If you are just off the Naples bus or the local train and dying of hunger then Jhonny is the place for a snack and a beer. Walk down from the station, past the Hotel Nice on the corner, turn left, and there it is.
Nothing pretentious, vinyl bench seats and wooden tables, but with friendly staff and a sensible menu, in English if you so require.
The Pizzas are out of this world and, unless you have a massive appetite, go for the small version. Judging by adjacent patrons, the other offerings are equally delicious.
Throw in a couple of 660ml bottles of Peroni and you have a perfect meal for two for around €14.00. One really cannot do much better!
It’s some time since we were last at the Slieve Russell , but some things never change. We were attending the IVEA Annual Conference and the only minor setback was, having to arrive at 9.00 for the golf, which meant that we had a four hour wait for a room (well Josephine did). It says something for the popularity of the venue that they had three functions filling the hotel on a Tuesday evening and ours and a wedding following on the Wednesday. Breakfast was magnificent although, as we did not have a room, they charged us €16 a piece for the privilege.
I left Josephine in the lounge and headed for the club house in a downpour that brought gasps of horror from the assembled golfers, however, by the time we were on the first tee the rain had passed and the sun was making a valiant effort to bring some cheer to the proceedings!
Tee More – an exacting par 3
I will not dwell on the golf except to say that the course is one of the very best in the area with some great holes and beautiful vistas; posh word for views! My partner Joe McGrath, almost a local boy, managed to keep his nerve and came out winner of the competition.
Our room was spacious and, happy days, had a separate shower so no clambering over the edge of the bath. The Wi-Fi also worked without any problems and was free. I was checking our clothes later in the afternoon and realised that our suit/dress bag was missing so went down to collect it from reception. Disappeared! For the next couple of hours there was a certain amount of pandemonium as the staff tried to find out where it had gone. No names, no pack drill but a very old friend of ours had lifted it instead of his own and only realised much later that he really did not need a dress – Well done Ted!
The dinner that evening, hosted by Count Cavan VEC, was excellent and the service smooth. Dish of the menu was the starter, chicken and smoked ham Strudel served with baby leaf salad, Sancerre wine and Dijon scented cream. The company was as good as the food and one’s wine glass remained full. All together an enjoyable evening. We retired to the bar and the ensuing ceilidh was still in full swing when I took my leave around 2 a.m. Dinner Menu
Breakfast was as good as the previous day and this time included in our package!
The conference proceeded well with visits by Ruari Quinn, Minister for Education, and another Junior Minister, who both made presentations to the conference.
The hotel staff dispensed refreshments with suitable gravitas and in no time it was necessary dress for the IVEA Banquet. Another culinary tour de force. This time my dish of the day was the fillet of Atlantic hake steamed with fine herbs a, Donegal lobster and Chablis, although the dessert, Assiette Gourmande came a very close second. The choir and accompanying band, from a number of establishments in the county, gave a great performance following the meal. Banquet Menu
A nightcap in the bar, they still give one the port bottle to make a brandy & port, was enough and we turned in.
Unfortunately we did not get a chance to make use of the Spa but it was, altogether, a well spent couple of days in delightful surroundings.
Stopped off in Dundrum Town Centre for lunch after a quick recce of the flood damage at the Mill Theatre.
Sitting outside under a parasol at the side of the pool on a sunny afternoon after a three hour drive from west Cork seemed a good move and we were rewarded with some great service by our Italian waiter.
I ordered a Fagioli salsicci, a sort of bean and tomato stew with fragrant herbed sausages sliced into it, accompanied by crusty bread. Definitely to die for. Josephine chose the Gourmet Cheese and Ham sandwich with onion relish. Unfortunately whilst the cheese, ham and relish was unsurpassable the roll had been put under the grill and proved to be somewhat too crisp in places!
In the absence of a Pinot Grigio the waiter suggested the Falanghina which proved to be another worthwhile discovery. Will be on my buying list if I can find somewhere that stocks it.
Against our better judgement we were talked into a sweet! Josephine got the last of the “House Torte”, really a mixed fruit tart with cream, and I had the pear variation and a coffee. All extremely palatable
All in all a pleasant lunch and, at €42 excluding tip, good value.
After a long time, must be over 5 years, since we last went to the Khayber we have now been twice in the past month. The décor is still similar with rather traditional red drapes, which give it a old fashioned feel, and dim lighting. The service is efficient if not effusive and one is left to pour ones own wine from the start.
Having said this the food leaves nothing to be desired. I chose the Lamb Tikka Garlic Chilli Masala and was offered a choice of the lamb cooked tender or from the tandoor which leaves it, whilst not tough,much more “solid”. I prefer the tandoori version and was not disappointed. It is classed as hot and lives up to this with plenty of onion and chilli and a really tasty sauce. Josephine, who prefers the milder spiced dishes, took the Chicken Dopiaza which comes with cubed onions and green peppers. Our usual sides are Aloo Gobi and Tarka Dall, lentils in spiced sauce, or Chana Bhagee, the chick pea version. One boiled rice and a nan bread completed the meal.
We washed it down with the house red, which at £12.95 takes a lot of beating.
A really enjoyable meal with pleasant service and, at under £50 including wine, a brandy and a coffee, pretty hard to beat.
Another call from the wild so down to Dublin for a meeting with project architects for Tullamore Arts Centre.
Early start to catch the 8 am Enterprise using our Senior citizens passes. Unfortunately they don’t fund 1st Class so, in order to get breakfast had to cough up £18 for the privilege of comfy seats, orange juice, papers and waiter service.
The Enterprise gets a lot of flak but the one thing they do pretty well is breakfast, so all in all a pretty stress free journey.
My destination was not far from the Jervis Centre which is a mere three stops on the Luas from Connolly Station. This provided somewhere for Josephine to pass away an hour or so whilst I pondered the intricacies of retractable seating with the architect.
Brambles - Jervis Centre
We met up again and had the most amazing cream bun in Brambles cafe Good service as well!
Josephine had found an Italian bag (hand) shop but whilst trying to navigate back to it came across a hair salon so settled on a wash and blow dry to lift her spirits.
Boston Hair and Beauty
That done we found the bag shop and she added a smart little number to her collection.
Around the corner a very large gentleman sporting Celtic warrior garb disappeared behind his sandwich board at the sight of my camera. We walked over the Halfpenny Bridge and through Temple Bar to Grafton Street. There was the usual buzz, Hari Krishna’s, Leprechauns and the other usual suspects.
Molly Malone and the Leprechauns
A trip to Dublin would not be complete without lunch in Pacino’s, a nice little Italian Bistro tucked round the corner in Suffolk Street, just at the bottom of Grafton Street. They have a great lunch menu and the meatballs and carbonara with gubben ham are at the top of my list. House white of the day was a Riesling and, at €5 a large glass was not to be missed. Usual excellent service.
Best Italian in Dublin
We walked a little of it off past Trinity College,on to O’Connell Street and so back to Connolly and our train home.
Only in Count Kerry would you find a town that has been crowning a goat king for for the past 399 years.
It’s not too often that one gets a call to visit Kerry on business and even less often for it to be in Killorglin, home of the Puck Fair. Unfortunately this three day event doesn’t take place until August and not even I could hope to hang out a visit for that length of time.
With the chance of a contract in the offing Josephine and I set off to revisit the town that we last set foot in together around 15 years ago. The drive from Belfast now takes under 5 hours as opposed to the seven in those days.
Our hosts, the committee of Killorglin CYMS, had kindly organised accommodation for us and I had asked John and his wife, Catherine, to meet us in the town for dinner. I left it to him to book a table at a convenient hostelry as Nick’s Place now shuts up shop from October to Easter.
We arrived at Laune Bridge House around seven and were made truly welcome by Tina with pots of tea and coffee and slices of coffee cake.
River Laune from the Bridge
We had plenty of time to spruce up before meandering up the road to the Bianconi Inn not five minutes away. This is a another family owned affair and was fairly buzzing with activity when we arrived. John and Catherine followed shortly after and we were shown to our table.
Drinks were ordered and we tried to decide on food. I cannot resist Crab claws in garlic butter so was the only one to have a starter. Surprise, surprise! The rest chose variously warm smoked salmon salad, a vegetarian salad and a large sirloin. Just to be different I had a kilo of mussels in wine and cream sauce. For wine we went with a merlot which would have been hard to fault. The food was par excellence! The smoked salmon was to wonder at and everybody got a taste. The service was friendly and efficient and the prices reasonable – under €150 for 4 people with drinks and coffee cannot be bad.
Good friends already
Apparently the rooms have all been refurbished which would have been nice if they had had any unoccupied.
John then enticed us to visit his local, Falvey’s, for a nightcap.
Never ones to refuse we tripped round the corner and were met with a “traditional” Irish bar.
Full of the local football team completing their midweek training and various other characters including Pat Healy the chairman of the committee and motor sport enthusiast. As always happens in this sort of environment “a nightcap” consists of more than one over a couple of hours and we finally made our farewells and floated back to the lodgings around 1a.m.
After a good nights sleep we were treated to an excellent breakfast: forwent the “full irish” in favour of scrambled local free range eggs, bacon and Clontakilty pudding.
Then it was off to the CYMS hall to do some work. After some couple of hours or so we decided coffee was in order and we sat out on the pavement in the sun for half an hour or so. Of course the lass serving us was also family.
It was a pleasure doing business with people who made one feel welcome and a part of the project. Especially Maura who wanted answers to everything and then some: that’s engineers for you!!
All too soon it was time to depart, having promised to return for the 400th Puck Fair – if not sooner, on the seemingly longer journey back – with a short mandatory stopover in Adare for some shopping – but that’s another story
The jazz aficionado’s jazz band and veterans of genré, the Apex Jazz Band,were welcomed back by Greenisland Golf Club for another Sunday lunch engagement on Feb 12.
This is getting to be a habit and a fine excuse to forget cooking and washing up and enjoy David Alexander’s buffet and a bottle of vino collapso with all the old favourites playing in the background. The band was pretty good as well!
It is amazing how quickly 3 or 4 hours passes when in good company.
My thanks to David Graham for many of the photographs
Now I know why we avoid travelling during the school holidays! Falcon flight Dublin to Sharm el Sheikh bit like a sardine can and, can you believe, it no bar service at all!!
Arrived in one piece and flew through immigration with no problems which is quite an achievement for Egypt. There was a taxi awaiting us and we were whisked away to the Savoy. As one would expect reception was efficient, our luggage disappeared and we were escorted to our room. The sea view from the balcony was not apparent; it being around 10.30 local so we made straight for the bar. It is a strange feature of Egypt, or Sharm in particular, that nowhere seems to serve dry ginger. Still we managed without. My one complaint is that the smoking ban has not caught on and although they have a no smoking area the fans ensure that the offending cloud is spread evenly around.
We left after one and walked up to Soho Square, the hub of the complex; dancing fountains and music ice rink, bazaar etc. etc. Of course there has to be a bar called “the Queen Vic” with the mandatory English menu! We found a small “cafe” and indulged in an Egyptian kebab and Lebanese spicy cheese salad washed down with the local beer. Good choice.
The long day caught up with us and we returned to take a nightcap in our room. Discover that there is a “pillow menu” offering six different styles and fillings. Settled for what was already on the bed!
Friday morning and we looked out over the bay with the sun shining – intermittently it must be said – and the temperature a pleasant 24⁰. Breakfast was as good as one would expect. In this part of the world it best to avoid bacon and sausages! Fresh dates, figs, oranges, all the eggs cooked while you wait and lots of those nice little pastries…yum!
We wandered past the pools and down to the beach and then back up to book our table for the New Years Eve Dinner. It’s split up so that you can be at home in a Tux or with the kids in casual. We were in the Egypt Hall; all adults in DJs.
Josephine booked her wash and blow dry for the next day and I had a manicure. There was a bookies widow called Elaine from Glasgow having a pedicure and her first question was “Are you a Celtic or a Rangers supporter”. Oh well, nothing much changes. We exchanged life stories whilst the girls worked away at our nether bits.
Would you believe it we are sitting next to the pool having a burger and a beer and it has started raining. Well a couple of small spots. They put the electric awning over the tables so no problem!
It's this big - Honest
Saturday, New Years Eve and all’s well. We spent a lazy day doing not a lot. Lunch at the Seafood Island restaurant and the rest of the afternoon on the beach couture watching. Then back to get Josephine to the hairdressers ready for the evening’s festivities.
The New Year party was a great success. To serve a buffet to 450 without having to queue takes a bit of organising! The star cabaret act was the Chinese circus with Egyptian dancers being a close second. New Year was heralded in for the Russians at 10.00 and for the rest of us with a Brazilian combo at midnight local. The Disco proved too much and we bailed out about 1am.
They were serving breakfast until 3pm so we did not hurry and spent the day on the beach. We had booked the Teppanyaki for dinner and shared it with a Dutch couple and a Russian woman with her young daughter; later joined by an intensely English guy from Sussex with his American wife and with whom we were finally asked to leave so that they could start the second sitting. We decamped into the bar for another bottle of wine and to put the world to rights: as one does.
Finally got round to snorkelling along the reef on Monday: stunning corals and fish. No underwater camera unfortunately: will have to get one of those waterproof cases for the compact. Life on the beach nearly as interesting.
We spent the evening in Soho Square. There is food hall with various outlets and a cabaret. Unfortunately neither the food or the cabaret lived up to expectations, still it was an inexpensive way of making a mistake! We went back into the main square and indulged in an Irish and Mexican coffee, which were as good as one gets, and enjoyed the girl band.
Tuesday and it is back to the beach people watching. A bit windier today and only 22⁰! Just finished my second book of the holiday, Cold Comfort Farm, a real scream if you like parodies. The first was Evelyn Waugh’s “Handful of Dust”: I’m getting very literary!!
In fact the rest of the holiday was spent not doing a lot and soaking up as much sun as possible. As the News of the World used to advertise “All Human Life is Here” and there was an amazing cross section of it at the beach and around the pools hailing from Ukraine to Yorkshire and Baltimore to Bangor. Quite mesmerising in a number of ways.
There are a number of shots of the male form but it is sad to relate that they were in no way able to compete, either in number or esoteric form, with the ladies. They did prove interesting though.
All too quickly it was over
Our taxi was booked for 5am Thursday morning but, in typical Egyptian fashion, it did not appear and my attempts at nonchalant indifference finally left me at 6 when the Desk was unable to raise any cab at all. We ended up being taken to the main road in a buggy and the ever efficient Security Guard network finally trapped one. Shouldn’t have worried we ended up in the check in queue three behind a couple who had been bundled into a coach at 4.30!
Saturday 19 November brought the GIGC annual Formal Dinner Dance. One the shrinking number of occasions at which one can break out the black tie and drink too much in an orderly fashion.
As is usual the maximum number of participants had been reached within hours of the booking sheet going on the board. The reason is simple, guaranteed excellent food and Rosie Hunter providing the dance music.
We dully arrived at 7pm for the sherry reception and were fortunate to get a table in the corner before the bulk of the members arrived. There was a photographer from, I assume, the Carrickfergus Times to capture us for posterity, or something of that ilk.
We were called in to dinner at 7.30 and following a welcome from John Lecky, the Club Captain, Norman Walker said grace and dinner commenced.
As one would expect from David Alexander the meal was outstanding and finished with a selection of cheeses, of which to my mind the Stilton was away the best, and a glass of port. Memories of Sergeants Mess Dinners popped into my mind.
This left the Club Captain and Lady Captain, to take to the floor for the first dance. The great strength of Rosie Hunter is that she knows the music that will get the members on the floor, and keep them there. This is exactly what happened and the floor was fully occupied for the rest the night.
Due to licencing laws the bar closed at 1am and the company duly dispersed in various levels of euphoria. A great evening having been had by all.
Thanks to Margaret McKeen and Derek Cosby for the photographs
The Wyck Hill House Hotel was the chosen venue for the second reunion of past inmates of the REME Junior Leaders Unit, Arborfield.
The address is Burford Road, Stow-on the-Wold, and if you arriving in the area by any other form of transport than car or coach tour the taxi fare from Kingham Station, four miles away, is £20.
According to the taxi driver it has been reopened, following a complete makeover, for about 18 months.
Reception is a desk in the hallway and I was greeted by a pleasant young lady who, having taken my particulars led me to my 1st floor room. I understood why as trying to direct one to the lift would have been quite a feat.
The rooms are spacious and comfortable, however they are certainly not soundproof. Mine was opposite the lift door and the “Ding” of it arriving was clearly audible; luckily there are not a lot of rooms per floor!
Perhaps I am just unlucky but my safe refused to lock and, after losing my cameras from a room in Rome, I am a bit paranoid about leaving valuables lying about.
Houskeeping got somebody to me in about 15 minutes and he duly reset the mechanism.
The bar is neatly set out and a Bombay Sapphire and Tonic restored my spirits. The £8.00 for a smoked salmon sandwich, the size of bridge roll, on ciabatta I felt was a bit excessive though it did come with a neat little pot of crisps and a bit of salad.
We were about 50 for dinner and the standard of the food and the service were impeccable..
I had a trio of fish for starter with a light hollandaise sauce and it could not have been faulted. The fish was firm and tasted superb and the sauce complimented it perfectly. The other members of my table reported theirs to first class as well.
I had ordered Pan fried breast of corn fed chicken with thyme rosti cake, savoy cabbage, smoked bacon and shallot sauce.
It came perfectly cooked, nicely moist, and the thyme rosti was a perfect accompaniment. We had the house Merlot to wash it all down!
I picked the Eton Mess for dessert which was adapted to include red berries rather than strawberries but lost nothing for all that.
We finished up with standard coffees.
Breakfast the next morning was delightful. A good selection of fruit, museli, cereals and yoghurts; a mixture of cheeses and cold meats or a substantial cooked menu.
I took the sausage, bacon and black pudding and asked for a soft poached egg. Three out of four right was not too bad. Why is it that nowhere seems to be able to soft cook any type of egg these days.
A large pot of strong English Breakfast tea was just the ticket to see off the excesses of the night (or morning even) before.
The tab for bed and breakfast plus the dinner was £120. Not really over expensive.