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?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Me old china

We had a delivery last week. Four large boxes filled with gorgeous tea sets. 
A lady had rung two days earlier to ask if we would take her late mother's collection of cups, saucers, teapots and plates. 
"Lovely of you to think of us," I said.
"I'll be honest," she replied, "I'm just going through the 'phone book."

Then today another lady turned up with more plates, cups and saucers. 
She asked if we'd happened to find her granddaughter's toy sloth which she'd lost in August. 
We had indeed. 
We've become quite attached to him.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Only When I Laugh

A couple of Saturdays ago I was celebrating my fiftieth birthday. Which was in May.
It's a year-long event.
I caught a busy train to London from Birmingham and sat with three ladies I didn't know but who all knew each other.
I read my book and tried not to eavesdrop.
But eavesdrop I did and heard a story which has been making me laugh ever since.

One of the women had been at a friend's house. This friend's father had gallstones, was in a lot of pain and had taken himself upstairs to lie down. 
The friend called an ambulance as she was so worried about her dad and sent her son upstairs to be with him.
The 999 answerer asked her to find out where the pain was.
She called upstairs: "Ask grandad where the pain is?"
"Where's the pain?" he dutifully asked and the grandfather replied that it was all over.
The son shouted down to his mum: "It's all over." 
Which made her yell into the phone: "Oh my god! He's dead."

Monday, 26 September 2016

Opportunity Knocks (& isn't answered)

Earlier this summer I volunteered for a sort of trial thing. It was being run by the University of Worcester and the Trust Me I'm A Doctor programme on BBC telly.
I was one of sixty volunteers asked to eat a gluten-free diet for six weeks. We were all given two different sorts of pasta. We included pasta 1 in our diet for two weeks of the six and pasta 2 for another two weeks. The middle two weeks we were left to our own devices while remaining gluten-free.

When we all picked up our bags of pasta and were given our instructions a cameraman was floating around but the bulk of the filming was at the end of the trial and done in late August. I couldn't make filming day.

The programme aired two weeks ago.
As it went out I was in a pub saying goodbye to one of our wonderful members of staff who's made it on to a graduate accountancy trainee scheme.
My phone started to buzz with texts. When I got home there were Facebook messages.
All from friends saying they'd seen me on the telly.

I watched it back, of course. A fleeting glimpse is how best to describe it. I am sitting chatting to another volunteer.
Since it aired I have had dozens of people at the tearoom asking if it was me they saw on the tv?

I wish now I'd been wearing a Garden Tea Rooms t-shirt or apron.
Five weeks left of the season.