Back at the beginning of August Ryanair were advertising on tv a big ‘flight sale’ with thousands of seats for only £9.99. That sounded like a good deal so having already planned to go over to Ireland at the end of this month I decided on my dates and got on the Ryanair website to book my flights. The flight from Manchester to Dublin was indeed only £9.99 but there was nothing so cheap on the day I wanted to come back so the return flight cost £31.60.
Now as from January this year Ryanair’s revised baggage policy only allows just one small bag per person on the plane where previously it’s been two, so for the privilege of taking a second bag on board and using an overhead locker you now have to purchase ‘priority boarding’, otherwise the second bag goes in the hold. For the sake of a few days I only take a small backpack and a small wheeled pull-along case so as I don’t want all the faff of checking a bag in before departure then waiting for it to come round on the carousel at the other end I purchased the priority boarding at £6 each way. Then there was the cost of reserving my seats – £3 each way – so the total for both flights came to £59.59 ; I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get both flights for the advertised £9.99 but compared to other airlines the cost was still cheap enough.
Up to yesterday Michael hasn’t known what his shift pattern for the next few weeks at work would be so I couldn’t book his flights until last night ; with his days off plus a couple of days holiday he’ll be going over on the same day as me but coming back two days after me. As our little sojourn is only four weeks away I expected the flights for him would cost as much as, or even more than, mine, so I was quite surprised last night to find that they were only £9.99 each way, and that’s without any deals or special offers. Adding on the price of reserved seats the total cost to him is just £25.98 – admittedly he hasn’t added on the cost of priority boarding but he doesn’t need it as he’ll only be taking a backpack, but even if he did have that extra cost the total price would still be over £21 cheaper than my flights.
So on those prices I think maybe for any future trips to Ireland I’ll ignore any of Ryanair’s ‘deals’ or ‘special offers’ and just book a couple of weeks or so in advance. Of course there’s a chance that any future flights on the days and times I want them may not be as low as £9.99 but it’ll be worth a try – and last night’s experience just goes to show that sometimes special offers and deals don’t work out as good as you think they will.
To get a meal at a pub/restaurant on a Sunday?
Last weekend Michael and I went out for tea as we often do on Sundays – I picked him up from work just after 5pm and we went to a pub/restaurant and carvery twenty minutes drive from home, a place we’d never been to before but which was recommended by someone who works where I clean in the evenings. When we got there we found that the large car park was very full and I remarked to Michael that it seemed to be a very popular place – and we found out exactly how popular it was when we got in there. The place was absolutely heaving and we were told it would be a 45 minute wait for a table – we were okay with that, we could sit and have a drink while we were waiting but as we went to the bar we realised that there was nowhere to sit once we’d got one. Every single table was set or reserved for dining and those who were just drinking were all standing – and the queue for the carvery was so long it would probably have taken another 45 minutes to get our meals once we’d got a table, so we decided to give up and go somewhere else.
One place we’d been to several times was a twenty minute drive back in the vague direction of home so as it had been a while since our last visit we decided to go there – and I should have known something was wrong when we got there and found only four cars in the car park. The place was very quiet although there were some people dining, so we found a table (we had lots to choose from) and decided what we would have – a mixed grill for Michael and for me, something I wouldn’t normally eat, an all-day breakfast. So Michael went to order but was back a minute later to say that the guy behind the bar had told him the grill had been turned off so we needed to choose an alternative – okay, we could live with that (just) so Michael opted for the half roast chicken, I decided on the fish, chips and mushy peas, and Michael went back to order. Ten minutes later, while we were sitting having our drinks, the guy from behind the bar came and told us that the kitchen was now closed for a major clean and we couldn’t have a cooked meal at all but they may be able to do us some sandwiches so would we like to look at the menu? At which point I told him not to insult my intelligence as we’d already looked at the menu (twice!) so as we couldn’t have what we’d ordered we were leaving – and even then it took another ten minutes to sort out a refund for the meals we couldn’t have.
By that time I was so hungry I could have eaten the hind legs off a donkey so I suggested going to the one place where we could be sure of getting a good meal – our regular haunt, the Black Dog at Belmont – but as we were on the way there we passed a place Michael had been to in previous times so we ended up there instead. We had no trouble getting a table or ordering the meals we’d chosen, and the service was excellent, but in comparison to the Black Dog the portion sizes were smaller and the prices were much dearer – it was good but no better than the Black Dog, and at nearly £40 for two main meals and two drinks I don’t think we’ll be going there again.
The one place we definitely won’t be going to again – at least not for a long long time – is the one where we couldn’t get a meal at all. Discussing the situation later we both said that just after 6pm on a Sunday was a strange time to close the kitchen for a major clean so I wondered if maybe they were getting ready for a hygiene inspection. It used to be a really good place to eat – dog friendly too – and was well known locally for its excellent fish-and-chip meals, but the online reviews over the last few months aren’t good. Many of them say the food is awful and the place in general is dirty and falling apart – it seems that it changed hands about twelve months ago and the new owners (some pub chain I’ve never heard of) don’t seem to be investing in the place or their staff – a shame really as it was a nice place once. So with not being able to sit down anywhere at the first place and not getting a meal at the second, followed by a more expensive meal at the third, I’d be quite happy to stick to the Black Dog every time from now on.