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Zurich11

Zurich11
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Member since: 04.05.2011

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    • More +
      15.08.2011 14:03
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
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      Bake one yourself or do without!

      Tesco Finest. Raspberry & Strawberry Torte
      ************************************
      More of an Economic "Tort" than an Economical Torte!
      *******************************************
      (For the benefit of hubby who doesn't know his tort from his torte, sorry darling but you can't put clotted cream on a tort! As the basic gist is that a 'Tort' is a wrongdoing in common law as opposed to criminal law. Economic Tort - is Fraud)

      This dessert definitely lives up to my title as it certainly tastes nothing like the mouthwatering (yet fraudulent) description on the box.
      It was sold to us as "A light vanilla flavoured sponge, topped with a raspberry sauce & creamy strawberry mousse, finished with a raspberry glaze & whole Heritage raspberries". Yummmm.....


      Why We Bought It
      ****************
      We'd been invited to a BBQ early on in the summer, and were asked to take a dessert. Now normally I would have baked a large gateaux or a lemon meringue pie or something similar, however I didn't even get home from work until two hours before we due there and I still had to unpack & get ready. So we cheated! Hubby & I nipped up to the Tesco store. We scanned the various desserts on display and opted for the Tesco Finest* range.
      They had an offer on which allowed a £1 discount if you bought two desserts from the range. We chose a "Tarte Au Citron" (covered in a separate review) and a "Raspberry & Strawberry Torte" as they're the sorts of desserts I make at home. They were frozen puds so we dived off home to defrost them, whilst I slapped on my polyfiller & paint to get semi-presentable.

      I'm really glad that I fessed up to our friends that I'd only just got home & so we'd bought this pud, and I didn't try to pass this off as homemade .... Oh now come on ladies, don't pretend you've never been tempted to slap a bit of cream & garnish on a bought dish & say you've been chained to the kitchen all day! ;-)
      So what do you get for your money? .... Other than hopefully a refund & an apology! ;-)

      "A light vanilla flavoured sponge" ...... This base layer was about 7mm deep, had a general cakey texture & colour but the resemblance ends there! It didn't have any vanilla flavour that was at all discernable.
      "topped with a raspberry sauce" ..... JAM !!! And a really cheap, synthetic tasting, overly sweet one at that!

      "creamy strawberry mousse" ..... Sorry I must have missed this bit, as all I found in my slice was a gelantinous slab of stuff that made Angel Delight taste like Cordon Bleu cuisine. It wasn't light & creamy as a mousse should be, and certainly didn't taste of strawberries.
      "finished with a raspberry glaze" ...... More jam! Only this was watered down & set like jelly.

      The whole thing was then topped off with "whole Heritage raspberries" ..... ermmmm ... So that will be the THREE (3) raspberries laid out laughingly in a straight line on the top! Incidentally Mr Tesco "whole" means full, complete ones .... Can we please nip back for the rest of ours? We just got 3 broken chunks.
      It looked pathetic & tasted terrible. If this is Tesco's "Finest", then I dread to think what their Basics puds taste like.
      Next time I'll make sure I get home early enough to bake, or we'll stay in with a DVD and skip the BBQ!


      So as with all the Zurich taste tests, here's our verdict ...........


      Product Verdict From The Zurich Household
      ***********************************
      Daughter #1 is known as "Can't Cook" - Bless her, no matter how hard she tries she can't boil water (even using a pre-filled automatic electric kettle!).

      She gave this dessert 1/5 - she likes jam, so didn't mind the taste too much.



      Daughter #2 is known as "Won't Cook" - It's too much like hard work & far easier to wait for someone else to do it - I think she reckons that Fairies live in the house & magic-up meals from a sprinkle of Pixie-dust!!
      Unrated - didn't eat it as she was stuffed from eating king prawn kebabs & burgers. She really didn't like the look of it.



      Hubby is known as "Too Busy to Cook" - (PS. For 'Busy' read 'Idle' !) If it's not out of a jar, a microwave carton or a meal I've freshly-frozen for him then forget it, it's beyond him!

      He gave this 2/5 - Nothing like wee-wifey cooks (thank goodness!!) but it was fine for his notoriously sweet tooth, & once covered in cream it was ok.



      Me - I'm known as "Never Bl**dy There To Cook" - I adore cooking & baking from scratch with all fresh ingredients when I'm at home. I cook everything in huge batches & freeze fresh home-cooked food, (organised & labelled) in individual portions in two large chest freezers, so they can all eat healthy food when I'm away!

      I gave this 0/5. Tasted nothing like the description. Poor quality. Not even attractive to look at.




      Summary
      ********
      Don't bother.


      Cost
      ****
      £3 for one, or £5 for any two in the range



      Merchandising/ Packaging
      *********************
      Frozen food (defrost for 2.5-3hrs at room temp or 5.5-6hrs in fridge) We found it took just over 3 hours to defrost at room temperature, which was ok by the time everyone finished BBQ & drifted over to dessert table. By the way, you can't refreeze it once defrosted - not that you'd want to save any of this!

      It's set in a thin white plastic container & packaged in a cardboard box. It was easy to remove from packaging when frozen & so it could be arranged on a plate.



      Manufacturer/Brand
      *****************
      Tesco "Finest" range produced in the UK for Tesco.


      Size/weight of Pack
      ****************
      500g. Pack suggested it serves six (6)


      ******************************************* ******************************************
      I know that some readers get antsi over reviews containing tech data & others get antsi if it's omitted, so I've put it at the end and you can make your own choice then.
      THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS ONLY FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO READ IT !
      ****************************************** *******************************************

      Ingredients
      *************
      26% cream, water, sugar, strawberry & raspberry purees, glucose, wheat flour, eggs, flavouring, gelatine, milk proteins ..... plus a whole string of other things that sound like a list from a chemistry class.


      Nutritional Information - Typical Values
      *******************************

      Per 100g
      ********
      Energy 900 kj 215 kcal
      Protein 2g
      Carbohydrates 27.3g
      Of which sugars 20.5g
      Fat 10.8g
      Of which saturates 7.3g

      Mono-unsaturates 2.5g
      Polyunsaturates 0.4g
      Fibre 1.1g
      Sodium trace
      Salt equivalent trace

      Per Serving (83g) (One sixth of whole)
      *******************************
      Energy 745 kj 180 kcal
      Protein 1.7g
      Carbohydrates 22.7g
      Of which sugars 17g


      Allergy Advice
      ***********
      Contains milk, wheat, gluten & egg
      Contains no nuts. Cannot guarantee nut free as factory equipment used nuts.


      Storage
      *******
      Store in freezer till best before date, or fridge for 3 days.



      Many thanks. Kate xxx

      Acknowledgements & Other Information Sources
      ************************************** *******************
      Some of the information/statistics in this review are courtesy of the product packet.
      This review may appear on either of my Dooyoo or Ciao accounts under my name "Zurich11"

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      • Beer For The Boys / Internet Site / 109 Readings / 107 Ratings
        More +
        09.08.2011 16:02
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        29 Comments

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        Please visit the site and have a look at the great work being done thanks to YOU the general public

        "Beer For The Boys" is primarily not about "alcohol"!! I respect that some people on this site are tea-totallers. Some through life-style choice, some through religious beliefs.
        Those of you who are, may therefore feel BFTB is not something you can condone, but please read on & just maybe you'll understand it's really NOT about the alcohol.


        Who Was The Brains Behind "Beer For The Boys"?
        ****************************************
        "Beer for the Boys" was the brainchild of a great guy called Steve Chadwick (Wing Commander). He commands 216 Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. He began his BFTB campaign in 2007. The original aim was to provide a free can of beer to servicemen & women flying home from their Tour of Duty in Afghanistan on RAF TriStar aircraft. The TriStars are operated by his 216 Squadron. It's now become something much bigger.


        Why Start It? Why Is A Can of Beer Such A Big Deal?
        ******************************************
        When we are serving out in the Middle East possession & consumption of alcohol is forbidden. We are serving in Muslim countries and so we are forced to respect their laws & culture.
        Now not having a drink of alcohol for a few months might not seem like a big deal under normal circumstances, but please bear in mind we're out their for several (up to 6) months at a time, we're in extreme climate conditions (it gets damned cold in deserts as well as so hot you feel you're going to physically melt!), we're in & out of 'theatre' (active warzones) seeing sights that you don't even want to think about if you want to sleep tonight, we're a long way from our homes, children, family & friends.
        We're under extreme physical & psychological pressure. Even when we have 'downtime' it's not as though we can nip off sight-seeing & relax as we can when posted in many other countries or military bases away from home. Dealing with the effects of stress is a challenge in itself, before you even begin to deal with the cause of the stress!


        NB. Before I go any further, I'd like to point out that I'm not looking for sympathy here, I made my career choice & I knew what my job would entail, and I chose (& still choose) to do it! I'm simply trying to briefly explain for those of you who have never served in a war what it is like & why BFTB is so important to us.
        It isn't like the XBox & Playstation games many of you play. Unfortunately some of the scenes may be the same, but psychologically it's a million miles removed from something you can unplug & walk away from.
        Therefore a cold BFTB beer is not only thirst-quenching & relaxing beverage for us on our flight back. It is something hugely symbolic. It symbolises that we really are outta there and we really are on our way 'home' - back to safety, R&R (rest & recuperation) and back to our loved ones. Back to all the things we hold dear.

        You know when you've had a really bad day at work & you get in the car at night & breathe a sigh of relief? Well times that by a million & elongate it by 6months! Now you'll know what that one simple can of beer means to us!!
        When you travel home from holiday & the first thing you want to do is put your feet up with a cup of tea to relax for a minute & reassure yourself you're back in your own little safe haven. You know that feeling you get? Well there you go!!

        It's a simple can of beer. It's not a full litre of 40% proof brandy. So it's honestly NOT about the 'alcohol'. It means the world to some of us. It often brings forth a torrent of emotions. When those beers are handed out on the flight home we all react differently, and each return flight takes us in different ways, depending on specific circumstances.

        What effect does that one beer have on us? Well, some cry, some laugh, some cheer, some sing, some go very quiet .... But the one thing we all have in common is we thank YOU for giving us that tangible sign that we really are going home.

        I'm not a beer drinker. It's not something I would ever order through choice. But trust me, that BFTB beer tastes like nectar from the Gods!! I'm not very good at explaining this, but all I can say is the 'taste' of the beer is negligable. To be honest I don't even think I notice the taste. Once that can or bottle in my hand my mind is always racing. I can finally allow myself think of home.
        My mind is normally whirring with thoughts, many of which will probably sound stupid to you. Will hubby & girls be there when I get in? Will they be okay? What little things have I missed this time? Will the cats & the dog still recognise me? Where can we go next week to all spend quality time together? Will they have remembered to stock the fridge with "real food"? (I hate ratpacks so I miss proper food - recognisable food with fresh veg, that you don't have to read the label so you'll know what it is you're actually eating!) Will they have bought me some ice-cream & chocolate? (I crave stupid things when I know I can't have them - desert climate & chocolate or ice-cream in parcels from home don't go together) How long will I be able to spend standing in a proper shower with hot, fresh water before I look like a prune? What time will I be able to lie-in till tomorrow? (in a comfortable real-bed with clean sheets)
        I then plan in my head what I want to fit in to the next couple of weeks. And I think of a whole host of other stupid trivial things that are so important to me and I've missed.
        With that bottle in my hand I can close my eyes and I can now allow myself to remember the feel of my hubby's arms around me holding me safe. I can smell my daughters hair & touch the contours of their face.
        So that one symbolic bottle of beer shows me & tells me I'm now going home. It allows me mentally to leave that God-damned hell-hole behind & start to look forward to living again.


        I'm Not Alone
        ***********
        When he set up BFTB, Wing Commander Chadwick said "I felt it would be a nice thing to do after the guys had done their time in theatre, on behalf of a grateful nation and the RAF. The principle is that a single can of cold beer thrust into the hand of a soldier once the TriStar is safely away from the ground and out of harm's way marks the point at which he knows he is going home after six months of fighting. It is just a token, but an important one."


        Too right Sir!! It really does the job thank you.


        The Initial Aim
        ************
        Initially, BFTB aimed to provide a beer for every service person returning from Afghanistan during the RIP (Relief in Place) Operation. RIP (an unfortunate acronym to some of us) is a bi-annual 2 month long operation to replace 9,000 troops at the end of their tour.


        How Did They Start It?
        *******************
        Wing Co Chadwick first approached Scottish & Newcastle Breweries. They immediately delivered 8,000 cans of Fosters, and substantial donations were received subsequently from The Worshipful Company of Fuellers, The Worshipful Company of Plaisterers, the Three Rooms Club & the Stratford-upon-Avon branch of the Aircrew Association.
        Grolsch also made a donation of 8000 cans during that initial period.
        Wing Co. Chadwick then decided that with such growing support he would like to be able to provide all returnees from Afghanistan to UK with a beer, not just during the RIP periods, and not just those on TriStar flights.

        To put the figures in context for you, apparently the figures show we have nearly 1,000 troops returning every week from Afghan to RAF Brize Norton on 216 Squadron TriStars (many of whom are just simply returning home for 2 weeks of quick R&R in the middle of their Tour then going back in). Plus, in addition to those figures, 99 Squadron at Brize also fly home troops in C-17 Globemasters.


        How It Grew
        ***********
        In September 2009 a journalist called Sam Marsden contacted Wing Co. Chadwick after reading his article in the RAF Brize Norton magazine 'Gateway'. Sam Marsden offered help to raise awareness of "Beer for the Boys" so a few days later the Wing Co was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live to publicise the cause. Local & national media jumped on the story & it hit the news with appearances on BBC News & BBC Radio Derby. By the end of September donations totalling £10,873.90 plus 7500 cans & bottles of beer had been received at 216 Squadron's HQ at Brize. The donations included 2000 cans of "Pedigree" from Marston's, 1920 cans of "London Pride" from Fuller's, 2500 bottles of "Coors" from MA Bars, 1000 cans of "Courage Best" from Wells and Young's & 80 bottles of Tiger Bitter from Everards.
        Thankfully, the donations are still coming in.


        Growing Still
        ***********
        BFTB now has its own logo. A chap called Rob Henderson of www.caricatureaircraftpictures.com designed (free of charge) the caricature of the TriStar refuelling a beer glass. (See photographs on the 216 squadron site please - address below)
        It means that publicity materials incorporating the logo are more eye-catching & hopefully therefore will help raise awareness further.

        You can go to the BFTB website http://www.216squadron.com/downloads.html & download PR images free of charge if you wish to help raise funds for the cause (please).
        Several thousand business cards, leaflets and posters were kindly printed free of charge by Dorset Digital Print (www.dorsetdigitalprint.co.UK) which have also allowed 216 to keep spreading the word about Beer for the Boys.


        So things have gone a step further now, so as well as continuing to offer that wonderful free can of beer to every Service Person travelling home from Afghan to the UK on a TriStar, they've been able to allocate £10,000 to support a variety of homecoming events. The "Decompression Team" in Cyprus received the majority, providing each soldier who is undergoing the decompression process another can of beer. BFTB funds also went towards homecoming parties for Royal Marine's 40 Commando unit, the 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment & the 4 Force Protection Wing, RAF Regiment.
        Even family events are now benefiting from BFTB. The company "Brains" gave BFTB nearly 2000 cans of bitter that was nearing the end of its shelf life & it was gratefully accepted by RAF Benson for their Families' Day.


        Fundraising for BFTB
        ******************
        Several large cheques from fundraising events have been presented this last year. The largest was from a skydiving event at Skydive Weston. They raised an amazing £1,400! They are already planning another event. If it appeals to you, their website is www.skydiveweston.com
        Hungerford Aircrew Association organised an air day which raised over £500.

        Several branches of The Round Table have also raised money for BFTB, after they published an article in their own magazine, Tabler.
        Members of the public donate either by sending cheques by post or making payments via PayPal.

        Six crazy members of 216 Squadron completed an expedition organised by Senior Aircraftman Daniel Wellstead to raise funds for BFTB. They fixed up two very old Reliant Robin cars and decorated them to look like TriStar aircraft. They drove them from Tamworth to RAF Gibraltar & then back to RAF Brize Norton. They raised an amazing & commendable sum of over £2000!
        A four-figure donation was also made by the Three Rooms Club in London & the 216 Squadron Association.


        It isn't just the large donations though that make this such a special matter. 216 Squadron have said that "the donations that get the greatest reaction at Beer for the Boys HQ are often the small ones that are accompanied by a note saying 'I am sorry I can't afford more'. It means a lot to us that people are scrimping, saving and making genuine sacrifices to buy our troops a beer."


        Statistics So Far
        ***************
        According to the official BFTB website

        44,000 beers have donated to the cause.
        And

        £54,367.59 cash has been donated

        An amazing 63,000 beers have been delivered



        Donation Details
        **************
        You can help the troops relax with a beer in the following ways:
        Donate money ...... By cheque - cheques payable to "Service Funds RAF Brize Norton" and marked "Beer for the Boys" on the back, can be sent to this address.... Beer for the Boys, 216 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton, Carterton, Oxfordshire, OX18 3LX


        Donate beer .......... If you would rather donate beer, please contact 216 Squadron either via snail mail ...... Beer for the Boys, 216 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton, Carterton, Oxfordshire, OX18 3LX
        Or by Email: beerfortheboys@216squadron.com
        Or Phone: 01993 897393


        Offer Other Forms of Help
        If you feel you're able to help the cause in any other way, 216 would be delighted to hear from you. Novel fundraising ideas are great as they also generate media interest.



        Media Articles
        ************
        BFTB have been very fortunate to have had coverage in the media for the campaign. Here are the titles of those articles if you would like to find them on the internet & read some of the stories for yourself. (Direct links are available on BFTB own website)
        The Daily Telegraph - "RAF asks for 'beer money' donations"

        The Daily Star - "Buy a Beer for the Boys - and girls"
        Sunday Express - "BEER FOR THE BOYS"

        Fullers Press Release - "Fuller's Donates Beer for the Boys"
        Morning Advertiser - "Marston's shows Pedigree with troops donation"

        Publican - "Brewers provide 'Beer for Our Boys'"
        Burton Mail - "A taste of home for troops"

        The Leicester Mercury - "Leicestershire brewery offers beer to our boys"
        RAF Brize Norton Gateway Magazine - "Help Required - Beers for 'Our Boys'"

        Society of Independent Brewers - "Beer for the Boys"
        The Hounslow Chronicle - "Chiswick brewery's free beer for our troops"

        Everards News - "Tiger Gives Returning Troops A Taste of Home"
        Packaging Europe - "Fuller's Donates Beer for the Boys"

        Sunderland Echo - "Buy our boys a beer appeal"
        The Publican - "St Austell boosts soldiers with beer donation"

        Witney Gazette - "Give the boys a cold beer"
        Beer Today - "St Austell boosts 'Beer for the Boys' supplies"

        Oxford Mail - "Bicester Harriers go on run for beer money"
        Britain's beer scene - "The Great British Pint"



        Some of the Large Breweries & Contributers Involved
        *********************************************
        Grolsch
        Scottish and Newcastle Breweries
        Fuller's
        Marston's
        Courage
        The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)
        Everards Tiger Bitter
        MA Bars
        Holt's
        St Austell
        Arkell's
        Old Speckled Hen
        Summerskill's Brewery
        Society of Independent Brewers
        Adnams Southwold
        Round Table
        Brains
        Rob Henderson



        Personal Summary
        *****************
        I can tell you from personal experience what an amazing feeling it is to receive a BFTB beer on the way home from Afghan.
        The UK military is such a huge organisation that BFTB needs to keep in the public eye in order to maintain sufficient donation levels to keep this service up.

        My family & I donate to BFTB. They know the importance of it & how meaningful it is. Rather than seeing it as buying my own beer, I like to think that I've bought a beer for an unknown 'colleague' and hopefully made them smile & realise they are valued, appreciated & thought of.
        If you have ever donated I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting BFTB and providing all of us with such a very special gift.

        Coming home is such an emotional time, and your kindness makes it perfect.

        Many thanks. Kate xx


        PS. Well as you've probably gathered I'm back!! This last one was my quickest ever Tour of Duty! Out there 5 weeks & now I'm back home. I got in the way of a moving bullet & I didn't have on my Magic Cloak of Total Invincibility ;-)
        Seriously though I'm doing fine, just my left arm is a bit out of commission & got a pelvic fracture.
        So I'll be catching up on R/R/C & writing reviews to kill the boredom until fit for duty again.
        Kate xxx



        Acknowledgements & Other Information Sources
        ***************************************
        Some of the information/statistics in this review are courtesy of The official "Beer For The Boys" website.
        This review may appear on either of my Dooyoo or Ciao accounts under my name "Zurich11"

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        • More +
          16.06.2011 15:32
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
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          Save your money & the calories

          Tesco Finest. Tarte Au Citron
          ************************
          Made in France, but presumably by an Englishman?
          *****************************************
          This dessert certainly tasted nothing like the mouthwatering description on the box.
          It was sold to us as "An all butter pastry base with a sweet, smooth Sicilian lemon juice filling and a scattering of tangy lemon zest". ..... Sounds fattening but worth it.
          The box says it was made in France, so I was hopeful that this was going to taste authentic. It was as authentic as a £3.99 diamond encrusted Rolex!



          Why We Bought It
          *********************
          We'd been invited to a BBQ and asked to take a dessert. Now normally I would have baked a large gateaux or a lemon meringue pie or something similar, however I didn't even get home from work until two hours before we due there and I still had to unpack & get ready. So we cheated! Hubby & I nipped up to the Tesco store. We scanned the various desserts on display and opted for the Tesco Finest* range.
          They had an offer on which allowed a £1 discount if you bought two desserts from the range. We chose this "Tarte Au Citron" and a "Raspberry & Strawberry Torte" (covered in a separate review) as they're the sorts of desserts I make at home. They were frozen puds so we dived off home to defrost them, whilst I slapped on my polyfiller & paint to get semi-presentable.

          I'm really glad that I fessed up to our friends that I'd only just got home & so we'd bought this pud, and I didn't try to pass this off as homemade .... Oh now come on ladies, don't pretend you've never been tempted to slap a bit of cream & garnish on a bought dish & say you've been chained to the kitchen all day! ;-)

          So what do you get for your money? .... Other than hopefully a refund & an apology! ;-)

          "An all butter pastry base" ........ Not very buttery, totally burnt all round the edges, soggy cardboard taste underneath.

          "With a sweet, smooth Sicilian lemon juice filling" ........ A really cheap, nasty synthetic tasting, overly sweet lemon curd type filling, that was set to a rubbery consistency!

          "and a scattering of tangy lemon zest"........ Yes it had lumps in it! Tasted more like bitter chunks candied fruit.


          It looked burnt, unappetising, & tasted terrible. If this is Tesco's "Finest", then I dread to think what their Basics puds taste like.
          Next time I'll make sure I get home early enough to bake, or we'll stay in with a DVD and skip the BBQ!


          So as with all the Zurich taste tests, here's our verdict ...........


          Product Verdict From The Zurich Household
          *****************************************************
          Daughter #1 is known as "Can't Cook" - Bless her, no matter how hard she tries she can't boil water (even using a pre-filled automatic electric kettle!).

          She gave this dessert 0/5 - she loves eating fresh lemons, decent lemon curd & my homemade lemon meringue pie and so this was her field. She said it was awful & fake tasting & lousy pastry. The only taste from the pastry was the burnt taste on the edge.


          Daughter #2 is known as "Won't Cook" - It's too much like hard work & far easier to wait for someone else to do it - I think she reckons that Fairies live in the house & magic-up meals from a sprinkle of Pixie-dust!!

          Unrated - didn't eat it as she was stuffed from eating king prawn kebabs & burgers. Didn't like the look of it as it was burnt.



          Hubby is known as "Too Busy to Cook" - (PS. For 'Busy' read 'Idle' !) If it's not out of a jar, a microwave carton or a meal I've freshly-frozen for him then forget it, it's beyond him!

          He gave this 1/5 - Nothing like wee-wifey cooks (thank gawd for that!!) He has a notoriously sweet tooth, & even when covered in cream it was "nasty".



          Me - I'm known as "Never Bl**dy There To Cook" - I adore cooking & baking from scratch with all fresh ingredients when I'm at home. I cook everything in huge batches & freeze fresh home-cooked food, (organised & labelled) in individual portions in two large chest freezers, so they can all eat healthy food when I'm away!

          I gave this 0/5. Tasted nothing like the description. Poor quality. Burnt. Not even attractive to look at. Extremely disappointing.




          Summary
          ************
          Don't bother.


          Cost
          ******
          £3 for one, or £5 for any two in the range



          Merchandising/ Packaging
          *******************************
          Frozen food (defrost for 2hrs at room temp or 6hrs in fridge) We found it took just over 2 hours to defrost at room temperature, which was ok by the time everyone finished BBQ & drifted over to dessert table. By the way, you can't refreeze it once defrosted - not that you'd want to save any of this!

          It's set in a shallow tin foil container & packaged in a cardboard box. It was easy to remove from packaging when frozen & so it could be arranged on a plate.

          The box has now changed from the one shown in the picture supplied by Dooyoo.


          Manufacturer/Brand
          ************************
          Tesco "Finest" range produced in FRANCE for Tesco.



          Size/weight of Pack
          ************************
          450g. Pack suggested it serves six (6)


          *******ALL THE BORING STUFF FOR ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED****** ..........

          Ingredients
          **********
          Wheat flour, sugar, butter (14%), egg, lemon juice & a whole string of other things that sound like a list from a chemistry class.

          Nutritional Information - Typical Values
          ********************************
          Per 100g
          ************
          Energy 1345 kj 320 kcal
          Protein 4.5g
          Carbohydrates 44.2g
          Of which sugars 27.3g
          Fat 13.9g
          Of which saturates 9g
          Mono-unsaturates 3.7g
          Polyunsaturates 0.6g
          Fibre 0.5g
          Sodium 0.1g
          Salt equivalent 0.1g

          Per Serving (75g) (One sixth of whole)
          *******************************
          Energy 1010 kj 240 kcal
          Protein 3.4g
          Carbohydrates 33.2g
          Of which sugars 20.5g
          Fat 10.4g
          Of which saturates 6.7g
          Mono-unsaturates 2.8g
          Polyunsaturates 0.5g
          Fibre 0.4g
          Sodium trace
          Salt equivalent trace


          Allergy Advice
          *****************
          Contains milk, wheat, gluten & egg
          Contains no nuts. Cannot guarantee nut free as factory equipment used nuts.

          Veggie Advice
          ******************
          Suitable for Vegetarians

          Storage
          **********
          Store in freezer till best before date, or fridge for 3 days.




          Many thanks. Kate xxx



          Acknowledgements & Other Information Sources
          *********************************************************
          Some of the information/statistics in this review are courtesy of the product packet.
          This review may appear on either of my Dooyoo or Ciao accounts under my name "Zurich11"

          Comments

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            More Comments
          • More +
            08.06.2011 21:11
            Very helpful
            (Rating)
            6 Comments

            Advantages

            Disadvantages

            Amazing views & hospitality

            Some Much Needed R&R At The B&B, But It's Not For the Fat, Unfit or Feint-hearted!
            **************************** *************************************


            Why we chose The Watermark
            *************************
            I returned home from (yet another!) Tour of Duty in Afghanistan the first week of November 2010. I was pretty exhausted & in dire need of some quiet time away with my other half! He'd already done his homework in my absence, so he went on the Internet and secured a last minute booking. Alas, this is a necessary way of arranging our hols, as we've learnt the hard (expensive) way never to book or pay for any holidays in advance, as I either don't return home when I'm supposed to, or I come back injured & in no fit state to go on holiday!
            He arranged the whole thing as a 'welcome home' treat without telling me the destination or details. Two days later we set off on our magical mystery tour!
            We don't have big salaries, and we have two daughters (18yrs & 22yrs) who live at home, and they seem to think the elusive 'money tree' grows in our garden, which of course as it doesn't the dreaded 'B' word ('budget') is always a factor for us!! It keeps 'The Dubai Hilton' off our list of options these days!
            On this occasion however, hubby evidently decided to ignore the electricity bill & secretly blow our usual budget in order to get us some quiet accommodation in a picturesque location where we really could relax and he could wine, dine & pamper me (Awww). He therefore paid £270 just for the three nights basic B&B (Just between you, me & the entire www I checked our bank statement so I could write this review, and the meals, drinks & petrol made the B&B seem cheap! (Lol)

            Anyway, we wound our way down into Cornwall via the "scenic route", as he was trying to throw me off the scent as to our destination!

            For those of you travelling with a less devious husband, the route is actually quite straight forward................


            Location & Directions
            *****************
            SatNav postcode PL13 2DE,
            Looe is on the South Coast of Cornwall. It is approximately 7 miles from the A38 at the B3251 turning.
            It's 64miles (1hr 10mins) from Exeter
            It's 22miles (33mins) from Plymouth

            If you travel there by train, Looe is on the branch line off the main Penzance to Plymouth line. You need to change at Liskeard for Looe. The Watermark is then only a 15min walk along the river & quayside from the station at Looe, however there is a taxi rank at the station if you prefer. The alternative is that there is bus stop approx 5 minutes walk from main reception door.

            Looe is actually cut in two by the tidal river, and The Watermark is located across the bridge that spans the river. So technically, the hotel is in "West Looe"

            The hotel is situated very high up and a far way out along the headland, which means the noise of the town is not a problem & you are situated further out to sea than the beach area. It's a perfect location.



            Contact Details
            ************
            The Watermark, Hannafore Road , Looe, Cornwall, PL13 2DE, UK
            Tel +44(0)1 503 262123 Fax +44(0)1 503 265654 ~ Email: enquiries@looe.co.uk

            http://www.looe.co.uk/index.html




            Official Rating Details
            *****************
            The Watermark has achieved a well deserved 4 Diamond Rating Silver Award.


            My rating
            ********
            I would rate it as 4 or 4.5 out of 5 for our particular needs - however it would be a 5/5 if there had been a lift (elevator) & reserved parking!!

            2011 Tariff
            *********
            All prices are per person per night and include a full Cornish breakfast & VAT.

            Autumn/Winter - 1st October to 28th February, (except 24th - 31st December and Bank holidays) £45pppn.
            Spring/Summer - 1st March to 30th September, 24th - 31st December, Easter and Bank holidays £48pppn.

            Single Room Supplement - single room occupancy is charged at 75% of the double room rate.

            Rates for Children:
            6 months to 1yr - Free of Charge
            2yrs to 9yrs - £10 per night (sharing a room with 2 adults)
            10yrs to 16yrs - £15 per night (sharing a room with 2 adults )
            Single Night Supplement
            A supplement of £10pppn will be requested for stays of one night during high season and public holidays.

            Single Occupancy Supplement
            A supplement of £10 per night is charged for a single person in a double room.


            Vouchers
            ********
            A lovely novel gift option if you're short of ideas, is that the hotel sells gift vouchers for you to present to someone for them to stay at The Watermark as a treat (so much nicer than cash I think). I'd certainly be happy to find one of these vouchers in my Christmas stocking (hint-hint, hubby if you're reading this!!)


            Staff/Management
            ****************
            Fantastic!! Nothing is too much trouble for the staff, they go all out to make your stay comfortable & relaxing. The hotel is a family run business. Husband and wife team Ash & Debbie and sister-in-law Sharon are on the go non stop from dawn till dusk. They were chatty, friendly, polite and most hospitable.
            Sharon especially, is a star! Even though it was our first visit, she welcomed us on the day we checked in as though we were well known regular visitors. There was nothing gushing, phoney or OTT about it, just a truly warm welcome. She explained that the hotel was very quiet that weekend but she would still be around all the time if we needed anything at all and to make ourselves at home (I did briefly panic that meant I'd have to wash up and cook the breakfast (lol). True to her word, she was there when required but never hovering or in your face. She personally showed us up to our suite, gave us a quick guided tour of the building & explained everything to us.
            There were small touches that went such a long way, such as when she asked our plans for the evening hubby simply stated we were staying in that night with special nibbles he packed & a bottle of wine etc in the room, she appeared with a tray, cutlery, side-plates, glasses, bucket of ice & a corkscrew.
            I was unable to sleep on one of the nights (the joys of post-warfare acclimatization!) and I went downstairs (in my PJ's and dressing gown) to the lounge with my book (so the light wouldn't waken hubby) Sharon brought me a drink and dimmed the big lights so I could sit with the lamp to read comfortably but so I'd be able to see out of the huge plate glass windows without the lights glaring on them. The fact that I was comfortable enough to go down in my dressing gown speaks volumes, as that isn't something I would normally ever do in a hotel!



            Lounge & Bar Area
            ***************
            The lounge has free Wi-fi if you require connection. It is an open plan contemporary looking lounge-bar. There are huge, comfortable leather sofas that call out to be curled up in! You can sit for hours watching through massive lounge windows & see what they describe as the "ever changing coastal scenery of returning fishing boats and marine life", the hustle of the town below & the changes along the tidal river. We watched an injured Sea-dooer being rescued & brought safely to the shore, fishermen on the pier, small trawlers at work, beach activities etc, all from the warmth & comfort of the lounge.
            They have two webcams permanently set up in the lounge that are trained on the amazing panoramic view outdoors. You can log on to the website 24hrs a day and look at the live-time view. (web site details listed above). There are lovely clean toilets downstairs near the bar, so you don't have to keep trailing up three floors to your room.
            Breakfast is served in the dining area of the bar/lounge.




            Bedroom Amenities & Additional Services
            *********************************
            There are nine bedrooms at The Watermark. They are light, spacious & relaxing with clean fresh contemporary decor.

            We stayed in "The Helford Suite", but we sneaked a peak in two other rooms (that were unoccupied), whilst the doors were open as beds were being made up etc. The rest of the rooms we saw only via pics on the website.

            There's a good choice of bedrooms to suit most needs - doubles, singles and family rooms.

            All rooms are have en-suite facilities. Towels are clean, white & fluffy - my only personal gripe with them was that you are only given hand towels and bath towels, and I prefer bath sheets. I hate not being able to wrap a towel round me properly when I get out of the shower!

            Rooms are well equipped with quality guest amenities to ensure a comfortable & pleasant stay.

            Amenities such as - Remote Controlled Colour Freeview TV, CD Player, Kettle with an Extensive Hospitality Tray (including gorgeous biscuits, tea, coffee, Horlicks, drinking chocolate, milk etc), Luxury Complimentary Toiletries, Hair Dryer, Digital Safe, Alarm Clock, Radio and a very handy 'Welcome Pack' with brochures & details of restaurants and places to visit that are personally recommended by the staff.


            An iron and ironing board is available from reception, we just asked Sharon & she sorted it out straight away for us.

            Drying facilities are also provided for guests on request.

            Fridge facilities are available for guest use downstairs in the kitchen near the ground floor dining room.

            Wi-fi is available in the lounge and bar area, but we found that our O2 mobile phone reception & laptop '3' dongle connection was perfect in the room, we had no problems with it.

            By law, the bedrooms are of course all non smoking areas, which is something we personally find great as non-smokers, we used to hate hotels smelling of lingering smoke from previous guests! Although, ashtrays are provided out on the private balconies if you are a smoker.


            The staff do point out to you on arrival that the hotel is fitted with the latest Fire and Smoke Detection System etc and there is emergency lighting throughout the building, but they do request that guests with impaired hearing should make this known to them on arrival, due to the layout of the premises.




            Bedrooms Available
            ****************
            HELFORD - (This was our room). It was a double room with a sun lounge & private balcony! It had the most amazing sea view. The room was decorated in calming colours - sort of soft cream & duck egg pastels. It was looking a little faded & jaded, but was very clean. There was a comfortable double bed (good quality cotton bedlinen), shaker style furniture - two bedside cabinets, wardrobe, chest of drawers etc in the main part of the bedroom. There was a door leading to a small but clean & functional tiled en-suite with shower cubicle, and at the opposite side of the bedroom there were two smaller arches and one double door size arch that led you into the small sun lounge. In there was a sofa, coffee table, chest of drawers & the TV, kettle etc. The sliding patio doors in the sun lounge led out to private balcony which had a table and chairs. The room was warm and snug. The double glazing & heavy curtains meant that at night-time it was also quiet & restful.

            The totally amazing view was not just visible from the balcony, we were able to sit in the room or in the sun lounge and enjoy the vista! The Helford Suite had uninterrupted view overlooking the river, the Banjo Pier, the beach, all of the town of Looe & the coastline for miles!! At The Watermark, when they say "room with a sea-view" they truly mean it, and it isn't like some hotels where you can see the sea on a clear day whilst standing on one leg tiptoeing & balancing out of the far corner of a window!!

            We were staying there on the weekend that all the Bonfire Night celebrations & Fireworks Displays were being held in Looe and many other towns along the extensive coastline. Oh what a sight!! It was superb. We turned the lights off and curled up together on the sofa with a bottle of wine (or three! ;-)) and watched hundreds of fireworks light the sky with a myriad of dancing flashing colours for miles around. It was such a wonderful evening. We watched large candle-powered Chinese wish-lanterns being released from the cliff tops at the opposite side of the bay and be carried out in the pitch night sky for miles over the sea.

            I would highly recommend you grabbing the chance to stay for a romantic weekend in the Helford Suite during Bonfire celebrations 2011 if you get the opportunity to!!


            The other rooms are ............................... (as per brochure description)

            "FOWEY - Super king with sea view
            Decorated in contemporary coastal colours ,this room features a comfy super king size bed .Flat Screen TV. And patio doors lead out to a large private balcony overlooking the river and beach, and Harbour. The Bathroom is furnished with a shower over bath."

            "TAVY - Double room, no sea view
            Although having no sea view this room is warm and inviting and stylishly decorated with spotlights and flatscreen TV. The bathroom is furnished with shower over bath."

            "LYNHER - Double room
            Lynher is situated on the first floor, with patio doors leading out to a large private balcony overlooking the river and beach. The room is decorated in warm natural colours with a Victorian style queen size bed. The bathroom is furnished with a shower cubicle."

            "FAL- Single room
            This is situated on the side of the hotel and is a bright and airy room ,and features an ensuite shower room."

            "CAMEL - Double room
            A double room situated on our second floor. Decorated in fresh coastal shades, the room is well equipped with flat screen TV, and private balcony overlooking the beach and river. Bathroom features sandstone tiling and has a shower over bath."

            "TAMAR - Family room/Double
            Brand new for 2009 With its large picture window this is certainly a room with an amazing view. This is a family room situated on the second floor, which can also be let as a larger double room. The Bathroom is furnished with a shower cubicle. Double patio doors lead out to private balcony, overlooking the river and beach, and along miles of Cornish Coastline."

            "WEST LOOE - Family room
            Features a double bed and a single bed. Recently refurbished with wooden flooring and 32" flat screen TV. Although no balcony, the room offers a side sea view with views of the pier and coastline. The bathroom is furnished with a shower cubicle."

            The 'Camel', 'Tamar', and 'West Looe' rooms are adjoining rooms, providing access for carers or families.



            Alternatively, out of the main building there is ..............

            "The Terrace Suite"


            It is a large suite consisting of a double bedroom, a twin bedroom, a TV lounge, a small kitchen area (with small fridge & microwave), and a bathroom with shower cubicle. It has a large terrace overlooking the beach. There is a table and chairs and a gas BBQ. It's set up for a family of four or for couples seeking a larger suite.

            However, I've got to say that when we went to look at it with a view to returning this summer with the girls, we weren't at all impressed with it. When we viewed it, it was tatty, old-fashioned and shabby looking.

            But The Watermark website now (June 2011) has photo's of "The Terrace Suite" & it looks quite nice now. Certainly a lot better than when we personally viewed it in Nov 2010. Their webpage is ......
            http://www.looe.co.uk/terrace.htm
            They state that ..."The Terrace Suite is equipped with remote controlled colour TVs, DVD player, CD player, extensive hospitality tray, luxury complimentary toiletries, hair dryers and alarm/clock radios."

            2011 Tariff for the suite is.....
            1st Oct - 28th Feb (except 24th-31st Dec & Bank Hols) £45pppn
            1st March - 30th Sept - £48.00pppn
            All Prices are per person per night & include full Cornish breakfast & VAT.

            Think we might give it a try with our daughters later on this year, & I'll let you know what it's like.





            Breakfast
            ********
            The Watermark say they pride themselves on serving "wonderful home cooked hearty breakfasts ..... Using the finest West Country produce", and they say "we invite you to relax with the daily newspapers and plan your day ahead". They don't just 'say' this, they actually follow it through and provide the food and the atmosphere conducive to a relaxed, satisfying breakfast experience. You certainly don't go out hungry in the morning. Background music is subtle and not annoying and there is full waitress service during breakfast.



            Breakfast Menu is ........

            From the Buffet:

            Selection of fruit juices
            Grapefruit Segments
            Fresh fruit
            Large selection of cereals and muesli
            Warm Croissants and pastries

            English breakfast Tea
            Earl Grey Tea
            Cafetieres of fresh blended Arabica coffee
            Hot Chocolate

            Choice of wholemeal or white toast
            Selection of West Country preserves
            Cornish Honey


            To complement our Buffet, they also offered a delicious freshly cooked breakfast: ....... "Full Cornish Breakfast, with Sausage, Bacon, Hogs pudding, Tomato, Sautéed Potatoes, Mushrooms, and Eggs cooked to your liking". It was very well cooked, packed with fresh tasty ingredients & most enjoyable.

            They also offer a vegetarian breakfast of ..... Boiled Eggs, Poached or Scrambled Free Range Eggs, Poached Haddock served with poached eggs or Grilled Kipper Fillets. Gluten free diets can also be provided. Didn't try the fish, because although I like it, the smell of it first thing in the morning just doesn't do it for me!!



            Further Note Regarding Food
            ************************
            The hotel doesn't serve lunch or evening meals. However Looe has got such a huge number of cafe's, restaurants and take-aways, catering for all tastes and pockets that you certainly won't be short of choice! We had some lovely meals during our stay.



            Hotel Policies (their words not mine!) (don't shoot the mesenger ;-))
            *****************************************************
            "Pets
            We are sorry but, although animal lovers ourselves, we are unable to accept pets. Guide dogs are accepted by prior arrangement. Feeding & water bowls can be provided."

            "Children
            We welcome children of 5 years and over. For children under 5 years of age proprietor's discretion is applicable."

            "Smoking Policy
            The Watermark is non smoking with the exception of outdoor areas and room balconies."

            "Car Parking
            This is at a premium in Looe, we do have 6 parking bays set on a very restrictive back road. We do not guarantee availability of parking spaces and parking is at the customers own risk. The Watermark does not accept liability for damage howsoever caused to customers vehicles parked on our property. Guest should carry out the normal security measures and carry adequate insurance."



            Parking & Access
            **************
            Parking is a BIG drawback to staying at The Watermark! We have a 4x4 vehicle and it was a nightmare parking it in the hotel parking bay. There is only room for 6 vehicles and it's first come first served, you can't reserve a space! Although it is private parking, we came back on two days to find that locals or non-resident visitors to Looe had parked in the bays, leaving us nowhere to park (it's double yellow lines and horrendously narrow roads with tight bends everywhere around) There is "unlimited free parking along the sea front beyond the hotel" but it is one heck of a walk, and in the Summer I would imagine it's a nightmare finding a parking space full stop!
            The other major issue regarding parking is that even if you're lucky enough to park in one of the six small bays at the back of the hotel, you then have to go down two flights of very steep narrow wooden steps to the building's rear entrance, and then down three whole floors of VERY steep narrow stairs to get down to reception! It really is a pain!!
            You aren't allowed to go out of the building with your key (which has a very large wooden paddle attached to the key!). They explained your key must be hung up at reception as a fire safety measure so they know you're out of the building. The drawback is it means you have to keep traipsing up and down over three floors just to get the key instead of going straight to your room when you come in the back door.
            The very narrow stairs and the steepness made it hard work getting suitcases up and down from car to room etc. You can't load yourself up as you then can't physically fit up the stairs!! There is NO lift in the building. We were kn*ckered by the time we'd made three trips each on the day of checkout to get luggage, carriers of souvenirs, winter coats etc up to the car.
            The front of the hotel is no better, if you look at the photo you will see the building is built into a cliff so there are lots of stone steps from the road (where there is no parking at all) up to the 'ground floor' reception.
            I certainly wouldn't want to stay there with young children, or heaven forbid a baby in a pram! Wheelchair access is out of the question. Elderly or unfit guests would struggle and might not manage at all. Likewise, obese guests would not be able to get up the narrow stairs & along corridors with ease.




            A little bit about Looe
            ******************

            Cornwall's Looe is a picturesque fishing town that was first chartered in 1270AD. It has an interesting history, with piracy, smuggling & seafaring having been a way of life in Looe for centuries. The town is dissected by one of the rivers, and there is a single road bridge crossing over it separating busy East Looe from the much quieter West Looe (where The Watermark is). There are two rivers and a tidal Harbour, a long pier called the Banjo Pier due to its shape. Some of the old cobbled streets by the bustling waterfront are lined with quaint buildings that date back centuries. Looe is the home to one of Cornwall's biggest fishing fleets, and you can watch them unload their daily catch down at the quay. There is a lovely family-friendly sandy beach for lazy days or if you're feeling particularly energetic the coastal paths offer views of reputedly some of the finest scenery in the country! There are lots of shops, restaurants, bars and an amusement arcade in the town, and local fishing, sailing & golfing to pass the time away.


            Summary
            ********
            If you're fit and child-free and looking for a lovely relaxing break with stunning scenery & good food, then The Watermark is the place to stay.

            My rating
            *******
            Would rate it as 4 or 4.5 out of 5 for our particular needs - a 5/5 would have been a lift & reserved parking!!



            **************************************************


            Thank you for reading this review & hope you enjoyed it xx



            Acknowledgements & Other Information Sources
            ***************************************
            Some of the information in this review (i.e. Other bedroom details/descriptions & Menu etc) are courtesy of The Watermark website/brochure.

            This review may appear on either of my Dooyoo or Ciao accounts under my name "Zurich11"

            Comments

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            • More +
              08.06.2011 20:57
              Very helpful
              (Rating)
              12 Comments

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Lousy place & lousy customer service from owners

              Two important points ....
              1) Please do NOT confuse this "Great Western, Newquay" with the "BEST WESTERN" Hotel, Newquay - approx 750yrds away, which seemed quite nice but I can't comment personally on it.
              2) Please note that due to our letter of complaint (& substantiating photographic evidence) submitted to the hotel owners (St Austell Brewery), many of the website details I mention in the 'prior to booking info' have changed incase you check the site, although hopefully more people will be aware the Great Western is not WYSIWYG on the main advert pics - in reality it's dire unless you pay top dollar!!




              Why we chose the Great Western Hotel, Newquay
              *****************************************
              On a dismal Sunday afternoon (3rd April) we decided to book a few days away together for our Anniversary (9th April). As I'd only just returned home on leave after yet another Tour of Duty in Afghan it was a last minute booking as usual. Anyone having read my other hotel review will know, this is a necessary way of arranging our hols, as we've learnt the hard (expensive) way never to book or pay for any holidays in advance, as I either don't return home when I'm supposed to, or I come back injured & in no fit state to go on holiday!
              So we looked on the Internet at "Booking.com" & we were impressed with the photographs & details provided for the Great Western in Newquay.
              The price was comparable to many other hotels with similar ratings & photo's, and it wasn't at the cheapest end of the range (which if it had, it might have given us a clue to how bad it was!)

              The website we used was ...............

              http://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/great-western.html

              The site had 38 photographs of the hotel. Most importantly, 16 of the photo's were of the bedrooms and bathrooms. They were ALL pictures of clean, modern, spacious rooms. Please understand, I'm not stupid & I'm not naive so I know that adverts are designed to show off a place to the best advantage, so if there had only been one or two pics of rooms I would have been suspicious of the standard for the price - albeit a last minute booking so prices were lower than usual. However, we both felt that with such a large number of photographs on display, the pics would therefore be pretty much representative of the hotel as a whole..... Cor blimey how wrong we were!

              Further to this, the web description was ................................

              "Situated in Newquay's lively centre, this 3-star hotel offers an impressive cliff-top terrace and bright bedrooms with free Wi-If. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the restaurant serves fresh local seafood. The spacious rooms at Great Western Hotel Newquay have an en suite bathroom and free toiletries. All rooms also offer tea and coffee facilities and a hairdryer, and many have beautiful sea views and comfortable seating areas."



              Crucial Confirmation
              ****************
              I telephoned the hotel to check availability, clarify several important details & ultimately secure a booking.
              We wanted Bed & Breakfast for 3 nights (Friday afternoon 8th April to Monday morning 11th April). Whilst on the telephone, I asked the member of staff to confirm the price quoted on the Internet of £140 was fully inclusive for 2 Adults, full B&B, Tax, VAT etc, and there were no hidden surcharges.
              She replied in the affirmative that the "£140 was all inclusive". (I'll explain the importance of this further down the review).

              I then asked about the parking situation (guessing a very busy holiday town like Newquay would probably have limited spaces available on the public road). I also needed to know how near the hotel parking was for "Blue Badge Holders" (disabled drivers), as it now is unfortunately relevant for hubby.
              The receptionist said they have a small number of private parking bays available in their secure forecourt, and would reserve a space for us right at the front of the hotel. She added that there would be no charge providing we had the "Blue Badge" displayed (which we subsequently did each day).
              Based on all of that, I happily made the booking & immediately paid her the required £35 deposit by debit card over the phone.



              Menagerie? Cats, Hens & Stags
              *************************
              We arrived on Friday 8th April, & after being asked to sign in and pay the remaining £105, we were given the key to Room 201. The room was small, dingy & nothing like any of the photo's on the website. Unfortunately we'd left our two cats at home. A shame really as they'd have been safe there, as there was certainly no chance of swinging either of them around in the room!
              Room 201 is situated right at the front of the building (the window is positioned over the hotel's front door) It is directly facing a row of noisy bars, shops & the very busy main road. So there's no view of the sea or any of the many beaches, however we would have had a fabulous chance to be kept awake so we could watch & listen to all the drunken 2am hen & stag party revelries outside the bars opposite!
              I therefore asked at reception if we could change rooms as it was not suitable.
              Incidentally, although we sussed that Newquay is a popular place for hens, stags & other noisy drunken parties, the hotel is located at the quieter & slightly more expensive end of Newquay (away from 'back-packer' places & 'the all-night party beach/clubs/bars'), plus the Great Western hotel policy states they "can only accept bookings for a maximum of Two Rooms for Single Sex Parties and they do not accept group bookings".




              Romantic Weekend? - Ha the Irony!! Hobson's Choice
              *******************************************
              We were offered a choice of just two other rooms. Room 71 or a "twin room" - without wishing to be crass, I think it's safe to say most people will surely agree a twin room was hardly a suitable suggestion for an Anniversary weekend! We declined the twin, and rather than lose our deposit & have nowhere to stay, or face having had a wasted a 150mile round trip, we reluctantly accepted Room 71.
              We had to pay a £30 upgrade fee (£10 per night).
              Now please remember at this point, that we had secured a "disabled" parking place at the front door.
              So the irony of their choice of alternative room didn't escape us. Room 71 is a bl**dy route march and a half from reception.
              To get there entailed having to carry our own luggage through SEVEN fire doors, climbing up THREE flights of winding stairs, taking a trip in the elevator & then hiking through a very long maze of narrow corridors to the further end of the double-building & up into the eaves of the hotel!!
              Even 'Sherpa Tenzing' would have had to stop half way for oxygen. I was kn*ckered when we got there, so poor hubby was definitely feeling more like Sir Edmund Hilary than Cassanova when we finally reached our attic summit.




              Our Room - Would you Adam & "Eave" it?!
              *********************************
              As the room was at the back of the hotel, it had a really lovely view of the sea (Atlantic Ocean) & the beach through its small attic window. It also meant it was quiet outside with the window open.

              However, the room, was just about as far removed as you could possibly get, from the range of rooms & en-suites advertised on the Internet!
              It had a broken bedside brass lamp that swiveled dangerously around when used & had just a tatty piece of string to operate it.
              There was only one bedside cabinet, as the room was too small to accommodate two.
              Because it was an attic room, there were large sloping roof beams positioned directly over the bed - as hubby found out when he sat up in bed at night. Ouch!!
              There was only one plug socket next to the bed, and like just about all other couples these days, we had a mobile phone each that needing charging & we use them as bedside clocks during the night - especially as there was no clock in the room.
              We had to charge hubby's phone via the only other socket in the room, which happened to be near the dresser so that meant keep swapping the plug over when using hair straighteners or laptop etc.
              The general decor was nasty. The walls were covered with 1970's woodchip & Anaglypta that had emulsion paint on, but the paper was peeling & paintwork was in patches, and in dire need of redecoration.
              The "dressing table" was not usable, as it was also where the TV, the kettle & the tray of cups etc were stationed - plus it was stuck in a dark alcove with no mirror!
              Regarding the drinks tray, the cups were dirty & the longlife milk was dated 18th March so it was 3.5 weeks out of date.
              With the exception of the one dressing table stand-chair, there was no seating area (as per the majority of photo's on the Internet). The wardrobes were strange shaped, grubby built-in-cupboards that had large cobwebs in them & were still decorated with the old carpet & the old paint colours.
              The main light in the room had a cheap nasty cardboard lampshade. The glass light fitting in the bathroom was full of dead insects. The light switches & plugs were badly damaged fittings.
              The radiator leaned off the wall but was needed as it was the only source of heat for the room & bathroom & it was the only place to dry the bathroom towels.

              The en-suite door was a noisy sliding door (required as there was insufficient space to open a normal hinged door in the room!) We each had to fumble around in the dark in the middle of the night, as we couldn't put the bathroom light on, due to it automatically operating a very noisy extractor fan which wakened up a sleeping partner! (The bathroom door is only approx 20" from the pillow end of the bed!)
              The outdated avocado bathroom suite was nothing like the clean modern suites they chose to show in all adverts to be representative of the hotel! The cheap plastic 1970's style bathroom mirror was deteriorated all around the glass. The trapdoor in the bathroom ceiling allowed dirt to constantly fall through onto the toilet. The tiles were damaged in several places around the bathroom, so were unhygienic and unsightly. The shaving light didn't work.
              The plastic wall mounted hairdryer was filthy & was so pathetic it was as effective an asthmatic geriatric blowing on you.
              The nasty, plastic shower head was caked in limescale & really awful. The shower cubicle was dirty, and the grouting mouldy. The rubber bath mat was exactly that - a "bath" mat, so when used in the shower it was too long & too narrow for the square shower cubicle.
              The "free toiletries" were not fit for use! They were two dirty pump bottles of fruit type shower gel & handwash. They were half empty & the outsides of the bottles were clouded with soap scum as a result of being used by total strangers - so not really the sort of thing you wanted to shower with! Plus they had no security seal to ensure nothing else had been introduced into the products.





              Bed & Breakfast - What breakfast??
              ****************************
              We went down to breakfast on the first morning (Saturday) and were told that we had to pay for our breakfast, as it wasn't included! We paid as we were hungry & no-one was on reception to deal with the matter immediately & breakfast was due to end soon. I subsequently went to complain at reception later in the morning when a member of staff was present, thinking we'd get a refund. However although the receptionist was very polite, she was unable to help, as she said the breakfast was "not included" & we'd "paid for room only", even though I explained I had clearly & specifically asked on the phone if the price was fully inclusive! By way of apology, she offered us a free breakfast for just one morning (pointing out however that did not include juice or cereal, so we still had to pay for those - and pay for breakfasts in full for the other two days).

              The food at breakfast was not of any kind of consistent standard, it ranged from cold & greasy to hot & fresh. Even the amounts given varied daily for the standard "Cornish cooked breakfast". For example - one morning I got half a piece of toast, lots of beans, one tiny sausage, one egg, one mushroom, half a tomato, and one piece of bacon - Hubby however got a full piece of toast, a few beans, one large Cumberland type sausage, one egg, one mushroom, half a tomato, and two pieces of very fatty bacon. We paid the same amount though! It's the sort of thing that just niggled us even further!


              Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 9.30am according to Booking.com, but hotel staff say breakfast is served until 12noon. See, they can't even get their stories straight on such a simple thing as breakfast times!

              Breakfast options are .......
              Cold Selection which is £5.00 per person.
              Includes: Cereals, fruit juices, bakery items, toast, preserves, yoghurt, fruit salad, tea and coffee

              Or
              Full Cornish Breakfast which is £7.50 per person.
              Includes: Bacon, pork sausages, Fried or scrambled eggs, mushrooms, grilled tomato plus your choice of items from the Self service cold selection.

              Children's Breakfast (Under 16's) £3.75 per child. They get "Any combination of items from the cold or full Cornish breakfast selections".
              Under 2's seated in highchairs. Free


              The Hotel's "Steam" Bar & Restaurant
              ******************************
              The hotel's bar and restaurant is called "Steam". They provide informal dining, drinks & snacks in relaxed comfortable surroundings. They open at breakfast time, and are open till late night.
              There is a large garden terrace for al fresco dining, a small under-cover outdoor area, a contemporary indoor restaurant, a function room and a large bar area.

              The food is GREAT!! It is well worth a visit as the food in the afternoon & evening is fresh, tasty & very good value. The portions are huge. They offer "specials" - things like beautiful local fish with all the trimming for an average of £15 and you won't leave the table hungry. The Moules & Frites are lovely & only £9.15 for huge bowl of mussels. They offer a Friday night & Monday night deal of Steak and all the trimmings for Two People plus a bottle of red wine for £25 - the portions are large and the red wine is fair quality.
              The BBQ ribs looked like a scene from the Flintstones opening credits, you get a full rack of ribs with fries, coleslaw and salad. At £8.45 it's a huge meal and very tasty.

              We also enjoyed the "Sharing Plates" ......... (the nachos were enough for 4, the combo was enough for 2-3)

              Nachos were with tomato salsa, soured cream, melted cheese and jalapenos £6.15 (Add beef chilli for only £2.00)
              Combo Platter was breaded scampi, chicken wings, onion rings, garlic bread,potato wedges, BBQ sauce & garlic Mayo £8.95

              I suggest you get the combo as a snack instead of the sandwiches, as they aren't as nice and are approx £6-£7 each
              I would certainly eat there if we were in the area, but no way would I stay in the hotel again!

              The bar isn't that well stocked. They only had one brand of whisky, they ran out of Bailey's on the Saturday night, they ran out of one of the beers on tap on Saturday eve (much to the annoyance of a group of guys staying there!) Some of the staff are lovely & friendly, some of them are obviously just working to pay bills and not graduates of Dale Carnegie's course "How to win friends & influence people"! ;-))
              The views from the outdoor terrace & some areas of the restaurant are fantastic. The terrace is set on a piece of cliff that juts outs to sea, with a beach on each side of it.

              "Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome in the garden, and on the slate floored area of the bar restaurant"



              Location & Directions
              *****************
              SatNav postcode TR7 2NE,
              Newquay is on the Northern Coast of Cornwall. It is just off the A3058.
              It's 82.1miles (1hr 22mins) from Exeter
              It's 49.9miles (1hr 5mins) from Plymouth.
              Without SatNav, directions are ...... Leave the A30 sign-posted Newquay A392. Follow the signs for Newquay and continue for approximately 5 miles to Quintrell Downs. At the roundabout take the right-hand exit into Quintrell Road (A3058) over the level crossing (sign-posted Newquay Porth and Henver Road). Carry along this road for approximately 3 miles. You go straight over two mini roundabouts. After the second one continue for 400yds. The Great Western Hotel is on the right.

              Located up on a clifftop, the Great Western is just 200 metres from Newquay Railway Station.
              The National Express Coach Station is on Manor Road Newquay TR7 1JF approximately 0.6miles away
              The hotel is situated between Great Western Beach and Tolcarne Beach. The famous Fistral Beach is just metres away.

              Newquay Airport is a 15-minute drive away.
              Taxi ranks are found all over the town.




              Contact Details
              ************
              Great Western, Cliff Road , Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 2NE, UK
              Tel: 01637 872010
              http://www.greatwesternnewquay.co.uk



              Official Rating Details
              *****************
              The Great Western has a 3 Star Rating.
              It is classed as a 'Hotel'. It has 42 rooms according to its own website & 72 rooms according to the Booking.com site! (Go figure!?)

              It is part of the "St Austell Brewery" chain.



              My rating
              ********
              I would rate the accommodation as 0/5 (ZERO out of FIVE)



              2011 Tariff
              *********
              In April .......
              Room 201 would have been £50 for Friday night, £50 for Saturday night, and £40 for Sunday night (ROOM ONLY)
              Room 71 actually cost us £60 for Friday night, £60 for Saturday night, and £50 for Sunday night (ROOM ONLY)


              The website is currently showing tariff for May to be ..........
              Standard Single: £70
              Standard: £80
              Sea View: £100
              Premium Sea View: £140
              Superior Sea View: £180

              PLUS .......... Parking at £5 per vehicle, per night ...... Unless 'Blue Badge Holder'
              PLUS ...........Breakfast & any food, drinks etc

              Offer is available Sunday - Thursday until 26th May. Price is per room, for 2 nights on a room only basis. Offer is subject to vailability and is on selected dates only.




              Other Hotel Rooms
              ***************
              These details are according to their own website & not what booking.com state or based on our personal attic experience!

              The Great Western Hotel, Newquay has 42 (??) bedrooms (72 according to another site). They are .....

              "Superior - Spoil yourself in the sumptuous luxury of a Superior room. With the best views in the house, you can take in the breathtaking seascape while you luxuriate in the high quality surroundings."
              "Premium - Our refurbished premium room offer greater luxury and guaranteed sea views."
              "Standard - The majority of our bedrooms are Standard. These rooms are awaiting refurbishment and offer simple décor at a good price. If you want to get out and about and enjoy the best of what Newquay and Cornwall have to offer, then our Standard rooms provide an excellent value resting place. A number of our standard room are suitable for families and can accommodate up to 2 adults and 2 children under 14 years of age." <<<<<<< (Please note the website changes have been made as a result of our complaint so prospective guests now are aware of the varying standards etc - see details of our complaint settlement below) >>>>>>>>>
              "PLEASE NOTE : THE MAXIMUM ADULT OCCUPANCY FOR ANY ROOM TYPE IS 2 ADULTS"
              "Whichever room you choose, we can guarantee cleanliness and comfort. Rooms tend to be large and bright. All are en-suite with bath or shower and provide complimentary toiletries, TV, phone and facilities to make hot drinks."



              Hotel Policies
              ***********
              Family rooms accomodate up to 2 adults and 1 or 2 children under 14 years of age
              Prices are per room per night.
              Breakfast is served between 8am and 12pm, please contact reception for further information.
              On site parking £5 per car per night (must be booked in advance as spaces are very limited)
              To save time when you check-in, an express check-in service is available. Just call the hotel 48 hours prior to arrival, between 6pm-8pm and pay the balance of your stay. Then when you arrive at the hotel you will only need to collect your key.
              Smoking Policy - It is non smoking with the exception of outdoor areas.
              The Hotel can only accept bookings for a maximum of Two Rooms for Single Sex Parties.
              The hotel does not accept group bookings



              Parking & Access
              **************
              Parking is a BIG drawback to staying at The Great Western not only from a distance point of view when loading/unloading, but more importantly from a car-security point of view.
              The hotel has very few parking spaces for residents. They do say that there is a large Pay and Display public car park on Tolcarne Road within a short walk of the hotel. However it's quite a walk, very expensive & not secure (Newquay has quite a high rate of crime) We saw the carpark & there seemed to be a lot of broken glass on there.
              You need to ask at Reception when booking to see if they can reserve you a space in the hotel carpark - but it will cost you £5 per car per night to park there - unless you have a disabled blue badge, and then they waive the fee.

              The carpark has a security barrier on the entrance and once you've booked in they will give you an access code.
              Parking spaces are very tight & not easy to get into. We have a 4x4 and it was a bit of a nightmare to get into the space they allotted us. We found it was easier to reverse into the space in an evening so we could drive out forward in the mornings, as they also had workmen's van on the carpark each morning. Plus the carpark entrance is right on the main road which is very busy during the day & you also have to traverse the footpath, so it's easier to exit forward in a morning when traffic and pedestrians at the peak!
              Parking is on a first come first served. Although you can reserve a space, remember there are far more rooms than parking spaces! They place you name on a placard on the wall for the length of your stay to reserve your specific bay.


              Our Complaint
              ************
              I was so damned miffed about the whole experience & the feeling of being conned by the Great Western & their flagrant misrepresentation of facilities, that I wrote a detailed letter of complaint & provided them with photographs to substantiate our grievances.


              I feel that I chose my career in the military & knew what I was letting myself in for, so spending months living in old fashioned grubby military tents with no space to move, limited amenities, noisy neighbours & carrying my kit for miles to get to accommodation, along with sharing grotty showers with a multitude of insects, eating lousy 'Ration Packs' & wishing I was back home in a comfy clean bed is unfortunately part and parcel, therefore it's safe to say I'm definitely used to "slumming it", but that's the nature of warfare (and it's FREE), but it's sure as heck not what I expect to have to put up with when I'm on holiday and when I'm paying for it!

              We now realise (AFTER the event) that the hotel is undergoing 'restoration' and being modernised. The staff apologised for the noise of the workmen in the hotel, & the tools, flat-pack furniture, loos etc scattered along the corridors!!
              But neither the Internet advert or the receptionist on the phone at the time of booking made any mention of this.
              If we had been informed prior to us actually paying a non-refundable deposit & travelling 75 miles to get there we wouldn't have booked.
              We also were not told we might get put in a room that was time-warped & grotty.
              The photographs did not show a mix of rooms available, they only showed lovely clean, modern, spacious rooms!
              It was highly misleading to say the very least. We feel cheated by the whole experience. I would certainly not recommend The Great Western to anyone.

              We complained to St Austell Brewery on 16th April and after a few nudges they finally agreed to refund us £70 on the 17th May 2011.
              We paid £200 - £140 for 3 nights +£30 upgrade + £30 for breakfast (£7.50 each x 2 breakfasts on 2 days)
              I think that £70 is a lousy refund out of £200, but that was their final offer, so I've accepted it.

              The website has now had this small print added .............. "* Note: The hotel's Standard bedrooms have not yet been refurbished. All Standard rooms are clean and comfortable but their decor may not reflect the images on this website".


              Their Letter of Apology (if you're interested?)
              ************************************

              Their letter (an email - not even a paper letter!) of apology simply said .........

              "Dear ************
              Thank you for your email regarding your stay at the Great Western Hotel in Newquay and I am very sorry to hear your visit did not meet your expectations. Please be assured that we have taken all of your comments seriously and have discussed issues of room servicing and consistency of breakfast with the relevant heads of department.

              At the time of your visit we were in the process of continuing upgrades to a number of bedrooms and I am sorry you were not adequately informed.
              I also apologise for the fact that the range of photographs on the website did not adequately show the various styles of rooms on offer. Having now checked I find that on the booking.com website there are now a number of photographs of standard rooms. Also our own website www.greatwesternnewquay.co..uk takes care to mention that standard rooms have not been refurbished and have accompanying photographs. We wish to ensure our guests have adequate information to help select the appropriate choice.

              Please accept our apologies for your unsatisfactory stay. We would like to offer you a refund of £70.00 by way of an apology. Would you please contact the hotel on 01637 872010 to advise the card details that you would like credited? I do hope you choose to visit us again.
              Yours sincerely

              Tony S*****. Retail Business Manager"




              My rating
              **********
              Would rate it as 0 out of 5 for our stay.

              *********************************************

              Acknowledgements & Other Information Source
              **************************************
              Some of the information in this review (i.e. Other bedroom details/descriptions & tariff etc) are courtesy of Great Western and Booking.com websites/brochures.
              This review may appear on either of my Dooyoo or Ciao accounts under my name "Zurich11" and soon on a travel review website


              NB. A selection of my photo's are on Ciao & other review sites, to show how grubby it was.

              Thank you for reading this review & hope you enjoyed it xx

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                More Comments
              • CCS Heel Balm / Skin Care / 91 Readings / 91 Ratings
                More +
                11.05.2011 14:06
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                8 Comments

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                Great Product. Very Effective, Easy to Use, and Cheap!

                CCS Heel Balm "Professional Foot Care" by Du'it. 75g tube (price generally appears to range from £2.89 to £8.00)
                CCS says on the packaging that "CCS Heel Balm is clinically proven to effectively control the most severe cases of rough, dry skin and cracked heels. Containing vitamin E and 25% Urea, the body's natural moisturiser, it breaks down hard skin and helps repair and relieve, leaving feet smooth and skin supple."
                They recommend that you "Initially apply at least twice daily to clean, dry skin, then as necessary. For best results use at night and cover feet with socks"
                They advise caution and say "Do not apply to bleeding and broken skin."

                Du'it say "using CCS Heel Balm twice daily you can expect to have visible improvement of skin softness and appearance of your heel condition within 3 days. After using for 7 days you can expect smooth, soft skin with a reduction in the dryness of your heels".
                I've used heel balms and foot creams etc for more than 30 years now.
                I normally use Scholl Heel Balm at approx £5.99 per tube (average UK price, but can be very expensive for me to obtain overseas - upto equivalent of £13 a tube!) I noticed that a local independent pharmacy in Bodmin had some "CCS Heel Balm" (a 75g tube for £2.89).
                Due to the huge price disparity I was reluctant to buy the CCS as I've often found the adage "you get what you pay for" to be true!! However the assistant in the shop recommended it saying she had personally used it & as she was wearing flip-flops with soft undamaged heels on show I was swayed!

                The balm is a thick white cream but doesn't have a claggy gunky feel to it like cheap heel balms often have. It has a pleasant scent but not overly powerful, and not a 'medicinal' smell (which is something I personally hate in creams/lotions)
                The balm is quick and easy to apply. It soaks in well and although it leaves a coating on the skin surface, it isn't greasy.
                The first time of using it, I applied it at bedtime & left it to work overnight. My feet had been dry, rough and slightly uncomfortable, but in the morning they were greatly improved and looking good enough to wear sling back shoes.

                A decent heel balm is an absolute must for me. It isn't just so my feet will look nice in high heels or flip flops etc, it's vital I can walk for days on end free from the pain caused by cracked heels!
                I'm in the military, and so obviously my feet go through periods of being really hammered & put through their paces in extreme conditions. I go from keeping thick socks & boots on in desert climates for months, to wearing nylon tights & court shoes in UK climate, to wearing 5" stilettos and trying to dance the night away (lol).
                All these things affect circulation and can be detrimental to skin condition. So although I try to look after my feet it's not always possible to stop damage occuring.
                I have found that if my feet are unavoidably in a particularly bad state (dry, tight, cracking & sore) it really helps to apply Heel Balm and then put a pair of bedsocks on. The socks normally keep any cream/ointment on the skin & off the sheets, and the increased heat helps the healing process.
                I've been pleased to find that the CCS still works well even without socks on, if my heels are dry and rough. A bonus is that it doesn't leave greasy stains on the sheets!
                The fact that it's quick and easy to apply & very effective means I can use it even when I'm in a rush, so my feet don't get into as bad a state as they have previously! The odd foot-soak, filing and foot-rub helps the CCS Balm do its job.
                Another advantage I've found with CCS is it doesn't curdle as easily as other brands when you are in hot countries!

                I've now switched brands from Scholl to CCS, my feet are in good condition and I save approximately £3 per purchase.


                Thank you for reading xx

                I also write on Ciao under the same name

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                • More +
                  04.05.2011 19:04
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)
                  9 Comments

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                  Verdict - I wouldn't go again, except to call in for a tasty lunch if I'm already in the area.

                  After reading a review on the internet for The House of Marbles in Newton Abbot, Devon, we decided to visit there last weekend (Easter Saturday 2011). It's unusual to find something to do in Devon & Cornwall that is 'Free', so we were definitely keen to go.
                  The photo of the stunning looking Colonial-style house that accompanied that particular internet review really clinched the deal. It was a hot, sunny day so we thought it would be lovely to sit in the grounds once we'd visited the indoor attraction.


                  As per the previous review, yes, the House of Marbles is very easy to find. We put the postcode (TQ13 9DS) into the SatNav and off we went.
                  For your information, the full address is ........
                  House of Marbles and Teign Valley Glass
                  The Old Pottery
                  Bovey Tracey
                  Devon TQ13 9DS
                  Telephone: 01626 835285

                  It's located in Devon not far from the A38. There are plenty of brown tourist signs if you don't have a SatNav. It's near the Drumbridges roundabout where you'll also find Trago Mills.

                  We were convinced we had the wrong location when we initially arrived as we found ourselves sitting in a busy tarmac carpark with huge wrought iron gates around it, and looking up at a red brick factory!
                  What a huge disappointment! But hey ho! "them's the breaks" We went in, still determined to enjoy ourselves.

                  The House of Marble, is a working glass and games factory set up in an old pottery.

                  We went inside the entrance to the building and yes it's "free" - well that is to say there is no admission fee. I should jolly well think there's not, when you consider it's a glorified retail centre!! That would be like Debenhams charging admission for you to just browse! Perhaps they don't charge admission as they make enough money through breakages (All the very expensive glassware is placed low down on open shelves perfect for little fingers! Go figure!)


                  You walk in through the main doors & you're in the shop. It's pretty much all glassware, jewellery, sweets and marbles on the ground floor. The glassware is over priced and not particularly special (in my opinion). It's plain but pricey! I ended up buying a paperweight that was a chunk of rough glass with one smooth side with an amonite etched inside the glass. I paid £24 which was ok. It was reduced from £60 and there is no way on earth it was ever worth that! The sweets & cakes etc that were for sale were also overpriced (in the opinion of at least half a dozen Mums who were making kids put things back with offers of trips to Tesco's or Trago etc later!)

                  The upstairs is mostly wooden bits of furniture & toys, woollen jumpers & handmade handbags, clothing & knicknacks.
                  The prices made us stop looking at the items after the first two minutes! ie Small bagatelle board £87.99, A wood & marble solitaire set £699.99, £200 daytime cloth handbag, £250 summer cardigan.

                  The upper balcony has a viewing point for a large marble run. It's an amazing huge metal maze contraption on the wall that runs massive marbles through it. It's quite a feat of precision engineering, but the down side is it makes a deafening (and after a few mins annoying!) noise. Although the noise of bored whining children can drown it out occasionally if you're lucky.

                  You can apparently watch the glass blowing demonstration ... if you go on a day it's happening - which we didn't (apparently Saturday it's not available).

                  So with no demonstration to watch you're left to attempt to mooch around through hoards of bored kids and frazzled parents shouting to little Britney to put that £200 vase down and little Kyle he can't have the tiny £8 piece of easter cake as it's only 99p in Tesco!!

                  Downstairs again & out of retail hell, you go through to a small museum (two rooms) that have shelves of vintage marbles & toys etc.
                  There are three large marble mazes behind glass that you can press a button to set them off & watch the marbles run round. (One of them currently has an "out of order" sign on it! The other two though are good to watch (for a couple of minutes).


                  The glass museum tells you about the history of glass, the basic ingredients and how various items are made, and the different qualities of glass materials etc. It's very interesting but only takes about 15-20mins.

                  We enjoyed looking at the old wooden games & toys, taking a trip down memory lane as to which ones we'd had when we were children. But I'd certainly say from our experience on the day, that the older adults present had more fun looking at them than the young parents & children had! They just glanced at them & walked on.

                  The building is not particularly wheelchair friendly. A lady in a wheelchair was struggling to get round the groundfloor due to aisle widths & large crowds. Her carer was then unable to get her down the ramp into the disabled toilet as the very heavy door wouldn't stay open, so I (a total stranger to them!) needed to go into the toilet infront of them & hold the door open, let the carer wheel her in and then I had to squeeze past to exit the toilet so they could lock the door behind me! We saw them later having difficulty getting through the cafe to the seating area.

                  The busy cafe has seating indoors (but it's dark and gloomy) and also seating in an adjoining conservatory.
                  It was such a wonderful hot sunny day we found the packed conservatory too warm so we were lucky to finally grab a table outside (you have to be quick though as everyone hovers for a chance to sit outside!)

                  There is a 'games garden' on the small upper patio area where children can play large size chess, skittles or Jenga etc. Great fun when the children were playing with adults, but annoying (to say the least!) when parents got bored & left their obnoxious offspring unattended to start throwing 3ft wooden toys around!

                  The cafe/restaurant is a little expensive for a 'family day out' type lunch, but if you're sensible you can have a really lovely lunch on a budget.
                  We were going to order a "Cream Tea" (scone, jam, cream, pot of tea) for £4.75, a sandwich for £5.95, and a cake for £2.75 (£13.45 total) however watching food arrive at neighbouring tables we sussed the cheapest option was "The Old Pottery Afternoon Tea" It was excellent value! For a mere £8.95 you get a selection of sandwiches (West Country brie & apple with homemade chutney, plus beautiful Locally smoked salmon and cucumber) plated up with a large amount of fresh salad garnish, grapes, orange slices and dish of coleslaw. An enormous (double size) heart shaped scone with clotted cream and lovely preserves, plus a large slice of cake, and a choice of either a pot of tea or coffee!
                  The food was very good quality, fresh and tasty!
                  So we saved £4.50 but had exactly the same food we wanted, just a different way of ordering it! Every little helps, especially if there are a few of you on a family day out.

                  The cafe also serves a wide range of hot meals & snacks. The food looked hearty portions, fresh & tasty. (Other diners certainly sounded happy with the food whilst eating & left very little)

                  The cafe is licensed and serves a range of wines, beers, and even champagne. They offer a "Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two" which is £38.95 and includes a Bottle of champagne, selection of sandwiches, hearty scone with clotted cream, finest preserve, slice of cake with tea or coffee. Although, on a personal note, we found the Champagne for TWO to be a strange choice for a daytime-only cafe to offer, when the fairly remote location means one of you is going to be driving (??)

                  House of Marbles certainly won't keep you occupied for a whole day - maybe 2-3 hours including lunch.

                  There is a large car park outside so you shouldn't have trouble parking.

                  Its open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10.00am to 5.00pm. Closed on Easter Sunday (due to "Sunday trading laws" according to the sign!).

                  I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone with young children, and would say wheelchair users would ideally need to be accompanied.

                  Note from my miserable 'other half' - "Husbands might prefer to keep hold of 'the plastic' if your wife is into overpriced handbags & clothing that apparently aren't even designer brands!"

                  Verdict - I wouldn't go again, except to call in for lunch if I'm already in the area.

                  Many thanks for reading this. xx

                  (I may also be posting it on Ciao under the same name - Zurich11)

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