Amazing Wedding, Awful Hotel… Part 1

This is the first chance I’ve had to write about my experiences last weekend. It’s been a busy week but if I’m completely honest it is mainly to do with the fact that I found an amazingly addictive free game on the Apple App Store and have been glued to my iPad every night after the kids have gone to bed. Anyway, moving on, this post will be split into more than one due to the eventful weekend we had and how much I’ve got to cover. I don’t want to bore you too much so apologies if I do, I just want to share my experience in full…

Last weekend we went to Manchester to attend a wedding. It was a bit more special to us than just a wedding though as it was Holly’s cousin that was getting married and she had asked if our little Laura could be her flower girl. This meant that she got to wear a beautiful dress and walk down the aisle with the bridesmaids. It was also the first wedding I’ve been to in over 10 years, apart from my own, of course.

So, Friday came and with the car packed with suits, dresses and all things to make us look beautiful, we set off. The journey was a bit crap as we hit some traffic on the way which added about half an hour on and it absolutely chucked it down for most of the ride. Anyone in the UK will know that this was inevitable as the weather over the last month or so has been abysmal here what with flooding and torrential downpour all over the country. Spray on the motorway is horrible, it’s worse than driving in fog and your lights don’t do a thing. We did eventually get to Manchester and amazingly it had stopped raining by then.

The hotel we were staying at didn’t have a car park of its own so we were instructed to drive straight to a multi-story nearby which the hotel offered a discount for. They advised us it was a 5 minute walk to get to the hotel. This was only true if your name was Usain Bolt. We had two young kids, a pushchair, 2 suits and a dress inside a dress cover, two luggage bags and our coats. It did not take 5 minutes. I had to stop to rest a couple of times and by the time we got to the hotel I thought my arms were going to fall off, they actually felt like they were floating up slightly when I put the bags down. When we got to the entrance of the hotel we were greeted by about ten steps. Wonderful, just wonderful, I thought. I just about had enough strength left in my arms to help Holly lift the pushchair up the steps and into the lobby, oh how I envied Laura sat so snuggly in her pushchair!

While stood in the queue waiting to check in Holly looked at me with that ‘look at what I’m looking at but not too obviously so it’s clear that we are looking’ kind of look. I’m not sure if you know what I’m talking about or even if such a look exists but if not, Holly just invented it. I casually looked around to find what she was getting at when I started noticing that there were a lot of people dressed in women’s clothes, with women’s hair and women’s makeup… but they were not women. This was confirmed when the “woman” in front of us got to the reception desk and spoke in a deeper voice than me. It was doubly confirmed when the receptionist finished their conversation with “Thank you, sir”. Now, I’m not prejudiced, the fact that I was surrounded by transvestites really didn’t bother me. All I was thinking was, are we in the right hotel? I’ve never seen so many transvestites in my life! There must be a convention on or something that has attracted them all.

From then on is when our hotel experience started to go downhill…

Initially, there was confusion over the room booking. We asked for a family room with a double bed, a single bed and a cot. This had to be checked in the office out the back rather than on the computer in front of the receptionist. After much toing and froing the receptionist finally gave us the key card to a room and asked us to pay. As this was part of a block booking for the wedding the rates were reduced but we still had to pay £200; £100 per night. I did wonder how much their normal rates were.

Our room was on the 4th floor. The lifts were out of order. This meant that we had to either wait in another queue for the one service lift at the other end of the hotel or use the stairs. Holly’s family were gathered in the hotel bar just off the lobby so we congregated with them first to delay our dilemma. The mother-in-law offered to watch Liam and Laura while we took our stuff up to our room. I don’t like lifts at the best of times and neither does Holly so we opted for the stairs. It was actually more challenging than we first thought but we did eventually make it to our floor. We entered the room and saw a double bed and a single bed but no cot for Laura. We were just about to ring down when someone knocked the door and brought a travel cot in. That was the first issue sorted.

Next was the room layout. There were three steps in the middle of the room so the one end of the room was slightly higher. Not the best idea when you have a 16 month old toddler. The double bed was on the lower half, near the door and the bathroom, while the single bed was on the upper half, next to the windows. Is this really what they call a family room? We thought that seeing as we wouldn’t be spending much time in the room we’d put up with it, the windows did have locks on them and only opened so far.

It was only when leaving the room and walking back to the stairs that I noticed how nice it looked when peering down. Now, don’t be fooled by the luxuriousness of these stairs and the chandelier. It’s just an illusion to make you think it’s a lovely hotel when you first walk in!

We went back downstairs and mingled with Holly’s family for an hour or so before dinner. We had planned to go to the hotel restaurant for dinner; they served a carvery or you could choose from a menu, or so we thought. This was not the case. When we got there it turned out it was just a carvery. I don’t particularly like roast dinners and considering we would most likely be eating one (or similar) at the wedding the following day I really didn’t fancy one that night. The only other option was the pizzeria (that wasn’t really a pizzeria) next to the restaurant. I love pizza, but Holly doesn’t, however, she was nice enough to agree to go there so we left the restaurant hall.

This was one of the biggest mistakes we made all weekend…

There were two couples sat eating when we walked in so it was very quiet. The waiter had gone into the kitchen as we walked in so we chose a table and sat down. The waiter finally came back out so I went over to ask for a highchair for Laura. Even though he’d been in the kitchen for about 5 minutes, knowing we were waiting, when I said “Excuse me”, he asked me to wait a minute before walking over to the till and writing something on a little piece of paper. Only after that did he acknowledge me. He brought over the highchair but the tray, which Laura has to eat from, was disgustingly dirty. I thought, it’s ok, he’ll wipe that in a minute. But he didn’t. I had to ask for a cloth so we could clean the highchair.

Next came the food, they didn’t have a children’s menu so I ordered a large pizza, just cheese and tomato, with garlic bread and nachos as sides to share with the kids. Holly found a steak on the menu (which made it not really a pizzeria) so she ordered that. While waiting for the food the kids got a bit restless. After all, they were hungry and tired, and they’d spent a rather long time in the car that day. We tried our best to keep them quiet when really I wanted to the join in with their whining. The waiter brought the food out and at first it looked and smelt amazing. It did not taste that way. I really can’t express how bad this food tasted; I would rather have eaten ten carvery’s that this shit. The nachos were just about ok, I mean you can’t really go wrong with tortilla chips, but the cheese on them was tasteless and like rubber. The garlic bread was like eating a scouring pad and the pizza was very similar in that it was like someone had mixed washing up liquid in with the tomato sauce. I couldn’t understand how it tasted so bad. Holly’s was no better because her thick cut fries weren’t cooked enough and were hard in the middle while the steak was extremely gristly. It was so bad that even the kids didn’t really touch anything other some of the nachos. However, I was so hungry and tired that I just rammed it in and tried to ignore the taste. I didn’t have the strength to complain and with the kids moaning I just wanted to get back to the room and have some sleep.

The meal cost us £34, it still hurts to even say that.

The kids were asleep in no time and Holly relaxed on the bed reading on her Kindle. I took this opportunity to pop to Tesco and grab a bottle of wine. I then made use of the one good thing our room had, a spa bath. I filled it with water and added some of the kids’ bubble bath as this is all we had with us. I poured a glass of wine and sunk into the bath before hitting the ‘On’ switch. It took a while and made some funny noises then suddenly the bubbles started and it was so bloody loud. Luckily it didn’t wake the kids up; I think they were too exhausted. After about 10-15 minutes I had to turn it off as the bubbles were starting to flow over the edge. Nevertheless, it was the best part of the day and helped me relax enough to get some beauty sleep in before the wedding.

To be continued…


What a Week (and a half)!


What a bloody week, indeed! I feel I’ve neglected my blog over the past week and seeing as I’m new to blogging, it’s not a very good start. Every night I’ve thought I really need to write another post, but I’ve either been too busy or absolutely exhausted!

Firstly there was our living room… As you may know from my ‘From Fish to Sofa’ post, we recently ordered a new sofa. Our new sofa is considerably larger than our current sofa. This meant we had to rearrange our living room. This included the fireplace. Luckily, our fireplace is an all-in-one electric fire so if you remove the two screws for either side the whole fireplace, surround and all, simply lifts away from the wall. That was the easy part. The problem is the gaping whole left in the wall behind it from when it was a real fire. We are still to resolve this issue!

We also had to move our TV to another wall which meant moving our Sky box. The leads from the satellite dish were nowhere near long enough to go around the two doors that were now between them and the new location for the TV. Sky themselves charge a ridiculous amount to relocate your Sky box so this was not an option. Instead, I found an extension kit on trusty old Amazon for a mere £8.99. This was perfect as it came with an 10m twin cable (required to record one thing and watch another), 4 male plugs for either end, a male to male connector to connect the two leads together and even 10 twin cable clips to secure it to the wall. It was perfect; it was more than enough length and it hasn’t effected the signal or quality at all. After I had accomplished all this I was feeling rather manly, I’m not used to dong manual work so it was rather satisfying. So with our TV, current sofa and fireplace in a different place it looks like a different living room, and much bigger I must add. We now eagerly await the arrival of our sofa. Only another 4 weeks to go! I think I could make one quicker on my own!

The next project was the garden. We have a very long garden and we have a terrible habit of tidying it up and then leaving it for months rather than keeping on top if it. It had been months since we sorted it out so it was starting to resemble a jungle. Now this is how manly I am, Holly cut the grass and pulled out all the weeds from the borders around the garden while I stayed in and watched the kids! We eventually decided that we both needed to crack on so the mother-in-law kindly had the kids for us and then we went to the local DIY store and picked up lots of bark (or wood chips, whatever takes your fancy). When we got back we moved the huge trampoline, in order to cut the grass under it, and placed it over the part of the path that is broken. The path runs straight up the length of the garden, and is cracked and loose near the house which isn’t very good for our little people. Seeing the trampoline over the broken part of the path gave us a brilliant idea… Let’s leave it there and dig a path around it!

On that note, and still feeling rather manly from my DIY work in the living room, I impulsively rammed the shovel into the grass and started digging a semi-circular path around the trampoline and back to the part of concrete path that is still ok. I really got stuck in and managed to finish it within a few hours (trust me, this is amazing for an IT geek like me, a real accomplishment)! We then filled it with some of the bark we bought and stepped back… It looked bloody brilliant! I was really chuffed with all my hard work! Knowing my newly found skill, we have now decided to create a complete semi-circle (rather than just a path) over the other side of the garden to put our table and chairs on. I think I will do this in a few weeks!

While the above two tasks were rather tiring and physical, the thing that has exhausted me the most this week is completing my wedding anniversary present for Holly. Previously I have either created a photo book online or written a poem (in fact, that’s it as there have only been 2!). This time I went one better and wrote a complete song. I’ve tried making songs before but I have never managed to fully complete one, I usually record one verse, maybe a chorus, then move on to something else. This time, however, I was determined to finish it and finish it I did.20120705-221912.jpg

It was our 3rd wedding anniversary yesterday (yes, independence day, ironic I know) and after staying up late for numerous nights and nearly waking the kids up from singing at the top of my voice to record it, I finally showed Holly. She loved it, or at least loved the fact that somebody had written her a song! I’m really pleased with it as it means I’ve finally finished a song…

So with all of the above, plus the massive, time critical project at work that was unknowingly dropped on us last week (I’m not even going in to that), the last week and a half has been extremely productive but equally exhausting.