Dining With a Twist

25th May 2016

You may well have been unfortunate enough to see the odd (in many ways) video of people trying to eat and drink on a roller coaster, or Big Dipper as us oldies used to call it. These things rarely, if ever ended well, usually resulting in the poor coaster-riders behind the protagonist being covered in various combinations of food, drink and vomit.

It was then, with some trepidation that we learnt Alton Towers was  launching their very own Roller Coaster Restaurant.
Luckily this isn’t some crazed idea dreamt up by Beelzebub himself, but in fact by those clever marketing people at The Towers. This idea is to seat the diners at a stationary table and use the roller coaster to bring them the food to them. Genius! What could possibly go wrong? To find out , we skipped along the Golden Pathway from parking zone F, to the brand new sparkly restaurant. As it turns out, there’s a huge amount that could go wrong. But did it..?

Having been shown to our table by one of the friendly staff we were introduced to the iPad thingy on which we could order our food and drink.  The whole menu is split up into different sections, giving descriptions, photos, prices and main ingredients of the dishes. This allows you to make an informed choice, at your leisure before you order anything.

Alton Towers Roller Coaster Restaurant
Alton Towers Roller Coaster Restaurant

The real beauty of this ‘self service’ approach is that you order your food when you want it. There’s no waiting ages for a waiter to turn up because they’re too busy serving other customers, which means you don’t have to engage in that trying-to-attract-someone’s-attention-without-clicking-your-fingers charade. Equally, there’s no hassle if you want to chat amongst yourselves for half an hour between courses.

The proof of the pudding of course is in the eating. Or in this case, not so much the eating, but the arrival. Once you’ve made your selection via the iPad thingy, you just have to sit back, relax and wait for the magic to happen, whilst all the techno wizardry happens in the background. We say relax, but it does seem at times as though you’ve stumbled onto the set of Jurassic Park with the soundtrack of Walt Disney’s Fantasia being blasted out in the background.
This may of course just be the fact that we’re old and boring, so judge for yourself by enjoying the delectation that is the following video. During this cinegraphic triumph, watch out for a couple of meals being delivered overhead to their salivating diners via the coaster that rolls.

This is all very well and good of course, but if the food isn’t great, the whole thing is a waste of time. Kind of like Transformers 8, or whatever the latest incarnation of the film franchise is- a whole load of superb CGI trying to cover up what is essentially a really, really poor script.
Well, we’re happy to report that the food is actually very good. It’s certainly a step up from the usual fast food dished out around the park. There are even options on the menu that don’t include chips.
Not that we took advantage of the chip-free option of course, as we plumped for the Super Looper Dish – a fillet steak served up with a buttered lobster tail (oh and chips). You get to select how you would like your steak to be cooked via the iPad thingy of course, and unlike many a poor to posh restaurant we’ve visited, it actually turned up exactly as ordered. In fact, across our table we had a medium-rare, a rare and a blue steak from the kitchen, all cooked to perfection. Not that we’d countenance ordering a blue steak of course. You may as well just grab a cow, cut off its horns, wipe its bum and stick it on a plate!

One of my personal favorite things about this dining experience was the loop-the-loop part of the food delivery track. This was surrounded by a shield of perspex, no doubt put in place to protect the diners below, just in case someone was adventurous enough to order the soup. It did remind me however of the Hotwheels track my brother and I had way back in the early ’70s, complete with the Motorised Booster, which would propel your tiny toy car against the forces of gravity, so it could enjoy another go around the orange plastic tack.
The real beauty of our particular Hotwheels set was that it came in exchange for a collection of Heinz Baked Beans tin labels and, if I remember rightly, a small number of stamps. Oh, the joy when it arrived!

Alton Towers Roller Coaster Restaurant

Still, we digress. The Roller Coaster Restaurant. A tad noisy for oldies and not exactly cheap, but surprisingly good food and a fun experience that most are sure to enjoy.

Treat yourself and the kiddies by making a booking today.

Fairies and Ferrets

16th May 2016

OK admit it, you thought (or hoped) we’d stop writing this tosh now that we’ve reopened for business.
Well, here we are still subjecting our blog followers to life at The Laurels.

This week we decided to test one of our local walks in the fabulous Churnet Valley. This allows us to map, photograph and describe the walks for our guests in handy little hand(y) outs.
Being a tad short of time we decided to wander round one of our shorter walks. Whilst this walk is pretty short, at just over 2 miles, it packs in plenty of beautiful countryside, great views and the odd surprise on the way. (Did we mention it’s also quite short?)

Just a 5 minute walk from our front door is Cotton Dell which follows Cotton Brook, a delightful little stream that runs all the way down from Cotton Village, at the top of the hill.

Cotton Dell

Just as we entered the track leading up The Dell we caught sight of a gentleman taking his pet for a walk.
We’re well used to seeing people walking their tiny dogs on a lead, or ‘rats on a string’ as we like to call them, but it’s not often you see this ……

Ferret walking

We can’t guarantee you’ll trip over these two every time you visit The Dell, but it’s clear they wander up and down here quite often, so you never know if you’ll be invited to give the little feller a cuddle just as Helen was. (That’s the ferret, not the bloke).

Cotton Dell Ferret

Half way up The Dell we turned off the track and headed towards Owls Clough, which is where the artist currently known as ‘The Fairy Man’ lives. Robin is responsible for Fantasy Wire Fairies and is the creator of the fairy trail around Trentham Gardens as well as Wish Maker who lives with us at The Laurels.
You normally have to either stay with us or visit Trentham Gardens to see one of his amazing pieces of art close up, but if you follow this walk, you might be lucky enought to glimpse his garden where some of his fairies may be living.

Fantasy Wire Fairy

If you’re fortunate enough to be wandering around here in the late spring, you really shouldn’t miss our very own Bluebell Wood.
Situated just above our local church, it’s well worth taking the 10 minute detour to this beautiful wooded hillside, which is covered in a mass of bluebells in late April and early May.

Bluebell Wood
Bluebell Wood

So there you have it. A quick whizz up and down The Dell, via the Bluebell Wood in under an hour – or 2 hours if you’re like us and stop to take photos every 5 minutes. What more could you want from a stroll in the country?
We’ve a zillion more walks just like this, starting right from our front door, so why not treat yourself to one some time this Summer?