Yes, it’s that time of year again! We’ve got our annual long weekend planned with our Warner ‘Brothers and Sisters’ – Geoff, Rhonda, Paul and Sue – aka ‘The Northants Nutters‘!
Last year – our first get together – took us to Warner’s Littlecote House, this time, we’re in Herefordshire and staying at Warner’s rather splendid Holme Lacy House.
It’s a Grade I listed mansion, completed in 1674 and was reportedly visited by Charles II. Set in 20 acres of the Wye Valley, it looks and feels massive!) and is one of Herefordshire’s treasures. It’s now managed by Warner’s and offers mid-week/weekend breaks that are great value. There’s also plenty of entertainment provided including Crossbow Shooting, Pitch ‘n’ Putt, Rifles, Swimming, Trivia Quizzes, Tai Chi, Gym and much, much more!
On these sorts of weekends, the evening entertainment is normally themed and this one is no exception. It’s called ‘RE-MIXED’ and stars Jayne Middleton as Annie Lennox and Nicola Marie as Amy Winehouse.
We’d only been to Warner’s once before, and we were therefore all interested in seeing how all of it compared (as last year’s experience was excellent!) 😁
As we counted-down to the weekend, a number of things made us re-consider our plans.
First, Rhonda wasn’t feeling too well and eventually wasn’t able to join us – and that counted Geoff out too. Second, the developing Coronavirus pandemic, where things were changing by the minute, meant we were waiting to hear the Press Conference from the PM announcing whether there would be any travel restrictions!
In the case of the latter, luckily, no restrictions were announced, so, in the end, the four of us still planned to go! 😁
Day 1: Friday
We picked up Paul and Sue around 11am and headed off on our two-hour-plus journey to our weekend destination. It was to be made more interesting by some roads being closed nearby – but at least Warner’s had err, warned us in advance!
Well, that was the theory anyway! We managed 99.9% of the journey without incident, only to find that the diversion signs near our destination, were in fact, pointing in the wrong direction!😮 Cue a few miles of needless driving, exploring the quaint back-roads of Hereford before ending up back where we started! 😖
OK, time for ‘Plan B’ where we chose to ignore the diversion signs completely and see how far we’d get, by following the normal signs to Holme Lacy House. It worked a treat! 😃
1.35pm: We were soon parking, unloading, and then plugging-in Robert for its FREE treat – Warner’s charging for electric cars! A quick review of the dashboard revealed the ‘tank’ was about half empty, and we needed to charge for just 5½ hours! 😁
After a little bit of confusion on Warner’s part over Geoff and Rhonda’s cancellation, we were soon on our way to our rooms. Room 235 for us with Paul and Sue next door!
Once we’d checked-in, all we needed to do was find our room. It was a bit of a trek, but worth the walk. I’m not sure the signage was the most logical, but we got there in the end 😂
Our room (recently refurbed) was well-appointed and larger than we expected – and contrary to what we’d been told, a free bottle of red wine – a Shiraz – awaited us, kept company by some chocolate cookies and a couple of bags of crisps. Nice touch Warner’s! 🤗
2.30pm: Next stop? Register our debit card, confirm our table in the restaurant, and book our events whilst we’re here. Thanks to Sue’s organisational skills, it was easy-peasy, and we all got our own personalised itinerary! 😘
That’s Saturday and Sunday sorted then!
3.30pm: With everything arranged, we headed for the Lounge – and the opportunity to try out their Gin selection! With three of us settling for a Rhubarb and Ginger (doubles!) and one of us on a large Dry White Wine, the next 75 minutes passed very quickly!😉🥴
4.45pm: Time for some fresh air and with the alcohol now taking full effect, our next stop was the pitch-and-putt green. Safe to say, it wasn’t a game that played to any of our strengths (but it was great fun!), but with the plummeting temperature, we called it off two-thirds of the way round! 😊 (I won! – just sayin’).
5.45pm: Just time for a quick recharge of our batteries, before getting ready for tonight’s meal and entertainment.
7.00pm: But first, nibbles and wine round at ours! We toasted absent friends (especially Geoff and Rhonda) and polished-off the free crisps and a bottle of fizz! 🤪
7.45pm: Off to the restaurant for our first evening meal. By choice, we were one of the last group to arrive, and by the time we got there, most tables were on Dessert. It was a good-looking menu but as delicious as it was, it wasn’t quite up to the standard of Littlecote House – the service felt a bit rushed too! 😮
9.10pm: A quick check to see if the free charge for Robert had completed – it had, and we now had a full tank for the journey home!!! 🤗
9.30pm: The highlight of the evening was The Amy Winehouse Tribute Act aka Nicola Marie. She turned out to be a truly fearless performer who was 110% ‘ballsy’ – and just a tiny bit scary (to me anyway!). If she wasn’t really a cock-er-ney, she did a good impression, and when she wasn’t singing, she kept us all entertained with her quips.
From my limited knowledge of the star herself, Nicola was pretty authentic. Whether it was all part of the act or not, she came across as the type of girl your mother never wanted you to meet – but she was strangely alluring in a mockney/Essex kind of way.
As hard as she tried though, she couldn’t get many of us to get up and dance, as the majority of the audience just sat there in their typically British ‘restrained-kinda-way’. (I actually think they weren’t sure what to make of this entertainer). My guess is that the typical Warner guest here is more likely to be a fan of Andy Williams than Amy Winehouse. Having said that though, a flock of red-hatted women who are also here for the weekend saved the day by populating the dance floor where others feared to tread! 😃
All-in-all then, it was very good entertainment (if you like your women slightly edgy and loud). But But actually, it was just as much fun watching the audience watching her! 😁
10.45pm: It had been a long day and a boozy one (something we’re not quite used to – yet!). We left Paul and Sue to dance away the evening whilst we headed for the duvet! Another action-packed day tomorrow! Nighty-night! 😴😴
Day 2: Saturday
6.30am: I was ‘up with the lark’ and a strong feeling that I may have slightly overdone it on the alcohol yesterday! (note to self: get into training for this next year!).
8.30am: Breakfast with our chums. Well, at least I started with something healthy!
…but the lure of the legendary Warner’s Full English was simply too great and I succumbed to the sins of the sausage and its close friends! 🤔 I guess the justification was that I needed the energy for what was to follow…
10.00am: Ahh, the infamous ‘Warner’s Trivia Quiz’! Clearly, a popular option based on how many of our fellow guests attended. Our Quiz-master did a good job, injecting some humour along the way! And so it began… we started well, lost our mojo a bit in the middle, but did better towards the end. The result? 8½ out of 15… (it was actually quite a toughie!) but we did come a respectable second (beaten by the now famous ‘Red Hatted Women’). Note to self: Perhaps get a red hat!
11.30am: My appointment with the on-site Beautician. Obviously, a large job that required a full site-survey and a quotation due to the scale of the work required! Luckily, they weren’t too busy 😊
3.00pm: My next activity was rifle shooting with Paul. Safe to say that Paul did much better than me, and judging by my target above, the safest place to have been was in the centre of the target! 😮 Worse still, I had FOUR pellets!
4.00pm: Movie time! Ann and I headed for The Chinese Room on the 1st floor aka the ‘Cinema Room’. RocketMan was showing and it enjoyed a full-house (of around 30 of us!). It was well-produced, and we enjoyed it even more the second time around (having seen it back in July last year).
6.45pm: Slightly earlier than last night, we headed to Paul and Sue’s for Fizz and Nibbles. We’re hoping that by bringing everything forward a tad, we might get better service in the restaurant. We toasted our absent Nutters – Geoff and Rhonda and tried out the veggie crisps (delicious!)
7.25pm: Nice fizz! Now it was off to the restaurant for our second evening meal here. Happy days! Our plan to arrive earlier paid-off. The service was much sharper, and all our courses were delicious (and the mains were hotter!)
9.30pm: We grabbed our reserved seats in The Pavilion for tonight’s entertainment in the shape of Jayne Middleton as Annie Lennox.
A classy act and she certainly sounded like her. Her ‘spot-on’ voice covered pretty much all of Annie Lenox’s hits from her Eurythmics’ days and solo career including:-
- No More I Love Yous
- Walking on Broken Glass
- Talk To Me Like Lovers Do
- Don’t Ask Me Why?
- Here Comes The Rain Again
- Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
- There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)
- Who’s That Girl?
- …and for her encore – Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves
Once again though, the audience (apart from us) seemed to get through it all without showing any emotion at all (apart from the obligatory clapping at the end of each song) – a real shame as it was a well-polished act.
Three changes of outfit plus all Lennox’s big hits made it an excellent performance where once again, just like last night, the ladies in the red hats filled the dance-floor during the encore! 🤩
10.45pm: It’s been a great day! With plenty to do, with shed-loads of variety, and the food and restaurant service back-on-track – a day to remember. Nighty-night! 😴😴
Day 3: Sunday
8.30am: Breakfast! Today’s conundrum? Could I resist Warner’s sizzling sausage and its close friends? Err, NO!!!! 😋
10.00am: It was that time again, where we returned to The Pavilion for the daily Trivia Quiz. We had high hopes of improving on yesterday’s score of 8½ (where we came a respectable second).
It wasn’t to be! The winning score was 17 and although we were just three points behind, the standard was high, and we had to settle for 4th place! 😮
10.15am: Whilst the girls went off to do their thing, Paul and I headed for the snooker-room. Unfortunately, it was already being used, so we headed back to The Pavilion – and the table-tennis err, table. Three games followed, where I was soundly thrashed by Paul!
11.15am: Paul and I acted as spectators to the ‘Name that Tune’ competition. It was very well attended, and the groups certainly knew their stuff. In fact, Lisa the Quiz-Host had them pretty much singing all the answers – they certainly were experts in music from the 50s and 60s 😉
12.30pm: A new activity for Paul and for me was to be Crossbows. Given my success with both Archery and Rifles, I wonder if they’ll even need to re-order any targets after I’ve shot??? 😁
I needn’t have worried, as (luckily for my pride) the bad weather stopped the crossbow activity completely! Instead, our Warner’s Host, Ben, offered us a game of snooker followed by a game of Pool. But even with Paul and I teaming up, we still managed to lose both matches to Warner’s!
At least with sport, I’m consistent! 😁
2.00pm: Paul and I headed for the organised ‘Back-Stage Tour’ – an opportunity to see behind the scenes of how Warner’s provide their entertainment. A fascinating 45 minutes followed, with a chance to see how technology plays its part in providing the music and AV support. We also saw the ‘living quarters’ back-stage and where (and how) everything is stored. Totally fascinating, and for me, probably the highlight of this break.
We finished the Tour by going out on stage to experience how the performers see things as well as how live music is set up and managed. Again, fascinating stuff! 👍👍
3.00pm: After enjoying some success at the two Trivia Quizzes, we felt confident enough to progress to the much grander and larger Pub Quiz! This consisted of three rounds, including one round of pictures (20 questions), one round of true/false (10 questions) and one round of famous catch-phrases (10 questions). This was a ‘Première League’ type quiz, much harder than the Trivia-types we’d been used to so far. It was well-attended too with 60+ people there.
An hour later, it was all over. We scored a total of 33 (out of a possible 40) which sounds good, but we were beaten into 3rd place. No bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Crap nor Cake Voucher for us! 😊
4.00pm: Ann, Sue and Paul planned to go for a walk but the weather had deteriorated, so we all headed back to our rooms.
6.45pm: And so, for the final time this adventure, Paul and Sue dropped into ours for pre-dinner nibbles.
7.20pm: Off to the restaurant, and our final evening meal here. As usual, it was busy but I’m sad to report that the service was a tad ‘relaxed’ (AGAIN!) and the quality of our food varied (AGAIN!) – from ‘Overdone’ to ‘OK’ to ‘Delicious’. On a more positive note though, I did get my portion sought-after Salted Caramel Ice-Cream! 😁
9.15pm: Whilst we waited for the main event, we were entertained by the err, Entertainments Manager, David James. An old-style crooner, he had a voice so smooth and natural, you could have spread him on toast and called him ‘Honey’. What talent! 🤩
9.35pm: Tonight’s entertainment was entitled Abba Fantastic – a set piece that called-on the singing talents of the in-house entertainment team.
Well, they certainly lived up to the name – FANTASTIC!, and unusually for this weekend, the dance-floor started to fill up from the off. They rattled through pretty much every ABBA hit without a pause (literally) and as a result, created a GREAT party atmosphere. Good choreography too, supported by the house-band who played at their funkiest and best!
Their set seemed to be over in a flash (I barely had time to sort out my two left feet!) and the performance was very well appreciated by everyone there. It was a perfect end to the weekend’s entertainment and hat’s off to everyone at Warner’s that put this together.
10.35pm: We lasted to just after 10.30pm, leaving Paul and Sue to wave the flag for the Northants Nutters! zzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Day 4: Check-out
So, what of our weekend? Well, we all enjoyed ourselves, and I guess that’s the main objective.
The Warner’s staff are one of the friendliest group of people I think I’ve ever met – nothing is too much trouble, and they’ve always got a smile on their face. The food was plentiful, but the quality did vary a bit. Overall, for me, I don’t think it’s up there with our previous Warner adventure at Littlecote House, last year, but it’s close. A special mention must go to ‘Lisa’ part of the day entertainment team – she is a natural ‘people person’ and every time we saw her in action, she managed to fully-engage her various audiences. The House has a beautiful interior, and it was a shame that there aren’t tours on the weekend as there are during the week. Would we do Warner’s again? Yes, probably! But maybe not next year, where we’ll explore some of the alternatives.
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