It may be Dove Holes BUT……

So many times over the years have we heard about a Pub in Dove Holes being "taken over", "done-up", "re-furbished"etc, and its now "quite nice", "good"  or whatever and when we try we find "not much", that we have become quite cynical.

quarrymanRecently we have heard reports locally the "the Wheatsheaf" had a new name and wasn't at all bad, so having driven past and noted the new name "The Quarryman" and people sitting outside, we decided to go for a "pint after work" on Saturday.

Access to the Car Park is a little tricky because of its proximity to the trafic lights, but we managed, and wandered inside. Clearly a lot of work has been done and it is now light, airy and modern (not avant garde – it's still clearly a Pub and not a Wine Bar or Bistro). The Bar area had quite a few customers for such an early visit and a family table of four eating, plus a guy at the bar tucking into what must have been their burger, (couldn't see much of the burger as it looked to be buried under a bacon chop!)

The bar area is pleasant with a large bay window looking across the car park towards the road, and the bar itself is open plan across to a sizeable dining area behind.

Service was friendly and we overheard that they were fully booked later in the evening. We ordered a pint of San miguel at £3.70 and a bottle of Pino Grigio for £13.95, so reasonably priced, food is very much traditional Pub fayre with some nice touches, an "all day breakfast" (double serving of everything) £7.95, Rib-eye Steak plus beer battered chips £14.95 (add a pepprcorn or stilton sauce £2.50), Hot smoked Salmon with apple, new potatoes & rocket £8.95. Since we had plans for the evening (and they were booked up) we did not try the food.

The Quarryman Bar

The toilets have been hugely overhauled with tiled floors and (in the gents at least sophisticated page three type images of the ladies olympics), the ladies I'm told has exhortations to relax and stay beautiful (might be appropriate in the gents too).

We noted that they had BT broadband, which is normally a no-go zone for those of us who get our service elsewhere, so don't have access to the associated free BT/Fon connection, but the password had thoughtfully been posted up in the dining area when we took a peek in.

This was something of a "flying visit" so not much more to report, but at first glance we feel The Quarryman is likely to join that all too small band of places in High Peak that get a regular visit from us


It’s St George’s Day – Time to Party!

In Chapel-en-le-Frith in the High Peak they certainly know how to "dress-up" on St George's day!



Market St Chapel 230415

Nearly every Business in the main street, and the Market Place, is flying the Georges Cross Flag at the front of their premises, some have more than one. All the Pubs and restaurants seem to have hung extra flags and bunting. Local residents in many cases have flags as well.

Lots of vehicles in the area seem to be sporting English Car Flags or stickers., the Sun is shining and it looks terrific!

Many of the businesses are doing special promotions for Georges Day, anything from English Breakfasts, Sirloin Beef Dinners, to computer pensticks, oh and of course flags…

Well the Irish may make a ballyhoo over St Pats, but at least in "Chapel", they seem to make a similar fuss over the National Day of England, well we're off now to join the party….


Put your card behind the bar ? in 2014 ??

We went into one of our favourite local watering holes on Tuesday Night; ordered our usual lock_down"round" and normally it is put onto a "tab" for payment at the end of the visit, however on this occasion Jools was asked to "put her card behind the Bar". This apparently was a new policy because the establishment has been having an "unpaid bill" problem and decided this was the best way to solve it.

We were assured that there was no reflection on us, that is a policy and everyone would have to do so if they wanted a tab! (there was only one other table in the place at his time, however, subsequently some ladies came in ordered food and drink, and went and sat at a table without paying, so presumably they got a tab!)
Now I remember this being common in wine bars etc. in the 1980's & 90's (yes I am that old!), but hang on, this is a another millennium.  Jool's initial reaction was to simply leave and go elsewhere, but we did reflect that this was a place we frequent and like, (and good places in the "sticks" seem to be getting fewer and further), so after making our feelings known I lodged a card, being mine, it wasn't worth a lot anyway.
The more we thought about this policy, the more we considered that it was not so much a bad idea as an appalling one, from our view, but even more so from the viewpoint of the establishment, which was, by taking a payment card off customers, making itself liable not just for anything that happened whilst the card was in their possession, but also for anything that went wrong afterwards. Just think if payments were subsequently wrongly deducted, or if the user suffered identity theft the first reaction would be "the card never leaves my sight.., er wait a minute last week when I went to **** they took the card behind the bar"
Our reaction has been that we now pay for stuff here at the point of purchase, meaning that where in the past we might go back and order more, now we don't. It certainly makes us feel a lot less "warm and cuddly" about the place, we are clearly not "valued regulars" but potential "hit and runners"!  (Trade figures suggest that people on a tab spend 30% – 50% more than those "paying as they go along")
Discussing this with people since, most have reacted more strongly than we did, one colleague said "nobody other than me gets their hands on my card" and when I consider this I note that, when he is taking card sale from customers he won't handle their card, getting them to put it into the machine themselves. (this is probably overkill but we see his thinking).
The staff at our local bank branches were insistent  that you should  "never do this", as it was breaking the terms of your agreement with your card issuer.
Talking to Barclaycard they state clearly that  you should never part with your card, and this seems to be the view across all the Card issuers.
The Independent newspaper did an article about this some time ago entitled " 
So why are they doing this, when it seems so rash?
You can easily understand where they are coming from, this venue has recently extended outside and it is easy to leave without ever coming back into the bar area. In common with many successful establishments they have very busy times when it is simply impossible to "keep an eye on everyone" 
 Whilst this measure will undoubtedly cut down on the problem, anyone seriously planning not to pay will still find a way of doing so (leave a stolen card?) and as for those who are simply distracted and forget, the majority would have sheepishly returned later and made payment – indeed over the years I have twice done this from a pub / restaurant myself, and once drove off from a Petrol Station and got home before realising I hadn't paid, so I am not a stranger to returning embarrassed and "paying up".
My thoughts though are they should consider the implications and loss of their business this policy means and come up with a better idea, and I am left wondering if technology cannot come up with a better system ? – any suggestions or ideas welcome!
We have have found quite a lot of restaurant & bar POS systems that have a variety of methods to enter and control bar tabs, however I can see if your existing system does not have that facility, changing it simply to control this is probably uneconomic
Cardsafe is a system of separate visible and lockable drawers into which customers cards can be put at the start of the tab and taken-out at the end of the order re-assuring the customer that "funny-business" is not really possible
There are a number of "apps" for iphone and android, most of these are US based and it is unclear how many of these actually apply to this particular issue, (several look to be more "ordering on-line" than keeping an open tab). there is a good US round-up review here: 
There are also apps like Clip and Dash, again though these seem to be either Antipodean or American, with much less available in Europe and specifically UK.
The one UK based system I found was from ensygnia but again this seems very much based on placing orders, (which I don't think is the issue here) with payment control as a "bolt-on", but it may be modular.
Any intrepid developers who want to find a field that is open for useful apps, this might be an idea, indeed why not offer a link-in to one or more of the new on-line payment systems, PAYG / SumUp / iZettle or perhaps the forthcoming Apple Pay?
However whatever solution may be best it is certainly NOT sticking card is a wallet behind a busy bar!




A Golden Age? Methinks not!

Shimmy No More

We recently logged into Shimla Pinks Website and got this message:


A real shame…

and one of the problems doing reviews is that things change, not just that places improve or deteriorate, Managements change, redevelopments and of course closures. This makes restaurant reviews a poor guide to what you will find today.

What we will do therefore is

make our reviews shorter, date them and have “top-up” articles as and when we re-visit somewhere, possibly an on-going story rather than a “point in time”

April 23rd is St Georges Day – a cause for celebration !

St-George Celebrate St Georges Day
English Food??
Roast Beef
Fish & Chips
St George off to Slay a Dragon? Fly our Flag with Pride

A great excuse for some food and drink, we’d love to hear your views

Ikea DisService

Being members of the IKEA “Home Club” we received a mailshot offering us a £10 discount plus a free salad bowl (worth £9.99 – subject to availability) if we visited soon. Needing a new cabinet for the bathroom plus a display case for our showroom we collected Grandma last Sunday and set off.

1Although known as

Copyright Gerald England. Click above for more information.

Grandma always grumbles that she doesn’t want to go to Ikea, this might have something to do with us telling her that we don’t want to buy anything, we are simply going to give her some exercise.

We got there and did the “Ikea Walk” ( a bit like the Okey Dokey Shuffle – from Beverley Hills Cop 3 – but far more tiresome) and eventually got to the Warehouse Area on the ground floor armed with a few bits and pieces and some written details of where the flat packs of the cupboard and display unit we wanted where located, these of course were wrong, when we got to Aisle 34 there wasn’t a location 57b. Monster took great delight in running to the Computer in the middle of the store, locating what she thought was the product and sending us in search of ever more exotic “locations”, then we had the issue of whether the cabinet we wanted part of the BJÖRKEN range or the GODMORGON. ( where do they get these names I’ve watched Mama Mia and no-one there has names like this?)

Eventually we located our cabinets, put one on our trolley and decided that the other one was far to big to fit in the car along with us and Grandma (despite Monsters suggestion that her and / or Grandma could be strapped on the roof rack, we felt this might cause a unwelcome interest from the local Gendarmerie) and decided it would have to await another visit.

Now whilst the trolley and Management joined the interminable queues at the checkouts (it’s my opinion that Heathrow terminal three was modelled upon Ikea) yours truly was sent to get our ”FREE” Salad bowl worth £9.99! from the Oasis Department. It seemed to me that this would be near the checkouts so you could collect your freebies on the way out,  I collared a guy in a yellow shirt who had no idea what I was talking about (note if your sad enough to spend your day off shopping in Ikea don’t wear a yellow shirt), next I tried a couple of yellow shirted guys first making sure that they also had badges saying Ikea, they didn’t seem to have much more idea anyway, but suggested it was at the warehouse entrance near the bottom of the escalators, as this area had lots of plants etc. it seemed a good bet. When I got there this was clearly wrong and eventually I found some staff hiding behind the undergrowth, they said it was on the first floor. A trip round the first floor found no sign and another Ikea employee said perhaps the second floor.

On the second floor no-one knew but suggested it was near the checkouts and if not the customer information centre there would get it for me!

When I got back to the checkout area our trusty team where now within hailing distance of the checkouts, and the young man there directed me to an information centre in the middle of the warehouse area, the operator there tapped some keys on his computer and told me the Oasis Centre was on the first floor and that they might have some of the bowls left.

By this stage I had twigged that this Oasis was obviously a mirage and that Ikea are probably in league with the department of Public Health to keep us all permanently knackered, no salad bowl worth £9.99 or not was worth another trip round the store.

Upon getting home that evening I eagerly started unpacking my new Bathroom cabinet, as all the outer frame is coated with mirror effect covering (and according to the instructions quite easy to scratch when they are new) great care was taken removing all the cardboard and polystyrene packaging and pushing it into a bin bag, finally the four glass shelves were unpacked and two of them were  completely crazed and promptly fell onto the carpet as a large pile of glass diamonds!

An email to Ikea complaining mainly about the broken shelves but also the missing “bowl” (worth £9.99) elicited a reply on Tuesday morning that the whole unit should be taken back to the store and exchanged. We responded that this was difficult as

  1. Packing the whole thing up was impracticable as we had damaged some of the packing and anyway who can ever package things up the way they manage in the Chinese factories?

  2. It mean’t a round trip of 20+ miles, surely they could take our word and simply send out the broken and missing bits

  3. Anyway returning the undamaged bits improperly packaged was more than likely to result in further damage.

Ikea’s response was that they didn’t send things out and that we must return the whole unit.

I now fully understand why it’s called DIY and it’s much simpler to forgo my £9.99 bowl and get a couple new glass shelves from a glazier

But “Ikea family” ?? no way, mine are much more helpful (even grumpy Grandma)

Shimla Pinks – Manchester

Shimla Pinks
View on Google Maps ★★★★★

Dolefield, Crown Square, Manchester M3 3HA

View on Google Maps

It makes you think, why? ***

We have always thought we knew our Indian and Asian Restaurants, but we discovered this one with some difficulty!

We had a customer who left us with a note of his requirements on the back of an A5 menu, we read and thought yum

BUT… the only clue we had was the above logo printed on the page, well come on that’s what the Web is about, quick Google and we’ll find it…. Half an hour later we have found a Shimla Pinks in Birmingham, then we find a website for two restaurants in Leicester and Nottingham, clearly it’s a chain, eventually on the basis that “John did not journey far afield” we find “Shimla Pinks in Crown Square in Manchester” (note here Jazz & Co – “Flash websites” might look, well, flash but they are not very search engine friendly.)

We like the ideas on the website and along with what we had seen on the “Gourmet Banquet” menu and decided to investigate, however being a Yorkshireman I had to first wait for the “Privilege Card” which I signed up for from the website, I mean even if the prices are low, a 15% discount, well…

The card came soon and last Sunday evening we went to Manchester, located our target and the troops headed inside whilst I went “to park” the car. Outside the restaurant there were three empty disabled parking spaces, but the other slots where taken, so I did a couple of round the block circles gradually getting further away, but the only spaces were disabled ones (plenty of them too! – I think disabled perking (sic) perhaps needs a re-think) Eventually I went into the NCP at Kendal Milne’s ( as I, sadly, still think of it!)

On return to the restaurant I found we had managed to find a nice relaxed seating area and drinks had appeared and a conversation with the waiters and two Indian gentlemen sitting alongside us was in full swing, oh yes and by the way Shimla Pinks has it’s own Car Park…

We decided against the Buffet Menu that was going on at the other end of the restaurant, as the Senior Management felt that having done some cooking and stuff on the occasional evening we don’t go out it was their due to have the food brought to them!

Not only that but they insisted on an upgrade from the merely Gourmet Menu to the Executive one (they claimed it looked nicer with fish and things on it – but I reckon they felt Executive more fitting to their status).

Nonetheless it was a good choice, we in fact had a discussion about what to order largely because we normally get lots of everything and have what we don’t eat as a take-away, even if we don’t get to finish it, our cats enjoy the less spicy bits! Shimla Pinks explained that they don’t do this with the banquets as you end up with little dishes galore, (I guess understandably, they don’t do it on the buffet either!) So we were advised that two portions would be adequate for us rather than three, but nonetheless we ordered extra paratha bread and rice with currants, nuts and cream

Papadoms to start were light and crisp, followed by a selection of Starters including Murgh Malai Tikka (Chicken marinated in cream & cheese and grilled in the tandoor) Fish Amritsar, Vegetable Pakoras, Cubes of homemade cheese with mint and fennel, Minced Lamb Kebab and Aloo Tikka. Unfortunately the Monster decided she liked all this rather than just the papadoms and rice she normally eats at Indian restaurants, this of course mean’t less for me.

We moved on to main courses and again a nice selection, C hooza Makhani, (tandoor grilled chicken in a tomato and and meat sauce), Chicken Nentara (Chicken Cubes in a spicy tomato, coriander, fenugreek sauce with spring onion and ginger), Harrey Masaley Ka Gosht, ( Lamb cubes in a wonderful sauce – look at the menu on the website for a less accurate description!), Prawn Rogan Josh (management’s fish fetish again but good anyway), with Aloo Gobhi Bhuna and Vegetable Jalfrezi, Paloo Rice and Naan. Plus of course the Shahi Pulao (£2.50) rice and Lachcha Paratha (£1.75) we had ordered originally. Again even the monster decided there were several things she liked here and tucked in, frankly the menu descriptions don’t help here, a bit more “cuddly spring lambs” and “ chirpy Easter chickens” might make her think twice.

The Shahi Pulao rice (The finest of Basmati rice cooked with pure flavours of saffron and kewra then replenished with fresh cream and dried fruit and nuts ) was applauded, but all in all everything was good or better, nicely presented with prompt but not too quick and very pleasant service.

The highlight of the meal however was that rather than an Indian sweet ( I am not a pudding man, and generally prefer the savouries anyway) you get an option of a liqueur!!

The Gourmet Menu cost £14.95 and the Executive menu is £19.95

The low point of the evening came when we got back to the car and had to pay a ransom of £13.50 to NCP to get it free, honestly I only wanted a parking space I hadn’t intended to buy Manchester

*** The two Gentleman whom we spoke to before we had our meal turned out to be Jazz Pannum and his father. Mr Pannum Senior is the owner of Shimla Pinks and from them we learnt that the name is a reference to the Indian equivalent of our “Sloane Ranger” and went along with the idea of blending the contemporary with the traditional, which you can see is very much their style with food prepared to high standards and modern standards of décor and ambiance.

Mr Pannum had started out in Scotland and established a chain of eight Shimla Pinks restaurants across the country although now the other restaurants are operated separately and only the Manchester branch is directly run by the family. The spectacular Bar is shown below:

Saving the Best for last it seems that within a few weeks the Shimla Pinks in Crown Square will be closing…..

But a new and even more spectacular Shimla Pinks will be opening nearby, we will keep you updated

*For anyone who is interested this item has been written using OpenOffice “writer” software and posted directly from that program using an extension created by Sun into our WordPress Blog, (way easier than Ms Office)

Something Fishy ?

On Monday night, intent on making Fish Soup, we raced into the Morrisons branch, in Chapel-en-le-Frith, to get some Fish Stock, this store is really too small to be a Morrisons, but does at least have a Fish Counter, obviously the place!

We seached in vain, they had several types of Beef Stock, Chicken Stock, and vegetable stock, but no fish stock.

In desperation we went to Tesco in Whaley Bridge, once descibed to me by a local as a “mean little store”, the fish counter here suggests they have more or less given up trying to sell fish (nobody actually cooks any more do they?) except mainly, the processed “fish finger” type, ( am I only person who has never actually never seen a fish that has any “fingers”). Not really expecting much luck here we found at least three type of Fish stock, with cubes, powder, and best of all liquid stock ( also loads of other choices, Pork stock.

Is this odd or what, or is it a sinister plot to make us drive from Store to Store frantically trying to complete our shopping list?

Score 7 for Tesco and 3 for Morrisons (lack of “joined up thinking/products” – to put it into modern terms)

Best Value Veg

On Sunday, we went towards Manchester, and had a reasonable list of veggies we needed, we called into “the Indian Supermarket” (as we call it,) in Longsight and we purchased:

  • Box of good Tomatos (£2.99)
  • Box of Red peppers (£5.99)
  • Bunch of Coriander
  • A Butternut Squash
  • 6 nice nectarines
  • 1Kg Pack of dried fried Onions
  • bag of Chewra Mix (Bombay like stuff)
  • 4 Green Peppers
  • 2 Bulbs of Garlic
  • 2 Red Onions
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Galia Melon
  • 5 Bananas

All for less than £19, agreed the peppers are well ripe and strangely aren’t all the same size colour and completely unblemished, and they did not have the cardboard trays and plastic film that the supermarkets grow them in, but you know they seem to taste better despite that?

Serious recommendation, get out and try your local Asian or Chinese etc Supermarket, try some of those strange things like Mulfi, Okra, or some Goat (makes wonderful Curry) – people there will tell you how to prepare them if you ask. You will not only find it hugely cheaper than the Sheds, but more tasty and exciting.