Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Fabulous few days

Well - what a fabulous couple of days Tim and I have had away!! Where shall I start...... firstly, I've found out that Devon is not the end of the earth (well from theatre land in London anyway!) it's actually just a little over 3 hours away from Totnes to Paddington.... so maybe the odd trip to a show or a play won't be out of the question once or twice a year. It's not a bad train ride at all - and had we known, we could have had a lunch on the train as they had a dining car! The menu was quite good as well - and a fellow customer told me that it was of quite a high standard, so perhaps something to consider for the next time?

The hotel we stayed in was lovely - literally 5 minutes walk from the station, modern, clean and not bad at all from picking one at random off the Internet. We walked down the Edgeware Road on the Monday afternoon so I could get my bearings for the lunch on Tuesday at The Grosvernor House hotel. Now last year I was lucky enough to go to Marrakesh on my own for 4 nights - and I was sure that I was back there when I walked down the Edgeware Road! We were astounded at how many cafes had seats outside with Arab gentlemen sat round the huge 'Hooka' pipes! In fact we thought we ought to buy one or two and bring back to Salcombe - see if it would catch on!! Lol........

Our Monday evening saw us in theatre land - my goodness Covent Garden has changed so much since I was last there some years ago, it certainly didn't seem to have the 'magic' I've felt before. A nice meal preceded the show Oliver - and my goodness, what an amazing show..... Les Miserables remains my all time favourite show, but Oliver was very, very good. Rowan Atkinson was Fagin - and once you saw past Mr Bean - he was really fabulous, and I'm so pleased we saw the show with him in it. Oliver was the little welsh blonde boy Gwion - he was adorable, and Nancy - Jody Prenger, well a powerhouse of a performance. The staging of the show was incredible and the scenery and lighting was just excellent. A really fantastic evening - thank you for the treat SOH............

Tuesday was the BII (British Institute of Innkeeping) lunch at Grosvenor Square - the 3rd year running that I've been to it - and this year I opted for sensible shoes as I now know from experience that its not just the lunch but the pub run afterwards that's the tough going on the feet! Anyway, back to the lunch.... great table this year, with the chairman of our region - Keith de Bruin and his wife, Ali Carter and her partner Tim - a great lady with lots of experience in the pub business and he writes for the BII paper, and a couple of other people I knew by sight. The day started off with a Champagne / drinks reception at about 11.30, and as usual I promised myself to pace myself...mmmnnnnn, did I??? Well honestly - what do you think??? Sort of is the answer! Lunch was not quite as good as it's been previously, but the company more than made up for it. However, the star attraction for me was the guest speaker, Nick Hewer from the Apprentice.....I had shaken hands with him before the drinks reception and in 30 seconds had told him who we were, where we from and invited him to pop into the Victoria next time he's passing by! SOH, looks and smiles very benignly when I launch into my sales pitch - but he always concedes that I'm actually pretty good at it!! He showed a dry, witty sense of humour, and made for a good after dinner speaker - more of him later! Best of all though - we had a go on the usual charity raffle and SOH won a weekend for 2 in Paris or Rome............ how brilliant is that!!

After the lunch and more alcohol (MUCH more alcohol...)we set off for 2 pubs in London, it's become quite a ritual: the Auderly pub just down the road in Mayfair, followed by the Guinea. I decided that as it was only about half three, that I really ought to switch to soft drinks - that is if I was ever going to make it through to the evening.... really nice to bump in to some St Austell colleagues at the Auderly and have a natter about business, then a gentle walk (sway) down to the Guinea, where to hell with soft drinks - lets hit the Gin!!!

By now - early evening, there were an awful lot of people very much the worse for wear (if you're reading this you know who you were!) but work hard, play hard is the motto of this day! Grab a taxi and back to the Auderly for a second attack.... and thats where it happened..I spoke again to Nick Hewer and not only did he remember me as 'that lovely lady from Salcombe' but he kissed my hand!!! I was totally smitten and didn't stop talking about it for ages... (sorry SOH x). All this followed by a taxi ride with Mr de Bruin to a pub he was intent on finding called Waxy O'Connor in Soho - an amazing place that goes goodness knows how far underground and has a curious Irish/church theme (??) or was that the Gin (?) followed by a massive chinese meal at 'Hung's' - a real deal Chinese restaurant not just for tourists. Then just 'one more' drink for the road and it was there I decided I couldn't drink any more for the road, or there was a liklihood I'd hit it!! So it was hail a taxi time, speak a bit more gibberish and fall in to bed - great nights sleep though.... :)
Home today........... and it was so lovely to see Salcombe come into sight as we drove round. As great as London is for a visit - I certainly wouldn't want to ever live there. It was even lovelier to walk through the door and know we were home. So then - a busy couple of weeks on the cards as we head to Whitsun - several big bookings in the pipeline and a week's holiday on my own in Spain in just two weeks........ more of that later!

Oh yes, and on the station at Totnes this afternoon while we were waiting for our chef James to very kindly pick us up, we were entertained by some young people from Dartington College doing some sort of project work to bored passengers - mime, dance etc, thank you for making the time go so swiftly. ........ :)

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