It was cold and still, like the air somehow knew what was coming and was too terrified to breathe for fear of being noticed.
As my feet crunched across the deserted car park, I noticed my senses were heightened. My vision 20/20, my hearing pin-sharp.
Dia de los Muertos loomed on the horizon, as did Hallowe’en. The night the dead becomes undead. When witches and ghouls and monsters have free roam of the land of the living.
My heart thumped from deep within my chest. Each wave of claret boomed so loudly in my ear I thought one would give me away.
I reached out and clasped my fingers around the door handle and pulled the heavy wooden door slowly towards me.
Call it intuition. Call it a sixth sense. Call it whatever you like, but I knew it was there before it made its presence felt. Every hair stood on end. Every muscle tensed. And then it brushed past me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as the three-feet-tall skeleton cackled loudly and scurried quickly into the warmth.
Oh no, I realised, it’s the terrifying, grotesque, and impudent youngest child; hungry for dinner and thirsty for blood (oranges)!
We’d spent a couple of hours at Affinity Lancashire – formerly Freeport – in Fleetwood, trick or treating in the shops and watching characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas entertain shoppers, before heading to the Golden Eagle, in Warren Drive, Anchorsholme, for dinner on Sunday afternoon. The youngest was still dressed up. The oldest, apparently a teenager at the age of just six, refused.
The chain pub underwent a refurbishment earlier this year, yet it is still relatively unassuming from the outside. Inside, however, it is clean, warm, and still has a soul; an individual charm so often missing from such places.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we don’t look for fine dining. We don’t look for fancy food served on anything other than a plate. We look for hot, tasty pub grub we can enjoy in a family-friendly atmosphere at a price that won’t break the bank.
The Golden Eagle delivers that. It’s a plus point for us that we have to go to the bar and order – and pay – because it’s a few minutes less we have to wait with two young children getting increasingly restless.
I ordered the hunter’s chicken skillet, which was chicken breast topped with smoked streaky bacon, melted cheese, and Texan-style barbecue sauce, served on a skillet with fried onions and with chips and peas (£8.29), and a side of waffle fries topped with barbecue pulled pork and cheese (£3.49). I don’t think it was home-made, but it was very tasty, other than the fried onions, which shouldn’t be included in such a dish.
The missus had a regular southern fried chicken burger served with fries (£6.99) and a side of garlic ciabatta with cheese (£2.99). The burger didn’t have mayo on it, but there was some on the table and in a pot on the plate so it wasn’t a problem. The burger was good, and the garlic bread was delicious.
The boys had tomato and cheese twisty pasta, with garlic bread and peas (£2.99), and five crispy chicken strips, with chips and beans (£3.99). Both enjoyed their meals, although the strips were a bit too crunchy and thin for the oldest lad’s liking.
Our meals were washed down with a pint of John Smiths (£2.19), regular glass of white wine (£3.79), a J20 (£2.15) and Fruit Shoot (£1.25).
The service was great, with somebody checking everything was okay, and the food was served quickly.
The only let down was the desserts. The boys had a Diplo’s super sundae (£1.49 each), which was chocolate and vanilla ice cream with chocolate flavoured sauce, cream, chocolate caramel nougat chunks, and Crunchie pieces.
The other half and I had the epic choctastic sundae (£4.69 each), which was chocolate and vanilla ice creas with Maltesers, Crunchie pieces, Mars chunks, chocolate sauce, wafers, with cream.
They looked almost identical and it was hard to justify the price difference – though the meal overall was great value.
The bill came to £50.48 which, for four tasty meals, two sides, four desserts, and four drinks, is something I’d happily pay again.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10