Posts Tagged ‘Val Penny’

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

 

 

 

1745 Cottage Restaurant, Traquair House, Traquair, Innerleithen

I had lived within 40 miles of Traquair House at Traquair, Innerleithen, Scotland, for many years, but had never visited it. So, earlier this year, My friend Anna and I took time out to visit Traquair House and we had lunch in its 1745 Cottage Restaurant. The date in the name of the restaurant refers to the Jacobite rising of 1745 was the unsuccessful attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the males of the House of Stuart.traquair house

Traquair House is Scotland’s Oldest Inhabited House. Throughout its history it has been visited by 27 Scottish Kings and Queens. The house dates back to 1107 and has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491. Traquair House was originally a royal hunting lodge, and played host to Mary Queen of Scots. Later as staunch Catholics they supported the Jacobite cause without counting the cost.traquair 1745

Now, in its grounds, there is a maze, a selection of craft workshops, a brewery and the 1745 Cottage Restaurant. traquair 1745 in

The 1745 Cottage Restaurant is situated separately from the main house. It is picturesque outside but spotlessly clean inside. Internally, the restaurant combines traditional features and modern cleanliness. For lunch, I chose the leek and potato soup. It was home made, but lacked seasoning. I was a bit disappointed by it. Anna made the better choice. She thoroughly enjoyed her homemade tomato and basil soup. Certainly the portions were generous and the rolls served with it, although they did not look homemade, were fresh and tasty.traquair 1745 inside

After our soup, we were served a selection of freshly made sandwiches. Again, there were plenty of them. There were prawn, tuna salad, ham and tomato, egg mayonnaise, cheese ans cheese savoury sandwiches washed down with a pot of strong tea. or coffee. We enjoyed the sandwich selsction very much. Also the service at the 1745 Cottage Restaurant was polite and friendly. The restrooms were spotlessly clean and the restaurant offers good access for those with moblity issues. We were pleasantly surprised by the price, too.

If you have a chance to visit the house and gorunds of Traquair House, I am sure you will find it interesting, and I recommend the 1745 Cottage Restaurant. Anna and I enjoyed our meals.

Val Penny

 

 

Pickwick’s Tavern, Ohlos de Agua, Algarve, Portugal

My husband and I very much like Portugal, the countryside the people and the food. However, on a recent visit we stopped in for a cup of tea to a delightfully English pub, Pickwick’s Tavern. The owners and staff are English and they do an excellent mug of tea. My husband has also often taken refuge there with a pint of lager when I am resting or shopping. Conveiently, Pickwick’s Tavern runs a ‘husband creche’ that many wives take advantage of!portugal out

The pub benefits from the mild weather in the South of Portugal. It makes a point of showing main sports matches on big screen TV. It is always busy during international football and rugby matches. portugal in

The inside of Pickwick’s Tavern is quite small but cosy. Outside there is a large comfortable street-side area that benefits from large parasols that provide shade in the eat of the day. portugal sign

The staff and owners are friendly and take time to chat and make customers welcome. The ambience of Pickwick’s Tavern is warm, the food offered is excellent ‘pub grub’ and they do a tasty breakfast. We really enjoyed our visit to Pickwick’s Tavern and I highly recommend this this establishment.

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