I love carpark picnics but have you ever wondered why at every appearance we do have one? It's certainly not originally out of choice, it's more of something that has been thrust upon us over the years after experiencing varying miserable levels of service at some of the high street chains and peculiar events at hotels and in general.
This weekend we decided to ditch the picnic and spoil ourselves by trying again. It was a bit of a treat, no sitting in the car struggling with Tupperware, no flasks of coffee balancing on the dashboard instead we would be waited upon with steaming mugs of coffee and lashings of toast with scrambled egg. Lush.
We arrived nice and early too, it was 10:50am when we pulled into the Bluewater carpark and we were hungry. The place we had chosen was a well known one that we had visited one of their sister restaurants before during our visit to Reading and the thought of the lovely food awaiting was enticing. As we passed we looked in, it was half empty with only a few families enjoying a wonderful breakfast. Yum, yum!
'Sorry, we're full.'
'You are joking!'. As you can see from that remark we were quite taken aback.
'No, it's full, there's a fifteen minute wait for a table'
'But you are only half full! There's three tables behind you that are empty and another six down there!'
'I'm sorry but you will have to wait.'
'Wait for what? You're half empty!'
'We have reached capacity, I'm afraid you will have to wait for fifteen minutes.'
At this point a family left and the table behind him was cleared leaving at least twelve tables empty and six occupied.
'What about them? They have just left can we have their table?' I said pointing after them.
'Sorry, we are full, here's two vouchers for a free cup of coffee when you next visit.'
'You are @&?!*ng joking!'
At this point I was going to mention the name of the place but it makes me B-loomin ILL'S to think of the name. (hint)
So that's the reason we have carpark picnics. Everytime we try to do something different fate intervenes and farts in our face. In Milton Keynes we had a waitress that decided to memorise our order and came back with something completely different. Three times. In Edinburgh we tried to get a coffee from somewhere other than a stupid chain and ended up at what looked like a respectable place that quite candidly told us that it would take twenty minutes to bring us a coffee and a scone as they were quite busy serving real paying customers with food. In Leeds we dined at Harvey Nicks as a treat and chose the eggs benedict which when served consisted of just half a bagel covered in a creamy mess. Two mouthfuls and it was gone, we just managed to taste it before it disappeared and was possibly one of the smallest most expensive eggs benedict we have ever had.
In Cambridge we ended up being placed on a table beside a toilet door that hit the back of our chairs repeatedly, when we asked to be moved we were told to leave as we wasn't the usual clientele. At a boutique hotel in Birmingham we were served raw bacon. Let me say that again, RAW BACON, when we complained it was whisked away to be cremated whilst we was offered the option to return that night to dine with the promise of a £1 off. In an undisclosed location we were recommended a place that served one of the best breakfasts ever and walked in dressed up in gallery baffoonery clothes like a pair of tarts straight into a truckers greasy spoon cafe.
The list goes on, in Cardiff my coffee was the recipient of a globule of spit that had been launched from a balcony two stories up that hit with such a splash as I lifted the mug to my mouth that I was showered with scalding beverage over my crotch. We once stayed at a B&B that you had to fill in your breakfast requests each night and every morning without fail there was always something missing as they operated a five and out policy, in other words if they thought you were being greedy they would remove items on purpose. Guests were bewildered, we were bewildered until we gradually worked out that if you carefully selected just five items including toast you were fine.
We were once booked in to a budget hotel that was not only filthy but had a burger smeared over the window, which was quite strange as the hotel had no dining facilities and expected its clientele to enjoy a feast from their only vending machine. A grand time was had eating chocolate and crisps after travelling and working for twelve hours before. Not. Talking of hotels have you ever been booked into one during a cockney wedding? We have and had to endure pearly kings and queens having a knees up until the early hours. You know in some hotels they have a connecting door between certain rooms? We didn't realise until we pulled one open thinking it was a wardrobe only to find us looking into the preparations of a hen night next door.
The list goes on, an ancient lift broke down in Bath with us in it and the room had a double bed that had a gaping hole in the middle that slowly ate me overnight. There was a memorable breakfast the next morning too as the waiter dropped a small pot of conserve into the orange juice jug and retrieved it by rolling his sleeves up and dipping in. He then served us our breakfast which included a sausage that refused to be cut and folded in two along with beans with a crust. In London a respectable hotel booked us a taxi which we didn't find out until we were in it was an illegal one that decided to try and 'learn the knowledge' with us in it. About a thousand miles later he dropped us off and guessed a price. It was the wrong location. Also in London we ended up in a hotel room with just a small window facing a hundred foot drop and was instructed on how to use the wall hook and grappling equipment in the wardrobe in case a fire occurred. In Bristol a Corby trouser press turned itself on in the night and steamed the room whilst in Chelmsford the hotel was so extensive and puzzling that the staff had to draw a map to get to the room, seriously, it was that awkward.
In Southampton we scrambled down the fire escape from ten floors up dressed in pyjamas after a wedding guest decided to hit the fire alarm button and in Chester we arrived at the hotel only to find that there were no rooms available as there had been a double booking and that they had secured another room for us at a different hotel. Turns out that it was next to a railway station and at that time of night was asked if I fancied a good time by the ladies of the night that plied their trade inside and outside the place. In Leeds a wonderful night was ruined by a demonstration and a riot just outside complete with mounted police and in Burnley we witnessed two fights, trod on a syringe and the taxi from the hotel decided to try and kill us by ramming as many cars as possible. Only last year we ended up at a hotel that was keen on golfing and every time I left my table at breakfast for the self service returned to find a keen golfer had taken my place and was trying to chat Jayne up over a sausage sandwich, I wouldn't have minded but they even asked 'who are you?' When I returned and didn't believe Jayne when she said I was her husband. It happened twice!
Memorable events to say the least so call me picky but I will stick with my good old carpark picnic, I just need to figure out how to stop all the staring people (Cardiff, Bristol, Sheffield and lots of other places) and the strangers that think it's ok to bang on the window and ask to join in ( Manchester ) or people that like to lick my face (Leeds). Oh and to try and stop being threatened by a knife wielding chefs demanding a free sketch (Dorchester) and to avoid armed gangs of balaclava clad criminals (Nottingham 2007), high street heists (Nottingham 2013) whilst wriggling out of the way of people who cut out my face from brochures to stick on light switches so they can 'turn me on' every day (Dorchester again!) I also avoid other places due to over familiarity such as Windsor where I was expected to hold a newborn baby for a photo with lady that wanted to see if I was a suitable catch by recreating a perfect family photo and in Norwich where I was mistaken for a vagrant and told to move on whilst tying my shoes and getting in between a fight between a Scottish piper and a Peruvian Pan Pipe band that resulted in a broken bagpipe.
Sheesh, it's all true and that's only the start of what I remember, think what I have blanked out!
And that ladies and gentlemen is why I love carpark picnics.