Don't work with animals or children may be a well- worn piece of advice, but with a restaurant review to write by the end of my daughter's seventh birthday weekend, I had no choice but to combine the two.
We had decided to take Bella and six of her mates to Weston-super-Mare on the train for a quintessential day at the seaside involving ice creams, donkey rides, sticks of rock, a visit to the Grand Pier and, of course, fish and chips.
Apart from one torrential downpour and the inevitable squabbles of excitable seven- year-olds (before making up two minutes later and being "BFFs" again), the day went surprisingly smoothly.
But the exhausted adults were certainly relieved to get to Winstons for lunch, especially when they spotted chilled Thatchers Gold cider on draught.
Weston-super-Mare is well-served with fish and chip restaurants, but we needed somewhere large enough to accommodate a big group of kids, some of whom already seemed to be experiencing a birthday party sugar rush.
Winstons has won awards in the past for its fish and chips and its beach-facing position just down from the pier made it an obvious post-donkey ride choice.
With its sunny terrace and bright restaurant with sea-blue walls, flat-screen TVs and huge fish tanks, it's a welcoming place for families and holidaymakers and everything is available to take away if you want to eat your meal on the beach.
We'd booked in advance and the cordon of waitresses was standing by with a look of slight trepidation that usually comes when a party of kids rock up at your restaurant.
Of course, the key to keeping children reasonably quiet when dining out is to make sure they are occupied from the outset and full marks to the staff, who immediately brought out the colouring sheets and crayons, as well as a tray of drinks, all of which are part of the well-priced kids' menu (£3.60).
True to form, five out of the seven kids ignored the fact we were in a fish bar and went for hamburgers, but the other two ordered scampi and cod bites.
Impressively, the food arrived no more than five minutes after we had ordered and the fact that there were seven empty plates left at the end was some indicator of how much they enjoyed it.
The adult-size portions of cod and chips (£7.65) arrived soon after and there were no complaints there, either. The huge pieces of juicy, flaky fish were in jackets of crisp, greaseless batter and served with a mountain of decent chips doused with salt and vinegar for the true "by-the-seaside" effect.
But then, we all know fish and chips taste better when you can see the sea, even if the water is as brown and muddy as the HP sauce on the side of your plate.
VERDICT: Huge portions of good, honest seaside tucker served by cheery staff for whom nothing was too much trouble - Winstons encapsulates all that is great about the great British seaside chippy.
|Monday||10.30am to 10pm|
|Tuesday||10.30am to 10pm|
|Wednesday||10.30am to 10pm|
|Thursday||10.30am to 10pm|
|Friday||10.30am to 10pm|
|Saturday||10.30am to 10pm|
|Sunday||10.30am to 10pm|
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