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"But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short” - Jane Austen (1775-1817) Sorry, but I won't be reading any reviews on batteries in the next two months as I just don't have enough energy :o)

Reviews written

since 20/09/2003


The Camel Trail, Padstow 01/10/2015

On yer bike!

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

Bull's Eye!

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 ...

Muchos Nachos, Chichester 02/08/2015

Fiesta or siesta?

Muchos Nachos, Chichester Muchos Nachos is a Mexican themed restaurant on the outskirts of Chichester. It had long been on my radar for trying some day but the visit was bumped up to the top of my list by a tempting email from Dealmonster. They were offering a £30 voucher to spend at Muchos Nachos for just a £15 outlay. It was a no-brainer, we were going - “Buenos Dias Muchos Nachos”. At work my colleagues and I often compare notes on which daily deals we’ve just purchased - be in from Groupon, Dealmonster, Spirit FM or TravelZoo. When I mentioned I’d bought the Muchos Nachos deal two of my colleagues pulled a face and said words to the effect of “rather you than me”. It transpired that Muchos Nachos had been subjected to a Food Hygiene visit in November 2014 and received an abysmal score of 1 out of 5. This was news to me…and not of the good variety. Businesses that are given ratings of 0 or 1 are required to make major improvements to their hygiene standards and the EHO has the right to enforce certain measures to make things right. Oh dear, things weren’t looking so rosy in the cantina right now :o( I decided not to share this snippet with my partner before we ate there as he’s prone to getting an upset stomach at the best of times and if I shared what I knew he’d no doubt “talk” himself into being ill afterwards! I did, however, approach dining there with more than a degree of trepidation. However I did reason that if they’d been caught napping six months ago they were bound to have improved ...

The Grove Inn, Petworth 15/07/2015

A Room with a View

Ivy House, St Merryn 02/07/2015

A Cornish cornucopia

The Blue Bell Inn, Emsworth 28/06/2015

No bells and whistles here

Pinocchio Restaurant, Christchurch, Dorset 26/06/2015

No strings attached

Pinocchio Restaurant, Christchurch, Dorset During a recent stay in Dorset we had arranged to meet up in Christchurch with my parents for a Sunday night dinner. We were staying in Bournemouth and their hotel was in Barton-on-Sea, so Christchurch seemed like a good halfway point to meet up. We left our cars in the pay and display car park outside Waitrose and decided to walk up Christchurch High Street to find somewhere decent to eat. Although it was a Sunday evening, there were still plenty of restaurants and pubs open and it didn’t take us long to decide on a venue. I was the first to walk by Pinocchio’s Restaurant - not stopping to even look at their menu as I automatically discounted it thinking it the place looked terribly dated. I headed instead for the trendier looking Soho and Lock & Quay Bistro as they looked rather more upmarket. However everyone else in the group did stop and look at the menu outside Pinocchio’s and they were all agreed that it sounded rather good. My trendy alternatives were overruled and it was decided - we were all eating Italian tonight. THE VENUE From the outside Pinocchio’s does look a little garish and old-fashioned. It has a large tri-coloured awning in green, white and red with a matching sign also emblazoned in the Italian national colours and completed with a cartoon image of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. It certainly doesn’t look all that classy which is why I just walked on by. However, if the others in my party had been as hasty as I was in bypassing it then we would all ...

The Grey Stag, Sidlesham 16/05/2015

Just the One Shade of Grey

The Grey Stag, Sidlesham The Anchor in Sidlesham used to be a bit of a dive so I’d never been there. However, it was recently sold, refurbished and rechristened “The Grey Stag”. We started to hear whispers that the refurbishment had vastly improved the place and it was now less of a hovel and definitely worth a visit. Therefore when it suddenly appeared as one of the daily Groupon deals for Portsmouth I had no hesitation in snapping one up. The deal offered a three-course meal for two at a bargain price of £28.00. The deal was further sweetened by being eligible for a further 20% discount from Groupon themselves so I ended up paying £22.40 in total. You can’t really go wrong at £22 for dinner for two so I was keen to give them a whirl. THE VENUE Having never been to this pub in its previous incarnation as “The Anchor”, I had nothing to compare it to in terms of the refurbishment. However, I’m pleased to report that the remodelled and newly decorated Grey Stag is very nice indeed. I couldn’t believe how big the place was. As it fronts right onto a main road you don’t really get much sense of how big the building is from the outside. However, inside it’s a veritable tardis. The bar area is wide and spacious with a lovely huge period fireplace to one side. In front of the fireplace are a couple of comfy looking sofas and a table with loads of magazines to leaf through. It really does look like the sort of place where you could kick back and take the weight off with a drink, coffee ...

Arundel Castle Gardens, Arundel 02/05/2015

Tiptoe through the tulips

Arundel Castle Gardens, Arundel I absolutely love tulips - they’re by far my most favourite flower. They’re colourful yet oh-so-very-elegant and their arrival each year always heralds the beginning of spring, warmer weather and lighter evenings. Added to which whenever I buy a bunch they never need to be arranged in a vase - they organise themselves and always look magnificent. I’m not alone in loving them - tulips have enchanted us ever since they first appeared in Europe in the early 17th century. “Tulip mania” quickly ensued - particularly in Holland where bulbs started being traded for many thousands of pounds. Fortunes were made and then very quickly lost when the tulip market spectacularly crashed in a modern day “Black Friday” leaving many bankrupt. Luckily tulips are a lot more reasonably priced nowadays, and love them we do. They’re such happy, cheerful flowers with their colourful petals ranging from snow white to pale yellow, vibrant orange, pale pink, deep red or a highly prized purpley black “Queen of the Night” variety. I’ve not yet made it over the pond to see the Dutch bulb fields but when I found out there was a Tulip Festival being held in the gardens at Arundel Castle I was most keen to visit. Arundel is a small town situated in the heart of the South Downs in West Sussex. I know Arundel Castle very well as my grandfather and grandmother actually lived there in the late 60’s and early 70’s and I spent much of my childhood there exploring the grounds and castle. My mum and dad were ...

The Old Stables, Fontwell, West Sussex 03/04/2015

How about renaming it "The Old Shambles"?

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