Praise Where Praise Is Due!

I’m a big one for complaining if something isn’t right. Food comes out late in a restaurant or not to my liking and I let the wating staff know. I’m not shy about it and it drives my husband nuts. He’d much rather do the British thing of accepting what’s served, eating it politely, paying and even tipping despite not enjoying an experience.

We are very different on that front and it does sometimes cause us to lock horns because I feel it doesn’t matter if I’m polite, what matters is the service I am given when I am paying for it! He’s no walk over but face to face like that and he’d much rather just get on with it and not offend anyone. I get his way I do, but it’s not mine!

And it’s not just in restaurants that I make my feelings known if I am less than pleased. I have been known to write complaint letters to the CEO of various companies in the past too. We, like everyone, have experienced less than exemplary service from many of the providers we use and I see nothing wrong, everything right in fact, in shouting about it! My husband is more on board with this form of complaining it has to be said although he wouldn’t actually bother to sit and write anything himself – probably…

So, because I’m such a one for making it very heard when I am disgruntled, I feel I have no option but to shout about things when they are right too. Why not? Praise where praise is due and all that and it just so happens that this last week and a bit we have had a whole heap of positivity when it comes to service and the things we have paid for. If we’d had niggles after spending our hard earned money then I would have absolutely been talking about them so because we’ve had perfection instead, I see it as only right that I tell the world about that too. We’re so quick to point the finger when there is something negative to say but not many of us take the time to say when we are pleased… Just look at hotel reviews on Trip Advisor and you’ll see that pattern. For those of us who have had a brilliant time, we don’t think too much more of it. It’s only when the sheets were dirty, our room was smelly and the toilet didn’t flush that we take to our keyboard to bash the light out of the establishment we’ll NEVER stay in again!

So… Here I am, hopefully tipping the balance a bit because I have some pretty fab companies, shows, restaurants and more to give a clap to this past week or so!

It all started with Asos when I made a big order in a hurry, suddenly worrying about my summer wardrobe not being ready for a trip to Greece in the next couple of weeks. I’ve only used Asos once before and was perfectly pleased with what arrived but this time, when my order came, I didn’t like many of the things I had chosen when I put them on. I envisaged a massive stress for returning said items but nope! In fact it was all easy and straightforward. I simply put them back in the box they had arrived in, taped it shut and stuck the return sticker on before delivering to my post office. Less than a week later and the refund was back in my PayPal account. I’d not had to go shopping in the city, I’d managed to try on and decided against in my own home and the hassle of the return was negligable. Bravo Asos! I will be using you far more often in the furture and of the items I did keep, a black pleated skirt and a suede fringed bag I am most pleased!

My new pleated skirt from Asos!
My new pleated skirt from Asos!

Next up we went to Cromer as my husband took me to the delightful new(ish) restaurant owned by Galton Blackiston (Morsston Hall and Great British Menu fame), Number One Cromer. We walked in without a booking on a busy night for a pre-theatre supper. We couldn’t be seated by the front window due to other theatre goers having been more organised but they found us a table at the side which still had a view over the beach AND the food was amazing! I had a kind of English, Chinese fusion in a sort of dim sum meets crab salad meets fish and chips with my yummy supper and Jonny’s crab burger was just as tasty. We sat in the upstairs restaurant but the establishment also have a fish and chip restaurant downstairs as well as a take-away and ice cream parlour. Now I personally wouldn’t get my bog standard fish and chips here as I am far too loyal to another establishment, Mary Jane’s, up the road which has been there since I was a litle girl and is too awesome to even try Galton’s but the upstairs number one restaurant is superb. I must take the children there soon as they serve kid’s supper in a bucket with a spade for them to then take away and use on the beach. We’ve had ice cream from there before with the little ones and now that we’ve tried the main restaurant I will absolutely be going back! The service was fab and as soon as a main window table became available we were offered the chance to move. We declined but the fact they’d remembered we had asked at the beginning showed care and attention which was gratefully received. I would criticise only one thing and that’s the ketchup. It wasn’t Heinz and it was all wrong but this is something they can easily rectify – come on Galton, you know Ketchup can only be one brand if it’s gonna be good!

The view from our side window table upstairs at Number One Cromer and my yummy meal which was so big I couldn't finish all of it - this is NOT like me!
The view from our side window table upstairs at Number One Cromer and my yummy meal which was so big I couldn’t finish all of it – this is NOT like me!
The children have loved having ice cream here in the past few week's too!
The children have loved having ice cream here in the past few week’s too!

We were in Cromer to see a show at the end of the pier pavillion theatre; somewhat retro and unusual but what’s it all about if you can’t go a little off the beaten track now and again? I’ve not been to the end of the pier to see a show since I was a child and I found the whole experience very exciting. Saying that, to say I’d gone in with fairly low expectations of the actual show, ‘A Night Of Dirty Dancing‘, was an understatement as when I’d booked I’d assumed it was the full show then found out it was kind of a tribute to the film. This wouldn’t ordinarily float my boat enough to buy tickets but we’d stumbled upon them so we decided to give it a go.

And!

I’m so pleased to say I was wrong! This show, which is on a national tour at the moment, is SO much more than a tribute act. It’s a story of the story with more besides and it was simply stunning. The acting, dancing and singing was top notch and would stand up quite nicely in any London theatre. I feel incredibly lucky to have seen the show and would absolutely love to go again because it was funny, entertaining and a stonking good night. It was cheesy but in only the same way the film is and the cast were incredible. The actress playing Lisa as well as the character Max held everyting together beautifully and I’m not sure they could have found anyone who looked, sounded and danced more like the original Baby anywhere! Johnny was sexy, the chorus were spotless in their footwork and we laughed from the minute we sat down. The cast engaged with the audience in a really gorgeous way, we felt part of their ‘in jokes’and as quickly as they brought us out of the story with a witty aside we were sprung right back into it with the cast dancing right back into role immediately. BRILLIANT! Catch it if you can, you won’t regret it!

We saw 'A Night Of Dirty Dancing' at the end of the pier pavillion in Cromer but the show is on National Tour so click on the link above to find out more details from their Facebook page!
We saw ‘A Night Of Dirty Dancing’ at the end of the pier pavillion in Cromer (which is an experience in itself) but the show is on National Tour so click on the link above to find out more details from their Facebook page!

Moving on to more theatre (we don’t usually lead such an exciting life) and last weekend we made a jaunt to London for a night in a hotel so that we could see the show I’ve been waiting an age to see! ‘Beautiful’, the Carole King Musical has been on my must do list for so long now and i was beginning to think we’d never get round to it but my lovely husband did something very out of character and surprised me with the tickets. I adore CK and the story of her life in the West End with all her songs  was stunning, stunning, stunning. I have never, ever seen anything like it and I’ve been to see A LOT of theatre! The story, the other acts… Everything about this show is pure perfection. I came away wondering only one thing: Whatever is the girl playing Carole King going to do with her life because she’s SO talented that she can’t possibly just play Carole King for the rest of it, but without her surely this amazing show would fold? I couldn’t believe how brilliant she is!

I enjoyed both ‘A Night Of Dirty Dancing’ and ‘Beautiful’ and feel so lucky to have seen both within a week. Lucky me! I’m sure I would have ridiculued putting both these shows in the same bracket but honestly, why not? Ok, ‘Beautiful’ is slick in a way that off West End you couldn’t really find but they’re both up there! They’re both brilliant!

We had yummy food and drinks while in London too and the weekend was an absolute joy. Maybe we just made the right choices and were in the right place at the right time, I don’t know but we would go to all the same places we visited again in a second! We enjoyed cocktails during happy hour (2 for £8) at The Road House in Covent Garden and then an all American burger at The Diner on Shaftesbury Avenue (it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had and the choices were vast with chips, chips, chips galore) post Carole King. My husband loved The Diner so much he returned to their Spitalifields branch the next morning for a sweet potato pancake breakfast too. We made a one night stay feel like a three night weekend and did all the stuff we used to do about a decade ago which was lots of fun. Wandering around the market mooching and just enjoying time with each other on a Sunday morning felt very decadent. It was lovely. Then, before we came home we headed into town for a Dim Sum lunch at a restaurant called Plum Valley right in the heart of China Town. A good friend had recommended and I’m so glad she did, it was delish while not at all bank breaking! The dim sum were, as my friend suggested they would be, the best dim sum we’ve had in London!

Cocktails at the Road House was a bit of gem, inexpensive, round the corner from the theatre and SO good. we used to come here in our early twenties and it was good to re-visit!
Cocktails at the Road House was a bit of a gem, inexpensive, round the corner from the theatre and SO good. we used to come here in our early twenties and it was good to re-visit!
Dim Sum at Plum Valley in China Town!
Dim Sum at Plum Valley in China Town!
Kissing in China Town - it was lovely to walk around and take in the scenery!
Kissing in China Town – it was lovely to walk around and take in the scenery!

And another highlight of our weekend was staying at the Premier Inn hub. Wow! It was like a little ship’s cabin with everything you need in a very small place, decorated beautifully and just perfect for an inexpensive get away for two. Ours was on Brick Lane, which we love and perfect for getting into central London as it’s a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station. It was quiet and comfortable with free Costa coffee and bottles of water in the room. Can’t go wrong for £67 and this was a whole lot of right. Not just acceptable for the money we paid but, worth a whole lot more I think. I loved the fact you coud control the heating, lights, TV and temperature all from the bed! Little things… We’ll definitely think about booking a hub again when we need one!

The Premier Inn Hub has everything you need, is more than thoughtfully designed and was icredibly comfortable and welcoming. It felt much more like a high class hotel than the money we paid and exceeded our expecations enourmously!
The Premier Inn Hub has everything you need, is more than thoughtfully designed and was icredibly comfortable and welcoming. It felt much more like a high class hotel than expected for the money we paid and exceeded our expecations enormously!
Brick Lane, the scene of many a night out for me and my husband many year's ago and a great place to go and re-visit our youth!
Brick Lane, the scene of many a night out for me and my husband year’s ago and a great place to re-visit our youth! (And there’s my Asos skirt again this time with my gorgeous new bag!)

Back at home in Norfolk and I’ve been on the trail for securing our season passes so that we can visit our fave places loads over the summer. Season tickets make things much cheaper in the end so if you have the momey to make the outlay in the first place I definitely recommend it. We’d decided to buy three passes for three Norfolk attractions and so far I have made the purchase on two. Both passes have been decided mainly on the fact that we love to visit, there’s much to do for the children and they’re close to home but the two I have bought have also been because we are always treated so well by the staff when we go for a day out. At BeWILDerwood the staff remember us, make light conversation passing the time of day and are always incredibly helpful. They always seem cheerful too and when performing their roles be it as a story teller or simply standing at the top of a slide monitoring, they always do it with a friendly and welcoming attitude. Well done to them! It’s a similar story at Banham Zoo which is one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to! When we bought our annual passes the lady noted it was mm Mum’s birthday the next day and went off to get her a birthday card, how sweet is that?! Again the staff here are lovely and from the keepers giving display talks to the guys in the shop as you exit, everyone has a smile. It works and was definitely a helper in deciding our annual pass spots, now just one more decision on that front to go!

Fun at BeWILDerwood over Easter meeting Cedric the bunny!
Fun at BeWILDerwood over Easter meeting Cedric the bunny!
A very cold but very enjoyable day out at Banham Zoo for my Mum's birthday - here's to many more (birthdays and days out at Banham Zoo)!
A very cold but very enjoyable day out at Banham Zoo for my Mum’s birthday – here’s to many more (birthdays and days out at Banham Zoo that is)!

And last up in my list of praises has to go to both the British Heart Foundation and Next! when we moved we decided to say goodbye to our old sofas and upgrade but everywhere we went (the usual suspects like DFS and the Sofa Workshop) we found not only nothing to our taste but also pretty bad service from shop staff. We’d not really considered Next as an option for sofas and only stumbled across their Home store in Norwich by mistake really. We went in two or three times to make enquiries and sit on their display units while pouring over the material swatches and every time we had utterly fantastic service from very helpful and kind members of staff. They didn’t push us but were on hand when we needed them to be, found the answers to everything we asked and were just generally great. Even the saturday staff who looked incredibly young had the same smile and way of talking to the customers, it was very impressive! To top it off their sofas are actually glorious so it was easy to make a decision (even though it was hard to part with the best part of four grand) and choose two sofas, a love seat, two foot stools and a gorgeous little chair for two different rooms in our new house. When they arrived (earlier than anticipated) the chaps delivering were equally as helpful and friendly. After emails and texts to discuss delivery slot options they arrived bang on time to then fit the legs and felt pads on the sofa feet and afterwards took away all the rubbish! Again, we had expectations exceeded and were very pleased with everything.

It was a little sad to say goodbye to our old sofas as they really were the comfiest things ever but a decade old and a little bit shabby it was time to upgrade. Saying that, the old ones were still perfectly fit so we donated them to The British Heart Foundation who, just like Next, arrived on time to pick them up and took them away in their van with no hassle. Lovely! And a bit of a good feeling for donating too!

Sofa Post 1
Here are some of the new items we bought for our new house from Next! We stll have lots of furnishing left to do and now that we’ve had such great service from Next I will go there first!
Sofa Post
And here they are in situ in their rooms. We’re not sure if we have everything in the right place yet but we will move things around until we do!

So! We’ll have more of this sort of service please and everyone else needs to take a leaf from the books of the staff at Next, The British Heart Foundation, The Road House, Plum Valley, Premier Inn Hub, BeWILDerwood, Banham Zoo, The Diner and Number One Cromer while y’all need to get yourself to see those amazing shows which are SO worth their ticket prices and more, ‘A Night Of Dirty Dancing’ and ‘Beautiful, The Carole King Musical’ – I would just say if you’re booking for CK then do get the best seats possible! We sat in mid range seats (which were expensive) but the seats were bum numb city! I’d rather pay more and be in comfort and you won’t be sorry for having seen to show so my advice is splash out and treat yourself!

I have not been asked to promote anything in this post. We booked, paid for and enjoyed everything I have written about here and it is with pleasure that I have been able to find the time to blog about our experiences.

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