“ Address: The Old Town Hall / Lord Street / Gainsborough / Lincolnshire / DN21 2DB „
Before Christmas I had the usual stress of buying everything and preparing everything and as always my Husband was causing me more problems than anyone else. I say this because I never know what to buy the man! He is usually very generous to me, as he should be, but I can never think of anything he might want or need. I usually manage to find something but it's usually after a couple of months of worry and stress that I buy something out of pure desperation! Last year was no exception. I had bought a few DVD's and socks and the usually stocking filler type gifts but was struggling for something more substantial. I had noticed that his Amazon wish list mostly consisted of stand up comedy DVD's and so the thought occurred to me that he might like to see a comedy show at a club or theatre. Now, we live in Lincolnshire and when it comes to tours or shows of any kind nothing ever seems to come near here. I think the nearest big venues are either Sheffield or Nottingham which are both well over an hour's drive from where we live. A few years ago Westlife did an open air concert at Lincoln Castle but I've not heard of any other big names coming to this area. The other problem we have is that being a Dairy Farmer my Husband works seven days a week from 5.30am until about 7pm. This causes a problem because as always we cannot find staff willing to work (don't even get me started on the useless cretins that keep coming to us for work!) so my Husband is unable to take time off which effects every aspect of our life especially our social life. I turned to www.google.co.uk hoping to find a comedy club or theatre in Lincoln and instead found The Sands Venue at Gainsborough. I had heard of Sands but had never really paid much attention to what went on there and for some reason I thought it was a nightclub. I went to the website www.the-sands.co.uk and was amazed at the names that had performed there and the shows coming up. There seemed to be a mix or music such as Elvis, Patsy Cline, Bob Marley and T-Rex and comedy such as Jimmy Cricket, Billy Pearce and Mick Miller and both genuine acts like Alan Price and Liane Carroll and tribute bands like The Amy Winehouse Tribute and Grease Special. After looking through the many acts due to perform I decided on an Abba tribute band called Abba Revolution who was due to perform at the venue at the end of February 2009. I chose Abba because it was something that we could both enjoy and I knew that my Husband had seen the real Abba perform in Germany many years ago. The cost of my tickets was £15.00 pounds each and there was the option of having a meal but this would be charged separately. I tried to register and buy my tickets online but there was a problem with the website at that time and I kept getting an error message. I rang the box office number and spoke with a very helpful member of staff who dealt with my request and took my card details for payment. After a few days I received a letter confirming my order and giving me details of dress codes, eating arrangements and terms and conditions. You do not receive tickets as your name is simply added to a list at the door. A couple of weeks before the show we were sent a menu and asked to choose from a selection of starters, main courses and desserts and there was also the option of Cheese platters for after your meal. There was a brief description of each item and a price and you just needed to tick your selection, advise them what time you want to arrive and return the list to The Sands. You were given the option of returning your choices by telephone, post, fax or email. The meals were very reasonably priced with a starter costing around £4, main meals at around £10-£15 and the desserts again were approximately £4. On the night we arrived in good time after parking in a nearby car park which was free after 6pm. The main entrance is on Lord Street and there are a few steps up to the door. A member of staff direct you up a flight of stairs and then you come to the cloakroom where you can leave any belongings but you can take your things with you if you prefer. This is also where you will find the toilets. There is also a lift in this area. After this you are taken to your seat by a member of staff who advises you of the name of the person who will be waiting on you. The meal service started at 7pm and the last sitting was 8.15pm. We had selected 7.45pm and when we arrived the venue was almost empty. The venue was much smaller than I expected and everything was decorated in black and white with touches of gold and red. There is a large bar area to your left as you enter and the stage is immediately in front of you. The stage is only very small and the tables go right up to it on three sides. There is a small balcony but there is only one row of tables up there and it probably only seats about 20 people. I did find that that the tables were very close together and if you were back to back with someone it was almost impossible to get in and out of your seat. There was certainly no room for anyone to walk about between the closest tables. The meal was nice and was bought to the table quickly, each course was presented very nicely and you weren't rushed. I had chicken ravioli to start, a homemade lasagne for my main course and a chocolate orange cake for dessert. The only problem I had with any of the meal was that the chips I had were cooked in a deep fat fryer and the outside looked well cooked but the inside was almost raw. I also received the wrong dessert but not wanting to make a fuss and not being sure that it was incorrect I tasted the food I had been bought. It was disgusting! A waitress noticed that I had pushed my plate to one side and was not eating and came to ask if everything was ok. I explained that I didn't like the pudding and she offered to bring me something else instead. I asked if what I had was in fact the chocolate orange cake and she apologised and bought me the correct item. The service was very good and included any drinks that you wanted from the bar. The show started at about 9.30pm which gave the last people eating time to finish their meals although some were still having their desserts or cheese platters when the lights went down. By the time the act started the whole placed was packed mostly by large groups of women! A small area to one side of the stage had been left empty, I wondered why until the music started and nearly everyone got up to go and dance in this area. Our seat was right up against the side of the stage which was a little uncomfortable. We could mostly only see the side of the act unless they came to our side to sing. I found the close proximity of the act a bit uncomfortable especially as they were very keen on audience participation. Had I been drinking or on a hen or girls night I probably wouldn't have been bothered but being the designated driver for the evening made me feel a little self conscious under their scrutiny. The music was very very loud but again I think this was just an issue with being so close to the stage. On the whole I really enjoyed the show and the whole evening was very enjoyable. I have since been able to register my details on the website and have booked tickets online. This was very straight forward and once ordered my details arrived within a few days as before. I bought tickets to a Rock and Roll Tribute called 'Come on Everybody' for my Father for his birthday. The tickets for this were £30 each but this included the meal. My parents thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would definitely attend the venue again. They were seated on the small balcony area and said they were very comfortable up there and didn't find it too loud. My mother mentioned that after seeing similar acts at the theatre she felt that The Sands had a much better setting and atmosphere to enjoy music than the theatre. She also felt that having the meal and then the show all in one place was much better than trying to find a restaurant before or after a theatre performance. I would definitely book tickets again for myself or as a gift as I felt that the price was very reasonable and the whole experience was very enjoyable.