Posts Tagged ‘Val Penny’

Flamingo Suites, Avenida de Espana 6, San Eugenio Bajo, Costa Adeje, Tenerife

My husband and I were enjoying our first visit to Tenerife but while wandering along from our hotel, we were stopped by a persistent woman keen to offer us a chance to win a prize. Now, we have been around the block a couple of times and declined her offer. But she made clear that this was how she made her living, it was not a time-share trick and all we had to do was take a card and see if we had won a prize.

Flamingo outside

Surprise, surprise, we did win! I won a bottle of wine but my husband won 120 euros. All we had to do was stop into the hotel over here, it was very close, there would be someone there to meet us, it would take no more than thirty minutes, we would give a few details, be offered a drink and be given our prize. But that’s not quite how it went.

We decided our wander could be delayed by thirty minutes for 120 euros and followed her to the hotel. A charming man behind the desk offered us a seat and spent a great deal of time taking many details, the only ones he omitted were our inside leg measurements and hat size. Then he introduced us to a young lady who would show us around and get our drinks for us.

Flamingo-Suites outside

She was also charming and told us about being a single Mum, how she worked on commission and re-assured us that this was not a time-share resort. She took us to the onsite bar and offered us drinks – water with or without ice! A pushy man came and butted in, but I said he should leave the young lady, she was doing fine. Things then got progressively worse.

She told us of the improvements intended for the resort. and led us for a walk around it. It was very hot and there were lots of stairs to go up and down before we used the one small elevator that only went two floors. She offered to show us a computer presentation, which we did not want but she would lose her job if we didn’t see it. Just ten minutes. Thirty minutes later, we went on another hot walk up and down, up and down those stairs to see inside an apartment.

Flamingo-Suites-pool

The apartments are large, well appointed and some have lovely views. (Others do not.) We then went for another walk for a drink. By now we were dehydrated, had lost three hours of our lives we would never get back and so even the water tasted better. As we were sitting, the young woman finally revealed the catch: we were to pay £4,000 today and we would get holidays over a four year period at a fixed price and they would arrange the flights and transfers but if we missed two slots in a row we lost the rest of our money.

Then the man came back and repeated all the same things the young woman had told us. My husband said we would have to think about it. The man did not like that idea – this was a today only offer. so we said, then we would have to miss out on the deal but we’d like our prize. The man pushed us, we could put the cost on a credit card, it would cost us half what we normally paid on a holiday. Did we like Tenerife? Yes we do. Will we be back, yes we will, did we like the resort. The apartments are well appointed, I’m not crazy on the stairs and I don’t have my credit card with me, neither of us do. That’s not a problem, he’ll come with us to the  hotel and take the details and get the deal settled.

Flamingo-Suite kitchen

No, you won’t. How dare you try to pressurise me. It’s bad enough that I have been led around this resort for three hours. I’m hungry. I’m dehydrated. I’m going back to our hotel for lunch and I haven’t had my promised drink here, I haven’t been given my wine and my husband hasn’t been given his 120 euros. Far from taking the thirty minutes we were promised, we have been dragged around this resort for three hours and my nice nature has left the building. Luckily, my husband is not a man to be trifled with either. We left. no richer, but no poorer and a little wiser.

Would I visit The Flamingo again? Under no circumstances. There are far better hotels and apartment complexes within a stone’s throw of that one. Costa Adeje is beautiful. The deal pressed on us by those at The Flamingo was not.

Val Penny

Caffe Creme Cafetaria Store 13, Torre da Medronheira, Olhos de Agua, Albufeira 8200-374, Portugal

It is always nice when on vacation to go for a walk to explore new surroundings and to give yourself a reward at the end of the venture. My husband and I like the village of Olhos de Agua near Albufeira in Portugal very much. On a recent visit, we walked in a different direction from usual and found the most delightful gift shop A Tulipa where we found many unusual gifts for family and friends.

cristina photos cake

cristina cafe insideOn our way back from the shop, we stopped off at the Caffe Crema Cafetaria for coffee and cake. What a find! The coffee is mellow, the cakes are delicious and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. As I say, we only stopped in for coffee and cake but at no time were we made to feel we had to hurry away. The waiting staff spoke good English and German and the restaurant is spotlessly clean.

The choice of cakes, pastries and pies is excellent. There are far too many to choose from than you could imagine. I chose a cream eclair with fruit on the top and my husband went with a couple of the smaller custard tarts. All were lovely.

cristina photos coffee & cake

The Caffe Crema Cafetaria does offer meals as well, including a full English Breakfast. However, although we did visit the place three times during our vacation, we never got past coffee and cake.cristina outside

If you happen to be in the village of Olhos de Agua, I highly recommend some shopping time at A Tulipa and then a refreshment stop at the Caffe Crema Cafetaria.

Val Penny

 

Ristorante Tre Scalini, Piazza Navonna, Roma,

I have always loved Piazza Navonna in Rome, Italy. I am entranced by the proportions of the square and fascinated by the artists who display their talents there. My daughter enjoyed watching the ‘silver man’ living staue who performed while she was there with me and, years later, when my husband treated me to a week in this fabulous city, we were keen to re-visit all the sites.

trevi fountainThe day we visited the Trevi Fountain.The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini. Standing 26.3 metres high and 49.15 metres wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. Tourists toss coins into the Trevi Fountain to guarantee a return visit to Rome. For many years now, the monies retrieved from the fountain have been collected, sorted, and donated to Caritas, the non-profit that provides food to the poor and homeless of Rome.

trevi teaAfter our visit to the Trevi fountain, my husband and I walked through the streets of Rome to Piazza Navonna where we treated ourselves to afternoon tea in the Ristorante Tre Scalini. 

Dave & cakeThis is a delightful restaurant where the staff are smartly dressed and formally courteous. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his coffee and banana split. He hadn’t had one for ages, so it was a special holiday treat. I chose a nice cup of tea and we had a lovely time, chatting about our day and planning our evening. We probably stayed far longer than an afternoon tea stop would normally justify, but at no time were we pressured or rushed or made to feel like we had overstayed our welcome.Trevi Restaurant

We enjoyed our visit to Ristorante Tre Scalini and would deiniftely stop there again. It is not a cheap restaurant, but it is lovely and it is in a premium situation in Piazza Navonna. I would certainly recommend it.

Val Penny

 

 

 

California Hotel 4-8 Belgrove Street, London, England

I was taking an early train from London St. Pancras and wanted to find suitable accommodation for one night close to the station. I am old enough to remember The Eagles hit song ‘Hotel California’, so when I found the California Hotel, 4-8 Belgrove Street, London, England, I could not go past it. calif hotel out

The hotel is only about 200 yards from St. Pancras/Kings Cross Station. It is formed of four old town houses and to get into the building you have to go up three very deep, steep steps. This would not normally be a huge problem, unless you have mobility problems. However, my suitcase was extremely heavy and getting it up even those three steps was a struggle.

The reception area is small and quirky. The staff are helpful and very polite. The biggest drawback in respect of this hotel is that there is no elevator. Had I noticed that, I would probably have booked somewhere else. However, the reception staff kindly brought my heavy suitcase to my room and when I was leaving the following morning, they brought it back to reception for me, but not down the three steep stairs outside. caalif hotel room

I had booked a single room and I got a single bed in a small basement room. It was quite bright as it had a double aspect window, but as the room looked into other hotel rooms, I had to keep the blinds shut. My room had an en-suite wet room. The quality of the shower was excellent, but the lavatory made a dreadful noise when I flushed it.calif hotel reception

There was a small tray of courtesy teas and coffees, a bottle of water and a hair-dryer. it also had free wi-fi with no password and I got a good telephone signal. I met family for dinner and friends for breakfast, so I did not eat in the California Hotel. The hotel was perfectly situated for what I needed and the room had everything I expected, albeit in a confined space.

I would not seek out the California Hotel again, but if I were making similar travel arrangements, I would not avoid it.

Val Penny

 

Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London

On a recent visit to London my husband and I stayed in a Premier Inn Hotel. It was very conveniently situated for the plans we had and the price of accomodation was most competitive. So we checekd in to the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London.

Our first experience of the hotel was checking in. It all went smoothly. The check-in clerk was professional, courteous and very helpful. She took time out to look up the first place we were visiting on her computer and directed us as to the best way to get there. It took a few minutes, but she could not have been kinder.premier inn room

We got up to our room and found it was spotlessly clean. The room was also a good size. It had not only a queen-sized bed, but also a sofa that could have been used as an extra bed, perhaps for a child if we had needed it. The bed was extremely comfortable. There was a courtesy tray with teas and coffees, extra pillows and the bath sheets were a good size.

Unfortunately, the window did not open and we could not adjust the heating, so the room was uncomfortably hot at night. Also the cleaners did not refill the courtesy tray for the later days of our stay and the towels were not soft.

new eltham bathroom

On our first morning, there were not many people in the hotel so the famous, hot Premier Inn buffet breakfast was not on offer, but the cooked dishes were served to order, although the continental breakfast was buffet. The meal was delicious. Later in our stay, my husband was overjoyed when full buffet breakfast returned!premier inn ne

We had an evening meal at the hotel once. It was freshly cooked and tasty. We had drinks in the hotel on another evening, there is no separate bar, but there are comfortable couches in the restaurant area to enjoy a drink.

All in all, we very much enjoyed our stay and will use the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London again.

Val Penny

 

Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out, Cala Millor Majorca

It was ten years since I had been to Majorca and over forty years since my husband had visited the island, so, when we decided to go to the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out for an Easter Break, we joked that the place would be glad of the repeat business! However neither of us had been to Cala Millor so the trip felt like a real adventure: going somewhere new.

The Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out is an adults only resort. We had never chosen to go to an adult only resort before and chose this one rather by chance. It seemed like a relaxing place and had an indoor pool and spa which we thought we would enjoy at that early part of the season.cala millor reception

When we arrived at the hotel, from the very beginning, we found the staff to be charming and helpful. We were greeted with a smile and a glass of cava and when we went up to our room, on the top floor, we were delighted with the accommodation too. Although we arrived early in the day, our room was ready for occupation. It was scrupulously clean and comfortably spacious, although at that time of year we did not use the balcony as much as we might have done later on.cala millor view

What marks this resort out from many others we have visited is the beautiful grounds which surround the hotel. There is plenty of seating, many sun beds, a jacuzzi and lovely outdoor pool a snack and drinks bar in the grounds with tables and chairs where hot and cold drinks and light meals are served. It was lovely to sit with a drink or a snack and enjoy the views from the terrace.

The dining room, within the hotel is where most meals are served. The Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out offers many levels of board through from bed and breakfast to all-inclusive. In the dining room, again, there was lots of space and the seating very relaxed: everybody just choosing where they wanted to sit rather than being assigned a table. All meals are served buffet style although, apart from breakfast, drinks are served to diners.cala millor dining room

In the basement of the hotel there is a heated indoor pool, a jacuzzi, a small gym which is well-equipped and well-used and a delightful beauty salon where many different procedures can be enjoyed. These require to be booked at the reception desk.cala millor outside

We were also delighted by the situation of the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out. It is in a very flat part of the island, and therefore lends itself to easy, enjoyable walks. It was funny walking along by the sea and coming across so many happy children and families when we were staying in an adults only environment. We also enjoyed easy walks to the shops and into the town where there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from. We enjoyed the fact that the weather was warm enough for us to eat al fresco and people watch.

Both my husband and I very much enjoyed our holiday in the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out and certainly plan to return soon.

Val Penny

Creme De La Crepe, 29, Covent Garden Market, London, England

I was having a wander around Covent Garden, London, England with my daughters when we decided to stop for lunch. There are lots of interesting places to choose from and we decided on Creme De La Crepe. It is a cosy casual little restaurant that offers a wide variety of both sweet and savoury crêpes and smoothies. COVENT_GARDEN_MARKET_BUILDING

The restaurant is spotlessly clean with tables in vaulted spaces with flagstone floors and one or two tables are outside the restaurant. We sat ‘outside’ Creme De La Crepe so that we could still be in the Covent Garden area. I chose the crepe called Billy Goat’s Gruff. This contains goat’s cheese, caramelised onion marmalade, sweet cherrybell peppers, rocket. It was delicious.

My older daughter went with the crepe known as Nick the Greek that is made from falafel, hummus, sunblushed tomatoes, red onion, black olives, extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, rocket. She really enjoyed it. My younger daughter ordered a house favourite, Crepe Monsieur. In it is free range smoked ham, mature cheddar cheese, english mustard mayonnaise and rocket. She said it was very tasty.creme de la crepe

We all really enjoyed our meals and I would highly recommend this competatively priced little restaurant, Creme De La Crepe, always assuming you enjoy crepes.

Val Penny

The Apartment, 7-13 Barclay Place, Edinburgh, Scotland

My husband, my mother and I recently went to The Apartment, 7-13 Barclay Place, Edinburgh, Scotland for a celebration lunch together. My husband was treating us to celebrate a successful year which saw my debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ published by Crooked Cat Books with a launch date of 02.02.2018. ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is dedicated to my mother. The story is set in Edinburgh and two of the main characters live in Gillespie Crescent, just opposite The Apartment.Hunter's Chase book cover (1)

Although there were only three of us, we are not an easy group to cater for. Mum uses a wheelchair. Unfortunately for her, I am not the best wheelchair driver on the planet, but she is very gracious. Access was easy.  I am vegetarian while my husband and mother are confirmed omnivores.

We had booked a table and the staff were very helpful and kind. We were able to choose between two tables and opted for the one nearest the window. We decided against alcohol in the middle of the day, but we all had different drinks. Mum had a diet coke, I chose a soda water and lime while my husband asked for a ginger beer.The Apartment Outside

Mum did not have a starter, but my husband chose the traditional Scotch Broth soup. I went for the pear, blue cheese and walnut salad. We were both delighted with our choices. The menu is not huge, but it is a carefully chosen mix of meats, fish and vegetarian dishes to suit all tastes. I always feel pleased when I have genuine choices: at The Apartment, I did.

The omnivores both chose the rib-eye steaks for their main courses. Mum requested hers be cooked ‘medium’ while my husband wanted his ‘medium rare’. Apparently both were perfectly cooked. They both seemed to enjoy their main courses. My husband’s only complaint was that there was parmasan cheese on his salad. He believes this to be the cheese of the devil! I chose a halloumi, sweet potato and pepper skewer for my main course. It was served with a beetroot coleslaw, green salad and another side. I chose fires. The beetroot coleslaw sounds strange, but tastes delicious. I highly recommend it.The Apartment Food

Neither Mum nor I could manage a pudding, we shared a plate of truffles. They were tiny but tasty. A delicious end to the meal with a fine coffee. My husband chose the chocolate brownie. This was served warm with a bitter fruit couli cutting the sweetness of the chocolate and a fine vanilla icecream. My husband is very fussy about his coffee, but not even he could find anything to complain about with his Americano.

The service was flawless. This was a first visit to The Apartment for all of us, but we thoroughly enjoyed it, so it will certainly not be our last.

‘Hunter’s Chase’ is available to order from Amazon.

mybook.to/HuntersChase

Val Penny

Hunter's Chase banner

 

 

 

 

Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, High Maybole Rd, Alloway, Ayr, Scotland

I went to visit Alloway with my friend Anna. We stopped for coffee and cake at the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, High Maybole Rd, Alloway, Ayr, Scotland. The Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, is set on the banks of the River Doon and across from the Burns Memorial Gardens. We took the opportunity to visit the beautiful gardens before stopping in at this tranquil hotel.Burns museum

The Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, is situated in an ivy-covered house is a 6-minute walk from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. We took a self-guided tour of the property Robert Burns grew up in, Burns Cottage,  as well as a visit to the museum that houses his manuscripts, books, many artefacts and artwork. Burns Cottage, was the first home of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet and radical thinker. It is located in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It was built by his father, William Burness in 1757. Burns is acknowledged as Scotland’s national poet. He was born there on 25 January 1759.Burns Cottage

After our visits in the town of Alloway, Anna and I decided to look for somewhere to stop brig-o-doon outfor afternoon coffee and cake. We were delighted to find the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, its fine-dining restaurant offers traditional Scottish cuisine, and panoramic views of the gardens and river. The hotel also retains exclusive fishing rights on the river for its guests. Other amenities include landscaped gardens, event facilities and limited parking, but coffee and cake sufficed for us. brig-o-doon entrance

The entrance is beautiful and in the lobby and fire added to the warmth of the surroundings. We so enjoyed curling up in the comfortable armchairs whiling the afternoon away. The coffees were delicious. Anna had a cappuccino, while I opted for a decaf latte. The cakes were fresh and tasty. Anna had an individual bakewell tart, while I had a slice brig o doon insideof apple pie. The service provided by the staff was excellent.

There was a wedding taking place the day we were there. Nevertheless, the service for us was still excellent. We were not made to feel unwanted or in the way at all. The only brig o doon roomsdisadvantage to the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel is that the access for those with mobility issues is poor. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel and we hope to visit there again.

 

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