Over New Year, Sam and Shara mentioned that they had booked tickets to see Derren Brown in Edinburgh. I swear I saw James turn green with envy (or maybe it was the escargot). Because I’m a great girlfriend, I decided to check and see if Derren was doing any shows in April, when we’d be in the UK. As luck would have it, he was doing a show in Stoke on Trent the night before we were due back in Edinburgh.
It only made sense to break up the drive with a little pit stop…
We booked our hotel, the Quality Hotel Stoke (I’d have named it The Master Stoke), and put a note in the booking that we’d like a room with wifi, because we had to get a few hours of work in. All this travel doesn’t pay for itself, you know.
They gave us a room in the furthest corner of the hotel. The only place we could get wifi was sitting in the bathroom, and that was if we had a satellite plugged in.
James went down to the hotel swimming pool and I decided to have a bath. I got excited because the tub was a jacuzzi, but then I was immediately disappointed because the bubbles didn’t work, and my bath was boring. Then I found out there were no towels in the room. I thought maybe James had taken them to the swimming pool, but when he came back looking grumpy. He had to use his t-shirt to dry himself. Not impressed so far, Quality Stoke!
At least the hotel was near the theatre. We decided that we wanted anything but Indian food, as we already had reservations at Kismot for the following night. But then the nearest restaurant to the theatre happened to be a curry place, so we wandered in anyway. It ended up being one of the best curries we’ve ever had, and the very young, very stressed waiter managed to provide some pre-theatre entertainment too.
“Can we have a bottle of the house white?” I asked.
“NO!” he said, looking quite perplexed. “We have no bottles.”
We kind of looked at each other and then I said “Okay. Two glasses then?”
“Of house white wine?”
He wandered off and came back with some nice and fruity white wine: stunning. I was upset because a bottle of it would have gone down a treat. Then I ordered a lamb saag, and James ordered tandoori chicken.
“Would you like the chicken on the bone?”
“BUT SIR! You can’t have the chicken on the bone! It takes forty minutes to cook, and you might miss your show at the theatre!”
“Um. Okay, I’ll just have it not on the bone, then.”
So he waddles off, we relax a bit: the boy knows we’re going to the theatre, so we don’t have to panic about our food being late. About ten minutes later, he appears from the kitchen.
“Madam… I’m sorry, you ordered the ghosht saagawalla?”
“But… madam. That’s lamb.”
“Like, a little baby sheep. You know. Lamb.”
“But madam,” he sighed, “we don’t have any lamb.”
“Okay. Can I have chicken saagawalla?”
Anyway, the food arrived, and it was absolutely amazing. Even although it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, it was divine. The spices were well judged, the flavours were terrific, everything was cooked perfectly. I would go back in a heartbeat. In fact, after the show, I wanted to pop in and have seconds!
Derren Brown was also amazing. He told us not to blog about it though, so all I’m going to say is that if you have a chance to see him live, you probably should.
We didn’t see much of Stoke on Trent, but the little area around our hotel and the theatre was pretty nice. I enjoyed the restaurant, I enjoyed having a bit of banter with the friendly bar staff in the theatre, and even our room was okay when you got over the fact that there were no towels. All in all, it made a nice little pitstop on our way back north.