Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Little things

Less than 8 weeks until we reopen. I am thoroughly enjoying my time off but adding every day to the to-do list. I have to buy a new large fridge and sort out the hand-driers in the loos (which are rubbish). I'm putting together a small Children's Menu and taking bookings for group visits and baby showers.

I used to love going to the supermarket; now it's a bit of a chore but my brief visit today was made better by a quick-witted lady at the check-out.
It was Sainsburys. About 3.30. The local schools had just ended their day.
As I paid for my shopping the lady asked me if I wanted any "Active Kids" vouchers?
"No thanks," I said, then added, "Give them to the.." I was about to say she should give them to the next person who was collecting them but she finished my sentence for me...
"active kids?" she said, gesturing to the primary school pupils who were running up and down the aisles.
She rolled her eyes.
I laughed.

Saturday, 10 December 2016


During the season we sell lots of Ruby's fudge.
Ruby is superwoman when it comes to fudge. She makes it, packs it, delivers or posts it and it's always delicious. She also makes loads of different flavours. Ever tried Christmas Pudding fudge?
Naturally this time of year is particularly busy so, when the tearooms close, I offer be an extra pair of hands whenever needed.
I'm sure she is concerned I would eat my body weight in the stuff and seriously dent any profits but this year she has finally taken me up on it.
Last week I stood for three hours in the deli of a local garden centre wearing an apron.
I offered tasters of various flavours to visitors who were scanning shelves for Christmas goodies and gifts.
And I learned a lot.
I learned that most people (like me) really love fudge but there are a few who don't carry the gene.
"I prefer cheese" said at least two who didn't even want to try it.
One man told me his dad had been in dental research and hadn't given his kids anything with sugar in until they were five years old. Result: no sweet tooth. Lucky man.
Then there are those who stood chatting and hoovering up the samples - three different flavours.
And my favourite of all, those who commented: "it's very sweet, isn't it?"
It's full of sugar. There's no getting away with it. Besides, I'd be VERY disappointed if it weren't sweet.
We sold out of Christmas Pudding flavour,  Brandy and Cranberry & Lemon Meringue.
I didn't eat too much.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Tour de Force

Season Seven all wrapped up.
Yesterday, our last of 2016, was busy which came as a surprise and meant we didn't have quite the level of leftover food we had secretly hoped for.

Two cyclists arrived, a man and a woman.
I've said before how much I love and envy cyclists because they rarely say no to cake but this man has been on a semi-regular basis this year and will order two or three slices for himself.
So is obviously VERY welcome.
He also brings other cyclists who often follow his example.
Because they can.

As he left with a female cyclist she introduced herself - Jan Birkmyre (see last Saturday's Telegraph). Her parents live close by and are very involved with the church and local events.
I have heard of Jan because of her amazing cycling achievements in recent years and I told her that we love seeing her companion because of his ability to put away a good deal of the sweet stuff.
She introduced me to him.
He's the cycling columnist for The Guardian.
William Fotheringham.
Lots of books too.
Quite a lot of Twitter followers:
when the cafe owner refers to you as the bloke who's been coming in all summer and eating all the cakes you know you're in trouble...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Cheerful and Cheap.

We have had a series of fairly quiet days with some cracking customers.
Alf was first in yesterday. He ordered an americano and sat in the main tearoom which gave me the opportunity to chat to him. He told me that he's 85 and his wife is in a care home with dementia. He had cared for her at home until he had to go into hospital for a prostate op.
He goes to see her every other day and holds her hand. He can't understand what she's saying any more so he just chats to her and nods when she speaks to him. He grows tomatoes in his greenhouse and has had to learn to cook since his wife became ill. He makes sure he has something to do every day, however small. He came to us for coffee because he and his wife used to come once in a while and have a drink in the garden.
He is smashing.  One of those people with an ever-present smile.
I couldn't bring myself to charge him for the coffee.

Compare that with the last arrival one day last week.
Three people came at the end of the day and sat in the garden. One of them came in and ordered a pot of tea. Just for one, she said.
When we took it out to her she asked for an extra cup.
Now our policy is one teacup per pot. We are generous with milk and extra hot water but we draw the line at two people sharing a £2 pot of tea (since they have been known to then ask for even more milk and hot water top-up) so we said we would have to charge for a second pot.
"I'm not paying £2 for a teabag," she said, "We'll both use the same cup."
She didn't appear to lack funds and was what my mum would have called well-spoken.
A few minutes later she brought back the tray and handed it to one of us, smiling and clearly pleased with herself.
"I used the sugar bowl," she said.
The sugar bowl was hot.
Presumably she'd emptied the sugar out onto the saucer, drank from the bowl then put the sugar back in it.
We threw the contents away.
And wondered at how well-spoken doesn't always mean well-bred.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

When all else fails.

I have far too many unsolicited calls. Usually about electricity and gas supply.
They take up a lot of time so to be honest when I answer the phone and hear: "may I speak to the manager please?" I tell them the manager isn't in and won't be back for hours.
This is the quickest.
If I say that I don't take sales calls they insist it ISN'T a sales call and then ask for all sorts of information about bills and suppliers and it is so OBVIOUSLY a sales call that I have to be firm.
Today has thrown up a new tactic.
We took a call from a woman who claimed to be investigating a complaint.
The word "complaint" certainly grabs the attention.
She went on to say she was helping to sort it out with my utility supplier and when I asked where she was from she put me on to her manager who repeated that he was trying to sort out a complaint about my gas and electricity supplier.
I asked him to tell me who my supplier is?
He guessed.
He guessed again.
He said he could help get my bills down.
"You must think I'm stupid" I eventually told him, frustrated that I couldn't get him off the 'phone.
"I'm not stupid, YOU are." he replied.
I reassured him that I hadn't called him stupid (why was I still on the phone?) and he called me a pretty lady and twice referred to me as "love".
Yes. That's definitely going to work...

Scaling the Heights

Much busier than expected. Five of us working today and all at full speed over lunchtime.
It's dry but fairly chilly so it was all panini and jacket potatoes (now back on the menu after their summer away).

It's lucky we're so close to the end of the season.
Things (not to mention staff)  are on their last legs.
We're giving one of the dishwashers a rest as it's having difficulty working properly. We think it's a build up of limescale. The same problem has affected one of the water boilers. So useful that we have  two of each.
I made lemon drizzle cake this morning, the best I've made in a while. I think I've been a little too eager to get it out of the oven in recent weeks but today it stayed put and Mary Berry came up trumps again.

Source of discomfort.

Two and a half weeks left of the season.
I am less worried about ice cream than usual at this stage. I have a more laissez-faire/que sera sera attitude to it which will probably mean I won't have any and there'll be a heatwave in the last week of October.
We're also in that part of the year when we have a really busy, concentrated hour or so at lunchtime and a lot of slow custom either side. Yesterday I finally got around to sorting out my china teacups cupboard. These are the cups and saucers not in general use but brought out for tea parties and larger gatherings. Obviously there's an occasional breakage which means where we had six cups and saucers of one design we may now not have....
At the end of the exercise I had a pile of saucers unclaimed by cups.
Is there a solution to the single saucer issue? What should I do with them? Do they have a life after being made to be part of a pair?