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Many thanks for the reads, rates and reviews. Very sorry to see the end of Ciao as we know it. Best wishes to all.

Reviews written

since 30/09/2015


Table Table Balkerne Gate, Colchester 29/11/2017


Table Table Balkerne Gate, Colchester <<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>> We were staying in Colchester at the end of June. Never keen on expensive hotel meals, we did a little internet research before our visit. Encouraged by email vouchers for a free main course and a pudding (of which more later), we checked to see if there was a Table Table restaurant nearby. Table Table Balkerne Gate Colchester fitted the bill. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> Address: Balkerne Gate Table Table Ipswich Road Colchester Essex CO4 9WP Telephone: 01206 852 932 Table Table Balkerne Gate, Colchester is located just south of the interchange between the A12 (heading north east to Ipswich) and the A120 (heading east to Harwich). It is 3.6 miles north east of Colchester town centre. To place it in a broader context, Table Table Balkerne Gate, Colchester is 43.3 miles north east of Southend-on-Sea, 73.7 miles east of Luton, 49.9 miles south east of Cambridge and 16.7 miles west of Harwich. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>> Table Table is a brand within the Whitbread PLC restaurant family. Whitbread traces its origins back to 1742, when Samuel Whitbread and his partners, Godfrey and Thomas Shewell, bought a brewery and a brewhouse in London. As the business expanded, first Godfrey and then Thomas Shewell were bought out by Samuel Whitbread. By the 1780s Whitbread owned the largest brewery in the world. In 1799, under the management of Whitbread’s son, also Samuel, the company became Whitbread & Co Ltd. By 1971, the output of ...

Holiday Inn, Colchester 16/11/2017


Holiday Inn, Colchester <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> We had a couple of days to spare before a flight out of Stansted in June, so we decided to extend the holiday by two nights and looked for a nearby hotel with leisure facilities. Holiday Inn Colchester ticked the boxes, located within reasonable distance of the airport (or so we thought), with a pool and gym and on the edge of a town with good eating choices. As prices were reasonable and, not being ones for a long drive home after a flight, we booked another night for the return journey in July; hence the two stays. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> Address: Holiday Inn Colchester, Abbotts Lane Eight Ash Green Colchester, Essex CO6 3QL Telephone: 44 1206 363400 Holiday Inn Colchester is located 4 miles west of the centre of Colchester, easily accessible less than 5 minutes from junction 26 of the A12. To put it in its broader context, the hotel is 22.5 miles west of Harwich, 38 miles north east of Southend-on-Sea, 79.1 miles east of Luton and 44.5 miles south of Bury St. Edmunds. More importantly for us, Stansted airport is 29.2 miles west of the hotel. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> After being disappointed with accommodation on a family road trip to Washington D.C., Kemmons Wilson decided to open his own motel. With the name ‘Holiday Inn’ (used as a joke by his architect, Eddie Bluestein, from the Christmas-themed film of the same name, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire) Wilson opened a hotel/motel in 1952 in Memphis. In ...

Brewsters, The Mulberry Tree, Braintree, Essex 30/10/2017


Brewsters, The Mulberry Tree, Braintree, Essex <<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>> We needed to stop somewhere for lunch on our way to Colchester in late June. I had received a voucher for a free main meal at Brewers Fayre, as it was my birthday. Brewers Fayre restaurants are in short supply near where we live, but I remembered stopping at The Mulberry Tree a few years ago after my daughter’s interview at Essex University. The chance of a free meal was too good to turn down. <<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>> Address: The Mulberry Tree Braintree By-pass, Braintree CM77 8GG Telephone: 01376 340914 The Mulberry Tree Brewers Fayre is conveniently located by the side of the east bound carriageway of the A120 (Hertfordshire to Harwich trunk road) next to a Premier Inn, 2.3 miles south east of the centre of Braintree. To place it in its broader geographical context, The Mulberry Tree is 15.5 miles west of Colchester, 13.6 miles north east of Chelmsford, 68.2 miles east of Luton and 44.3 miles south east of Cambridge. <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> The Brewers Fayre brand traces its genealogy back, through its parent company, Whitbread, to 1742. This was when Samuel Whitbread, with his partners Godfrey and Thomas Shewell bought a small brewery and a brewhouse in London. In 1750, Godfrey withdrew when the partners expanded the business, buying a larger site. Samuel Whitbread bought Thomas Shewell’s share of the business in 1761 and by the 1780s he was running the largest brewery in the world. ...

Holiday Inn Express Sant Cugat, Barcelona 21/10/2017


Holiday Inn Express Sant Cugat, Barcelona <<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> At quite short notice we decided to visit our niece, who was on a placement near Barcelona. So, in May we found ourselves researching reasonably priced hotels for a long weekend in June. Or, to be more accurate, I let my husband do the searching and just agreed to it at the end! Holiday Inn Express Sant Cugat Barcelona caught his eye because cost was reasonable, breakfast was included and it was a brand familiar to us. We later found out that it was on our niece’s train line to work, which was an added bonus . <<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> Address: Holiday Inn Express Barcelona-Sant Cugat, Avda Can Fatjo dels Aurons S/N, Parc Empresarial A7, Barcelona, Sant Cugat del Valles 08174, Spain. Telephone 34 93 5612500 Holiday Inn Express Sant Cugat Barcelona is located 26.9km north west of Barcelona, Catalonia, in the north east corner of Spain. To put it in a broader context, it is 296km east of Zaragoza, 177km south, slightly east of Andorra and 385km south, slightly east of Toulouse, France. The hotel is located on the Empresarial Business park by the A7 motorway for road access, or, as we found, a 5 minute walk from Sant Joan station on the S2 trainline out of Barcelona. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> (Please feel free to skip this section, although I am aware that it is of interest to some). The Holiday Inn Express brand is part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which traces its origins back to 1777 and the ...

Toby Carvery, Liverpool 12/10/2017


Toby Carvery, Liverpool . <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>> In June we spent a day in Liverpool before checking in to the Holiday Inn Express, John Lennon Airport early on a Friday evening. Realising that we would be in need of a meal, and reluctant to pay hotel prices, my husband had done some internet research and found that Toby Carvery, Liverpool Speke was located a handy 5 minute walk from the hotel. Google maps suggest 9 minutes (but we took a shortcut across the grass). <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> Address: 1 Longman Drive Speke Liverpool Merseyside UK L24 1XZ Telephone: 0151 486 8707 Toby Carvery, Liverpool Speke is set back a little on the south side of the A561, Speke Boulevard, which runs from Liverpool to Garston, largely parallel to the north bank of the River Mersey. To put it in a broader context, the restaurant is located 32 miles west, slightly south of Manchester, 23.7 miles (by road) north of Chester, 7.9 miles south east of Liverpool and 43 miles south, slightly west of Preston. It is accessed by car via Longman Drive. Dobbies garden centre is to the west of the carvery on the corner of Speke Boulevard and Speke Hall Avenue. The Holiday Inn Express John Lennon Airport was located adjacent to the garden centre on Speke Hall Avenue. It has recently become a Travelodge and, although open, is undergoing refurbishment until 11th December. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> (Please feel free to skip this section if it’s of no interest to you.) The Toby Carvery ...

Holiday Inn Bolton Centre, Bolton 14/09/2017


Holiday Inn Bolton Centre, Bolton <<<<<<>>>>>>> Having booked flights from Liverpool to Barcelona and a corresponding night near the airport in mid-June, we realised that, as my husband’s finished work lunchtime the day before, we could squeeze another night out of our short break. So we looked for reasonably priced places to stay between the Midlands and Liverpool. As luck would have it, Holiday Inn Bolton Centre appeared on a list of points breaks, so no money needed to change hands and we could cash in some IHG (InterContinental Hotel Group) points for our stay. That was the clincher and dispensed with all my southern husband’s reluctance to go to my old schooldays’ haunt of Bolton. We had stayed here over three years ago and, recalling the leisure facilities, I was looking forward to a dip in the basement pool. <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> Address: Holiday Inn Bolton Centre, 1 Higher Bridge Street, Bolton, BL1 2EW Telephone: 01204 879988 As the postcode and name suggest, Holiday Inn Bolton Centre is centrally located, a 7 minute walk from Bolton Town Hall and within 5 minutes of the shopping centre. To put it in its broader north western context, the hotel is 13.7 miles south and slightly east of Blackburn, 17.6 miles west of Rochdale, 12.6 miles north west of Manchester and 36.9 miles north east of Liverpool. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> (Please feel free to skip this section, although I am aware it's of interest to some.) I’m sure thoughts of opening a Holiday Inn in Bolton ...

The Spinning Mule, Bolton 07/09/2017


The Spinning Mule, Bolton THE SPINNING MULE, BOLTON. <<<<<<<<<<<<< WHY HERE?>>>>>>>>>>>>>> > Breaking a journey from the East Midlands to Liverpool and persuaded by a good offer for a night in a hotel, we found ourselves back in my old secondary school haunt of Bolton. From past experience, the delights of Bolton are wasted on my husband from the south, so our original plan was to find somewhere to eat enroute and not have to venture outside the hotel. But, as with many of our best laid plans, it didn’t quite work out due to a combination of roadworks, heavy traffic and the fact that reasonably priced eating places are not too easy to find by a motorway. Reluctant to divert to find somewhere, we ploughed on to Bolton, which I inauspiciously drove into in the midst of a deluge that was so heavy I was forced to pull over or risk a collision with something else. If I’m on an expenses budget then I’m happy enough to pay what I consider to be inflated prices for mediocre meals in hotels. but, if we’re picking up the tab, then that’s entirely another matter. Logging onto the hotel wi-fi via my smart phone (how did we ever cope in the dark pre-internet days?) I did a quick search for all the usual reasonably priced brands and found The Spinning Mule, Wetherspoons within easy walking distance of the hotel. I wouldn’t describe myself as a Wetherspoons ‘regular’ by any stretch, but in the past their offering of reasonably priced meals and the all-important drinks often in town/city centre locations have ...

Express By Holiday Inn John Lennon Airport, Liverpool 25/08/2017


Express By Holiday Inn John Lennon Airport, Liverpool (Please note no disrespect meant at all to John Lennon but I couldn't fit the full product name,Holiday Inn Express John Lennon Airport Liverpool, in my title.) <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> Having searched for cheap flights to visit our niece in Barcelona in mid June, my husband found that the best deal was to be had from John Lennon Airport Liverpool. As the flight was early in the morning, we looked for somewhere nearby to stay. Holiday Inn Express John Lennon Airport, Liverpool fitted the bill. It was 5 minutes by taxi from the airport, we could park our car at the hotel and we could use IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) points for our stay. An added bonus of a stay here for us was the opportunity to spend the day before our flight visiting Liverpool. By making use of free parking at Liverpool South Parkway and taking a train into Liverpool I was amazed at how easy this was to do. Not having been there for over 30 years I thoroughly appreciated this, but then that sounds like another review opportunity. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> Address: Holiday Inn Express John Lennon Airport Speke Hall Avenue No 1 Speke, Liverpool L24 1UX Telephone: 0151 448 2000 Holiday Inn Express John Lennon Airport Liverpool is, as the name suggests, conveniently located for John Lennon airportLiverpool airport, which is 5 minutes south east of the hotel by car (1.3 miles). Liverpool is 8.1miles north west of the hotel, Manchester is 32.2 miles east and slightly north, Chester ...

The White Rose Harvester, Leeds 08/08/2017


The White Rose Harvester, Leeds <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> Why indeed? We had been helping our daughter assemble Ikea flat pack furniture in her new place (a saga in itself!). By way of a ‘thank you’ and, as we were all in need of food at the end of the day, she decided to take us plus her sister and brother-in-law to the local Harvester. As a family, in the past, we have often dined at Harvester restaurants, especially appreciating the all you can eat salad bar. <<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>> Address: The White Rose Wide lane, Morley, Leeds WEST YORKSHIRE UK LS27 8PL Telephone: 0113 252 2730 As the name “The White Rose” suggests, this Harvester is in a strongly Yorkshire location (written with some hesitation by someone who was born the other side of the Pennines!) Regional loyalties aside, The White Rose Harvester is easily accessible by road, on the eastern edge of Morley and to the west of the dual carriageway section of the A653. It is 5.9 miles south and slightly west of Leeds city centre. It lies just over a mile south of The White Rose shopping centre and a mile north of M62 junction 28. It is 58.1 miles west of Hull, 32.8 miles north of Sheffield and 14.4 miles east of Halifax. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>> Founded in 1983, the Harvester restaurant brand has been a staple family restaurant brand in the UK for many years now. It specialises in flame grilled food, spit roasted chicken and all you can eat (or more politely put) help yourself salad carts. Back in the early ...

Vytronix VTBC01 25/05/2017


Vytronix VTBC01 <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> I always have good intentions, when it comes to replacing household appliances, of shopping around and spending a little more to get a higher quality product, which will work a little better and last longer. Admittedly I knew my vacuum cleaner was on its last legs (or should I say suction, not that this was very strong towards the end!), but there always seemed to be more pressing requirements on my time than researching a replacement. Eventually, with the pending arrival of my daughter’s chocolate labrador for a two week holiday, I had to give in and start the search quickly for a replacement vacuum cleaner. Time and economy being of the essence, I checked out the Amazon site, as I had a gift card balance there and found the Vytronix cyclonic vacuum cleaner VTBC01 model on sale at £36.99. Although reviews were generally okay (you always get the odd complainer I reasoned) I was a little wary of an online purchase, having bought a microwave from Amazon, which then developed a dodgy door catch, but which I still have, as the returns process was such a hassle. So my next port of call was Asda to see if they had any vacuum cleaners to compete on specifications and price, as I was doing a regular shop there and I knew from experience that returns were relatively easy. Unfortunately, vacuum cleaners in Asda proved to be more expensive and the lure of the gift card balance pulled me back to Amazon, where, after a few clicks the Vytronix ...

Asda George HOME 1.7L 18/05/2017


Asda George HOME 1.7L <<<<<<<>>>>>>> In common with many UK households, one of the most important small appliances we have is the kettle. The cause of many a power surge on the National grid, as we all put our kettles on in the ad break during popular TV shows and my ‘go to’ appliance first thing in the morning. Working from home, I have to admit to making good use of the household kettle for the all important tea and coffee breaks through the day, not to mention when entertaining friends. Despite the welcome addition to our household of a Nespresso machine over 2 years ago, the trusty kettle still retains its place at the top of the pecking order. Sadly, a few weeks ago, after several years of use and I wouldn’t like to estimate the countless number of boil ups, our last cordless kettle, from Argos, developed a faulty switch and became less than reliable, so we set about looking for a new one. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> Living in a village, several miles away from shops of any decent size, for many the internet would be the first port of call. Having had the odd bad experience with electrical items bought on the internet not working well and the hassle of returning them, I preferred the old fashioned instore experience. But I was reluctant to make a special trip, so waited until the next opportunity. Whenever I think of replacing a small appliance, like a kettle, iron or vacuum cleaner, I always have good intentions of doing some research, shopping around ...

Brewers Fayre Bedford South, Bedford 12/05/2017


Brewers Fayre Bedford South, Bedford <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> We were visiting our son and daughter-in-law for the weekend in Bedford and our son suggested going to Brewers Fayre Bedford South for Sunday lunch. He had a 40% off voucher to use (of which more later) which was a big incentive, as eating out on a Sunday lunchtime can be pricey. Having gone to church with them in Bedford, it was never going to be an early lunch and he was able to reserve a table at Brewers Fayre Bedford South for 2.00pm. The location just outside Bedford on the A428/A421 suited us, as it was en route to the M1. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> Address: Brewers Fayre Bedford South (A421), Marsh Leys, Kempston MK42 7DN Telephone: 01234 844046 Brewers Fayre Bedford South is located 6.7 miles south west of Bedford near the A421 and A428. It is 8.5 miles along the A421 from junction 13 of the M1. The A421 runs from the A1, Black cat roundabout to the A43 near Brackley. The A428 runs from Cambridge via Bedford and Northampton to Coventry. The restaurant is 21.7 miles north of Luton, 15.4 miles east and slightly north of Milton Keynes. It is 39.5 miles south and slightly west of Peterborough and 32.2 miles west and slightly south of Cambridge. <<<<<>>>>>>> (Please feel free to skip this section, but I am aware that this is of interest to some.) The first Brewers Fayre restaurant dates back to 1979 near Preston and was opened by Whitbread, which traces its history back in turn to 1742, when it was founded as a ...

Holiday Inn Northampton West, Northampton 04/05/2017


Holiday Inn Northampton West, Northampton <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> At the end of January, Holiday Inn Northampton West featured on a list of points break hotels released by the InterContinental Hotel Group, which could be booked for 5000 IHG rewards points per night on a room only basis. Lists are getting shorter and it is much harder now to find a hotel that fits our location requirements. But, as we have family in Bedfordshire and we were due to visit, we decided that a couple of nights here in April would work well. Reading up on hotel reviews, my husband thought that Holiday Inn Northampton West was being showcased after its recent refurbishment. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> Address: Holiday Inn Northampton West High Street, Flore, NORTHAMPTON NN7 4LP Telephone: 0871 942 9033 Holiday Inn Northampton West is said on the internet to be located 100 minutes from M1, junction 16. Although I was sceptical at first (as ever) we found this was accurate timing from the northbound exit. It is located by the side of the A45, just before the small village of Flore. The hotel is 6.8 miles west of Northampton, 38.5 miles north west of Luton, 69.1 miles west of Worcester and 34.9 miles south of Leicester. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> (Please skip this section if you like, although I am aware that it is of interest to some.) The first Holiday Inn was opened in 1952 by Kemmons Wilson in Memphis, USA. The name came about as a joke by the architect, Eddie Bluestein, and was taken from the Christmas themed ...

The Wentworth, Barnsley 21/04/2017


The Wentworth, Barnsley <<<<<<<<>>>>>>> After checking out of a hotel near Barnsley recently, we realised that we would need to grab a meal on our way south. We had previously been to Taybarns at Tankersley near Barnsley, which was only a few miles away. It was a very reasonably priced all you can eat buffet restaurant. Now I have a bit of a reputation for buffets in our family. I blame it on my northern upbringing and restricted portion sizes as a child. The majority of the time I’m into healthy eating and reasonable portion sizes, but show me a buffet and the temptation is too much. I just have to test everything and even when I try to be restrained I often seem to end up with the biggest plate full. It’s not for no reason that I have the family record for eating the most slices of pizza at Pizza Hut! So it was on this particular day that I looked forward to the Taybarns buffet, especially the chocolate gateau with chocolate sauce and ice cream. Sadly I was to be disappointed. Thanks to a quick check on the website I was sorry to discover that Taybarns had been closed, and worse, all the Taybarns in the country had been shut. In the past we had visited one in Coventry and another in the North east. But Alas poor Taybarns, they are no more! Taybarns restaurants have now reverted back to the Brewers Fayre brand. All was not lost for us, as we joined the Brewe’s Fayre Bonus Club several years ago and we happened to have a couple of vouchers with us; one for a free main meal for my ...

Holiday Inn, Barnsley 08/04/2017


Holiday Inn, Barnsley <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>> My husband had a few days off around his birthday in February, so we waited for the release of Holiday Inn points breaks hotels towards the end of January to see where we could stay using our points. The list of hotels for 5000 IHG (InterContinental Hotel Group) points has got shorter over the years, so it was a bit of a gamble. Having stayed at Holiday Inn Barnsley M1, Jct37 several years ago, we were pleased to see it on the list and, even better, half our family now live in Yorkshire, so it was a no brainer and we booked to stay there for three nights. <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> Address: Barnsley Road Dodworth Barnsley S75 3JT Telephone: 01226 299571 Holiday Inn Barnsley is handily located 0.4 miles west of M1, junction 37, in the village of Dodworth. The hotel is 2.1 miles west of Barnsley, which is on the other side of the motorway. Holiday Inn Barnsley is 14.9 miles north of Sheffield, 33.7 miles west of Manchester, 22 miles south of Leeds and 30 miles west of Doncaster. <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> The Holiday Inn brand has come a long way since the first hotel was opened by Kemmons Wilson in Memphis, USA, in 1952. The Holiday Inn name came about as a joke by the architect and takes its origins from the Christmas themed film, “Holiday Inn” of 1942, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. In partnership with Wallace E. Johnson, Kemmons Wilson took the brand through a phase of rapid expansion. By 1959 there were 100 ...
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