Monthly Archives: May 2012

Espaco Funchal Restaurant in Rua da Carreira – Madeira – brilliant

We had already eaten in this restaurant for lunch on 11th May 2012 and returned on 15th to try it out for an evening meal. Images taken during the lunchtime visit.

The evening was perfect from beginning to end. The host is an amazing guy who is utterly charming. There were some six or seven tables outside, but as more people came along he just added more tables across the street and up the street, too. Couldn’t extend down the street owing to another restaurant in that direction, rather devoid of customers.Wendy at Espaco at lunchtime on 11th

Wendy had Avocado with Madeira wine as a starter which arrived with a wee pool of Madeira in the space vacated by the stone. There was a tiny, beautifully arranged salad on the plate too. My starter was melon with ham which was also good, but did not have quite the visual impact of Wendy’s.

We both decided to go for the traditional Madeiran skewers for main course. Wendy’s was chicken and pineapple and mine mixed meats which included beef, chicken and pork. Firstly a contraption is attached to the side of the table so that these huge skewers can hang from it allowing you to take your meat (or fish if a fish version) as required. Very impressive.

I was a bit concerned about the beef as it seemed a bit tough when cutting into it, but once it was cut it just melted in the mouth. As good as a Highland fillet steak any day. The whole came with salad and French fries.

Tony at Espaco at lunchtime on 11thTo be honest, after the main course I was stuffed, but old hollow-legs opposite me then took on crepe with fruits of the forest and ice cream while I sat and watched drinking a rather nice Lello wine.

We began talking to the couple alongside who had been coming to Madeira since they bought a time-share in the eighties. They’d never eaten in this restaurant before and were much impressed. On the other side was a farmer and his wife from near Nottingham.

So great company, great food, great banter from the host, lovely location. Perfect evening. Will be back before the vacation ends.

Madeira Vacation 2012 – Why do holidays have to begin with EasyJet?

With faithful house-sitter safely installed, we arrive at Inverness airport to check in.

When the flight was called we had to go through security. All passengers seemed to be shady characters as they were all forced to remove their shoes, belts, empty their pockets into a tray, remove their laptops from their bags and then walk through the metal detector.

While trying to hold trousers up I was then thoroughly frisked in case I had explosives in my underpants or hidden under my socks (that’s a new one) and finally allowed to collect my belongings.

It really is ridiculous that there is no profiling. Let’s face it, the bulk of suicide bombers travelled on their own, have been of middle eastern extraction or, as in the case of the infamous moronic shoe-bomber, looked bloody weird. So why are ordinary families and couples subjected to this ridiculous search. Is it that they don’t want to be accused of victimisation? How crazy! Profile the people, look for the ones who might be of concern and, yes, if necessary, stop and search everyone from the middle east. It is not the fault of the entire rest of the world that it is people from those parts of the world that normally carry out these bomb attempts. Let them be inconvenienced for what people from those regions have done. Don’t penalise the entire population of the world who has a need to fly in order to remain racially neutral. It does not make sense. Dare say I’ll now get a knock on the door and be arrested for inciting racial prejudice! However, this is not that and is clearly different. Flying has been turned from a pleasure into a pain by these attempts to blow people out of the skies. Perhaps they have won? They have so inconvenienced us that they consider that a victory. Now please excuse me while I take my 20ml Optimist spray out of its little plastic bag and return it to my carry bag! Madness.

I have trouble bending to put shoes on at the best of times, but airports have nothing to assist, no chairs, stools or other areas where you can lift your foot to tie laces etc. I managed to get  my belt back on without resorting to removing my trousers to thread it through the tight loops at the back and, joined by Wendy we went into a crowded waiting area.

EasyJet have again changed their boarding procedures and they now have children and infirm first, speedy boarders (extra charge) second and then absolutely everyone else in a total free-for-all charge for the best seats.

Why do they do this? In the past, when you checked in they gave you a boarding sequence – A, B, C etc. depending upon when you checked in. That worked quite well and at least it prevented the latecomers from barging their ways to the front by sheer brute force. Now everyone is at it. This is quite obviously a cynical attempt by EasyJet to coerce people into paying the extra for “speedy boarding”. When they have achieved this with a large number of flyers, what is the betting they’ll add a new higher charge for “Executive Boarders” and then “Superior Boarders” etc. What a con?

We got to Gatwick in normal time to be greeted by the most awful rain. All would have been well after that, except that we had made the insane decision to choose Travelodge for our overnight accommodation.

If you have read my review on Trip Advisor then there is no need to read the following duplicate report unless you enjoy laughing at others’ misfortune! 188 of 496 reviews of this place were one star “terrible”, a further 89 were two star “poor”. More than half the reviews are therefore bad. Here is mine:

I started off to write a review criticising the room, but I soon realised that it is not the room’s fault. The room has four walls, window, bed, cupboard, TV, shower and usual facilities. It was quite happy being a room. If you are going to exist as a room, the tip corner of a Travelodge is probably not a bad location to spend its time on earth. There is nothing wrong with the room, but there is everything wrong with the management of this hotel and, thereby the whole business.

We walked into our room after a long flight and found it roasting hot. The windows are sealed and cannot be opened. I turned the air conditioning thermostat to 10C which was the lowest it would go. After an hour there was no noticeable change to the temperature. It was still blowing air at about 25C out of its blower. Filthy cracked sink at the Travelodge in Lowefield Heath, Gatwick

In the bathroom the toilet seat was coming adrift. The wash hand basin was cracked. The shower curtain was mouldy. The grouting in the shower was brown with dirt. The corners of the bathroom had never been cleaned. The plug for the sink was undersized and did not keep water in the sink for more than a few seconds.

So, what is going on here?

When we went down for some food I complained to a nice young man on reception and I asked why the cleaners don’t report these faults to the management. What he said was that they are a separate company and no one talks to anyone else. Well judging by one of the staff we met in a landing, very few of the cleaning staff speak it is unlikely that they would be able to report back nor understand any training provided. Obviously no training had ever been given to the people who cleaned room 354 for many months.

It all comes down to the manager. One Kellie MacDonald apparently. It is the manager who is responsible for making sure the problems we encountered are dealt with. It is the meaning of the verb “to manage”. How simple it would be to call the staff together and start a new regime. Any loose toilet seat found should be reported. Then the room closed until a work order can be given to maintenance to fix it. The same with the cracked wash basin and the filthy grouting and shower curtain. NO ONE ELSE IS TO BLAME BUT THE MANAGER AND HER SUPERIORS IN THE CHAIN OF COMMAND. While putting this right the manager should visit each room with the cleaning contractors, point out how they miss the corners in the bathrooms and when shower curtains need replacing.

This place really was the pits and any manager staying in our room for more than ten minutes would have also spotted the awful air conditioning.Filthy plug hole and plug which didn't stop water draining at the Travelodge in Lowefield Heath, Gatwick

I fear that this company is on a downward spiral to oblivion if they don’t wake up and take some action now.

I can’t finish without mentioning the meal. Wendy’s battered fish appeared to have been cooked in blue-circle batter! The fish was wet and soggy, the batter like concrete. When we mentioned this to the very pleasant restaurant supervisor he came back a short while later and offered us free tea and coffee in compensation, but we turned it down as we didn’t want any.

Then I remembered we were going to buy some bottled water and when he came back to the table with our ice cream, I said we’d like to take up his offer, but a bottle of still water instead of two coffees. No, he couldn’t do that because he had no authority to take bar stock.

HOW INSANE. Talk about failing to empower the managers! Well Travelodge, I intend to get the cost of that fish and chips back from you and that will cost you more than the 20p for which you pay for a small bottle of water.

Get real Travelodge – and visitors – avoid it like the plague! As a British citizen I am embarrassed for the way guests are being handled by this company.

By the way, we’d got a special deal because we booked six months in advance, but someone else in the lobby was also complaining and they had paid £130. Unbelievable!

However, after this night, what did we have to look forward to? Oh no, another EasyJet experience to Funchal, Madeira!