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littlemissdaisy

littlemissdaisy
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Member since: 03.01.2008

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      25.11.2008 18:13
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      Great valuem, beautiful hotel

      ~~~~First Impressions~~~~
      When driving up to the hotel you are immediately struck by how lovely this Edwardian building is. The building has been extended to include more bedrooms and a business/conference centre. And we were more then pleased when we seen it. From the driveway, we could see lovely rooms with balconies and we could see into the restaurant and a conservatory style coffee area.

      Facing the hotel was a park which had a playground and pitch within it, a pleasant enough view. There was plenty of parking in the car park and parking was free during our stay.

      The hotel reception was small but beautiful, very in-keeping with the Edwardian building it was housed in. We could see into the bar, which faces the reception, and at the end of the hall there was a set of stairs leading up to the rooms. At the top of the first flight; facing the main entrance was a lovely stained glass window, I've included a picture of this at the bottom of the review.
      I had phoned ahead to the hotel as we needed directions coming in through Montrose - they were more than helpful and pleasant and gave us the information that we required. Upon arriving at the hotel, the girl on the reception chatted away with us and we all had a chuckle together. She must have taken a shine to us because when she handed us the room key she told us she had given us a "special room" - Intriguing!

      ~~~~Rooms~~~~
      There are twenty five rooms within The Links, all with different themes, names and décor. Our "special room" turned out to be one of the rooms with little private terraces attached. The terrace was great; it had a table and chairs and came in very useful in this non smoking room. I think only three of the rooms have these balconies, unless there are more at the other side of the hotel, which I didnt see.
      Our room was lovely, I've been racking my brain to remember the name as all of the rooms in the hotel have different names, for the life of me I just can't remember - I will update if I do. The room had wooden flooring and had cream walls - quite contemporary. Some adding touches of rug and some ornaments were included which really added to the homely feel of the room. Its not often you get these finishing touches in hotels, as they probably worry that they will be taken home as keep-sakes - the Links is obviously a more trusting hotel.

      One end of the room had French doors which led out to the terrace/balcony area, this overlooked the car park and the park beyond. There were tea and coffee making facilities (something I always miss in European hotels......but then I suppose the mini bar makes up for that!). The bathroom was spotless and had lovely little goodies for me to add to my collection back home. The shower thankfully worked and was quite powerful. Also in the room was a desk/dressing table, table and chairs, double bed, television with local channels.
      There were lovely fluffy towels waiting for us in the bathroom and the pillows were fluffy and thick - perfect.

      There is a nightclub adjoining the hotel, although I don't think it is run by the hotel. This was almost below us but it didn't cause us any problems at all.
      Other rooms in the hotel can accommodate singles and couples. The hotel also has a special honeymoon suite for newlyweds or anyone celebrating a special occasion. I believe that all rooms are non smoking and rooms are serviced daily with linen changes.

      Ground floor rooms are available on request, as are late checkouts.

      ~~~~Facilities~~~~
      Facilities within the hotel include restaurant, bar, Parking (fee required), Pets Allowed, Bar, 24-hour Front Desk, Newspapers, Terrace, Non-smoking Rooms, Continental Breakfast, Free Parking, Express Check-in/Check-out, Safety Deposit Box, Heating, Luggage Storage. Room Service, Meeting/Banquet Facilities, Babysitting/Child Services, Laundry, Dry Cleaning, Internet Services, Packed Lunches, Fax/Photocopying, Wi-Fi / Wireless LAN

      Of the above facilities we only used the restaurant for breakfast, parking and the bar so I am unable to comment on the rest, although as they are fairly standard I'm sure they are fine.
      The hotel can accommodate weddings and as I'm in the process of planning my own, I can honesty say that I would happily have my wedding here, it would be a lovely location - especially to go and get your photos done down at the beach.

      The hotel can accommodate private functions in one of its rooms these include the drawing room which is found in the Edwardian part of the hotel and can accommodate up to 24 people for a meal, party or conference. The fairways suite can accommodate up to 110 people for same and the event centre offers an even larger space for weddings, conferences or parties.
      ~~~~Location~~~~
      The hotel is located on Mid Links in the town of Montrose. We stayed in April and felt that the hotel would be ideal as a base for the surrounding areas but that the area didn't really hold enough attractions for us. We stayed for two nights and really didn't need anything much to keep us occupied. We were happy enough to go out walking during the day and having nice meals in the town at night, followed by a drink in the hotel bar.

      As above there is a park facing the hotel and if you have children I'm sure that they will appreciate this during the day - there is a road in between the hotel and park though.
      The beach is a ten minute walk and we thoroughly enjoyed strolling down here during the days. There is a great play park for the kids down here and also a coffee shop. We spent a brilliant afternoon down here, as it was spring there weren't too many people about and we had a walk down the beach and just wandered, it was really peaceful.

      Areas accessible from Montrose include 10 mile(s) from Brechin, 30 mile(s) from Dundee, 50 mile(s) from St. Andrews, 50 mile(s) from Perth, 48 mile(s) from Leuchars and 13 mile(s) from Abroath to name but a few. I can recommend Arbroath for a day out.
      The hotel definitely offers an ideal base to explore this area of Scotland.


      ~~~~Food and drink~~~~
      The hotel is well known for its food and has been awarded an AA Rosette for the cuisine in its restaurant. The menu offers a mix of Scottish and continental cuisine.
      The restaurant is open 6 days a week Monday to Saturday from 12noon to 1430 and 1800 to 2100 (2130 on a Saturday). On Sundays the restaurant is open for Carvery Lunch from 12 noon to 1430 and then for a Mixed Carvery and Grill in the evening from 1800 to 2100.
      When we stayed at the hotel, we were on a budget and found the dinner menu a little out of our price range but hopefully the next time we visit we will be able to sample the food. I did have a look at the menu wasn't entirely to my taste, I couldn't find too many veggie options but I would happily look over the menu and consider dining here if I was to stay here again.

      The restaurant caters for both lunches and dinners, just be sure to book your table in advance. The Koffiehaus is a pleasant area to sit and enjoy your newspaper or your book, or maybe just a little peace and quiet - refreshments are available here and these include a choice of continental coffees, teas, home-made pastries, croissants and an extensive lunch menu is also available with a choice of freshly made soup, banquettes, paninis, baked potato's and much more.
      One meal we did get to sample was the breakfast - and what a breakfast it was! I had a vegetarian breakfast which wasn't on the menu but I asked for anyway - scrambled eggs, potato scones, grilled tomato, beans and toast. My better half had the full Scottish works - all the above including sausages, bacon, black pudding and fried eggs. He thoroughly enjoyed it. No issues whatsoever.

      After out meal on the first night, we sat in the bar and had a few drinks, which we enjoyed. The bar was very busy and there seemed to be a lot of locals which added to the charm. I had a few glasses of wine and, although I found these expensive, it wouldn't have put me off having a drink here. This may simply be reflective of the fact that we were on a budget weekend away.
      The bar is comfortable and nicely decorated with a wide choice of drinks.
      ~~~~Hotel policies~~~~
      Check in from 1500
      Check out at 1100
      Reservations must be cancelled one day in advance of your arrival date. In the event of a no show or a cancellation in breach of this policy, the cost of the entire reservation will be charged.
      The cancellation policy may vary per room type; please check the room description as well.
      Cards accepted include: American Express, Visa, Euro/Mastercard, Diners Club, Switch. The hotel reserves the right to pre-authorise credit cards prior to arrival. Our room was charged on departure.

      ~~~~Nearby attractions~~~~
      The town of Montrose itself is a lovely quaint town but we found it quite quiet during the day. It was lively at night and there were quite a few pubs and restaurants to choose from. This suited us down to the ground as we just wanted to relax for a couple of days and have nice dinners and do a bit of walking on the beach.
      If you have a car there is plenty in the area to choose from. Attractions include: Montrose Museum & William Lamb Studio, Montrose Beach, Montrose Air Museum, House of Dun-Georgian Manor-Scottish Trust Historic property. St. Cyrus Wildlife Centre

      ~~~~Transport~~~~
      The hotel is close to plenty of transportation links including Montrose bus terminal (0.5 miles), Montrose train station (0.5 miles) & Dundee Airport (33 miles). We drove to the hotel from Glasgow which was approximately 100 miles


      ~~~~Staff~~~~
      We found the staff really lovely and extremely helpful. We didn't come across anyone who was sullen or didn't have a smile. The girl who checked us in on the first day was especially lovely. I have the names Catriona or Shona in my head, but this may not be her correct name - good chance it isnt!

      ~~~~Price~~~~
      Rooms are currently being advertised on the site for anywhere between £89 for a double/twin room up to £114 for a leisure stay. This price is for a stay in June, so you might be able to get a cheaper break in the spring! I will be checking for myself as writing this review has put me in the mood for going up again.


      ~~~~Value for money~~~~
      A definite thumbs up for value for money. I think we paid about £60-£70 pounds for our room per night which is a great price to pay for such a lovely place.

      ~~~~Conclusion~~~~
      I definitely recommend this hotel for a short stay if you want to unwind and re-charge your batteries. Having the beautiful beach so close was an added bonus and a great way to spend the day. The staff definitely added to our stay as they were so nice. We were really pleased with our terraced room and the breakfast was great - a lovely time was had by both of us.

      In particular, I believe that the hotel would be a great base for couples looking to get away from it all together - as I said above there isnt a great deal to do outwith the summer months - but just being able to stroll about and have nice dinners together was enough for us.

      Useful website addresses


      http://www.linkshotel.com/
      http://www.information-britain .co.uk/showPlace.cfm?Place_ID=328


      Thanks for reading. Sharon x

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        01.04.2008 15:02
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        Great Hotel

        We decided to visit Gothenburg as we were getting really great flights with Ryanair. The only problem we had now was finding somewhere to stay...and we had heard that Gothenburg was really expensive.

        We found the hotel through the Ryanair hotels site but the hotel has its own website with great pictures on it for you to see what its like. The Hotel Opera seemed to be the one in our price range that kept coming up. After checking out some reviews and having a look at the photos - we were convinced and booked it.


        ~*~*~Location~*~*~
        We took the bus from the airport to the centre of Gothenburg and were dropped on Norra Hamngatan, which is the street that the hotel was on. After a 5 minute walk, we found our hotel with no problems at all.

        The hotel is located on Norra Hamngatan, which is at the heart of the city and in an ideal location for getting to all attractions. The airport bus terminal is a short walk and the two other main forms of transport - the tram and the train are extremely close as well, with a tram stop close to the hotel

        ~*~*~The Hotel~*~*~

        When you walk in to the hotel you are struck by how plush it looks, I think we actually thought that we had walked into the wrong place at first! It's decorated in deep reds and dark woods and we could see a small sitting area in the reception and could also see through to the breakfast room. The check in was fast and painless and the staff spoke wonderful English. The receptionist told us where everything was and explained how to get to our room.
        The hotel has 75 rooms and 3 conference rooms and also has a relaxation room. There is a sauna and Jacuzzi, which were fantastic to use. There is also a lounge which holds 15 people - this area can be pre-booked for private functions.

        There is an elevator for you to use if you are in an upper floor - or if you just like lifts 

        ~*~*~Room~*~*~

        Our room was lovely and exceptionally clean. Inside it was the bed, writing desk, television, wardrobe, trouser press and a little table with some chairs. There is also a hairdryer for your use.
        The bathroom was an average hotel bathroom - fully tiled with bath and shower, large mirror and there was also lovely little goodies in the bathroom just waiting to be used. The hotel room was one of the most comfortable I have stayed in, the beds were comfortable and there were plenty of extra pillows and blankets for us in the wardrobe.


        ~*~*~Nearby Attractions~*~*~
        As it's very central the location is wonderful, all main attractions are within walking distance with the Liseberg Park about a half an hours walk away - a beautiful walk!

        The Östra Nordstan shopping centre is next door, which then was Swedens largest shopping centre. You can shop until you drop and not have long to walk back to your hotel. The shops are mostly Swedish which really makes for an authentic shopping experience. There is a food court and there always seemed to be some entertainment going on! Guests of the hotel are able to use the parking facilities in the shopping centre at a discounted rate.
        The main shopping streets are only about ten minutes walk from the hotel and there are also a lot of bars and restaurants close by for your entertainment.

        ~*~*~Food and Drink~*~*~
        We did not have dinner in the hotel but if the breakfast is anything to go by it must be delicious. Breakfast is a buffet style affair and there is plenty of it! I stocked up well for the day ahead with the continental style fare, which is available from 7am.

        Food facilities in a hotel are quite important to me as I like my food and this one more than lived up to my high standard. There were many types of breads and rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, muffins, biscuits and much more! I was more than happy to take my time over breakfast and really enjoy it. Tea, coffee and juices were also available as part of the buffet.
        We had a few drinks in the bar on our second night and found this to be in line with many of the other places that we had visited in the city - quite expensive, this is something that you have to be prepared for in Sweden.


        ~*~*~Conclusion~*~*~
        This hotel seems to be one that I bring up during discussions about favourite hotels that we've stayed in and I think this speaks volumes in my recommendation.

        I wouldn't hesitate to book this hotel again. I found it clean, affordable and the staff were lovely! I had a wonderful stay and found the staff very unobtrusive. I believe that the hotel is well known for its low prices, as most of the hotels in the city are extremely expensive.
        If visiting Gothenburg, please do visit the Liseberg Park, especially if visiting during the Christmas period - it's wonderful and children will love it!

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          11.02.2008 20:42
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          great hotel

          We stayed in The Best Western Frankfurt Plaza as part of our fabulous summer holiday in Austria and Germany.

          Not having booked any of the trip I was pleasantly surprised at this hotel in Frankfurt. I was even more pleased due to the rather grotty hostel we had just frequented in Innsbruck, Austria. Anything would have been better than that! Review coming soon.
          The hotel is a three star and has forty five rooms all easily accessible by a lift in the main reception.

          *~*~Location*~*~
          The plaza is located on Esslinger Strasse which is about a ten minute walk from hauptbanhof - the main train station in Frankfurt. There is a tourist information kiosk in the station where you can get a map of the city and locate the hotel. I have added picture below of a map of the city centre with the hotels location on it. The hotel is ideally located on a quiet street which is just a 3 minute stroll from the Maine River - this is definitely a stroll I would recommend for during the day as it is lovely.
          It's only a stroll to get into the city centre but as I had badly hurt my ankle in Austria we decided to treat ourselves to a taxi which was only 7 euros. The hotel kindly called the cab and we asked the driver to take us to the best area for restaurants and a drink afterwards - we were dropped at the Römerplatz, where the summer festival was in full swing! This taxi journey only took five minutes.

          As the river is so close it's easy enough to walk along the river to reach the Römerplatz in the evenings and this would only take 10-15 minutes. As we didn't do this and chose to take a cab, I really can't comment on how safe this would be - although I do think it's a walk best kept for the daytime when you can appreciate it more - although I think it was probably dark by the time I had limped along the riverside.
          The hotel is handy for all the main sightseeing activities throughout the city and isn't any more than 10-20 minutes walk to most of them. These include Goethe Museum, the Film Museum, the Palmengarten botanical garden, the Frankfurt Zoo, the Tigerpalast, International varieté theater and much, much more. The local bus stops on the corner if you would rather take transport to the city centre

          *~*~First Impressions*~*~
          The hotel is in a quiet street and there are residential buildings on it as well as other hotels. I was unsure of what to expect as the entrance to the hotel is rather small and not at all grand, the hotel also looks slightly shabby from outside and has concrete balconies outside the rooms - but what a surprise when you walk in the door! The hotel looks as though it has just been modernised or refurbished. I immediately felt comfortable when walking into the hotel and I was pleased at the décor. There was a lovely bar to the left of the hotel - all chrome and light wood, very fancy. The reception area is quite small.


          *~*~Rooms*~*~
          The rooms in the plaza were fantastic! In the room was a large firm double bed, large couch, wardrobe, desk/dressing table and small table and chair. The room is decorated in mostly navy with light coloured wood furniture - giving the room quite a contemporary but comfortable feel.
          One of the first places we tend to check is the minibar/fridge (I'm not sure what this says about us - Childish? Hungry? Excited not to be in Glasgow?). We found that it was well stocked, but not necessarily with things we would want (i.e. mars bars and mini bottles of champers) There were small cans of beer, soft drinks, peanuts, Bacardi and vodka miniatures (now you see them, now you don't!). All in all the usual fare that you would expect from a European mini bar. On the desk in the room were two large chilled bottles of mineral water, one sparkling and one still - we didn't see any prices for the water and can only assume that the water was free, thankfully we didn't have to test this theory as we were still enamoured of our mini bar.

          The bed was comfortable and immediately tested...with an afternoon nap! I found that the pillows were a little too flat and was happy to find that there were spares in the wardrobe as well as more bed spreads.
          The bathroom was absolutely spotless and a great size. The shower was strong and done the job after a hard day sightseeing around the city. I was disappointed not to find any special toiletries - only the usual shower gel and soap. But let's face it, if there had been any, I would have brought them home and added them to my collection to gather dust! There was a huge counter in the bathroom with a massive mirror and also a magnifying mirror (avoid it, trust me!). There was a hair dryer in the bathroom and also a European plug point for electric shavers.

          As always there was the city information literature that you find in most hotels. We found the information in this hotel very helpful and there is certainly a lot of it.
          Cots are available for rooms if you have small children and these can be requested from the reception.

          There is a television, radio alarm clock, safe & telephone also available in the rooms.

          *~*~Facilities*~*~
          Facilities in the hotel include dry cleaning, laundry, restaurant and breakfast facilities, lift and bar. There is a 24 hour reception for any queries you have or if you simply fancy a drink at the stylish bar. Further facilities include:

          Exchange bureau
          Shoe shine
          Parking (8 euro charge)
          Fax and photocopying service at a charge dependant on use
          English speaking staff
          Alarm calls available from reception

          *~*~Food and drink*~*~
          Now to my favourite subject!

          We stayed at the hotel on a bed and breakfast basis but chose to eat dinner in restaurants in the city - this isn't a reflection on the hotel, this was simply because we were there for such a short period of time and wanted to see more of Frankfurt.
          Breakfast was buffet style and there was also hot food available. The selection was really good. I had natural yoghurt and fruit to start with (heehee!) and then toast with scrambled eggs, all washed down with fruit juice and coffee and all greatly enjoyed. My other half had bacon, scrambled eggs and toast with orange juice, again greatly enjoyed. Also available on the buffet table was cereal, a large selection of breads and rolls, cheeses, fruit, muffins, biscuits, ham, boiled eggs, muesli and much more! I was in my element.

          We came down to breakfast about 9am and still found there was plenty of food - we noticed that the food was replenished while we were sitting there and people just helped themselves. There was always a waitress about If you need anything or wanted coffee or tea.
          A few guests came down to breakfast and took a tray of food up to their rooms. I don't know if this is common practice but no one seemed to mind - if you do, just don't tell them Sharon sent you.

          We had a drink in the bar after returning from our meal and night out. As with most hotels the bar generally stays open as long as the residents require it, within reason. The bar was reasonably priced and in-keeping with the area, we were given the option to add our drinks onto our bill, but we preferred to pay then and there.

          *~*~Staff*~*~
          We found the staff extremely polite and unobtrusive. We were checked in with the minimum of fuss and the hotel policies explained. They happily called us a cab and gave us information on the city and the best places to go. Check out, again, was a painless experience and they offered to watch our luggage to allow us to explore a little more before catching the train to the airport.
          Unfortunately I found it necessary to have further dealings with them after out trip. I left a jacket in the wardrobe of our room. During our correspondence the staff, in particular Helena, were friendly and professional. Although. I never did get my jacket back.


          *~*~Price*~*~
          The hotel offers many packages and break deals - these can be viewed on their website which is
          I have had a look at the summer prices for 2007 and you can expect to pay approximately £80 per room per night with breakfast thrown in.

          Hotel policies include:
          Pets allowed for 8 Euros per day
          Check in 3pm
          Check out 12pm


          *~*~Value for money*~*~
          I would definitely say that this hotel offers value for money; I thoroughly enjoyed staying here and would recommend it. It was clean throughout, had nice staff and is really central.
          If you do book to stay in this hotel, please do ask them if they have found a beige cord jacket!


          Thanks for reading x x

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          • More +
            29.01.2008 20:11
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            Affordable, clean and comfortable hotel

            ~*~*~First Impressions~*~*~
            Our first impressions were great. The hotel is located on a busy street in the heart of Chinatown, Manchester. The reception was clean and tidy and the hotel certainly came across as a quality place to stay. An absolute bargain!! The reception was modern, quite contemporary in style with a bar area to the left. It was very welcoming.

            ~*~*~Rooms~*~*~
            The hotel has 127 rooms. I believe that the rooms in Ibis hotels are very standard and all look the same - this tends to be the norm with hotels of this type. The walls are cream with the exception of the curved bathroom wall which is green. The furniture is a light beech coloured wood and is all built into the far corner of the wall. There are two side cabinets on either side of the beds and there is also a desk/dressing table which is white. There is a wardrobe and stand for the television with shelves underneath it - these shelves hold the coffee and tea making facilities.

            The bathroom was fantastic - odd but fantastic!! It looked like it had all been moulded out of one bit of plastic and manufactured outside of the hotel room, which I assume it had. It had then been slotted into the room and a wall plastered around it. The shower was powerful and there was always hot water, there was a huge mirror on the wall as well for all your beauty needs.


            ~*~*~Facilities~*~*~
            Inside the room there is tea and coffee making facilities, soapy goods in the bathroom and a television. There was also broadband available in the hotel reception. We tried to get onto this at one point and were unable to get it started, although this may just have been a wee glitch.

            In the hotel there was a bar and seated area where you could have drinks and snacks, breakfast is also served here from 04:00am until noon. Snacks are available from the bar/reception 24 hours.
            Alarm calls were available from reception on request which we made use.

            There are two lifts in the hotel.

            Climate control is available in the room for when you are too hold or cold.

            ~*~*~Location~*~*~
            The hotel is located halfway down Portland Street in the middle of Chinatown. This really is a fabulous location - only five minutes walk from the centre of everything including Piccadilly Station. The main shopping area is only a ten minute stroll and there are many bars and restaurants in the area.


            ~*~*~Food and drink~*~*~
            We didn't eat breakfast in the hotel but had quite a few snacks. The food was great and reasonably priced. We also took advantage of the 24 hour bar service and ordered a margherita pizza at 3am while having a drink (or ten) in the bar. The only down point of the full weekend was that they forgot about the pizza the first time and had to put another one in for us - but we got it free so it was worth the wait!

            The drinks were reasonably priced; we had quite a few drinks in the hotel bar after our nights out and also shared a bottle of wine.
            There are many restaurants and bars around the hotel for your night out.


            ~*~*~Nearby attractions~*~*~
            Near to the hotel is Manchester city centre just waiting for you to explore. Its also well worth having a wander around Chinatown as it's really lovely and vibrant.

            Other attractions close to the hotel are:
            History and national heritage
            * Historic monument JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY (1.00km)
            * Historic monument MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL (2.00km)
            * Historic monument MANCHESTER TOWN HALL (1.00km)
            * Museums MANCHESTER MUSEUM (2.00km)
            * Museums MANCHESTER UNITED MUSEUM (5.00km)
            Culture and shows
            * Cinema district CORNERHOUSE (1.61km)
            * Cinema district THE PRINTWORKS (1.00km)
            * Opera/symphony/concert hall BRIDGEWATER (1.00km)
            * Opera/symphony/concert hall M.E.N. ARENA (2.00km)
            * Opera/symphony/concert hall OPERA HOUSE (0.80km)
            * Entertainment/theatre district OXFORD ROAD (1.00km)
            Parks and Leisure
            * Amusement park MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY (5.00km)

            Sports
            * Sports centre MANCHESTER AQUATICS CENTRE (1.61km)
            * Sports centre SPORT CITY (4.00km)
            * Stadium MANCHESTER CITY STADIUM (4.00km)
            * Stadium MANCHESTER UNITED (5.00km)
            * Stadium OLD TRAFFORD (6.44km)
            * Stadium SPORTS CITY (1.61km)
            In the surrounding area
            * Closest major urban centre MANCHESTER CITY CENTRE (0.00km)
            Transport

            We arrived by bus and the hotel was a ten minute walk from the hotel.
            Piccadilly station is a ten minute walk, as is Oxford Road Station. There is a tram station at the top of the road if you are arriving by this method,

            ~*~*~Staff~*~*~

            We found the staff pleasant and helpful during our stay, particularly the night staff who had to put up with us sitting in the bar until all hours! ;-)
            I called ahead to the hotel to ask if they would book us into a twin room, I was told on the phone that they didn't have any twin rooms in the hotel, which I found really strange but as it was my cousin, I didn't mind sharing a bed with her. When we checked in I asked again, and they said, fine no problem and gave us a twin room. This really confused me but I just let it go as I didn't see any point of questioning it at the time. So, if you are booking the hotel and you want a twin room; don't accept them telling you that they don't have any rooms.

            ~*~*~Price~*~*~
            We paid £56 per night on a room only basis which I feel was fantastic value for money.

            ~*~*~Conclusion~*~*~
            I would recommend this hotel to anyone who was planning a visit to Manchester, or indeed anywhere else that has an Ibis hotel. They are very much the budget hotel but they're more than comfortable and certainly give the likes of Travel Inn et al a run for their money. I will definitely be checking to see if there is an Ibis on any future city breaks that I take!

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            • More +
              27.01.2008 14:11
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              Excellent self tanner

              Due to some treatment I'm receiving on my skin, I'm unable to have my skin exposed to the sun and have any sort of tan. I really enjoy having a lovely healthy tan so what was I going to do?

              I had seen on television and heard from friends about the self tanning moisturisers which were becoming available and decided to give them a bash! After a few false starts and some extremely smelly products, I found Dove Energy Glow daily facial moisturiser. How did I get on? Read on..

              I purchased my bottle of Energy Glow from Superdrug for £5.89, I'm sure could get this online for a cheaper price.

              ~*~*~Packaging~*~*~
              The bottle is surprisingly small and maybe about 4 inches in height. It's white with the Dove logo at the top and then the product name in a brown colour. The back of the packaging lists the ingredients, directions of use, normal warnings, contact details and amount in the product - which is 50ml.

              The bottle is a plastic material and it tells us on the bottle that it is recyclable, it has a pump style dispenser with quite a small nozzle which is great as it doesn't dispense too much of the product at once time.

              ~*~*~Use~*~*~
              As with most tanning products, I exfoliated my face before use to make sure my skin was smooth, otherwise I've found that self tanning product can cling to dry skin and cause dark patches - not good! I made sure my face was clean and was ready!

              The product is white and easily absorbed into the face. I made sure to rub it in well and make sure it was well spread over the face as I didn't want to end up with bits darker than the others. I needn't have worried, I've never had a problem like this in all the time I have been using it. As with make up, try and avoid your eyebrows as it may hold some of the product there and come up darker than on the skin. The product shouldn't be used by anyone with skin conditions.

              I started to notice a difference after about 5 days of use! It really did look like a tan, and wasn't orangey in colour at all, which I had been worried about. I continued to use it and then stopped for a few days when I felt I had achieved the right colour. It does fade fairly quickly but is really easy to top back up with use.

              The product has a really nice smell which is really important as the ones I previously used; one in particular, didn't smell that great. This product has a peachy smell and the smell doesn't change once it's absorbed into the skin.

              Its best that you wash your hands immediately after use as you don't want to end up with patches on your hands, I've unfortunately ended up with these and its not a good look - it does fade fast, but better safe than sorry.

              ~*~*~Other information~*~*~
              I would love to have the expertise to talk about the ingredients in the bottle but I'm afraid I don't but they don't seem overly excessive but at the same time they don't seem overly natural. I have read through them and didn't find anything that worried me.

              I have tried to find out if the product is tested on animals and found nothing which is conclusive, but I did find documents on the internet that stated Unilever who makes the Dove products DO test on animals. I can't say if this is definite, only what I read - but if you are sensitive to this sort of testing, Id suggest you look into it a little more.

              ~*~*~Conclusion~*~*~
              I would definitely recommend this product; it certainly perked up my pale skin with a nice even tan and gave me a little more confidence. It isn't expensive in comparison to other products of its type and leaves your skin lovely and soft. There are other products in this range which can be used on your body to compliment the lovely tan on your face

              Thanks for reading!
              Sharon

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              • More +
                06.01.2008 15:35
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                Create your own DVD slideshow

                I'm a serious camera/photo nut so when I got my first laptop last year I decided to do a digital photography course at my local college. Among many other things I learned the art of taking and manipulating digital pictures and then displaying them on websites and creating other exciting features - the most exciting of which, for me, was DVD slideshows. At college we used Nero for this purpose, however I wanted something a little more user friendly and a more simplistic interface.

                I found this programme among others using a straight forward Google search. I done some research and downloaded a few trial editions. Ease of use was my main priority and I felt that this programme was, by far, the most easy to use.
                The programme cost me around £27. I downloaded the programme and installed it onto my computer and I was then emailed a license key which I keyed in. The process was straightforward and completed in fifteen minutes.

                My first project was a slideshow DVD of my partners last three birthdays and I completed this very quickly - with hindsight and further practice I could have spent more time perfecting various areas of it but it certainly done the job! I then had a think of what I wanted to do next and decided to do a project spanning the full year and including various albums from nights out and events with my closest friends and partner- which was to be given to my three best friends as part of their Christmas.
                At the very top left is the logo and name of the programme you are using. At the very top right are the three steps you work through shown in tab form, these are Organise Photos, Choose Menus and Burn Disk.


                *~*~*Organise Photos Tab*~*~*
                When the programme is opened the main screen is split into four windows.

                The upper left section has the file list that normally appears when you are browsing your documents in Windows and this defaults to the "my photos" section of your computer. You can use your mouse to click through these menus and click onto any of your albums that you already have saved in "my photos" on your hard drive. There is a scroll bar which you can move up and down to view the menu tree. The window can be expanded to take up more of the screen as you wish - as can the other three sections of the main screen.
                The upper right section of the screen displays thumbnails of the file that you have selected on the left - this way you can see all of the photos that are in the selected file. Again, this window has a scroll bar on the right to allow you to view all of the photos and this section can have its size changed for ease of viewing. The filename of each photo is displayed underneath each photo.

                The bottom left window on the screen is where you create each album that will be shown on your slideshow. The finished product will be similar to a DVD in that it will have multiple menus (if required) and the albums that you create in this section will be the contents of each menu. At the top of the window are two buttons - an "Add" button and a delete button. When you click into "add" a box will appear and will allow you to name your album - these names will become the names of each menu on your DVD - these can be changed later on if you wish.
                The bottom right window is where you start really getting down to work - lets call it the work area!! The tabs on this window are: Album Photo, Transition and Music, Album Theme & Album Preview. Each of these areas have further options.

                All of the above four areas area easy to work through and self-explanatory, I found that I didn't need to use the help pages and was able to get straight down to it. It really is simple and quite enjoyable!
                ***Album Photo***
                This is where can drag the thumbnail photos you want to add into your slideshow. By now you will have created the albums you want to add to the DVD. When you click onto each album you can then start dragging down photos from the top left window where your thumbnails are. To switch between albums you simply click onto the album/menu you want at the left hand side. There are also tabs within this window for you to start making your DVD look the way you want it to by rotating pictures, adding text and use the auto adjustment to improve the appearance of the photo,

                *** Transition & Music***
                These options allow you to add music to your slideshows from your own computer or a CD - This can become obsessive! I spent ages trying to decide on the perfect songs for each album I had created, it's a lot of fun though. There are tools which allow you to choose when you want the music to start, to record your own voice, to show you how long the song will go on for, to add even more music and much more!
                The transitions menu gives you options for how you want your photos to appear on the screen - this really is fun! You can have them zooming, fading, spinning, have shapes - there are plenty of effects to choose from. In this section you can also decide how long you want each transition to last for. There are a lot of detailed functions within this section - however they are really easy to use.

                *** Album Theme***
                Here you can add borders and themes to the background of your albums. I found that there weren't many of these themes that I liked and I preferred my photos to just appear on the screen with nothing behind them. However, other people may well find these useful there are borders and themes such as Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Easter and so on and so forth - there are roughly 70 of these themes and there will be something to suit everyone - if you look hard enough!
                You can also add titles and credits to each of the menus on your DVD. There is a section you can put some writing which can appear at the start or at the end - or both. When I done my large project I put a "credits section" at the end of the last slideshow, in a scroll style the same as the credits you see on television. This really added an element of humour to the slideshow as well as making it really professional looking. There are lots of templates you can use for the titles and credits - a favourite of mine is the diamond template - really classy!

                ***Album Preview***
                In the album preview section there is a blank screen and at the right hand side you have a play function where you can review what you have done so far. You can then either amend what you have done or move to the next stage.

                *~*~*Choose Menus Tab*~*~*
                In this section you will decide how your DVD will look when it's put into the DVD player and starts to play - the menu screen. Once burned you can use your DVD remote control to move between the menus the same way you would on a DVD film - its great! The screen for this tab is laid out with a "television screen" in the middle of your monitor - this is where you will see changes that you are making to the layout of your menus. Below this are five smaller tabs and on these are: Background music, background images, Edit, Menu navigator and Preview.

                ***Background Music***
                Another fun music part! In here you get to choose the music that will start playing when you enter your DVD into the player. This music will accompany the menus on the screen. As with the music for the individual slideshows you can upload this music from your computer and it's extremely easy to do.
                ***Background Images***
                As before, there are a great deal of menus to choose from. I found most of these to be quite cheesy and not at all what I would want for my menu but you are able to add your own backgrounds. I found pictures on the internet of champagne flutes, flowers, hearts, plain colour backgrounds and these worked really well for me. All you have to do is save a high quality large picture onto your computer and then there is an "add" button where you can add your picture to become the background for your menu screen. You could even use a photograph! When opting for your own background, you have the option to make this in black and white which looks quite classy.

                All of your menus will have a border around them depending on which template has been selected, If you opt to upload your own background, you can still use the borders from the templates by just clicking through them and deciding which goes best with your uploaded background.
                ***Edit***
                Under each menu you will have writing which will show you the name of the album you are about to view - in this section you can change the word, font, size and colour of this text.

                ***Menu Navigator***
                In this section you can decide what happens after a slideshow has been viewed. For example there are options to:
                -Return to the mein menu
                -Play repeatedly
                -Play next album

                ***Preview***
                This is where you finally get to see the full thing! You have a section at the bottom which looks like a DVD remote control and you work this by using your mouse. If you aren't happy you simply go back and tweak!

                *~*~*Burn Disk Tab*~*~*
                This is where the technical stuff happens. When I first clicked onto this tab to burn my DVD I was a bit nervous at the options but it's actually very simple. You can choose what output format you want - there are options for things such as DVD, VCD, CVCD, MPEG. It can also generate MPEG video files for mobile devices such as iPod, Zune, PSP, PDA, mobile phone, build photo slideshow video ready for upload to YouTube, MySpace.

                I'm not familiar with some of these and knew I wanted a DVD - and this is the option it defaults to anyway. For those of you who are more technical-minded, I'm sure you could find uses for the other formats.
                On the TV system tab make sure that the PAL button is ticked - unless you want to create a disk for use in Japan or America!

                On the DVD/CD recorder options you can decide how many copies you want to burn. You then enter your blank disk and click Burn now. When it has finished creating each copy it will open your drawer and you simply enter your next blank disk, if more than one is required - Voila!

                *~*~*My Conclusion*~*~*
                I honestly can't recommend this product enough. I worked on my project for my friends over a long time period and certainly put quite a few hours into it - purely because I wanted it to be perfect. I included six photo albums. When I was putting on the music to accompany certain albums I would adjust the timing of the photographs to make sure they were going in time to the music - or I would ensure that certain photos appeared at certain lines in the song - which was certainly a talking point!! I also included a slideshow called "the ones they didn't want you to see" which was essentially an outtakes slideshow. I included all the really bad photos of face making, too much wine, kisses, falls etc....

                This is the ideal present to make someone if you have photos spanning back years - or even if you just want to make someone a lovely slideshow with their wedding photos. When I was at college a woman in the class had scanned loads of pictures dating back decades and was planning to make a special DVD for her mothers 80th. There are loads of potential projects!
                I now plan to buy a scanner and I'm going to create a slideshow for my friends which will cover out friendships over the years - the hairdos, the fashions, the boys!!! I'm going to ask them all to borrow their albums and include all the photos I can find. I plan, again, to give this to them at Christmas.

                To watch a short clip showing the interface and menus I have described, simply to go http://www.dvd-photo-slideshow.com/ad4/howto.html and press play. You can also view the rest of the website here and make your purchase!

                Thanks for reading
                Sharon x

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                • More +
                  03.01.2008 13:21
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                  public house

                  I've now had a drink and/or eaten in a great many Wetherspoons around Britain and I feel that I am justified in reviewing them. As I start writing this I'm unsure how it is going to turn out as I've had varying degrees of service ranging from a couple of instances of truly awful to excellent. However, the good outweighs the bad - but is it enough to get a glowing report?....read on.

                  I'm going to focus on the main Wetherspoons pubs and touch very briefly on the Lloyds Bar brand.

                  ~~~History and Background~~~

                  JD Wetherspoons was established in 1979 by a law student named Tim Martin.
                  Tim bought the pub that he drank in and decided to name it Wetherspoons after one of his lecturers from university who told him he would never amount to anything - how wrong he was. Apparently, the JD was added later and this was taken from a character in the Dukes of Hazzard that Tim Martin was fond of.

                  As the pub was successful more were opened - initially these were centred in and around the north of London, but as they've became more popular they were opened in other areas of England. When the company was floated on the stock market in 1992 they started to open branches nationwide.
                  There are now over 670 Wetherspoons pubs throughout the UK, employing over 16000 people, and the company plans to continue opening them, although at a much more decreased rate than in recent years. I've recently heard that there are plans to open one in my town which im looking forward to as I will have a new place to go for breakfast on a Saturday/Sunday morning!! I would also use it as a meeting point for friends to have a cheap drink before heading somewhere else.


                  ~~~Location, Buildings and branding~~~
                  I've been unable to find a mission statement - this is the closest I've found "From day one, we have been committed to offering a friendly and comfortable drinking atmosphere, with good-quality, great-value food that is served all day".

                  Wetherspoons pubs can be found in most towns and cities - in most cities there are more then one. They are usually found in high street areas or main shopping/drinking areas, there are also Wetherspoons in some airports.
                  The buildings tend not to be the usual run of the mill and always seem to be very large sizes. The buildings that they acquire tend not to have been licensed premises and will be former shops, churches, funeral parlours, car showrooms and even cinemas! I have heard on the grapevine that the one that is opening in my town will be in the old cinema. Due to the nature of the building, there always seems to be nooks and crannies within their pubs, which adds a certain charm and atmosphere. The Moon Under the Water Wetherspoons on Deansgate, Manchester was once the worlds largest pub as it was built in an old cinema. Having been in this particular pub, I can certainly vouch for its size.

                  One thing I've noticed is that the toilets always seem to be upstairs or downstairs and fairly separate from the rest of the building - this can only be a good thing in a pub! I've read that they have received awards for the cleanliness of their toilets and I can certainly believe this as I have never been in one that's been messy or dirty. Wetherspoons aim to make their rest rooms modern and quirky; their toilets have definitely become a talking point.
                  Smoking has always been banned in certain areas of Wetherspoons and they had always planned to ban all smoking a good couple of years ahead of the ban. They soon realised that they would have to re-vamp their kitchens as it was found that people drank less and ate more. The company has strived to provide areas outside of their pubs were smokers can stay covered up with canopies, awnings and patio heaters.

                  In certain pubs you can use Wi-Fi free, which is useful if you want to spend a lazy afternoon writing more reviews while taking advantage of the surroundings, food and drink.
                  In 1964 George Orwell wrote an article entitled "The Moon Under Water". This article noted many attributes that he felt a pub should have to make it perfect. Wetherspoons seem to have taken this essay and some of its ideas and tried to incorporate them into their pubs. Many of the Wetherspoons around Britain are actually called The Moon Under Water. All of the Wetherspoons are named, and as far as I can make out, these are after local figures from history to the present day or something which is relevant to the area.

                  There tends to be no music playing in Wetherspoons - there certainly hasn't been in any of the ones that I've visited, there are no jukeboxes and I don't recall having seen any quiz or fruit machines. This is all in-fitting with the quiet pub approach (although I have definitely had a few nights in Wetherspoons which were anything but quiet!) Although they generally don't have televisions, they are currently advertising football games on their website - whether this is just for the duration of certain games, I'm uncertain.
                  The clientele is completely mixed and tends towards the more mature crowd in the evening as its really not the sort of place to have a night out - maybe start the night off, but not the full night.

                  Wetherspoons also have a few "wetherlodges" which join onto the pubs and offer cheap accommodation, details can be found on their website.

                  ~~~Décor~~~

                  The décor throughout Wetherspoons tends to be a traditional pub - Victorian theme with dark wood tables, chairs and bar and carpets with violent patterns. A great thing about the pubs is that they have local pictures on the walls and you can often find history of the surrounding areas on the pictures or on features on the walls. I always find the insides of Wetherspoons pubs quite nice and comfortable - a real blend of old fashion pubs and modern bars.

                  ~~~Price~~~

                  The prices seem to be one of the reasons that so many people drink and eat here. They really are great!
                  The company claim to offer the lowest priced burgers within a chain of pubs and they try to maintain low prices throughout their menus.

                  Two bar meals, from a selection of 10 popular dishes, can be bought for £5.49 which is a bargain!
                  A bottle of house white or rose wine can be bought from about £6.


                  ~~~Staff~~~
                  Out of all the times that I have eaten or had a drink in a Wetherspoons pub, I have only ever had one issue with their staff - unfortunately it was rather a large issue. My mother, myself and two cousins had stopped for lunch whilst shopping for my wedding dress - we were in high spirits! My mum had to return her coffee twice as it wasn't warm enough. On the second occasion, my mum was standing further down the bar from me and I witness a member of staffing referring to her as a f****** moany bitch. Now this is my mum that he was talking about and I was absolutely not standing for it - I demanded to know who he was talking about and he went red and said "no one". I went and found the manager and explained what had happened - trying to stay calm but I was shaking with anger. Within ten minutes the guy was at our table with an apology for my mum. Other than this, I have had no major problems with the staff in Wetherspoons; I have always been shown good manners and politeness.


                  ~~~Food~~~
                  A variety of food can be found on the Wetherspoons menu, mainly British classics. There is also a selection of vegetarian foods which is great for me! Food is served daily in Wetherspoons and they open at 10:00 for breakfast which I definitely recommend.

                  You can get a full breakfast until noon for £2.10 or a larger one for £3.49. You have to order your toast and tea or coffee separately at a separate cost. A vegetarian breakfast is also available - I've found them to be quite flexible when it comes to breakfast and I always ask them for scrambled eggs instead of fried and this has never been a problem. If you don't want a full breakfast you could have a morning bap, toast, muffins, a baguette or pancakes. They also do childrens breakfasts.
                  As above you can get two meals for £5.49 which is a bargain and great when you are having your lunch with a colleague.

                  Wetherspoons run special club nights where they serve special foods on certain nights of the week. These are:
                  Grill night, Tuesday 3pm -11pm
                  Curry Club, Thursday, 3pm -11pm
                  Sunday Club, Sunday, Noon - 9pm.

                  I have been on a Thursday for the curry club and it was fantastic, I had a vegetable curry which was served with naan bread and poppadoms - delicious!
                  Other special offers include a beer and burger (with chips) for £4.25 and Sunday roast and a drink for £3.49.

                  The menu is easy to understand and states any allergy or diet advice that you need to know about. A childrens menu is also available as are desserts (I can definitely recommend the chocolate fudge cake for £2.59. Healthy options are also marked on the menu for those of us who are watching our waists.
                  I've never had a serious problem with the quality of food served, nor has anyone with me - I fully recommend a lunch or dinner here - this is probably due to the fact that the pubs have their very own critic, Egon Ronay who ensures that the pubs are turning out good food with surprise visits to their many sites.

                  Something that I certainly do find attractive is the fact that the menus have variations in them depending on region. I have been in Scottish ones where you get tattie scones with your breakfast and they use meat sourced from Scotland or they will have local dishes. In Wales they had quite a few Welsh dishes on the men.
                  ~~~Drink~~~

                  All the normal favourites are present behind the bar. As a wine drinker, I've spent many a happy afternoon taking advantage of the relatively cheap bottles of wine - these start from around £6.
                  A vodka and coke can be bought for around £2 and there are always special offers so make sure to ask!
                  Curiously Wetherspoons did not used to stock some popular brands such as Jack Daniels, I don't know the reason for this but they have it now, thankfully!


                  ~~~Lloyds No.1 Bars~~~
                  Lloyds Bars by Wethespoon are targeted towards a younger clientele and whilst there are many similarities such as menu, Lloyds Bars play music and often have dancefloors. The prices in Lloyds bars may also be slightly dearer.

                  There are a few of the Wetherspoons pubs which are a hybrid between traditional Wetherspoons and Lloyds bars. These will change at a certain time of the day to start playing music and attract a different customer base at a different time of day.
                  There are around 70 of these bars around Britain.


                  ~~~Notable History~~~
                  * 1979: Wetherspoons is founded by Tim Martin
                  * 1992: The company is floated on the Stock Exchange
                  * 1998: The group opens its first Wetherlodge budget hotel in Shrewsbury
                  * 1998: Tim Martin hires food critic Egon Ronay to improve the quality of Wetherspoon's food.
                  * 1999: Wetherspoon's opens its first pubs in Northern Ireland
                  * 2000: Wetherspoon's buys the group of ten Lloyds No 1 pubs
                  * 2002: Wetherspoon pubs at 10am to sell coffee and breakfasts.


                  ~~~My experience~~~
                  Wetherspoons is not a regular haunt for me and my friends for a boozy Saturday night out - but I do visit often. I spend a lot of lunch breaks here and I often meet friends for breakfast, lunch and dinner here. My cousin and I are fond of meeting here every few months around 1pm for lunch - we generally never manage to leave until about 10pm - thats the fairly priced wine for you!

                  I have had fairly good experiences here - the food generally doesn't take too long, its tasty, its cheap and it's a pleasant environment.
                  As I said above I have had a few bad experiences in Wetherspoons and these include:

                  The issue I mentioned before with the member of staff being rude about my mother.
                  Once, in Rhyl, Wales I ordered 5 bean chilli and was presented with the meat version 3 times before I eventually cancelled my order, having sent each one back. I have no idea what went wrong in the kitchen but someone was hell bent on making me eat meat that night. After complaining for a third time the manager said she would make it herself, but I simply wouldn't have been able to eat it - I was too worried about eating meat and I couldnt get past the fact that it could happen again. In the end I ordered something different and our full meal, including drinks was refunded - I ate an hour and a half after we ordered and by myself as my partner had already had his meal.

                  In Chester we ordered breakfast which took an hour and a half to come to us. To be fair the kitchen only had one chef and two members of bar staff had phoned in sick - leaving only the manager and one bar staff member. This pub was simply enourmous and they had a terrible job that day of trying to feed everyone. I complained quite a few times and, again, was given my full meal for free. I could never understand that day why they didn't close the kitchen - surely that's the most sensible solution. Don't take any more orders if you aren't going to be able to fill them!!

                  ~~~Conclusion~~~

                  The ten attributes included in George Orwells "The Moon Under Water" essay were:
                  1. The pub's architecture and fittings must be uncompromisingly Victorian.
                  2. Games, such as darts, are only played in the public part of the bar; the saloon bar, ladies' bar, bottle-and-jug bar, and upstairs dining room.
                  3. The pub is quiet enough to talk, with the house possessing neither a radio nor a piano.
                  4. The barmaids know the customers by name and take an interest in everyone.
                  5. It sells tobacco and cigarettes, aspirins and stamps, and lets you use the phone.
                  6. There is a snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a specialty of the house), cheese, pickles and [...] large biscuits with caraway seeds.
                  7. Upstairs, six days a week, you can get a good, solid lunch -- for example, a cut off the joint, two vegetables and boiled jam roll -- for about three shillings.
                  8. [...] draught stout with it [...] It is a creamy sort of stout, and it goes better in a pewter pot.
                  9. They are particular about their drinking vessels at "The Moon Under Water" and never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handleless glass. Apart from glass and pewter mugs, they have some of those pleasant strawberry-pink china ones.
                  10. [...] You go through a narrow passage leading out of the saloon, and find yourself in a fairly large garden.

                  I think its fair enough to say that Wetherspoons have definitely fallen down on a few of these points, but the general idea is there - he wants a quiet, Victorian style pub where you can get a good pint, good service and something to eat - all of which is available. Lets face it, its never going to have "strawberry-pink china" mugs to drink out of or "aspirins and stamps" behind the bar. I doubt very much that they desire to fulfil all of the points, preferring to touch on what they see as the main attributes of the perfect pub.
                  On a few occasions I have found that it takes them absolutely ages to clear the previous customers plates and glasses away from the table, but if you ask they will come and do it. This can also be a problem once you have finished your meal as no one likes to sit with their dirty plates in front of them. If this happens, just ask someone and they will be straight over.

                  Im never going to use it as my Saturday night party spot but it definitely serves a purpose. I do recommend wetherspoons - its cheap, its cheerful, the food is good, its comfortable, its friendly. What more do you want?
                  Except maybe music....


                  Thanks for reading

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