I faced an interesting (and by interesting, I mean incredibly frustrating) issue with a client yesterday, who had installed a PHP-based application of mine on their new Windows 7 laptop only to find that it was unable to connect to the MySQL database that powered it.
Testing showed that the connection was indeed failing, with this error being generated:
php_network_getaddresses: getaddrinfo failed: A non-recoverable error occurred during a database lookup.
I tried various things - forcing Windows to resolve localhost to 127.0.0.1 (rather than ::1) in the hosts file, disabling IPv6 altogether and disabling the anti-virus package (AVG). I even tried installing fresh, bang-up-to-date copies of Apache, PHP and MySQL. Nothing worked - although the hosts file edit did at least change the error message, now it just said "Unknown error" instead - still very helpful.
Bashing my head against a brick wall, I decided to turn off services one by one until the problem changed. So I did, and eventually I got to the services running as part of the AVG CloudCare anti-virus package.
Switching the Cloud Care service off suddenly meant that any pages I tried to load in my web browser were replaced with a silly "Your Cloud Care service is not running!" error message.
I uninstalled AVG Anti-Virus completely (rather than just disabling it) and the problem immediately disappeared.
One to remember!
Another odd review this, but (unlike my Silverton review the other day) not because of the experience I had. In this case, it's more because this hotel is in the town I live in, and there's probably not many people that have stayed in a hotel in their own town.
Well, me being a bluff old romantic (!) I thought it would make a nice change to do the whole "weekend away from home" thing with Jem. However, I was mindful that I'm still trying to buy a house, so I had budgetary constraints to think of - which ruled out travelling down to London or anything like that.
So I thought, "why not stay at a hotel closer to home? It avoids excessive petrol costs and because you're such a horrific loner there's loads of places in the town you've never been to anyway."
While looking for a suitable hotel I came across a page about The Wakeman Trail on Facebook, which is basically an art project started by pupils of the former Wakeman School in Shrewsbury, where they produce ceramic tile artwork that is installed into many of the "filled in" windows around the town - and the Sandford House Hotel was one such location.
Well, I called the hotel to make my booking and spoke to the manager Ceri, who was very friendly and is clearly enthusiastic about the hotel and the town (I've since discovered that he is very much involved with promoting tourism within the town, which is another gold star in my book!)
Upon arrival, Ceri greeted Jem and myself and showed us to our room which was immaculately presented, with a large bed (top marks here, being a tall bugger I'm quite picky about the size of the beds that I sleep in!) and with all of the accoutrements that one would expect from a good hotel room.
I'm also very picky about showers - and the shower in the room that we were given was also excellent, easy to maintain at a good temperature and with enough power to give a nice invigorating shower. This actually made me somewhat reluctant to go home to my paltry low-water-pressure "shower."
Tea and coffee making facilities were plentiful and Ceri was more than happy to provide additional sachets of coffee one of the nights when I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to overdose on caffeine.
No stay at a British bed and breakfast is complete without the latter part of the deal, of course. I never used to be one for a fry-up (and indeed, eating first thing in the morning can still sometimes leave me feeling a little delicate) but when you've paid for breakfast it seems churlish not to take advantage of it.
The traditional English breakfast served by Ceri and his wife Jackie was fantastic, just the right amount of everything to leave me feeling ready to face the day ahead, but without leaving me feeling like I'd just eaten an entire bean harvest. The bacon was expertly cooked - something I'm also quite particular about - and went down a treat.
Ironically enough, nothing particularly exciting. Visited the new Museum (which may be the subject of a future review) and went for a few meals out, and then some walks around the town and Haughmond Hill.
But, we had terrific weather, so it didn't really matter that we could have done this any weekend - it was still nice to get away from my flat for a weekend and have someone else make the bed, cook the breakfast etc.
I'd like to think we were pretty easy as hotel guests go, but Ceri and Jackie were wonderful hosts and even though I'm unlikely to go back there (I do live here after all) I'll certainly be recommending them to anyone visiting me in the town!
Address: Sandford House Hotel, 37 St Julian's Friars, Shrewsbury, SY1 1XL
Tel: 01743 343829
This is going to be a bit of a weird review, primarily because I've been to The Silverton many times before and although the quality of their food has gone downhill in recent times (but don't get me wrong - it's still good stuff) I've never felt compelled to write a review of the place until now, and this isn't going to be a glowing report.
The Silverton Hotel opened relatively recently by Shrewsbury's standards and shortly after opening acquired something of a reputation for their food - quality I can attest to, at the time they were serving arguably the best steaks in the town.
It has now changed hands from the original management team and, based on my experiences this week, is a far cry from its former glory.
Kit (friend, colleague and extreme BeEx lurker) and I visited The Silverton on a whim on Tuesday lunchtime for a spot of "posh" lunch.
We both chose "The Famous Silverton Beef Burger", although I felt compelled to check if the burger was served with cheese on it (I have an aversion to the stuff, nyurk) - I'm glad I did, as despite it not mentioning it on the menu, it was indeed cheesed-up to the nines. I requested they not put cheese on mine, and we waited.
About 15 minutes later, the waitress came over to our table and apologised to me, stating that the chef had put cheese on my burger, and asked if I was allergic. I'm not, fortunately (we didn't have another 15 minutes to wait for a fresh burger to be made) so I asked the chef to simply remove the cheese from the burger.
As it happens, it was all very nice and the rest of the time passed without incident. Although I did note that pepper had been put into the salt shaker, and vice versa.
Last night, after being cruelly* denied a table at the new Smoke Stop BBQ restaurant on the outskirts of town, Jem and I went to the Silverton instead and decided to take advantage of their Two Steaks For £30 deal (which after 7pm is actually £35, but that's still fine) - two steaks and a bottle of house wine, can't be bad.
The waitress didn't impress me right from the start. We gave over our drinks orders ("A coke" for Jem and "A pint of coke, with no ice" for myself) for her to then ask if we wanted ice with our drinks.
Then came time for our food order to be taken. Jem ordered "a sirloin steak, rare" while I decided to go with "a ribeye steak, medium rare, with peppercorn sauce."
Amazingly, the waitress then asked how we wanted our steaks cooked and whether we wanted any sauces. We repeated our requests, and when she read them back to us, said "So, that's a sore lion steak, rare with no sauce, and a reeb-eye steak, medium rare with peppercorn sauce."
I managed not to laugh at her pronunciation, but alarm bells were ringing. Still, I then ordered a bottle of house white as part of the deal, and thought no more of it.
I then asked the waitress if it would be possible to have a side order of onion rings - which, to be fair, weren't on the menu (although the menu had no side dishes listed at all which I found a little odd) - she went off to check and later informed me that onion rings were not available. As they weren't on the menu, I'll let this one slide, even though they're not exactly difficult to make...
A short while later, the bartender (who, up until now had been minding his own business in the bar area) came over with our wine, in an ice bucket with two glasses. Jem is currently doing #DryJuly, and we already had Cokes, so I asked the waiter to just leave the bottle as we'd be taking it home.
To my amazement, despite acknowledging what I'd said, he proceeded to put everything on our table and even said he'd leave the bottle in the ice so that it would stay chilled.
It was at this point that I started to wonder if the words that had been tumbling out of my mouth all evening were in the English language.
The food then arrived. Jem's sore lion steak was severely overcooked given her request, and my ree-bye was cooked correctly but tasted incredibly bland. My peppercorn sauce was also so chock full of peppercorns that I literally could not dunk my chips in to the damn stuff.
At the end of our meals, we decided not to risk asking about dessert - I couldn't face the prospect of having to repeat a conversation about ice cream flavours with the waitress - so we just went home, although Jem couldn't resist getting in a complaint about how her steak was overcooked.
That's about it - I'll give them another chance, they're very local and are usually very good, but it will have to be much improved next time.