Sunday, 8 July 2012

Five Things I Learned In (And Around) Shropshire

I'm newly returned from a weekend at The Other Half's parents, helping her celebrate her birthday through the application of cocktails, cooked meat, and zoo animals. Among the revelations of the last three days:
  1. The chances of a train journey inside or just beyond Wales being free of intolerable fuck-ups is around 50%.  Maybe it was bad luck, but I travelled to Shrewsbury and Chester during my stay, as well as the actual trip to and from my flat, and every time something went wrong on either the outbound or return journey.  The smallest problem was a half hour delay on Friday; yesterday and today both involved cancellations all over the place.  Naturally, the staff involved ranged from brusque to actively objectionable.  How dare we ask for clarification on how to use the tickets we've already paid far too much for?
  2. The Armoury in Shrewsbury is absolutely fantastic.  It's not exactly cheap (though neither is it exorbitant), but you're paying for both quality and quantity; concepts which all too often seem to work against each other.  Also, whilst you're eating, you can play with the pub's pile of games; TOH and I wiled away a necessary hour's worth of digestion by working through a copy of Articulate.  They've got an Etch-a-Sketch, too, which allowed me to present TOH with the worst rendering of a rose in assembled human history.  If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well, and if you can't do it well, it's at least worth doing so badly that it's at least worthy of comment.  There's also loads of explosives on the walls, which has to be worth something;
  3. Another significant advantage to The Armoury is that it's less than ten metres from Ramdala Romolo, a restaurant that presumably serves food of some description, but which also has a kick-ass cocktail bar upstairs.  It has a far greater range than Ebony in Durham, and is cheaper than The Kenilworth in Kenilworth, my previous high watermarks for such things.  Try the Alaska Ice Tea, if you're ever in the area;
  4. No-one would ever go poor betting on zoo crowds being filled with idiots and viciously callous idiots. How can anyone get into their thirties (at least) and not be able to tell the difference between a sloth and a koala? What possesses a father to encourage his child to mimic the behaviour of the mandrills through the glass, despite signs begging him not to and increasingly violent attacks by the primates on the glass in response (the toddler in question ended up in terrified tears: nice work!)?  What would possess a parent to take their kids to the zoo and complain about how boring animals are at every single enclosure?  And whilst it's entirely forgivable for someone to not be able to recognise an aardvark on sight, what hideous recesses of the lizard-brain could lead to someone arguing it's either a giant meerkat or an antelope? (Their companion tried to argue that they probably meant "anteater", only to be told that "an anteater is a type of antelope".);
  5. I have finally been exposed to "original" Strongbow, which tastes identical to its more famous cousin (though is slightly less strong), but which gets some marks purely because the archer on the cans is clearly from Antiquity, rather than the Middle Ages warrior which is the standard symbol.  I'm not saying it makes the endeavour worthwhile, but it did make me smile. 

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