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fritzthecat

fritzthecat

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Thanks to all who are reading and rating my reviews! Due to some health issues I've not been able to be around as much as I would have liked to. Hoping to be back with some new reviews soon.

Reviews written

since 16/10/2005

71

Brewsters, The Mulberry Tree, Braintree, Essex 24/05/2014

No third chance for the Mulberry Tree

Brewsters, The Mulberry Tree, Braintree, Essex The Mulberry Tree is the restaurant that serves one of our local Premier Inns as restaurant, and located on one of the busiest roundabouts in the area, just off the A120. The pub belongs to the Brewer’s Fayre chain which is, just like the Premier Inn hotels, owned by Whitbread. The Brewer’s Fayre restaurants market themselves as family friendly and initially it was their in-and outdoor play areas and surprisingly good choice of food on their children’s menu that brought us here regularly when our girls were small. Where other restaurants offered a choice of chicken nuggets with chips or burger with chips, the Mulberry Tree offered a mini Sunday roast, grilled chicken with several veggie sides, macaroni cheese with garlic bread, fish and chips, pasta with meatballs, and mixed fruit platters with chocolate sauce to dip. The quality of the food was fine then, the prices where fair and we happily overlooked the fact that the service was sometimes slow and patchy, and that you better not visit the toilets on a busy day, at least not the ones near the play zone. Our kids grew and the play zone lost its appeal, the cleanliness issue seemed to get worse and the quality of the food went downhill whilst the service didn’t improve a bit – so we stopped visiting for dinner but still visited for their breakfast buffet every now and then. Breakfast The Mulberry Tree serves the breakfast for the guests of the Premier Inn and also welcomes non-staying guests on weekdays from 6:30 to ...

Avon Speed Dry Nail Enamel Lure 14/05/2014

Don't be lured into buying it!

Avon Speed Dry Nail Enamel Lure I’ve never been a big nail varnish user and have only been painting my finger nails occasionally over the last decade or so. I’ve bought a bottle every now and then but just couldn’t bother to spend an hour or so to paint my nails – and then see them chip after a few days. This all changed after I was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo Chemotherapy which had some surprising side-effects, one of them being my nails turning purple – and I am not talking about a light purplish tint or so but a really dark, almost aubergine and very visible shade of purple. It looks absolutely horrible, as if I had constantly dirty nails. Of course this was all a bit upsetting but honestly, during chemo you have to deal with side-effects that are worse than discoloured finger nails and I wish all could be solved as easy as this one. The solution was easy: Paint the nails and nobody will be able to see how it looks beneath the lacquer. . I actually got quite hooked and found out that I enjoyed having colourful nails and have since been on the lookout for new shades since 6 months now. However, my nails are still not totally back to their normal colour and thus I need a nail varnish that really covers well. A few weeks ago Avon have launched their new Avon Speed Dry+ 30 New Shades range. This range includes 5 new shades which come in the very imaginative shades of Lure, Trance, Yellow Mystique, Underworld and Shipwreck. According to the colour sample all of the 5 shades come in very ...

Lek's Thai Food, Chelmsford 05/05/2014

Thai Street Food in Chelmsford

Lek's Thai Food, Chelmsford I had to attend quite a few medical treatments over the last few months which required that I had my blood taken early in the morning, and then come back later in the early afternoon for the actual treatment. With several hours to kill in between we had plenty of time to explore nearby Chelmsford, something we’d never really done although we have been living in the area for almost 10 years. Parking your car in Chelmsford is as difficult as in any larger town and we usually leave our car in the public garage that is attached to the market hall, where parking is secure and the prices are reasonable. I absolutely love markets and soon was attracted by the fantastic scent that came from the far corner of the market hall. Following my nose I ended up in front of “Lek’s Thai Food” , a small shop that exudes the most appetising smell. Thai street food in Chelmsford – I was intrigued! My husband knows how much I love the Thai cuisine and agreed that we would have to come back for lunch, but also pointed out that the shop was really very small, and the only seating was outside, which meant I should better pray for sunshine. I was lucky and two hours later lunchtime had come and the sun was making an, for this time of the year, uncharacteristically strong appearance. Lek’s have quite a few tables on Market Square but they are also pretty popular and we had to wait for a few minutes for a table to become available. The restaurant itself, if you can call it one as it is really ...

Balkerne Gate , Colchester 27/04/2014

Life is not long enough ...

Balkerne Gate , Colchester The Balkerne Gate belongs to the Table Table chain and is located just off the A12 in the North of Colchester. The Balkerne Gate serves as hotel restaurant for the neighbouring Premier Inn and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on seven days a week. Both, hotel and restaurant chain, are owned by the UK’s largest hospitality company Whitbread who also own several other restaurant chains, including the Brewers Fayre and Beefeater restaurants and the Costa chain with its more than 1.500 coffee shops. Being wedged in between the very busy A12, THE main access road to Ipswich, an industrial estate and the also rather busy Ipswich Road which is lined by car dealers ranging from Mini to Ferrari, and overlooking a very busy roundabout, it is probably fair to say that the restaurant’s location is more motel restaurant than idyllic country dining. They do have a small terrace in front of the restaurant with a few tables but I cannot think of a reason why anyone would want to sit there to eat. Our car dealer is just opposite and every time we needed to go there I’d wondered if the restaurant is any good. In February a small part on our car needed replacing and after our visit to the car dealer’s garage the clock had just hit noon and we decided to have our lunch at the Balkerne Gate. Arrival The Balkerne Gate is named after the largest still existing Roman gateway in Britain. Not that this gate is anywhere near the restaurant, you can find it slap bang in the middle of town as ...

Thaxted, England 15/11/2013

Thaxted - A gem in Essex

Thaxted, England Everybody who loves quaint villages which are steeped in history and full of century old buildings and cobble stoned streets is in for a big treat when visiting this charming little market town. Nestled in between fields, with the majestic spire of its grand church towering over it, Thaxted is particularly beautiful and one of the most visited villages in this area of Essex . Although Thaxted is only a small town, it is well worth a visit and will surely enchant you with its timeless beauty. Thaxted There is no town in north Essex – and very few in England – to equal in beauty, compactness and juxtaposition of medieval and Georgian architecture, the town of Thaxted". (Sir John Betjeman) History Thaxted evolved from a Saxon settlement that was built along the old Roman Stane road. In 1066 King William I. granted the Saxon manor to the Earl of Clare. Tachesteda, as Thaxted was called then, was also mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. By the 14th century Thaxted had grown into a prosperous little town thanks to its flourishing cutlery industry. Along with Sheffield it was one of the main manufacturing centres for cutlery in the country. It was the cutler's guild of Thaxted who build the magnificent Guildhall which can still be visited today. Like 600 years ago, when it was the meeting place for the influential craftsmen, it is still the heart of the town and, surprisingly, still in use. The local parish holds its meetings here and it is often home to ...

Betty Crocker Sunny Lemon Cake Mix 20/10/2013

Betty's perfectly imperfect cake

Betty Crocker Sunny Lemon Cake Mix My esteemed readers, I have a confession to make: I harbour a dark secret … Whilst I am happy to stand for hours in the kitchen and almost no labour is too much for me to create a tasty meal, gladly several courses too – I loathe baking! Shocking, I know, especially as I am selective in my loathing and don’t mind creating a pizza dough from scratch, bake a casserole or make my own bread, it’s just the sweet stuff I am absolutely unable to get right and thus hate to make myself. While the children where smaller this was a much bigger problem as they were expecting mumy to bake with them – we had burned cupcakes, cookies hard enough to kill someone, half baked pies and dry sponge cakes. The long suffering husband has long-since given up hoping for a tasty cake next to his cuppa, unless I buy the really good stuff that comes from the local bakery. The kids are older now and have realised long ago that the fun of making and decorating your own cake-aka-charcoal doesn’t weigh up the merits of eating a perfectly done piece of bakery from the cake shelf at our supermarket. Maybe the fact that they all have given up on me totally is the reason why I decided to deceive them in the wicked way I have … Our younger daughter, pride and joy of my heart, has started high-school recently. As she is a reasonably likeable child she’s made a lot of new friends in no time at all and the invitations to visit each other after school started coming in quickly. She seems to get on especially well ...

Izumi, Maldon 17/10/2013

Oriental food until you drop

Izumi, Maldon The German city in which I’ve grown up in might be very innovative when it comes to all things technical and mechanical but when it comes to food its inhabitants are rather traditional, or at least they were back in the 1970’s during my early childhood when a pizza was regarded as outlandish and very exotic. When the first Chinese restaurant opened my mum, always eager to try new tastes, dragged her best friend and tiny-me to sample their dishes just days after they started serving. From that moment on we were “regulars” and while other kids were begging for cookies I was begging for spring rolls. I’ve long since left that city, which very open minded towards all cuisines now, but Chinese food is still my favourite. All you can eat – how does it work? The term “All you can eat” is one that I had always associated with either restaurant chains in the USA or hotel resort catering until fairly recently when the first restaurant serving from an unlimited buffet opened in our town. The concept of being allowed to try as many dishes as I want to, instead of having to choose only 1 or 2 from a vast array immediately appealed to me. This way I could get my favourites and, with smaller helpings than usual, still have space to try something new. Besides, such buffet restaurants often have sensationally cheap prices, especially during lunch, and I was naturally curious to find out if how it worked and if you could really eat as much as you want. I’ve since visited several and it’s ...

Summerfields Holiday Park, Scratby, Norfolk, Norfolk 09/10/2013

No warm feelings for Summerfields

Summerfields Holiday Park, Scratby, Norfolk, Norfolk Summerfields Holiday Park is listed on the Hoseason’s website, which is where I found it. Not that it belongs to Hoseason’s, it is owned by a company called Richardson’s who own a number of holiday villages and parks in Norfolk, and run a small fleet of houseboats to rent for boating holidays on the broads. They are a family run business that has been around since more than 50 years, long enough to gather enough experience to run their business properly one should think. To give them some credit, they’ve ventured into the holiday park business “only” in 1993, and seem to have been busy since buying whichever old and run down Holiday Park Pontins and Haven want to get rid of. Hoseasons, with whom I so far had made only good experiences, will not tell you who runs this park on their website. =Booking a Summerwave in April Easter this year it was unclear until almost the last moment whether my husband would be able to take a few days off during the holidays or not and thus we made our booking almost literally the very last moment. Given that this was during the school holidays it wasn’t surprising that many accommodations and parks in Great Yarmouth on the Hoseason’s website were booked and we were left with very little choice. We only had enough time for a long weekend, from Friday to Monday (3 nights), and we really didn’t want to invest too much for such a short stay. Main season, cheap, popular area and last moment – would that be possible? We’d been to two different ...

Coggeshall 08/10/2013

Coggeshall

Coggeshall If you travel to Coggeshall today you probably wouldn't guess that the little market town was once one of the most important industrial centres in the area. What started with just 12 monks, who came to Coggeshall to found a Sauvigniac abbey, soon developed into one of the most important towns affiliated with the wool and cloth trade, which became so established in this region and made it famous for its Coggeshall White Cloth. Almost 300 historic listed buildings stand testimony to its past and, together with its scenic location along the river Blackwater and surrounded by the rolling Essex countryside, it is very well worth a visit. ~~~A long history~~~ Coggeshall is located along Stane Street, the 63km long old Roman road that used to connect Ermine Street at Braughing in Hertfordshire with Colchester (Camulodunum), which served as the first Roman capital of the occupied Britain. Many parts of this ancient Roman road have been incorporated into today's road system and the A120, on which Coggeshall is located, follows the original layout of Stane Street. Although the town has first been mentioned in the Domesday Book there is evidence that a much older, early-Saxon settlement has been located here before. The arrival of the Sauvigniac monks, who where a breakaway group from the Benedictines who had become a little bit too “worldly” for their liking, and the subsequent foundation of Coggeshall Abbey in ca 1140, brought the skills the town needed to develop. The Sauvignac ...

Capital 1, London 05/10/2013

My number 1 in the capital

Capital 1, London The Capital 1 restaurant is located on Fore Street, at Edmonton Green, in North London, overlooking the parking lot of an Asda store, and just metres from the railway/bus station with the same name. Not the prettiest location and tourists will rarely find their way here, unless they are staying in the Travelodge opposite side. The Capital 1 is the older one of a chain of 2 Turkish restaurants. The second Capitol has opened recently and is located just a few hundred metres down south on the same street. The Capital 1 I’ll not even try to sell you this place as a posh restaurant, or anything special when it comes to looks and design. It isn’t and you can find hundreds, if not thousands of small restaurants like this all over London: A single shop front with a large window giving view into the restaurant, and, even more importantly, on the display of “daily specials” in the window and the obligatory doner kebab grill station, which are both supposed to attract the casual passer-by and take-away customer. What clearly distinguishes this restaurant from its neighbours on Fore Street is that it is always busy. In the Capital 1 always lots of the tables are occupied and it is not unusual that guests are queuing and waiting until a table becomes available while in the neighbouring eateries many tables are still empty. Once you enter you will be greeted by the beautiful aroma of the kebabs – and the friendly and always smiling staff behind the counter who are busy cutting doner ...

Southbank Centre Christmas Market 28/09/2013

Christmas on the river bank

Southbank Centre Christmas Market I love Christmas Markets. If I hear that there is one being held anywhere that is within my reach, no matter how big or small, I try to visit. When I was small a visit to the local Christmas Market was as much part of the run-up to Christmas as writing a letter to Santa, baking cookies, wrapping presents and decorating the house. Hopefully, one day, my children will have the same fond memories of our visits as I do of the visits of my childhood. Location and getting there The Southbank Centre Christmas Market is located along the River Thames, right in front of the Southbank Centre, and just metres from the London Eye. Boasting a location that could hardly be any more central than this, the market is easy to reach with public transport. Good news for all those who live in or near London but dreadful for those who come from further afield and need to find a space to park their car. Public parking is sparse, free public parking even harder to find – almost impossible on a weekday. On a Sunday, when the usual restrictions don’t apply, you might be able to find a parking space on the other side of the Thames– and crossing the bridge is not only a scenic little walk with great views but also done in minutes. It’s so far worked for us every time, although sometimes we needed to circle around a bit, and beats leaving the car somewhere in North London and proceeding with the public transport after already having sat through a 1 ½ hour journey. If you live in London I’d ...

Albatross, Great Yarmouth 25/09/2013

Never judge a book by its cover

Albatross, Great Yarmouth During past vacations in Great Yarmouth we’ve had some horrible dining experiences and we weren’t planning to repeat them during our first holiday in Norfolk in 5 years, the plan was to use the kitchen of our holiday rental. Of course things never go as you plan and we arrived much later than we thought we would. By the time we’d found a supermarket to stock the fridge it was way too late to start cooking and we found ourselves in the middle of Great Yarmouth – and starving! We were lucky enough to find a parking space in a narrow side road just off Regent Street, the local pedestrian zone because there are a myriad of restaurants on Regent Street to choose from, including two of the restaurants we’d sworn never to go near to again. It was our younger daughter who spotted the pizzeria sign first. We all love Italian and our youngest is downright crazy about all things pasta and pizza. “What can they do wrong with a pizza?” asked the husband. I swallowed the “A lot!” I had on my tongue and decided to play along, making my way towards the entrance, or at least what I thought was the entrance and would have let upstairs. “Where are you going? “, asked the husband, and disappeared below the ground. The restaurant Indeed, I'd got the wrong stairs and the entrance to the restaurant went down a rather dark and dingy staircase. Turned out that the restaurant is situated in a basement! Even the low lighting couldn’t hide the fact that the entrance and stairs had seen better ...

West Midlands Safari Park, Bewdley 15/09/2013

Not much of a drive on the wild side

West Midlands Safari Park, Bewdley One of my earliest holiday memories dates back to a visit to France in 1976. My nan and I were visiting relatives who took us on a trip to a Safari Park. I remember driving directly past zebras and lions who were just metres away from our car and a slightly blurred photograph has been a cherished memento ever since. I’ve been telling my family how much I enjoyed this particular trip and how I’d love to visit a Safari Park again since years now but it took me 35 years to make this wish come true. When I found an offer from a 4-star country hotel which included tickets to the West Midlands Safari Park in a knock-off price for a weekend in one of their family rooms, breakfast and use of leisure facilities with pool, I knew the time to fulfill my wish had come. Of course all those years of raving had left the entire family with high expectations for the trip and we all were very excited. It is quite a bit of a journey from Essex to the Midlands and so we scheduled the Safari Park for the second day of our stay, giving us the chance to get a good night’s rest at the hotel and a hearty start to the day with their breakfast buffet. Unfortunately if something sounds too good to be true it often isn’t and the 4-star hotel was a massive disappointment, not worth of any stars at all, with uncomfortable beds in a really dirty room and very greasy food on the buffet. Our spirits were slightly dampened, the picnic we’d intended to take from the hotel cancelled and replaced by ...

The World According To Bob - James Bowen 10/09/2013

High-five for Bob

The World According To Bob - James Bowen When “A Street Cat named Bob” first hit the shelves in the spring of 2012 probably nobody would have predicted that this simple book would cause a worldwide Bobmania, and reach the top spots in book selling lists all around the globe. Translated into 25 languages and having sold more than 1.000.000 copies the first book of James Bowen is such a success that a sequel was only a matter of time. “The World According to Bob” has hit the (supermarket) shelves a few weeks ago, roughly around the same time when the Facebook page of author and his ginger mog hit 100.000 likes, and the 40.000st Twitter member decided to join their gang of followers – or Bobites as they call themselves. Much anticipated by the many fans the second book has a lot to life up to. The life story of James and, as far as known, Bob, has already been told in the first book, so how much more could there be that hasn’t been told yet to keep this story interesting? Even though I loved the first book, I was a bit skeptic and not expecting too much. There was never a doubt that I would read it – once Bob has got you into his paws you won’t turn away easily and, like so many others, I’d been following the progress of the author and his feline companion since I finished the last page of their first book. All those who have read the first book or are familiar with the story can skip the next paragraph … May I introduce – James and Bob: James: James Bowen was born in 1979 to an Australian mother and a British ...

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Experience, London 06/09/2013

London's Winter Wonderland

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Experience, London The Winter Wonderland is a large winter fair with a traditional Christmas Market, fun fair rides, ice-rink and lots of different things to eat. I’ve grown up in Germany and have a real soft spot for Christmas Markets. My grandma used to visit the huge Christmas Market in my hometown Stuttgart with me every year, and the scents and lights of this market, with its beautifully decorated stalls, have turned me into a fan forever. Every year I make sure that the family and I visit at least 1 market and the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is one of my favourites. We’ve visited several times, the last time in 2011, Arrival The Winter Wonderland is located as central in London as it could possibly be – slap bang in the middle of the tourist hub, in Hyde Park. The main entrance to the fair is located inside of Hyde Park, just metres from Hyde Park Corner, access to the public transport is easy. There are plenty of bus stops right outside of the gate to Hyde Park. The closest underground station is Hyde Park Corner (Picadilly Line) but also still in walking distance are * Green Park (Victoria, Piccadilly & Jubilee lines) * Knightsbridge (Piccadilly line) * Marble Arch (Central line) * Victoria (Victoria, District & Circle lines, National Rail) If you are planning to arrive with your own car you’ll not only have to pay the congestion charge but will probably also have problems finding a parking space - and if you do find one, you might have to fork out a small fortune for it. We ...
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