like a Ladbrokes party.
This is a sponsored post
When Ladbrokes sent me a box of stuff recently to have a party I couldn’t quite believe the effort they had gone to to make sure we had a fun night in. There was everything from iTunes and Pizza Hut vouchers to paper plates and fancy straws, indoor sparklers and even confetti.
Regular readers will also know that I have never seen a whole Bond film so to see a Casino Royale DVD snuck in the box too made me squeal. There was also a poker set and so we invited some friends round and put on the DVD, poured ourselves a few Martinis and got stuck in. I have to say I couldn’t really pay attention to the cards once Daniel Craig appeared on the TV.
Royal Flush? You are not kidding. I had to use my cards to fan myself. I did look up when Mr B said he had a bowl of chips for me:
though that wasn’t quite what I had in mind!
DVD finished and we headed outside with our Winter Pimms and Mulled Wine (complete with umbrellas and fancy straws!) to watch a few fireworks.
When the cold got too much we came back in and had a few more rounds of cards. We left it to the youngsters to play with the Twister. Nobody needs to see me playing that after a few drinks!
All in all we had a real giggle with all of this stuff, thanks Ladbrokes!
We received a box of goodies in exchange for this review. But I think that is kinda obvious. It in no way influenced this post.
When did it become so difficult to talk to somebody?
Call any organisation and you get through to an automated “press one for billing” / “press two for new orders” nonsense.
For the past few weeks we have been having a nightmare with our broadband. This saga will probably fill many a blog post in the future but right now I am so angry with them I can’t even bring myself to rant about it.
What frustrated me the most though was the painful process I had to go through to actually speak to a human being. I had been Tweeting them, asking for assistance. I was told to follow a link and fill in a form. For whatever reason that didn’t work. I asked them to call me so I could talk to them.
We only offer on line support
What? You can’t call me?
Apparently not. I can’t call her. She can’t give me HER number. I am not allowed to speak to somebody.
I eventually find a phone number to call on the website. It doesn’t go well. It goes something like this:
“Thank you for calling Talk Talk. If your call is about your broadband / TV or phone, please press 1″
I press 1 and sigh. I just want to talk to a person.
“If you are calling with regards to the landline number you are using, please press 1. For any other address, please press 2″
I press 1. Please can I talk to somebody?
“From October 28th we know that there has been a fault with the television service in your area. In order to update you please input a mobile number so we can text you”
errr I don’t want to give you a mobile number and it isn’t a problem with my TV. I ignore her and beg, out loud, to hear a human voice.
“In order to update you about the TV fault in your area, please input a mobile number now”
OK, I am starting to get really grumpy now. I have three teenagers at home and no internet. I don’t have a problem with the chuffing TV and you are not having my mobile number. I ignore her again.
“please input your mobile number now”
If I input my mobile number I will get another menu maybe. Reluctantly I input my mobile number.
“Thank you. Will update you by text when there is news on the TV service in your area. Good bye”
Made worse by the fact the company is called Talk Talk and that seems to be the last thing they want to do.
This is a Friday Rant. Please hop over to the other blogs linking up this week and see what they are ranting about:
Have you received your voting cards yet?
We got ours recently and I didn’t pay much attention to be honest. I know the vote is later this month but up until now I have had no idea who I want to vote for.
What do I know about policing? Other than I call 999 and somebody arrives. Or I watch a programme on Channel 4 about people dialling 999 because they can’t get their Oyster card to work and I scream at the telly.
But apparently the Commissioner is not going to have any control over actual policing, it is more about budgets.
Budget schmudget I say. What do I know? And why do I have to vote? Why can’t they just apply for the job in the usual way? If they asked for my vote by sending the voting card in a cake I might pay attention. But they didn’t.
So I thought I would just ignore the whole thing.
Until I saw this video. And I knew immediately who I wanted to vote for.
Harry Saunders might only be six but he gets my vote for the role of Commissioner. Harry is the youngest son of our very good friends Jo and Julian, and the little brother of E’s best friend Bex.
What do you think? He speaks a lot of sense doesn’t he?
Would he get your vote on the 15th?
My heart sank just a little bit when I saw this was the theme for this week’s Gallery posts.
It sank because…. well…. I just knew I didn’t really have any suitable photos in the archives (and I like use old photos for these posts, rather than take one specifically for the theme).
Which meant I had to take one from a very limited list of options. All equally frightful:
1) A photo of my bank balance two days before the end of the month.
2) A credit card statement three days after Christmas when I have panic shopped on Christmas Eve
3) A child’s bedroom
4) The bathroom
Or this one and to be honest this is the most frightful of all the options. Me. First thing in the morning. Pre shower. Pre tea. Pre hair brush. Pre anything other than falling out of bed.
You have been warned.
You know how this is slang for …. well….. you know. …. take the initials of the two words and think of another phrase that has the same initials.
Well I always thought it was a strange name for a restaurant, even one owned by Gordon Ramsay. But having eaten there it does feel as though that is actually what they would like their customers to do.
Mr B and I were given some vouchers, quite a substantial amount, as a thank you from a group of friends for any one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. We had such an amazing time at Petrus (where we had the seven course tasting menu, a taste of Cristal Champagne, and given a tour of the kitchens) that we couldn’t wait to try another one of the Group’s restaurants. We had been looking forward to this for months.
Childcare arrangements made, logistics of Mr B at work and not driving into London that day, taxi booked to bring us home, you know the drill when you go out in the evening. We (myself and another couple, Jo and Ju) arrived slightly after Mr B who was safely ensconsed with a glass of wine. We entered the restaurant and noticed nobody at the reception desk as we wandered in. Hmmm. Okay, I am not so precious as to expect to be greeted and escorted to a table four feet from the door but a cheery smile is often nice.
We settled ourselves in and a waitress came over and took our coats. Well not mine. She didn’t hang around long enough to get mine, having taken Jo and Ju’s. you would think if three people come in together and two have coats, the third might as well. Okay, I will just fold it up and put it on the bench next to me.
Now 8pm and you can imagine how we might like a drink. Long days at work for all of us, train, cab to the restaurant. Friday night. Four people out to have a good time. Who have booked a cab to take them home (£110 of cab) just so we don’t have to clock watch and worry about the last train. Basically we had our drinking heads on.
We had to attract somebody’s attention to place our drinks order. And once done it took twenty five minutes for the three drinks to arrive. One of which was a glass of Champagne so it wasn’t exactly time consuming.
Still nobody came to take a food order.
We have now been in the restaurant 45 minutes.
And had it not been for the fact we had the vouchers, we would have left.
Again we had to attract somebody’s attention to place our food order. At this point Mr B, who is the most mild mannered and laid back person I have ever met, said “Is there a problem?”. The waitress said there was not, they were just busy. Hmmm, there were two empty tables so they have been busy but not fully booked.
I asked about the “steak sharing menu” that I had seen on the website and the reason why I had picked this particular Ramsay Restaurant on a Friday night.
“Are you doing the steak sharing menu tonight? You have only given us the Al a Carte menu”
“Yes, it is the T bone on that menu”.
“So there isn’t a separate steak menu?”
“No, it is the steak on that menu”
“The T bone that is £58 (based on two people sharing)? ”
“But the website says it is £48″
“It is the market price”.
Hardly the “steak sharing menu” I was looking forward to perusing, a single line on the other menu.
I remarked that I didn’t recall seeing that disclaimer on the website but by that point I was so hacked off and hungry that I gave up and ordered a burger.
Can you see anything on this that says the price quoted is subject to change? The website states £48. The entry on the menu says £58. No “market price”. No “subject to change”. Nothing.
The food duly arrived and to be fair. It was delicious. The gravalax starter was fabulous and the burger was superb.
But the service was appalling. No offer of water (a great way for restaurants to add more money to the bill, by charging £5 a bottle but that we would have thankfully accepted).
No offer of any other drinks. No brandies, no Armangac, no nothing. Just the wine we had with dinner.
We were four people out for the night who would have gladly spent a fair amount of money on this bill on top of our voucher. In my mind this was a free meal and the budget for going out was going to be firmly spent on booze.
The chef, in fairness, did come over and apologised for the poor service. He explained that the manager had fallen that evening and that they were without a replacement so the restaurant was being run by a lower ranking member of staff.
So when Mr B asked “is there a problem?” Why did the waitress say “no”. We would have been far more accepting if they had explained from the outset.
I skipped dessert and had a cup of tea which was delivered with hot milk. I can’t stand hot milk in tea so asked for cold instead.
Because the first request was forgotten.
We heard the table next to us ask for the 12.5% added to all bills to be removed from their bill as they were not happy with the service. And were pleasantly surprised when we noticed that it hadn’t been included on ours at all.
We had asked for the cab to pick us up at 11.45. At 10.15 we asked for the bill. Our night out on the town, ready to spend some serious money on having a well deserved good time, was over.
The bill duly arrived and that was the last time a member of staff came to our table.
We had to wander down towards the cloakroom to get the two coats. Nobody came and took the bill away, nobody thanked us for coming. Nobody wished us a pleasant evening, nobody held the door open, nobody asked if we need a cab.
Nobody apologised again.
We Foxtrot Oscared off to the nearest pub.
No that is not a typo. I don’t mean those revolting bits of an animal that nobody is really quite sure about.
I am talking about Ibis and their new patented bed technology that they have rolled out across all of their hotels. Some 100,000 of them, simultaneously in 56 countries.
And boy are they sweet.
When iCrossing invited me to attend a sleep event as a guest of the new Ibis hotel in Shepherd’s Bush it took me four minutes to answer the email. Four minutes in which I organised school pick ups, a sleep over, getting a day off work, getting the dog booked into kennels and making sure eldest teen would be okay on her own for a night.
There was no way I was missing out on this opportunity!
Accor, who own the Ibis chain, have a very simple mission. To give you the best night’s sleep you can possibly have, at an affordable price. They did some research that showed 70% of guests rank comfortable beds as the single most important factor when they choose an economy hotel.
So they have concentrated on that bed and I can’t think of any other hotel chain that does that. That actually set about manufacturing a bed that is theirs, and theirs alone. It has taken months of research with industry experts to come up with not only the bed, but also the bedding too, the frame and a gorgeous 7cm mattress topper.
What the bed looked like in the room is also important. As is the room itself. You won’t find random “abstract” artwork on the walls of the hotel room, or eight different towels, or a load of fancy schmancy toiletries in the bathroom (that always find their way into my overnight bag. I don’t know how that happens but every single time I get home and find them in there). This is about getting a fantastic night’s sleep.
Don’t get me wrong, the rooms are far from basic. They are larger than many I have stayed in, have hair dryers (first thing I look for), plenty of plug sockets, TVs, tea and coffee, and are spotlessly clean. And throughout the whole hotel there is FREE WI-FI.
Breakfast is available from 4am until midday too! We sampled the food at lunch, based on an “around the world” experience it was delicious. Tapas is one of my favourite foods and I loved seeing all the dishes laid out for us to delve into.
You can stay in this hotel from as little as £70 per night. Per room, not per person. And have what just might be THE best night’s sleep ever.
Part of our trip to the hotel included a fascinating talk from Sammy Margo, an internationally known sleep expert and she showed us how to sleep in a position that works for us. I am going to blog about that separately rather than in this post. But do look out for it, we learned so much that I want to share with you but don’t want to cram it all into this blog about the amazing beds.
There was a three hour window in our day that the lovely PR people had factored in so we could go to Westfield, across the road. Did I? Errrrr. No. Along with Mammasaurus we did a ram raid on Morrisons and stocked up on lots of gin in a tin, wine, Bombay mix, paper cups and Ovaltine. Oh yes. Ovaltine. We had listened well to the points Sammy made about a hot milky drink if we couldn’t sleep.
And then we had a party on my bed
We must have been out of the room when we were told not to drink alcohol so we didn’t wake up with a hangover. Or defiant.
You can draw your own conclusions.
After dinner at Jamie’s Italian it seemed rude not to finish the drink we had started and also to introduce Mr B to my blogging friends. He had arrived from work and had enjoyed a
party for one take away pizza and a spot of University Challenge (well they say opposites attract, he and I couldn’t be more dissimilar sometimes).
And then it was 2am and really was time to get some much needed sleep. I swear we had also been counting sheep. Never quite getting beyond just the one though. Who was that in the fleecy onesie?
I woke up when the alarm went off the next morning feeling amazing. Normally I fall out of bed and stagger to the bathroom, feeling various muscles creak and ache. Bent almost double as I try and wake up and stretch at the same time.
Not on Tuesday. It was truly extraordinary.
Given where this hotel is situated in west London I didn’t hear a thing from outside either. If I had one criticism it would be that the room was too warm for me and we couldn’t open the window but that would be it.
I cannot recommend highly enough these beds at the Ibis. Next time I book an ovenight stay anywhere I will certainly looking for the nearest Ibis, that’s for sure.
Or failing that I am going to try and smuggle one out of the room. Well I can’t take the toiletries so I have to take something.
This was an all expenses (except the ram raid on Morrisons) trip, paid for by the client. It has not, however, influenced this review.
When you get back from Trick or Treating this week, you might want to curl up in the warm with a DVD as you sift through the sweeties (keep the coconut mushrooms for me please).
Warner Brothers kindly sent me a few this week that they thought I might like to tell you about. Along with some Haribo and other Hallowe’en goodies. (they know how to look after me!!)
After all, who doesn’t like a bit of Scooby Doo or Tom and Jerry?!
All of these four DVDs are out now.