Monday, 25 April 2011

Pubs called "The Vine" & other things...

I have been lucky enough to go away 3 times already this year... thanks mainly to spotting and booking very cheap deals with Travelodge which allow me to have a break for as little as £10 a night. My other stay was in the most gorgeous B&B @nicelittleplace nr Leominster to which I shall return later this year hopefully but that is a whole other tale for another day.

My reason for writing today is to pass comment on certain things that have cropped up time and again as I travel this country. They wont put me off but how many others will be deterred I wonder... so PR people, tourist info gurus, town planners.. please listen up

Signs & Directions

Not all of us have SatNav.. it is a device I am really not keen on.. I can read a map, am happy to buy maps of a local area and at least I remember landmarks & dont just blindly follow a faceless voice. When putting signs up in a town .. get someone from out of the area to check if they work or are correct...Kidderminster obviously doesnt want visitors.. the signs for town centre took me into a car park attached to a shopping precinct. I didnt want to shop.. I wanted to see Kidderminster but apparently its a secret as I fear is Basingstoke .. Ive not managed to find my way to the town centre despite following signs that indicate it is not too far distant from where I am staying. Ringroads may take traffic out of the town but that is surely the problem .. as a traveller you dont get to see the town that you may want to stop at and explore.. you just get taken on a lengthy detour past it which brings me to my next point..


When I visited Gloucester back in January.. I took the first sign for town centre car park... found myself in a very expensive NCP car park.. not best pleased but paid up as I foolishly believed the signs... when I got down to the Waterways museum... I found I could have parked there for the same time for less than half the price. I was not happy but it was too late,the fee was paid and I felt I had been stitched up! I now make a point of ignoring the first car park sign to investigate other options though this backfired in one town.. there was only the one car park in an obscure setting so I just carried on & saved my money to spend somewhere else. When you find a carpark, why are there so many complicated options to pay for your parking place?? Today, in Newbury I think was the best(worst) to date... I followed the signs for car parks.. ended up in one at Bear Lane..ticket machines are in bus stop type shelters.. head there only to find that machine out of order... follow instructions to another shelter in an adjoining carpark only to realise that there is no fee payable on Bank holidays. Upon reading all the notices.. I think these carparks are normally a barrier/ticket operated system with cctv and all sorts of gizmos.. sure this kit is all incredibly expensive and a normal machine would be far more economical and user friendly!
Please can we have better signs indicating car parking options and make parking simpler and user friendly .. I dont want to have to take a degree in order to park the car!

Next a plea to
Tourist Information .....

Why oh why when it is a day that people are likely to be visiting somewhere are the Tourist information offices closed ????? #Newbury today #Gloucester in January
Surely Bank holidays are the days you should be open .. or am I missing something? I thought the clue was in the name.. it seems its more "tourist disinformation, please dont come near us we want a quiet life ".

Town Museums

These appear to be buildings that specialise in being closed - not great if you want to learn more about a place and its history. I took great pains to look for the museum in Gloucester to find it padlocked shut... saw there was a museum in Newbury today , thought it would be worth a visit but only to find it too is closed. Now perhaps Gloucester can expect not to have too many visitors in January but its now Easter - so whats going on Newbury????

Customer service

Which brings me to The Vine... this seems to be a popular pub name in Hampshire .. still havent quite worked out why but will do some digging and find out in time.
I went to Stockbridge this morning.. a really lovely place where I had a good mooch along both sides of the street before deciding a cup of coffee would be nice prior to setting off once more. There was a posh deli/coffee place which looked too "in" for me and another that looked like Id feel guilty for dropping a crumb so I settled on a pub called The Vine which had a board outside advertising among other delights, morning coffee.
I headed inside and saw a gent behind the bar who was on the phone.. he continued his conversation, with a supplier, for several minutes, at no time breaking off to say hello or apologise for the delay. He made a point of saying he didnt want to be at work (whether this was a joke or not was difficult to ascertain). By the time he finished his call, there were three other customers besides myself. There was no apology from him nor greeting as I placed my order for coffee, nor to the others as he served them. I drank my coffee and decided that it was a shame I had selected this place as it had put a dampener on my visit.
Why do people work in service industries if they actually dont want to serve the public????? Pubs are hard work.I know from watching the owners and staff at my local - its not a case of standing behind a bar and chatting to your mates, there are many hours before and after closing to make a place run like clockwork - very much a case of serene swan on the surface but paddling like mad beneath to keep everything running smoothly.

I am born & bred in this country, know the language and the quirks but think about if I was a newcomer and faced some of the things Ive mentioned above .. would I want to remain? Or come again ? Or recommend to anyone else? In Europe, as with a lot of things they generally have customer service to a tee .. nothing is too much trouble.. gifts are nicely wrapped as a part of the purchase -yesterday,a gent had to ask for paper to wrap a gift he was buying at Salisbury cathedral shop- he shouldnt have had to, it should have been gift wrapped upon purchase.

The great British public it seems, are spending more of their holidays on these shores, so surely now is the time to be really making sure that customer service in ALL AREAS is absolutely the best so they have less reason to head back abroad in future years


  1. This is all sooo true! Mind you, I've heard horror stories from people in service industries who have to put up with monumental rudeness, and occasionally assault! Perhaps we get the service we deserve......

    We have a Tourist Information office here (Eastbourne), as well. It's also shut on Sundays and Bank Holidays. It's council run, and the council has no money!

  2. I completely agree, the customer service or lack of it in this country is awful and makes me feel embarrassed for visitors to this country.
    Rant over!