Tag Archives: eating out

Day 163

I just had a minor panic – checked the date and, fr some reason cross-referenced it against a calendar. Today is Day 164, not 163 as in the title. How did it happen? How had I manged to get it wrong? How was I going to correct it? Well, as it happened I solved everything by looking at the clock on the computer. The 13th June is Day 164, but  am actually writing about the day that finished ten minutes ago, which is Day 163. I worry too much. And when I don’t have enough real stuff to worry about, I make something up.

We had dinner at the Harvester in Wilford last night, as part of the visit of Number Two Son.  like so many places these days, they have signs up blaming supply chain issues for possible shortages. They must think I’m an idiot, because I remember the days before “supply chain issues” became a catch-all excuse. In those days they still ran short of items on the menu and that was due to inefficiency on their part. It still is, it’s just that they can now blame Brexit or Covid.

Apart from the meal we couldn’t have because they had run out, they got two drinks on the seven person order wrong and had no bread ready at the salad bar. When they eventually brought it to the table they didn’t being enough butter.

All First World problems, I admit, and nothing that would be a source of dismay in Ukraine if it happened there.  However, in the context of the UK in 2022, it’s not good enough.

That’s before we come on to the salad. The selection was woeful, the quality was limp and the new system is, frankly, inefficient and cynical. Quality and availability have always been questionable at times. But at least you were master of your own selection. You can no longer serve yourself and fill a bowl, you have to be served by their staff, and they seem reluctant to fill the bowl, so we ended up with much less salad than we used to get. I exercised my right to “unlimited” salad by asking for seconds, everyone else was too embarrassed.

This is supposedly for health reasons, but the need for Covid restrictions seems to have passed. It’s only the Harvester salad bar that seems to need restrictions. As I recall, it always left a little to be desired in hygiene terms, and the new restrictions are, I feel, intended not to promote health but to promote profits by restricting salad portions.

Or am I just being cynical?

The photo is from Julia. The journalist commemorated on the plaque is better known as J M Barrie in case it doesn’t sound familiar.



An Evening Out

Last night we went out, I was too tired to post when I returned and, this morning, sat down to write a post at work, which I emailed to myself. It was quick, but not elegant and I have spent so much time editing I may as well not have written it. On the other hand, as there was no work to do, what else was I going to do? I could have cleaned the toilet or blogged. Not a difficult choice.

I’m struggling with the idea of getting out and about after 15 months of various lockdowns and wasn’t entirely comfortable about going. Despite my misgivings, it went well. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of catching Covid, as I’m now fully vaccinated, but after spending all that time isolating I don’t want to see the world blow it because people can’t think things through. After all that time, and all the alterations we have made to our lifestyle, it would be a shame if we spoil it now. There is still, in my mind, very little difference between a foreign holiday and a super-spreader event.

The main difference between Harvester now and Harvester fifteen months ago is that I am not allowed in one on my own. I don’t have Track and Trace loaded on my phone and even if I did, I don’t have the thing on it that allows you to use those pixelated square things you see around the place. It seems that unless you are tech savvy or in the company of young people you are no longer required. This is OK by me as I am resigned to being on life’s scrapheap, but it seems a little rough that a whole generation is written off just like that. On the bright side, it will enable me to save money.

Bee on Welsh Poppy

Bee on Spanish Poppy

The steak was dry, the garnish was grudging (a few peas, half a tomato and two mushrooms the size of my thumb nail) and the massive portion of chips was a clear attempt to disguise the paucity of the rest of the plateful. The free salad had to be served by a member of staff and the choice was limited, as was the portion size. A shy person would have been seriously short-changed on the salad. They were happy to offer bread rolls, in fact they were happy to offer two bread rolls – see my previous comment on disguising small portions.

They also had no choice of bottled water – it was just still water in a large bottle – no sparkling or small bottles. There was no horseradish sauce. There were no condiments on the table so no pepper or vinegar for me. Like so many of the economy measures we see, it’s a cost-saving exercise dressed up as a health precaution. They had, however, salted my chips without asking me. I don’t add salt to my food. I haven’t added salt for around 30 years. It took a bit of getting used to, but I don’t need it and I don’t see why it should be added without my permission.

Apart from that, it was OK, though I’m not going to be tempted back by the quality of the dining experience.

The actual socialising was more relaxing than I had expected. It was nice to see people and it was good to get out and to find that I could relax in a social setting despite my misgivings about mixing. Even so, I’m not planning on more mixing for a while. That’s the thing about lockdown, I wasn’t very sociable before lockdown so I’m not suddenly going to become a people person just  because the government tells me I can go out.

A lot of people put themselves at risk so that I could stay happy and healthy in lockdown, including members of the NHS (though not dentists, who have not been doing much apart from counting their money), emergency services, dustmen, bus drivers, postmen and, of course, Julia. I was lucky enough to be able to just treat it as one long holiday.

All that will be in vain if we start to act stupidly now.

Similarly, we have had cleaner air recently. If we all jump on a flight to Portugal it won’t be long before we are back to normal.

Hoverfly on Welsh Poppy

Hoverfly on Spanish Poppy

I’m with David Attenborough on this one – “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”

Covid has changed my life, and my way of thinking. Even now it is nearly over, the changes continue. And briefly, for just one post, it has made me serious and philosophical. I will try to be more light-hearted next time.

We had 24 poppies out yesterday morning – all gone when we got home. They are Spanish Poppies according to Clare Pooley, and when you look them up on the internet it seems quite obvious. I’d never heard of them until today – another gap in my knowledge. Mine are singles, rather than the pom-pom flowers on the RHS website. Thank you Clare.

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

A Day Off

I say day off, but it wasn’t quite as clear cut as that.

We started with laundry. This was Julia’s idea – she thinks that the kids need clean laundry for their foreign adventures. I agree with her on that point. I do, however disagree that we should be doing it. Neither of them are working at the moment, as they are both flying out this week, so they have plenty of time to do their own laundry.

Despite this, we were able to enjoy a freshly-cooked bacon cob at the cafe down the road, before we returned to the launderette to do the drying.

We went to the jewellers after taking the washing home, cadged a couple of cups of tea and had two watches fitted with new batteries.

After then had a late lunch at Frankie & Benny’s. They charge £2.39 for a cup of tea. I was expecting a pot for that price. Not only that, but it’s served as a cup of hot water and a teabag, so you don’t even get properly made tea. You need boiling water for tea.

They are having some problems, with closures and redundancy, I’ve been told. I’m not surprised. If their grasp of business is as good as their grasp of tea making they are in deep trouble.

No photos again today, but at least it’s a slightly less depressing post. I’m planning our next holiday now. It’s likely to include piers and scones, so watch this space.

Dentist tomorrow.

Into each life some rain must fall, as Longfellow said.





Christmas is Over

The day is drawing to a close. Number One Son has texted to say he has landed and is now in a taxi heading “home”. Julia has trouble accepting this as a description, as she still thinks his home is Nottingham rather than Valetta. If someone offered me a job in Malta I know what I’d very quickly be calling “home”.

We had a meal on the way to the airport, which will form the first part of my 100 Food Reviews in 365 days. Tootlepedal suggested visiting cafes in order to indulge my talents for sarcasm and vitriol over the next year, and apart from being a family meal it will double up as the first review in the series. The company was fine, the server was excellent but the food is going to provide me with plenty of material for indulging my grumpy old man persona.

Between the meal and the text I finished Library Lost. It’s the second book in the Great Library Series by Laurie Graves, better known to us as the writer of Notes from the Hinterland.

I’ll be reviewing it soon. But if you want to buy it and read it before reading the review you’ll be safe in doing that, though I will warn you that it it finishes too soon as I would have been happy with reading it for another two or three days.

That, I think, is it for today. Back to work tomorrow.



Another quick post

Sorry about the lack of application but I’ve had another action-packed day.

First off, a lie in, followed by a late breakfast of sausage, bacon, beans and potato cakes. It was an excellent breakfast cooked by my dear, kind wife.

I feel I have to call her that because (a) she is dear to me (b) she is very kind and (c) she is still grumbling that I forced her out of bed to make me breakfast. It was 14 hours ago, can she not forget?

I’m arranging breakfast tomorrow. McDonald’s, eaten in the car on the way to work. We can pretend we’re high-powered executives.

Next, we went to Men in Sheds to have hot cross buns with the old codgers. They are looking forward to Spring. Julia has been hatching plots and extracting help and equipment for the MENCAP garden. We heard the tractor running and watched the plough go up and down on the newly repaired hydraulics.

I didn’t take any pictures because I was feeling miserable and in pain. It was, I suspect, a combination of too much walking the night before, and the thought of returning to the farm.

Whatever it was, a couple of hours later I was feeling much perkier and navigating my way round a bookshop. I have a new Janet Evanovich whodunit to read and a book about Great War tanks. I’m being very careful about book buying these days, as I’m still giving bags of them to charity, and I want to make sure I’m giving more away than I buy.

Finally, we met up for a family meal as my uncle and two of my cousins were down in Peterborough visiting my Dad. It was a convivial party, ending with the male faction taking on the pudding menu as the female contingent looked on and thought virtuous thoughts.

Uncle Tom tried the Gin and Tonic trifle and the rest of us stuck to apple crumbles. The apple crumble was excellent. The trifle, we were told, picked up towards the bottom half. That would be the half with the gin-soaked sponge…

Belfast, Salad and Blogging

We went out to lunch at Harvester today. It’s not fine dining, but the Early Bird menu offers a good plateful for £6.99 and you get unlimited access to the salad bar. Believe it or not, it was the salad we went for. We’ve been a bit light on veg lately and I want my bowels in top condition for Thursday. From Wednesday I’ll be making notes, as nurses seem fascinated by my inner doings and ask some fairly detailed questions about bowels.

I would hate to be detained in hospital due to lack of fibre.

We are calling it a research trip, because we were looking at Julia’s bus route options for her new job.

I’m now going to moan.

There was a young woman in our section who completely destroyed the ambience.

She was loud, so it was difficult to hold our own conversation.

She was dull.

She’s a student.

When her companion occasionally tried an answer she didn’t listen.

She has trouble parking her car during international cricket matches (she must live near Trent Bridge);

She thinks, due to a list of ailments she’s suffered over the year, that her immune system has been compromised by the flat she lives in. Whatever she’s had has not affected her lungs.

She is going to New York to celebrate finishing her finals.

Her mother has already bought four outfits trying to find one that is just right for her daughter’s graduation.

She hasn’t even finished her finals yet, but she’s clearly confident of passing.

When she returned to the room after multiple trips to the salad bar she started talking (or shouting) while she was still yards away from the table.

Worst of all, she had a Belfast accent. (If you aren’t familiar with the Belfast accent, it’s abrasive and always reminds me of a chainsaw).

I was glad when she left.

She’s probably a lovely girl and clearly gets on well with her mother. I hope they have a good time at graduation.

But I never want to be in the same room as her again.

Do people have no sense of volume? Or do they just think we will all be interested in details of their banal life.

Ah, I suppose, when you think of it, I may just have described a blogger…