Returning from Jersey (our last trip) we concentrated on looking for a home and we are pleased to say we found exactly what we wanted in South Petherton, our preferred area. We also enjoyed an “over-indulgent” Christmas with Jane, Dave, and Mia before moving on again; Scotland this time, for Hogmanay but first, we have to get there!!
Tuesday 27th December 2022
Before leaving we had to clean, empty and “vacate” our bedroom as The “Littlejohns” have a full house over the few days over New Years Eve; just as well we had pre-booked our trip to Scotland!!!!
We were away around mid morning but had to stop off at Cribbs Causeway to swap a few things at Marks and Spencer’s; what a mistake that was. There are 7,000 car parking spaces around the Mall and it was so busy when we arrived we had to join the queue of cars waiting for spaces!!!! Eventually we found a space and headed inside. Inside was Unbelievable as some shops had organised queueing barriers to control the numbers entering their shops and as for the cafés and restaurants, everyone had a long queues as well; the result of everything was organised chaos. We did what we had to do in Marks and Sparks, walked the mall but couldn’t get get anywhere so grabbed a quick sandwich in the food hall and retreat.
After fighting our way out of the car park we hit the M5 and headed to Crewe, our planned stop for the night. Originally I had planned to have my replacement knee fitted mid-December so the medics suggested we break the journey, hence Crewe!!! Result, cancelled surgery but still used the hotel, and what a good decision it turned out to be!!!!!
The motorway was horrendous, un-believable traffic and pouring rain. The congestion started south of the Almondsbury Interchange (M4 x M5) and continued all the way up the M5 until it joined the M6, now it was twice as bad. A journey that should have taken two and a half hours took nearer 4hrs, and the fastest part was the road from the motorway to Crewe!!!!
Nothing special about the Holiday Inn Express in Crewe, but within half a mile of it, we discovered a small, unassuming Italian restaurant “Gio’s” who produced first class food. Good food, a nice Italian white and the travel woes just vanished.
Wednesday 28th December
At the best of times a Holiday Inn Express “breakfast” leaves a little to be desired, but this breakfast was a joke. Upon arrival no cups, plates or cutlery could be found and the breakfast looked as if a swarm of locusts had moved through; I presume no one expected everybody to arrive for breakfast around the same time!!!
Time to hit the M6 again; Christine took the wheel this morning, though it was still raining hopefully the traffic will have subsided, but first, top up with fuel, silly prices at service stations.
We joined the motorway at Junction 17 and zoomed off as there wasn’t much traffic, a total reversal of yesterday thank goodness and whilst Christine was driving I enjoyed a snooze
With the motorway fairly clear and in spite of the constant rain we made excellent progress so pulled off at “Tebay” services for a cuppa. Shock,Horror, so little traffic yet still had to queue to park the car at theses services, why????? It all became clear upon entering; the place was swarming as this service area is now a “destination” place, www.tebayservices.com and apart from the usual, this is a “farmers shop” as well as a restaurant and everything they sell is sourced locally with all employees from the local area. All very commendable but defeats the purpose of a motorway services, in, feed, fuel and on your way!!! To be fair, though there were queues there were several counters serving hot food and or hot drinks, so once parked service was reasonable.
Back on route and still raining, we headed north crossing the border in a “flash” then turning off to Moffat. Finding the hotel wasn’t an issue but to note it didn’t open until 1600hrs, that worried us!!! We headed across the road and walked in, out of the rain into a place called “Hugo’s”, a delightful warm, dry, bar, cafe, Bistro, that all rolled into one best of all, and every table had big, comfortable, arm chairs. hugosmoffat.uk We enjoyed a couple of Tapas etc whilst waiting for the hotel to open its doors!!!
1600hrs arrived so off we went and booked into the Annandale Arms Hotel, our home for two nights. This interesting hotel was built in 1760’s but known then as the Kings Arms Hotel to serve the new mail coach service that ran from London to Edinburg until 1848 when the “nasty” railways took over! The write up says the hotel has been up-graded to modern standards but still retains its old charm. Yes charm; old, single-glazed sash windows, high ceilings and small radiators, hmmmmmmm🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶, still the modern beds were comfortable, and we slept well!!!!!
Another “claim-to-fame” was in 1816, Count Nicholas of Russia, later to become Tsar Nicholas, and his entourage of Russian officers stayed at the hotel. . To mark the two hundredth anniversary of the occasion in 2016, a plaque was unveiled in the foyer, by the Russian Consul General from Edinburgh.
Thursday 29th December
Another cold and wet morning ugh, so didn’t rush after breakfast to get out and about, did a few housekeeping things until the time came when we had to go; housekeeping wanted to get in. So Coats on, brollies up and with gritted determination we headed into he rain. Our first stop was the chemist then a mooch around Moffat.
Leaving the chemist we decided that it would be a good idea to re-visit the cosy, warm and comfortable Hugo’s for coffee and maybe a cake, a few doors up the road!! Upon entering we think half of Moffat was there, it was bustling but fortunately there was one table for two, right by a radiator and in the middle of the bar area. Our first task was to check the radiator was on, oops no so that went on!!! Our drinks with cakes was slowly consumed as we watched the comings and goings of their clientele until we started to feel a little guilty. So a discussion took place and decided the rain was too wet so ordered a bottle of “vino”; naturally not long after we ordered food to accompany the wine!!! Oh dear look at the time,Monica and David will be arriving soon so decided it was too late to look around Moffat now, so paid and walked back across the road to the hotel!!! No sooner had we arrived back to the hotel when the Cunningham’s drove into the car park.
After mutual greetings we arranged to meet in the bar prior to dinner and went our separate ways.
Dinner was an experience, the food was nice but a limited menu and when Christine ordered her Rhubarb crumble, she was told it was not available being out of season!!!!!!! Out of season??? Apparently the rhubarb is grown in the hotel garden and that’s why, we were told; naturally we wondered why they hadn’t frozen some in anticipation of guests requiring it “out-of-season”, no reply! David was also going to have said pudding, still we all had a laugh and moved on. Tonight is music night in the bar so headed that way for a nightcap and a listen but no, no seats available anywhere so headed to Monica and David’s room as very thoughtfully they had brought a bottle of “Soberano” to enjoy; lovely-jublee 🤠🤠 .