Deb's Digest
Debbie Atkinson’s family life column, as featured in the Southport Visiter.

Monday, 26 January 2009


My Christmas present to my husband was a weekend in Cambridge. I chose The University Arms Hotel because we'd loved it when we stayed there when we took the younger son to the university in 2002. What a difference seven years makes!

It would make me too cross (still not chilled, Rob) to recite all the failings but the main one was an absolutely shambolic breakfast (40 minutes to get a plate of cold bacon and sausage) followed closely in second place by a lift which was covered in broken glass for three days. Dirty windows, peeling wallpaper, a bedroom door that didn't work and a broken toilet seat (which someone had mentioned on Trip Advisor months ago) - and you get the picture. As I have mentioned on this blog, I am now keeping a long-winded diary, which I took with me to Cambridge. I used it to list all the shabby things about the hotel in preparation for my letter of complaint. I only went and left it in the bedside drawer! I daresay it's now been passed around all the reception staff - but I want it back so I had to own up and sent an SAE for its safe return. I don't think we'll be welcomed with open arms next time - but then, there won't be a next time.

The highlight of the stay in Cambridge was something completely unplanned. A candle-lit service in Kings College Chapel - just magical. I was so happy to see that Alex (from A Boy Named Alex) was in the choir and when we left the black sky was completely clear and the stars were glittering above the college - I wish I could have put the evening in a bag and put it somewhere safe.



We missed Oscar in his Chinese New Year panda suit while we were away -


and here's one from last week:


So many changes in a few days - while we were away Oscar was tucking into lamb hot pot and rice pudding - that, I've got to see.

We caught up with the London son and I was sorely tempted to get stuck into his ironing but there just wasn't time - we had a walk round Hammersmith and Chiswick in the pouring rain and had a lovely meal at Brasserie Gerard where the service outshone any that we'd received at our hotel.

I now have my beautiful new washing machine, and it's SO quiet that I have to keep checking that it's actually switched on.


  1. you ought to leave a comment on Trip Advisor.

  2. We went to Northampton for a family birthday at the weekend and spent Saturday night in the Holiday Inn there. Our room was cold and noisy with windows that did not shut properly. Extra pillows came without pillow cases and the breakfast was not far off being stale. How do these places survive?

  3. I have no idea Cheshire Wife. I find myself thinking that there should be a middle aged woman put in charge of these hotels, not a twenty-something male.