Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Report from the north

We've had a couple of days catching up with the relatives in the Bath/Frome area of the wild north country. Mum-in-law Maggie and her other half, Trickers, put us up on Saturday and Sunday night which made a welcome escape from the building site that is Millbrooker Towers at the moment.

Here you see Mrs The Millbrooker and her mum yomping along Bailbrook Lane near to Maggie's pad in Swainswick. It looks so peaceful, but the traffic noise from the bypass nearby is bleedin' horrendous.

We enjoyed watching a great spotted woodpecker which frequently visits the garden and I took the rare opportunity to goggle in front of the cricket for almost an entire day (England on the receiving end of some fine play by the Indians).

Sunday lunch saw us at The Northey near Box, newly refurbished and very nicely done out. The choice of ale is limited to 6X or 6X so I had some 6X. I can't bring myself to include Courage Best as an ale.

No one else was interested in having a starter so we launched straight into mains which frankly I thought rather overpriced. The quality was good, but £14 for a fairly small ribeye steak, one chipped sweet potato and a small handful of rocket just seems to be taking the Michael a bit. Trickers had the Sunday roast (beef) at £9.95 which didn't appear as good as some roasts I've seen or eaten in other places at only just over half the price. Puddings were £5 a pop. I tried an "Eton Mess" which is crumbled meringue, cream and chopped strawberries. Again, for a fiver I'd expect a few more strawberries than actually appeared in the Mess.

The Northey belongs to the O H H group in the Bath area, and I'd give them a fairly wide berth if I lived in the area; fair profit is one thing and portion control is all part of that, but I really did feel short changed. Actually it should have been Maggie who felt short changed, she generously footed the whole bill for which, despite my grumbles about O H H's pricing policies, I am very grateful. She's a generous Mum-in-law is Maggie.

On Monday morning we hopped aboard the Frome train and spent a very nice few hours visiting Elin who is Nicky's ex-mum-in-law. Elin has a lovely little house in the centre of Frome's old district which enjoys the benefits of a suntrap courtyard, seen in the photo.

We did our best to bore Elin rigid with our holiday snaps from Brittany before heading off into town for a wander and then lunch at "China China".

Now, there's a contrast to The Northey if ever there was one. I shouldn't really try to compare them, I suppose, as they're aimed at entirely different markets and are attempting to do entirely different things but value for money is value for money, which China China offers in abundance and The Northey does not. Lunch cost the princely sum of £4.50 each for an "eat-all-you-want" buffet. The food wasn't by any means haute cuisine but it was tasty and well prepared; there was a plentiful variety of dishes to choose from and a decent enough selection of drinks at the bar. The prices increase for evening dining, and unless all I wanted was a quick fill up I doubt I'd use China China on more than the odd occasion, but they do what they do very well indeed.

Ah well, here we are back in the building site squalor that we call home, roof currently mostly absent, tarpaulins flapping in the breeze. I think I feel a pint or two of Betty Stogg's coming on this evening.

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