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My birthday weekend – part 4.

Also see [– 1 –], [– 2 –] and [– 3 –].

Afternoon tea

Tony and Gill left by taxi at midnight to return to their (at that point, secret) hotel. We tidied up and went to bed. On Sunday morning, while Sharon cooked up a delightful breakfast (the last of her self-imposed cookery chores for this weekend), I made many trips up and down the four flights of stairs to pack up our car. By the time we were ready to leave I felt like I’d climbed Ingleborough, just up the road.

I had ascertained, during Saturday’s dinner conversation, that we would be joining Tony and Gill at their hotel for Sunday evening. That much I knew. What I hadn’t known was that the hotel was only about four miles away and that I would be given another surprise as we arrived there, about 11.30am. Too early to book in, but not too early, apparently to be given an envelope containing our voucher for an hour of archery training and practice.

Sharon’s bow

How exciting.

Archery has never been something I’d said, or thought I wanted to do, but was thrilled to be given the opportunity anyway. We had to wait for our trainer, Andrew, in ‘the lodge’, which reminded me of Fred Flintstone’s Water Buffalo meeting room – all wood and testosterone. The lodge was where all those out for their weekly (daily?) ‘shoot’ would meet to practice on clay pigeons. It was awfully noisy. Anyway, Andrew came along and whisked us away to the Archery Butts and an hour of learning new skills began.

To be fair, we didn’t do bad. We were on short ranges and managed to hit the target butt with every arrow except one and by the end we were grouping the arrows fairly well. But there’s a lot to remember. Face this way; move this leg forward a little; turn your head towards the target; hold the bow this way – not that way; pull the string back this far; take a deep breath; don’t wobble etc.

‘Don’t wobble’ – how many planes of wobbles are there? I suppose I should ask an airline pilot! Straight arm holding bow + straight other arm holding arrow, straight back 90º to the floor in all directions + no lateral movement of the arm(s) or head. Phew – exhausting. But fun 🙂

We then went and booked into the hotel, at which point I was given my final envelope – afternoon tea for two! See above 😉 We were stuffed, but still managed to meet Tony and Gill for dinner in the bar/restaurant.

What a great, memorable weekend. Thank you Sharon xxx

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Readers of earlier posts [-1-] and [-2-], may remember that my birthday weekend had so far been a series of surprises – each one topping the other.  My previous post had seen me reeling from the arrival of invited (but unexpected by me) guests Tony and Gill. I’d left the post promising to detail the food that was served up by Sharon after a long, hard afternoon in the kitchen.

After celebrating with a glass of fizz, we sat down to:

Gnocci

Served with roast cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and rocket topped with a sweet pepper sauce.

Sharon had made the gnocci and the sweet pepper sauce during the afternoon, so I knew we were having roast peppers at some stage because the delicious smell peculated throughout the room I was in. This was followed by:

Seared Tuna Steak

Served with lemon and coriander couscous, samphire and garlic butter.

Fresh Tuna cooked in garlic butter is one of our favourite meals, so this was a delight. All the flavours were balanced nicely and the steak was not too big for its role in the meal.

Pan-fried Leek & Ginger stuffed Chicken Suprême

Served in a white wine sauce, with sweet potato, feta cheese and a crispy sesame seed savoy cabbage.

Sadly up to and including this point we had taken no photographs of the food. We were too busy enjoying the experience, the company and the wine, which Tony had very kindly brought along with him. We next had a choice of ‘cheese first’ or ‘pudding first’. Tony and I had cheese, the ladies had pudding – which was again, magnificent:

Garden Berry and white chocolate Cheesecake and cream

This was based on the mixed berries we had picked at home and made into jam.

Mixed Berry Cheesecake

Mixed Berry Cheesecake

And that, apart from a few petit four type nibbles she’d bought in, was Sharon done for the night. The meal, the company and the day had been a great success and something I will remember as a birthday treat for a long, long time.

In the next post I will wrap up Hellifield and move on to my final day of surprises – Sunday 8th December. b.t.w. I lied about the pics. …..

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As some of you may have read, I’m not a fan of city centre food establishments. It’s not that there is anything wrong with them as such, it’s just that they are often careless and sloppy AND given the prices they charge, they shouldn’t be so careless and sloppy. See previous post: (b.t.w. Andrew was also ill in the night)

In counterpoint to, and following on from my previous post we ate in Glasgow again the following night. This time we chose a Wetherspoons pub opposite the Radisson Blu, alongside the Central Railway Station. It was heaving! (translation: full of customers, full of noise, full of life). We were hard pressed to find a table but we managed, even without the help of any charmless flunkies.

Now, I know that Wetherspoon food is not gourmet food, but then it doesn’t pretend to be. Wetherspoons manage to turn out edible food at sensible prices without any fancy flourish or fanfare*. Their food is nothing more than it says it will be on the (still plastic) menu. Just like I did in Wales, I tried the local specialities from what was otherwise a menu card that can be found in any Wetherspoons from Lands End to John o’Groats.

Cullen Skink and then Haggis with Neeps and Tatties.

They were fine, a bit heavy on the tatties but fine.  And tasty!

Now I know that the soup and the haggis was probably made many miles away in a central processing unit (CPU) somewhere and that there’s a good chance the tatties were ‘Smash’ (although I couldn’t be sure) but someone, somewhere had taken the care to make sure that the food was a) Hot, b) tasty (well done CPU) and c) brought to our table with a smile.

And, to cap all that; whereas the previous night’s disaster had cost almost £80 for the four of us, this night’s cost less than £30! Money isn’t always the point of my epicurean excursions and I’ll gladly pay £50-60 or more for the right food but paying £20 for carelessly prepared, sullenly served food really winds me up.

*footnote: We returned to the same Wetherspoons for breakfast. Bad mistake! They failed to match the product quality of any ‘Greasy Joes’ on this occasion. We still had good service and the coffee was lovely but everything else was sloppily prepared. The bacon was anaemic  and the fried eggs looked (I can’t say ‘tasted’ because I had lukewarm porridge) like they had been made last night and warmed up to order. Quite nasty reallyso take a gold star for last night and a sharp slapped wrist for this morning.

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