Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park
Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park

Last week I told you all about my diet, so it seems ironic that this week I should be talking about food.

I thought I would tell you how the Blackburn family spends Christmas, although it seems like a distant memory now the decorations are down and we are in the midst of the January sales.

We’ve been going out for a meal for 24 years, ever since we opened GB Antiques Centre.

As we are only closed for one day a year, our priority on Christmas day is to rest and not cook.

Every year, my family and I go out to have our lunch at the Marriott Hotel in Broughton, near Preston.

We go there for two reasons: the first is that it’s walking distance from our home, so when we’ve had enough we can just tottle back.

The second reason is that it is a hotel and not a restaurant.

This has many benefits – in a restaurant they can chuck you out once you’ve finished your meal, but in a hotel you are treated as guests, and are welcome to stay as long as you like.

We love the Marriott, the staff aren’t stood over you hovering or clock watching, the whole atmosphere is really relaxed and we all feel we can just take our time and enjoy our food.

They also have the most fabulous Father Christmas whom my youngest daughter Mel, adores.

He comes to the tables during dinner and brings a gift for all the children.

He spends time at the table talking to everyone individually and wishes all the grown ups a happy Christmas.

His visit is the same time every year – it’s three o clock.

You can set your watch by him, which means I haven’t watched the queens speech live in many years.

We always tape it and watch it later on.

And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the obligatory fire alarm call out.

It’s not been too bad in recent years, but there was a period when every Christmas Day we would be called out as the alarm was tripped by a power surge.

We could only presume it was because the good people of Lancaster were all switching their ovens on at the same time.