Review of Rare Restaurant in Norwich, Norfolk, UK

One week ago, it being my girlfriend’s birthday, I decided we had to visit Rare.

Rare is a grill and stakehouse restaurant in Norwich, Norfolk. It is essentially a restaurant within a hotel, being located inside the Georgian House Hotel at the top of Unthank Road not far from the city centre.

Inside there is a very small reception. To your right a bar area for relaxing which we did not visit. To the right, a larger seating area with branded chairs and modern wallpaper. As you walk though, the kitchen is to your right. Keep walking and you’ll soon reach the end of the room with a door to the rest of the hotel.

There is no specific dress code but smart casual appeared common. The odd suit was also present. The staff dressed in conservative black with aprons and were professional and courteous at all times. Menus (available on their web site) appeared quickly enough revealing pricing in line with expectations given it is somewhat higher class without being out of reach of friends gatherings.

We skipped the starters which were priced around £4-£9. She chose the Salmon while I went for the Sirloin. Food did take a while to arrive, slices of still warm French Stick break with butter and sauce kept us going together with a couple of J2Os.

Main course was actually rather nice, served on modern sturdy plates with good quality cutlery. The taste and general quality of the food came across as high, justifying the list prices. We finished on Sticky Toffee Pudding (her) and warm chocolate fudge cake (me).

Overall we liked the place, the total bill coming to £50 including tip. They use a portable card machine so cash is not necessary.

Screwfix Laser Fluid Extractor – Perfect for oil changes

One word: Awesome.

Earlier this year I decided to tackle the job of changing the oil in my girlfriend’s car myself. This involved making use of my Dad’s trolley jack, axel stands, sawing some small blocks of wood to spread the weight between car body and stands, then actually getting the sump plug undone, and clearing up the mess afterwards. As this was the first time I’d ever done such a thing, the whole procedure took us (Dad and g/f helped) three+ hours.

And yesterday based on mileage it was again necessary. But thanks to a forum thread I decided to check out the Screwfix Laser Fluid Extractor.

This was in stock at the local retail shop on my way home from the office earlier in the week. In fact the guy said he didn’t even need to look up the shelf position because it was so popular he remembered where it was.

How does it work? Well, when you’re ready with the engine nice and hot, remove the oil dipstick and replace with the flexible tub rod connected to bottle in this kit. You then pump the used oil out. I used an engine oil flush fluid to get as much as possible out but that’s up to you.

Constructing it really it easy. Screw the handle into the pump. Place pump onto valve located centre top of the bottle. Place long tube onto side hole. Take out your oil dipstick and place tube in instead until you feel the bottom of the engine. Begin pumping. Nice workout for your arms for 2-3 minutes until you spot air bubbles in the transparent tubing, you know you’re done.

Change the oil filter. Make sure you have a tray or something under the filter as when you unscrew you’ll get a slick of hot oil and ensure you hold it upright as plenty of oil will remain inside. Fit new oil filter and simply replace old oil in car.

Ta-da. Really, really simple and I’m told this is essentially what the garages do anyway. Whole job including reading instructions, ten minutes of warming engine up with oil engine flush, doing the job and refilling it all: 45 minutes to 1 hour. It’ll be a lot quicker next time and I won’t need to read the instructions.

Terraços Do Vau

It’s now nearly one month since we visited Portugal and I thought high time I ought to write my notes on it. Photographs will follow once I’ve whittled the several hundred down to a more manageable number.

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I’ll start with our hotel which is located about 0.5km inland from the beach. You you need to walk up a short road which has hardly any traffic on it and no markings to reach the main building. At the front it is the bar which in turn overlooks the patio and small pool area. Reception is just inside the doors and manned by very friendly staff with excellent English.

At this point, a quick tip: Give yourself five minutes to read the small folder to the side of reception. Useful native phrases for communication with your apartment maid held within alongside various other snippets of essential information.

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The lock on our door needed encouragement to open, but once inside we were impressed by the three-star standards. A small lounge with a TV (remote did not work) and four native channels. A double bed (as requested) which wasn’t brilliant but certainly not to be complained about plus bedroom air conditioning. The kitchen had all the essentials plus washing machine, fridge freezer and even a dish washer. A gas powered oven with hobs and fume extractor is also included. Overall it was very, very clean, airy and pleasant.

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There are some caveats.

You need the electronic key fob inserted to power your lights and washing machine. This saves on power included in your bill. This also means that to wash your clothes you need to be in your apartment at all times which can take a while to finish.

Lastly the kettle. It is not electric so you must boil it on a gas hob. Do not expect anything less than five minutes before it begins to whistle.

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The apartment has a balcony although we only got the sunlight directly after 1900 hours. Even so, towels dried with each after only one hour. A linen horse was also supplied albeit slightly rusty and again our clothes had no trouble drying in the evening / overnight. The Portugese sun even after 1900 is pretty warm! The maids will replace your towels every few days so don’t worry too much about hygiene.

The pool was tried only once but it was clean and refreshing. Some pool toys (inflatable beds) were seen although we did not know if they were supplied or privately owned. The facilities are not large enough for things like diving boards. There are limited plastic sun beds to be found poolside.

The bar deserves a good review. The staff are very friendly and again have excellent English. Food and drink are available and hours are very flexible provided there are sufficient people to make it worthwhile. Apparently they’ll cook you a pizza at 0200 if there are people around to spend the money.

The hotel is exclusive to the Thompson group. As a result you will only likely be joined by other British tourists. Many are young families. This did not present any problems for us but we did like to go out each day. Depending on the day you arrive you’ll receive a welcome talk from (in our case Tony) the senior representative giving tips and recommending the local excursions. The talk is well worth it, although we ended up spending a small fortune on the excursions ourselves!

There were few noise problems overnight. But beware the area is prone to wild dogs between dusk and dawn (the coolest hours). One night we heard dogs barking in the early hours. Five minutes by foot down the road you’ll find two supermarkets. Well what the Portugese call supermarkets will British call corner shops. The smallest of the two is immediately to your right over the road. The larger is one minute further to your right.

Incidentally at the crossroads is where you are picked up for excursions. Beware if you pick the boat trip – you might be packed in the back of a old Land Rover which requires a suspension overhaul.