Experiencing an eco-friendly break with our guest blogger, Katherine
This week we’re delighted to share a guest blog from one of our Christmas ‘Stockings Full of Prizes’ winners, Katherine who tells us about her recent eco-friendly stay with her husband. The couple added an additional night to their stay explaining why ‘ONE DAY IN NOTTS IS NEVER ENOUGH’
Recently I was fortunate enough to enjoy a short stay in Nottingham courtesy of Experience Nottinghamshire.
I stayed at the De Vere Orchard Hotel which sits grandly in the grounds of University Park. The minute you step into the light and airy atrium, you are impressed by the simple stylishness; unfussy and uncluttered, yet warm and welcoming. Bedrooms are spacious with all mod cons (including ironing board and iron – ours weren’t used!), flat screen TV and free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is a self-service affair featuring plenty of freshly-prepared fruit in addition to the usual array of cereals, yogurt, continental-style or full-English delights, with the presence of black pudding keeping the Northerners among us happy.
To reach the centre of Nottingham from here you could of course take your car but with such a well-integrated public transport system, why would you? Buses run along Derby Road at frequent intervals and are indicated by the electronic displays at each stop, informing you of the number, destination and wait time – impressive.
Whilst my other half enjoyed a round of golf at the very welcoming Wollaton Park Golf Club, set in fabulous parkland with herds of red and fallow deer to add interest to the course, my morning was devoted to culture and, wait for it – shopping (well, you’ve got to strike a balance, haven’t you?!). The Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery was hosting a special exhibition, ‘Cornish Light’, highlighting late nineteenth century works created in the south-west, a delightful collection which I enjoyed before wandering through the other galleries and museum collections.
On my way back to the shopping streets I was stopped by a young lady from Patisserie Valerie who insisted I try a sample of their mille-feuille. Ever one to help in market research I obliged – and, it was truly delicious, or should that be délicieux! Anyway, on to the aforementioned shopping: I wasn’t prepared for the wide variety on offer – from the large shopping malls like the intu Victoria Centre, to the smaller but perfectly formed Exchange Arcade, from the independent boutiques to the big chains, each has its own part to play in providing a really broad retail therapy experience. I also liked the area of Hockley with its quirky mix of vintage, charity and arty surprises.
In the evening we made our way towards the river, to The Riverbank Bar & Kitchen to be precise. What a lovely setting for this obviously popular eatery: you can sit comfortably outside (snug fleecy blankets are on hand for the chillier evenings) and take in the riverside views by
Trent Bridge. A great choice of food is available whether you dine in the restaurant or, less formally, in the bar. We, personally, took advantage of the Early Bird Menu of 2 courses for £16, and we weren’t disappointed: nicely cooked not over-fussy food; excellent service; all-round pleasant ambience. If we lived in the city, we’d certainly become regulars!
So, having viewed the Trent from the riverbank, it was time to venture onto it – in the form of a Princess River Cruise. We boarded our vessel in the company of happy groups of passengers united in the desire to enjoy each others’ company and have a good time out on the water – and we certainly did! The three-hour sailing, with commentary where appropriate, took us past city landmarks to the Wilford Toll Bridge and then downstream through more vibrantly green rural passages as far as Holme Lock. The weather had decided to be kind to us that afternoon; so much time was spent up on the small deck after we had had a substantial afternoon tea. These river cruises are well-organised, manned by a friendly ‘crew’ and generally appeal to both large and small groups. And did I mention there was a bar on board?!
Finally, and a propos of things water-related, I would just like to give a thumbs-up to the Attenborough Nature Reserve for their well-maintained network of paths round the old gravel pits and to the visitor facilities at the Nature Centre. They do a nice line in T-shirts and souvenirs emblazoned with the immortal “Ay up mi duck!” which is what I’ll be saying when I next visit Nottinghamshire!
Experience Nottinghamshire would like to thank the De Vere Orchard Hotel, Wollaton Park Golf Club, The Riverbank Bar & Kitchen and Princess River Cruises for their kind prize donations.