Well, we returned from Textiles in Focus on Sunday evening. We were tired, but it was, as usual, a lovely show. I do enjoy returning to places and meeting old friends and customers. I was even able to steal a while away from the stand to enjoy a meeting with Margaret and Debs, lunch with Gina and a quick tour of the Exhibitions with Marion. Such a treat.
Our accommodation was in a different place this year. I won't go into details, but we had to find somewhere else. We stayed on the south side of the A14, in an area where eating choices were very limited. This didn't actually matter as the first couple of evenings were to be spent with friends and colleagues. However, on the third night we were on our own and, frankly, couldn't face driving very far. The receptionist came to our rescue - 'Why not walk to the pub, there's a path at the back'.
And so began our mini adventure!
Firstly we had to find the path at the back. It transpired that this actually was nothing more than a hole through the hedge. Obviously well used, the 'path' was nothing more than a sticky mess of mud, however, someone had thoughtfully placed an old fence panel on top of this so we were able to make our way across without collecting too much mud on our shoes. A few steps on the other side revealed that we were now in the depths of an industrial estate, but fortunately, as it was a cul de sac, there was only one way to go. It was well lit, but a little spooky, with deep dark shadows on either side. Bravely we set off, not knowing exactly what we would find. A little further on we could see a car parking area. It was empty, of course, and immediately in front of it the road took a sharp turn to the right. We followed this course and could see a small roundabout ahead. This would mean a choice of ways, and we didn't know which one would be the correct one! However, we needn't have worried......
''Ello, 'ello,'ello! What's goin' on 'ere?"
A voice from the gloom accosted us. It was the security guard. Strange people walking through darkened streets in the early evening had obviously been spotted on the camera. From where had we come? (This was actually phrased rather differently and so too was the enquiry about our destination). On hearing that we were looking for the pub his manner changed and he actually gave us quite specific instructions. (I told you that the path looked well used!)
So we set off into the gloom again, confident now that our steps were bringing us ever closer to our destination. A glance over our shoulder at one point, just to look for an aide memoire for the return journey, informed us that we were being shadowed by the security guard, obviously intent on seeing us off the site.....! It was at this point that we realised that he was probably MI5 trained (failed). His powers of camouflage were decidedly nil (it isn't easy to hide a dayglo yellow jacket by hiding behind a lampost). A few more twists and turns brought us to the end of the factories, and we were now on a main road - with no footpath! The mud at the roadside was again sticky, but no fence panels to help us now. It wasn't far, but I almost lost my shoe on a couple of occasions. Finally we could see 'The Pub' and thankfully we squelched across the road and through the car park. At last we could have a glass of wine and order some food.
I have to say that the wine was surprisingly good. It was Chilean, and very tasty. The menu was quite long and varied, however left a little to be desired. The choice included fried fish, curry of various types, steak, lasagne, spaghetti with prawns, scampi, and various other dishes, all served with chips and peas...... We chose the least calorie filled and left the chips. I wonder how many other guests at the hotel had been as disappointed as we were - and we still had to tackle the journey back!
So, off we went on our return journey. Back we oozed through the muddy verge (far too much traffic to risk walking on the road) and into the murky industrial estate. It was easy to find our way back, and we expected the security guard to be there lurking in the shadows at every step. Sure enough, there he was! No longer hiding behind a lampost but in the shadows and still highly obvious in his jacket. Let's face it, he was only doing his job. He did speak to us, asked if we had had a good meal (apparently he often eats there, so we were cautious in our replies as we had no desire to have to treck along the A14). He shadowed us all the way back, and I have to say that we were very pleased to once more see the hole in the hedge.
If you would like more precise directions for this themed evening and gourmet dinner I can tell you exactly where to go.....