Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Union jack bedding, curtains and lampshade
Mamas Inn Boutique Hotel, March 2015
Last weekend was the umpteenth birthday commemorative weekend that Lola II and I have spent together, and this year's host city was Nottingham.

The journey north was fairly straightforward apart from being stopped by a police car - my mistake was turning my headlights off when dropping off Mr M and forgetting to turn them on again. Trying to navigate through the city, Lola II's phone refused to find a GPS signal and my phone insisted on directing us to go the wrong way along one-way streets at every opportunity, which left me thoroughly traumatised, especially given the police incident. Eventually we reached 'Mamas Inn Boutique Hotel', and it was AMAZING.

David and Marina and poster: People who love to eat are always the best people
The owners told us they had bought it less than a year ago and decorated each room in the style of a city - ours was 'London' but there was Venice, New York, Tokyo, Paris and more. In our room there were Union flags on every item including bedding, curtains, dressing gowns, flip-flops, bath flannels, lampshades, waste paper bins and a wardrobe made to look like a red telephone box.

And the food. The food was also wonderful - the best B&B breakfast I've ever had. A bowl of fruit followed by perfectly cooked eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, hash browns and toast, and a tiny little choc chip muffin to finish. We tried the continental breakfast and pancakes next day. I can highly recommend Mamas Inn, and would go to Nottingham again just for the opportunity to stay there.

On Saturday we decided to go to Wollaton Hall and Deer Park. Although this was my first visit, the Hall seemed to me to be one of those places that you get taken to as a child and then becomes part of your childhood lore, drawing you back as an adult to revisit the wonders that made such an impression in those early days. My place of childhood wonders was the Natural History Museum in London, with its dodo and the reconstructed dinosaurs and the blue whale skeleton. Wollaton Hall's wonders, however, were much more eccentric and strange - the wall of animal heads, George the Gorilla, the tiger in the stairwell (or was it a lion? I forget). It seemed to exist in a time warp, slightly scruffy and reminiscent of the 70's.

Although there is no charge for entry to the Hall or Park, we decided to pay for a tour, and what a tour it was. The guide was astonishingly bad - Lola II struggled to actually understand what was being said, and I struggled to keep from laughing most of the time. She would talk about an aspect of the furniture or paintings or stonework or household staff, and we had no idea at all what she was talking about - she would wave in a general direction and we would look desperately around trying to locate the 'bushes', or the 'lions in the style of Venice' or whatever. The two best comments for me were firstly in the kitchen, where she encouraged us to pick up and handle the pies and meat - which were models made of plastic. The other was down in the cellar where she showed us the fresh water spring. "You can drink the water," she told us, "although I wouldn't. There was two girls on the tour the other day, and they drank some, but they was all right afterwards."

Dome and staircase
Council House
The weather was wintry, but we spent an hour or so walking around the Park and its environs before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. I lived in Nottingham for a year and deliberately avoided going to a highly-rated Japanese restaurant just so that Lola II and I could go together. It was very good, and worth the wait.

After that we went to the cinema. I had looked in vain for anything more cultural, but there wasn't a single theatre performance or concert in the whole city on Saturday night, except at Rock City. So we went to the pictures.

On Sunday we decided to visit the city itself, and after visiting the best public toilets I've ever been to we had a tour of the Council House. This time the guide announced herself to be an accredited Blue Badge guide, but there was still a touch of the insane about her - Lola II thought she might be a frustrated actor. We met Mr M and other friends in the Galleries of Justice museum where we declined to take the tour but looked around the free galleries showing stuff about World War I and an confusing account of the detection and trial of a serial murderer. Then we had lunch, and cake, and it was time to go home.

Lola II and union jack picture, cushions and dressing gown

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