On arrival I was waiting at reception and another couple were waiting behind us when I spotted the receptionist in the room behind the office busy relating a funny story to a colleague. I presumed it was funny because they were laughing a lot. I was just looking round for a bell to ring so as to attract her attention when she spotted us all waiting at the desk. She shouted through 'I won't be a moment' and carried on with her tale. A couple of minutes later, she came to see to our registration. It was refreshing to see that she didn't let work get in the way of her social life! Obviously, they're different up North.
Having discovered that dinner was served at precisely 6.30 p.m. we resolved to eat out at a later time thinking to get a nightcap on our return to the hotel. Later, as we arrived back after a pleasant meal elsewhere, we passed the hotel lounge windows and looked in to see what we later discovered were a coach party of pensioners from even further up North who were obviously enjoying listening to a comedian. We overheard 'My mother-in-law paid me a compliment the other day. She called me a perfect idiot!' This decided us to go straight to our room. I was reminded that hotels up North often provide 'entertainment' in the evening so we were curious to see what would be on offer the next night!
Before that however, we had to negotiate breakfast. On entering the dining room my wife spotted two tables next to each other, both of which were for two people, so we sat at one. A moment later, the girl receptionist who had metamorphosed into a waitress, appeared at the table wielding a highlighter pen and carrying a clip board with a table plan on it. 'Sorry but could you move to the adjacent table because this one's been allocated to a different room.' Remarkably, we did as we were told. Of course, the first table remained empty throughout our breakfast. Sparing you the detail I shall just report that my wife 'played safe' by ordering a poached egg on toast. The egg was perfectly cooked and had then apparently been placed onto the toast using a soup ladle since the toast and indeed the entire plate, was swimming in water. They do things different up North.
The next night, we again returned after a nice meal and looked in at the windows to see a guy playing keyboard and singing. We bravely entered the lounge and my wife took a seat while I went up to the bar to order coffee and brandy chasers. The multi-functional girl had now become a cocktail server! I asked her if she had decaff coffee. 'Yes we do but I'm not serving coffee at the moment.' There seemed to be no answer to this so I took the brandies back to our table.
I was soon indulging myself in people watching and was fascinated by two elderly couples opposite. One of the men was disabled and had a stick. His partner was busy foot-tapping to the music vigorously. The other lady was singing along matching the performer word for word. Actually, he was pretty hot on keyboards and confessed to having been the pianist on the original (1971) Tony Christie recording of 'Amarillo'. He'd been given the choice of payment in the form of cash or royalties. If he'd chosen the latter he'd have been a wealthy man but he wanted to buy a 'Ben Sherman' shirt to impress his girlfriend so he took the cash. Such is life!
On our last night, we almost raced back to join the merry throng having become honorary members of the pensioners party. I made the bar girl a request which she could find no way to refuse and we took our allotted table opposite the same foursome as last night. We were all mesmerised by the organist who's feet, sporting the whitest of white shoes, were flashing across the organ pedals at high speed.
At the end of his show, he announced "take your partners for the Last Waltz". The karaoke queen sitting opposite was up like greased lightning and proceeded to drag her partner onto the dance floor. The other lady joined them to make a three-some, her hips swinging alarmingly to the rhythm. The disabled guy stood with difficulty and held on to the chair and table where he shuffled a little and watched his friends over on the dance floor.
Then I noticed the first couple speak to his wife and the three of them walked across and helped their disabled friend over to the dance floor. Once there, they all linked arms providing mutual support and swayed together as one while the strains of the last waltz drifted round the lounge. They are different up North.