First half of Friday afternoon, was a wild goose chase to find somewhere for lunch.
Options to eat in Guildford, at least somewhere decent, are rapidly vanishing.
Guildford Institute used to be excellent for Friday lunch, but no more as the lady who did the lunches has left.
I popped in Friday, to be accosted and told I had not paid. I was surprised, but, one can forget, and so I apologised and paid.
I left and gave it some thought.
How did the lady know, she was not there last week?
The amount I was told I owed, was not what my lunch cost last week.
And then I remembered, I had paid. The reason I remembered, as I had attempted to pay, as I usually do, where the food was served, but had been rudely told to go round to a hatch where they accept payment.
Something very wrong.
kebabs at The Royal Oak
I was now on my way to The Royal Oak.
A few weeks back, I had popped in for a drink, and the chef had brought out an excellent kebab, put it on the bar, and suggested help yourself, he wished to know what we thought. It was excellent. So excellent that I popped back another day to try, only to find the pub had closed and changed hands, but the chef was still there.
Today I thought try again. Awful music playing, two sullen women behind the bar. I asked of the kebabs. They looked at each other. No, we don’t do kebabs.
I walked out with the passing comment, I have tried twice, there will not be a third attempt. I did not think to ask was the chef still there.
We are too polite. We accept second best. More people need to walk out.
It was then back to Guildford Institute.
I explained to the lady the situation. I asked what she thought I had had for the sum she claimed I owed. It was eight pounds and something. I then told her what I had had, main course, sweet and a cup of tea, which came to £10-50, more than she said I owed. Thus how could it be I?
And how did I know it came to £10-50? As that is what was on the bill I took to the counter to pay.
Begs the question who the bill was for, the bill it was claimed I had walked out without paying?
She said it was her daughter who made the claim. That I had tried to pay, had the money in my hand, but as I was talking, I walked off without paying.
Luckily, she accepted something was wrong, and gave me my money back.
I asked could I get something to eat? She said no. They were packing up. Though I was offered a sweet.
But what is worrying this is the second time it has been claimed I had not paid.
The Keystone courtyard covered over graffiti covered wall
It was then down to The Keystone.
The Keystone was an excellent pub, but the landlords fell out amongst themselves, the pub went downhill, and eventually a new landlord took over. A new landlord who has been a disaster. His first act was to lose a good chef.
It used to be pleasant on a sunny afternoon to sit outside in the back courtyard and have their excellent fish cakes. I found the courtyard covered over (now dark and gloomy instead of open and airy), awful music playing (it was bad enough in the pub but at least the courtyard was quiet), and the back wall covered in graffiti (an unbelievable eyesore which the local council should enforce a clean up). I asked for the fish cakes to be told they did not do them any more. It was burgers or nothing. I walked out.
Looking from the church (and there are arms houses further along), the back of The Keystone looks like something out of a Third World shanty slum. is there planning permission for the unsightly structures that have been erected? Jobsworth from the local council need to get out and about a bit more (their office a few minutes walk along the road) and carry out enforcement.
lunch at Thai restaurant
Back up the High Street and late lunch in the Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage. It was excellent. I should have gone there first.
We are losing many pubs every week. Too often it is greedy pubcos, selling them off for redevelopment. But it also badly run pubs too.
J D Weatherspoon, may be a chain, but their pubs are well run. That is why they are successful. If I go into Harris + Hoole for a coffee, the staff are always great, plus the tea and coffee and cookies are excellent too.
I contrast with the two pubs I visited yesterday. Bar staff who give the impression they are bored and would rather be somewhere else, indeed anywhere than where they were.
The two pubs empty. Harris + Hoole always busy, as it was today. Says it all.
Attitude is one problem. But awful music playing is another.
Both pubs had awful music playing. No, I do not wish to have the bad musical taste of other people imposed upon me.
Again, look to J D Weatherspoon, other than when full of roudy drunks, quiet, no music.
As it was a very warm humid afternoon, iced tea in Harris + Hoole.