Friday, May 29, 2009


Current work: picking up my new car and it’s school hols. How much work am I really going to do today?
Listening to: Bon Jovi (son has decided he likes 80s hair bands. Ha ha ha. I have lots of CDs. DH is horrified)
Reading: Crazy for You, Jennifer Crusie (enjoying so far)

Had a great trip to Colchester. Got all the pics I wanted for the book; and I will admit that the satnav was useful once we got into Colchester. Hilarious that DH ignores it just the same as he ignores his old navigator: get to a roundabout and it’s ‘which exit was that?’

Visited the monastic ruins in the town, and then the castle. It's the largest Norman keep in England (strange, doesn't feel as big as Norwich inside, but that's possibly because Norwich is more open).
I loved the herringbone work. These are narrow Roman bricks and tiles, re-used. I noticed a lot of these in the fabric of the church exteriors, too, so it's obvious that most of the Roman structures were well and truly robbed out in the Norman period.

Was also very impressed by the mosaics. How much work would go into designing one of these? (I should add that this was about 2 metres by 2 metres.)
Saw some amber beads, and thought of Jan Jones:
Also visited the natural history museum (converted church, and I was very taken by the unicorn in the spandrel).
I rather liked the town hall, too. Very grand and Victorian. Interesting choice of figures, though - I understand why they'd choose Eudo (built the castle and the monastery) and Audley (town clerk and politically important in Tudor times). But Boudicca? The woman who burned the town to the ground? Wow.

DH suggested dinner out when we returned home. Went to Frankie & Benny's and had a lovely time... Except I managed to lose our car park ticket. Guy on the desk was really the jobsworth type (and he didn’t look old enough to be at work – or maybe I’m getting middle-aged). ‘I’ll have to charge you for all day.’ Actually, I’ve been in Colchester all day. You’re welcome to see my car park receipt from there to prove it. We came here two hours ago to Frankie and Benny’s. Please can I pay for the time I’ve been here and will you please let me out? ‘You'll have to check your car and the restaurant.’ Not in the car. Went back to F&B and they’d cleared the table. The lovely manager there said, ‘I’ll sort the car park for you,’ and came back with me. She explained they’d cleared the tables and my ticket was no longer there. ‘Well, how likely is THAT?' asked the guy, dripping with scorn. Wow. Talk about rude. This is the restaurant manager. Doesn't the fact she's come to the car park with a customer tell you something? 'Nope, it's a full day’s charge, then.’ And she was great, stared him down. ‘I’m not asking you to do it for free. This lady’s a regular customer and I can tell you she’s been here for two hours. You’re going to do the RIGHT thing, aren’t you?’ He made a face, but he backed down. (He charged me for three hours but hey, I’m not going to argue a point – still considerably less than a full day.)
And this is yet another reason why we’re loyal to F&B. We like the food, the waiting staff are all lovely, and they look after you. Three cheers for them. And especially for the lovely manager who really did go above and beyond.


Carol Townend said...

Colchester - wow, it looks fascinating! I love the unicorn in the spandrel and the mosaics and...uh oh, more displacement activity is looming, I can feel a little drive and visit is coming on...except we use rather old fashioned technology - MAPS!

Kate Hardy said...

Carol - it's the little detail, isn't it? I loved that unicorn, though. Lightbulbs were flickering in the back of my head.

Colchester is very compact and well signposted (including car parks), so actually you don't need Satnav. (DH just wanted to play with his birthday toy. Men...)

Liz Fielding said...

What a great day out -- and what fabulous restaurant staff.

I could tell you a very long story about a feud we had with a car park attendant. The result of Lotus envy, I suspect. And I didn't need a crystal ball to work out who had taken a knife to the paintwork.

Jan Jones said...

Having got lost in Colchester practically EVERY time I took son when he was at uni there, I am struck with admiration!

I want those amber beads!

I love the unicorn.

I hate the car-park attendant.

(PS - after the 1st year son was off-campus so could get lost himself in his own car without any help from me. I think we were both relieved.)

Lacey Devlin said...

Wow amazing pictures! I bet it's even more incredible to see first hand!

He's a very sad little man that car parking attendant, full points to you for not kicking him in the shins... I'm not so sure my self control would have stretched that far ;)

Kate Hardy said...

Liz - we had a lovely time, and I'm very impressed with the restaurant.

Ouch on your own parking attendant hassle. And to take a knife to the paintwork... I hope he paid to fix it.

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - you need satnav *g*

Knew you'd love the beads and the unicorn.

Kate Hardy said...

Lacey - first hand it's even better. The mosaics were stunning.

As for the parking attendant - he didn't look old enough to have a job and he had really bad skin. I think that was punishment enough...