Thursday, April 21, 2005

Alnwick Gardens

I wake with a slight headache. Hmmm that glass of Chenin Blanc last night did taste an awful lot like Chardonnay, which could explain this. It tasted so like Chardonnay that we did double check with the waitress but she assured us it wasn’t…but then given her views on the acceptability of serving rotten fruit on desserts (“it’s just for decoration”) I’m beginning to think I should have argued about the wine more forcefully…

Anyway the headache combined memories of last night’s food catastrophe persuade me to skip breakfast, but Sarah is braver and ventures down.

Her text message to me of “they’ve just served me rancid fruit!” suggests it is a decision she comes to regret quite quickly.

Apparently the orange segments in juice are ‘fizzy’ and whilst she eventually persuades the staff that this isn’t ‘good’, no apology is forthcoming.

This is their fatal mistake and it means that as she settles the bill Sarah is no longer able to hold her tongue and when asked “was everything all right for you” replies “well I suppose if we hadn’t had a woeful dinner in the restaurant last night, I might have been more forgiving of the rancid fruit at breakfast this morning, but….”.

This statement doesn’t appear to come as too much of a surprise to the concierge, who apologises profusely and promptly knocks off the dinner and breakfast charges from the bill, without Sarah having to say anything more. This redeems the situation considerably.

I’d stay in the hotel again happily, but I would never ever eat there again.

Anyway…moving on…

Another glorious day weather wise and so we head to Alnwick Castle with its famous water gardens. It’s surprisingly good and this water engineer is in seventh heaven!

A text message from Caroline confirming she has made it home, adds to my excellent mood.

The gardens are much better than we expected and this combined with another day of blue skies and searing sunshine make us decide to postpone our visit to the Baltic for another day and spend more time here.

Sarah feels that my fascination with the ‘how do they do that’ is perhaps detracting form the romance of it all, but what does she expect?

I think by the time I start musing about whether my hydraulic design skills would be transferable she really starts to worry and drags me away from a mesmerising vortex based water feature.

We get a salad in the wonderfully imagined treehouse complex before a quick tour around the Poison Garden (with guide) before setting off home.

The only stop on the way home is at Hartshead Services so I can take a Greenbelt telephone conference.

Who should draw up alongside us?

Once back in Manchester we pick up Phil and head to the cinema. We were slightly surprised that WAP had suggested that Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was already showing and it turns out our suspicions were well founded. We plump instead for Sahara, which is an enjoyable enough romp with some excellent lines eg
Dirk: What would you do if you’re about to be exposed as the worst polluter of modern times?
Al: Run for president

Not a bad way to spend a birthday all in all.

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