Holiday Part 1 – The Travelodge Rant and Chester

Posted: 27th September 2009 by admin in Travel

I pull aside the curtains from the sofa bed next to the window, it still dark, 6am I guess, I am wrong, checking my phone its 5.20am. Having nothing else left to do but lie here, I realise I could be in any hotel in this chain, in any location in the UK right now, and I would have no idea I had been moved there. A bit like a slightly less lofty Prisoner set. Indeed my stay here might be made more interesting by the factor of large white spheres following me everywhere. The receptionist doesn’t look over joyed to be working here, and I don’t blame her one little bit, you are spending 40 hours a week in a red brick hotel, just off the road which takes people to places guaranteed to be more interesting than where she is now.

Its currently 5:52am, I can’t sleep, and I’m laying here under a duvet in a back room of a Travelodge just off the A55 eastbound carriage, behind a petrol station next to a Little Chef, trying not to disturb the other two members of the family who are sleeping 5 yards away. You may ask, why not go into the reception or breakfast room to work, simple answer is that there isn’t either here, and the Little Chef doesn’t open for an hour, so I can’t pop over to there. There is no phone reception at the back end of the hotel, so anything which relies on an internet connection on my phone is out, and the wireless internet is not free, so that’s the laptop offline as well. This blog entry will be posted when I get to civilisation again.

When the route into your hotel ends with “come off the sliproad for the westbound services at junction 33, go past the garage and turn left, the hotel is not visible from the road”, its not going to be the height of luxury. Biscuits with your tea, they are available at services. Toiletries, you didn’t think to bring them yourself, services will have them in. I will, thankfully however be out of here in 3 hours, and on my way to the cottage, not far from the real life set of the Prisoner at Portmerrion. Reminder me next time when you pay £29 for a family room, you get £29 worth of room. £10 each is less than most YHA hostels, but the hostel has more facilities.

However the saving grace of this place is that is allowed us to stop over in Chester for the day on our way over to the west coast of Wales. One of my favourite small cities to visit, its full of original architecture, mostly unspoilt, with an open river side area to the south of the city among the roman ruins with its parks and pubs overlooking the River Dee, and an walkable city wall all adding my reasons to return here. Its very much like York in most of those aspects, another city I can quite happily visit for a weekend.

We have been here 3 or 4 times now as a family and there is still more to see, we still haven’t visited any of the museums, and there are areas of the city we still haven’t explored. Yesterday for the first time, we took a walk through the park next to the river, a typical 19th century ornamental garden, with the addition of the remains of the roman settlement, and the tamest squirrels you are likely to meet. Tame as in, they walk up to you and get within inches of you hand checking if you have any food for them, even with my daughter who could spook an elephant with her heavy handedness sometimes, got a close check up.

The Boat House pub served up a decent lunch, with a decent selection of JW Lees beers from Manchester, with my black pudding starter being good, but suffering from the comparison with the fantastic starter with the same ingredients at the Canalside in Skipton. If you ever need to convert somebody to black pudding then that is the place, homemade with lentils and chorizo, and served with a black pudding crockette, the taste is out of this world. The burger seemed to get my daughters approval (and she won’t just eat any burger, see refuses to go McDonalds full stop, my efforts over the last 4 years to get her to dislike the place have finally paid off!). The tuna melt seemed OK as well, but there not a lot to get wrong with a tuna melt is there!

Eschewing the Little Chef for dinner in the evening, as it would be too much of a busmans holiday for me as I work their head office in Sheffield, we headed to the nearby village of Buckley only to find that the restaurant we were looking for was closed, and a recommendation from the staff at the local co-op sent us up the road to the Red Lion, it didn’t look much from the outside, but once inside was a nice pub. The food was good with a nice cooked sirloin steak with homemade chips, jerk chicken and childs meal of chicken, veg and mash all hitting the spot, Only downside was that the starter wasn’t available, but that was a good thing in the end as it left room for chocolate pudding and cream. Service was good, with an incorrect side order being replaced without fuss.

Anyway I’ll sign off this post the way I started, and have one final rant about the Travelodge Northop Hall, and its most annoying factor, and that is due to its location on the eastbound carriageway, you can’t get directly here if you are east of the hotel, you have to travel back to previous junction and then come back through the village of Northop so you are west of the hotel, and can access it from the east bound road again, so in theory you could be 200 yards from hotel and have to travel 8 miles to get back to it, madness!