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Monday, 14 April 2014

What a weekend

We had a great weekend, one not without its issues, but a fantastic weekend nevertheless.

We arrived at Newbury early evening, having been via Ikea for a quick bit of shopping.  A lovely evening of food, chat, beer and, towards the end of the evening, vodka with gold pieces.

The following morning, we were up earlyish, but on checking the Dr Who Experience ticket details, Angelina realised she had the wrong tickets, even though she had clearly requested a family ticket.  A fraught twenty minutes on the phone resolved the issue, with new, correct, tickets allocated and printed, and a promise to sort out a refund for the wrong ticket on Monday.

We then headed out for Cardiff.  The drive was uneventful, though A&B did ask whether I was trying to lose them on the M4.  As if.

We arrived at the hotel, and B and LO jumped out (we were double-parked outside) to get directions to the parking.  A and I then drove the cars to park, but missed the turning, and whilst doing a lap round the block, got a call from Maggot 1 to say we were at the WRONG HOTEL.  Doh!  We were given details of the right hotel, and drive there in under 10 mins.  On arrival, we explained to the nice man our silly mistake, and he said "yes, we know, ?? rang just now to advise us you were on your way".  Now that was above and beyond.

Our rooms were fine, and once we had dumped our stuff, we head out on foot to walk to the harbour area, in which were the restaurants for later, and the DWE studios.  The route on the way was initially of urban decay, but from the town centre to the harbour, it was a fairly passable boulevard, with wide pavements and tidy apartments.  As it happens, we came back on the other side of the railway tracks, and it was the "other side of the tracks" in many ways; run down, lots of litter and lots of dodgy people.  Not that we are horribly middle class, but Maggot 2, always one for neat and tidy, did point out every bit of litter, and some of the bushes were like landfill sites.

We grabbed a quick sandwich in the cafe before joining a tour.  It was definitely Dr Who, and quite an experience, so while not quite on the scale and magnificence of the Harry Potter tour, it was well done and fun, with plenty of detail for the OCD, and bit sets and loud noises for the impatient.

My favourite bit was probably a little corner where a documentary video was on loop, with Stuart Maconie, on Delia Derbyshire, the person who was definitely ahead of her time, creating electronic music way before her time, but sadly descending in to drink, breast cancer and death by liver failure.  It turns our our Stuart is a bit of a music nerd, and has played the theme on his radio show, and he was also pretty knowledgeable on the background and details.  Fascinating how they created stuff not dissimilar to what I create on a computer, but armed only with keys, piano strings (how the Tardis sound was made apparently) and lots of simple analogue synthesisers, tape loops and other barmy inventions.

We then had tea at Strada, where we have more great service from Marcus, our waiter for the night, who, it turns out, is a trainee manager who is going "back to the floor" to see the business from a different angle, and who is, it turns out, about the become the manager of Strada in Newbury.  What are the chances?  He provided excellent service and was happy to join in with our every increasing exuberence.  He had a hair cut that I should get apparently too, so LO even asked if she could take a photo for me to take in to my hairdressers.  Hmmm.

Our final bit of excellent service was in Bill's for breakfast.  Great service, great food, and as we were paying, the manager came over and presented each of the children with a small bag of sweets, something they sold in the shop.  We were overcome with goodwill.

So now LO has to find out "who owns Cardiff" so she can write a very complimentary note to them about the service they give in their fine city.

So, overall scores are in the 7-9 range.  Fantastic time had, but not top marks because of small areas of improvement here and there.  Service, though, was ten out of ten all round.

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