Barking, the end of our first line and into a part of London Henri and I really didn’t know. I arrived early because it’s actually a lot easier and quicker to get to than I had thought. I soon discovered there wasn’t that much to do, unless you wanted to place a bet or buy something for a pound. I’m sure it’s a nice enough place to live, but it’s not somewhere I feel the need to go back to.

The Showcase cinema isn’t actually walking distance from the tube, you need to get Bus 366 from the opposite side of road just outside the station. It’s about 10mins and obvious when you are at the cinema. We then got bus 325 to East Ham for the way home, though it was a bit of a longer journey. I think you could also get there from Beckton DLR if that is easier. And for those really not aware of east London this was north of the Thames – at one stage we thought we had crossed it! http://www.showcasecinemas.co.uk/locations/newham

I recognise Showcase as chain from when I lived up north, though this is the only one in Greater London (there is one just outside the M25 at Bluewater, so maybe a special trip in the future). This one is located between various motorways, waterways and industrial estates south of Barking and is actually called Showcase Newham. Not much in the area, but ideal for those with a car as there are plenty of spaces. This is so so different from any one we have been to before simply by being focussed on suburban car owners. Fairly standard food options – having chips on sale might seem good but it meant that was all you could smell as soon as you entered the foyer. Much better is to go earlier to Moe’s American Diner for its booths, old American car outside and friendly service. Though I suspect Americans from the 1950’s might not really recognise it that much. Go on the second Saturday of the month and you’ll be there with the UK-American Car Association. There was also a Lithuanian restaurant and a Frankie and Benny’s.

The cinema itself is nice enough, and was fairly busy for a wet Wednesday evening. And with Orange Wednesdays we got out tickets for £8.95 which was good value, especially in comparison to cinemas we’ve visited further into central London. We had a bit of a kerfuffle about which show we’d actually booked, but once the manager got involved, everything was sorted out straightaway.

The unimpressive and dirty toilets, tired decor and pervading smell of chips really didn’t help the overall ambience. And the seats were oddly uncomfortable, some being higher than others, or prone to tip back unexpectedly. But we enjoyed simply being somewhere so different that was fairly easy to get to from central London. If you’ve got a car, combine it with a visit to Moe’s and it would be an OK way to spend an afternoon.

We watched Maleficent, which is a reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of the ‘Bad’ Fairy. It reminded me a lot of the musical Wicked – if only in trying to remember how the new story lines agreed or disagreed with the traditional version of events. A few too many wooden performances and holes in the story line make this more a kid’s film than you might have expected, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Combined scores:

How comfy were the seats? 3/10

How good were the snacks? 4/10

How nice were the staff? 7/10

How sticky were the floors? 3/10

How great was the ambience? 4/10

Average: 4.2/10

How much did we like the film? 5.5/10