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Monday, January 22, 2007

Free LuxuryThe trouble with giving something away for free is that everyone wants it. When I saw the queue at the Pavilion yesterday afternoon I felt like turning around and going home again. In fact Lisa suggested that we come back another day and pay the £7.50 entry fee, rather than queue for hours with the other freebie-seekers. In the end though, I'm glad we stayed. I'd have been livid if we'd spent fifteen quid on that.

I'm not saying it isn't an historically important monument, but really, the whole place could do with a makeover. It's dingy, gaudy, and full of stuff which shouldn't even be there. Having queued for half an hour to see where George IV slept, we read the small print and discovered it was actually a bed from Windsor Castle, on permanent loan from the Queen. And it had an electric heater (circa 1995) standing next to it.

But the hideous wallpaper, hideous curtains and hideous carpets aside, I did like the chandeliers. One of which was 30ft high. I'd show you a photo, but unfortunately photography is forbidden inside the Pavilion. Which they claim is due to bright lights damaging the relics (and I don't mean the old codgers in green who tell you to stop touching the silverware), and has nothing to do with trying to get you to fork out five quid on a souvenir guide book.

The entire Banquetting Room was impressive, but again, the small print informs visitors that it's merely a "recreation", and whilst the grand dining table might be "based on" something which would have been around in the 19th century, in reality it probably came from Homebase.

Just the TicketAs for the crowds, well they meant that everyone was forced to shuffle around at a snail's pace, sticking to the narrow walkways, and unable to overtake the foreign tourists up ahead who were trying to translate gout into German, thus ensuring that everyone took three times as long to get round. Which makes it all the more surprising that we were out in 35 minutes. And that includes queueing at the entrance for the most pointless tickets ever created. I attempted to walk past, but oh no, everyone needed a properly printed ticket to gain entry. I expect they have some kind of deal with the local paper mill.

To sum up, it was worth the price of admission, but only if you go on Annual Free Day.