A day in Bournemouth – 3rd June 2011
Amazingly, what with one thing or another, we hadn’t been down to Bournemouth since 18th September 2010 – back before I even was blogging! Considering that we used to try and get down there once a quarter, it was clearly high time to make the most of a sunny and hot summer’s day!
Accordingly, we packed (or rather Sarah packed!) most of the stuff that is needed, for three young girls, last night. After breakfast we jumped in the car and left soon after 8.15am
From the very start, the traffic seemed to be against us. As we reached the roundabout to pick up the M4 at Maidenhead we noticed that traffic heading away from London was at virtual standstill – fortunately before we joined it!
We headed back into Maidenhead and joined the A4 to Reading instead. By the time we eventually got to Reading we had already added the best part of an hour onto our journey.
Fortunately the traffic behaved itself more or less thereafter and we eventually arrived in Bournemouth at around 10.30am.
The girls quickly decided to go to the beach first, and we headed off to find somewhere suitable to enjoy the warm sunshine. Suitably doused in suncream, the girls headed off for a paddle in the sea – which was still very cold.
Amusing sights on the beach included a man wearing a leather jacket (perhaps a little unnecessary in June!) and in contrast, a young lady wearing very little, who suddenly had to give chase to her inflatable ring when it blew away down the beach, pressing a towel into service to protect her modesty!
Later we enjoyed some chips from Harry Ramsdens, as well as our own packed lunch.
After lunch, we decided to pop into town and ended up enjoying cold drinks in Debenhams before making our usual trip to the old-fashioned sweet shop on our way to the car.
We made our way back to the car, passing through the Winter Gardens to see the birds in the aviary en route. This chap was just the other side of the fence and was extremely noisy. He also only had one leg!
We finally left Bournemouth at around 4.45pm and immediately found ourselves in good company with hundreds of other people who seemed keen to leave at the same time as us and head off down the A31.
We stopped off for a meal at the Little Chef at Picket Post on the way home. Last time we had been there, the service and food were great. This time, things were a little different.
We gave our order to the young waitress who wrote everything down carefully before disappearing to fetch our drinks.
Shortly after the drinks arrived, I got up to go around the table to Emily and managed to inadvertently knock over my almost-full chocolate milkshake. I had to find a member of staff to ask to clean up the mess – and then had to ask for a replacement milkshake.
The meals took a long time to arrive and when they did eventually turn up, all wasn’t well. Sarah had ordered a chicken platter and received a different dish. Rebekah had ordered fish goujons and ended up receiving an adult’s fish and chips – complete with bread!
The waitress took Sarah’s meal away and then when Sarah followed a minute later, after realising Rebekah’s dinner was also incorrect, she heard the waitress talking to the chef and blaming her for the mistake – not very professional!
All of this made for a slightly truncated meal as Holly and I had to finish ours before Sarah’s and Rebekah’s dinners belatedly arrived.
The staff were apologetic, although Sarah noticed when she paid that they didn’t ask whether we had enjoyed the meal or not and also committed the cardinal sin of not offering lollipops until prompted!
I sent the tweet below, to which, as of Saturday 4th June at 11pm, I have yet to receive a reply to:
All in all, it was somewhat disappointing. I have been a lifelong fan of Little Chef and have even been interviewed by their new Digital Marketing Manager, who seems to look after their Social Media side, about my thoughts on Little Chef over the years.
In general, as a company, they are doing a good job in turning around the business. It’s just a shame that are still a few bad apples in the bag that manage to tarnish the overall impression.
After our disappointing meal, we headed home and again found ourselves in heavy traffic before finally arriving back at about 8.30pm.
It was a good day – at least the Bournemouth part! 😉
Update – I did receive an apologetic tweet from Little Chef and also a £10 Little Chef token in the end.