Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Great British Breakfasts

I agree with Jay Raynor in the Observer and felt gladdened that Little Chef has been saved for the nation. To be honest I have not eaten in one for five years. But in the bad old days when I used to leave the Peak District early in the dark, cold, rain and snow, and travel South, it was the thought of an Olympic breakfast at a Little Chef that kept me going. And they were Olympic! So named I presume because you had to undertake some Olympic sport to burn off the calories. As breakfasts go I have only had a better and bigger one once. That was in a sleepy little village called Bellingham whilst "doing" the Pennine way. I was on this epic trek with my mate Malcolm, we were going North to South and were still recovering from the day and half that it took us to cross the Cheviots. We had arrived at Bellingham the previous night, tired and weary and had been refused hospitality at all the bed and breakfasts, something to do with it being un-natural for two blokes to be travelling together and seeking shelter. I said the place was sleepy, it was also locked into a 1950's time warp. So we had to resort to putting up our tent. An evening spent being followed round the pubs and Inns by the local Morris Dancers did not improve things. So it was with a jaundiced and unflattering opinion of the place, that we packed up our tent and promised ourselves a quick get away after we had found some breakfast. Breakfast was found in a little quiet teashop. One that had a bell that tinkled when you opened the door. Inside there were maybe half a dozen people all eating in a reverential silence. We sat down. As if by magic a pot of tea and a plate of toast appeared. "Would you both like the full English?" We agreed that we would. The words full English do not do it justice, they merely teased, misinformed and left us unprepared for what was to follow. It was said that the best place to have breakfast on the Pennine Way was at Middleton on Teesdale. It did not bear comparison. To describe the Bellingham breakfast as Olympic would be an understatement. I seem to recall three rashers of bacon, three large locally produced sausages, two fried eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and beans.

It took some getting through. And at regular intervals fresh toast and tea arrived. The ridiculous thing apart from the amount that we both eat was the paltry price. I cannot remember exactly how much it was but it was well under three quid

Needless to say we lingered in Bellingham. Saw it in a new light, and it was with some reluctance that we eventually set off for Hadrian's Wall. But it did the trick that breakfast. We did not want lunch, did not even give it a moments thought. And at the tantalisingly named Twice Brewed we could merely pick at what I am sure was an excellent meal at the local pub.

So I for one am glad that the Great British Breakfast will still be found alive and well at Little Chefs across the country. All I need now is the excuse to go and have one.


Kim Ayres said...

I opened a blog entry once with the words "Have you ever noticed that you're never pleasantly surprised at a Little Chef?"

It sums up my attitude to them perfectly

The Birdwatcher said...

Breakfasts they did well. Never tried anything else. All the ones within striking distance of us have gone anyway. Now when I want a fry up I go to The Cafe at Moneyash.