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Katieshaz

Katieshaz

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Thank you for your r/r/c. I mainly write reviews about travel and eating out and I love driving my classic Mini.

Reviews written

since 01/11/2002

121

The Olive Branch, Aberystwyth 02/05/2012

Olive Branch in Aber

The Olive Branch, Aberystwyth My fiancé and I ate at the Olive Branch on a recent visit to Aberystwyth. It’s a yellow end terrace building almost opposite the pier. It’s friendly and relaxed, you won’t need to dress up for dinner. It’s a coffee shop during the day also does a delivery service. The Olive Branch is closed on Mondays but open every other day. We visited on a quiet Sunday at 7pm in April. There were only 2 other tables occupied during our visit so the atmosphere wasn’t exactly buzzing. The perfect sea view as the sun set made up for this though, our window table was reserved. What I also liked it that this taverna isn’t like a plastic chain eatery, inside is all wooden floors, panelling and tables and chairs and it feels very unique and individual. There were 2 waiters on duty, one a friendly older man and a younger, less friendly but polite waiter. The service was casual, not at all over-bearing and we were left to our own devices which was nice. There was Greek music playing quietly in the background and it felt very safe and homely in here. The menu is quite extensive. The boyfriend chose Sautéed Courgettes to start, (£4.20) which was served with garlic mayo. He said they were really yummy and the portion was certainly large enough. I had lountza with halloumi cheese (£6.10) which was basically a slice of grilled pork fillet with grilled cheese. It was nice enough but quite plain, I would choose something else next time. The starters are mainly vegetable dishes with some sardines and other ...

Richmond Hotel, Aberystwyth 24/04/2012

Traditional seaside hotel in Aber

Richmond Hotel, Aberystwyth I stayed at the Richmond in Aberystwyth in April 2012. It was my boyfriend’s university town and I had visited and liked it. It was also where he proposed to me (not the hotel, but at the hill at the top of the Cliff Railway, review to follow). I said yes! We booked a double room on the website which was £85 per night for 2 nights and included breakfast. We chose the Richmond because it seemed like a decent, solid 3 star hotels with good reviews on Trip Advisor. It was also on the sea front and we requested a sea view. The other bonus was free car parking around the back of the building. The hotel is quite easy to find, Aber is not a big place but has a one way traffic system in parts. Check in is from 2pm and we arrived around that time. The car park was already busy but our little classic Mini fitted into a space easily. If the car park is full there are many streets around the hotel so you should be able to park. From the rear of the hotel you access it via a few steps-customers with disabilities beware-there are no lifts inside the hotel either. My first feeling was that the hotel had a lovely fresh smell; it was not stale or musty like some places. The outside is not very glamorous, just a white and blue exterior. Inside it feels like a typical seaside resort hotel. The lady on reception was very pleasant and friendly and checked us in no problem. She also asked us if we wanted any help with our bags. We didn’t but it was polite to offer-not that I expected anybody ...

Little Chef - Little Chef 29/01/2012

Worth going to the Little Chef for a bacon butty.

Jamie's Italian, Cheltenham 16/11/2011

Average chain restaurant!

Jamie's Italian, Cheltenham Jamie's Italian is a restaurant in a Cheltenham run as part of Jamie Oliver's chain. There was a group of 10 of us on this occasion and we were celebrating my best friend's hen party! I had heard mixed reviews in the past about this chain so I wasn't entirely sure about it. The restaurant is in an old courthouse. I only found this out afterwards as the whole place was quite dimly lit. The building itself is quite nice and authentic Regency styled. We were to be dining on the second floor and this involves a narrow and twisting staircase, not the best after a few cocktails! There is also a dining area on the ground floor. The loos are down yet another staircase in the basement. I presume there must have been disabled loos easy accessible somewhere but I didn't see any. Our group of 10 was sat upstairs in a little room at the front away from the large, crowded main room which was also very noisy. Our waiter seemed friendly and quite knowledgeable about the food and drinks but quite busy and a bit distracted. We ordered cocktails first which took about 15-20 minutes to arrive and the waiter didn't come back for around 15 minutes to take our food orders. The waiting staff use hand-held computers to take the orders. We didn't do starters but the range isn't really very varied. It mainly consists of squid, rice balls and filled mushrooms as well as a cured meats platter. The portions are apparently quite small anyway and if I am paying £5 for a starter I want something really ...

Clarence Court Hotel, Cheltenham 07/11/2011

Lovely private hotel in central Cheltenham

Clarence Court Hotel, Cheltenham I had to stay overnight in Cheltenham because of my friend's hen party. It was either renting a room or sharing a tiny flat with 7 people for a night! I also wanted someone to park my car as parking in Cheltenham centre is somewhat limited. I shopped around a bit to find a decent place to stay. There were a couple of 3 star hotels with some very poor reviews and limited car parking. Then I found the Clarence Court Hotel which is rated 4 stars and had mostly very positive reviews and free car parking. I did mean to take some photos for this review but forgot! If you have read my other reviews you may have noted that I stay in a lot of chain hotels of varying types so it was a (pleasant) change to stay somewhere privately owned. I booked via Hotels.com and got a single en-suite and breakfast included for £50. There is also online booking available on the hotel's own website. Double rooms and suites vary in price from £80 to £150. The location is perfect, a 5 to 10 minute walk away from the centre and in a quiet leafy residential street. Clarence Court is a Regency style building and apparently once owned by the Duke of Wellington. My first impressions, once I had found the hotel were positive. I arrived at 3pm on a Saturday and the small car park which is pretty tight was almost full. Luckily I drive a classic Mini so squeezed in easily. This is the second time now I have stayed at a hotel and have been the only car to fit into the last remaining space! Between 9 and 5pm, ...

Rover Mini 1.3 03/11/2011

I love my Mini!

Rover Mini 1.3 I love my Mini. I never thought I would love a car but in this review I will explain why! I've only just passed my driving test at the grand old age of 25 and my boyfriend's car is an old Mini-she is a Mini 35, built in 1994 and has 1.3/1275cc engine whatever that means! She is 'Pearlescent Nevada Red.' We got me insured on the very same day I passed my test and I nervously learnt to drive her... I'm not going to drone on about the full history of the Mini but will touch on it briefly. In 1956 during the Suez Crisis petrol prices rocketed. A more fuel economic car was needed. Thus the Mini was born. The first Mini was sold in 1959 and made by BMC which then became Rover. That's another thing I like about the Mini-it's a proper British car. Over the years many different types have been made, again, I'm not going to go into detail as you can Google that yourself! Anyway, production ended in the year 2000. There are new 'MINI'S' but these are made by BMW and not really Mini's at all! My mum has one, they are lovely cars though but I'll stick with mine! Where to buy one and how much will it cost me I can hear you ask? Just have a look on the internet, they aren't as cheap as I thought-£1400-£5000 for one like mine! 1000 were made, I looked on the internet and found that less than 400 Mini 35's are left on the road in 2011. Ours was very kindly lent to us by my boyfriend's grandparents. Granddad used to work for Rover and various cousins have Mini's too. The boyfriend had a ...

Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh 03/11/2011

Yet another haunted hotel stay...

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts 15/10/2011

The best doughnuts in the world!

patisserie-valerie 22/09/2011

More than just a cake shop

patisserie-valerie I discovered Patisserie Valerie a few years ago. The cafés that I go to most frequently are in Bristol where they have three branches, one at Cabot Circus, one at the Mall at Cribbs Causeway and the third in Clifton. About Patisserie Valerie: I had no idea about the history of the brand until I visited their website. It all started back in 1926 when a French lady, funilly enough called Madame Valerie, opened a patisserie in Soho, London. The website isn't very clear about what happened between that and the 1980's when the Scalzo brothers acquired the brand. In 2007 they merged with Druckers Viennese Patisserie although I believe the brands are run separately. There are now over 30 cafés and they have several new store openings in the pipeline. First impressions: All the stores seem to have the same glass frontage with 'Patisserie Valerie' and 'Established 1926' written prominently. Every café has the black and white tiled floor, small round or square tables with a few leather booths and the huge glass displays featuring cakes and ice-cream. I would say that the cafés don't look particularly classy, I can't quite put my finger on what it is though. I have always been quickly shown to a table and the cafés are almost always busy. The cakes: One may think at first that all they sell are cakes-indeed you may pick out cakes to take home with you from the glass cabinet. there is no need to sit at a table and eat them in. The cakes are pretty tasty and range from éclairs to ...

Ss Great Britain Maritime Heritage Centre, Bristol 07/09/2011

Bristol's Best Tourist Attraction

Wookey Hole 06/09/2011

An expensive day out for a nice piece of cheese

Eurostar 10/08/2011

Standard Premier Class on Eurostar

Eurostar If you have read my recent review on the Paris hotel Chambellan Morgane you will know that the boyfriend and I have been on a short city break to Paris via La Eurostar. I had never been on the Eurostar before but our deal via the Guardian Travel website came with 'Standard Premier' return tickets. My parents had travelled with the old class 'Leisure Select' before it was replaced with the new class. There are are lot of unhappy comments on the internet from regular customers as apparently Leisure Select was cheaper but the on-board service included a hot meal and champagne which is not the case in Standard Premier. About Eurostar: I won't go into the whole history as you can read that on their website. Eurostar started services to Paris and Brussels from London Waterloo in 1994. They basically serve Paris, Lille and Brussels and you can connect there to other destinations via the European high speed train network, something they planned for the UK but this never materialised! Some services also call at Ebbsfleet or Ashford being going under the Channel Tunnel. Some services in France serve Disneyland Paris or Avignon but these seem to be summer time only train routes. Booking tickets: Tickets can be booked online and the prices do vary quite a bit. Return prices for Standard Class seem to start from around £79, Standard Premier starts from around £200 and for Business Premier you are looking at around £450. It's really not cheap but hopefully you will get a good deal via a ...

Hotel Chambellan Morgane, Paris 06/08/2011

Perfect Location in Paris

Hotel Chambellan Morgane, Paris We (boyfriend and I) booked a short city break to Paris through the Guardian Holidays website. We had the choice of a four star hotel with poor reviews or the Hotel Chambellan Morgane which is a three star hotel with much better reviews on the Trip Advisor website. We stayed for three nights and we had an excellent bargain and will be using Guardian Holidays again! Booking: You can book online through the hotel but the prices are typically Parisian-you are looking at 260 Euros per night for a standard room so you would be advised to shop around for a cheaper rate. Location: This is the main selling point of the hotel as it's five minutes walk from the the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe as well as several Metro stations. The hotel is on a quiet side street near the closed Libyan Consulate. First Impressions: The Hotel Chambellan Morgane is very small with only 20 bedrooms and looks tiny from the outside. The street is very quiet and clean. There are some steps up into the small reception area and we were greeted by a very friendly and helpful receptionist and checked in even though it was only 1pm, some hotels do not allow one to check in before 3pm. Internal impressions: The one and only lift is minuscule and we just squeezed in with our luggage. I imagine this would be quite inconvenient if all 20 rooms had been booked and occupied and the hotel was busy. It is very dark inside and quite cramped along the corridors as the building itself is narrow. ...

Giraffe Restaurants 25/07/2011

Eat with a Giraffe!

Giraffe Restaurants I first discovered Giraffe at Terminal 5 in Arrivals. I used to be a flight attendant and after my commute into work I would often pop into Giraffe for a fresh fruit smoothie or panini-plus airport and airline staff get a discount there! Apparently the 'Juice and Coffee Bar' here (yes they do brilliant coffees too!) is a franchise of the main Giraffe chain. There is also a 'proper' Giraffe after Security. I'm not sure if the Juice & Coffee Bar is a one off just for T5 as I can't find references to any other ones anywhere else. Giraffe was formed in 1998 and is still owned and run by the original founders. I was surprised to read they have 43 restaurants now across the UK as I hadn't really seen them around before. My nearest Giraffe is in Cabot Circus shopping mall in Bristol. The location is really nice here as you can sit outside and people watch the crowd below. It is really relaxed and informal, lots of colours, comfy seats and world music playing in the background. The menu is really extensive and this is one of the few chain places where my boyfriend has a wide selection of vegetarian food to choose from. The breakfast and brunch menu includes muesli and porridge, personally I wouldn't go out to buy these! The 'full brunch' also has a veggie version and for £7.95 you get a nicely presented plate of your choice of egg dish, bacon, sausage, beans toast and wedges. I always seem to end up having this as I love cooked breakfasts and this one really fills me up. The main ...

The Fox Den, Bristol 12/06/2011

Nice pub-even if it is by a busy ring road!

The Fox Den, Bristol The Fox Den is one of our local pubs-we can drive there in 5 minutes or walk in about 30 mins. I've eaten here on several occasions. Location: The website likes you to think that it's a quaint country pub...er not quite! It's just off a busy roundabout with a Sainsburys superstore on one side and the other side is a small retail park and a huge Ministry of Defence site. The pub shares a car park with a little Holiday Inn Express hotel. There is a plenty of room to park. First impressions: It is a faux 'olde' country pub that looks nice but there is no disguising the fact that it has been built in the last 10 years! There is a small beer garden outside with wooden picnic tables. Inside: It's very dark inside and the fires are often burning and it is very cosy and warm. The furniture is dark oak and it almost feels like you could be in a rural village. The menu: The Menu is really extensive-apart from if you are vegetarian there is not much choice! The lunch menu has a few hot sandwiches served with chips and salad for less than £6. I always choose the brie and bacon melt and it's yummy. The main menu has a lot more choices-think typical pub grub-pies, fish and chips, steaks and burgers. At the moment the only veggie main seems to be roasted Mediterranean vegetable risotto which from a menu with about 20 mains seems very poor to me. There is a specials board which always has a least one veggie dish. My boyfriend is a vegetarian so we rarely go here together any more. There ...
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