I AM full of praise this week for a restaurant in Nottingham city centre.
Not because I was working on a ‘Menus and Venues’ feature for the Dispatch.
The reason is that the staff kindly helped me in an emergency when I was ‘caught out’, as the saying goes.
Having arrived at Nottingham’s Broadmarsh bus station after a weekend coach trip, I suddenly found myself needing the loo.
When I am in this part of the city, I regularly use a toilet in the Broadmarsh shopping centre.
I naturally made a bee-line for this public convenience, which is near the top of an escalator. Imagine my dismay when I found the toilet closed!
I was later told there is a loo you have to pay for at the far end of the bus station but I was unaware of it.
With increasing desperation, I dashed out of the shopping centre. No way did I want to emulate a youth from Bulwell charged with urinating in the street who told a court he was bostin’.
I rushed into the restaurant and the girl behind the bar allowed me to use the toilet, turning down my offer to pay for the privilege. My relief was immense.
I went on the coach outing to the south-west of England with my sister, Christine Clarke, and her daughter, Jennifer. Our motivation was to celebrate Jennifer’s birthday, which fell last Saturday.
We had booked the trip about two months ago but our timing could hardly have been worse.
A weather forecaster said there would be ‘heavy and persistent rain’ in the south-west with gusts of up to 50 or 60 mph.
At the start of the journey, the problem was fog and the driver could have done with help from ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, which we heard on the coach CD player.
But sure enough, the torrential rain and icy wind set in when we arrived at Ludlow. The Shropshire town’s ruined castle looked particularly gaunt in the appalling weather and I was glad to be fortified by a glass of mulled wine, followed soon after by half a pint of Old Henry 5.2% real ale.
In a spirit of defying the elements as we walked to the medieval Christmas fayre, I thought of King Lear’s speech: “Blow, winds and crack your cheeks... till you have drenched our steeples, etc.’
The Shakespeare quote is apt because on the Sunday the tour continued to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Passing one flooded field after another on our way there, we thought we would find the town renamed Stratford-IN-Avon.
On arrival, we discovered that a footpath near the river was under water but the swans did not mind a bit. We were also blessed with a sunny morning.
People from Nottingham, Derby and Leicester went on the trip. Everyone involved was given a boost because Forest, County, the Rams and the Foxes all won last Saturday.