Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bank holiday bonanza

With the prospect of a bank holiday looming, Friday lunchtime at work calls for a glass of wine at the pub resulting in a very unproductive afternoon slump. Fortunately, when the clock finally reads 5pm, I'm ready to hit the road buzzing for three days of brain rest.

So this bank holiday was no different and I had a visit to Southampton to see the lover boy on the cards. I arrived after a dull four hour drive with just Backstreet Boys and One Direction for company, before indulging in some steak and chips lovingly-cooked by Tom.

Saturday swung round and after another meat-feast of bacon sandwiches, we went to brave the shopping crowds. I had managed to nab a free hotel stay at a nearby MacDonald hotel in Botley for that evening, so after a quick whiz round town admiring clothes I can't afford and walking into clouds of smoke exhaled by sovereign-wearing mothers, we headed for Botley. 

Nestled in the heart of Hampshire, the hotel offers a good mix of rolling countryside and the hub of a neighbouring city. Much to Tom's dismay, I had conveniently left out the part that it houses a beautiful golf course, but I wasn't going to have my romantic weekend governed by 18-holes and a load of old balls. After checking-in and a quick jaunt in the children-infested spa facilities, we settled down in front of the TV in our room to watch the FA cup final, much to my delight.

In the evening we were treated to complementary dinner, all part of the freebie with work. The hotel's Winchester Restaurant is set in a ambient-lit, classically-designed dining room. The romantic atmosphere does well to complement the one AA rosette menu and the setting is both unpretentious and cosy. From smoked salmon sourced from John Ross Junior to fillet steak from the Scottish highlands and pan-roasted wood pigeon, the quintessentially British menu has a wide range of dishes designed to suit everyone. The food was fancy without being fussy and full of flavour, with head chef Matt Wallace using the prime of the UK's produce to create his culinary delights. We dined on a feast of goat’s cheese soufflé, mussel and clam chowder, shin of beef and duck, and finally chocolate fondant and ice cream. All washed down with a bottle of pink, me chugging on more than Tom obviously.

The next morning we enjoyed a hearty full-English and then headed back down south for an afternoon of films. Sunday evening we met up with our very good friends Kayleigh and David for a spot of Caribbean food to celebrate Kayleigh's coming of age. I've never been to Southampton's newest restaurant hotspot Turtle Bay but was pleasantly surprised with how busy it was. We had a great evening, reminiscing about old uni days when we used to get drunk in the week (almost a foreign concept these days) before full-time work and money commitments forced us to grow up. The food was lush and we carried on the night at Revs with a couple of cocktails to toast the birthday girl.

On Monday, Tom and I ventured to see American Pie: The Reunion at the cinema. We sneaked in our own Tesco-bought sweets and I spent the duration of the film cowering away from Tom’s almighty LOLs.

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