Saturday, 16 November 2019

Gloucester Quays Victorian Festival

The Gloucester Quays Festival always feels like the start of the Christmas celebrations even if it is held halfway through November.


We've been going along since it began several years ago and whilst it's always busy and vibrant it seemed to be lacking a little of it's usual magic this year.  


As you'd expect there are lots and lots of stalls selling everything from local alcoholic drinks to pretty handcrafted goods.  There are lots of stalls offering free samples of cheese, gins etc but it is a little samey.  Same companies selling the same things year after year.  I'm not sure what you can do about that as there are only so many things that can be sold but if I'm being honest I was a little bored.


The entertainment wasn't as vibrant and fun as previous years.  Whilst there were actors in Victorian costume mingling with the crowds there didn't appear to be any scheduled shows.  There was a carousel but I think there needs to be more rides things to do.  


Word of warning; it is very busy and car parks get full quite early in the day so be prepared to queue.


The ice rink is good fun and I'm sure at some point we will be visiting.  We just need to book a slot.
Come on Gloucester a bit more choice please.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Clowance Estate - Cornwall

This one is a bit tricky.  We went for a mid week break with our 9 year old daughter and we were underwhelmed with the experience.

Things didn't start well.  Several weeks before arrival we received confirmation that our booking in time was 2pm so we went shopping and arrived at 2.25pm to be told quite bluntly that the lodge wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be available until 4pm as per their policy. We politely pointed out our email confirmation where we were pretty much told we were lying. After some discussion back and forth we drove to the lodge. The lodge was still being cleaned so we again waited with a car load of shopping on a very hot day.

When we got in to the lodge we were very pleasantly surprised. It was a lovely lodge with lots of rooms and some nice touches such as a utility room.

One of the main reasons we booked this lodge was it’s hot tub. We always book them and use them extensively. The hot tub was cold. We tried to correct the temperature but there was clearly something wrong. My husband phoned reception and reported the fault and he was told someone would be straight up. They never arrived so we phoned again. Again no one arrived so my husband went back to reception and reported it in person. Again a very blunt unfriendly member of staff. When the maintenance arrived they said it was because the hot tubs are never ready on the day of arrival (in my experience they are always ready) but it would be hot in a couple of hours. Again in our experience it takes a lot longer than a couple of hours to go from room temp to hot tub temp. So by 10pm it was still tepid we again called maintenance who this time honestly, laughed at the prospect of it being ready that quickly. To cut a very long boring tale short we had problems with the hot tub everyday and were told that there was something wrong with it. No apologies or compensation were offered on site.

The leisure facilities were dated and smelly to say the least. Much below the standard one would expect in luxury accommodation.

When we booked our stay through their website we were promised a Segway experience for each person. This was never offered and the staff were so frosty we never had the chance to query it. This is surely false advertising?!

Every time we encountered staff they were rude and very blunt. They could do with some customer service training. If you are advertising yourself as luxury and charging luxury prices then you need to offer luxury service.

Every day someone entered our accommodation without any prior notice, request or approval. Although I’m not sure of the legal requirements I’m fairly sure when you rent accommodation for any period of time that residence becomes your property so just turning up whenever you want is completely unacceptable. Several times I was in my underwear when they wandered past or through which made us very uncomfortable.

On the plus side the grounds are beautiful and well kept. There are lots of lovely walks and the lake is very pretty. There are some garden games which are good fun and the tennis courts were a great addition.

When we got home we contacted their customer service and after a lot of badgering from my husband and an excessive amount of emails we were offered a very small compensation that I feel does not compensate for our experience and this was done in a very aggressive manner. I am truly shocked that somewhere selling itself as luxury treats people in this manner. We won’t be returning or recommending which is a shame as the ground are quite spectacular for a resort break.
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Saturday, 3 August 2019

Harts Barn Cookery School - Family Cooking Session

We've just got home from a really fun day at the Harts Barn Cookery School. 

We booked a family session for 4 hours where us and other families would be cooking a 3 course meal. 

It was great fun from start to finish.  The lady running it was really friendly and nothing was too much trouble.

We made a watercress soup for starters with flatbreads.  I was dubious about the soup as I'm definitely a tomato soup person but it was delicious.  The flatbreads were great and so simple to make.  Our main course was frittata; we did a veggie one and a meat one to please everyone.  Unfortunately these went wrong and to be honest were awful.  Libby did a mean salad though.  Desserts was meringues which we made and we could decorate how we wanted.  I have to say ours which were a bit of a play on a strawberry shortcake were divine. 

The whole day went really well.  The booking was simple and easy, the teacher was lovely, the lady doing the tidying was helpful and the facilities were lovely (apart from the blow torch which broke oops).  The setting of the cookery school is lovely in the heart of the Forest of Dean and due to lovely weather we ate everything outside.

I cannot recommend this highly enough and we will be back.