Friday, February 16, 2007

Welcome to food hell

When did I turn into such a food snob? I thought I'd done well. Because I'm doing one of my stupidly timed flights from Stansted trips this weekend I jumped at the chance for a meeting in Hertfordshire, from where I could go to a hotel (on the basis I wouldn't get back to Leeds before 5pm) and get a decent nights sleep rather than driving down overnight for my 4.45am check in.

I found a hotel with a gym, and I was all set. But seriously, the hotel is in a decent food desert. The hotel itself isn't too bad. I mean, it's not luxury, but it was cheap, and it has a gym. So I managed an hour on the treadmill. It wasn't the long run I should really be doing this weekend, but at least I managed to do something, which is an improvement. Usually I book a hotel with a gym with good intentions but don't quite make it through the doors. This time I did, so that was good.

But driving through, and searching on I wasn't entirely encouraged about the prospects for eating. The place seems to be a new town. Or at least it seems to be an endless stream of retail parks. Even following the signs for the town centre didn't lead me to anything that I'd call a town centre, or anything that wasn't franchised fast food. I'm not even talking your good little local takeaway where things are fresh, if greasy. I'm talking endless strips of McDonalds, or Burger King, or stuff like that. Despite my cravings for junk, I wasn't craving that sort of junk.

And the only pub I found was a Brewers Fayre. I've eaten there before and it didn't kill me, but it was hardly what I was looking for. In the end I ended up at a tapas place. Despite what it says on the website, it's like no night out in a Spanish city I've ever been on. Proper tapas is smaller and... more Spanish really, rather than being on a retail park in a soulless building. But at least it got me in the mood for the weekend, and they had some stuff resembling vegetables on the menu. And at least it's not somewhere I've seen before, even if they have a few locations.

But I just started imagining what it must be like to live somewhere based on ring roads and retail parks and soulless housing estates (which is the main reason I decided to run inside rather than outside, I think it would have been even more depressing than the treadmill!). At least where I live in Leeds has decent pubs and restaurants, and I can get to places that aren't parts of the mega chains fairly easily. And places that have menus that differ from the place down the road.

Sorry if anyone reading this lives here, but it's not somewhere I plan to come back to...


Blogger kathrynoh said...

Sounds awful. I know there are places in the states where you can't walk anywhere - the whole suburbs are only designed for driving. No footpaths or anything. I'd die living somewhere like that.

As for tapas, it's like people call everything tapas nowadays when what they really mean is bar snacks. Not even Spanish style bar snacks at that.

12:45 AM  

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