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Just when I thought I knew my A,B,C's Ciao come up with a 27th letter. Is it just me or can anyone else work out what letter is supposed to feature in their video?

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since 20/09/2003


Wildwood Restaurant, Chichester 04/02/2016

A Walk on the Wild Side

Wildwood Restaurant, Chichester Wildwood in Chichester is part of a small chain of Italian themed restaurants. It’s housed in a period looking building which used to be home to Café Rouge. Café Rouge closed down sometime last year as it just couldn’t handle the competition from Cote Brasserie just up the road and Brasserie Blanc over the other side of town, both of whom offer a better French accented dining experience which is miles more authentic and tastier Café Rouge ever knew how to be. Café Rouge’s downfall was Wildwood’s gain and they snapped up the site and set about removing anything French and replacing it with all that is Italian. I was given a £40 gift voucher to spend at Wildwood as a birthday present from my colleagues at work and I booked a table for two for a Monday evening in January. Wildwood were offering a 50% discount off any food items on their menu for any Monday night in January so it made sense to book the table when we’d get maximum value out of my vouchers. ~~~ THE VENUE ~~~ Wildwood can be found right in the bottom of South Street in Chichester and has a Zizzi to one side of it and a Slug and Lettuce opposite. South Street is home to many different restaurants and it’s become the street to head for if you’re looking for lunch and dinner in town. At last count South Street has at least 6 independent coffee shops and at least ...

The Jolly Sailors, Brancaster Staithe 24/01/2016

Not such a jolly good show from the sailors

The Jolly Sailors, Brancaster Staithe During a recent break to Norfolk we stayed in the small village of Brancaster Staithe which is about 25 miles from the better known town of King’s Lynn. We were lucky enough to have two pubs within walking distance of our holiday rental cottage and on the second night of our holiday we decided to make a visit to the Jolly Sailors. Although the Jolly Sailors was a comfortable ten minute walk from us, the village of Brancaster Staithe has no street lighting at all at night and we’d forgotten to take a torch with us on our trip. Therefore we elected to drive there rather than risk fumbling around in the dark trying to find our bearings. The Jolly Sailors is right beside the main road A149 coast road which runs between Hunstanton and Wells-next-the Sea. The pub has a large car park to the side. THE PUB The Jolly Sailors is a traditional 18th century free house pub with its very own brewery next door. The pub is painted in a rather jaunty white and nautical blue theme and from a distance it looks rather eye-catching. However up close the paintwork looks a little tired and the pub appears a little bit tatty and unkempt. Inside the pub is very definition of “spit and sawdust” as I wouldn’t imagine it looks very much different to how it appeared some 25, 50 or even 100 years ago. The furniture is all very well lived in and the chairs area mish-mash of several different styles and sets. However, sometimes it’s nice to find a genuine old fashioned boozer that ...

The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe 07/01/2016

Nice nosh in Norfolk

The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe We recently enjoyed a short break in Norfolk, staying in the small village of Brancaster Staithe, which is right beside the sea. As per usual we rented pet friendly self-catering accommodation and took our dog with us. We found ourselves checking into a small but delightfully refurbished period cottage which made a lovely base for walks beside the sea. We were also lucky enough to have not one but two pubs within walking distance of our cottage, and on our first night in our temporary new home we decided to walk to the nearest one for dinner. The White Horse is located on the main road which runs through the village of Brancaster Staithe and is midway between Hunstanton and Wells-next-the Sea on the A149 coast road. The pub has a large car park to the side of it and appears to be very popular with both locals and tourists. THE VENUE The first thing we noticed about the White Horse was the sheer size of it. This really is a rather large pub. There’s a spacious bar and dining area at the front, a massive glass fronted restaurant at the side and back, a huge outdoor seating area and 15 ensuite rooms as well. At the entrance to the pub is the Locals Bar which was well lit and welcoming. The room is dominated by a large bar with every conceivable alcoholic beverage you could ever dream of. Stocktaking there must take forever! Dotted around the bar are loads of scrubbed pine tables where you are welcome to either eat or drink. ...

The Jubilee Inn, Pelynt 20/12/2015

Nothing much to celebrate here

The Jubilee Inn, Pelynt We were rather isolated from civilization when we holidayed in South Cornwall in September this year. As we were staying in self-catering accommodation and there was no on-site shop, a supermarket was rather essential. Unfortunately the nearest big store was a Morrisons some 12+ miles from our holiday let which meant popping out for some milk involved a 25 mile round trip. Luckily we discovered there was a mini mart in the village of Pelynt some 4 miles from our accommodation, so getting that forgotten pint of milk wasn’t such a bind. Whilst driving to the shop we spotted a pub on the brow of the hill as you enter Pelynt. The Jubilee Inn looked rather nice from the outside so we decided to pop back for a drink later that evening and take the opportunity to case the joint and peruse their menu for a potential dinner one night. We popped in for that drink but didn’t stay long as the welcome was rather luke-warm and the bar man was far too busy to chat. The menu looked reasonable enough though, so we decided to go back the following night for dinner. We hoped our second visit might prove more welcoming…. and we’d have the opportunity to find out how the blue blazes one pronounces “Pelynt” before we made a terrible faux pas and were drummed out of the village or burned at the stake. ~*~ THE PUB ~*~ The Jubilee Inn is at the top of the brow of the hill as you enter the village of Pelynt if you’re ...

The Crate and Apple, Chichester 01/12/2015

Crate Expectations

The Crate and Apple, Chichester The building housing the Crate and Apple has somewhat of a chequered past and its changed hands a few times in the last five years or so. Originally a rather grotty student infested pub called “The Swan”, it was transformed into rather stylish bar-cum-eaterie called No.12 in the late noughties. I had a rather nice meal at No.12 in 2011 courtesy of Groupon and I reviewed the venue on Ciao. Sadly No.12 went out of business and closed down, and the building was then rechristened Vintage and that too traded for a couple of years before closing in earlier this year. It’s now reopened as the Crate and Apple - its third guise in less than five years. I really do hope the new occupants have more success than their two predecessors and that this latest reincarnation as the Crate and Apple lasts longer than both No.12 and Vintage did. One does wonder if the building is slightly cursed….. The new occupants of the building had a very successful café / restaurant in a lovely rural setting called Wellies (which I reviewed on Ciao in 2013). Having sold Wellies they’ve now moved into Chichester and opened up the Crate and Apple. Wellies was renowned locally as being rather good but somewhat cut off from civilization due to its rural setting. One could only hope that the success of Wellies would work just as well in a city centre pub. The Crate and Apple opened in June this year and my work colleagues and I booked a table for dinner in August. Sadly we had to postpone due to business ...

The Old Sail Loft, Looe 22/11/2015

Come sail away with me

The Old Sail Loft, Looe We only ate out three times during our last holiday in Cornwall as the house we rented had such a good kitchen and comfy lounge that eating in was no hardship at all. Our first two meals out in this part of the world were both rather unimpressive, so we were hoping it was going to be a case of third time lucky with our trip into Looe. Looe was one of the nearest towns to where we were staying, but we didn’t bother to visit it until halfway through our holiday as the place was mobbed when we drove through it upon arrival. We hadn’t realised when we’d booked our holiday that Looe was playing host to the Looe Music Festival on the weekend we arrived and the place was covered in various marquees, stages and accompanying hordes. Once the festival wrapped up and the marquees had been dismantled we popped into Looe during the day to find somewhere suitable to eat that evening. We were rather gobsmacked to find not one but two eateries, the Ancient Mariner Bistro and Papa Nino, both with tatty signs outside saying “cash only - no cards or cheques accepted”. We don’t carry that much cash with us ever, so that ruled them out. Maybe it was a policy put in place just for the Looe Music Festival as they’d been ripped off in past, but the festival had finished and signs remained in situ. This must be rather off-putting for many potential diners and not just us. Methinks they’re rather shooting themselves in the proverbial here as what sort of halfway decent establishment doesn’t accept ...

36 On The Quay (Emsworth, Hampshire) 11/11/2015

Quaffing on the Quay

36 On The Quay (Emsworth, Hampshire) 36 on the Quay is a bit of an institution in my area due to its Michelin star. It’s as renowned for its quirky cuisine and horrendously expensive prices as it is for its Michelin accolade, but it was well out of my budget. However, last year saw 36 on the Quay losing that Michelin star (which they’d held since 1997), and they’ve obviously gone back to the drawing board and had a long and hard think about their venue and their menu. The prices are still fairly expensive, but the place didn’t seem to be as “up themselves” as it used to be. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I spotted 36 on the Quay as one of daily Groupon deals in my inbox though. It really was a case of how the mighty have fallen! That said, for a Groupon deal it was still rather pricey and I hesitated before I dived in to get me one. I then kept quiet about my purchase for several weeks as I knew my partner might not be so keen to dine there as he’s not fond the sort of nouvelle cuisine type portions and general one upmanship these type of restaurants usually serve up. However, with my birthday approaching I informed him I’d booked a table at 36 on the Quay to celebrate and he therefore had no option but to go along with my decision. The persuasion was further sweetened by the fact that the Groupon deal may have cost us £82 but at full price it would have been £150. ~*~*~ 36 ON THE QUAY ~*~*~ 36 on the Quay is, ...

The Buccaneer, Polperro 01/11/2015

Avast Ye!

The Buccaneer, Polperro The last couple of years have seen me holidaying in either Devon or Cornwall as they’re both counties I love to visit. The whole region is remarkably pretty, they have some stunning coast and there’s always plenty to see and do. In the process of conducting various online searches looking for different places to stay, I came across the village of Polperro and immediately wanted to visit it. Polperro is a very pretty village in south Cornwall about 20 or so miles west of Plymouth. The entire village is built around a steep cliff ravine with pretty pastel coloured fisherman’s cottages clinging precariously to the rocks. Although remarkably picturesque, the streets are very narrow, some little wider than a footpath. This means it’s almost impossible to get to using a car, and the whole village is closed to traffic during the daytime from the April to September. Thus the village remains largely traffic free and you can wander through the narrow streets unmolested. As I fell in love with the place online, renting a cottage in Polperro itself seemed like a great idea…until we did our research and discovered that 9 times out of 10 the cottages are very small, lack gardens and more importantly have no parking or vehicular access whatsoever. Your only option is to leave your car in a pay and display car park at the entrance to the village and buy a parking permit for the week at £8 per day. As the property rental prices in Polperro are very high due to its popularity, buying a ...

The Bay, Talland 20/10/2015

Sitting on the dock of the Bay

The Bay, Talland We had such a lovely holiday in Cornwall in June this year we decided to take another week long break down there in the late summer. As we’d been to North Cornwall last time we decided we’d check out South Cornwall this time around. We waited until the schools had gone back as we didn’t want to pay stupid prices. However, due to work commitments and lack of availability on the sort of accommodation we wanted we couldn’t find anywhere free until the third week of September. This was rather later than we wanted to go as the weather can be a bit iffy and the nights start to draw in. With a degree of trepidation we booked anyway and then prayed for good weather. Our criteria this time around was a dog friendly property in South Cornwall with at least two bedrooms, an enclosed garden and it needed to be near to the sea. To be honest by the time we came around to conducting our search there wasn’t a good deal of choice available. One place that did keep coming up in our searches was the Bay at Talland with a choice of several different properties. We initially discounted it as the grounds there are communal and there are no individual enclosed gardens. We had visions of our dog running amok into neighbouring properties when we let her out for a wee or more. However, in the event of finding no other properties that appealed we kept going back to the Bay at Talland and wondering if we could make it work for us. Maybe we could take the dog out on lead for a wee so she had no chance ...

Bolney Wine Estate, Bolney 10/10/2015

In vino veritas

Bolney Wine Estate, Bolney There are two types of people in this world - people you want to drink with and people who make you want to drink To celebrate my father’s birthday I suggested a visit to a local vineyard for a tour and a wine tasting. I gave my parents three local vineyards to choose from - Denbies near Dorking, Tinwood near Chichester or Bolney Wine Estate near Haywards Heath. The decision was made for us all when our daily email arrived from Groupon offering us a cut price visit to Bolney Wine Estate. The deal here was for a tour of the vineyard, a tasting of four different wines and a light lunch or afternoon tea for just £7.50 per person. This was indeed an excellent deal as an “Afternoon Tea Tour” at this vineyard normally retails at £34.50 per person. Once the Groupon voucher arrived we were directed to the Bolney Wine Estate website to book our tour direct. We signed up to do our tour for a Wednesday morning in early September. Although their website was very user friendly and easy to use I was slightly perturbed that we didn’t get any email confirmation of our booking by return. I hoped we’d perhaps get an email reminding us of our booking a few days before the event, but that never materialised either. It was, therefore, with a degree of trepidation that we presented ourselves at 11am one sunny September morning to start our tour. We need not have worried as they did have our reservation after all and the tour got underway as soon as all the other participants arrived. ...

The Camel Trail, Padstow 01/10/2015

On yer bike!

The Camel Trail, Padstow Before we went on holiday to North Cornwall in June this year several people recommended that we visit the Camel Trail. Neither of us had heard of this rather a rather mysterious sounding trail and we wondered what on earth it was. To me it sounded faintly middle eastern, almost like a route used by spice traders to transport their cargo across the dessert before the invention of the 4 by 4. Of course it turned out to be nothing of the sort, and it is in fact a biking trail with not a beast of burden in sight. The “Camel” in its title is for the River Camel along whose banks the cycle trail wends its way. When I discovered that the trail was 18 miles long I was rather loathe to go along with my partner’s plans of an all day cycle trip. My idea of a fun day out is a short walk followed by lots of sitting down and relaxing afterwards. The thought of a 36 mile return trip really did not appeal and I feared for the state of my health afterwards. However I was assured we would not be undertaking the full route - just a section of it - so I was slightly mollified….until I discovered that my partner intended to bring the dog along for the ride and his concern was more for her not being able to undertake such a long trip rather than me :o) WHAT IS THE CAMEL TRAIL? The Camel Trail is an 18 mile cycle way which follows the disused railway line once used by the London and South West Railway. The trail was first opened in 2001 and is run and managed by the Camel Trail ...

The Bull's Head, Goring 16/09/2015

Bull's Eye!

The Bull's Head, Goring “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull” W.C. Fields With my father’s 76th birthday approaching we had the usual dilemma of not only what to buy him, but also how to celebrate the occasion. As it wasn’t a milestone birthday, we didn’t really need to push the boat out and find anywhere too expensive or exclusive. To this end my brother and his wife suggested a pub called the Bull’s Head in Goring-by-Sea near Worthing in West Sussex. They’d had several good meals there recently and thought it would be an ideal venue to meet at. We weren’t all that keen as it meant a 45 minute car journey from Chichester for us but decided to go with the flow on this occasion. Our hesitation was further compounded by learning that the Bull’s Head is part of the Chef and Brewer range. Neither of us is a massive fan of chain restaurants, and pub chains come even further down our list of preferred eateries. The food is inevitably distinctly average and often tasteless. Following our last disastrous visit to a chain pub (The Old Stables in Fontwell which is part of the Vintage Inns chain) to celebrate my mother’s 76th birthday, we didn’t hold out much hope that the Chef and Brewer chain would be any better. Were we going to be pleasantly surprised or in “told you so” mode? ~~~ TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS ~~~ We programmed the postcode of the Bull’s Head into our sat nav before we set off from Chichester and also allowed an hour for the ...

The Farmer's Arms, St Merryn 01/09/2015

The cream of the crop? Not so much...

The Farmer's Arms, St Merryn It was a long five hour drive from West Sussex down to Cornwall so we were both rather tired on the first night of our holiday. We just wanted to unpack, get our bearings, and have a quick dinner and an early night. We were staying in a bungalow overlooking Constantine Bay but it was only a quick five minute drive to the nearest village of St Merryn. For such a tiny village St Merryn has a good range of eating options, but on our first night we just wanted cheap and cheerful. To this end we headed to one of two pubs in the village, the Farmer’s Arms. The other pub in the village, the Cornish Arms, is owned by Rick Stein, so we thought we’d save that for another night as it was bound to be a fair bit pricier and no doubt required a bit more of a spruce up dress wise….something neither of us could be bothered with at this stage of our arrival in the area. We didn’t want posh - we just wanted a quick meal and home to bed. ~*~ THE PUB ~*~ The Farmer’s Arms is right on the side of the main road which runs through the village of St Merryn. The pub is housed in a white painted period building and as it’s a rather big you’ve got no chance at all of missing it. They’ve tried to prettify up the outside of the building with lots of window boxes and hanging baskets festooned with flowers and it does make it look rather charming. Inside, however, it’s very gloomy and dark. It has one of those multi-coloured carpets that time forgot - very forgiving on stains but not ... 19/08/2015

Going coastal in Cornwall We didn’t get away at all last year due to the sudden collapse and subsequent hospitalisation of my mother-in-law late last summer. Despite being treated at five separate hospitals over a nine month period they could do nothing and she finally passed away in May this year. As you can imagine after endless months of hospital visits, general trauma and stress my partner was in desperate need of a break in order to recuperate as well as grieve. We decided we’d head for either Devon or Cornwall to be beside the sea. We wanted a self catering holiday let which accepted pets as we rarely holiday without our Golden Retriever on board. In addition we also wanted some kind of garden so we could sit out and enjoy any sunshine and also let the dog roam free. Towards the bottom of our wish-list we required a wi-fi connection and some form of parking too. As we are old veterans of this process we knew our quest to find the sort of property we wanted would be neither quick nor simple. And so our search began. We trawled through all the usual suspects like Hoseasons, Sykes Holiday Cottages, Toad Hall Cottages and Cottages4You, all to no avail. If they had a sea view then the garden was missing, or they had no parking, or the place backed onto a sewage plant. Yes - we looked at our chosen few on Google Earth as you tend to get the unvarnished view - warts and all! Worst of all was the search facility on so many sites and their poor definition of a coastal location. You cannot imagine how ...

Rafferty’s Café & Wine Bar, St Merryn 09/08/2015

Tapas and Treats

Raffertyâs Café & Wine Bar, St Merryn Before booking our recent holiday in Cornwall we did our usual task of looking on Trip Advisor to see how many dining options there were in the village we were proposing to stay near. There’s nothing worse for us than going to holiday and having to eat in the same boring village pub for a week or having to travel miles to the nearest town for an indifferent curry. We didn’t hold out much hope of variation as St Merryn in Cornwall is only tiny. However, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that it had over 15 different places to eat at. Even allowing for the removal of tea rooms and the duplicate and triplicate listings of the same venue for which Trip Advisor is notorious, we were left with a good range of both restaurants and pubs to choose from. Rafferty’s Café and Wine Bar came listed as the fourth or fifth best place to eat at in St Merryn so it made our list of provisional places to try during our week’s stay in the area. Rafferty’s fronts onto the main road which runs straight through the village of St Merryn and it opens seven nights a week. It describes itself as a Café and Wine Bar but there is no way this place is like any definition of “café” I’ve come across before. Firstly they are only open in the evening and café implies all day catering from breakfast to lunch and maybe afternoon tea. Secondly the prices they charge are those of a restaurant rather than a café as Rafferty’s was by far the most expensive dinner of our week away in ...
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