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It's very traditional, has some good explanations to the food and the stories behind it. It's a solid, good old fashioned English cookbook that was written for the days before 'instant' and microwaves became the fashion. You will find recipes in there that you have possibly never heard of before, and the use of suet is a common ingredient for the heavier winter dishes and puddings. I have used it quite a bit as I like to go back to our traditional basics of good old English cooking, suet puddings (jam roly poly, or my favourite the steamed ginger pudding *yum* etc) and pies are well thumped pages.
This is a book about local produce (before it became fashionable) and cooking from scratch written at a time when the creation of meals started to change (for the worst in both my humble and Mrs Grigson's view). Quite simply this is an English family's cookbook, it is bringing joy back to the idea of 'meat & two veg'.
I brought my copy second hand via Amazon, quite cheaply, and it was hardly used so it is well worth adding to any cookbook collection.
I love this tea! Some herbal/ fruit teas are a bit weak with regards to flavour but this is far from that. The fruit aroma hits you as soon as the boiling water hits the tea bag. I will buy a variety of teas, however tetley's are now one of my staples. Great value for money. They haven't scrimped on flavour, don't contain any 'nasty bits' like E numbers and additives so an overall healthy drink option. Personally I don't add any sugar or honey as I feel that the sweetness of the berries are enough - but that is down to individual taste.
I find them to be very refreshing at any point during the day; even as an evening drink if I want to wind down I will still go for this particular flavour. I recently made a pot and let it go cold so had my own 'fruit iced-tea', worked a treat - ideal for a warm sunny day in the garden.
Taste so good, I think you might even be able to get children to drink these happily!
As someone with a dairy allergy, Alpro products really are a god-send for me. I love the cherry flavoured yogurt, they aren't mean with the bits of cherry in the product either. I love the smoothness of the yogurt and that fresh taste. A healthy treat that really hits that 'sweet spot'. You wouldn't think that it's not real yogurt but something that comes from beans!!
In my area (Cornwall) not all supermarkets stock this - Asda used to regularly, sadly no longer, however I can often find this in my local Sainsburys.
Frankly, they were pleasant enough and not as sickly as the eggs themselves but I have to say, if I was going to spend money on ice-cream it won't be on these again. I didn't find them that special.
The fondant centre wasn't quite right, not an unpleasant taste but not the same flavour as you get from the eggs, you would expect it to be gooey but it was just a frozen bright yellow lump. The chocolate was nice and thick tho, and the white ice-cream had the correct mallow-type flavour you would expect from the eggs. All I can say, I have tried them but won't bother again.
The primula or primrose. A very cheery plant, hardy in all weather as originally a forest plant. Often flower during the winter months bringing in some much needed colour.
Very difficult to 'kill off' so the most amateur of gardeners can have great success with these. If you add a touch of feed to the soil this will encourage the plant to grow and the leaves will spread out beautifully. They grow easily under trees or in sunny borders.
Hint: you can buy them cheaper at the end of spring, plant them and let them establish during the summer months, then watch them bloom ;later on in the year.
Woodies featured in a "Half Price Dining" deal which was advertised on my local radio station, Spirit FM, just before Christmas. The deal was for a £30 voucher to spend on both food and drink for the paltry sum of £15. As Woodies is a bit of an institution in Chichester, not surprisingly the deal was snapped up very quickly and sold out within days.
Woodies have been trading in Chichester since 1972 and it's the sort of place everyone knows. Woodies used to be known as "Woodies Wine Bar", but I noticed that the name has now been changed to "Woodies Bar and Brasserie" to make it more new millennium I guess. Wine Bars (and Bistros) give off a 70's and 80's vibe whereas Brasserie is a shade more continental and à la mode :o)
Evidently Woodies was closed due to a fire in the kitchen last summer and it only reopened its doors in early December last year. The last time I ate there was back in 1998 so I was keen to make a return visit to a previously favoured haunt.
~*~ WEIGHING IN ON WOODIES ~*~
Woodies is slap bang on the side of one of busiest main roads leading out of Chichester. It's on St Pancras so it's very near to the bottom of East Street and Eastgate Square where you can find both Brasserie Blanc and Carluccios. There is no parking to be had outside Woodies so diners need to leave their vehicles in a nearby pay and display car park, either the big Cattle Market one in Market Avenue or the smaller one at New Park Road (lunchers will have to pay, but they're both free to park in after 6pm).
Woodies is located inside a mismatched pair of quaint looking period buildings. On side is the brasserie/restaurant and next door is the bar. Both buildings look rather small and pokey from the outside as so many period buildings can. However, inside the place is rather large and has a surprising depth of space. The décor to the front of Woodies is rather dark and cosy. It's definitely a venue for a quiet romantic table for two. However, towards the back of the venue there's a huge conservatory which really opens the place up and it's much lighter and brighter.
It was a Tuesday evening when we dined there, and the restaurant was rather quiet, probably about 30% to 40% capacity at the most. We had rung and booked a table only an hour or so before we went so we weren't expecting it to be particularly busy...otherwise they wouldn't have been able to accommodate us at such short notice! We were given a warm welcome by the owner and shown to a roomy table for four in the centre of the conservatory. As there was just the two of us dining we were able to spread ourselves out and make ourselves at home.
~*~ THE MENU ~*~
Woodies offers typical brasserie dishes with no particular allegiance to any one country or cuisine. There's a good mix of traditional English dishes mixed in with a little bit of a Pan-Asian and topped off with a European accented flourish. So in essence, something for everyone.
Starters at Woodies all cost around the £5.50 to £6.00 mark. None of the starters are what you would call traditional - they're all fairly innovative sounding dishes. So there's no Pâté and Toast here but you might like to try the Guinea Fowl, Prune and Pistachio Galantine with Beetroot Relish and Truffle Oil. Similarly a simple dish like Moules Marinière is upgraded to Mussel, Lentil and Tomato Broth served with Lemon Dumplings. If you like the sound of the starters more than the main courses at Woodies, many of the starters are also offered as main course options too at a slightly higher price.
Main courses range in price from £11.50 up to £16.00. Sadly there is no steak on the menu at Woodies but there are plenty of other dishes to choose from such as Breast of Free Range Chicken, Peanut Butter, Sweet Cure Bacon and Sweetcorn Pancakes or Braised Funtington Belly of Pork, Black Pudding Mash and Spiced Pear Chutney. There are also a couple of daily specials that change regularly. On the night we dined there we could have had either Stone Bass or a Cod dish as well as all the regular menu dishes. The desserts here are all priced at either £5.50 or £6.00. I was tempted by the interesting sounding Iced Peanut Butter Parfait, Warm Banana Bread and Sauce Anglaise, but went for something different in the end.
Although we had dinner there it's worth mentioning the excellent lunchtime offer at Woodies. They offer a great value deal of two courses at £14.00 or three courses at £17.00 and that includes a glass of wine or bottle of beer. The dishes on offer at lunchtime are the same as those on the dinner menu so I imagine they reduce the portions a little bit at lunchtime as it really is a fantastic deal.
~*~ DINNER FOR TWO ~*~
Whilst we were perusing the menu, we were bought a full carafe of chilled tap water and complimentary dish of honey marinated olives - both of which were a nice touch.
My partner chose Honey Cured Salmon served with Orange, Dill and Pea Shoot Salad (£6.00). This dish was beautifully presented on a slab of grey slate and was a delightful picture of greens, pinks and oranges. The salmon was served raw but thinly sliced and well marinated in honey and spices. He did enjoy the dish but found it overly sweet and I had to agree when I tried a slither. The combination of honey and oranges just made the salmon and accompanying salad a little too sugary. We both would have preferred a touch or lemon or lime in the dish just to give it a hint of acidity rather than 100% sweetness. Nonetheless it was a delightful presentation and a rather interesting starter.
I chose Crispy Filo Prawns served with Lime and Ginger Aioli (£6.00) which was a generous portion of five king prawns wrapped in filo pastry and deep fried. The prawns were very tasty indeed with crispy filo pastry to the outside and I really enjoyed them. I wasn't so impressed with the lime and ginger aioli as it was far too sweet. Traditionally Aioli is supposed to be a traditional Provençal mayonnaise-like sauce made of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. In the Woodies version the overwhelming flavour was of lime and nothing else. I think they should up the ginger and garlic here.
For my main course I had no hesitation in ordering the Crab and Prawn Thai Style Fishcakes with Coriander Hollandaise (£12.00) which sounded wonderful. I was duly served three enormous dome shaped patties liberally coated in breadcrumbs. I was expecting two fishcakes at the most so to receive three was more than generous and I rather struggled to finish them. The shape of the fishcakes immediately confirmed they were homemade as they were rather lumpy and misshapen. That's not a criticism - as a homemade lumpy fishcake wins hands-down over a perfectly rounded defrosted disc. Inside the fishcakes were stuffed full of crabmeat but rather sparse of prawns. As the menu described them as Thai style fishcakes I thought the crab and prawns would be speckled with Thai spices such as chilli, lemongrass or coriander but they were more fishy than spicy. However, the fishcakes were presented on a good dollop of Hollandaise sauce and that had been flecked with coriander so perhaps that the nod in the direction of Thai flavouring. The dish was finished off with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some flat leaf parsley. I did enjoy my fishcakes but would personally have preferred less crab, more prawns and some Thai spices mixed in with the seafood. All dishes at Woodies are served with either fries/new potatoes OR seasonal vegetables/mixed salad. I chose a mixed salad with my fishcakes and it was a nice mixture of cucumber, tomato, salad leaves and red onion. I was offered a jug of vinaigrette to drizzle over the top.
For his main course, my partner chose Slow Cooked Shoulder of English Lamb, Braised Cabbage and Chestnuts with Onion Jus (£16.00). He received two very generous noisettes of lamb which were liberally sprinkled with roasted chestnuts and sitting in a pool of rich gravy. To the middle of the plate was a parcel of Savoy cabbage which was filled with more cabbage and chestnuts. He thoroughly enjoyed this dish and pronounced it delicious. He normally avoids lamb as it can be so fatty, but he thought they'd cooked this to perfection, and he certainly wasn't expecting two such large pieces of lamb on his plate. Himself had chosen Fries with his lamb, but the owner made a mistake with the order and brought me vegetables instead of the side salad I'd chosen. He realised his mistake as soon as he plonked the vegetables on the table (and without us saying anything). He immediately went off to get me a side salad and rather generously left the vegetables with us anyway. The mixed vegetables were served nicely al dente and comprised of carrots, French beans, courgettes and suede. One criticism that we both had of our main courses were that they were not really served piping hot. My fishcakes were very tepid in the centre, and my partner thought his lamb could have been served a little warmer.
Despite the over generous portions on our main courses, we both decided to try and squeeze in a dessert after a short break. I went for the daily special of Warm Marmalade Sponge served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Crème Anglaise (£5.00). If we thought our main course temperatures were rather tepid, there was no such complaint with this dish. The marmalade on top of the sponge was like molten lava! The sponge under the marmalade topping was lovely and light and I thoroughly enjoyed this dish once the lava had cooled down. It was served with a good dollop of ice-cream, a strawberry and a Chinese gooseberry for decoration. I didn't think that the Crème Anglaise / custard added anything to the dish as it was a drizzle rather than a proper sauce, but the ice-cream was very nice.
My partner had a portion of Warm Marbled Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Vanilla Ice Cream, and White Chocolate Sauce (£6.00). The brownie was served warm and also with vanilla ice-cream. The white chocolate sauce was more for decoration than an actual sauce, but the dish was very nice nonetheless. We rounded our desserts off with a cup of cappuccino apiece at £2.20 each.
~*~ DRINKS, SERVICE & EVERYTHING ELSE ~*~
My partner was delighted to find draught lager on the menu at Woodies so he didn't have to lash out for expensive bottled beers. Here they serve draught Coors at £3.30 a pint. I stuck to the chilled tap water they served us when we arrived as it was perfectly acceptable and I was driving. As there is a full stocked bar in the building next door to the restaurant, there is plenty on the drinks menu as well as food menu at Woodies. As well as an extensive wine list, they also do a full range of cocktails.
The service was most attentive and very friendly throughout the night. Evidently Woodies is owned and run by two brothers - one of them being the head chef and the other the front of house manager. We were served several times throughout the evening by the front of house brother as well as a young girl, and they were both very attentive and on the ball.
It has to be said, sadly, that the smell is the only thing that let Woodies down. As you enter the restaurant from the St Pancras side there is a distinct whiff of toilets which is fairly off-putting. I have no idea where this whiff comes from as neither the ladies nor the gents were smelly when we visited them. Both were clean, well stocked and fragrant. Perhaps there is cess pit or septic tank under the floorboards near the entrance and that is what is giving off the nasty niff. It's worth bearing in mind that if you enter the venue via the conservatory on the New Park Road side then you will avoid that pungent pong. And talking of toilets, both of them involve steps (the ladies is upstairs and the gents downstairs), so that's worth bearing in mind if you are visiting with a wheelchair user or somebody with mobility problems.
Our bill came to £28.70 once our £30 Spirit FM discount voucher had been applied and we left a £6 tip. At full price we would have paid around £60 for our meal, and it was definitely worth it. The portions were generous, the food delicious and the service spot on.
~*~ RECOMMENDED? ~*~
This was a return trip to Woodies after an absence of some 15 years and we most definitely won't leave it so long next time. The service was very friendly and the atmosphere relaxed. We both enjoyed our dinner immensely, the portions were generous and the prices reasonable.
The only negative thing to reiterate is the unpleasant waft of toilets, but it's certainly not a deal breaker. Just avoid the St Pancras road side entrance and go into Woodies via the conservatory entrance at the back (New Park Road) and you just won't notice it.
Woodies gets five stars from me despite the stinky sewers. The food was delicious, the menu innovative and the service warm and friendly. Woodies comes highly recommended and is definitely worth a visit.
~*~ FURTHER DETAILS ~*~
Woodies Brasserie and Bar
10-13 St Pancras
* Open six days a week - Monday to Saturday.
* Lunch is served from 12pm to 2pm six days a week (closed on Sundays)
* Dinner is served from 5.45pm to 9.30pm (Monday to Wednesday) and from 5.45pm to 10.30pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (closed on Sundays)
* The restaurant has no private parking, but there are two pay and display car parks nearby - one in Market Avenue and another smaller one off New Park Road (NB: parking charges do not apply after 6pm)
* Dress code is most definitely relaxed and informal
For the last couple of years my partner and I had been "making do" with a kettle he'd purchased in Tesco for £2. A bargain, I hear you cry...and it certainly was in the beginning. Several years use had seen the white plastic of the kettle turn an unattractive yellowy colour and it also leaked like a sieve every time it boiled. It was time for a replacement before one or other of us managed to scald ourselves.
I decided I wanted a black and chrome kettle to match all the other gadgets in our kitchen, and so the search commenced. I dislike metal kettles as they tend to take ages to break-in and not make one's tea taste "funny". When I say "funny" I mean they give the boiled water a sort of TCP taste, which just doesn't sit well with a freshly brewed PG Tip. Therefore my new kettle had to be made of plastic, as I know from experience I can rid a new plastic appliance of its revolting medicinal tasting boiled water very quickly.
My partner spotted a very nice looking plastic kettle in Homebase and came home and told me to look on their website under the Russell Hobbs range. Several minutes of searching revealed several likely suspects, but not the actual kettle he was banging on about. He then changed his mind and decided that the kettle he had seen was actually from the Morphy Richards range. Once he'd finally decided on the correct brand it was much easier to find it on the Homebase website. On the plus side it was a very nice looking kettle and I was sold. However, the downside was that Homebase wanted nearly £40 for it which seemed a little rich for a plastic kettle no matter how nice it looked. I herded on over to Amazon as per usual and found the same kettle for £26.97 inclusive of delivery. This was a much better deal so I snapped one up.
*** THE KETTLE ***
The model we chose was from the Morphy Richards Accents range and its official moniker is the Morphy Richards Accents Black Jug Kettle (model number 43173). I didn't have any particular requirements of my kettle other than it should be made of plastic and that it was black in colour with chrome accents. I was drawn to this model as it not only matched all my other kitchen gadgets but it's rather stylish looking with a pleasant curved lid to the top.
This model holds 1.7 litres of water, but it's still fairly lightweight to lift and pour, weighing in at just over 1.5 kilos. Although the kettle holds a good amount of water, it doesn't look as massive as some jug kettles you see in the shops. I think this is because the kettle is quite squat and wide rather than tall and thin like some other models.
It has a good sized easy grip plastic handle and a nice study base to sit on. It's powered by a 3kw element so it takes less than two minutes to boil enough water for two cups of tea. However, this kettle is capable of boiling enough water for 8 mugs of tea should you so wish...it will just take it a little longer to boil.
There's a handy and easily visible water gauge on both sides of this kettle which has a marker showing where to add the water for anything from 1 to 8 cups of tea or coffee. This is ideal if you are trying to save money and boil just enough water for one or two cups of tea.
The kettle sits snugly on the 360 degree round base when not in use. It all feels nice and solid so you can feel confident nothing is going to tip over and spill when the kettle begins to boil. You can place the kettle anywhere on the base and switch it on. There is also a cord storage facility under the base if you don't want a long electrical cord trailing across your work-tops.
There's a silver knob at the top of the handle which rather abruptly flips opens the chrome and black plastic lid on the top of the kettle for ease of filling it with cold water. Or you can just do the lazy person's trick of shoving the spout under the tap and filling it that way. I must say that the kettle's spout is nice and wide so filling it under the tap is very easy. It also pours very well when your water has boiled. With our old Tesco kettle the spout was rather small so you needed to hold the kettle almost on its side in order to extract the last drop of the water from the kettle. I made the mistake of tipping my new Morphy Richards kettle on its side when I first used it and was rather alarmed by the gush of water that came out much more quickly than I was expecting. I didn't make the same mistake twice! The wider spout on this model makes pouring your drinks a much gentler and easier process.
Inside the kettle is a removable limescale filter, which just needs to be given a bit of rinse under the cold tap from time to time, especially if you live in a hard water area like we do.
*** OPERATING ***
Once filled, the kettle boils quickly and seamlessly. The kettle is switched on by a large silver lever at the base of the appliance. When you switch the kettle on an electric blue light illuminates behind the water gauge so you know its working. Once the kettle has boiled it automatically switches off and the pretty blue light goes out. It's a rather pleasing and ambient blue light so it's rather a shame when it goes off.
When you first use the kettle, Morphy Richards recommend that you fill the kettle to capacity boil the contents and then tip them down the sink before attempting to make proper tea. This way any factory dust and plasticky smells can be cleaned out of the kettle before you attempt to make the real McCoy. I did this process at least three times in order to ensure that that my tea tasted like tea should and not like necking down the contents of a TCP bottle. This appeared to do the trick and our first cup of tea from our new kettle tasted good and we got that oooo from our Typhoo :o)
The kettle is much quicker to boil than my old Tesco model. We can have enough boiling water for two cups of tea in less than two minutes. I've not yet timed the kettle's boiling speed at its full capacity of eight cups, but I would imagine it's just as swift and a hell of a lot safer than my previous leaky Tesco model.
*** PLUS POINTS ***
I love the look of the kettle. It looks good with all my other black and chrome appliances and it looks smart on the worktop next to my black and chrome Gaggia coffee machine.
I'm impressed with the speed with which our new kettle boils. It takes literally less than two minutes to make two piping hot cups of tea on the table. I also think that the two gauges on the sides of the kettle are very handy so we can fill the kettle with enough water for two cups of tea rather than taking a stab in the dark and either over or under-filling the kettle as we did with our old Tesco model.
The kettle also feels a lot safer to use and pour than my old Tesco one. The Morphy Richards one doesn't leak at all, which couldn't be said of my previous model which tended to get a little bit damp and wobbly everytime it reached boiling point. Similarly I love the wide spout on the Morphy Richards Accents kettle - it makes pouring easy and a lot safer.
The kettle is very easy to keep clean. It has a removable filter inside the lid which you can rinse under the tap every now and then to remove any limescale. As we live in a hard water area, this needs to be done every two weeks, with a full kettle descale undertaken every six weeks or so. As I rather lazily tend to fill my kettle by shoving the spout under the tap rather than opening the lid properly, the kettle does tend to get dried water marks around the spout. A quick buff with dry cloth removes any water marks from both the black plastic and the silver chrome accents.
Finally the instruction booklet that accompanies the kettle is clear and to the point. It's easy to follow with both diagrams and trouble-shooting lists.
*** NEGATIVE ISSUES ***
However, not all is rosy in the Morphy Richards garden and there are one or two issues I have with this kettle. That said none of the issues are massive and I certainly won't be plugging my old Tesco appliance back in any day soon. That's been well and truly consigned to the dustbin.
My first issue with this kettle is the noise. It's not the quietest of boilers, in fact it's really rather noisy. There is no gentle build up background noise as the kettle does its thing. You know it's switched on and you've just got to wait for it to finish before you can resume your conversation. Thankfully it's quick to boil so you don't need to wait long!
Although the water tasted fine after we did the initial boiling and discarding after we first used the kettle, the plasticky taste to the water does tend to creep back in occasionally. My second beef about this kettle is the taste of the water if you try and reboil water that has just recently boiled. In the past if we fancied a second cup of tea within half an hour of our first cuppa, then we'd simply reboil the kettle or just top the kettle contents up with cold water from the tap. If we do this with our new kettle, the water tastes absolutely revolting - that full medicinal TCP taste that overpowers and spoils even the strongest teabag. Unfortunately it means that we have to fully empty the kettle of any remaining water and refill it with fresh tap water every single time we want a cup of tea. This is not only time-consuming but rather wasteful of not just water but electricity. Perhaps this is something that will disappear with time, but after eight weeks use, there's no sign of any abatement in that disgusting taint to any reboiled water.
*** COST AND AVAILABILITY ***
We originally spotted this kettle in Homebase where it retails for a rather whopping £39.99. You can, however, buy it direct from Morphy Richards for £29.99.
That was still too rich for us and we headed on over to Amazon and picked it up for £26.97. At the time of writing Amazon are now selling this model for £27.96.
*** RECOMMENDED? ***
I love the look of my new kettle - it looks very smart on my worktop and matches perfectly with my other black and chrome appliances.
I've been impressed with the speed at which it boils water and how safe and secure it feels on its stand as it boils. There's definitely no more leaking hot water on my worktop with this model.
However, whilst the noisiness isn't a major deal breaker for us, I really am hoping that the plasticky taste to any reboiled water will disappear over time. I'm happy with the taste of the water when it's freshly boiled, but cannot understand why water than was boiled less than 30 minutes beforehand should develop such an unpleasant taste if you make the mistake of reboiling it. It's both wasteful and time-consuming to have to empty and refill the kettle every single time you want to use it.
I'm afraid that this kettle loses a star over this issue and therefore only gets four stars from me. If and when the kettle manages to lose that unpleasant taint to the taste of its reboiled water then I wouldn't hesitate to upgrade it to a full five stars, but for now it remains firmly at four stars.
*** TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ***
A full description of this kettle can be found at http://www.morphyrichards.co.uk/ products/kettles/jug-kettles/43173-Accents-Black-Jug-Kettle.html
* Plastic kettle with chrome accents
* Dimensions: Height 23cm, Width 18.4cm, Depth 25.5cm
* Weight 1.6kg
* Wattage: 3kw for a rapid boil
* Capacity: 1.7L or 8 cups of tea
* Length of cord: 2m with cord storage under the base
* Water level indicator
* Water gauge with blue illumination
* 360 degree cordless base
* Removable limescale filter
* 1 year guarantee
As well as black, this kettle comes in a superb range of colours such as lime green, cream, beige, red or purple.
Although we'd had a four slot toaster for years, the left hand side of it had stopped working many moons ago. We made do with the remaining two working slots for yonks before they too stopped working. We then decided to do without a toaster altogether and just use the grill function on the oven. That proved far too time consuming and fiddly not to mention an undoubtedly more expensive way to get one's morning toast. In the end a bargain deal on Amazon made up our minds for us, and we duly purchased a brand new four slot toaster for £22.95 (inclusive of free delivery).
The model we chose was the Tefal Avanti Classic (model number 523718) in rather stylish looking black with chrome to the handles and toasting slots. The toaster now matches all my other kitchen gadgets and gizmos which all tend to be black with silver handles or knobs.
~~~ WHAT'S IN THE BOX? ~~~
This is quite large toaster - it's just over 32cm wide with a similar 32cm depth and its height is just over 25cm. Therefore you need to find a big enough space on your worktop to accommodate it as it is on the bulky side. However, despite being on the large side this toaster is surprisingly light weighing in at just 2 kilos. It's therefore relatively easy to lift up and clean underneath to remove stray crumbs and then reposition on the worktop. The toaster is predominantly black with chrome buttons and matching chrome panels surrounding the four toasting slots. The labelling on the toaster is in white and red. I think it's a rather plain but attractive toaster and it looks good on my kitchen worktop as well as complimenting the other black and chrome kitchen fittings and implements that I have. Some reviewers on Amazon have complained that this toaster looks cheap and plasticky looking. However, although it's made predominantly from black plastic, the silver chrome accents on the toaster made it look very smart in my opinion and I certainly wouldn't describe it as cheap looking.
The toaster was easy to unpack and position and took literally minutes. Inside the box from Amazon was quite simply the toaster with plug already attached, the guarantee and a small instruction booklet. Therefore it was simply a case of removing all the packaging and then plugging in the toaster. Tefal advise you to turn the toasting dial up to No. 6 (this gives you maximum browning on your bread) and then depress both toasting slots for three sequential sessions before you start any real live toasting of bread in order to get rid of any plasticky smells or dust. This process worked a treat and we were soon able to get underway with the main business of the day i.e. toast and jam.
~~~ OPERATING ~~~
Obviously I don't need to describe how to toast bread here as every man and his dog has worked a toaster before, but I will describe the particular features of this model.
The buttons on the toaster are all of a good size, clearly labelled and easy to depress and operate. The front of the toaster has a silver dial from 1 to 6 on it. If you like your toast cremated chose No. 6 as this will give you maximum browning to your bread.
We tend to stick our dial on No. 4 and that gives us ideal toast. I like my toast nicely crispy to the outside but with the bread still slightly soft and moist in the middle. I hate toast that is in anyway burnt, charred and dry throughout. Once you've set the browning dial you need to depress either one or both of the two large silver levers to each side of the toaster which of course lowers the bread into the toaster and starts the toasting process. Although the toaster has four slots, both sides work independently so you can pop two slices of toast in either the left or right hand side if you really cannot force four slices down your neck for breakfast. When your toast is done it pops up ready to be decorated with copious amounts of butter, jam et al.
The Avanti Classic has a slightly angled front to it which is allegedly designed to let you see how your toast is doing without trying to peer inside and risk singeing your fringe or eye-brows. As this toaster has a rather powerful 1200 watt element, your toast does get toasted rather quickly and the curved front means you can keep an eye on those foodstuffs that love to burn as soon as you show them to a toaster i.e. pitta bread or any type of flatbread.
The toaster has a thick and thin feature which means you can toast bulkier items such as crumpets, English muffins and teacakes without getting them wedged inside the toaster and therefore burned to a crisp. The toaster has wider slots which contain self-centring guides which place the bread/teacake/crumpet right in the middle of the slot. This not only ensures a uniform toasting of the item but the wider slot means the chunkier food items don't get stuck inside the toaster. However, should by chance your thicker than average crumpet does get slightly wedged and you can smell burning, the toaster has two hi-lift levers, which pop the offending object out of the toaster quickly and at some speed. The toaster also has a stop/eject button which immediately turns the heat off.
The toaster also has a further two buttons, namely the reheat button and the defrost button. Both of these functions only work on the two left hand slots of the toaster so it's no good popping your frozen loaf into the right hand side slots of the toaster as it just won't play ball.
~~~ GOOD POINTS ~~~
The toaster is very simple to operate, and you don't need to phaff about too much with dials and levers to toast a variety of different items. As I said earlier, we tend to leave the browning dial on our toaster at No. 4 and this gives us consistently nicely browned bread. However, the beauty of this Tefal is that both sides are independent. So if your husband or wife like their toast cremated, the dial on their side of the toaster can be racked all the way up to No. 6 on the browning dial and they'll get their preferred burnt offering slightly later than the nice pale slice of toast you've set your heart on by using the other side of the toaster and option No.3 on the browning dial. Voila! No more arguments at breakfast....allegedly.
As the toasting slots are quite wide on this model toasting bulkier items like teacakes and crumpets does not present the toaster with a problem. Many a time a teacake would get wedged in our old toaster resulting in a revolting burned and charred offering once you'd managed to prise it from the hungry jaws of the toaster with whatever sharp and pointy object came to hand....thereby possibly electrocuting oneself as well as going hungry.
This Tefal is man enough to handle whatever you throw at it - huge door step slices of bread, thick English muffins or frozen waffles. If things do get a little too heated too quickly once the toasting process is underway, you can either press the stop/eject button to kill the heat or you can press the hi-lift button to remove the offending item from the toaster.
The toaster is pretty darn quick too. A 1200 watt element means that your toast has invariably popped up ready and done before you've finished making your accompanying cup of tea and assembled all the necessary accoutrements like jam, butter and such like.
~~~ TEETHING TROUBLES WITH THIS TOASTER ~~~
The instruction booklet with this toaster is short and to the point, but it does contain a lot of ridiculous detail which they are probably obliged to put in on the grounds of health and safety, but it does make you wonder if common sense is no longer taken into consideration when writing these pamphlets/instruction manuals nowadays. What sort of idiot needs to be told to "not place the toaster in the dishwasher" or to "not immerse the toaster in water or run water into the toaster". It beggars belief!
One thing to watch out for this toaster is that if you have an extra "tall" loaf like the ones we make in our Panasonic breadmaker, the very top bit of the slices will stick out the top of the toaster and remain untoasted as the slices are simply too big for the slots. This isn't so much of a problem for me as you simply turn the slice upside down and stick the untoasted section head down in the toaster after it's finished toasting the rest of the bread. However, if you eat a lot of homemade bread and your loaves are bigger than the average shop bought ones it may be something you need to consider.
The main drawback with this toaster is the flimsiness of the hi-lift levers. They've obviously been mounted on a spring that just isn't up to the job, and if you press the lever with too much force the spring can snap. We purchased our toaster from Amazon in early August and in less than four months the left hand hi-lift lever stopped working. I fired off a rather short email of complaint outlining the problem to Amazon and was not expecting anything at all in the way of a response. I was rather amazed and most impressed to get a response within an hour of sending my email informing me that a new replacement toaster had been dispatched to me by first class delivery and would be with me within two working days. How's that for service?
The new toaster did duly arrive within the promised time frame, and so far, so good. We're being extremely gentle with the hi-lift levers in the hope that neither of them break. The worst aspect of the Amazon replacement toaster saga was that they wanted the faulty toaster sent back to them in the same packaging that contained the new toaster. Although this was easy enough to do, Amazon insist that all returns are made through a Collect+ outlet and our nearest one was miles away.
~~~ SHINY AND NEW ~~~
The toaster is fairly easy to keep clean, but the black plastic does tend to show every single greasy fingerprint as well as every stray crumb in the vicinity. It's easy enough to wipe the front over with a damp cloth as that removes any greasy marks and crumbs. Like most kitchen utensils over time it does accumulate a layer of grease from daily cooking. I find a little bit of Cif on a sponge easily removes the worst of any caked on oiliness. You just then need to buff the chrome coloured bits of the toaster with a dry cloth and they look as good as new.
At 2kg the toaster is lightweight enough to lift up off the work-surface to get at the inevitable crumbs that lurk underneath it. At the back of the toaster are two easily removed crumb trays. They are rather on the shallow side, so you do need to remember to empty them fairly regularly as they will fill up fast if you like a lot of toast.
~~~ COST AND AVAILABILITY ~~~
We picked up our Tefal Avanti Classic toaster on Amazon for a bargain price of £22.95 in August. At the time of writing Amazon are now selling this model for £34.99 so I'm rather glad we snapped it up four months ago at a tenner less.
You can buy this toaster direct from Tefal for £39.99, Woolworths have it for £39 but Littlewoods want a whopping £50 for it. I certainly wouldn't pay £50 for this model but it's a reasonable enough buy at £25 or under. I daresay Amazon will drop their price again soon to a more reasonable price.
~~~ A TOAST TO THIS TEFAL? ~~~
This toaster looks rather nice on my work-tops and I'm very pleased with how nice it looks alongside my other chrome and black gadgets. It certainly toasts well and handles even the thickest and fattest items we throw into it with ease and quickness. It's most pleasant to pop a hot cross bun into this toaster knowing it's not going to get wedged inside. Before it was always a race to try and remove the burned item with a knife before it triggered the smoke alarm which in turn freaked the dog out. The toaster cleans up well with just a damp cloth and a quick buff.
However, the problem with the weak hi-lift button on this toaster means you have to treat it a lot more gently than you sometimes want to. In the early morning rush to get to work, it's often hard to remember that applying reasonable force to this button may make the spring inside snap and the handle then limp and useless.
I'm glad we only paid £23 for this toaster as I don't think its quick lift mechanism is robust enough to make this toaster worth more than £30 at the most. Several reviewers on Amazon also complain of problems with the lifting buttons so it is obviously a common fault with this toaster.
Recommended with four stars if you can remember to treat this toaster kindly and not be too heavy handed with the lifting mechanism.
~~~ TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ~~~
A full description of this toaster can be found at http://www.tefal.co.uk/All+Products/Breakfast/Toasters /Products/Avanti+4+Slice+Black+Classic+ Toaster/Avanti+4+Slice+Black+Classic+Toaster.htm
* 4 slice toaster with two independent sides
* Power = 1800W
* Electronic browning control with dial (1 to 6)
* Defrost, reheat and stop/eject buttons
* Extra wide and deep bread slots
* Dimensions = 32cm x 32cm x 25cm
* Weight = 2kg
* High-speed toasting
* 2 x hi-lift levers
* Crumb tray
* Cord storage
This pub had long been on my radar to visit as it had a good reputation locally for great Thai food. The pub was then known as "The Selsey Arms" with the food side given over to a Thai concession called "Simply Thai". Sadly a visit here was obviously never on the cards as 2012 saw the pub closing, and it remained boarded up for ages. However, at the beginning of 2013, signs of life starting appearing outside the building and it soon became apparent that someone had acquired it and was in the process of refurbishing it.
Spring 2013 saw the reopening of the pub, newly christened "The Dean", and I duly made a mental note to give it try sometime. My mental note was prompted into action by the appearance of a great offer on the website of a local radio station, Spirit FM, where they were offering a £20 voucher giving the holder £40 discount off the price of a meal to the first 80 applicants. I had a look at the Dean's website, but it was very sparse on detail and there was no menu to peruse. I sent an email to the Dean asking for a menu, but heard nothing back. In end I decided to take a chance and purchase the voucher anyway - nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that jazz.
~~~ THE VENUE ~~~
Having never been to this pub in its previous incarnation as "The Selsey Arms", I had nothing to compare it to in terms of the refurbishment. The Dean's website boasts of a high specification refurbishment and the addition of a dining hall and airy conservatory to the building, and it certainly looked very freshly decorated and shiny and new when we entered. Evidently the old barns at the back of the pub have also been renovated and now house bed and breakfast accommodation, but I was there to eat and not sleep!
There's a huge car park at the Dean to the side of the pub. However, you do need to walk around to the front of the building to enter the pub. Once inside, I was rather impressed with the décor. There were lots of leather looking low slung sofas for lounging in and enjoying a drink. Less impressive were the clientele crowding around the bar, who were all rather rough looking to say the least and if we hadn't pre-booked a table in the restaurant, it could well have put me off remaining there. One couple were sharing a bar stool and openly groping each other in full view of the rest of the pub. There were also a couple of greasy looking bikers perched on stools at the bar, who make a great deal of revving their bike engines when they left a hour or so later. Despite the friendly welcome from the bar staff, the overzealously amorous couple and the bikers did make the place seem a little down-market. I was rather glad to leave the bar and go into the restaurant, as the clientele in there looked a lot more sociable.
The dining area of the Dean is an L-shaped room with the alleged conservatory (which looked more like a room with large windows than a conservatory to me) leading off the side of the building. The main dining area has been done out like a medieval banqueting hall. It has a high vaulted ceiling with lots of cast iron candelabra style light fittings hanging down. The walls have been decorated with animal heads, but instead of using the traditional stuffed glassy eyed deer, they're put silver metal ones up instead, which are much nicer, and rather quirky. The room is also decorated with several pieces of interesting looking sculpture, namely a horse's head made out of lots of different pieces of driftwood. I must say that the banqueting hall look would work if the place is busy, but it would feel rather empty and cavernous to any diners visiting on a quiet night. We dined there on a Friday night in July and the place was about 70% full so the atmosphere was buzzy and upbeat. However, I would imagine that the same space half filled would be rather glacial and lacking any atmosphere.
~~~ THE MENU ~~~
The menu at the Dean talks about uncomplicated traditional pub food but "with a twist", so I was rather interested to see what sort of twistyness they'd come up with. The website also makes much ado about using local produce which is nothing new nowadays, but what is interesting is that they smoke their own meat, fish and cheese on site.
The Dean serves both lunch and dinner every day, except no dinners on Sunday evenings. There are a good range of dishes on offer, but I couldn't see much in the way of a "twist" to their menu. To my mind most of the dishes were the sort of traditional pub grub you'd see anywhere in the UK. Lunchtime dishes consist of a range of sandwiches (£5 to £7) and light bites (£3.50 to £10.50) comprising of dishes such as Whitebait, Soup of the Day, Beer Battered Mushrooms and Smoked Salmon. If you're after something a little more filling you can partake of Ham, Egg and Chips (£8.50), Prime Steak Burger (£9.50) or a Range of Salads (from £7.50). The most interesting dishes on the lunchtime menu were an Oriental Ginger Beef Salad (£9.50) or a Ploughman's Platter Sharing Board (for two at £17.50), but I think that the choices are a little safe considering they've tempted their diners with a walk on the twisted side.
I hoped I'd find more evidence of their dark and twisty side on the dinner menu, but here too, I was left rather disappointed. Starters start at £4.50 and run up to £9.00 on their dinner menu and consist of such things as Chicken Liver Pâté, Seared Scallops and Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad. A nod towards more interesting fare can be found with Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Bubble and Squeak Cake and Goat's Cheese and Red Onion Tart, but they still weren't blinding me with their innovation. Main courses range in price from £11.50 up to a whopping £21.50 for a fillet steak. Dishes here are things like Sea Bass with Herb Crushed Potatoes and Fennel and Dill Purée (£17.50), or Mango and Summer Vegetable Curry served with Coriander Rice and a Poppadum (£11.50) or Free Range Chicken Breast with Creamy Dauphinoise Potatoes, Stewed Savoy Cabbage and Smoked Bacon with a Rich Red Wine Sauce (£14.50). I'm afraid to say that none of these choices really blew me away and I rather struggled to find something that appealed.
In addition to the printed menu, there is a chalked up blackboard on the wall by the kitchen hatch which lists the daily specials on offer. On the night we visited this comprised of two starters (Baked Camembert or Scallops) and about three main courses (Lamb's Liver, Lamb Steak or Fillet of Hake).
~~~ OUR MEAL ~~~
I made the reservation the day before over the phone and once we'd ordered our drinks in the bar we were offered the choice of staying in the bar or being shown through to our table in the restaurant. Due to the dodgy looking drinkers in the bar area we opted for the latter and were shown straight through to our table. We were offered a choice of tables and chose one at the back of the room where we had an excellent view of the room.
For my starter I had Home Smoked Salmon served with Horseradish Cream, Lemon, Capers and Homemade Rye Bread (£6.50). The smoked salmon had been smoked in-house and it really did have a lovely oaky flavour to it. I wasn't so keen on the homemade rye bread which tasted a little bit too dry and musty for my liking. However, I smeared some of their deliciously tangy horseradish cream onto the rye bread and it definitely improved the flavour and made it more palatable. The starter was finished off with a nice garnish of salad leaves which had been drizzled with lovely, tasty vinaigrette. The capers I left in a pile on the side of the plate as I dislike them. My partner chose off the blackboard specials at the Dean and went for Smoked Haddock Rarebit served on a bed of Spinach and Summer Leaves at £5.50. He received a fairly thin piece of smoked haddock topped with melted cheese which was served on a nest of spinach and mixed salad leaves. He enjoyed his starter, but thought that the piece of haddock was rather mean.
I was rather tempted by one of the blackboard specials of Rump of Lamb with Redcurrant Sauce, but decided to have the lighter (and cheaper) option of Ale Battered Cod with Pea, Chilli and Lime Purée, Rock Salt Homecut Chips with Tartare Sauce and Lime Wedge (£12.00). I definitely made the right decision here, as my posh fish and chips were absolutely delicious. The cod had been deep fried in a lovely crispy batter and was carefully balanced against a tiny little wire basket containing some chunky chips. I'm not a huge fan of chunky chips, but these were delicious - crispy and salty to the outside but lots of fluffy potato when you bit inside. The dish was a bit of a picture on the plate - as well as the artfully arranged fillet of cod propped up against the wire chip basket, the plate had been drizzled with three large dots of balsamic vinegar and a teardrop shaped pea purée. I detest peas, but this purée was absolutely superb. It tasted fresh and interesting (not to mention adding a lovely colour to the plate) and was the perfect accompaniment to the crispy battered fish and chips. This was a dish I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone eating there.
My partner plumped for Locally Sourced Pork Three Ways - Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Smoked Shoulder and Braised Cheek served with Wholegrain Mustard Mash, Spinach, Butternut Squash Purée and a Quince Jus (whew) at £17.50. He really enjoyed his pork and mashed potatoes, but found it slightly odd that there were no other vegetables served with the dish; it was just the three pieces of pork and a dollop of mash. I tend to agree with him and adding a carrot or two or a floret of broccoli wouldn't have gone amiss here, especially as he was paying £17.50 for the dish. I tried a little of the smoked pork shoulder and it was full of flavour. However, he did say that the Butternut Squash Purée didn't really add anything to the dish, and he had no idea where the Quince Jus had got to as he couldn't find it anywhere on his plate despite hunting high and low.
We both decided we could make room for dessert so our waitress brought over a hand chalked blackboard listing what was on offer. I was tempted by Lemon Posset served with Shortbread Biscuits, but decided instead to have their Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownie with Toffee Sauce and Vanilla Ice-cream at £5.95. This proved to be one of the nicest desserts I'd had in a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The brownie was nicely crunchy to the outside but lovely and moist inside and studded throughout with plenty of whole hazelnuts. It was so rich I rather struggled to finish it... but I forced myself :o) My partner went for Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Sauce and Vanilla Ice-cream (also £5.95). He said that the pudding was nice enough but rather dry and there wasn't enough of the toffee sauce to make it a little more moist. The toffee sauce had been drizzled on the plate but it was rather sparse and he would have preferred a little jug of it to tip on the pudding himself. We rounded things off with two cappuccinos at £2.40 apiece.
~~~ SERVICE, DRINKS AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN ~~~
The service at the Dean was really super-friendly and very efficient. As the Dean is fairly new to the area there aren't all that many reviews on Trip Advisor yet, but one recent one (that now seems to have been removed) was fairly damning of the place, and made specific mention of the manner and accent of one of the members of staff, objecting to being called "my love" by her in a yokel Somerset like accent. We were served by the same said member of staff and we didn't find it at all offensive. Yes she does call you "sweetie" and "my love" throughout the evening, and I guess some would find it a little over-familiar, but it's just her manner and she is not trying to cause offense by it. She was really efficient and enthusiastic throughout the evening which more than compensated for her calling us "my love" about 15 times! I'd much rather be served by someone who is obviously enjoying their job (no matter how effusively!) than a monosyllabic robot who just goes through the motions.
As the Dean bills itself as an Ale and Cider House there are plenty of both on offer, all of which are changed very regularly. Draught lagers are from Carling and Grolsch, with real ales from Sharps Doom Bar, Oakleaf TSB and a house beer called Dean Ale. I'm afraid I failed to spot any of the ciders on offer but the Dean's website states that they have a full range of both ales and ciders on hand pumps as well as by the bottle - "from Craft ciders to new wave North American craft beers to well-established Belgian Abbey style beers and everything in between". My partner had three pints of Carling lager at £3.70 a pint and I had a lovely tall glass of refreshing Pimm's at £4.20 as it's my favourite summer tipple.
The toilets at the place were well stocked and very clean. Like the rest of the pub they'd been recently refurbished and were done out in smart white and grey painted walls with lots of slate tiling splash backs around the basins.
Our bill for the evening came to £73.50 for two three-course dinners, two coffees and four drinks, which we thought was rather good value. Once we'd applied our £40 Spirit FM discount voucher the final cost came down to a rather reasonable £33.50 and we left a £7 tip on top of that.
~~~ RECOMMENDED? ~~~
I enjoyed all three of my courses at the Dean, but most especially the fish and chips and the chocolate brownie. I made some wise menu choices here as all my dishes were delicious. My partner didn't fare so well, and although he enjoyed his meal, his dishes weren't nearly as good as mine. However, all in all, we both thought the food and the service at the Dean were very good and we wouldn't hesitate to return.
The Dean may have some rather rough looking clientele in the bar, but you shouldn't let the hairy bikers put you off a visit here, as the food is well worth a visit. The service was enthusiastic and efficient, and as long as you don't mind being called "my love" fifteen times in one night by a complete stranger, I thoroughly recommend a visit.
Four stars from me.
~~~ FURTHER INFORMATION ~~~
The Dean is located on main Midhurst Road (A286) in the tiny village of West Dean, six miles north of Chichester. West Dean is home to rather splendid West Dean Gardens (http://www.westdean.org.uk) which feature a walled garden and a 300 foot long Edwardian pergola. They also hold annual garden and produce events such as the Chilli Fiesta as well as lectures and open air theatre events.
The Dean Ale & Cider House
- There is an ample sized car park to the side of the pub
- All major cards accepted
- Bed and breakfast accommodation if you fancy staying in the area
~~~ Food Service Times ~~~
Lunch: From 12.00pm to 3.00pm (until 5pm on Saturday and 6pm on Sunday)
Dinner: From 5.30pm to 9.30pm (no food on Sunday evenings)
Due to the unseasonably mild autumn weather we had in early October this year, we decided to make the most of it with a cycle ride over to the Crown and Anchor in Dell Quay. The pub is about three miles from my house and involves a rather picturesque bike ride (or walk) alongside the banks of the sea inlets at Fishbourne and Apuldram. The cycle ride took about thirty minutes from home to pub, and by the time we got there we were in need of some liquid refreshment and a bite to eat.
The Crown and Anchor is situated by the harbour at Dell Quay in Apuldram and it therefore has delightful sea views whatever time of year you visit. Sometimes the mud and seaweed can look a bit unsightly (not to mention smelling a bit) if the tide is out, but on the whole it's a lovely spot to sit and enjoy a drink and some bracing sea air. Despite being all aglow from our cycle ride, sadly it wasn't warm enough to sit outside on this occasion. However, I can vouch for the fact that there is plenty of outside seating at this pub should you choose to visit on sunnier day than we chose.
~*~ THE PUB ~*~
The pub is situated just to the side of the Dell Quay wharf at Apuldram. The harbour is steeped in history and is very likely to have been used by Roman galleys to reach nearby Fishbourne Roman Villa. The existing wharf behind the pub was not built until the 16th century, but was extremely busy back in the day as it was the only official landing place for the city of Chichester at that time. As the quay had neither warehouses nor inn, local citizens were keen to build one. Hence the Crown and Anchor being built towards the end of the 16th century (although it was initially christened "Dell Key House"). Sadly nothing appears to remain of the original 16th century building today, but what stands there now is still a very pretty looking cream painted period building which is likely to date from the 19th century. The pub is a good sized building in itself and it also has plenty of outside seating as well as a generous car park to one side. The outside seating area has plenty of tables and chairs and is set directly overlooking the water so you can admire the views, various sea birds and other people messing about in boats.
Inside the Crown and Anchor is surprisingly spacious with plenty of space for both drinkers and diners. Being so close to the sea it's no surprise that they've gone with a nautical theme to the pub. However, the profusion of dark wood to the ceiling, bar, floor and walls means that the interior is akin to stepping on board an old clipper ship (but without the listing...). The walls are festooned with ancient mariners' timbers, ship's knots and all manner of sea faring gadgets from yesteryear. Even the long stretch of bar is curved so it resembles the prow of an old wooden ship. Although the pub is sparkling clean and shiny inside, you can't get away from the fact that it is rather dark in there. Even though there are plenty of floor to ceiling windows overlooking the quay at the back of the pub, it seems to do little to lighten the place. To be honest, despite its size, I find the pub rather gloomy inside as all that wood makes it overly dark and claustrophobic. I much prefer to sit outside in the fresh air and enjoy the views. However, that was not an option when we visited earlier this month, and I had to bite the bullet and sit indoors in one of the gloomy corners.
~*~ THE MENU ~*~
The menu at the Crown and Anchor is quite plain and simple. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty there to suit most appetites and tastes, but haute cuisine it isn't. Most of the dishes are best described as good old British pub grub, but with an emphasis on fish and seafood type snacks, no doubt due to their location and seafaring theme.
The menu at the Crown and Anchor is changed regularly to reflect seasonal availability, but it is kept short and sweet. The menu is printed on one side of A4 paper and there is usually a pile of them on the bar for you to help yourself from. They don't festoon every table in the place with a menu and nor is every table laid up with cutlery, which is a good thing in my book. Far too many pubs don't welcome drinkers anymore but this one clearly does. As well as the paper menus behind the bar, there is also a blackboard with a few daily specials on offer too, although it has to be said that it was rather sparse on content and options when we were there. Maybe they'd already run out of some of the dishes, but there were just two main courses remaining on the blackboard, one being Lamb Koftas with Pitta Bread and Tzatziki (£8.95) and the other was Homemade Game Pie with Buttered Mash and Seasonal Vegetables (£13.00) (which was also on the printed menu so hardy a "special") and the only starter listed was clarification on the soup of the day which was also listed on the main menu.
I'm afraid there are no real surprises on the menu here - it's all pretty standard pub fodder you find on 1,001 pub menus the length and breadth of the UK. There are a range of Sandwiches starting at £6.50 or a Ploughman's for £8.75. There are also a range of smaller dishes which you can have as starters in the evening or smaller luncheon dishes. This range comprises of dishes like Soup of the Day, Hot Smoked Mackerel served on a Potato, Spring Onion and Horseradish Salad or Prawn Cocktail with Marie Rose Dressing, Cos Lettuce and Lemon. Prices here range from £5.25 to £6.00.
If you're after a bigger plate of hot food, there are a limited choice of dishes like Honey-Roasted Ham, Two Fried Eggs and Chips (£10.25), 8oz Beef Burger in a Toasted Sourdough Bun, Relish, Salad and Chips (£10.50), Fresh Beer Battered Haddock, Chips, Garden Peas and Homemade Tartare Sauce(£12.00) or you can push the boat out and partake of an 8oz Sirloin Steak with Roasted Tomato, Flat Mushroom, Potato Rosti and Peppercorn Sauce for a whopping £19.50.
All in all the range of dishes on offer are pretty run of the mill and there's not much in the way of innovation on offer. Some of the dishes are marked with an asterisk on the menu to indicate that they can be served as smaller children's portions at a reduced cost of £5.95. Items marked are things like the beef burger, fish and chips and ham, egg and chips. The menu is also marked up with a small "v" to indicate vegetarian options but the options are fairly limited if you don't eat fish. The one dish I spotted was Flat Mushroom topped with Mixed Peppers, Red Onion, Courgette and Melted Mozzarella served with a Rich Tomato Sauce and Side Salad at £9.75.
~*~ LUNCH FOR FOUR ~*~
Despite it being a mild autumn day, the breeze off the water outside the pub was fairly brisk and quite chilly. Therefore we didn't have the option of dining al fresco so we parked our bikes outside the pub and wandered on inside. As we had our Golden Retriever with us, we were asked to move from the main bar area through to the side of the pub. This was fine as we know that no everyone appreciates a slobbering, smelly and panting dog watching them eat their lunch. We found a quiet table for four right at the back of the pub and encouraged the dog to park herself out of sight under the table by bribing her with a packet of eye-watering expensive Tyrrells crisps. Sadly she wasn't having any of the slinking out of sight and re-emerged to try and greet our neighbours at nearby tables as soon as she had demolished her crisps. Despite being banished to the cheap seats in the pub due to our canine companion, we still had a lovely table near the window with a bird's eye view of the choppy blue sea.
After we'd had our first round of drinks, we decided we were all quite peckish. The cycle ride certainly hadn't been all that strenuous as it had only travelled three miles and it's all totally flat terrain. However, all that fresh air had certainly sharpened our appetites so we decided we'd have a look at the range of sandwiches on offer. We certainly didn't feel we'd exerted ourselves enough to justify either a full main course or a pudding...
I decided on Handmade Fish Goujons, Tartare Sauce and Cos Lettuce served in a Bap at £6.75. I received a good sized floury white bap with a ramekin of tartare sauce to one side. Inside the bap were two fish goujons which had been deep fried in batter. Sadly the cos lettuce was virtually non-existent and limited to two or three small pale strands. The bap was quite pappy and lacking in flavour, but the goujons more than made up for it as they were delicious. I also received a generous helping of homemade tartare sauce in a ramekin (though wiping the side of the dish would have made it present better as it had a long trail of slightly congealing sauce to the outside of the ramekin). The goujons were still hot and by adding in copious amounts of their creamy tartare sauce the bap made a rather tasty and filling lunch.
My father went for Whitebait, Side Salad and Tartare Sauce at £5.00. He received a nice pile of breadcrumbed fish in a neat pile alongside a generous amount of salad garnish. He also enjoyed the tartare sauce too...although they'd managed to get all of his sauce inside the ramekin :o) He did say that the whitebait were a little bit greasy, but other than that he had no complaints. Both the fish goujon bap and the whitebait were nicely presented on grey slate rather than your usual plate.
My partner went for Sausages, Buttered Mash and Seasonal Vegetables in a Red Wine Gravy at £10.75. For this he received two sausages in a pile of mash and a puddle of gravy. It certainly wasn't the most generous portion of sausages and mash we'd ever seen. I'd have expected at least a third sausage for that price and definitely a bigger mound of mash. However, what there was of it was very tasty, and you couldn't fault the portion of vegetables on the side which were substantial and nicely cooked.
My mother went for Homemade Carrot and Coriander Soup served with Bread and Butter at £5.25. For this she received a huge bowl filled to the brim and a nice roll and butter. The soup looked really thick and substantial - definitely a winter warmer. She said it was really very filling indeed, but that it lacked a depth of flavour. Carrot soup can be tricky to get right as it the flavours aren't developed enough it can taste a little bland and wishy-washy. She would certainly have the soup there again, but not the carrot one as it was just a bit too watery in flavour.
All in all our meals were enjoyable, nicely presented, reasonably priced and fairly generous of portion. Although I think that their menu is incredibly pedestrian and rather boring, I can see that the catering at the Crown and Anchor is designed for the masses; they need to greet them, seat them and feed them as quickly as they can on a sunny day so they're not going to want to fiddle about with anything too complicated or unusual.
~*~ DRINKS, SERVICE AND PET FRIENDLINESS ~*~
The Crown and Anchor is owned by Young's Brewery, but as well as serving a range of Young's ales and bitters, they also offer a changing range of guest ales. They always have a range of Young's Brewery ales on offer such as Special, London Gold and Bombardier, but guest ales for the autumn are Robinson's Dizzy Blond, Harvey's Sussex Wild Hop and Dartmoor IPA. Fosters lager was on offer too and I availed myself of my usual half a pint of shandy.
A more polite person than me would describe the service at the Crown and Anchor as efficient. It's certainly quick and to the point. However, I find the service there bordering on the brusque. The bar staff are disinterested in having a chat and are there purely to fill your drinks order as quickly as they can ready to move onto the next punter. I can understand that attitude in the summer or at the weekend when the place is full both inside and out, but they certainly weren't rushed off their feet on that Wednesday lunchtime so there was no need for such harried service. It has to be said though at the waitress was friendly enough when she brought and cleared our plates.
We visited the pub on a Wednesday lunchtime in October, and they must have been delighted with their mid-week trade as the place was more or less full - mostly with lunchers rather than drinkers. We were served quickly and efficiently with our drinks, and then politely asked to move through to the side of the pub if we wished to remain inside with our dog. Dogs are welcome at the Crown and Anchor providing they are well behaved and are taken through to the side area of the pub. We were impressed with the amount of doggy water bowls in both the garden and at the front of pub both of which had been filled with fresh water. They are obviously used to catering for plenty of dog walkers in the area.
All food ordering needs to be done at the bar and you need to quote your table number before they'll accept your order. We didn't ask about running a tab, nor did they offer one, so I imagine everyone has to pay for their food at the time of ordering. Your food is then brought to your table once it's ready. When our food was brought to us, we were asked if we wanted any sauces or condiments to go with it. Once we were finished our plates were quickly cleared and we were asked if we'd enjoyed our lunch.
Unfortunately they don't ask if you'd like any desserts, so you would need to go back up to the bar and ask for the dessert menu, and then revisit the bar to place your order. We didn't bother with puddings as we were only after a quick snack type lunch. However, for the purposes of a review I did have a quick glance of the fare on offer (all priced at around the £6 mark) and desserts included delights such as Mango and Passion Fruit Pavlova, Lemon Tart with Blood Orange Sorbet, Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cake with Vanilla Ice-cream and Vanilla Cheesecake with Strawberry Compote not to mention several others I've forgotten.
~*~ FINAL THOUGHTS.... CROWNING GLORY OR CROWN OF THORNS? ~*~
The Crown and Anchor is in a truly lovely location with almost panoramic views of the water and surrounding countryside. I don't much like the inside of the pub due to its darkness, but that might just be me, and what I find gloomy and claustrophobic, another may describe as cosy. I do find the service at the pub to be a little terse and taciturn. However, I suspect the staff are used to dealing with large volumes of customers especially during summer weekends and bank holidays when they just don't have time for a chat and a how-do-you-do, so they lose the habit of chatting to their punters when it's quieter.
The food is nice enough, but lacks much in the way of imagination. However, this pub gets absolutely mobbed on sunny days, so one can understand why they keep their menu simple and straightforward. The outside seating area for this pub is vast and it's a pretty roomy inside too, so that's a lot of punters to cook for when the sun shines and you can't really blame them for keeping to the basics catering wise. What they do offer they do well and it's not too expensively priced either.
I really do recommend this pub for a drink on a sunny day as it's an absolute delight to sit beside the water and enjoy the unspoiled views. I probably wouldn't recommend you make a special trip there for the food though, as its all pretty average and nothing to write home about. However, if you're looking for a pit stop on your ramble, boat trip or bike ride then it's a lovely spot to pause, rest awhile and refuel for the ongoing journey.
Recommended for drinks (and maybe a light snack) if you enjoy waterside views and unspoiled scenery. It's certainly not a crowing glory of a pub, but then neither is it deserving of a crown of thorns either. It's just average - so it gets three stars from me.
~*~ THE SMALL PRINT ~*~
The Crown and Anchor is part of the Young's Brewery chain with some 200 plus pubs throughout England - mostly in London, the south east and the south west. Young's Brewery is based in Wandsworth in South London and is evidently Britain's oldest brewery as there have been brewers on their site since 1581.
The pub is in the tiny village of Apuldram which is about 2 to 3 miles outside of the city of Chichester. Apuldram has no amenities at all apart from the Crown and Anchor (and a sewage plant!), but it's very easy to find nonetheless. The pub is right at the bottom of Dell Quay Lane and overlooks Dell Quay itself so waterside views are always guaranteed. The pub is rather off the beaten track and not the kind of place you're going to spot as you're driving past- you do need to know it's there and make a special trip.
The Crown and Anchor is a nice spot for a quick lunch or drink and then a walk along the banks overlooking the water. It also makes a nice stop off point if you are cycling in the area as there are plenty of off-road cycle paths from Bosham, Chichester and Fishbourne. Near to the pub are buildings housing Dell Quay Sailing Club, Apuldram Fishing and Boat Club and a classroom for the Chichester Harbour Education Centre. And due it's proximity to the water, you can of course sail there if you have boat...tides permitting.
Crown and Anchor
Dell Quay Road
Telephone No: 01243-781712
- The pub opens at 10.00am to 10.00pm everyday (11.00pm closing on Saturday nights)
- Food is served everyday from 12.00pm to 9.00pm
- Tea and coffee served all day as well as breakfast for early birds and afternoon teas for walkers
- Good disabled access with plenty of easily accessible tables both indoors and outdoors
- Plenty of car parking to the side and front of the pub
When my house flooded last summer, we were unsure whether the flood water had penetrated as far as the kitchen, as with a fully tiled floor it was hard to ascertain. However, the loss adjustors and their surveyor soon put paid to any ideas we might have had about the kitchen being water free. Evidently the water had penetrated underneath the tiles and all our kitchen units had soggy bottoms (to coin a phrase from Mary Berry). Sadly this discovery meant that we would have to move out of our house for three months and into rented accommodation whilst they did their flood repairs. On the upside, it did mean that we got a brand new fitted kitchen out of the deal. Unfortunately our old stand alone cooker, washing machine and dishwasher couldn't be accommodated into the new kitchen design with any great ease, so we decided to splash out on new fully integrated appliances so as to not spoil the look of our new kitchen. After much research we finally chose a Hoover fully integrated washing machine and it was duly plumbed in for us by the kitchen fitters just over a year ago now. Twelve months is more than sufficient to give it a good trial run and get used to how it works, so I thought it was time to bash out a review on how it has measured up for us.
We decided to buy a Hoover HWB 814 D washing machine as we wanted a washing machine that could handle a bigger load of washing than the norm. This machine can handle up to 8kg of washing so that's a pretty big drum inside the machine. Despite my household consisting of just me and my partner, we also own a dog. My partner and I don't need to wash our clothes any more or less than the average household, but we do need a larger machine to cope with the amount of washing our dog generates. She's a rather hairy Golden Retriever who loves swimming. If there is no deep water to hand, a mud filled puddle will do the trick or how about a stagnant slurry pit? She invariably gets covered in mud, twigs and grit not just on a walk but if she is just outside in our garden. Keeping her clean is never ending, especially in the winter. Therefore we have a constant need for clean and fresh towels in order to keep the beast looking beautiful and more importantly to stop her traipsing her muddiness throughout the house. An 8kg drum holds a lot of dirty towels so we can have a continual supply of clean linen to keep her clean and dry. Added to which, this machine also has a 1,400 rpm spin-cycle so those clean wet towels come out damp rather than wet so therefore don't need much in the way of drying.
=== Features ===
The Hoover HWB 814 D is plain white and rather boring looking, but because it's integrated behind the kitchen units it doesn't really matter how dull it looks. This machine has 12 basic wash programmes, all of which can be modified in different ways i.e. altering the temperature, the spin speed or the length of the wash. Briefly these twelve programmes are for "Resistant Fabrics + Pre-Wash (cotton and linen)", "Mixed Fabrics and Synthetics", "Very Delicate Fabrics", "Rinse", "Fast Spin", "Drain Only", "Silk/Handwash", "Machine Washable Woollens", "Resistant Fabrics (with no Pre-Wash)", "Rapid 14", "Rapid 30" and "Rapid 44". Each of these programmes can then be "tweaked" to raise or lower the temperature of the wash or reduce or increase the spin speed. The temperatures on the various programmes range from 30° to 90° and the length of the cycles start at a mere 14 minutes with the "Rapid 14" programme up to a lengthy 2 hours and 47 minutes for a 90° "Resistant Fabrics + Pre-Wash (cotton and linen)" cycle.
You can also add in other little variations to your chosen programme with various other goodies such as "Fast Iron", "Stain Blaster", "Spin Speed" or "Sensitive Care" buttons. The "Fast Iron" button is allegedly a uniquely designed anti-crease system tailored for specific fabrics. I've not tried this button so I cannot comment on how effective (or otherwise) it is. The "Sensitive Care" button is for the "Cotton and Mixed Fabrics" programmes only and it's been designed to treat the fibres of garments of those with sensitive skin more gently. The load will be washed in more water than usual so that the detergent dissolves more quickly. The drum is also filled and emptied more often so that any detergent is more effectively rinsed away.
The "Stain Blaster" button sounds more like a ride at Alton Towers than it does a programme on washing machine, but by pressing this button (for Cotton cycles only) it tells the machine to rotate in such a way that the detergent is distributed more evenly. It also increases the speed of the programme so that those stains are pounded into submission. Finally we have the "Spin Speed" button which is of course designed to remove as much of the water from your washing as possible. This can be amended to increase or decrease the speed of the drum. It should be noted that not all the selected programmes can be customised. For example the machine will not allow you to use the "Fast Iron" button on the Resistant Fabrics/ Cotton / Linen programme because it simply would not work. Cotton and Linen always need a good iron and the programme on this machine just wouldn't work. Similarly the "Spin Speed" button cannot be hiked up to the max on some of the programmes such as woollens or delicate wash as that would just destroy the fabrics. I must say that this machine has been designed to make washing your clothes as fool proof as possible so by blocking the fast spin option on your silk blouse you're not going to make any costly and irritating washday mistakes.
The HWB 814 D also has a "Delay Start" button which allows you to bung your washing in the machine and then use this button to pre-programme the wash cycle to start up any time in the next 23 hours. I haven't used this programme but from the description it sounds very easy to set in motion. I imagine this programme would be handy if you work shifts and you don't want to be disturbed by the noise of the washer in operation whilst you're getting some zeds in. Or you could set the timer some your wash finishes just before you get home from work.
=== Operating ===
It has to be said that the controls on the HWB 812 D are not that simple to operate initially. Unfortunately the programming dial is made of tiny symbols rather than words, so initially I found myself having to constantly refer back to the manual in order to decipher what each symbol represented. This is both time-consuming and fiddly and I much prefer my older machine where the dial clearly stated what each programme was for. I don't like having to work out what a grey leaf means on this machine when my older model clearly told me it was a "Delicate Fabrics" programme. Also a cloud is used to indicate the "Cotton" programme so I'm not at all sure how they arrived at that decision. Clearly not all the symbols on my Hoover are indecipherable - a grey ball of wool with two needles is pretty self-explanatory in that it's a "Woollens" programme and a hand symbol is indicative of a "Handwash" programme. However, on the whole I dislike the dial on this machine as it's not instantly obvious which programme is which until you get to know and understand the symbols they use. Once you've mastered them, it's fairly simple to operate, but it is somewhat of a learning curve and I would prefer a dial with one word labels rather than symbols next time.
On the far right of the machine is the dial to programme your machine with the wash you want. It's a very simple dial which you turn smoothly and easily until it "clicks" against the programme you want. The dial can be turned both clockwise and anticlockwise but it doesn't need to be pushed in or pulled out like my older washing machine. The dial is a large white one with small grey symbols etched against each of the twelve programme options. Next to the dial is an LED digital display panel which lights up in red with your chosen options. This display panel will constantly inform you about the status of your wash i.e. what programme you've chosen, what temperature it's operating on and most importantly how long the cycle has left to run before completion. Once it's done its thing it will display a red "End" sign so you know it's safe to open the door and remove your washing once a two minute delay has ended. To either the side of the LED display are the "Spin Speed" and "Wash Time" buttons which can be altered to lengthen or shorten the times of your washing programme and increase or decrease the intensity of the spin at the end. Underneath the LED display are six large white buttons which are your "Stain Blaster", "Sensitive Care", "Delay Start" and "Fast Iron" programmes. The fifth button here is for altering the "Wash Temperature" on your programme. This is pretty self explanatory of course - you can decrease or increase the temperature of your wash. However the machine won't allow you to be stupid and try and wash your jumper or your silk undies at 90° so it's pre-programmed to only let you alter the temperature on programmes that can take higher temperatures. Finally the sixth white button is the "Start/Pause" button which you depress to get your washing underway. There is another button just under the programming dial and that's to open the machine door once the programme has finished. All of these buttons are labelled with symbols rather than words, and they too take some working out if you don't use them all that often. There is a handy chart in the user manual which you can refer to, but who honestly wants to get the book out and leaf through it in order to work out what some of the more obscure symbols relate to? It's irritating and frustrating when a simple one word label would be so much easier.
The LED display is very clear and easy to read and it's immediately obvious what length of programme you've chosen as it lights up as soon as they dial has clicked into place. You can also check what temperature your programme is set to, what spin speed you've chosen and the cycle duration. The machine is also quietly intelligent, or dictatorial, depending on your viewpoint, in that it will not allow you to select certain features against specific programmes. So no fast spin on your woollens or delicates here and no high 90° washes allowed for your silks.
The detergent drawer is located on the top left hand side of the machine and pulls out very easily. There are three compartments in this drawer with the one on the far left being for pre-wash detergents, the one in the middle for any fabric softeners, starch, stain removers etc and the one on the right for the actual washing detergent. I don't tend to use the detergent drawer much as I prefer to pop my washing detergent in with the washing in a plastic dosing cup. However, occasionally I will pop some soda crystals in the middle drawer if I want to get my whites a bit whiter. I've never really bothered with pre-wash detergents or fabric softeners as normal washing detergents are so all singing and dancing nowadays, not to mention very highly fragranced, that adding in extra liquids seems superfluous.
This is a front loading washing machine and you need to depress the "Door Open" button underneath the programming dial to open the door. The machine is easy to load and unload as the door opening is quite large. As this machine takes a massive 8 kg of washing the drum inside the machine is much bigger than an average washing machine. My only bone of contention with this machine is how very hard the door is to close. There is no handle on the door unlike my old machine. Although this is good in the fact that when the door is closed it's flush with the rest of the machine, in practice it makes the door very hard to close. You really have to shove the glass hard to close the door and it often takes more than one attempt which is incredibly frustrating.
=== The Results ===
I'm happy to report that this machine produces extremely clean clothes. Initially the symbols used to indicate all the different programmes are beyond frustrating, but once you manage to familiarise yourself with the controls you soon learn which programmes work best for your household. I often decrease the temperature on some washes not only to save on time but also cut down the energy costs. Washing the dog's numerous towels on a 30°C cycle and a fast spin to end the programme works a treat. If the towels are not too stained and just wet and smelly I'll pop them in the machine for a 14 minute quick wash just to freshen them up and remove some of the dog hair.
As for the human washing, I do tend to find I use the same programme every single time as it's not too long and I can alter the temperature on the cycle to either 40°C or 60°C. I use the "Resistant Fabrics with no Pre-Wash" programme nine times out of ten this machine. I pop our clothes in for a 40°C wash which takes just 59 minutes. When I wash the bed sheets, tea-towels and bath-towels I tend to use the same programme but just up the temperature to 60°C and add in some Soda Crystals just to give them a bit more of a thorough clean. I'm more than happy with the results I get every single time I use this machine. Stains are lifted without having to make much more effort than just applying a bit of stain remover and then bunging the wash into the machine. Muddy towels are transformed into something a lot less grotty and lot more fragrant smelling very quickly and very easily. Similarly with the 1,600 rpm spin at the end of most programmes on this machine you tend to find that your washing comes out damp rather than sopping wet which makes drying so much easier and so much quicker.
For a washing machine this Hoover is rather quiet. I've had washing machines in the past where the spin cycle as so noisy you'd get more peace and quiet on the runway at Heathrow. The spin cycle on this machine is still loud, but not excessively so, and you can still hear yourself think, have a conversation or watch a bit of TV without straining your ears.
=== Any difficulties or drawbacks? ===
As I said earlier on the review, the washing machine door is a major problem with this machine. It's incredibly hard to shut the door easily and quickly. You cannot shut it by standing up and leaning down. You often need to crouch down and use both arms to push it shut (or a foot to kick it closed when you lose your temper with how bloody frustrating and stiff the door is and your arms alone aren't strong enough!). Obviously the machine doesn't start if the door is not shut properly which is as it's supposed to be for health and safety reasons. However, many a time I've thought I've shut the door only to find I haven't shoved it quite hard enough. An indicator that the door is not shut before you start programming the machine would be good here. It seems I'm not alone in my frustration with the door on this model. Nearly every review on this machine on Appliances Online says something along the lines of "nice machine but the door is a nightmare"....
Similarly, I do dislike the symbol system Hoover has used on the dial on this model. Initially it's really hard to work out which symbol relates to which programme, and I still get flummoxed if I'm in a hurry and not concentrating properly. I'd much rather there was a one word label or option for each of the 12 programmes and all the other functions rather than trying to work out what each symbol is supposed to represent.
Another feature that I miss on this machine compared to my old washing machine is the lack of bleeping. Now you may well think that this is a godsend as there are far too many machines in your life that bleep, ping or ring at you all day long everyday. However, if I'm upstairs I don't know that the washing machine has finished doing its thing as it just displays a silent "End" sign meaning the programme has finished and you can open the door. My old machine would give three distinct bleeps to let me know it was done meaning I could go downstairs and empty it. With this model I have to mentally remember when it will approximately finish otherwise the wet washing will sit in the machine longer than it needs too...especially if I'm engrossed in a good book or surfing the net upstairs in my study.
Finally, although this machine has a lot of functions and a lot of bells and whistles, not all of them are useable on certain programmes. The programmes are predetermined by the machine and you cannot override them. For example, you cannot alter the temperature settings on some of the programmes, so if you think your smalls would benefit from a hotter 90 degree wash but they really don't need two hours and 47 minutes to clean them if can't be done. Similarly you cannot increase the spin speed on some specific programmes if you've selected a lower temperature wash. I guess Hotpoint have predetermined the settings to make the wash programmes as foolproof as possible, but an override button in certain circumstances would be good.
=== Maintenance ===
This washing machine has that all important 'A' rating for energy efficiency and is allegedly easy to fit. However, I really cannot comment on how easy (or otherwise) this washing machine was to plumb in as it was all done by the team appointed by our insurance company to do the flood renovations. That said, they seemed to have no problems in fitting it, but they were professionals.
The user manual that comes with the machine is very user-friendly. It's written in simple and clear language and all the diagrams are useful and relevant. Although it's a massive 30 pages long it's mostly full of relevant information. This machine comes with a twelve month guarantee in the event of electrical/mechanical breakdown. It also comes with a five year parts guarantee which you need to activate either by completing the form within the user manual or you can do it online. Ideally you do need to activate the guarantee when you receive the machine, and not a year later when you find the form whilst leafing through the manual in the midst of writing a review on the machine....doh!
I've not yet had any mechanical problems with the machine (touchwood), but the manual also includes a useful cleaning and routine maintenance section as well as a malfunctions section. The drum and the door glass still look as good as new on my washing machine. However, whilst photographing the machine I noticed that my detergent drawer looks suspiciously grubby and rather unpleasant so I managed to hook the drawer out the machine very easily and give it a thorough clean in the sink.
=== Price and Source ===
We paid £399.00 for this washing machine in November 2012 from www.appliancesonline.co.uk and that price also included free delivery. It seems this particular model is no longer for sale with either Appliances Online or Currys, but you can still buy it on Amazon for £439.00 with a fairly hefty delivery charge of £24.50 or at www.365electrical.com for £408.99. Hoover seems to have discontinued this particular model but is now selling virtually the same specification model under the new name of the HWB 814 DN1. This can be purchased from either Appliances Online or Currys for £429.00. If you do purchase from www.appliancesonline.co.uk (or Currys) do remember to go through a cashback site like Quidco or Topcashback as they'll give you a further percentage off the price you'll pay. We got 2% cashback on our purchase, which is not huge I know, but when you're buying a cooker, cooker hood, washing machine and dishwasher all at the same time then it all adds up, and we got a nice £35 bonus from Topcashback.
=== Recommended? ===
This is a very good washing machine and I'm more than happy with the results of my wash. It has a good range of programmes that cover any laundry you need to do. The larger 8kg drum is ideal for washing those never-ending towels we need to keep our dog clean. Similarly the 1,400 rpm spin means that said towels leave the machine almost dry and therefore need minimal drying, which is a godsend at colder times of the year when you don't have the option of hanging the washing outside and are limited to festooning the airing cupboard with 5 or 6 damp towels.
However, it's not all rave reviews here. The stiff door on the machine is a complete nightmare and it really does need to be looked at by Hoover as it's really hard to close without a handle. I'm also none too keen on their use of symbols for all the buttons and the dial on the machine rather than using simple one word labels. Having to refer back to the manual to decipher the code is time-consuming and irritating. Sometimes I think that it was quicker for them to break the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park than it is to work out what two teardrops and a plus sign means ("Sensitive Care" in case you're wondering!).
Four stars from me as I'm afraid it loses a star for that troublesome door....not to mention those irritating symbols and the lack of a bleep.
=== Full Specification / Key Features ===
* Fully integrated washing machine
* 12 wash programmes
* Quick wash feature with 14, 30 and 44 minute programmes
* Maximum Rotational Spin Speed is 1400 rpm
* Handles a large 8kg wash load
* Front Loading
* Water consumption is 53 litres (cold fill only)
* Dimensions are Height: 82cm Width: 60cm Depth: 54cm
* Weight 71kg
* This washing machine has an 'A' rating for energy efficiency
* Red Digital LED Display
* 23 hour timer start delay programme
Further details at: http://www.hoover.co.uk/large-appliances/products/49/built-in/62/laundry /1055/fully-integrated-washing-machine/
The last time I visited the Partridge Inn was in the 1990s and it was called the Fox and Hounds in those days. I used to work at Goodwood Racecourse, and Singleton is one of its nearest villages. However, I must confess that I'd only been to the Fox and Hounds less than a handful of times as it was a bit of a dive compared to other places in the area. The landlord at the time was distinctly odd, rather lecherous and the food nothing special, so we didn't go there much at all.
I have no idea when the Fox transmogrified into a Partridge, but I suspect it had something to do with the name being non PC and fitting in with New Labour's fox hunting ban. No matter, the arrival of my daily Groupon email in my inbox invited me to revisit this old haunt. The deal was for two starters and two main courses for £25 and I swiftly snapped it up. I'd read in the local newspaper that the Partridge Inn (along with The Earl of March pub in nearby Lavant) is now owned by Giles Thompson who used to be the executive head chef of the Ritz London, so I rather hoped with that sort of accolade the food would be a vast improvement on that on offer in the 90s. I rang and booked a table the day before we visited and made it clear we were on the Groupon deal. The gentleman on the other end of the phone was efficient, but rather brusque, and told me to ensure I brought my Groupon voucher with us on the night.
*** A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME.... ***
The pub dates from the sixteenth century and there are plenty of period features throughout the building. There's a delightful fireplace complete with beam above it saying "The Partridge Inn circa XVIth cent" done out in olde worlde script. Sadly it's not authentic - not in the slightest. The Partridge Inn was not called the Partridge Inn until sometime in the late 20th or early 21st century...before that it was called the Fox and Hounds, so if the beam was authentic it would have a different name on it! Talking of beams, the pub is full of them - both on the ceiling and on the walls. There are lots of little alcoves and crannies inside the pub so it's ideal for a romantic assignation or a quiet drink. Most of the walls are festooned with horseracing pictures of nearby Goodwood Racecourse.
I don't recall the garden at all from the 90s (and have no idea if it even had a garden in those days), so I was rather surprised to see an absolutely huge garden to the back of the pub. There are a pair of double doors leading to a terraced area and then a huge expanse of lawn beyond. Both the lawn and the terrace are laid out with some lovely garden furniture complete with cream brollies. Had the weather been warmer I would have loved to eat out there, but we had to make do with a swift and bracing drink outside and then make our way indoors to a warmer climate....despite it allegedly being "flaming June".
The pub has a large gravelled car park to the front and side of the building with plenty of space to leave your vehicle. There is also a little bit of parking on the street in the village of Singleton should the car park prove full.
*** BIRD WATCHING ***
We visited the Partridge on a cool Tuesday evening in June. Despite it being early in the evening, the pub was already fairly busy with both drinkers and diners. To their credit, there are plenty of tables in the pub if you just fancy a drink, unlike a lot of local gastro pubs where every single table in the building is laid up with cutlery thus sending out a clear message that drinkers are not so welcome.
The Partridge serves food every day, and there's plenty on offer to suit most tastes providing you're not looking for a cheap lunch. They have a bar snack menu with a range of very expensive sandwiches starting at a whopping £6.95. There are a range of salads from £9.95 and a small selection of light bites such as soup or ploughmans.
As well as the bar snacks, there is an à la carte menu with a good range of dishes on offer. Starters range in price from £3.75 to £8.50 and include tempting delights such as Shallot and Goat's Cheese Tarte Tatin with Rocket and Parmesan Salad, Chicken Liver with Smoked Bacon and Port Pâté, Berry Compote and toasted Pain d'Alsace or House Potted Brown Shrimps with toasted Pain d'Alsace.
Main courses start at £10.95 (scampi and chips) and go all the way up to £21.50 (fillet steak) and include a range of tempting options to choose from namely Salmon, Chive and Fresh Herb Fishcakes on Wilted Spinach and Creamed Leeks, Lamb's Liver with Bacon, Mash, Red Wine Jus and Seasonal Vegetables or Pan Fried Sea Bass Fillet with Olive Crushed Potatoes and Sauce Vièrge to name but a few.
As well as the printed menu, there is of course the ubiquitous daily blackboard specials. On the evening we dined there I spotted Lamb Cutlets in Redcurrant Sauce and Fish and Chips with Minted Mushy Peas.
*** THE NAME OF THE GAME ***
I had reserved our table the day before and made them aware we were on the Groupon deal (£25 for two starters and two main courses). There was a problem with the lager pumps when we arrived so I wandered outside into the garden to enjoy a bit of the evening sun. My partner brought our drinks out with him five minutes later, but disappointingly he hadn't been offered any menus to bring with him despite alerting them to our reservation.
We had to go back inside the bar and sit at our designated table before the menus appeared. The host ran quickly through the menu and informed us of what we could and couldn't have on our Groupon deal. The blackboard specials beside the bar were off the agenda which was a pity as I quite fancied the lamb cutlets. However, the printed menu did not lack any choice, so I contented myself with that. For a Groupon deal, the Partridge was pretty good, and nearly everything on the menu was available to us (which you cannot say for many deals which tend to add supplements all over the shop). Here, the only supplement payable was if we wanted either fillet or rib-eye steak and even then it was only a paltry £3 charge.
For starters I chose Tiger Prawns pan fried with fresh Garlic and Herb butter and served with Rustic Bread at £8.50. The dish served was not really what I was expecting. I thought I'd receive a bowl with some medium sized peeled prawns swimming in butter. However, I actually got four huge Mediterranean prawns complete with heads and tails sitting in a pool of butter and millions of capers. I'm not a huge fan of capers and these were so strong in flavour they totally overpowered the garlic and herb flavours of the dish to the extent one couldn't taste anything but the capers. Now I love Mediterranean prawns as much as the next person, but they're extremely messy to eat, especially if they're coated in sauce. For heaven's sake if you're going to put whole unpeeled prawns on your menu, please, please, please serve them with a fingerbowl, or at least a pile of napkins or some of those scented finger wipes. Unfortunately, the Partridge managed to serve their prawns without any means of cleaning oneself up afterwards, so I had to spend a good five minutes in the ladies trying to get bits of prawn out of my finger nails. A black mark to the Partridge for their lack of consideration for their messy diners here. That said, the prawns themselves were very tasty once you could get at them. The rustic bread was very nice too, it was just a shame the overkill on the capers spoiled the sauce.
My partner chose Deep Fried Whitebait with Tartare Sauce £6.75. This dish was nicely presented and more than generous of portion. The breadcrumbs were nicely crunchy to the outside but the whitebait inside still fleshy and moist. The dish was accompanied by a lovely fresh salad garnish and a generous portion of creamy Tartare sauce.
For main course I chose the 10oz Rump Steak with Hand Cut Chips and Seasonal Vegetables £16.95. The price of the steak also gave you a choice of sauce to accompany the meat. From memory I believe there was a black peppercorn, Béarnaise or something else. This was a real plateful of food and a half and I struggled to finish it. The steak was juicy, thick and cooked nicely medium rare as requested. The vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, French beans and broccoli) that accompanied the dish were beautifully cooked and full of flavour. The chips weren't all that special as they were extremely thick and rather dry tasting, but to be fair I'm not a huge fan of chunky chips, I much prefer the shoe-string variety. The dish would have received top marks from me were it not for the rather dreadful Béarnaise sauce it came with. I absolutely adore Béarnaise sauce, but this version was very poor. Béarnaise sauce should be "A classic French sauce made with a reduction of vinegar, white wine, tarragon, black peppercorns, shallots and finished with egg yolks", but the Partridge version just tasted of slightly stale margarine. There was no hint of tarragon or vinegar to it, and I was more than a little disappointed. Luckily the sauce was served on the side so it hadn't been smothered all over the steak and I could enjoy the steak unadulterated by the poorman's Béarnaise sauce.
My partner decided on the 10oz Sizzling Rump Steak served with Grilled Field Mushroom, Tomato and Hand Cut Chips at £16.95. This came served on an iron skillet, but I missed the sizzling entrance as I was in the loo trying to remove prawn debris from my hands. He was rather impressed with his dish as it consisted of two generous hunks of meat, a large grilled tomato and a good sized mushroom. The portion of chips was a little small, but the generosity of the portion of meat more than compensated.
Desserts weren't included in our Groupon deal, but that didn't stop us from looking at the desserts blackboard (all priced at £5.95). There was a rather tempting sounding Toffee and Pecan Flapjack with Ginger and Honeycomb Ice-cream, but we were quickly informed that it had run out so that put paid to that idea. Other choices on offer were a Pear and Almond Tart and a White Chocolate and Rhubarb Panacotta with Rhubarb Ice-cream (as well as a selection of different ice-creams). In the end I chose Treacle Tart with Cream which was a nice generous slice of tart with a lovely sticky filling and a crisp shortcrust pastry case. The cream was served in a tiny little pouring pot as it was single cream. Himself went for Chocolate Tart with Cream, but it came served with Rhubarb ice-cream instead of the described cream. He wasn't all that impressed with this change of accompaniment as he found the Rhubarb ice-cream a little bit too perfumed in taste and would have preferred the cream. However, I thought the Rhubarb ice-cream was rather tasty - fruity and perfumed yes, but with a rather nice acidic bite to it. The chocolate tart, however, was delicious - rich, dark and rather bitter.
*** KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU ***
The Partridge offers draught lager in the form of Becks or Stella Artois and cider is from Stoford Press. Real ale lovers can sup on London Pride or Harvey's Best. My partner ordered a pint of Becks as he dislikes Stella Artois. However, the Becks was frothing like mad despite a change of barrel whilst we waited. In the end the manager told him the Becks was off and he'd have to make do with Stella Artois. We noticed afterwards that we'd been charged for the more expensive Stella (at a whopping £5 a pint!) despite him wanting the cheaper Becks (£4.10 a pint). It would have been nice if they had adjusted the bill to charge us for the cheaper lager he'd wanted, rather than the expensive lager he'd received but no matter.
The service at the Partridge was rather hit and miss. The gentleman behind the bar was efficient enough, but his queries as to whether we'd enjoyed our meal seemed forced and robotic rather than genuine. One felt he was asking as he'd told to rather than because he genuinely wanted to know. As for the waitress we had for the evening, she was clearly doing the job for some pocket money rather than any genuine love of the job. Her questions were also robotic, but she either failed to understand our answers or she had the memory of a goldfish. She asked us if we wanted desserts to which we replied in the affirmative. Ten minutes later she was still standing behind the bar looking gormless and bored having totally forgotten to bring us the dessert blackboard. When prompted there was no apology, just a "oh yeah, I forgot". When she took our order for desserts she laboriously wrote the details down and then said in a very confused voice "anything else?". We'd ordered two desserts so why would we want a third or a fourth pudding? Or perhaps she meant to say "and would you like tea or coffee with that?", but failed to communicate what she meant. The Partridge need to invest some time and effort in training that young lady so she comes across as less dim and far more animated. When you've charging £35 to £40 per person for three courses of pub grub one expects a degree of professionalism from one's serving staff, and failing that most definitely a spark of enthusiasm for the menu and the venue.
The ground floor toilets were clean enough but a little bit dated in décor. I had some trouble working the taps in the ladies - they were easy enough to turn on but I had to ask another customer if she knew how to shut off the flow. Luckily she did! The toilets are signposted "Stags" and "Does" and there's a separate disabled toilet as well.
Our bill for the evening came a reasonable £23.95 and we left a £6 tip despite the distinctly average/poor service. Adding in the £25 Groupon deal, our meal for the evening cost us just shy of £55. At £55 the meal was of an acceptable value as the portions were generous and the food good. However there is no way on earth we would return to this pub and pay full price. The meal we had *should* have cost £80 if we'd paid full price and it was quite simply not worth £80. The food was good enough, the portions generous but the service left a lot to be desired.
*** IS IT WORTH DOING BIRD? ***
The Partridge is half-heartedly recommended. It's a lovely gastro pub in a delightful countryside setting. The food is good, not outstanding, but good. The portions are generous and I'd say all the food was freshly made (apart from the dreadful stale tasting Béarnaise sauce). However, this pub is more than let down by its service. The waitress was clearly disinterested in her job, and the manager came across as perfunctory and mostly indifferent. Maybe it was because we were on the Groupon deal and therefore not paying full price, but with that sort of attitude we really wouldn't be encouraged to return and pay full price next time.
The Partridge gets three stars from me as the food might be good and the portions generous, but the service really needs to buck its ideas up here. Recommended for summer's day when you can sit outside and enjoy their lovely garden and the stunning views.
*** FURTHER DETAILS ***
Singleton is a tiny little village nestling at the bottom of a very steep hill. Singleton is only 2 miles from Goodwood Racecourse (and the rest of the Goodwood Estate is only a tiny bit further on). You'd think such a short two miles distance would be walkable, but the hill is incredibly steep, so it's not recommended unless you love a very steep hike! Singleton is home to the renowned Weald and Downland Museum, which is an open air museum full of period reconstructed buildings and well worth visiting (see my review at http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/museums-national /the-weald-and-downland-open-air-museum-sussex/1223092/ if you're interested in further details). Just up the road you have West Dean Gardens in West Dean, and Chichester is just 7 miles away.
The Partridge Inn
Telephone: 01243 811251
Back in the mists of time I wrote a review on DooYoo all about the village of Bosham (pronounced Bozzum) which is very near to where I live. In case you're interested, the review is entitled "Time and tide wait for no man" and can be found at http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/destinations-national/bosham-village/1016963/. Bosham is a very pretty village about 3 miles outside of the city of Chichester in West Sussex and is located within one of the creeks of Chichester Harbour so is subject to high tides twice a day. Bosham is one of a number of places that lays claim to the King Canute legend as the location where he tried to turn back the tide (the claim strongly evidenced by the fact that his infant daughter is buried in the Saxon church at Bosham).
In my Bosham review I wrote all about the things to do in Bosham and made mention of the Anchor Bleu. My words were "There is one shorefront pub, The Anchor Bleu which dates back to 1740. It has some pleasant outdoor seating from which to watch the world go by. However, if it's good ale and friendly bar staff you prefer, then I suggest you go a little way inland to the Berkeley Arms, as the food, drink and welcome at the Anchor Bleu leave a lot to be desired". That was my opinion in 2005, and I cannot recall having gone anywhere near the place since then despite it being so close to my house. Would my revisit eight years later leave a more favourable impression, or would I still be recommending going elsewhere?
~*~ THE PUB ~*~
The very first thing I need to mention about the Anchor Bleu is that there is no parking whatsoever. It's best to park in pay and display car park opposite Bosham Craft Centre and then take a short three minute walk to the Anchor Bleu. Now you may think there's plenty of space on the road behind the pub (Shore Road), but do PLEASE check the tide that day. Every year several idiots park their cars on Shore Road and fail to notice the prominent signage stating "Road liable to tidal flooding". Unfortunately for them the tide very frequently swamps Shore Road in both summer and winter, and many a motorist has returned to find their car up to its wheel arches in salt water. A small crowd always gathers around any partially submerged vehicle and amused locals will start to take bets on how long it will be before the red faced motorist returns to their sodden car. It's almost a local sport! Inside the pub, the walls are festooned with photos of various half submerged cars from over the years. If salt water is washed off quickly, then your car *should* not suffer too badly, but a completely submerged car is likely to be a write off....as was the fate of a brand new Rover five or so years ago. It doesn't take long for any motorist caught this way to realise that like King Canute many centuries before him the tide at Bosham waits for neither man nor car!
The Anchor Bleu looks truly charming from the outside. The building dates back to the 18th century and is painted cream with pretty nautical blue window frames and gorgeous flower baskets in the summer months. There is large terraced area set within an ivy encrusted flint wall to the front of the pub with plenty of outdoor seating (and brollies should the weather prove inclement). To the back of the building is a very small terraced area set behind a white wrought iron railing. There is a scattering of tables and chairs here which are very popular with anyone visiting the Anchor Bleu as you get a bird's eye view of the harbour, and therefore sea views when the tide is in.
Inside the Anchor Blue is rather small and somewhat pokey. There is a nautical theme to the pub with a ship's wheel and various other sea faring memorabilia on the walls. However, most eyes are drawn to the many photos on the walls of various submerged vehicles throughout the years.
There isn't a great deal of seating inside the pub, so it tends to be a fair weather place. If the weather is warm you'll have more chance of a seat as there is a lot more outside seating at this pub than there is indoors. However, if the weather is unkind, then you'll need to get there very early in the day or evening, otherwise you'll not find an inch of space indoors and you'll have to sit and shiver outdoors. They don't accept lunchtime reservations at the Anchor Bleu, so you either have to get there early or just take pot luck that you'll be able to grab a table.
~*~ THE MENU ~*~
Eating at the Anchor Bleu earlier this month wasn't my choice, as I had no fond memories of the place as I said earlier. However, I was meeting a former colleague for lunch and she picked the venue. I was interested to see whether the place would be more welcoming than it used to be, and besides it was only a ten minute cycle ride from my house (the cycle ride turned into a fifteen minute expedition as I got my skirt caught in the back wheel of my bike and spent a good five minutes trying to release it and drawing a small crowd of helpers...doh!).
There is no printed menu at the Anchor Bleu, only a blackboard towards the back of the pub. This is fairly limiting, and heaven help the poor unsuspecting people sat on the table under the blackboard as there is a constant stream of punters looking over their shoulders at what is on offer. Whatever you do, don't pick that table under the blackboard as it will destroy any chance you wanted for a quiet lunch or dinner.
I'm afraid there are no surprises on their blackboard - it's all the pub fare you'd expect to find anywhere in the UK. There are a range of filled baguettes from £5.95, a selection of ploughmans and a range of different salads from £7.95 on offer. If you're after hot food, there's a choice of Beef Burger, Chicken Burger or Fish and Chips (£10.95) and a few other dishes but that's about it. I'd looked the menu up online before I went there so I'd know what to expect, but any of the dishes that sounded tempting to me weren't on offer that day. I loved the thought of Salt and Pepper Squid or a Thai Fishcake but neither of them were available.
All in all I was pretty unimpressed with the selection of luncheon dishes on offer as there wasn't really a single dish that stood out as innovative and interesting. It was all terribly run of the mill and boring.
~*~ LUNCH FOR TWO ~*~
We were lucky with the weather on the day we visited as it as a decidedly hot day. I don't like spending any time indoors at the Anchor Bleu as its pokey, claustrophobic and you get jostled and pushed trying to fight your way to the bar. Outside, the Anchor Bleu's a much less frenzied and more relaxed option. If you can grab a table on either the front or the back terrace, then you're likely to have a much more enjoyable respite.
There weren't any starters on offer at the Anchor Bleu so it was straight into the main event. I did find the menu rather limiting and I rather struggled to find something that tempted me. In the end I ordered a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Granary Baguette which came with Homemade Coleslaw for £5.95. (I could have had other fillings such as Smoked Salmon and Cucumber, Bacon and Brie or Prawns in Marie Rose Sauce). The baguette was cut into two manageable wedges and generously filled with a couple of rashers of bacon and a layer of lettuce and tomato. The whole thing was bound together with mayonnaise, and the baguette had been slightly warmed so it was nicely gooey. Less impressive was the tiny tub of homemade coleslaw. What there was of it was sparse and heavily laden with far too much raw onion. I rather wished I'd ordered a plate of chips to go with my baguette to make it more of a meal rather than a snack, but there was no way on earth I fancied going back up to the bar to order a portion.
My friend decided to order their quiche and salad which cost £7.95. She received a nice wedge of Asparagus and Pepper Quiche with a nice shortcrust pastry crust. The salad surrounding the quiche was plentiful and consisted of mixed leaves, tomatoes and cucumber. To make things a bit more interesting they'd added a salad of cold broad beans and peas, which I would have hated but she seemed to enjoy. They'd also added a couscous salad to the plate but she left most of that as it was a little too dry and boring.
As the pub was so busy due to the gloriousness of the weather all the outside seating was taken up. A small party of three asked if they could share our table as there was no other space available and it was interesting to see the food they ordered. One of them had a Dressed Crab and Prawn Salad (£13.50) and it looked very nicely presented. Another had a plate of Whitebait which looked nicely crispy and the third went for Beefburger and Chips which didn't look so good due to the nasty pappy floury bap the burger came in.
All in all our meals were enjoyable, nicely presented, reasonably priced and generous of portion. I just think that the menu is incredibly pedestrian and rather boring. However, they'll be full there on a summer's day whether they offer their punters a packet of crisps or lobster thermidor, so I guess they don't have to try too hard to impress anyone.
~*~ EVERYTHING ELSE ~*~
The Anchor Bleu is a free house and offers a good range of real ales, lagers and bitters. From memory they are currently serving Hog's Back T.E.A., Ringwood Fortyniner, St. Austell Brewery's Tribute Ale, Sharp's Doom Bar and Sharp's Cornish Lobster.
As usual the Anchor Bleu was mobbed inside, and I had to fight my way to the bar. There was a largish party trying to place a food order (all food ordering has to be done at the bar too - no table service here), and it seemed to involve all of the bar staff as well as five punters. I stood there like a lemon for a good five minutes before one of the bar staff deigned to serve me. I asked about running a tab as we planned on eating, but they wanted to me to leave my credit card behind the bar so I declined and paid cash. I ordered half a lager shandy and a glass or rosé wine.
When I enquired about food I was brusquely informed that there were no printed menus and I'd need to look at the blackboard at the back of the pub to see what food was on offer. So far, the Anchor Bleu were not presenting themselves in their best light. Once I'd looked at the blackboard, I had to fight my way back up to the bar and place the order. You are then given a numbered wooden spoon to take back to your table, and you have to listen out for a member of staff shouting your number. They do bring the food to your table both inside and outside, which I was very relieved to hear, as I certainly didn't fancy another trip inside and pushing my way through the crowds.
When our food was brought to us, we were asked if we wanted any sauces or condiments to go with it. Similarly when our plates were cleared, we were asked if we'd enjoyed our meal by a rather charming young lady - the only member of staff to show any friendliness at all in the entire time we'd been there. However, she didn't ask if we'd like a dessert, and the thought to trying to locate the choice on offer and then fight one's way back up the bar to place the order was all too much hassle, so we did without.
~*~ SAIL AWAY, SAIL AWAY, SAIL AWAY.... ~*~
The Anchor Bleu is in a truly lovely location and the views from the back of the pub at high tide are delightful. However, despite it being surrounded with such natural charms, the pub itself still leaves me cold, and I can no more recommend this place today as I could eight years ago. Inside the pub is small and pokey and I really wouldn't want to spend any length of time in there. The service is as brusque and terse as it's always been. You have to fight your way to the bar and then receive not so much as a welcome, just a quickly filled drinks order. I realise that the place is thronged with tourists all summer, which possibly accounts for the terse and unwelcoming service, but nothing they say or do ever really encourages me or anyone else to make a return visit. They are sitting on an absolute gold mine if the weather is good, yet they squander it with indifferent service, food and ambience. I guess they just don't have to try too hard to be pleasant or interesting as they're always going to be full come summer due to their location.
The food is reasonable but unimaginative, but I really do dislike having to try and push my way through the hordes just to look at the blackboard of daily specials. By the time you've looked at the board, memorising as much as you can, you'll have forgotten half of what's on offer by the time you get back to your party at the front of the pub. A small printed menu would be a much easier option.
Recommended for drinks if the weather is sunny and warm, as there's no finer place to sit and watch the world go by, but do try and limit the time you spend inside the pub to an absolute minimum. Oh and the food is much nicer elsewhere. Two stars from me.
~*~ FURTHER DETAILS ~*~
The pub is very easy to find as its slap bang in the centre of Bosham. However, do please heed the flooding warning signs if you decide to park outside the pub. It's much safer to use the pay and display car park nearby. As you enter Bosham you'll see Bosham Craft Centre on your right hand side. Follow the road to the left into the pay and display car park. As you leave the car park on foot, turn left towards the water, and then take the first road on the right (the High Street). The Anchor Bleu is just a short may up the High Street on the left hand side.
The Anchor Bleu is a nice spot for a quick lunch or drink and then an afternoon preamble around the pretty village. As well as the craft centre mentioned, Bosham also houses a Saxon church, a harbour and lots of quaint waterside property. Oh and you can of course, visit Bosham by boat should you have one. You can access Bosham Quay 2½ hours each side of high tide. You can have 15 minutes free mooring alongside the quay but after that you need to go and find the Quay Master to pay launching and mooring fees.
The Anchor Bleu
Telephone No: 01243-573956
- The pub opens at 11.30am on weekdays,11am on Saturday and 12pm on Sunday
- Lunch is served from 12.00pm and dinner from 6.30pm everyday (all day dining on Sunday only)
- Disabled access here could prove a problem as the entrance to the pub is down a rather steep step
Amelie and Friends is a rather delightfully named restaurant right in one of the busiest streets in the centre of Chichester. Being given the name "Amelie and Friends" you'd think the menu would most likely be French, and the venue bistro like, but it's not. Despite being quirky in both name and décor, this restaurant takes its catering cues from all around the globe, and there is a lot more than a French flavour to its menu. Due to its superb location right in the heart of the city, it's a rather popular venue with ladies who lunch, local office workers and the odd tourist. However, despite opening 2 or 3 years ago, this was the first time I'd eaten at Amelie and Friends, though I'd heard many a report about it - both good and bad. Earlier this year was my opportunity to judge for myself when I finally got to dine there. My boss had invited the team out to lunch as a thank you for all the overtime we'd been putting in recently due to staff shortages. The surgery was closed until 3.30pm and we had booked a table for six for 1pm, thinking we would have plenty of time for a long and leisurely lunch.
~~ ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH DEAR FRIENDS ~~
Amelie and Friends is located in North Street, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from both Chichester Cathedral and the Cross, both of which are the main landmarks/tourist attractions of Chichester. North Street is full of great shops (both high street names and independents), and some good pubs (it also houses a Greggs the Baker, which is best avoided). Amelie and Friends is just a five minute walk away from Chichester Festival Theatre so it's an ideal venue for one of their special pre-theatre dinners (available from 5.30pm to 7.00pm Monday to Saturday 2 courses are £18.00 or 3 courses for £21.00).
Like so many venues in Chichester Amelie and Friends is housed in a Georgian brick built building complete with original sash windows and portico entrance. Despite sharing the building and entrance with an estate agent, Amelie and Friends is much larger than you expect it to be once you get inside. It's light, bright and airy inside due to a huge conservatory towards the back of the building.
It also has a truly hidden gem once you get beyond the conservatory, as the doors open out into a delightful and spacious walled garden. There are plenty of tables and chairs in the garden so you can enjoy some splendid alfresco dining if the weather permits. A city centre garden of this size is virtually unheard of in Chichester so Amelie and Friends do well to make the most of it and advertise their jewel in the crown by placing an A-board in North Street stating "Garden open for lunches today". I would imagine it's a splendid way to attract in both old and new clientele when the sun is shining.
Sadly Amelie and Friends has no parking whatsoever and its entrance is in the pedestrianised part of North Street. Chichester is always a bit of a nightmare to park in, and it can cost you an arm and a leg. There is a tiny bit of voucher parking towards the bottom of North Street, but your best bet to use the large pay and display car park beside Chichester Festival Theatre.
The venue has lovely high ceilings and stripped wooden floorboards. The building used to house an off-license (Arthur Purchase) for many, many years, and someone has obviously spent a fortune updating the décor and converting it into a restaurant. Despite being done out in mainly creams, greys and browns, the lighting is so clever that it's not in the slightest bit drab. Of course, the natural light from the huge conservatory and garden help boost the light enormously but I was rather amazed at just how spacious and light it was inside the place. I can remember how very dark and pokey the off-licence used to be, so they really have transformed the place into a hidden gem.
~~ THE MENU - FLEXIBLE FRIEND ~~
The menu in Amelie and Friends is quite brief, but there's enough to tempt even the most jaded diner. I'd describe the menu as brasserie style favourites, but with a definite twist. For example they serve a duck dish, but it's served with rhubarb instead of the traditional orange and they serve coleslaw with one of the sandwiches but it's made with red cabbage instead of the usual white one. The menu is full of little quirks and unusual ingredient pairings, which tend make you think "that's a nice idea, I could try that at home".
As Amelie and Friends is a restaurant cum brasserie, it's more of a place for a proper sit-down meal rather than a quick snack. As such sandwiches aren't *really* on the menu...well there is one, but it's one of those posh expensive sandwiches (Pulled Pork Sandwich in Foaccia with Red Cabbage Coleslaw at £7) so you know it's going to be a good plateful of food rather than a quick snack. Other items listed on the Amelie and Friends "snack" selection include Quiche of the Day, Eggs Florentine, Eggs Benedict or Eggs Royale all priced at around the £7 to £8 mark.
The main menu at Amelie and Friends is an all day one and has a fairly limited but interesting selection of dishes. Starters range from £2.50 to £6.30 and include things like Baba Ganoush, Hummus and Flat Bread, Duck Egg, Bacon and Watercress Salad or Mozzarella Crostini with Green Chilli and Lemon Zest. Main courses are split into either Fish or Meat sections with about 4 or 5 different choices on offer to each. I'd heard good things about their Homemade Fish Pie - packed with cod, haddock, salmon, shrimps and boiled egg at £11, and one of my colleagues quite fancied trying their Homemade Cottage Pie - enriched with Oxtailat £9. Vegetarian dishes are marked up clearly with a large "V". As well as the main à la carte menu, there is a fixed price lunch menu for £10.95 (2 courses) or £14.50 (3 courses) which offers dishes from the main menu but in smaller portions.
~~ OUR MEAL - FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS ~~
On the day we visited, the sun had finally made an appearance, so Amelie and Friends was very busy. The garden was full to bursting with lunchers, and all the tables inside were occupied as well. We had booked a table for six in the conservatory but rather regretted we hadn't asked to sit outside. However at the time of booking we had no way of knowing the weather would be nice enough to sit outside.
As I said earlier, my visit to Amelie and Friends was at the invitation of my boss and his wife to thank the team for all our overtime of late. We had booked a table for six for 1pm and arrived spot on the dot. There seemed to be some confusion over our booking as we were left standing like a bunch of lemons in the main reception area whilst one of the staff spoke to another member of staff. After a brief confusion we were shown to a lovely table in the conservatory and given a menu apiece and our drinks order taken.
As is the case when you're not paying the bill, you have to wait and take your cue from the person that is! It's no good ordering a starter and the most expensive main course, if the payer is making do with a plate of eggs. I suspected from previous works dos, that starters weren't really on the agenda and we'd launch straight into main courses, and I was right. As a last minute thought, the boss ordered a couple of homemade bread baskets with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar dips, but they weren't huge and we quickly chomped through the lot. I had some trouble finding an appealing main course that was averagely priced and not the dearest thing on the card. I was tempted by the Ribeye Steak with Chips and Béarnaise Sauce as I absolutely adore Béarnaise sauce with a good plateful of steak and chips. However as this was priced at £19.50, I decided it would make me look like a right greedy guts and that I was trying too hard to get my money's worth from the boss. Instead I plumped for the more modestly priced Homemade Fishcakes with Poached Eggs, Spinach and Hollandaise at £11. Two other members of our party also ordered this dish so I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I'd made the right choice. The fishcakes were very obviously homemade and coated in a nice coating of golden breadcrumbs. When you cut into them there was a nice quantity of flaked salmon mixed in with fluffy potato and fresh dill. The fishcakes were balanced on a small portion of steamed spinach, but it was a big enough portion for the dish. There were two perfectly poached eggs sitting on top of the fishcakes and these had been drizzled with Hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives. When you cut into the poached eggs the yolks were still lovely and runny. The Hollandaise sauce accompanying the fishcakes was rich and buttery, but there simply wasn't enough of it to get more than a tiny smear with each mouthful. All in all, I thought the fishcakes were superb, but they could do with upping the quantity of sauce with this dish. I was particularly impressed with the perfection of the poached eggs here having seen what a mess they got into with poaching eggs on Masterchef recently :o)
Two of our party choose Confit Duck Leg with Rhubarb, Bok Choi and Roast Potatoes at £14.50. This didn't look like a particularly exciting dish to me, but both parties said it was delicious and how well the rhubarb worked with the dish instead of the usual orange. The final dish chosen by our party was Homemade Lamb Burger with Tzatziki and Onion Rings at £10.50. The presentation of this burger was stunning as the onion rings were placed on top of the burger in a tower effect. It needed to be quite literally demolished to be eaten.
Five out of six in our party were interested in a dessert so the majority ruled on this occasion. There are a limited selection of desserts (£4.50 to £6.50) on the card at Amelie and Friends but they all sounded most tempting. I quite fancied Affogato (Vanilla ice cream, espresso and honeycomb), but was swayed by noticing one of my all time favourites instead - Eton Mess. Four of us ended up having the Eton Mess and someone else chose Lemon and Pinenut Parfait with Raspberry Sorbet and Raspberry Tuile. Other desserts on offer were Homemade Ice Cream, Crème Caramel, Rhubarb Fool or Moelleux au Chocolat. Without exception we all said how disappointing the Eton Mess was. Instead of it being whipped cream, crushed meringues and fresh strawberries as it should be, the Amelie and Friends version was far too plain and boring - more like "Eton Tidy" as one of my colleagues quipped. Instead of fresh strawberries we had watery cubes of poached red berries, which looked more like beetroot than berries :o( The meringues weren't crushed but just plonked on top of whipped cream and then garnished with the rather dreadful fruity cubes - which weren't particularly fruity. I do wonder if the kitchen had run out of fresh strawberries and defrosted the fruity cubes as a quick standby. They'd have done better to send someone out for a couple of punnets of strawberries in all honesty. No such disappointment was reported from the owner of the Lemon Parfait in our party, who really enjoyed her dessert. She was the only one who didn't wish she chosen something else.
We rounded things off with a selection of coffees - two decaffeinated, two lattes and one cappuccino. I didn't spot the bill at the time, but when we got back to the surgery it was put through petty cash, so I managed to see that it came to £141 with a £14 tip to round it up to £155. Working out at around £25 per person I thought this was reasonable enough for the quality of the food, service and venue.
~~ WHAT ELSE? - FRIENDS, ROMANS, COUNTRYMEN.... ~~
Other than the dreadful Eton Mess, the food was very good at Amelie and Friends. However, it wasn't all perfection on a plate here. I'm afraid that the slowness of the service really let this place down. We had the initial confusion over our booking when we arrived as I've already mentioned, but that was quickly sorted out and we were seated, drinks arrived and orders were placed. We chatted amongst ourselves, and then we chatted some more. I attempted a surreptitious look at my watch as I was getting hungrier and hungrier and there was no sign of the food. Having placed our order at around 1.10pm to 1.15pm, our food finally arrived at just gone 2pm. Yes, I know this is a sign that it's all freshly cooked, but a 45 minute wait for lunch is really not acceptable. People need to eat more quickly at lunch as they need to get back to the office. Luckily the surgery was not reopening until 3.30pm that day, but if we'd had any 2pm appointments scheduled then at least two of us would have had to have gone hungry and returned to work before our food arrived. The place was packed to the rafters due to the unexpected sunny weather, but that's no excuse for not keeping your diners informed. At no stage did anyone from Amelie and Friends come over and explain the delay in the food arriving. By the time 2pm arrived, everyone in my party had foregone the polite chit chat to join in with a good old grumble about the slowness of the food service. We were asked to fill in a comment card when the bill arrived, so we wrote that the food was good, but the service far too slow.
I thought the ambience and surroundings at Amelie and Friends were delightful. I had no idea that they had such a huge garden for al fresco dining and it really is a charming feature of the venue. However, if you visit the place during inclement weather the conservatory is just as lovely a place to sit in as you get a bird's eye view of both the garden and the main dining areas too. Drinks wise we mostly stuck to water as most of us needed to be back at the surgery later on that afternoon. The two that weren't returning to work had glasses of white wine. If you have more time Amelie and Friends do a good range of cocktails from £6, as well as a full range of wines and champagnes. Please note that none of the beer is draught here - it's bottled Peroni Lager, Sussex Pale Ale or Thatchers Cider.
Apart from the awful Eton Tidy and slow food service, the only other thing that let the venue down were the rather miserable staff. They were efficient and polite, but there was little warmth or friendliness to their service. The owner was flitting about in the background throughout our meal but she didn't come anywhere near our table. As we left she was standing behind one of the counters in the main reception area, and she didn't manage to crack either a smile or a thank you in our direction, which I thought was most remiss of her. Her general demeanour was rather cold and I wonder if this has rubbed off on her staff and made them act in a similar fashion?
It has to be said that Amelie and Friends is not really a kiddies venue and I suspect that children are not really encouraged here (there was certainly no evidence of any special kiddies menu or facilities on offer). There's a definite "grown-up" and somewhat sophisticated vibe to the place - it's mainly for "ladies who lunch" or a business people.
Entry to Amelie and Friends is through the front door on North Street and there are a couple of steps up into the building. Wheelchair access may prove difficult even though the steps are rather shallow. Once inside the restaurant, there are no further steps and it's all fairly level (unless you venture out into the garden - more steps down). There are two unisex cloakrooms inside the venue (both of which appear to be wheelchair accessible), which were clean and tidy when I visited them.
~~ FRIEND OR FOE? ~~
We all agreed that the food at Amelie and Friends was reasonably priced and good value for the quality received. We all thoroughly enjoyed our main courses. However, they really do need to go back to the drawing board with their Eton Mess as it was quite the worst version any of us had ever partaken of.
Everyone agreed that Amelie and Friends was a super venue and our table in the conservatory was perfectly placed for a pleasant lunch. However, without exception we were all astounded by the slowness of the food service. Yes, we understood it was perhaps busier than they expected to be due to the sunny weather, but that does not excuse the lack of apology or explanation as to the delay in our order. A wait of 45 to 50 minutes is simply not acceptable at lunchtime as a large percentage of Amelie and Friends diners have desks they simply have to get back to. They really need to up their game or those that are time constrained at lunchtimes will go elsewhere.
Recommended as a pleasant city centre venue for lunch and dinner...provided you have enough time to spare.
Four stars from me - they lose points for the miserable owner, slow food service and that diabolical Eton Mess.
~~ FRIENDS WILL BE FRIENDS ~~
Amelie and Friends
31 North Street
Monday - Saturday: 10.00am - 11.00pm
Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
My last two hairdryers have been from Boots own range (the Boots Essentials 2000W hairdryer) and they've served me fairly well. However, they have a habit of becoming unusable after two or so years. The first one blew up mid blow-dry which scared the life out of me, and the second one just stopped working mainly due to the extremely twisted cord I suspect. As their lifespan appears to be fairly limited, I decided that buying a third Boots hairdryer was a false economy even though they retail at £12.99 apiece. This time around I decided to try a different and more expensive model in the hope it would make it past the two year mark. Enter stage right my brand new hairdryer from Vidal Sassoon. The official name of my new hairdryer is the Daily Hydration Dryer and the model number is the VSDR5825UK. I purchased my new hairdryer from Boots for £19.99.
*** FEATURES ***
The Vidal Sassoon Daily Hydration Dryer comes packaged in a stylish looking white box with purple and grey accents. Inside you get a rather brief instruction leaflet. The instruction leaflet is tiny - there's a diagram of the hairdryer showing you what each switch is for, some safety instructions and the contact details in case of problems. The instruction booklet is also your guarantee as this hairdryer comes with a two year guarantee (provided you keep the receipt from where you purchased it too).
So, onto the hairdryer itself. The hairdryer is a lovely shade of purple matched with grey. That's really why I bought it. I love purple - it's my favourite colour and it will match our bedroom, which is painted lilac and mauve. After I'd seen the wondrous purpleness of the dryer, everything else was just details. I suspect I would still have bought the dryer if it had a speed of 600w and it took me an hour to blow-dry my hair every morning such was the loveliness of the colour. Luckily, this dryer is not all about the looks, and it does have all the necessary bells, whistles and buttons to give me a quick blow dry. The dryer has two switches side by side on the handle which give you three different heat and two different speed settings of up to 2200 watts. Further up the handle you have the cool shot button, which I've just found out is what you are supposed to use on your hair once you've achieved your desired style. Evidently your style can be set with a flow of cool air. I can honestly say I had no idea that's what this button was for on this or any other dryer I've ever owned. I've always used it when my head or hair feels a bit hot! You live and learn.
The back of the dryer has an easily removed air inlet which you can take off to clean the dryer if it gets furred up with fluff etc. The dryer also comes with a concentrator nozzle which needs to be firmly pushed into place and is used for "precision styling and smoothing of hair follicles". I just pushed mine onto the end of my dryer on the day I unpacked it and that's where it will stay until the day it goes to the great hairdryer graveyard in the sky. I always find my head and hair get far too hot too quickly if I try and dry my hair without a concentrator nozzle on the end of my dryer. Hence my wedging it straight into position.
The dryer comes with a 1.8m swivel cord which is long enough for me, as it reaches quite easily to the nearest plug socket behind my dressing table. However, many reviewers on Amazon, Boots and Argos have complained that the 1.8m cord is simply not long enough and it could do with additional length. My biggest concern with any hairdryer cord is keeping it straight. My previous two Boots hairdryer cords both became unbelievably twisted and snarled, which is rather dangerous after a while. Indeed my last Boots hairdryer stopped working altogether as the cord had twisted so badly. Its early days for my Vidal Sassoon model but I'm hoping that the fact the cord on this model swivels may prevent it twisting quite so badly. Failing that, had anyone got any good tips on how to prevent it?
This model also has a hang up loop in the handle, but it's rather rubbish to be honest. The hole is so tiny you'd need a small metal hook to hang it up, so I just ignore the Hang Up Loop on this model and leave the dryer resting on my dressing table. The hanging loop on this model may be rubbish, but I'm pretty impressed with the folding handle on my new dryer. With a quick twist to the handle you can fold the dryer up into a much more ergonomical shape. Whilst this dryer is never going to be as small as a travel hairdryer, with the handle folded away it's pretty damn close and would definitely be a contender for my suitcase when I next go on my holidays.
Finally the science bit about Ionic Technology which I'll let Vidal Sassoon tell you about, as it all sounds like hairdresserly marketing techno babble to me - "Featuring an innovative on board Ionic generator this dryer produces four times more Ions than a standard hair dryer meaning that the natural moisture of your hair is protected". Good to know you've getting your four a day in Ions with this hairdryer Vidal! That's me sorted with my five a day in the kitchen and four a day in the bedroom :o)
*** OPERATING ***
The dryer has a pistol grip handle and it's made with good sturdy ridged plastic so it grips well when you are manoeuvring it around your head. Although the dryer feels much bulkier and bigger than my previous Boots one, it's still easy to lift and hold in position as I style my hair.
As the dryer has 2200 watts so it's pretty powerful and fast to dry one's hair. I use mine with the Concentrator Nozzle on the end as it makes it easier to control the flow of hot air, and it also keeps things a little cooler for my head. If things do get a little too hot, it's easy enough to reach the heat and speed settings on the dryer which are positioned half way down the handle. With a quick flick to the switch on the left hand side you can push the button down a notch to a lower heat setting and right next to it is the switch to turn the speed down a tad too. The dryer is fairly noisy so by reducing the speed you can also quieten the dryer down a bit too.
If things are still a little too hot on your head, the cool shot button is located just at the top of the handle and you can flick that switch for a blast of cooler air. I must say that this button is not too reachable mid-dry, and you need to hold it away from your head a tiny bit to operate it.
*** WASH AND GO ***
I have shoulder length hair in a flicked bob short of shape. My hair is fairly easy to maintain, but it is incredibly thick so it takes some time to get it dry. I cannot be doing with washing my hair in the mornings as it just takes too long to dry it as it's so thick. I therefore wash my hair every night when I have a bath and then leave it to dry naturally during the evening. However, as my hair is so thick, it's rarely completely dry when I go to bed three to four hours after my bath. I therefore use my hairdryer to give it a quick blast to get the roots dry before I go to bed. If I go to bed with damp hair I wake up looking truly frightful the next day and it takes an age to sort out in the morning! My hairdryer gets more use in the mornings when I use it to shape and style my hair for the day ahead. I inevitably spray my hair with a fine misting of water and then add a quick application of either mousse or styling gel. By dampening it with water and squirting on styling gloop, I can then blow dry my hair into an acceptable shape in about five to seven minutes. Job done.
I must say that my new dryer does dry my hair pretty damn quickly if I have it on the highest heat seating and the fastest speed. It takes roughly five to seven minutes of blow drying and styling to get it into shape after I've dampened it and applied mousse or styling gel. However, I cannot tolerate the highest heat setting on this dryer for more than two minutes as it gets pretty darn hot far too quickly. I therefore tend to flick it down a notch to the second highest heat setting for the remainder of my morning blow dry. In the past I would have held my finger on the cool button on my Boots hairdryer when the heat got a little too unbearable, but on my new Vidal Sassoon dryer the cool button is quite awkward to reach with my finger mid-style. You really need to move the dryer away from your head to reach the switch and that just slows you down on a busy morning when you're in a rush to get ready.
My hair has never suffered from a frizz problem as its more or less dead straight. I therefore cannot really comment on how effective the Ionic generator is on this dryer. I must say that the dryer has not made my hair look dry or straw like so the claims of it keeping one's hair silky and smooth are true. My hair still looks to be in tip-top condition and is always glossy and smooth looking after using the hair dryer. Maybe the Ionic control level of this dryer is doing wonders for my moisture levels in my hair, or maybe it's the products I use on it. Who knows?
*** WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD? ***
The hairdryer is quite a bit bulkier than I expected it to be. It does have that foldable handle which reduces the size if you're travelling, but it's still a fairly large dryer. On the plus side, its largish size does not equate to heaviness in weight and this dryer is easy to lift and manoeuvre being just over half a kilogramme in weight. Do bear in mind that if you prefer a quiet and purring dryer then this one is not going to bit the bill. On its highest heat and fastest speed setting this dryer is none too quiet. That doesn't really bother me as I want speed and quickness of drying above all else, but my partner did complain it was incredibly noisy* when I barged into the bedroom and switched it on at 7am last week (*or maybe he meant me rather than the dryer....).
Whilst I love the rather funky looking purple and grey colours of my dryer, it's actually made out of a matte plastic rather than a shiny one. This means it shows up every single greasy mark going. If you've just put some wax or styling lotion in your hair you're going to have to remember to wash your hands thoroughly before you pick up the dryer otherwise you could easily get mucky marks or greasy smears on the dryer.
Looking at the customer reviews on Argos, Amazon and Boots there are as many negative as there are positive reviews on this model. Most of them complain that the cord is too short, but all tend to agree that it dries hair quite quickly. However, there are a rather alarming number of reviews complaining that their dryer stopped working after a few months or that it simply blew up. With this in mind, do remember to keep your receipt as the dryer does have that two year guarantee with it. If mine does blow up or stop working I'll be straight into Boots for a refund.
*** AND FINALLY... ***
I'm more than happy with my new dryer as it does the job I need it to do. It dries my hair quickly and easily and I am able to achieve the hair style I want in about five minutes. My hair looks glossy and shiny and holds its shape well throughout the day.
I will admit that this dryer is noisy, but I'm happy to put up with the noise as I prefer speed over tranquillity when I'm in a rush to get ready for the day ahead. The dryer is little bulkier than I expected it to be, but it's still lightweight enough to make styling one's hair easy enough. And I love the fact that the handle can be folded away to make it more compact for travel.
Recommended with four stars. It loses a star for the poor positioning of the cool shot button, the fact that the matte plastic is going to show every single greasy mark going and its noisiness. However, these are only minor issues for me, and the fact it dries my hair so quickly and easily gives it more than a good recommendation in my book.
*** PRICE AND AVAILABILITY ***
I bought my hairdryer at Boots for £19.99. The link can be viewed at http://www.boots.com/en/Vidal-Sassoon-Purple-Daily-Hydration-Hairdryer_1236086/. However, since I purchased my dryer at the beginning of August, Boots have reduced this model from £19.99 to £14.99 (most irritating that I purchased it a month too early...). Argos currently have the dryer on sale at £14.99 too but Tesco is out of the running by offering it at £20.76. Amazon are selling it for £16.49, but it has the rather ominous message against it saying "Item Under Review. This product is not currently offered by Amazon.co.uk because a customer recently told us that the item he or she received was not as described".
*** THE TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ***
* 2200 watts
* Compact and lightweight model at 0.52 kilogram
* Folding handle for easy storage and packing
* Variable temperature with 2 x speed settings and 3 x heat settings
* Cool shot button
* Ionic conditioning locks in moisture to keep hair healthy and frizz-free
* Concentrator nozzle for controlled styling
* 1.8m swivel cord
* Removable filter for easy cleaning
* Hanging loop for easy storage
* Manufacturer's 2 year guarantee
* Size is 21.5cm (H) x 28cm (W) x 6.2cm (D)