Well, this is a first for us!
We’re off for a Warner Weekend with our like-minded friends: Geoff, Rhonda, Paul and Sue.
We’re staying at Warner’s Littlecote House Hotel in Berkshire.
It’s a themed long-weekend entitled: ‘Oh! What A Feeling‘, celebrating the music of Lionel Richie & The Commodores as well as Tom Jones. There’s also dozens of free activities to enjoy too!
Add to that, we’ve got a comprehensive range of breakfast options every day, a three-course dinner every evening, and complete use of the leisure facilities. What’s not to love? ?
Friday – Arrival
After a brief stop at Bicester Shopping Village (surely more of a city these days as it’s grown quite a bit, since we were last here back in November 2014), we drove the last part to the Hotel in less than an hour, arriving at 2.50pm.
2.55pm: Paul and Sue were just ahead of us and given our unfamiliarity with the area, we drove in convoy through the Hotel’s (already very full) car-park. Boy, this place is busy! I think we got the last two spaces that felt like they were in Hungerford! Still, walking is good for you! ??
We were soon settled in our respective rooms – we’re in 303 – and they’re pretty well-appointed.
4.10pm: Next stop was the daily ‘Teatime Teaser Quiz’, and Warner’s are quite well-known for them. The combined talents of the six of us meant we answered pretty much all of the questions with ease. We christened ourselves The Northants Nutters, but in spite of the fear-inducing nature of our name, we didn’t win (but we were close!) Still, the top prize of a solitary cup-cake made us feel that we could forego victory without too much trouble. Anyway, there’s another quiz tomorrow ?
With the (slightly) sour taste of defeat still ringing in our ears (can ears ‘taste’?) we moved onto the most important activity of the break: booking places for the free activities. We bagged slots for Archery, Rifle-Shooting (what else do you do with a rifle?), Yoga, Swimming, Aqua-Aerobics, the Old House Tour and Skittles… but equally important, we ensured they had us booked-in for eating in the Restaurant too! ?
6.45pm: Second-only to ‘Restauranting’, the next most important activity was drinkies (tonight it’s at Geoff & Rhonda’s room). In preparation, we’d all come armed to the teeth with alcohol, and helpfully (just in case that wasn’t enough) the Hotel had put a free bottle of wine in each Room too! Oh dear! our first big decision…
What to do with all the booze? ?
Luckily, we worked it all out before
heading staggering to the Restaurant for 7.30pm. It was our first evening meal here and they’d reserved us a quietish table – Table 192 – near the window – it was ours for the duration and so we can eat when we like.
7.35pm: We must have been one of the last to arrive in the Restaurant – it was packed – they obviously eat early here. But the Table we’d reserved was waiting for us and we were soon giving the Menu the ‘once over’.
Wow! Our first Meal ‘punched well above its weight’ both in terms of presentation and taste. Considering how many they were catering for, this was a very pleasant surprise. Piotr, our Polish Waiter, worked his socks off, and kept us fed and watered throughout. Given that we were last to arrive, we were also almost the last to leave. Where had everyone gone? We were about to find out!
9.15pm: We all headed for the Lounge, where (luckily) Geoff had reserved our seating too! On arrival, it became obvious where everyone had gone! HERE!! for the evening of entertainment. Clearly, the ‘regulars’ understand the process – ‘Eat early, and then head for the Lounge as soon as you can so you can grab a seat with a good view’. We arrived just as another Quiz was ending and where everyone was taking it very seriously! ?
We’d read the evening’s itinerary and weren’t quite sure what to expect in terms of entertainment, but if the number of people packed into the Lounge was a guide (I think 99.9% of the Hotel’s guests were there – we reckon in excess of 200!), we were in for a treat. ?
9.30pm: First up, was Evah Morgan, a girl with a really powerful voice. I’m sure when she’s not singing, she’s using it to shatter concrete from 100 paces – what a pair of lungs! She easily filled the dance-floor by about her fourth number as she belted-out many Motown favourites. For extra entertainment, it was good to see a few dancing couples with worse hand/body co-ordination than me (and that’s saying something!). I felt like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever in comparison. Evah performed for about an hour – and the audience was very appreciative.
10.30pm: Following Evah was ‘Sahara Blue’. In spite of a good voice and excellent stage presence, it was all a bit slow to engage the by-now somewhat dwindled audience. By the time we threw in the towel at 10.55, just two couples were just about to take to the dance-floor. Paul and Sue flew the flag for ‘youngsters staying up late’! ?
Saturday – Day 1
Ahh, a day of intense activity follows… ?
8.00am: But first, the most important meal of the day – Breakfast!
9.20am: There was something for everyone – and given our Australian experience with Sausages, it was good to see the return of the traditional banger (Crown Plaza, Canberra, please take note!). With enough fuel on offer to keep me going for
days weeks months, Sue, our newly appointed ‘Events Co-ordinator Supremo’, confirmed today’s agreed activities…
10.00am: First stop was Table-tennis, but the biggest challenge was actually finding the room. We eventually tracked it down to the Long Gallery where, apart from us, it was completely deserted. Still, with our combined table-tennis skills bordering on mediocre it was probably best we weren’t playing in front of an audience! ?
Next stop was Archery lessons. Initially, the safest place to be when we had the bow in our hand was right in front of the target itself. As time progressed though, we all improved. Our results may not have been Robin Hood standard, but the number of shots on target (and close to the bull) meant we could leave with our heads held high (and the local sheep could, once again, safely graze!) Well done us! ?
Fresh from our achievements at the Archery lesson, we headed for indoor golf chipping. This had a much less competitive feel about it, but amongst the dozen-or-so participants, it was easy to see who the proper golfers were (certainly not Geoff, Paul nor me!)
However, as the competition played-out, the distinction became less clear, and and the tension in the audience – all 7 of them – rose to almost fever-pitch, evident by the number of buzzing hearing-aids! The overall winner turned out to be a non-golfer! (but still not us though!) ?
12.30pm: We all met up at the Bar for a ‘swift half’ before going our separate ways for the next batch of events. Geoff, Sue, Ann and Rhonda opted for the aqua-aerobics whilst Paul and I headed for the more manly pursuits of the rifle-range!
2.00pm: The rifle-shooting was a well organised affair and our group of nine was split into three teams. These weren’t (thankfully) AK47s, just air-rifles, but they packed a punch. Round 1 (of 3) required us to hit a large target, whilst round 2 was harder, with five smaller targets requiring a pellet in each – as close to the bull as possible. Crikey! this event should have been sponsored by SpecSavers given the wide variation in our collective accuracy! ?
The final round was great fun! Shooting at ducks (plastic ones of course!). Each of us were given four pellets each – and AMAZINGLY I managed to hit 3 out of 4! It wasn’t enough to secure victory, but as a team, we tied top! In an effort to create a ultimate winner, they moved two ducks much further away and we were invited us to all shoot again. This time, victory was snatched away from us by Jenny, who (mostly to her surprise) winged the winning-duck with her final shot. Still, it’s not the winging is it? ?
3.05pm: Just time for feet-up before the daily Quiz!
4.00pm: We, as the Northants Nutters limbered-up for the Quiz and after our blinding performance yesterday (where we were robbed) we were ready to take on anyone! However, within the first few questions, we realised today’s was harder… much harder (“What’s the only English anagram of tragedy?” and “What did Stevie Wonder lose in a car-crash in the 90s?” Anyone?).
But everyone needs a Nerd and thanks to some bonus points awarded for the Doctor Who question, we ended up in the top four! ? We’d narrowly missed victory again but there’s always tomorrow! ?
6.50pm: Everyone came round to ours for drinks before heading to the Restaurant.
7.30pm: Yes, we were last to arrive again tonight where everyone else was already well into their meal. Still, we think ‘fashionably late’ is still de-rigueur in these parts, if you want to be noticed! It turned out to be another great meal, although our arrival time did impact on some of the choices.
9.00pm: Off to the Late Lounge where we caught the tail-end of the music-intro quiz. Given the lack of chairs and tables, this had clearly been a popular event. Once again, our pre-booking of seats was a must.
9.30pm: At last, the main event of the day – A Lionel Ritchie Tribute Act. Calling themselves ‘Oh, what a feeling’ (website HERE) they comprised of Malcolm Pitt and the Jonny Miller Band. Malcolm was ‘Lionel’ and what he lacked in lookalikeness, he more than made up for it with his voice! Amazing! If you closed your eyes, he simply WAS Lionel Ritchie!! ?????
Pretty much all Lionel Ritchie’s big hits were covered as well as a few Commodore classics too! The audience (including us) sang along to most of the tunes as it was a very participative experience. Just in case, the ceiling had been specially cleaned!! Fantastic! ?
If Lionel was great (he was!) The Band though were even greater! Drums (Charlie Kenny), Bass (Jonny Miller), Keyboards (Freddie Miller), Sax – alto and tenor (Alvin Davis) and Lead Guitar (Jack Griffiths) all came together to completely wow us with their musical abilities! They were a well-oiled collective whose talents almost (but not quite) outshone the main star! In fact, I’d go as far to say that I’d happily pay money to see just the Band performing!
10.45pm: All-in-all, ‘Lionel’ and the Band were very well received, but after 70 minutes, it was all over… almost… Not surprisingly, we had a encore (a two-track affair comprising of Say Me, Say You and Dancing on the Ceiling), which ended the performance nicely.
11.45pm: We were done for the day! Paul, Sue, Geoff and Rhonda flew the flag and moved next door into the Kennet Bar for the vocal delights of Carla Jade.
Sunday – Day 2
A less energetic day is promised! We’re all booked-in for the Tour of the House at a very relaxing 10am! ? Afterwards, it’s every camper for themselves!
8.55am: Breakfast! For me, I had sausages in my sights! ?
10.00am: There has been a lot of good things to do here and for us, this was the highlight – a tour of the Old House. John, our Guide gave us a thorough history of Littlecote House as we wandered through the old building.
There were corridors everywhere and some very unusual rooms to look over. In fact, we thought it was all a bit underplayed as this place featured a King, Ghosts, WWII billeting, a Church, its own organ – the list goes on! There’s not enough room here to do the contents and its history justice, but take it from us, if you’re here, as even if you only have a passing interest in old Houses, it’s most definitely worth it!
Stand-out rooms for me? The Church and the Dutch Room. More information about Littlecote House and its history is HERE.
11.30am: As it was dry, we decided to take a wander around the grounds. It might have been dry, but it was perishingly cold (to me anyway!).
12.25pm: On our walk we took in the famous Roman Mosaic which was discovered in the grounds in 1728 as part of an unearthed Roman Villa. I think we were all impressed by the quality of the restoration.
12.55pm: …and then the obligatory celebratory ‘selfies’ followed…
1.15pm: Back in the warm, we headed for the Lounge for drinks and a quick nibble, whilst enjoying the legendary Tommy Cooper on the big-screen. Simple humour from simpler times (which suited simple me perfectly!)
2.00pm: We went our separate ways (temporarily) with Paul, Sue and I (plus Ann prior to disappearing to go shooting) settling down to watch the Movie: 2018’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Just the sort of Movie for a Sunday afternoon! ?
4.00pm: Our final chance to bring honour to The Northants Nutters as the daily Afternoon Quiz beckoned! Even with the team down to half-strength (Paul, Sue and me) we did pretty well and managed to maintain our record of NOT winning, but at least being in the top three! Next year, we’ll clinch this! ?
6.45pm: Round to Paul and Sue’s for final pre-dinner drinkies!
7.30pm: Our final Dinner here tonight. Again, the food and service didn’t disappoint. Piotr, our Waiter served us proud and we plan on tipping him tomorrow at breakfast. ?
9.30pm: Another day, another tribute act! ? Tonight, it was David Kidd as Tom Jones. Ann sorted out spare underwear for the performance, but wasn’t keen that I did the same! ?
This was a polished performance. He certainly sounded like the Welsh Megastar. The only off-putting thing for us was that he’d tried a bit too hard to look like the Star – and that ill-fitting wig was a real distraction! ?
David did one encore: It’s Not Unusual which got everyone up on the floor. By 10.35 he was done! All very enjoyable and worth seeing again (wig permitting!)
10.45pm: Back to our room for packing. Check-out time is an unhealthy 10am tomorrow which means an early breakfast.
Bye-bye Warner’s – it’s been a great experience!
Oh, What a Feeling!
None of us were really sure what to expect when we arrived on Friday. As separate couples, this type of break probably wouldn’t have been on our radar as a getaway destination, but as a group of friends together, it turned out to be a VERY enjoyable long weekend. The activities were all thoroughly memorable in their individual way; the food had been well above our expectations; the rooms were well-appointed; and the service everywhere has been nothing short of excellent. Warner’s seem to have a very ‘well-oiled machine’ here! Simply managing this number of guests – feeding, watering and entertaining – must have been a logistical challenge, but they pulled it off with ease.
Collectively we all feel that we’d do it all again together sometime in the future. ??
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