It is with some shame that I confess that I ate out, in some form or other, on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week. Here is the whole sorry tale; in my defence, I have done some gardening today in a bid to get back on the straight and narrow.
Not strictly my fault, this one. Thursday was something of a stressful day - AS exams in English Language and Lang & Lit (yes, yes, I know I don't have to actually sit the exams myself, but it's still a trying time) AND my husband cruelly abandoned me overnight for some shindig in London Village. Luckily a kind friend immediately agreed to abandon her own husband in my favour, and a jaunty night out was hastily planned.
We began at The Didsbury with a glass of Prosecco, which luckily came from a new bottle and was therefore suitably fizzy. I need people's help with this - the Prosecco is on by the glass because I insisted on it, yet I seem to be the only one drinking it; indeed, the first couple of times I requested it, the staff didn't even know what I was talking about. This means that sometimes when I order it, my drink is poured from a bottle that has clearly been open since the last time I visited, so please please will somebody else start ordering it too?
Then we went on to Loch Fyne, where we were served by quite the friendliest waitress I've encountered for some time, and enjoyed a fishy dinner of whitebait, calamari, crab and scampi. The food here is reliably good, and the atmosphere was lively without being chaotic on a pleasant Thursday evening. I can confirm, however, the repetitive qualities of a meal choice that involves a whole crab with chilli and garlic dressing; apologies to all who encountered me.
Ah, now - not really my fault either. The final Friday of May is traditionally the day we cease to be responsible for our A2 students who are going off on study leave, with the upshot that they take over the Robert Peel pub in Bury for the evening; the staff gamely show their faces and spend a few hours being hugged by drunken students who really, really love you - no, really, really do.
As soon as a respectable time had elapsed, we escaped for dinner to a local Italian called Bella Italia (NOT part of the well-known chain, as a hand-written notice taped to the wall is at pains to point out). The meal was pretty good, and was notable for two things: firstly, the absolute best ribs I have had anywhere, ever, as a starter; and secondly, the rather touching arrival of a carafe of red wine, apparently paid for and sent over by the young men who had just vacated the table behind us - former students. Bless.
Absolutely not my fault; when a friend I've not seen for ages who has a young child suggests a meet-up at Kro Bar in Heaton Moor, I clearly must go. To be honest, I didn't even know there was a Kro Bar in Heaton Moor, but there is: a lovely light, child-friendly space that currently offers a bacon sandwich with a hot drink for £2.50, or coffee and cake for £2.95. Under the circumstances, I cannot reasonably be expected to count this as a meal out.
Again, not my doing. This was a new experience for me, for yesterday I visited my very first Toby Carvery, in the company of my husband, our friend Paul, and his very charming three-year-old son. Paul lives in the foodie enclave of Ramsbottom, but I was unable to persuade anyone that Ramsons was a suitable location for lunch, and thus the Carvery was the preferred option. It all worked out very well: I was given extra meat by the obliging young man on duty (an ex-student - notice a pattern forming), and because I ate so many vegetables I am allowed to count this as a virtuous home-cooked dinner rather than a meal out.
So actually, now I review my week I see that I must take back my opening words and acknowledge that I am not to blame for any of the above...thus leaving me free to go out again next week - huzzah.
- Loch Fyne is at 848 Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester M20 2RN
- Bella Italia is at 16 Bolton Street, Bury BL9 0LQ
- Kro Bar is at 110 Heaton Moor Road, Heaton Moor, Stockport
- Toby Carvery at Bulls Head, Brandlesholme Road, Greenmount, Bury BL8 4DS