Chris Rea & The Great British Actress PT. 3 ( The Other Side Of Miami ) Metroplitan By Como Miami

Miami Take 2 ” A Different World “What a difference a week makes. Up early we departed the Celebrity Silhouette mid morning on Sunday. With TH as always leading the way the 4 of us made our way to the car rental area at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale. Everything was done and dusted and before you could say “I’ve just spent a week on a cruise ship, let’s go again”, we were in our hire car making our last journey as a group of 4 , ( no tears please ), to the Metropolitan By Como Hotel on Collins Avenue, back in Miami. 
Thanks to the driving skills of TH and the satellite navigation skills of a very irritatingly voiced Tom Tom, we arrived at our hotel in extremely good time. We were greeted by one of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure too meet.
 Brian, I’m not sure what his “official” title is, seems to be the concierge/porter/shopkeeper. It could just be that he is the face of the MBCH. Brian made us feel more welcome in Miami in 10 minutes than our previous hotel did in 3 days. I can honestly say that if there is something you require, you get the feeling that Brian would move heaven and earth to get it for you.
Cases taken and car parked we headed into the bright and light airy ness of the lobby. The chap at reception recognised us immediately. Believe me it’s not because we are instantly memorable. The treacle and I on our previous visit to Miami had located the hotel and popped in to book the restaurant. The fact he ( Michael ) upon our return, recollected where we had been, our reason for staying and our names was highly impressive and the sort of welcome that you only get in the very best of hotels. It was explained that Our room wasn’t ready but obviously all the facilities were free to be taken advantage of. 
We sat around for roughly 45 minutes on the circular and very comfy sofa. We were early. Check – in wasn’t actually for another 2 hours. Once the cleaners had done the necessaries and our room was good to go, the 4 of us danced upstairs for a butchers. 7th floor. Nice views. We also had a little plate congratulating us on our wedding anniversary which was a very cool touch. Keeping in style with the rest of the hotel, the room was quirky without being outlandish. A mixture of sage green and white in colour, Oh and a walk – in rain shower, happy with that!
After a quick shuffle through various bags we got changed and went downstairs to hang out by the pool. It was a nice day, and so like on every other nice day I settled for a beer from the pool bar. TH, Juzza and GB all got a snack and we passed the next hour or two drifting through peace and tranquility. As the clouds drifted over the 4 of us went to explore the hotel. I remembered reading about it, but until I saw it, I’d forgotten about the rooftop pool. Leaving TH and Juzza to get changed myself and wifey stripped to the bones and hopped in to the bubbles. Oh yes, JACK-OOZY sty-lee. 
All 4 of us wasted the next hour just watching the ships going out from our little piece of paradise. If somewhere up there, there is a heaven, surely we were sitting in a watery bath next to it at least. This was luxurious bliss with a capital L. I was already loving this hotel. Unfortunately though it came to the point where 4 became 2 as the spice girls would sing, ( I know it was 2 become 1 but you wouldn’t have me admitting to knowing the music of the Spice Girls would you?… “The Doe & Dizzee” had a plane to catch. Walking them down through the lobby I have to admit I almost shed a tear. They are two fantastic people to go away with. We were going to miss them, welllll…. for a bit anyway….They must be good twin bags, we are doing something similar next year, unless they have cancelled on us!
All of a sudden we were alone. “Ju-u-St the two of us ” as Bill Withers would sing, ( if he were still alive that is ). GB and myself were becoming peckish. Dinner for the following evening was already sorted. Table booked in the highly acclaimed Traymore Restaurant based in our hotel. This evening though was to be a mystery tour. I approached the front desk, and asked the advice of Michael on reception. He told us of a little Indonesian restaurant on the ground floor of where his apartment was. It certainly sounded worth a shout, adding to the bonus of it being roughly 500 yards from our hotel we sauntered out and into the fading sun.
Indomania is a small place. Almost like being in someone’s living room. As soon as we opened the door we were being treated to a table and drinks. The front of house couple couldn’t do enough for us. Very hospitable. We had a set menu of ” Rijsttafel Java “. Its basis is similar to a tasting menu comprising of 14 different dishes such as slow cooked beef in kecap sauce, shrimp cracker, and boneless chicken in coconut sauce. The standouts though were Sate Ayam ( Chicken in Peanut Butter Sauce ) and the aforementioned Semurjawa ( Slow Cooked Beef ). I would have no hesitation at all in suggesting this as a place to eat if you find yourself In mid – Collins Ave. It wasn’t expensive, but it most certainly was a real pleasure. What a cracking little find.
We mustered back to MBCH and relaxed at the bar with a Mojito or two before bidding goodnight. The barman in a similar vein to the pool bar attendants were very friendly and boy do they know ho to knock up a decent cocktail. It had however been a long, ( though very relaxing ) day and so the Rollos retired for a bit of American TV and a few hours of kip.
Bright and early her indoors was nudging me to get up. Time for a sunrise stroll before breakfast. After half an hour we returned and sat outside on the terrace for breakfast. GB had something off the a’la carte menu choosing an Eggs Benedict, while I stayed within the boundaries of the free continental cuisine. One of the things I chose was this little Granola type thing, well, you know what it’s like when you are lean, mean and fighting fit, you need to keep in trim. Or in my case it was just the idea of eating something that looked like it was in a novelty jar. If I was given just one breakfast item to eat before I met my maker it would be this little jar of conkers. I cannot stress how wonderful this glass canister of healthy stuff was. Apparently the Eggs weren’t three bad either. A win double then. 
My good lady loves her shoes/trainers/flip flops. Equally I love my football team. Since landing on American soil. One of her goals had been to purchase a new pair of pumps, or if you are American, sneakers. One of my goals was to make sure I was in place to watch the FA Cup match that evening between my beloved Arsenal FC and Manchester United. We made a pact. We would hit the mall first for GB’s foot fetish and then jolly on to Elwoods Bar where the MASC ( Miami Arsenal Supporters Club ) meet for most games to indulge my addiction ( or some would say my affliction ). 
The first part went well on a scale of 1 to 10. We made it to the excessively large shopping precinct by public transport. All was well. GB found her footwear of choice. Excellent. Then arose problem no.1. After trawling most shoe/footwear shops, GB could only find one shop that sold this particular pair of spotted sprinters, and as luck would have it there were none in her size. Try as she might, and believe me she had a bloody good go, no others took her fancy. Time was ticking on. Mission failing, GB conceded, and we left empty handed. We studied the route map of two buses and chose what looked on paper the quickest. We still had an hour so plenty of time……. Or so I thought!
I knew we were in trouble when the bus turned down Biscayne Boulevard and the 1st stop was something like 183rd street. There was 35 minutes till kick off. We wanted 2nd street. I was still trying to stay positive that maybe we’d make it to Elwoods by half time. Sadly at half time the bus was just hitting 116th. Only another 114 blocks to go. Maybe the driver could see my anxiousness, although I doubt it as he put a little spurt on around 50th. Then it hit me like a boomerang I’d just thrown and forgotten about. Two and a half hours on a bus, we get there and we’ve lost. Top that with no trainers for the treacle, it would have been a day in Miam- AAAAARRGGHH!
Believe it or not, we got off the bus, roughly a 4 minute walk from the bar, with roughly 4 minutes left of the game. Typical!… I really didn’t want to walk in. I was dreading the score. Well after the time spent trying to prevail GB was having none of it and frogmarched me in. Knock me down with a ten pound sledgehammer. I couldn’t believe it. They were playing 5 minutes of injury time. More importantly Arsenal were WINNING!… That 5 minutes took longer than the bus journey to go by. Eventually though the whistle blew and the sea of red and yellow tops were jumping around and clinking glasses and bottles of victory. More good news followed as my team were drawn against Reading in the semi – final. That journey was worth every second!
We had 2 or 3 drinks and then it was bus time home. Thankfully this time a mere 45 minutes. 

Arriving back at MBCH at roughly 7pm we swiftly changed, I have to say her indoors looked a proper hotty!… We dived down for an electric cocktail before being seated for our food. The Traymore Restaurant is said to be, hang on research required…..when we were there the restaurant was the No.1 place to go in Miami. All jokes aside ( which I seem to be saying a lot lately ) I can understand why. The food was outstanding. We had a starter and a main course. It wasn’t expensive which was surprising. I would recommend to everyone going to Miami to try the food at Traymore. If disappointed I’d be shocked. The room you are dining in warrants a merit in itself. 
I had the Mussels to start. Those little babies alone were worth the scheckels. I could argue at minor faults but to be honest I love this hotel. The food was as good as the service. I would suggest eating inside in March though as it was a bit blowy. 
For the record, please let it be noted I love the stick on “Do Not Disturb & Please Clean Me” signs. Quirky. The following day was ‘We have to go home day’. Again the hotel has enough facilities wise to ensure guests are able to enjoy the luxuries before leaving. We spent a day ( GB and I ) literally chilling by the pool. The weather was spot on. It was an incredible day. Of course we had to finish how we started. We made our way up to the rooftop pool, for one last dip in the hydro pool. It was quite windy and so GB decided against going in. 
Trying to be confident, ( I will dictate to the water that I am not scared sort of thing ), I jumped straight in. The water was warm and the view of ships leaving or returning to Miami Harbour was awesome. As the bubbles in the Hydro pool died I lost my enthusiasm. Luckily a lady who had just hopped out offered to spark up the water again. Excited at the new array of testosterone about to hit the water i stood up. At was at this point I realised that for the last 20 minutes I had been bathing in the pool with my iPhone in my pocket!
In case you want to know, the iphone4 is semi water proof. After leaving it in dry rice ( surely a myth ) , for a few hours and then placing the phone on a radiator for 3 days upon our return I can now get a full 9% battery use on it, which lasts as anyone with an iPhone will know all of about 4 minutes. 
Things I learnt on holiday.

1. Miami – I’m more of a Collins than SoBe person.

2. MBCH – I’m not a regular visitor to Miami but if you want an unbelievable hotel to stay at, I seriously suggest you consider this little number.

3. Brian & Michael who represent the MBCH are the sort of people who make you want to revisit Miami. 

4. You really need nicknames for your friends. ( Tony SourDoe & Dizzey )

5. A bus ride in Miami is not like a bus ride in London.

6. I don’t mind the water, ( when I’m on a huge cruise ship, in calm waters ).
I know some of my phrases are repetitive but I have to emphasise this point again. It’s not always the scenery or the accommodation that makes your holiday. The thing that made a difference to us both aboard Celebrity Silhouette and staying at Metropolitan By Como Miami were the staff. These people done everything possible to make our stay a memorable one. We thank you all for that, and better still it’s fair to say you succeeded in every way 🙂 

Roll on next year!

Finally I’ve got no pics but the blog site is playing up!


  “Not Your Average Stay With A Celebrity!”

“Not Your Average Boat Trip… A week with a Celebrity”
Confession number 1. I can’t swim. I did try to learn as a child but, like quite a few things in my life I wasn’t very good at it. I kept sinking. I did have a go. I think i could sink in the Dead Sea. Then one day while trying to catch newts at a local dyke aged around 8 or 9 ( under supervision ), I slipped. I went in feet first, and all I really remember after that is the water and the fear. I’ve no doubt it’s an old wives tale but somewhere along the line I recall a tale of someone drowning. The bottom line being that “if you go under three times that’s it, you ain’t coming back up again”. It’s probably rubbish. I’m damn sure however if it wasn’t for the heroics of a chap called Paul, who I still consider to be one of my closest friends, I wouldn’t be here now. 
From that moment on my fear of water grew and grew. Im scared of water to the point I wear water wings in the bath.I know in theory everyone should be able to swim, but that feeling of water going up your hooter, over your head and in your ears, you can keep it. Which beckons the big question really. Why the hell would you book a cruise holiday?… If truth be told, I suggested it over a tipsy Indian meal, while discussing our fellow diners forthcoming cruise. It was something that was ringing around my head as we approached the port in Fort Lauderdale. I wasn’t panicking, but I was nervous. It’s not as if we were on a fishing boat I know, but we were about to go to the middle of the ocean. The sheer thought of looking all round and just seeing water petrified me. Maybe a trifle over the top but what if it started getting rocky?
I have never really taken much notice of how big a cruise ship actually is. I don’t think the word huge does it justice. Monstrous makes it sound ugly. I will say it was a little 

overwhelming walking up to the boarding ‘Hangar’ with this giant floating hotel alongside it. Thankfully our fellow travellers, TH and Juzza are experienced in the cruising world. I don’t mean that sense of cruising. They don’t spend their pastime cruising the streets of Rochester looking for extra excitement, no I mean holidaying on cruise ships. This was to be their 7th cruise, and their 2nd time on this particular bad boy. We were about to board the Celebrity Silhouette. 
Originally I had sent a text asking ‘The Doe’, ( that’s TH to you, a long story I will get to later ), what he would suggest or recommend for a first cruise. TH I thought would possess a little knowledge of which line would be the best for rookies like GB and me. It turns out TH is a full on cruise geek these days. I mean that as a compliment. We agreed to meet up for some food and a drink to have a chat about what they thought of it, and if there was anything or anywhere in particular these water lovers would endorse as a way forward. I won’t lie, GB didn’t need much persuading. She would be happy with a week on Loch Lomond in a dinghy. I on the other hand like my luxury. This will sound awful but I’m not overly fussed at having hundreds of kids swamping me either.
I love a brochure but was no further forward when our friends came up with a plan. They had a week long Caribbean cruise booked already. We could tag along with them. Just under 11 months later here we were staring up at this gigantic modern day Trojan horse, though thankfully not made of wood. Apparently I hadn’t printed off the correct paperwork. I found this out when in the queue. TH, being his ever caring self allowing me few excuses before calling me countless names ( jokingly, I think ), and walking off to find out if there would be a problem. Luckily, the chap who took care of us in the hangar was good as gold and before we knew it we were on the walkway boarding our home for the next week.
To give you a day to day blow would be too much. I will however give you some idea of what to expect onboard the ( as our captain continuously called it ), ‘Beautiful Celebrity Silhouette’. Let’s start with the accommodation. We were in AquaClass. This allows you access to Blu restaurant, and free entry and usage of the relaxation rooms. Blu restaurant and AquaClass in general I believe is designed for a slightly more healthy outlook and cruise appeal. We ate in Blu for dinner once and the 4 of us met there for breakfast at least a couple of times. The food isn’t buffet style and is cooked to order. The Muesli, made in front of you with a countless choice of ingredients was delicious. All hot plates ordered, were again cooked very well and we couldn’t really complain.
Our room was bigger than I thought. After spending an evening on a Marco Polo ship in dock recently I was fearing the worst. On that night the room was tiny and had not even a window or clock. Aboard the Celebrity Silhouette however things couldn’t have been more different. We had a good size balcony space for a start. A definite recommendation in my eyes. Plenty of room for relaxing in the evening while watching the world go by. The room itself had a decent shower, considering what I was expecting. The bathroom was more than adequate. There was some wardrobe space and it had plenty of little nice extras.
It was hard to really debate the quality of the food. We ate in all the speciality restaurants. Each have their own standout reasons to be tried. My personal favourite was Murano. The food was outstanding. The service perfect. It was a more refined affair than the others but it was still relaxed enough. It was at least as good as some meals I have eaten at Michelin starred restaurants in the UK. Alternatives though were as below, ( and at a supplement unless you buy a package )
Qsine: Designed to be different. Lots of food served in very unusual ways. Ordered on an iPad. Well worth a visit for original dishes such as Sushi Lollipops and a Meatball Trilogy.
Tuscan Grille: basically, an excellently executed steakhouse. Obvious in its name, Italian dishes are par for the course. The food again was pretty much faultless and was a great way to start our week.
The Lawn Grill: GB’s favourite. Up on deck 15. An interactive experience where guests get to make their own pizzas as starters and then if they choose to they can grill/barbecue whatever cuts of meat/fish/vegetable options they selected from the menu, and there is a huge choice. The most fun of all the speciality restaurants. We went twice.
Blu: I may have this slightly wrong but I believe this is reserved for AquaClass only, or anyone in a suite. Please note you won’t get in dressed as a Malteser! The dinner we had in there was very nice, but out of them all I would say this was my least favourite. 
There was also The Porch. A small surcharge was involved when we ate there for lunch. I wouldn’t say it was outstanding. It was a wrap or panini type affair. By the same token I’ve eaten much worse. It’s difficult to find issues in the food in any way really. Everywhere that I tried had so much choice, and was cooked to a very high standard. The main restaurant was great. Lots of variations, good service and food you would expect to pay a reasonable price for in the UK. 
I’m not even covering the pool grill and pool bar, the main breakfast buffet area, and not forgetting there is a Bistro along with a cafe serving cakes, coffee, etc and an Ice Cream parlour all on Deck 5. The food as I have already stated is extremely good. What I haven’t mentioned though is the service. I am going to sound like I am writing an advert for Celebrity Cruises but truthfully I cannot think of any place I have been to where the people treat you better. The little things the staff onboard do to go that extra mile really does make a difference.
There are other bars as well. The chap running the bar down on deck 3 was a lovely man. Impressive in itself that when I ventured there the following day he remembered what I was drinking. Considering we had one drink there the day before and the traffic going through that section just made it that much more noticeable. The Sunset bar at the back of the ship. What a place to watch the sun fade away, and amazingly while drinking your G & T, you can sit on the perfectly cut lawn or play Boules. GRASS!.. On a BOAT!… It’s not my drink of choice but you still have to visit The Martini Bar. The bar surface is made of ice and is über cool ( literally ). Of course being childish we did play the who can keep their hand on the bar longest!
There is a casino. Apparently it’s the norm on a cruise ship these days. I’m not a big gambler but I had the odd go on a fruity, TH and Juzza spent a few Disney ducks in there. GB even tried her hand at Craps. For those unaware of the game it’s the one where you throw dice down the table aiming to get certain numbers. GB actually walked away with a hundred dollars in her bin. The same cannot be said for her playing partner Jim. A crusty looking skinny old boy who came to the table wielding a fistful of cash. He changed up $300 and started well. He even offered GB some $25 chips to stay insisting she was his lucky charm, but we headed off to dinner. Upon our return Jimbo was not looking so chipper. He was down to the tune of 8000 DOLLARS!… Which shows two things in my book.
1. The house always wins

2. Never judge a book by its cover.
 Jim might have looked like a washed out vagrant with his Vegas Dice Tattoo but he obviously had the wedge. Eventually he bowled away from the table, still laughing and joking, drink in hand without a care in the world although bemoaning his luck. I dread to think how much he lost over the course of the week. Each to their own though so good luck to him, or at least better luck. The bar in the casino always had at least two staff on and it was never a problem getting a drink. 
My favourite bar and surprisingly the quietest bar mostly was the Molecular Bar. TH knows I love a drink. He had suggested I would like Molecular. TH was right. Jelena, a lovely Serbian girl and the main mixologist onboard was friendlier than a politician looking for your vote. More importantly this girl could make a serious cocktail. I must add she had an incredibly sexy way of saying my name as well which wins her a vote in my book!… Favourite cocktail without doubt was “The Black Mamba”. GB was spoilt with either the Espresso Martini or a 3G. I think we tried virtually all of them through the week ( it’s a tough life ). I won’t go into what was in each drink as the blog would go on forever. We made this or the Martini Bar our meeting point for the evening. It tended to be our “late” drinking den as well. 
This isn’t a top tip, it’s a no – brainer. During our time on board I heard one chap order a Gin & Tonic and a beer. The price was $13.90 give or take a dollar. Asked if he had a drinks package he replied no. Asked if he would like one, his answer was the same. If you take into consideration that during the day this fellow drunk, just for example, 3 cups of coffee and had 3 Gins, why on earth would you NOT have any form of drinks package?.. A cocktail at the Molecular Bar I believe to purchase would be approximately $13. A daily drinks  Premium package costs $12 more than the classic beverage bundle ( I may be slightly out but not by much ). So by having one drink alone gets you your money back. I’m sure people have their reasons but for me regardless the biggest saving we made was purchasing the drink deal. I did mention I like a beer though!
Here is another worthwhile point, at least for some. The smoking areas or as we renamed them “The Lost & Found”. If ever we lost GB, we found her here. I have to say I was surprised how many smoking areas there were. Four in total I think. It’s not like you were forced into a tiny corner and velcroed into a tiny little space. Plenty of seating and with some lovely views. Not a problem for the smoking fraternity onboard Celebrity. 
This isn’t a quibble, just a view or outlook about life on board a Celebrity ship. I thought I’d get bored. By the time I left the Silhouette I was cream crackered. There is SO much to do. From 6am to midnight something , somewhere is going on. From the cheesy stuff like music quizzes and bingo to ballroom dancing and theatre shows. You also had tours and talks regarding the ship. I’ve not even mentioned the sports, karaoke or egg drop competition. It’s all about choice.
The outdoor pool area with hot tub naturally is busy but a bed was always around somewhere. The spa was nice and peaceful as was the indoor pool. 
I did mention it before but the thing that made this part of our break so good were the staff. Faultless in every way. Always smiling, always busy, but never too busy to say hello. They certainly earn their cahoonas. Including swan towels in the room. I mean who doesn’t love a swan towel!. The hideaway is where you go for an afternoon nap or an air conditioned book read in peace and quiet. I also loved a lot of the art in the stairways.
Finally our destinations visited. We were lazy. GB and myself didn’t even think to look up where we were visiting for tours etc..
We avoided any official trips on advice of the Doe ( TH ), and made our own way off the liner.
Puerto Rico, San Juan: nice views, large Ralph Lauren shop in port. Not having read up on it we were unsure of what to do or where to go. We were back on board within the hour. 
St. Kitts, Carambola Beach Club: The Doe had done his research. We spent 3 hours lapping up the sun in this lovely beach club around the other side of the hills. I would recommend getting there ASAP though as the best beds go quicker than a hot loaf in a bakers. It’s on the Pacific Ocean side, so the water ( according to The Doe, Dizzee, and GB ) is much warmer. I confess, I went in to my ankles but that was it. Food and drink were reasonable and our taxi driver Bernadette was lovely. Did you know you can have two wives on St. Kitts? Very entertaining ride. My favourite island. I would go back to St. Kitts tomorrow. 
St. Maarten, Mahoe Beach: firstly let me say it’s by far the busiest of the 3 places we visited. 6 huge vessels sat there in dock by the time we returned from our day out including the gargantuan Anthem Of The Seas. It dwarfed the others. You may have seen Mahoe Beach on TV. It’s the one where planes fly roughly 100ft above you as they land a stones throw away. The beach itself gets exceptionally busy and is quite a short beach from road to water, steep and a little awkward as well. Again a tip is get there as early as possible. It is well worth a trip out though if a big bird is coming in. Make sure you book a return with plenty of time to get back to the ship though. Don’t end up a “Runner”.
Trust me, this is not like going on a canal boat down the Norfolk Broads. I’ve not even mentioned the bands that play during the day/evenings. Special mention to 5 o’clock Somewhere. A two piece band that were awesome both acoustically and as a full band. Loved Tabitha’s voice. I must have enjoyed my first cruising holiday. We are booked to go again next year. The Doe told us that Celebrity was 5 star luxury. As a snow buddy, and now a cruise buddy I have to say he wasn’t wrong. 

Did you know it took our Captain 21 years to gain his position. I’m not going to try and spell his name. It was longer than a Christmas conga.

Celebrity please note: the Birdie Song is called the Birdie Song. It is NOT called Chicken Dance! We lost a music quiz on this question!
There you have it. We sailed the erm… 1 sea and we’re heading back to Miami. I am officially the newest member of the Celebrity Cruises fan club!

Tredwells & Beautiful – The Carole King Story ( Happy Birthday Mum )

Tredwells & Beautiful – The Carole King Story: A Birthday To Remember.
A while back, sitting in my mums back garden it dawned on me that this year my mum would hit the grand old age of 70. I’m probably going to be a little biased when I say she doesn’t look it but that’s not really the point. 70!.. SEVEN – OH. It just didn’t seem possible. My mum couldn’t be 70, my mum was always supposed to be 40, 22 – 25 years ahead of me. I would then remain comfortably in my mental state of 18. It’s frightening knowing that one day she might not be here. It’s even more worrying that she may not know just how much she is loved by all of us, family and friends.
With lots going on this year my sister SB was the first to come up with some suggestions on what to do to celebrate. Some options realistic/or otherwise included:
A long weekend in either Cornwall, on the Isle Of Wight, or at Potters in Norfolk. 

Afternoon Tea ( or lunch ) on the Orient Express.

There were countless things to be fair, all of which I’m sure our La -Dee -Da would have enjoyed but the bottom line was, somewhere along the line these things had to be paid for. After two or three secret gatherings the trio of younger Rollos, that’s my sister, brother and moi, came to the conclusion that on a number of occasions our mother had mentioned the Carole King musical Beautiful. I don’t mind a sing – a – long, but I had no idea who Carole King was I admit. We did however all agree that it was affordable and something we could all chip in to pay for, maybe we’d take her out for dinner first. If we could keep it hush hush then even better.
The musical itself is based at the Aldwych Theatre on The Strand in central London. After numerous calls we ended up gathering a total of 19 hearty souls including the birthday girl. Getting the tickets was surprisingly easy. Even more pleasing was the deal the theatre runs for groups of 10 or more. Premium seats at a very reasonable rate. Tickets were purchased, pretty much all together and stage one was complete. The golden oldie had no eye deer.
So far so good. Then came a secondary issue. I’ve touched on this before in past blogs, that people can be extremely fussy when it comes to what they choose to eat. I have no issues with that at all, but it did make it essential to find the right place for food. Somewhere exceptional, memorable, but that gets the basics right most importantly. Having been lucky enough in the last few months to eat up in London a few times I did have a couple of ideas. One place that we had visited was called Tredwells. We went there on a Sunday and I had heard beforehand tremendous musings about the Tredwells Roast dinner. 
I have to say it lived up to the hype. A sharing dish for two, it was a knockout. I do love a roast dinner, and the Tredwells roast was about as good as it gets! After discussing this with my siblings it was decided that We couldn’t go too far wrong choosing Mr. Wareings restaurant in Covent Garden. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a traditional British Sunday roast!
My point of contact at the restaurant was Stefan. Admittedly a little cheekily I asked if it was possible to do the roast dinners for our group on my mums birthday, which fell on a bank holiday Monday. I was a bit concerned that this may have been a no – no but thankfully they agreed to my request. Credit where it’s due Stefan certainly earns his money. He was incredibly helpful with everything. In fact all of the staff I spoke to were extremely friendly and accommodating.
On the day of our mothers birthday our group met up “secret squirrel” at my brothers. The old girls face was a picture as she arrived with my sister. 15 of us jumped on the minibus, and took off towards the big smoke. Mum was still oblivious to where she was going. We arrived at Covent Garden after about an hour. During the trip we had gone through an infinite amount of versions of “happy birthday to you”. Firstly it was sung to the birthday girl. Then it was my niece who got the HBTY treatment. I should add it was also her birthday, RB being a sprightly 22. Then it was the turn of my mums best friend Lucie. It was to be her birthday the following week. My other niece, a 2nd RB, got the HBTY choir chorus. My turn next, middle of June. Then my 3rd niece, end of May. 
By the time we got to Lucies hubby, whose birthday is in September or thereabouts ( I think ), we were on the edge of the west end. Hopping off the bus into the hustle and bustle of Cov Garden my mother had not a scooby. We made our way over to The Roundhouse pub, a 50 yard walk from Tredwells. We were to meet the last 4 of the group here. My mums sister, accompanied by a niece and her daughter. Last but not least was JD. A nephew and his good lady. It was quite funny, him sitting there, 5 yards from my mum, her totally oblivious to him even being there. It wasn’t expected but her face as she realised was a joyful picture.
Finally it was time to make our way over to the restaurant. For a high profile event ( family wise ), I was relatively ( boom boom ) relaxed. So many things could go wrong. For a start the cake my sister had ordered hadn’t turned up. Thankfully though that little troublesome moment was as bad as it got. The cake made its appearance later. We marched in, and up the stairs onto the mezzanine floor. The table was well spaced out with plenty of room in a very pleasant setting. I had taken an executive decision ( I will admit probably for the first time in my life ) and had chosen starters to share. Give people too much choice and it could all go wonky, decide for them and it’s all they can have. It gets eaten or it doesn’t. 
I chose, ( or we ) chose to go with a platter to share of Pork Sliders, Chorizo Jam, Charred Bread and Glazed Chicken Wings. I’m guessing that the starters were gleefully accepted with a large thumbs up judging by the empty boards that the food was served on. I did have a little dabble myself. I can very much understand the reasoning for putting the individual items together. They go together like … ( I was going to try and sing a line from the Grease film but I can only remember Chang Chang and wop bam boo ), so instead I will suggest that as single plates the food was lovely, but as a dish served together… It was like being hit by Mike Tyson… A knockout , although an altogether far more pleasant experience.
 I couldn’t stop eating the wings. As for the Chorizo Jam, big tick in the starter box. If you do go to Tredwells and have a starter, try the Sliders. If the Wings are your auntie, then these bad boys are definitely your favourite uncle. I believe on the whole the Chicken Wings were the favourite component. The meat just fell off and you could sit there eating them all day. Well you could if you didn’t have a main course, dessert and musical to get through.
I’ve waxed lyrical in a previous blog about about just how good this roast dinner is as a main course. Simply put its the best I’ve eaten barring her indoors and my own mother, ( I have to put that as GB will read this at some point ). There isn’t too much food, but there is more than enough. The spuds are about as good as they come, and the veg is varied and cooked to perfection. Minor issue was Tredwells didn’t have extra Elmers, but did try to rectify it by offering up some mash. It’s no substitute though. As its a sharing dish you do have interaction, and it does get people talking. It’s not just a roast dinner believe me, it’s the perfect roast dinner. The beef is immense, the chicken magnificent. My cousin JD isn’t the smallest of humans, but after gnawing on the wings he struggled to get through the beef. The most triumphant achievement though, the birthday girl was happy!
The desserts were varied. Some had the luxurious Chocolate Brownie. Extremely rich, possibly a fraction too much. They couldn’t finish it. I had the Gin’n’Tonic Cheesecake with a few others, ( people that is, not desserts ). You could definitely taste the G & T in it. I’m not sure if it was more like a Panna cotta. Luckily I’m happy with either so I was sorted. The big winner though dessert wise was the Warm Ginger Cake. The smell was unbelievable and the taste was better. A pudding straight out of the top drawer. GB had the WGC so now and again pretending to be mingling I’d dive down towards where my lovely was sitting just to sample this little bowl of delightfulness. Thumbs up for the Coconut Mousse as well. Both peeps that chose this were very happy bunnies.
On the day we were looked after by Kendall. What a great ambassador for Mr. Wareing. Kendall made sure all our needs were met, was conscious of what was going on at all times and made sure the whole experience went exactly how we’d hoped. We got a bit of the birthday cake after another HBTY song for both our mum and then for RB. I should say as well that all the staff were a credit. Polite, attentive, knowledgeable and nothing was unattainable, except of course for my extra Elmers. For those not in the know, Elmer Fudds = spuds.
As a special occasion it’s hard to see how many could match the Tredwells experience. Based on value for money, service and food it has to be right up there in the highest echelons of great restaurants based in London.
We paid up and strolled out into the sunshine for a slow walk to The Strand. The Aldwych Theatre is a grand old theatre. It’s very well placed and has a great atmosphere inside. As I said at the top I had no idea who Carole King was. I do now!… What a songwriter. Did you know CK wrote “The Locomotion”, “You Make Me Feel ( like a natural woman )”, “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Up On The Roof”…. Hah, well now you do my friends. 
Kate Brayben who plays Carole has a superb voice. Excellently supported by the rest of the cast its a magnificent musical. I did love The Drifters and odd cameo of various famous singers of the era including Neil Sedaka ( all played by the same character ). The lighthearted rivalry between the duo of Carole King/Gerry Goffin and Cynthia Weil/Barry Mann is portrayed in a creative and humorous way. It’s funny but with some poignant moments. I loved it. I think our mum did too. It also proves that dreams can come true if you have the self belief. The fact that Carole didn’t necessarily believe herself to be good enough to sing her own songs is remarkable when you look at her career.
A couple of things to note. The song Beautiful is off of the album Tapestry. The album Tapestry was No.1 for 15 consecutive weeks stateside and was in the US billboard charts top 100 for an incredible 6 years!

In this particular era a lot of upcoming singer/songwriters were all living in the same block of apartments vying for a chance to have their song accepted by the agent who rented out their abodes. Quite often it seems they were asked to come up with a song for a particular group and then met up on the Friday to see whose song was best suited to the act in question.
Next time you have a Sunday free, book a roast at Tredwells and then go see Beautiful – The Carole King Story. It’s an awesome way to spend the day!
PS. Happy birthday Mum… Love you loads x