Well the past few posts have been about Wetherspoon’s, travel and hotel bookings, so why not widen this slightly to include a piece on breakfast; every traveller’s favourite meal of the day - especially after a good night’s sleep!
Not withstanding time spent away, when a decent breakfast is expected as part of the accommodation package, it’s something of a tradition amongst the male members of the Bailey family ie. father and son, to go out for breakfast, especially on a Sunday morning. This only applies when the son isn’t working and the father isn’t off out on some CAMRA jaunt or walk in the country, with friends.
|Pre-flight breakfast in the pale light of dawn|
It should also be stated that this is not a male only activity and that no attempt has been made to exclude, deliberately or otherwise, the lady of the house. It just so happens that Mrs PBT’s likes to treat the Sabbath as an excuse to catch up on “refurbishing” herself and not have to get “made up”; something her feminine pride normally insists on before venturing outdoors.
She also works from home, and finds she can get a lot more done when husband and son are away, stuffing their faces with all sorts of greasy and unhealthy food which, she rightly claims she doesn’t need. Personally I think it’s just an excuse to put her feet up and slob out in front of "Escape to the Country" or “Homes under the Hammer”!
I digress, and to return to though topic in hand there are the vexed questions of where to go, and what to eat? Leaving aside the first for a while a decent, full-English, cooked breakfast has to be the default option, although nowadays items such as hash browns, bubble and squeak and black pudding seems to have crept onto the menu, to join the traditional mix of bacon, sausage, egg, tomato and fried bread.
|Could we have kippers for breakfast??????|
In a recent post I wrote about kippers; a choice which is both tasty and also healthier than the traditional “fry-up”. The humble smoked herring, like most oily fish, is rich in Omega-3 and other fatty acids and should be a feature of all decent breakfast menus. Unfortunately, it is something of a rarity these days, possibly because of the lingering smell, or the fact that decent fresh kippers, as opposed to the boil-in-the-bag variety, are quite hard to come by. They featured recently on the menu of the George in Dereham, and they were also an option in happier days, at the Hill House Hotel in the same town.
I struck lucky with my choice of guesthouse a few years back, when I visited the Isle of Man, for the 2010 CAMRA Members Weekend & National AGM. Kippers, and Manx ones at that, featured prominently on the breakfast menu, so not surprisingly I indulged myself with this tasty and healthy start to the day on three out of the four morning I was on the island. Talk about kipper heaven!
Closer to home, Spoon’s have been the easy choice for the lad and I over the years. You know exactly what will be served on those willow-pattern plates, and generally it is filling, tasty and excellent value for money. We have breakfasted in all three of our local JDW outlets (Sevenoaks, Tonbridge & Tunbridge Wells), and by and large both the food and the service have been pretty good.
Another good option has to be your local “greasy spoon” type of café. Most towns can boast at least one such establishment, and I’m sure most of us have a favourite in our home town or city. Seeing as a decent, full-English, cooked breakfast is one of the easiest meals to prepare, it’s hardly surprising that most places get it right, and whilst some are obviously better than others, I have rarely been disappointed in my quest for a decent breakfast.
Another place where the lad and I have kick-started the day, has been the village hall at Chiddingstone Causeway; the village where my employer is based. Earlier this year, I wrote about the opening of the brand new hall which replaced the former, ramshackle “tin-shack”, which had served the local community for the best part of a century.
Offering a decent, cooked Sunday-breakfast, once a fortnight, was just one of the many ways adopted by the hall committee in order to raise funds for the modern, bright and airy new hall, and Matthew and I are pleased to have played a small part in helping to literally get the new building off the ground. We pop over when we can, as funds are still needed for the day to day running of the hall, and for improvements in the form of stage and sound equipment.
We found a new place for Sunday breakfast last weekend; or rather I did. Matt and his mate had been breakfasting there, on and off, for some time, so when he suggested we give the Hilden Manor a go, I was all for it. The Hilden Manor is a large, rambling Beefeater establishment, situated on the northern edge of Tonbridge as it merges into neighbouring Hildenborough. It is an attractive, tile-hung building and is reported to be one of the oldest in Hildenborough, with parts dating back to the 17th Century.
Thirteen years ago the pub was destroyed by a disastrous fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault. It was re-built, and re-opened in 2006, along with a Premier Inn which was constructed alongside. The company I work for sometimes use it when we have visitors from over-seas, given its proximity to both Tonbridge and our factory at Chiddingstone Causeway.
Last Sunday though was the first time I’d stepped inside the place since its re-opening after the fire, and it was not quite what I was expecting, or how I remembered the pub. Before, it was quite open-plan in nature, but now it is broken up into a several linked areas, which helps create a much more intimate atmosphere.
Unlike Spoon’s where you just grab a table, we had to wait to be shown to one. The menu is pretty similar to JDW, but you can mix and match your selection. I opted for scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, has-browns, tomato and mushrooms, whilst Matthew doubled up on the sausage and fried egg. The price is around £3 dearer than Spoons, but you get unlimited teas or coffee, along with toast or crumpets. All in all it was a very pleasant experience, much less hectic than Wetherspoon’s and none of the off-putting 9am Stella drinkers either.
|Continental - Barcelona|
Well that concludes my little round-up of the delights of a weekend breakfast; certainly on the home front, but before I finish I must mention that the English, or perhaps American-style cooked version seems to be catching on in Europe. Once upon a time, those in search of something solid to start the day were limited to rolls and croissants, and whilst this might still be the case in many continental hotels, I have noticed items like scrambled egg, bacon (thin, crisp – almost fried to a frazzle US style bacon), creeping onto the breakfast menu, alongside thin Nürnberg style sausages and the odd boiled egg. This is especially true in Germany, where these items seem much more prevalent as part of a hotel breakfast buffet, than they did 10 or 12 years ago when I first started visiting the country on a regular basis.
Matthew takes the Mickey when I tell him that breakfast is a good start to the day, but when on holiday a substantial meal, first thing in the morning, is usually enough to see me through to the evening, although occasionally I will have a filled roll or something light, midday, especially if I’m going to be drinking.