Posts Tagged ‘England’

Ed’s Easy Diner, 11 Euston Square, London, England

I was in Euston Station, London one morning waiting for a train and had a little longer to wait than I expected, so I decided to go for brunch and I decided to find somewhere to have brunch. I noticed Ed’s Easy Diner and decided to go in there for an American style brunch revolving around eggs, but after I sat down, I realised this was going to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I am vegetarian and all the egg dishes included bacon or sausage. I should have left then.Ed's out

I was shown to a table immediately and a menu was brought to me quickly but it was several minutes before a server managed to tear themselves away from conversations with colleagues to take my order. This restaurant styles itself a funky chain diner with a 1950s vibe serving burgers, hot dogs and American comfort food, but I did not find it so. My East European server made it clear that changing dishes as specified on the menu were not possible. Very un-American!Ed's pancakes

Eventually we compromised, I would have the three pancake stack, and orange juice and a black coffee. The drinks arrived without issue. What can you do wrong with orange juice and coffee? When the pancakes arrived, there was bacon on the top. I explained, again, that I am vegetarian and the bacon would have to go. Imagine my surprise when my three pancake stack came back with out the bacon and the top pancake. You have to laugh!

I cannot recommend Ed’s Easy Diner, as I did not eat there. The coffee and orange juice is good and access is easy for those with mobility issues, should they wish to go there.

Val Penny

 

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Winchester Writers’ Festival, University of Winchester, West Downs Student Village, Winchester, England

The Winchester Writers’ Festival is held in the middle of June and attracts over three hundred emerging novelists, poets, short story writers, children’s writers, script and memoir writers  from across the UK and the world to the University of Winchester. Delegates attend workshops, talks and one-to-ones with over seventy literary agents, commissioning editors, authors and expert practitioners throughout an inspiring and supportive weekend. This year was the first time I had ever attended The Winchester Writers’ Festival, but it was recommended to me by my friend and mentor, Simon Hall.winchester

I had the opportunity to meet with four agents and publishers, three of whom expressed an interest in my work. However, it was eventually Crooked Cat Books, whom I had submitted my work to, prior to attending Winchester, that accepted my debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ for publication.

At Winchester, I stayed in student accomodation. My goodness, it took me back! Accommodation with breakfast is available at the University of Winchester in basic student rooms in the West Downs Student Village and in Beech Glade on the main King Alfred campus.  A free shuttle bus service will run between West Downs and the Festival venues on the main King Alfred campus at key times over the weekend. En suite and Standard (shared bathroom) accommodation is available at very reasonable prices. Beech Glade is much more convenient for the main campus where the talks, meetings and meals are held, but only West Downs has en-suite accommodation, so the deal was set. I was staying in West Downs. The West Downs Student Village is at the top of a steep hill, so I was glad the course ran a shuttle bus morning and afternoon.

winchester university diningThe accommodation is basic, but clean. My room contained a bed, wardrobe, desk chair and book shelves with an ensuite shower room. Basic bedlinen, toiletries and towels were provided too. I was only there for a long weekend, what more did I need? Accommodation includes hot and cold buffet breakfast for the nights you stay. If you are attending the conference for the day, lunch is also included. Dinner is not and requires to be booked and paid for separately. The meals were ample and tasty and there was provision for vegetarians. Prices in the bar are much lower than in the real world.

Winchester makes great play of being inclusive and having rooms suitable for wheelchair users. I did not see any wheelchair users at the conference. The pack I received states that, although there are stairs leading from conference buildings to the bar and dining roomm, there are lifts for those with mobility issues. I do not have mobility issues, but there were delegates who required assistance to walk. The lifts did not work. That was unsatisfactory.

Free, but limited, parking is available at West Downs and further parking is available in the main car park and Medecroft car park on the main campus but as I travelled to Winchester by train, this did not affect me.

lemnsissayThe keynote speech was delivered on the Saturday morning by Lemn Sissay. I enjoyed the talk and found him a motivating and interesting speaker. Unfortunately, as many people queued to buy his books after his talk, we were told he had somewhere else to be. As a result of this, he stopped dedicationg the books and just signed them, then he left. Not all those waiting with books go them signed. This was bad organisation disppointing and tacky. I have never seen this happen anywhere before. I opted not to buy any of his books.

The Winchester Writers’ festival was interesting some seventy-five speakers delivered fifty separate talks, readings and workshops to almost three hundred writers. The accomodation was adequate. However, bearing in mind the conference only lasts three days, it is extremely expensive. I would not attend the Winchester Writers’ Festival regularly, but I may attend again in the future. I believe there are other writers’ events that are better value for money.

Val Penny

 

 

 

Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant, 30 Wardour St, London, England

On a recent visit to London, my daughters treated me to a theatre visit, something I miss now I live in a village. We went to see The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre. It was an extremely funny comedy. I have rarely laughed so hard. The cast were fabulous and we enjoyed the experience greatly. Afterwards, it was only fair that I treated us to dinner.Apple Duchess Theatre

I do not know London well, so, having decided that we would have a Chinese meal, my older daughter suggested a restaurant she has been too before and enjoyed. She chose Gerrard’s Corner Chinese Restaurant on the corner of Gerrard Street and Wardour Street. For the omnivores amongst us, it was a good call. chinese out

Gerrard’s Corner is obviously a popular restaurant as we had not booked and, although we were early for dinner, there was a short queue. We were told we would have to wait about five minutes, and that was about right. We were shown to a table downstairs in the large, cosy basement. Service was friendly and prompt without making us feel rushed in any way.chinese in 2

I started with the Deep Fried Crispy Greens, and my daughters had the Satay Chicken on Skewers. We all enjoyed our starters. They were delicious. I am vegetarian and was surprised at the number of bean curd and vegetable dishes that contained meat, fish or fish paste. So my choices were limited. I chose the Fried Bean Curd with Salt and Pepper. It was tasty but a bit dry. My older daughter had the Fried Chicken in Lemon Sauce whch she very much enjoyed and my younger daughter ordered the Crispy Shredded Beef in Chilli sauce. She enjoyed that too. As a vegetarian, Gerrard’s Corner is not a restaurant that I would recommend. However, the omnivores amongst us thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

Val Penny

 

 

Apple Apartments Greenwich O2, 1 Providence Place (27 Blackwall Lane) London, England

One of the great joys in my life is my family. I have two beautiful daughters of whom I am unfailingly proud. It is, therefore, a great delight that they agree the three of us should have a ‘girls’ weekend’ once a year.Apple apts livingroom diningroom

This year we spent our special weekend in London, at Apple Apartments Greenwich O2, 1 Providence Place (27 Blackwall Lane) London, England . It was a lovely weekend and the apartment was very spacious.Apple apts livingroom kitchen

We had three double bedrooms an en-suite shower room and a family bathroom upstairs with a large living/dining/kitchen and small wc downstairs. The concierge was helpful, the accommodation was spotlessly clean and the beds were comfortable, so the most important boxes were ticked. Apple apts main bedroom

Little things brought the apartment from excellent to good. The third bedroom had no bedside light, so I moved one from the main bedroom, only to find it had no bulb, so I needed to move a bulb from the sidelight in the living area. There was a dishwasher, but no tablets to allow us to use it. There was washing up liquid but no cloth or brush to give it effect. There were no dish towels to allow us to dry dishes, so we ended up using a hand towel.Apple apts bed 2

Having said all this there were sufficient mugs, glasses, plates and cutlery for the three of us to enjoy meals in the apartment. There was a tea bag and three sachets of sugar. Happily, we came prepared and the predilection of the British to drink tea continued unabated!Apple Apts bed 3

The bathroom facilities were exceptional. I was pleasantly surprised to have a  downstairs wc as well as the two bathrooms upstairs. It was a very useful and welcome addition to the accommodation. There were plenty of hand towels and bath towels.Apple Apts family bathroom

The beds were all comfortable with crisp white sheets, however, the stairs leading upstairs were quite steep and I was surprised that there was only a bannister on one side of them. Nevertheless this did not detract from our comfort during our stay. Apple Apts ensuite

My daughters treated me to a visit to the Duchess Theatre in Catherine Street where we saw the hilarious show, The Play that went Wrong. Public transport to and from the Apple Apartments Greenwich O2 to the theatre district was good. There is only one underground line from the nearest station at North Greenwich, but trains run regularly.Apple Duchess Theatre

All in all, we had a lovely weekend and I can recommend Apple Apartments Greenwich O2. It offered excellent value for money. We enjoyed our stay and with very small tweaks, this would be truly exceptional accommodation.

Valerie Penny

 

Corner Farm, Sherburn, Yorkshire, England

My mother had a notable birthday this year and asked that the family gather together for a weekend together in Yorkshire. She likes Yorkshire. We had to find accomodation for 14Corner Farm Room adults that included an en-suite bedroom on the ground floor and living accomodation on the ground floor as my mother has mobility problems. (Although in the end only 12 of us were able to attend.) There were few suitable properties available. We chose Corner Farm, Sherburn, Yorkshire, England, although it was necessary to rent the property for a minimum of three nights rather than the two we really needed on a self-catering basis. The cost was almost £1,000 per night plus the catering costs, providing food and drink for our party. We could all have gone to Portugal for a week at Corner Farm outthese costs, but mother wanted to go to Yorkshire.

Corner Farm in Sherburn is a Grade II listed former farmhouse that has been renovated to provide holiday accommodation. Sherburn village lies between the market town of Malton and the seaside resort of Scarborough in the Vale of Pickering.We hoped it would be perfect for our big family celebration.

There are certainly some nice features. The living room and dining room have a double–sided wood burner. The kitchen is a good size with a useful centre island. There is free wi-fi and our dogs were permitted. There is a hot-tub.

Unfortunately, the kettle leaked and the dishwasher did not work properly. There were Corner Farm innow scouring pads and the local shop did not sell them). The freezer did not freeze things properly. There was not enough toilet paper. The dining table was tight for twelve people. The seating in the living room was comfortable, but insufficient for our number. These issues were a disappointment. Some of the items that decorate the house are really pretty. These give the house a nice feel and fill the house with fine style. I liked the touch of a filled book-case.

Corner Farm has seven bedrooms, three bathrooms and an en-suite shower room on the ground floor. For the cost of this property, I would have liked more en-suite facilities. I Corner Farm Hot-tubwas also surprised to see two double beds in one room! But the cot in one of the double rooms was good quality. It would also have been a kindness to provide bath sheets to guests, instead of the much smaller bath towels.

The walled garden is a lovely feature. It houses a large hot-tub. We really enjoyed that. The BBQ facilities were good too. However, there was no way of cleaning the grills after use. It was very disappointing. The games room and outdoor play area were a nice touch, but the table football advertised was not there.

Corner Farm purports to be a luxurious property: it is very nice, but luxurious, it is not. We enjoyed our weekend celebrations but we washed a lot of dishes! Bearing in mind the cost we paid, I felt none of issues we encountered should have been endured. With regret, I can not recommend Corner Farm and I would not use it again.

Valerie Penny

Jamie’s Italian, 5 More London Place, London, England

We went to London, England to visit family and managed to arrange that everybody was free to join us for a meal on the same evening. We played safe and booked an Italian Jamie OliverRestaurant, Jamie’s Italian, 5 More London Place, London, England  that we could enter from our hotel, Hilton London Tower Bridge Hotel, 5 More London Place, Tooley Street London SE1 2BY, England. The hotel is reviewed at https://hotelandrestaurantreviews.com/2015/03/02/hilton-london-tower-bridge-hotel-5-more-london-place-tooley-street-london-se1-2by-england/.

Jamie’s Italian bears the name of celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. We had been to another branch of Jamie’s Italian a few months previously. It is reviewed at https://hotelandrestaurantreviews.com/2016/01/04/jamies-italian-ground-floor-38-threadneedle-st-london-ec2r-8ay/. I was not overly impressed with the food, but other members of the family had enjoyed it so I was willing to give Jamie’s Italian, 5 More London Place, London, England a try. I am very glad I did.

The ambience of this Jamie’s Italian is relaxed and friendly. The service from the moment we arrived to the moment we left was very good, but not quite as good as the service par excellence that I experienced at Jamie’s Italian Threadneedle Street, London. This is not a criticism, just a comparison.

Jamie's Italian insideWe were seated in a large booth and started our meal with olives and a delicious variety of breads. My husband and son-in-law sampled the beers while my daughters and I indulged by following a gin and tonic with a bottle of Prosecco. We chose a variety of main courses. My husband had a turkey milanese. This was a turkey steak stuffed with prosciutto and fontal cheese, breadcrumbed and topped with a fried egg and black truffle with a side of fries. He enjoyed it very much.

My son-in-law chose the Gennaro’s chargrilled & butterflied chicken breast which was served with peas, beans and courgette with a hazelnut and lovage pesto. He also had a side portion of fries. My elder daughter chose a JI superfoods salad with chicken. The salad comprised fresh avocado, roasted beets, pulses & grains, sprouting broccoli, pomegranate & spicy seeds with harissa dressing & cottage cheese. She really enjoyed it. My younger daughter and I both chose veggie tagliatellie bolognese. It was a lovely recipe with an agù of porcini mushrooms, tomatoes, pulses, herbs & garlic with Bella Lodi & herby breadcrumbs: very tasty indeed.Jamie's Italian 5.jpg

Only my husband made it to desert. He had the Tiramisu which he said was the best he had tasted. We rounded off the meal with a variety of teas and coffees. We had a delicious meal in relaxing surroundings. I recommend Jamie’s Italian, 5 More London Place, London, England and would use this restaurant again.

Valerie Penny

 

Ainsty Farm Shop, Green Hammerton

On a recent visit to Yorkshire, my husband and I stopped for lunch at the tea-room attached to the Ainsty Farm Shop, York Road, Green Hammerton, Yorkshire, England. We debated between the Chinese Restaurant across the car park, but chose the more traditional Yorkshire Fayre and we were very glad we did.Map of Ainsty Farm Shop

Of course the farm shop sells fresh fruit and vegetables, but also delicious home baking, and fresh meat, milk, butter and cheese. We took time to study all of these as we made our way to the tiny restaurant. It was a shame that we had already bought our provisions for the holiday because much of the food in the shop would have been perfect and the prices were very reasonable. We will not make that mistake again!Ainsty Farm Shop

The tea-room is on the far side of the shop, so we got a good look at all the products for sale as we made our way round. Everything is spotlessly clean and access is good for those who have mobility issues. The menu offers simple, tasty dishes for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

We were just there for a quick lunch on our journey. My husband chose a hot sausage sandwich while I had a cheese salad roll. Both were fresh and delicious. The sausages were fat and juicy and just what my husband had hoped for. The cheese salad sandwich was served in a freshly baked roll, with lots of salad: not the usual one piece of lettuce, tomato and cucmber you might usually expect. Both meals were also served with a generous side salad. They were very filling.coffee cake

However, we could not resist a piece of the home-made coffee cake to go with the rest of our drinks. The protions were enormous. I could not possibly finish mine after the large roll I had had. However, my husband could not see such lovely cake go to waste so managed his own slice, as well as my left overs! It was very good cake.

We enjoyed our meals at Ainsty Farm Shop, the service was good and friendly too. I highly recommend the Ainsty Farm Shop and will visit again.

Valerie Penny