The Anonymous Widower

Charming Deliveries And Servicemen To Arrive!

I was expecting my new bath to arrive this lunchtime, so I decided to have my lunch early so I wouldn’t be busy when they came. They arrived early just as I was finishing my food and drinking my coffee.

It never fails, when you are expecting a delivery or a serviceman.  Putting the kettle on always brings about the arrival.  Perhaps they have an  extremely good sense of smell and could retrain some as sniffer people for drugs or bombs.

December 10, 2012 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

First Class Gluten-Free Food

I was travelling First Class both ways on my trip to Yorkshire yesterday.

Going up to York, I used East Coast Trains and although I got coffee, there was nothing else I could eat that was gluten-free.  But it didn’t matter as I was going to see friends for lunch.

In some ways I often feel cheated in First Class, as others get all sorts of goodies and I get nothing.  It’s usually worse at the weekend, as all that is available is sandwiches.

Coming back from Hull on Hull Trains, I effectively told the steward I was gluten-free by declining the biscuit with the coffee.  So when it came to selecting the complimentary meal, she apologised and thought, they might not have anything suitable. But she did say they had one chilli left.

Now my chilli con carnes and many I’ve had in pubs and restaurants have been gluten-free! So I suggest that she checked and she returned a minute or so later with the packet and a big smile on her face.

Gluten-Free Chili On Hull Trains

The pouch said the food was suitable for coeliacs and I gave it a go. There’s more details on the food here.

Chilli With Tortilla

Unfortunately, the tortilla crisps weren’t marked and I just chanced a couple.

The meal was excellent and I got no adverse reaction at all. So my gut liked it too! Perhaps, I should have had more of the crisps.

The steward then got the bit between her teeth and checked all the other things they served including the chocolate. Admittedly, First Class was by no means full.

After all coeliacs may not be that numerous, but statistics show that about one in a hundred of the UK population may have the disease.

The steward had certainly remembered the two things you don’t lose in any form of customer service; enthusiasm and your temper.

It was an enjoyable and enlightening journey after a bad day at the football.

So well done to Hull Trains and their staff! And especially to Steph!

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , | 7 Comments

Professional Behaviour In Starbucks

I walked into Starbucks on Upper Street this afternoon at about five. It wasn’t busy and I was able to walk straight up to the till.

Before I knew it and without saying a word, a tall cappuccino in a mug had been placed by the till. I asked if it was for me and they said yes, as I handed over a fiver. Afterwards, I felt a bit mean, as I had just spun a five pence into the tip bucket. The speedy service deserved more.

I suppose I always have the same, so it’s easy to remember what I have! But even so, it’s rather professional behaviour.

October 13, 2012 Posted by | Food | , | 3 Comments

How To Not Lose A Wallet

I should say that I keep one credit card, my rail passes and my Freedom Pass in a little folder that I keep in my pocket, so I can just pull it out to touch the various Oyster readers on buses, trains and tubes.

On Saturday, I managed to lose the folder on a bus, as my nose was running so much, that I must have dragged it out with a tissue, which I was using every minute or so.

I’d just cancelled the credit card and reported the Freedom Pass as lost, when the bus driver phoned to say, he’d got the folder and would take it to the depot at the end of his shift at 19:00. He had got the number from a card I keep in the folder containing my e-mail address and mobile number.

So I went to the garage at Leyton at the time he said and after a few minutes he turned up and gave me the folder. So job done! Stagecoach didn’t even have a charity box for a reward, but I rectified that on-line to one of the charities I support.

By Monday, my Freedom Pass was reactivated and then yesterday, I got a new AMEX card.

So we may complain about service, but I can’t fault anybody here.

July 26, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Docklands Light Railway Efficiency

I just saw one of the most efficient pieces of cleaning, I’ve seen in a long time.

I had boarded a DLR train from Canary Wharf station towards Stratford, when I noticed the floor in one section was absolutely filthy.  It looked like someone had spilt a full carton of coffee.

At the first station out of Canary Wharf, West India Quay, I was surprised to see a lady, in a high visibility vest enter the carriage, with what was best described as a good old-fashioned mop and pail in plastic. By Poplar, she had it finished and left the train and a beautifully clean floor.

Everybody was rightly impressed. The cleaner was even pleased that she finally discovered the errant coffee carton, that had hidden itself deep under a seat.

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

When Airlines Knew What Service Meant – 3

This is a third tale from about 1985 and again it concerns British Airways, but I suspect in those days any good airline did their utmost for their passengers, as it was cheap positive publicity.

A friend, his wife and another couple had gone for a weekend in somewhere like Malaga.  They had worried about actually getting there, as the French air traffic controllers were having one of their periodic bouts of industrial action.

They werent’t particularly bothered, as if they didn’t get back on Monday, Tuesday would do.

On the Monday, various tour reps arrived at the hotel and said that everybody would get home, but it would be a bit late and they would be picked up from the hotel at the expected time.  But the British Airways rep told her charges to wait in the hotel and they’d be picked up three hours before the flight was to leave.

So about nine, they all trooped onto the coach for the airport, where chaos reigned, as no flights were going back to the UK, due to the French. At midnight, they were called to the departure lounge and pretty soon were on their plane.

They’d been expecting a 737, but the plane was a wide-bodied Tri-Star, which BA filled with other passengers caught up from the Sunday or at the chaos at other airports.

Once airborne, the pilot explained the Tri-Star by saying that the French weren’t allowing any planes through their airspace, so they’d used the longer-range Tri-Star and filed a flight-plan on the way out to Bermuda, with Malaga as the alternate. Then halfway across the Atlantic, they’d declared  a minor emergency and as they were just north of Spain, requested they go to the alternate. He said the flight home would be a bit longer, as they were totally avoiding French air-space.

It must have used a lot more fuel, but there were lots of contented passengers.


February 6, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

When Airlines Knew What Service Meant – 2

In about 1979 or so, we ad an awful Christmas Eve in the UK, which meant that lots of aircraft were frozen to their stands at Heathrow and nothing could go in or out.

At the time a colleague in Metier was in Amsterdam and needed to get back for Christmas. He got to Schipol and there were massive queues as no planes were flying to the UK, because most airports were shut. But instead of giving up, as they do these days, British Airways managed to get a Tri-Star to Schipol from somewhere.  But where was it to go? It then turned out that the then small East Midlands Airport was open and during the afternoon and evening, it shuttled passengers across the North Sea.  The last flight arrived in England at three o’clock in the morning, as they kept the airport open late, so as not to ruin Christmas for the passengers. The airline is supposed to have commandeered all the coaches in the area to complete passengers journeys.

But everybody had a good Christmas and British Airways got a lot of publicity.

I can’t imagine it happening today! In fact today, there are reports of incoming passengers to the UK,  stuck in places like  Barcelona and Shannon.

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

When Airlines Knew What Service Meant

I was just talking to a friend, whose son  had got mixed up in all the delays at Stansted. He had got no sense from an Irish so-called airline and had had to come home.

It got me thinking about how airlines used to know what service meant.

Many years ago all five of us went to St. Lucia on an all-inclusive holiday with British Airways.

I think we were due to come home on the Thursday, but due to an engine failure on the incoming flight, it became obvious that we would have an extra night on the island. We were moved that night to another hotel and were told that although we would get home on Friday or Saturday, they couldn’t be sure how long we’d be stuck.

We eventually heard that it would be the Saturday, as although there would be an incoming flight on the Friday, it would be coming in late as it was carrying the spare engine and the crew to change it, and because of the extra load, it would be refuelling in Bermuda. We did get a view as it flew in to land of one of the strangest sights in aviation; a Boeing 747 carrying an extra fifth engine under the wing root. There’s a video of one here.

So we ad two extra nights on St. Lucia and very late on Saturday, we boarded the 747 to go home. I can’t remember if it was Thursday’s, Friday’s or Saturday’s plane, but it was one of the then new Rolls-Royce powered 747-200s.

The pilot did announce though, that it would be a direct flight to Heathrow, instead of via Barbados, so he apologised if the take-off was a bit noisy, as he’d be using full everything.

I remember he was followed down the runway by a tug and they backed the plane as far towards and over the fence as they dare. It was a noisy but safe take-off and we arrived much earlier than expected non-stop into Heathrow.

The one thing that spoilt the flight, was rather a heavy landing, for which the pilot apologised and blamed the new auto-land system, which as he said needed a bit more tweaking.

February 5, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

A Saturday Morning Routine

There are two radio programmes, I like to listen to on Saturday morning; Danny Baker and the unsporting quiz, Fighting Talk, as they appeal to my unusual sense of humour.

The trouble is that if I’m going to football, as I am today, it doesn’t really leave much time for me to get to the shops, as I have to leave by about midday to get the train.

So this morning, I got to the Angel, by bus at just after 8:30.  I actually took a seventy-free, as if you sit at the back and get out of the rearmost door, it’s much easier to walk to the four shops, Carluccio’s and the physio, that I visit at the Angel.

Today, it was just Boots for some rat poison, Marks and Spencer for some gluten-free sarnies for the train and a beef Stroganoff for tonight  and Waitrose for two large carriers of heavy stuff like alcohol and Coke.  I went to Waitrose first and found that if I shopped immediately,  could get it delivered before the start of Fighting Talk at 11:00. I think I rather caught them on the hop, but hopefully it’ll come on time.  But I do have two hours of total float in my critical path, so if they come by one I’m OK.

The only problem, was that Marks didn’t have the gluten-free sandwiches, but then I’ll pass three of their shops that stock them on the way to Liverpool Street. If they don’t have any, then I shall complain. If there aren’t any, it’s probably because they are too good and all those food fadists on a gluten-free kick have snaffled them!

I was back home listening to Danny Baker by ten o’clock.

It sounds like I’ll be repeating this on Saturdays in the future.

The routine could be even better, if Carluccio’s opened at 8:00 for breakfast on Saturday, as they do in the week.

Update at 11:20 – Waitrose have just delivered, so I have plenty of time to catch the train to Ipswich, after scouring Marks for some gluten-free sandwiches.

Thinking about this post.  When C and I lived near Newmarket we would go shopping early, often visit one of our horses in traing and then we’d generally be back home around eleven.

I suppose, I’m only repeating what we did together by myself.  In some ways, it was easier in Suffolk, as Waitrose opened earlier.  But then I had to carry the shopping from the car to the hall.  Here, that is all done by the van driver from Waitrose.

Who said manners and service are dead.

August 13, 2011 Posted by | Food, Sport, World | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How To Handle Complaints

I reported the ticketing problems, I had on Wednesday to National Express East Anglia by e-mail to the company yesterday morning. I received a reply late in the afternoon, which was in my view pretty quick, as they needed a bit more information.  At ten o’clock last night, after an exchange of e-mails, the issue reached a conclusion, which was very satisfactory for me. I hope it was satisfactory for the company too, as it wasn’t anything serious and more of a computer or handbook glitch.

It just shows how companies can handle problems quickly if they put the right systems in place, with the right people manning them.

Other companies should take note!

July 29, 2011 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments