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If it's taken me 12 years to reach 1 million community points, I rather think neither Ciao nor I will still be around in the 48 years I require to reach black dot status :o)

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since 20/09/2003


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

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 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

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