One of my friends lives up in the middle bit of the country, and when we recently decided to get together, we decided on a point on the train line roughly between our respective abodes.
I’d have happily trained it all the way up, but he was being very gentlemanly about it, and decided that would not be fair to me. Mind you, meeting in the middle, in a place where neither of us had been before, sounded like a really good idea at the time. We looked at the different stops and settled on the town that was nearest to the middle.
Famous for its pottery, this town boasts a historic trail. Surely it couldn't be all that bad. Coming out of the station, the first thing we saw was a relatively new statue and a 16th century mansion house converted to a hotel. Bar the fact the patio umbrella looked like it had seen better times, it seemed like a good start. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
We worked out where the town centre was on the basis that it would likely be in the direction of the church, but still almost missed it. Time for lunch, and we decide to ask a cab driver for a recommendation for a nice-ish place. His response was, and I kid you not: “I don’t think the take-aways are open yet”. He pointed us in the direction of one of the pub chains well-known for its cheap pints. It cracked us up. After a very quick toss-up, we decide we would like something a bit more up-market, so proceed to ask a random stranger in the street. His reply was possibly even more damning: “Anywhere but here - just get on the bus and get out of here”. A further look around told us it was probably sound advice, so off we went in search of the nearest bus stop.
The bus station at the next town had a restaurant that seemed to be stuck in an identity crisis. The foreign sounding name appeared to be completely at odds with the banner advertising a 2-for-1 offer for steak and kidney pie and a pint. We decided to give that one a miss. We persevered, and got recommendations for not one but two restaurants that were supposed to be 'posh'. We walked up the high street and one of the first people we saw could only be classified as a 1970s porn star. Male. You know the look - tight pink T-shirt with sparkly sequins, chest hair showing, tight white jeans, and matching sunglasses. It honestly couldn’t have gotten any better than that. And it didn’t. Get any better, that is.
Still laughing, we made our way to the restaurant where it became painfully clear that our interpretation of an up-market restaurant did not apply to the place we had been recommended, the pub would have been a better choice. One of the more surreal experiences in recent memory.