May 08, 2003

Today, we took Aidieís grandparents

Today, we took Aidieís grandparents to Heathrow to catch a flight to Budapest. Theyíll be back in a week. We took the scenic route home, using the opportunity to visit Avebury.

Avebury is a prehistoric World Heritage Site with lots of big rocks. These arenít just ordinary big rocks. These are really big rocks placed in giant circles. Itís kind of like Stonehenge only on a much larger scale. I had been there 13 years ago as a member of the Four Young Americans, but Mrs Holford had never seen it. Neither had Aidan, of course.

On the way to Avebury, we stopped a mile south of the village at Silbury Hill. It is the largest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe. Since at least the 18th century archaeologists have been trying to figure out why it was built. There are still no answers. Aidie didnít ask why it was built. I donít think he even realise why we had stopped to car, other than to change a very smelly nappy.

When we got to Avebury village, it was 1:00, so before looking at the big rocks, we decided to have lunch in the only pub, the Red Lion. What a mistake. We should have gone hungry. Mrs Holford went in and looked at the menu. She said it was a little more expensive than we might expect from a pub, but not that much more. All I can say is that it was much, much more than it was worth. If you want to see the world famous Avebury go ahead, but eat somewhere else first.

If you eat at the Red Lion, this is what you can expect:

I ordered a steak and caramelised onion sandwich on a baguette. I didnít think I would need to specify a level of doneness for a thin piece of steak for a sandwich (nor was I asked my preference). When I bit into it, I heard a faint mooing sound. I saw blood. The bread wasnít fresh and it wasnít a baguette.

Mrs Holford ordered sausage and mash, which promised Cumberland sausages with red wine gravy. More like Tesco value sausages on top of instant potato goo and the gravy was not made with wine, red or otherwise.

If you need want a napkin, theyíll be happy to provide you with toilet tissue. Not I am not kidding. Poo paper. When I asked for a napkin to wipe the blood and onion glop off my hands, the waitress didn't hesitate to tell me all they had was tissue.

There were flies everywhere, constantly landing on our food. They seemed to arrive simultaneously with our food, so I wonder if they followed it out of the kitchen.

As an accompanying beverage, I had lemonade with a bit of lime cordial, which is invariably my choice when Iím not in a position to have a pint of cider. The Red Lion in Avebury is the only pub Iíve ever patronised that charged extra for the shot of lime.

Now to be fair, Aidieís meal was fine (except for having to constant shoo the flies, of course). He had sausage, alphabites (shaped mashed potato in batter), and peas. His only cost £2.25. He got the same type sausages as Kelly.

Before we left, Kel wrote them an explanation of all the problems on one of the pieces of toilet paper provided.

Again, to be fair, I want to mention that the Red Lion is not the only problem with Avebury. After we exited the pub, I needed to visit the public loo. I donít think Iíve been in a fouler place. The entire floor was wet, but it wasnít from pure water. Both commodes were unflushed. The urinal trough was littered with trash.

If you are going to visit Avebury, wee before you get there.

As we walked amongst the stones, we were careful not to disturb the couple worshipping at the foot of a rock. They prostrated themselves before the rock god, or whatever. Iím not sure if they were with the druidic bloke who came in the pub while we were there. At least we didnít have to observe any fertility rites.

As for the stones themselves, Mrs Holford was moderately impressed. It is quite a feat of engineering for a people without machines to have moved these giant chunks of rock from the Marlborough Downs. Admittedly this isnít as far as the Stonehenge builders seem to have gone to get their famous building material, but it is amazing nonetheless.

Aidan didnít seem to notice them. He was more interested in picking flowers.

Posted by david at May 8, 2003 10:06 PM

Red Lion at avebury to be avoided at all costs
Service terrible
Food terrible
Room terrible
Bed terrible
Staff knowledge terrible
Staff attitude abysmal

Posted by: Tony Brook at November 25, 2003 11:57 AM

What a shame you seem to have had such a horrible time at the Red Lion Pub. Did you complain to management that your steak was so raw it was inedible? Or did you just eat it anyway? Abit childish isn't it? - writing a letter to management on loo paper? Did you actually speak to Mark, the manager? As for the bar, I've never known a pub not charge for Lime Cordial or any other flavourings? I do not think it unusual to have to pay for your drink? At only 20p pence a shot you sound rather tight!!!
I've been to the Red Lion Pub on many occassions and have always eaten there.I have never had any complaints about the food or the staff.
Avebury can be extremely busy during the spring and the summer holidays. But if it was that dreadful, why didn't you mention it to the Manager? I'm sure he would have been only to pleased to give you a full refund. Instead you seem the type to advertise and bad press the pub on the internet, I bet you didn't even once give the management the chance to put right their faults!
As for the people you encountered amoungst the stones at Avebury, you can't help but comment can you? Avebury is a sacred and ancient place so have some respect! And what would be so wrong observing a Fertility Rite at Avebury? Do you know what happens during a Fertility Rite? Or are you just quessing at what might happen in one? Maybe you should do some research on that!

Posted by: hgilry at January 26, 2004 05:23 PM

Firstly, I canít believe Iím replying to this nonsense.

Secondly, what a sad little man you must be.
Do you really have nothing better to do than tell people about the time your steak was underdone? Meat is flesh and blood, if it scares you, donít eat it.

Itís a shame for you that the cultural and historical significance was completely wasted. Oh well, never mind.

Iíll leave you to the rest of your bitter self centred shrivelled existence.

PS. I have eaten at the red lion pub twice. The food is OK, I never expect too much from pub food. What the pub does have in abundance, is atmosphere and history.

Posted by: Richard at January 26, 2004 06:33 PM


I can tell you have been to the Red Lion a number of times, as you even know the name of the manager. Clearly you take have taken some sort of personal offence at the review of my meal - almost as much offence as I took in receiving it.

Because it was already paid for in advance, I ate as much of the sandwich as was edible. That was a small part of it.

We wrote the note on loo paper because that is what we were given instead of serviettes. I'm surprised that you think it is okay to give restaurant customers loo paper to wipe their fingers and faces, but not okay to write a letter of complaint on it.

I don't think it is unusual to pay for my drink. I feel perfectly free to complain about the price.

Neither Avebury nor the Red Lion were extremely busy on the day we were there.

I don't recall speaking to the Manager, nor do I believe I have an affirmative duty to speak to the manager. The staff are employed by the business and act on behalf of the establishment.

I also have the right to complain by telling the truth of my experience in whatever forum I choose, including my personal blog. After all, the whole purpose of this blog is to comment on my experiences and views of various and sundry matters.

As for my comments about the people I encountered amongst the stones: if you actually read this blog rather than just finding a particular entry from nearly nine months ago, you would see that I spend much more time taking the mick out of neuvo-psuedo-pagan silliness than I do reviewed appalling food and service.

How did you happen across this post? Was it purely by accident?

I don't know if you are related somehow to "Richard", he of the bogus email address who posted an hour after you did, but it is amazing that other than a comment (negative about the Red Lion as well) in November, suddenly there is a flurry of activity so long after this was posted.


If you happen to wander back to look for a reply, I should mention that I can't believe you are replying with such nonsense either -- oops, I guess I misread what you said there -- it made more sense the other way.

If you have looked at this blog, you will know that I have plenty of things better to do than tell my friends and other readers about a raw piece of steak, but I like to write about all sorts of things.

Meat doesn't scare me -- I'm very carnivorous. I just like it to be fully dead.

I'm not sure what the cultural and historical significance of a raw piece of steak is. But please enlighten me. Of course I was aware of the significance, both real and imagined, of Avebury. I am a historian by training, after all.

I hardly think I'm bitter because I had a dreadful meal and reviewed it. As for being self-centred, well, this blog is about me. If you didn't want to read about me, a) why did you come here, and b) why did you stay long enough to comment?

Having eaten at the Red Lion twice, clearly you are an authority on the quality of the meal we experienced. I would say that despite the price only thing I expected was for it to be edible.

Posted by: David Holford at January 26, 2004 09:24 PM