Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Last part of France and Duncan Bannatyne

Blimey this has turned into a mammoth blogging post.......... sorry dear readers the Victoria is still really busy and I have been hit with my first bad chest infection of the season, so not getting on to do my tasks as fast I would have wanted.

So where the heck was I???  Ok yes, in France. We did a huge tour of the De Castelnau winery and saw thousands and thousands of bottles Champagne being filled, stacked, stored. saw the library where bottles go back to the 1940's - absolutely fascinating. The process from start to finish is highly complex and I understand now why Champagne is the price it is - but I honestly think I love it more than ever! We had the most amazing Michelin Star 'packed lunch' that you could ever imagine and with yet more Champagne............. everyone at the winery was so welcoming and friendly and Pascal the MD shook hands with every member of staff he met! A great lesson in staff management! What was even more amazing was that a member of staff knew about our 'Man Creche' sign at the Victoria as his family were in Salcombe in the summer.. how cool was that! So ended our Champagne tour and our biggest thanks to everyone who made it so special for us.

I will gloss over our second night in Reading and move on to the next part of our road trip - 2 nights at Charlton House Hotel - part of Duncan Bannatynes group (him from Dragons Den who doesn't tolerate fools with no business plans!!).  There's no doubt that because of who he is (and I do Twitter with him) that this influenced our decision to go to Charlton House in Somerset, and I am soooooo glad we did because what a great experience it was.

Right from the centralised booking system where I was guided through a maze of deals to the right one for us right up to the warm welcome we received at reception - we knew we had booked well! We were upgraded to a super four poster room with a claw bath situated right in front of huge windows, fabulous shower room and a private balcony area. Food and service was first class and we both enjoyed the pampering at the Spa that we received..... although I wasn't so keen on the flotation thingy - but I'm assured I wasn't the first to say STOP!! Get me up!!!  Girls in the spa were lovely - no snideness that you sometimes get and they seemed to genuinely want to do a great job.

Food and service was excellent but a couple of diners left a lot to be desired on the first night as they discussed birthing plans loudly during dinner despite a few coughs/splutters from me coupled with a filthy look - no hint was taken. Time and place people, time and place or at least keep your voices down!!!  Barman made a great Hendricks G & T - almost as good as me I may say!!

Beautiful grounds and noise from the road was minimal - thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the massive four poster bed with a large glass of wine imagining this was how I always spent my leisure time!!

I'd just like to say a word or three about Mr Bannatyne (I respectfully call him Mr B) - several people have said how he comes across as a bit of a git on Dragons Den, and maybe he does (and is!?) but he actually has a huge heart of gold and does an awful lot of charity work that like a lot of famous / wealthy people goes unsung. He works a lot with Harry Mosely and his family.  Harry has a brain tumour and is the sweetest little boy going - please do what you can to support this cause:  Mtr B also works with our injured armed forces personnel from conflicts abroad - a thoroughly nice bloke!!!

Moving on, the 2 days at Charlton House flew by and our last port of call was North Walk House in Lynton, North Devon. A delightful B and B run by Ian & Sarah majoring on Organic produce. Lovely rooms overlooking the Bristol Channel with home made flap jacks to accompany your tea and coffee! Dinner was round a large table and you shared it with complete strangers - yikes!! That's a bit of a challenge to English reserve, but it was actually very entertaining and interesting. The food itself - well, absolutely fabulous and as for Ian's porridge in the morning? Yum scrum!! Give it a try if you're ever in North Devon:

So there we go - and t last we're back to normal here at the Victoria - visitors are still here in big numbers thanks to the glorious weather we've had and we start to think of winter..... yuk, what a depressing thought!  But I have lots of exciting things in the pipeline which will be shared with you in due course!!!!

1 comment:

John said...

Love the new web-pages. Did the Champagne trip myself recently and it is highly recommended. Looking forward to coming down to Salcombe and popping into the Victoria in the October half-term.