the other group’s hotels. The first major problem was the amazing draught and cold coming from the windows which are large. Unfortunately due to cost or some ridiculous planning officer the windows and frames are original ie single glazed and distorted, i noticed that they also seemed to be painted shut but on a night like this and this windy at least they didn’t rattle. Problem was solved by closing the plantation shutters and the room became very snug. Bed was extremely comfortable and linens were good. Wardrobe was very small with only a couple of hangers which was fine for us one nighters but any longer and its where do i hang my clothes, in the wardrobe also lives the Nespresso machine but why not put a small jug of fresh milk in the fridge rather than a couple of shitty uht milk cartons.

Whilst the room was a good size and very comfy the bathroom was small no separate shower just the usual fitting over the bath and a bath for a short person. There are double sinks but its tight to both fit in there which is perfect for a quick perv moment as you pass by. The next problem with the bathroom was sitting on the loo and then trying to locate the loo roll which was not where or at the height you expect it to be, its actually under the sink unit which is well below eye line when seated.

Happy with the room we ambled to the bar for a drink. Having stayed in the Salcombe establishment a few times and having eaten there twice was enough as its vastly overpriced and not very good and reading the write ups this place seemed to be the same so we decided a drink and food at a place called Prawn on the Lawn was the order of the day. The bar opens onto the restaurant which didn’t seem that busy but then neither was the bar. Champagne is two choices and asking what reds were available the choice wasn’t great and i had a quick brain fart on choosing either the Tempranillo or Rioja, as that grape is Riojan i thought maybe the Tempranillo could be from another region ?. Anyway neither the champagne or Rioja were great but as with this place bloody expensive didn’t finish the wines so off to dinner at Prawn on the Lawn.

Nights sleep was very good as didn’t hear another person but quite a few guests looked like Dignitas might be their next and final stop as we couldn’t imagine that at 11.30pm they were all in the bar having one for the road and living dangerously. Breakfast was the usual self service fruits cereals etc plus one of those weird revolving toasting machines that never toast properly first time round then cremate it the second time, followed by the staple cooked British breakfast but iv’e never understood where baked beans enter the equation. Service was excellent as was the cappacino’s.

Would stay here again as it is comfortable and there really isn’t to much choice in the area that we would bother with or is worth the money and the restaurant we went to was great fun.

Coppa Club, Henley on Thames

So were out on a shopping trip and on the way back at 3pm realised that we hadn’t eaten so the wife did a quick google search to find what was open on the way home this late in the day and came across this place which has a few branches in and around the area. A few years back we had tried the one in Sonning but thought we wouldn’t bother again and now we remember why. Though the place is nicely decorated light and airy and the staff were good and polite the food is a bit of a joke. Both of us decided to stick with the burger as its difficult to get that wrong and our waitress informed us that it would come pink which was great. A couple of old boys were also eating and one complained about his steak being as tough as old boots, i didn’t know which cut it was but thought thats the problem with these places don’t deviate from the absolute basics.

We started with some bread which was toasted, maybe because it was stale who knows, my crispy squid was not crispy but a little soggy with a catering type dip but what i expected for a place like this. The wife had a fried sort of thinly sliced vegetable, zucchini I think it said but i wasn’t overly interested in it so could be wrong. Out came the burger served pink unfortunately it wasn’t. The top bun was coated with a type of French mustard then a slice of lettuce and a slice of tomato, the extra bacon came crispy as was the outside of the burger which i can guarantee was not a sear. It was dry and overcooked with about as much moisture as the Sahara desert. Did think about complaining but really whats the point if they can do this to something as simple as this neither of us could be bothered to wait for another round to be cooked plus the old boy sitting near us didn’t find his re-fired steak any better. in fact the only good thing about this was the Coppa lager which was light and pretty good, maybe they should just turn into a pub.

I’m sure the majority of folk love this place, they must as it seems to be expanding in posy places like Henley, Sonning, Goring etc but for £60 odd quid to us its not good or value for money but i suppose its all about what your used to and there’s no way well be going back, anyway thats my opinion and if you find it different to mine thats fine.

CALETA de FUSTE FUERTEVENTURA

As i posted before we stayed in a golf hotel just outside this place and were wondering why the guests never left the hotel except to play golf and spent breakfast, lunch and dinner in the hotel. Well after going to this place maybe just maybe they actually visited it once and never returned.

Caleta is described as providing entertainment for the whole family and i’ve got to admit that i have no idea what they are on about. Ok so its got a shopping centre and i know that many people just love to drag their kids around a shopping centre though why you’d want do this on a vacation to a beach resort is beyond me, but there’s also a multiplex cinema attached to it and i imagine some films would be in English but after seeing Caleta I guess all could possibly be in English. The beach is in a big bay and has been extended so is mostly man made but safe and shallow which also describes this place.

We wandered through the main drag which has plenty of hotels dotted around which looked ok but are what we would call the more basic than what were used to. There is an enormous amount of cheap tack and shit shops found in any Brit seaside resort or down market Costa place and populated by probably the worst bars i have seen for a long time. All of these look the same a bit grubby, unclean and very very cheap with an unsettling aroma of fat and grease permeating the entire place. Full English breakfasts and complete meals for 6euros as long as you like that old British staple the fried potato plus a large beer for 2.50 euros, how the hell does anyone make a profit on that ?, and just what are you consuming at that price ?, it cant be real food.

Whilst wandering around you soon realise that the only food holiday makers here consume their entire lives is fried and washed down with copious amounts of cheap beer as the whole place is a bit like a failed weight watchers convention who got huge discounts at the tattoo parlour with the males needing to visit an alopecia clinic. There was not one bar we wanted to sit in or outside of as none looked clean with the outside smelling as bad as the rancid fat inside and the other problem being outside was like sitting in a fog of fag smoke listening to a very limited vocabulary conversation. But there was light at the end of the tunnel as our Spanish friends knew of a small place on the bay next to a car park that does fish caught that day. It’s a rather strange concrete block with more tables outside than inside and seems to serve very few tourists, yes they have a menu with crap like pizza (frozen) but mostly stuff like gambas ajilo, papas arugada with mojo salsa and they bring round a large platter of fish caught that day and the choice is always good. we chose a fish called Boca Negra (black mouth) which is the colour of its mouth inside but a great fish plenty for four and similar to Sea Bass in texture and flavour. This is really a great place as the bottles of Tropical (lager) are ice cold and served with a chilled glass, why would you want a pint that gets warm, but after seeing some holiday types drinking i’m not sure it touches the sides let alone sitting there long enough to get warm. So if you are in this place and need a break from egg, chips and beans look up Frasquita. Obviously its not as cheap as the Brit bars but is very good value and you also get the chance to see a lot of off putting flesh wobbling past in perpetual motion, what could ever make people think that wandering around a town without a shirt on and a gut the size of a small country on display is acceptable in anyones language.

One other redeeming factor of this place is another great restaurant called Volcano at the Museo de Las Salinas del Carmen. Most of the restaurant is a covered terrace with front and side screens but the view to the sea and the salt fields are really good and also display a skeleton statue of a whale which is really impressive. The menu is very Spanish but with a twist ie modern, which for this island is a complete change and surprise as nearly every restaurant has exactly the same menu done to different degrees of incompetence and it really is surprising how many places can really screw up fresh fish or totally bugger a really good slab of meat.


The cooking is very good, nothing overcooked and the presentation is a few levels above anything else we have encountered. Again one or two tourists were dotted about but once again it seems a mainly local haunt and is more expensive than in the town but then again thats not difficult either. Wines are not expensive and we found one of our favourites which they had to buy more of as we drank the only two they had and we were returning the next night so full marks to them for that effort.

So to sum up, Caleta is generally shit and cheap. Ok lots of people like this type of holiday and as far as budgets go I understand why its what it is but two gems do exist but that is it unless you play golf and eat in the hotel for breakfast, lunch and dinner there really is nothing on offer sightseeing wise either so unless you like to fry your skin and there was lots of lobsters walking around cultivating mid life melanoma or drink vast quantities of beer or consume fried anything give it a miss.

Loved this sculpture at the salt farm & museum.

ELBA PALACE GOLF HOTEL

SUITE GOLF COURSE VIEWS £250 per night

CALETA DE FUSTE FUERTEVENTURA

Not a place we would normally end up in but we were desperate for a quick break and wanted to see our Spanish friends but our usual place is being refitted and wont open until December. The main advantage of this place is that its adult only and as our pals oldest boy has a todler and a baby we thought this would be a brilliant rouse as we wouldn’t be lumbered with the kids all bloody day. Not that we don’t like the kids and we’ve known him all his life its just that we don’t want to babysit all day then do the evening meal with them all over again.

Anyway on to the hotel itself and no we don’t play golf either. Obviously its on a golf course on whats like a small housing estate which i gather are all holiday home golf fanatics places so a good five minute ride from the resort or so its called but more of that place later.

Check in was no problem but had a weird question thrown at us and that was can you please put an amount of your liking from your credit card onto your account. Well i thought maybe its because you dont have to sign for anything until the amount has been drained but no it seems outsiders play golf have a drink in the bar then sod off. As with most hotels in Spain they seem to chuck in a 5* rating which is bit of a joke most times. The reception area was impressive and leads into a large courtyard with seating and tables set out under canopies which were very pretty at night, but after a few days you come to realise that 5* is more like 5 employees. The staff are excellent though i felt very sorry for them as the servers worked breakfast, lunch and dinner and i asked one of them if they actually slept in the restaurant after service.

So bags disappeared whilst checking in and then your off to find your room (wife turned this down) not that that worried me but normally 5* do escort you and explain all the over the top gadgetry in the room though once encountering the suite i can see why this was not needed. Though perfectly clean and comfy its blindingly obvious that nothing has changed since the place was built ( probably 20 years ago) and is dated but comfy and i don’t mean shabby chic just knackered a bit like an old persons retirement lounge. The lounge area was fine even though the two piece suite was i could say approaching the well worn look not threadbare but slightly ruffled like well worn linen trousers. The bedroom was ok again old dark heavy furniture but a comfy bed no fancy lighting switches or dimmers but a good old fashioned bedside lamp. As for TV’s well these are first generation little flat screen Samsungs with a surprisingly good selection of channels in English, we take HDMI cables to watch a film on the ipad to relax before the evenings meal and a few bottles but i had to call reception as the only socket behind the tv refused to work. So up comes a little Spanish bloke who fiddles around a bit without success and has to phone his boss. Unknown to him we speak Spanish not that he said anything bad but it turns out that the Tv’s being so old theres nothing they can do so talking to him it seems that the rest of the place is on its last legs as well. So the one in the bedroom worked so that was a result. The bathroom looks impressive nice black and white tiles and a very large bath which would never fill up due to having a plug hole with a bigger water loss than Thames Water. The shower was hilarious a plastic tardis like cubicle with the jets down the side. Christ i haven’t seen one of these since the days of the resurrection, using this thing was even more hilarious. opening the door i turned the shower on but only managed to get the side jets to fire cold water over me and soak the far wall including the bog roll. Once sussing out which way to turn the tap the removable shower head actually manages to turn away from you soaking the rear of the cubicle and leaving you dry, switching over i then find only two jets either side work and if i was heavier I’m not sure I would be happy standing in it as it doubles as a trampoline base. Also being on the first floor the golf course views are obliterated by the mature palm trees hanging over the balcony so perfect.

Ok everything was fine for the first few days then the internet died, this only happened to our floor as other gusets had mentioned and it turns out that the problem lies with the old routers so no Times on line, no emails or being able to read the Times in bed, after making a drink with the plastic tray and kettle which was built in to said tray the difficulty was finding a plug at the right height or even a spare plug hole anywhere this was solved by unplugging something else as these essential items are few and far between in these rooms. So off to reception to get this sorted we were faced with a Polish girl who was not exactly friendly or helpful and who’s previous job could had been receptionist at Auschwitz. Once we got someone who was actually interested and helpful they said we’ll get it sorted as we said ok we’ll take a single room as they were actually better than the suite, major problem of this solution was that we’d paid for a better room. Standing there i actually didn’t give a shit what the cost differential was i just wanted a room that worked. Next day sorted and 2nd floor room was perfect with a proper shower and internet with everything else as per the last room.

Outside the pool deck was very large and was used mainly by golf widows in the morning, biggest drawback was no poolside service so a complete arse ache having to put on a t shirt mask and waddle off to the bar, the only employee hanging around was the lifeguard which seemed pretty pointless as when he buggered off for a tea / lunch break no one replaced him so so much for the law and health and safety out here though swimming in a pool that you could stand up in does seem a little pointless. The pool deck itself was original and had been repointed quite badly in places, also cleaning it every day might help as underneath the sun loungers you could find the days before plastic cups and slices of lemon or orange but we did see the pool guard hosing bits of it down and leaving vast puddles everywhere but not daily. The sun loungers are comfortable enough and there are also these Bali beds but you have to remember to bring your own towels which are left in the room and can be changed if you leave them in a heap on the bathroom floor also its nice and quiet as no kids, brilliant.

Pool deck with extremely active lifeguard

The restaurant is actually pretty good for a Spanish hotel and the majority of punters here seem to check in and die here for the duration of their stay, but once you’ve experienced Caleta it becomes clear as to why they don’t leave. Fillet steak was very good and came rare as asked for, the strange thing is the stuff it comes with ie gnocchi and some sort of sliced fried potato why two heavy carbs and topped with some kind of blue cheese dressing which believe me is best left alone. You can for an extra 18 euros dive into the cold buffet as a starter which is very good and you might be amazed as to the amount of food people can actually pile onto a mid sized plate, some i saw would have put to shame the structural engineers who built the Shard. The restaurant manager was brilliant and we actually requested one of the specials a couple of nights which was a type of pasta vongole. So food prices were extremely reasonable and we found an excellent Rioja for 22euros so happy all round.

Enough of the hotel now as its fine for what it is though i think most people are here for the golf and are not to bothered about the rest. Most of the clientele are possibly older than us or just looked it and seem to eat dinner really early and i mean early as we were the only ones still there at 9.30pm so not sure where they went or what they did and i’m 100% sure the adult channels wouldn’t be tuned into. One more thing to mention quickly is breakfast. Usual buffet stuff, very good Spanish tortilla, fresh eggs cooked, strange sausages and usual cakes, pastries, juices etc. and the cortado’s are the best.

Its a pretty good hotel for the money if you want a quiet relaxing time at the pool and as we didn’t spend a lot of time in the room it didn’t matter that the place lacks a bit of a modern touch or tech stuff and if you play golf well its not a problem. All in all its fine but we wouldn’t return.

A NIGHT OUT AT LOFTUS ROAD, AKA KIYAN PRINCE FOUNDATION STADIUM

QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1 BLACKBURN ROVERS 0


TUESDAY 19th October 7.45pm


Seeing as were not flying anywhere i thought i could bore anyone who bothers to read this on how a few middle aged blokes supposedly go to football to enjoy a night out under the floodlights in West London as enjoy and QPR are generally two words that don’t usually sit well together.

The five of us that have sat together for the past god knows how many years have the same ritual that tens of thousands of blokes have every week up and down the country which is pub first then match. With us this can differ for no reason what so ever as all of the bars in Shepherds Bush charge £6 a pint except for one called The White Horse which is cheap by London standards but actually has no standards at all and is what can be described as a hell hole, but its popular and for me life is far to short to actually go there. The pre drink ritual is taken up by firstly talking about the previous match home or away or as last weeks local derby away to a more expensive part of London the Rupert and Tarquins otherwise known as Fulham turned into our usual shit show performance equaling a 4-1 defeat. Ok they are better than us but for gods sake why don’t we ever turn up there, the supporters do but never the team. Second on the agenda after that is the shit horse racing tips we give each other during the week followed by the gloating one of us might do if by any chance one of the donkeys won. Thirdly we revert back to the match and view the published line up and debate the ridiculous selection of the team as if we are the answer to all the teams troubles, so after much banter and a few pints at 7.20 we start the ten min walk to the stadium.

Even after going for over 50 years I actually believe nobody gets bored with the view and glow of the floodlights as you approach the stadium with the familiar tribal chants and songs that begin to reverberate around the adjoining streets and the anticipation of how well the guys will play. Normally we bump into a few lost away supporters who this time have travelled from Lancashire and spending north of £100 for the experience moaning about the beer prices and are lost in the myriad of terrace houses which cost us an eye watering £600,000 + per house plus while they can literally buy the whole street for that in Blackburn, and if you’ve been there you will understand why that’s possible.

The Blue and White Hoops await the official prat to start the game

The ground is entered through our modern electronic turnstiles (the only modern bit) where this year we all use our new digital season ticket which may or may not work but is getting just that little bit more reliable. If they decide to work its gives us time for a quick one in the clubs Blue & White bar which is now cashless due to ease of serving and not having to employ anyone with half a brain who can do simple addition in their head, a slowly dying art in our UK school system. on the screens in the bar we can see the teams emerge from the tunnel and go through the hand shaking farce before the coin toss. We climb the stairs to the upper loft area passing whats called a food kiosk offering the usual array of dog meat smelling pies and emerging from our own mini tunnel to the rather small cramped and ageing stadium. For the past seasons someone thought it a good idea to put our names on the seat backs just in case senility sets in and we forget after decades exactly where our seats are. I must admit this worked when we have a full house against one of the big boys as you find the glory hunters turning up and not understanding the simplicity of rows A-Z and numbered seats bit like watching idiots boarding a plane stopping and looking at every overhead seat number before reaching theirs, but still you find some twat in your seat saying “are you sure this is your seat”, ”well thats my name on it you fucking idiot”.

First half if we win the toss we always kick towards the away fans who are seated in the upper section at the other end though theres only about 600 due to midweek and distance though a few of those will be London based. Our support is very vocal and being a tight ground the front rows are within touching distance of the touch line and the atmosphere can be electric. As per usual the linesmen are next to useless and i mean that for both teams as for the ref well that can be anything and if you get someone like Rob Styles then you will realise that the game is going to be complete shit as people like him have to be centre stage and don’t like football anyway.

As for a run of the mill Championship game the next ninety minutes rolled out as per normal as we waited for either team to make a bigger defensive cock up than the other to win the game and so it panned out thus though the goal was celebrated as if we’d won the cup or the league as parts of the ground go mental and the corporate seats remain seated with some even clapping politely and thats if they re emerged from the bar for the second half.

So not much to say about the game as it was normal service resumed stuff and we are doing very well for a small cash strapped outfit and leaving the ground posses the next question do i get the tube from Shepherds Market or go for a final pint ?.

IKOS ANDALUCIA

Sea View Suite £1,000 per night

Hotel in Estepona

First of all I must say that this is not the sort of place we would normally book but being desperate to get away we stupidly read reviews on Trip Advisor and booked a place that is all inclusive. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would entertain an all inclusive, and you can call this snob value because to me it conjours up images of Butlins cheap booze and pile it high. Please don’t get me wrong as I have no beef with people that do this as it may be the only thing they can afford and to them it’s a good time, but we are in a different price bracket and expectations may be slightly different. Saying that this place was still £1,000 per night so not your normal pie ,chips and larger fest or so we thought, and you don’t get branded with a colourful plastic shackle to be proudly displayed around your wrist. Question ?. Why do people still have these on when on the plane home.

On arrival all seemed good check in was excellent and the place has been transformed from a naff seventies place to a rather modern well fitted place. Must admit even though my Spanish is fairly good by the time our hostess had finished explaining the eight different pools numerous restaurants, gym, spa opening times, book this book that in advance and other stuff I’m not interested in I forgot that I was actually staying here plus I’d reached the point where I didn’t give a shit. Lovely girl though and after 20 mins wished that i’d had the free drink on offer.

Being midday the room wasn’t ready so we were offered a courtesy room to change in and head off to one of the eight pools thinking I don’t remember what or where they were but at the same time thinking not easy things to miss. Having a deluxe suite we headed out to find said deluxe pool which is really no different to the other pools though probably fewer kids. The sun loungers are actually great really thick mattress and very comfortable, pool service was excellent and it’s very strange getting drinks and not having to sign or pay brilliant, bring on the benefits. Speaking Spanish is not an advantage here as most of the staff are actually Greek and have no or very little Spanish but they are all very good, speak good English and we found the service very good, shame about the food so read next paragraph.

So I’ll deal with the evening meal before the room and complaint from us. The top restaurant was a Thai and had received good reports on Crap Advisor but was unable to be booked even three days before we arrived, but no problem we got in after a very long discussion which took five different heads of whatever department and nearly four hours of buggering about. Think its called Annaya or something and que surpresa its not great. Thai pad noodles covered in honey ? why ?, salad bearing no resemblence to Thai with honey and some cotton wool flour coated prawns, this was the point at which we gave up. The guy who served us was brilliant though and mentioned some wines were not on the list, so asking what Ribera del Dueros they had he returned with an unknown wine which was ok but not really that different from earlier. A young couple next to us asked what we thought of the place and apart from the room we weren’t alone and they were booking restaurants outside the complex, so four of us went to the bar hungry and got wrecked.

As I said after reading the reviews on what is now known in this household as Crap Advisor, what the hell do you people eat normally??. Great food etc etc oh please god help us. Great little Spanish waitress at the pool told us most people do two or three restaurants for lunch having different dishes in each. Sounds great and was thinking this is how all inclusive works as we couldn’t decide on the Spanish tapas or the Italian also they were the closest and 28c is just too hot to sod around walking miles in. 300 wines are advertised so again sounded fab as it’s one thing I’m really into and I don’t mean just drinking them. Let’s say the wine list was just as disappointing as a dyslexic teenage moron not getting at least four A stars or whatever there called and a standardised 2.1 Uni degree in road sweeping and causing said bonded child a nervous breakdown, well. Welcome to IKOS wine list. Now in the pictures on the Advisor web site is a nice bottle of Marques de Riscal Grand Riserva sitting there on a table !! guess what they don’t actually have it. In fact I didn’t recognise any of the couple of Rioja or Riberas or any other producer from various countries so I opted for the safe bet merlot and the blonde a Spanish rose. Honestly they were crap and from the others I tried they were the quality of bog standard supermarket shelf wine I imagine around 8 euro mark. Food, ordered fried calamari and prawns with a fancy name which turned out to be the old staple gambas ajilo but minus the ajilo. Four over cooked calamari arrived sitting in a bit of oil completely tasteless and unbelievably overcooked with the texture of a Pirelli P7 tyre the prawns were abysmal as well, again 4 of them in oil and very finely sliced bit of chilli all buggered beyond belief so having the texture of wet cotton wool, also its obvious that all of it was frozen produce. Onto the Italian having left those plates as did the couple next to us. This was just as bad, sharing a Mozarella salad containing some small perfectly spherical tasteless white balls that can be bought in any cheap supermarket or thinking that keeps the cat population down. My pizza was just as disappointing covered in a tasteless processed plastic product described as cheese, a stringy slimy fatty mess that seemed to keep a temperature akin to molten lava and with a texture and flavour matching well chewed bubble gum. The six slices of processed donkey failing to lift it beyond mediocre crap so left it to congeal on the plate. Someone give Zizi’s rusticana 3 Michelin stars. Wines in this restaurant were the same as the other, what a surprise. The wife had a hamburger (very Italian) which was a greasy (they seem to concentrate on this ingredient) grey mess again an obviously cheap frozen item which really isn’t difficult to spot and undercooked chips. The explanation for this food comes later.

Onto the room. 5301 a suite with a sea view. it was actually a very good size, very large bathroom with good sized walk in shower free standing bath and double basins. Towels were a good size and the extras were good as well. Lounge was well appointed with TV as was the bedroom with extra TV though bed was small just two singles pushed together. The young couple we met mentioned this and they had to ask for a double mattress as the bed kept separating, we thought it was because they had a basic room. So all very clean and not unhappy with the room which was functional but not overly comfortable and without the buena vista we expected. Ok i admit i could see the sea if i stepped out onto the balcony which again had a large swinging chair, sofa and table but our main view was the hotel block opposite. Not exactly what all the photos showed plus said photos showed a brilliant uninterupted view of glistening white beach, unfortunately its not its grey, not a problem but not exactly what your actually sold. By now the blonde was what i would described as pissed off, well me to.

Now comes the fun bit. First of all someone who apparently is the food and beverage manager who didnt seem to know much but spoke English informed us that all produce is fresh (bollocks)and that all hamburgers are hand made (more bollocks) and would we like to speak to the chef. Not really because as you and the chef find this acceptable and you think its good i couldn’t imagine the conversation going anywhere and neither us nor you will understand each others idea of food or fresh though the wife has worked in 2 Michelin star restaurant kitchens and not as the pot washer or veg peeler. Next up was the first of four very nice slim attractive females though all of them looked exactly the same and its not the uniform. All disappeared to find a solution which we thought until you alter your entire food and beverage standards its never going to happen. So we waited between each conversation getting nowhere fast and then we asked numerous times for a general manager which we never got to as being a weekend none were working. We did get offered another suite which no way were we taking as it may look out directly onto the sea (not many do) its directly above the all night bar and by one of the restaurants, relaxing and quiet i think not, also Crap Advisor had said avoid this side of the hotel as it looks over a public car and caravan park with barking dogs and noise issues if said web site can say this then christ knows what thats like, can we please stop wasting time and speak to someone who can make decisions, this finally arrived. Another pretty looking thing i think shes the duty manager of something asked us whats wrong, what no ones told you ?. She was very good as well, as we explained we hate the bad food not our usual standard and then showed her our rooms view and the one on the hotels web site, spot the difference, obviously photo shopped. Her mistake was asking what hotels we normally stayed in and where we ate, this stopped her in her tracks as she just sat there going oh i see. Our solution is we pay the £1,000 for tonight and we leave tomorrow, solution accepted. Once again the staff are excellent as we were told no problem please stay and use the facilities as long as you want and still have some drinks next day. Many thanks but i don’t think thats fair if we do that and would be us taking the piss. Didn’t actually say this it stayed in my mind but said thank you.

Its probably a great hotel for families with kids that eat and drink fast food all day and parents who are concerned that the kids are happy and sod the rest, i can say the service is very good and attentive and we felt sorry that we hated it but its not the standard we are used to and were expecting better for the money as its not cheap. Other couples weren’t happy but no idea what they said and if they didn’t well that’s up to them. Another woman complained and she did have actual Louis Vuitton bags which i guarantee weren’t copies so probably used to better and complaining about what i don’t know, said to her husband they do have a spare suite so we could try it. I thought thats the one were vacating its not going to be better and neither is the food, good luck and i hope you like it but have the feeling you’ll not be far behind us tomorrow.

STRATFORD RACECOURSE

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than at the races to see your horse run even though you know that he’s only entered to give him a workout than with a chance of winning. The problem with these types of races are that he’s a hurdler and this was a flat race meaning that for him to get anything it’s all about the pace of the race and the tightness of the track both of which worked against him. Before all and sundry think why do you have this horse he has won races and been placed in all his hurdles races and this was a final run for the year workout, but in racing you never know. All in all ten of us shared the purchase price and training fees which is still a fair old outlay but it’s great fun and we all meet up for a beer in owners and trainers which at this course was in the main restaurant which is closed due to COVID. This is understandable as it’s a small course and not a lot was on offer food wise. Normally owners & trainers is a separate area, bar, refreshment area that is obviously for those people only and differs greatly from course to course and being small the only option was tea, coffee, waters, sandwiches and cakes which is all gratis and with social distance rules (no more since writing) the size of the place does not pay to provide a hot food option for us or the restaurant.

You would think that being a capacity crowd I think around 4,000 there would be more than a large burger/chip van to cater for the crowd and queues were rather long for this. Also you had to leave the restaurant and join another queue for the outside beer bar and seeing that these events are unfortunately being taken over buy young lads who realise that you can drink all day makes it a pain. Must say though that no problems actually happened that we saw which was a nice change from the large gatherings at Ascot (Chavscot) and other larger race meetings.

Can’t say anything else as what can you say about a chicken stuffing and cheese sandwiches apart from that they were ok and two bottles of sparkling mineral water which were free as are the badges to get in which is another perk of owning a horse.

So onto the race. Only three of us with other halves were there to support him so into the parade ring we went to see him walk around with his opponents and meet the jockey and trainer for a chat. Normally Paddy Brennan rides him but for the second time the stable understudy Liam was up on him and being young he actually takes 5lb in weight off his back which in this race was helpful.

Trailboss looking chilled at home

The weather was really hot which meant that there was going to be no pace whatsoever in the race another factor working against us. Fergal the trainer explained that the last thing we wanted was for the last two furlongs to turn into a sprint as the race was over two miles and even though he has a great turn of speed at the finish this was four furlongs shorter than normal without the jumps so Liam the jockey was told to sit in tight but if no one went for it we might as well sit on the shoulder of the leader and see how it developed.

The Boss is only in his first year and so is a bit green for something as tactical as this and even though the jockey can make a big difference if half a ton of animal decides he’s not going to do it he won’t.

The race paned out exactly as Fergal thought, not at all what we wanted so he sat in second all the way looking comfortable even on a tight bend course which doesn’t actually help these larger jumpers and three furlongs out Liam decided to go for it which was the correct decision and we took the lead, but we all knew that the nimbler sprinters would catch him and that’s what happened. It’s weird to think that your horse needs a further distance to win but I guess it’s like athletes who sprint, do a mile or longer they all have a range and that’s horses. Still he came fourth which meant we collected some prize money, ok not thousands for winning but £550 which he wouldn’t have earnt standing in his stall at home.

So a good race and day out was had by all the Boss looked good and enjoyed his cold water hose down and drink afterwards along with a pat on the neck and then off to the stables and the journey home, and at least he won some prize money which he wouldn’t have if he’d stayed at home. We got the report next morning and a video of him being led out into the fields where he will now spend the rest of the summer getting fat on grass and doing light workouts until he starts jumping again in September. As for the racecourse it’s a difficult one to assess as it’s just coming out of this plague, it’s a nice course though we got the feeling that it’s always going to be a little bit provincial farmers market type place.

In the parade ring and 28c

Newton Abbot Racecourse

HORSE GOT WITHDRAWN SO NEVER GOT THERE.

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.

American Express U.k. Rip Off

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.