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DSCF3834 (640x480) We all have our favourite places and in regards to hotels this is ours. I have written in the past about the Hungry Horse and Lodge Inn in Portsmouth, well we were back again last week.  It was like coming home, friendly smiles and whats more the staff actually remembered us, and when you consider that they have hundreds of people walking through their doors that is no mean feat. BLESMA (3) After our journey from Torquay it was nice to be able to relax between travelling and stay somewhere you not only had clean rooms but a good menu.  I can honestly say that their curries are some of the best we have eaten, so much so that we had them two evenings running. DSCF0006 (640x480) (342x445)[1] We decided to do the tourist things again so bought a day ticket and rode round Portsmouth looking at the various attractions. The dockyard was very busy with groups visiting not only the Mary Rose exhibit but Victory and Warrior as well.  The University was heaving but it was the Spinnaka tower that took the night. During the day you can go up to the top and the view is spectacular but at night when it turns blue you get to see it at its best – well I think it is – as all you see in daylight is a concrete building.

But it is to the girls who keep the rooms at the Inn Lodge clean and tidy that I would like to extend my thanks and apologies for not mentioning such important people before.  Everything was in order and when my wife asked for extra milk, sugar etc.,  they were given with smiles and the question “was there was anything else she needed?”, this is why we like staying here when we visit.

Thank you ladies, see you next year.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

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You will remember I wrote about The Hungry Horse/Farmhouse Inn in Portsmouth, well I’m back there, and what a difference. The last time I was here they were closing the restaurant/pub side for refurbishment, well its completed.  This pub has an affiliation with Portsmouth City and now displays its history with pride. So let me tell you about our stay.

We arrived around 7pm tired and not having eaten since early morning starving, so went to book in.  Small problem, a room! We had not booked over the internet and the place was basically full. The only room available was a ‘executive suite’ so we are now in a spacious suite with work space and ideal for that cosy supper (yep even at our age) and impressed with the whole thing. It is clean, warm and just what we wanted.

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The bed is in a wooden scroll style with a comfortable mattress, there is a pine wardrobe and dressing table/desk where I can write, bedside tables and adequate lighting.

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In the front part of the room is a comfortable leather settee with a coffee table facing a wall mounted television and a table with two chairs where I sit to use my laptop on the free WiFi. This room on the ground floor at the rear of the hotel is quiet except for the owl, his hooting made me feel quite at home but no pictures yet!!

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So now to the refurbished bit and WOW!  As we walked along the corridors to the Hungry Horse I noticed the walls were hung with new art work interspersed with pictures/paintings of  ships, sail boats and scenes of Portsmouth in times gone by.  Then there in the midst was a ‘hand bill’, looking for 3 men to crew a ship, the other was a Naval announcement of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar with lists of those lost. It made the walk a wander as we stopped several times to look at the photographs and study the hand bill, then we passed through the doors into the new dining area.  What a difference. It was nice to find the ‘crew’ back on station plus a few new faces all with big smiles and very very busy.  This is the one thing I have noticed here they ALL smile, have time to talk and joke whilst getting on with the job of looking after everyone.

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I will start with the sports bar.  Here in the back part of the bar I found the pool tables centre stage with new seating at both ends. The television’s are still dotted around but somehow there seems to be more light and space.

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In the main part of this bar I found my only concern.  This bar is still light and airy with a large television showing the sport. Add the new carpet, different upholstered chairs and you have a cheerful place to sit, eat and watch your sport. However, I have one slight comment to make.  There are two booths in front of the bar that face a television set behind it.  This does not sound so bad except that when you go to get a drink or order food you cannot get to the bar as people are blocking it.  A group of 4 is ok they fit into the booth, but any mates have to gather round the end hence a jam. That is my one and only down comment everything else is perfect, perhaps turning these booths to face into the room and the large television would free up the walkway and bar area.

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In the dining area there have been big changes.  Firstly the main part has been opened up, circular seating installed, small booths with  televisions dotted here and there, making for spacious areas. Chairs are upholstered in a variety of fabrics give life and colour to the area. Here and there are wall dividers which allow views of other parts of the dining area, these are dressed with coloured glass vases, giving an ambiance to your dining.

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But it is the murals that give the ambiance to the dining areas, Portsmouth in all its Naval glory.  This establishment is frequented by Naval personnel and considering Portsmouths history it is very fitting.  There are no pretensions here just a cheerful welcome and good food. Mind you it did seem to be busier than ever.

The Pony Club is going strong with a new look. There is a bar and seating area for the grown ups and play area for the children.  This includes an area with a television where they can try out various Wii style activities, and the soft ball area is there but bigger – memories of Sheldon….

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I have been talking about the Hungry Horse and the Farmhouse but lets face it without the girls on reception it would all be lost.  They are the first people you see when you arrive and greet you with a friendly attitude and smile.

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They are helpful and full of information about up coming events, one of which is a wedding show on the 24th of March.   They – along with the house-ladies who make sure your room is comfortable – are people of local knowledge. Again all of this is done with a smile that is genuine and you feel as if you had just returned home.

Also in reception is a map of the Portsmouth area so you can see where you would like to visit.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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On one of my visits to the UK  I stayed at the Farmhouse Inn Lodge which is attached to the Hungry Horse restaurant, so when my wife and I made our winter visit I booked us into the inn in the knowledge that we would be well looked after.

The Inn is situated in Burford Road just off the Eastern Road and next to Portsmouth public golf course. Was she impressed or what, I had a job to get her out of there.  The rooms are comfortable and warm with tv and free wi-fi facilities. The bathroom is well fitted out and the shower is strong and revitalising. My wife’s favourite part was being able to watch tv in bed and not have to worry about falling a sleep – usually when football is on – there, if she fell asleep, all I had to do was press a button to turn the tv off no waking up to go to bed, surprising how little things can please….

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But joking apart, we have stayed in a few hotels and this really is a comfortable place, the staff are friendly, helpful and funny, no sour faces here.  The Inn is always busy with functions such as business meetings, wedding receptions and parties. The rooms for the wedding receptions are decked out romantically and whilst we were there an RN Engineering Officer and RN Doctor were holding their reception there.  The party rooms are large and nicely decorated, there is also a ‘Pony Club’ room kitted out for the children to keep them amused.

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When we wanted something to eat we just wandered along the corridor to the Hungry Horse, where we could either eat in the dining area or the sports bar (this bar usually won). The menu is varied and value for money, especially the ‘large meals’ which having tried, and found them to be more than we could manage phew were they large, we decided to stay with the normal size meals. There are also special deals on certain days and their curry nights are something to drool over.

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The Sunday lunch is a must the carvery is superb, but make sure you arrive early this is a much sought after meal and you could find yourself having to wait mind you there is always the sports bar.

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This is a lively bar with televisions showing sport in the evenings but it is also home to Carioca nights and quizzes, so there is always something happening. They also sell a splendid range of wines including some Spanish – this pleased my wife – plus a large range of beers, ciders and the much sought after Guinness.

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At the time of our visit the Hungry Horse was due for refurbishment so on the Sunday evening the staff closed the doors and began clearing things ready for the builders and decorators. I wandered down to take a few photographs a sort of before and after thing, so take a good look at these guys, they are the people who look after you and make your time there so relaxed and fun. They are as fond of their restaurant and customers as they are of each other, this is not a job this is a way of life and as you can see they really enjoy it.  So next time you are in Historic Portsmouth be sure to stop here you will be well looked after.

Thanks to all of you see you soon really looking forward to seeing the new look.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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