Tag Archives: eating out

Beer in the library

I have long been a fan of traditional pubs, and when one adds into the mix a library, the Westow House is definitely my kind of establishment.

Some 25 minutes walking distance from my home in Crystal Palace, stands the Westow, a traditional pub. I haden’t visited the place for a while however, on Sunday 2 September I decided to treat myself to a good old-fashioned pub roast and a pint. I got to the Westow at approximately 12:30 as I wanted to gain a seat in a quiet corner with plenty of room for my guide dog, Trigger to stretch out. I was delighted to secure a seat in a corner of the library (a section of the Westow stocked with books, some of which have seen better days as testified by their tatty bindings, but all of which helps to add to the character of the place).

Seated comfortably in an armchair, I enjoyed an excellent roast beef dinner with a garnishing of Horse Raddish, together with a pint of beer. Being visually impaired I am unable to read print. It was, however lovely to be surrounded by books and I took pleasure in handling several volumes despite my inability to read them. Ever since I was a child I’ve always relished the scent and feel of books which does, I think go back to when my grandfather would take me to W. H. Smiths to buy a book, which he would read to me once we reached home.

On first entering the Westow the premises where quiet (a situation ideally suited for anyone wishing to avail themselves of a good book and a pint or 2 of beer). As the pub filled up, the sound of conversation and people playing snooker replaced the comparative silence. However, to someone lost in a good book I’m sure that this would not distract from the pleasure of reading.

My roast beef dinner, including a pint of beer, came to precisely £19. While some might consider this rather expensive, given the friendly atmosphere and the quality of the food I’d certainly recommend the Westow House, https://westowhouse.com

Excuse me, Are you In The Queue?

I recently travelled with an acquaintance into London’s Victoria’s mainline station. On arrival I proceeded merrily and with some rapidity towards the ticket barriers.

“Trigger (my guide dog) is pushing in front of the queue” said my acquaintance. Oops!

Being a guide dog Trigger is taught to find a safe way through or around obstacles, including crowds. If my four-legged friend sees a gap, he goes for it with a will. I had no idea Trigger was skirting the queue and everyone queuing was too polite/embarrassed to say anything!

The above incident caused me to ponder on the advantages of being blind (other than the ability to jump queues without being lynched). After some consideration I came up with the below list:


  1. Having learned Braille from a young age I am able to read in the dark. This was particularly useful during my time at boarding school as I continued to read after the dormitory lights had been switched off and we children where supposed to be in the land of nod!
  2. Many tourist attractions and places of entertainment offer either a reduced fee or no payment to disabled people. This often extends to a person accompanying the disabled person. The result – I have lots of friends …!
  3. Any items designed for the blind (E.G. Braille books, magazines and talking books) are sent free of charge using articles for the blind labels meaning I save a fortune on postage!
  4. I get to take my wonderful guide dog, Trigger into places which do not permit other dogs to enter. So I can enjoy a nice hot curry while trigger snoozes at my feet or looks up at me appealingly hoping that a scrap of food will fall from my plate!
  5. The screen on my mobile phone recently developed a crack. As I rely on the phone’s talking software this does not bother me in the least although I am, as it happens probably in need of a new phone for reasons unrelated to the device’s broken screen.

I’m off now to queue jump, purely unintentionally you understand …

There Is Nowt So Queer As Folk

Shortly before Christmas 2014 I stood at a busy bar waiting to be served. Time passed but no one seemed inclined to attend to my requirements. I turned to the gentleman standing next to me,

“Do you think they have noticed me?” I said.

“Everyone seems to want food. I don’t know why they can’t eat at home, that is what I do. You are different, being blind I mean” my companion said.


The above conversation intrigued me. Was my fellow pub goer some kind of puritan with a deep seated objection to people spending money on eating out when they could, perfectly well knock up a meal at home? Puritans generally object to the drinking of alcohol and as my new found acquaintance was imbibing the demon drink I dismissed the idea that he was a strict Puritan.

The idea that the gentleman might be the adherent of a form of extreme left-wing radicalism crossed my mind. Did he feel in the very depths of his being that it was wrong to spend money on luxuries such as eating out when there are people starving in the world? But if he did indeed adhere to such an extreme perspective why allow himself the “luxury” of a drink as alcohol is, surely not a necessity?

As I pondered such philosophical questions a barman approached and enquiring what I wanted proceeded to serve me. I never did get to the bottom of what precisely my new found friend had against people who choose to spend a convivial Sunday afternoon enjoying a roast in a pub rather than slaving over a hot stove. It just goes to prove, as is often remarked in the north of England that “there is nowt so queer as folk”.

BBC London Documentary Reveals The Extent Of Discrimination Faced By Disabled People

A documentary on BBC London reveals the extent of discrimination faced by disabled people. Using hidden cameras a woman in a wheelchair documents the inaccessibility of venues (lack of ramps, high tables and broken lifts), while a guide dog owner is refused carriage by 5 out of 20 taxis.

The equalities Act 2010 makes it an offence to refuse to convey an assistance dog, when accompanied by a disabled person meaning that 5 out of 20 companies are in flagrant breech of the law.

As a registered blind guide dog owner I am depressed (but not surprised) by the findings of the documentary. It is, to put it mildly extremely upsetting to be discriminated against. It makes one feel like a second-class citizen which, in the 21st century is wholly unacceptable. Hopefully the drivers concerned (together with the companies) will lose their licenses. It is only through stringent enforcement (coupled with education) that discrimination can be eliminated.

For the documentary please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-29917990#afterFlash

By Command Of The Lord Chancellor

“By command of the Lord Chancellor, help the homeless”. The man stands there, in the train compartment bellowing out his command. Noone responds. “Help the homeless”, again the Scottish voice booms out on this London commuter train. Once more there is no response from the passengers on the way home to their warm apartments or, like me going to meet friends for a slap up meal, with a nice bottle of red wine in my favourite Indian restaurant.

The same journey, an earlier time.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I am sorry to disturb you but me and my friends need money to buy “The Big Issue” to sell. I wouldn’t usually ask but can anyone spare some change”. The same man, with the Scottish accent asking for money. On this (earlier) occasion there is the jingling of change as one or two commuters give money.

I am not the only person who has observed this gentleman on numerous occasions as he begs for money on the train as it wends it’s way from Victoria towards Crystal Palace. Noone believes his story about needing money for “The Big Issue”, we have seen and heard him before. However a sense of compassion has, hitherto moved some of us to give but, on this latest occasion the gentleman’s threatening manner illicits no charitable outpouring.

I wonder what this man’s story is? There but for the grace of god, chance or however one cares to frame it go you or I.

Keep The Cat In The Bag

On Friday evening I was enjoying an excellent curry and a good bottle of red wine in the company of one of my oldest friends. While I never intentionally tune into other people’s conversations, on occasions one simply can not help doing so and Friday evening was a case in point.

“It isn’t her fault that her mother was a prostitute” a lady sitting with a group of people announced in a voice which carried across the restaurant.

“So will you use this in your next book?” my friend asked in a low tone.

“Its amazing what you overhear and, if I did use it no one would have their identity revealed” I replied.

As it happens neither my friend nor I where acquainted with the people in question and the statement quoted above, if used in a story would not in and of itself breech the privacy of the speaker unless of course I was acquainted with the histories of the individuals to whom the lady refered and I used this knowledge in a future plot. This would, of course be ethically wrong and has the potential to land me or any other writer in hot water of the legal kind where I or any other person to be so unethical as to use personal information without the explicit permission of those concerned.

Watch what you drink for when the wine flows it is amazing what people will let out of the bag!