Tips and tidbits for travel and for fun
The Table d’Hôte
ONE OF THE BEST dining values in Britain is the table d’hôte menu at a first class hotel. Almost every three and four star hotel has a dining room serving a table d’hôte menu. Whether it becomes part of your travel lifestyle or is a one-off splurge for a budget traveler, do take dinner in a good hotel dining room.
You might expect to pay between £20-£30 for the table d’hôte menu that proffers choices for a three-course leisurely dinner in style. While the cuisine itself may or may not measure up to top flight a la carte dining, the standard is as uniformly good as the menu is predictable. You will dine well for considerably less than you would for a comparable á la carte meal.
Starters will include a soup (almost always a good bet), a couple of salad options, a terrine or pâté and a seafood. Main course offerings will embrace a roast red meat, a chicken or fowl, a seafood and a vegetarian entrée at least. Generally the meat or fish will be sauced, regardless of how it is cooked. Vegetables are often served on the side or from serving bowls on the table. The sweets course or pudding will often be offered from a separate menu presented after the main course. In some places, the old sweets trolley will be wheeled to the table for your selection. You are likely to be offered heavy cream, poured over everything from fresh fruit salad to chocolate gâteau. Coffee, often accompanied by chocolates or sweetmeats, customarily is served after desert. You order decaf at your own risk. Bon appetite.
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The British Heritage
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We puzzled this last issue: “The oldest choral music festival in the world has united the choirs of three famous cathedrals annually for almost 300 years. Where are these cathedrals?”
The annual Three Choirs Festival combines the cathedral choirs of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester. Its summer venue rotates between the three western England cathedral cities. This year’s festival took place in Hereford.
Here’s a Puzzler of a different kind of culture. Both of these organic national emblems share the Welsh name Ceninen. What are they?
We do always enjoy your notes. Do be a Puzzler player. Post a card or email to [email protected]
Sites for the Savvy
- www.ujnews.com Union Jack, monthly tabloid newspaper for British expats in the U.S.
- www.acprailnet.com/britrail The official Britrail site, complete and helpful
- www.telegraph.co.uk Latest news from the Daily Telegraph on line
- www.visitBritain.us Visit Britain’s Web site for American travelers
- www.nationaltrust.org.uk Visiting hundreds of National Trust properties
- www.bbc.co.uk Get the latest news from the BBC
A Room of One’s Own
The King’s Arms Hotel, Dorchester
THE STAIRS ARE uneven; there’s a warren of creaking corridors; the bar is dark and low, with exposed beams: the King’s Arms is a quintessential old coaching inn. Unexceptional as a hotel, as it’s supposed to be, the sum of the experience is greater than its parts. The King’s Arms is a part of history. King George III used to stop here, and Thomas Hardy wrote it into his Wessex novels. Travelers to and through Dorchester have been putting up here in Dorset’s county town since the 1700s. For generations, pints have been pulled and stories told in the cozy public bar.
Right at the crossroads of the heart of town, the King’s Arms is perfectly located for exploring this fascinating old market town on foot. Everyone is friendly at the King’s Arms, and the accommodations, dining and service are everything you would expect from a three-star historic town inn. A great stay.
King’s Arms Hotel
30 High Street Dorchester DT1 1HF Tel. 011 44 1305 265353 www.kingsarmsdorchester.co.uk
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Coming Up in British Heritage
- Who ever heard of a castle with central heating?
- Forget the Med; take a cruise around Great Britain!
- The Centre for Alternative Technology is Siân Ellis’ Hidden Gem
- The Granddaddy of Christmas Shop Windows
- History and Hip at the Tip of Cornwall
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You see his byline regularly in British Heritage; now meet James Graham, in his own words
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I HAVE BEEN A journalist for over 20 years; progressing from local, daily evening newspapers in the Midlands to feature writing for international publications, based now in my home in south London.
Writing for British Heritage is combined with work for a range of wine and spirit publications and Web sites, both in the UK and abroad. Writing about the drinks industry can be hard work (which no one believes), but I cannot deny there are pluses. One of the pleasures of dealing with wine-makers is enjoying their enthusiasm; they are farmers, whose products are produced with passion.
My passion outside of writing is railroads. Living as I do in the country that gave railroads to the world is a privilege and gives me great opportunity to enjoy both the latest technology and the beauty of Victorian steam technology. Wine and trains come together nicely when I take the Eurostar to Paris and picnic, wine included, by a preserved steam railway. It’s a fine way to spend an English summer’s day.
I am married with five children, who do their best to rob me of sleep, money and sanity. My daughter, 8, is beginning to show signs of interest in literature and writing. Perhaps one day she will write for British Heritage? I’ll drink to that!