Archive for the ‘Guildford’ Category

Appalling piss-poor service in M&S

November 4, 2016

The service in M&S Guildford in their food hall is a disgrace.

Customers pay premier prices and receive piss-poor service.

With Waitrose opening, one would have expected the service to improve, but if anything it has got worse.

Queues at both tills, the only two tills open, trolleys piled up.

I tried the information counter. They refused to serve.

I asked that more tills be opened. They refused. They told me to go to the self service.

The lady there was helpful, operated the self-service. She had problems. It kept going wrong, and she had to keep resetting the machine and scanning everything again. She apologised for being slow. Not her fault, the fault lies with M&S useless management.

Where the bread is baked, overwhelming stench of disinfectant. If someone had thrown up on the floor, this would have been understandable. but no, they were cleaning the ovens. Could they not have waited until the store was closed? And it also raises questions of chemical contamination of their foodstuffs.

Is it any wonder M&S is a failing retail chain when they have this level of contempt for their customers?

Lunch at Debenham’s

November 4, 2016
roast turkey and all the trimmings

roast turkey and all the trimmings

Once again turkey. I looked Tuesday, it was turkey. Every time I have looked it has been turkey.

Debenham’s used to serve excellent roast pork, even worth a visit to Debenham’s. But now all they serve is turkey.

It is bad enough Christmas when all they serve is turkey.

It is like the Monty Python sketch, spam, spam, spam, only in Debenham’s, it is turkey, turkey, turkey.

What is the use of customer service if no one is listening?

Not the fault of the staff, the fault lies with head office who issue diktats on what must be served.

This is appalling bad management, someone at head office trying to justify their own worthless existence.

Unless the local store is doing something wrong, let locally decide what is served, they know their customers, head office does not.

It was raining, turkey it was.

The vegetables were stone cold. The kitchen, kindly hotted up, but now not fit to eat. The turkey was awful. I left the meal half eaten.

I regretted not eating elsewhere, and would have done but for the rain.

A pot of tea and a cake.  Few places in Guildford serve decent cakes. Debenham’s is one of those rare places.

cheesecake and a pot of tea

cheesecake and a pot of tea

Cappuccino in Harris + Hoole

November 1, 2016
cappuccino in Harris Hoole

cappuccino in Harris + Hoole

cappuccino in Harris + Hoole

cappuccino in Harris + Hoole

After a cold grey day at Guildford farmers market, I visited Harris + Hoole for a cappuccino.

Why no indie coffee stall on the farmers market, maybe with Surrey Hills Coffee providing and selling the beans? They are a local coffee roaster thus eligible to be on the market.

It is not acceptable that Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks serving undrinkable disgusting coffee are allowed to dictate what happens on the High Street.

Cappuccino in Harris + Hoole. I could have popped in one of the indie coffee shops, sadly Harris + Hoole now owned by Cafe Nero, but they all close early, and in Harris + Hoole I am guaranteed a constantly good coffee.  Unlike Caracoli, where the manager knows nothing about coffee and makes himself a laughing stock.  It is a tragedy the indie coffee shops close early, as in the summer they are turning away a constant flow of customers.

I was served an excellent cappuccino, but then barista said no, you deserve better.

Then when I left, served another two coffees.

Very impressed.  A barista who takes a pride in his work.

Two coffee places vie for No 1, depends who is serving, FCB kiosk on Platform 2 at Guildford Station and Harris + Hoole. Surrey Hills Coffee comes in at No 3.

Which again begs the question, why oh why, no quality coffee stall on the market, other than objections from Costa and Starbucks?

Guildford farmers market

November 1, 2016
Secrett's Farm cauliflowers

Secrett’s Farm cauliflowers

A cold, grey, misty day.

No surprise not many people around, although the Celtic Baker stall had almost sold out.

Last week I visited a new shop in Guildford, a cheese shop cum deli, in Chapel Street. Knowledgeable staff, excellent choice of cheese. I suggested a few stalls on the farmers market whose produce they may wish to stock. I also said, as I knew them, I would have a word.

This I did. Chutney no, can barely meet demand. Little Beer Corporation and apple stall with fruit juices, yes, were interested.

It also helps with delivery, on market once a month, can drop off supplies.

Ollo Foods

Ollo Foods

Excellent dosa off chutney stall, Ollo Foods. Absolute must for Staycation Live.

A couple of stalls, maybe more, have dropped out since the car park fiasco whilst the setts were being relaid in the High Street. The excellent pie stall will be much missed, and the paella stall.

I did not check what the new paella stall was serving in, already packing up.

Low environmental standards on the market.

If London South Bank Street Food Market and many if not all music festivals can set high environmental standards, then why not Guildford for its own farmers market? Only one word, hypocrisy.

When Godalming, and many other places, have a street food market, some  like Godalming  once a year, some like Winchester every week on a Wednesday, then why not Guildford?

August or September would be ideal.

And why no coffee stall serving high quality coffee? It is not acceptable that Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks serving undrinkable disgusting coffee are allowed to dictate what happens on the High Street.

And shame on any producer who gets their coffee from these chains when Guildford has indie coffee shops, including Surrey Hills Coffee, just off the High Street in Chapel Lane. When on the one hand they expect us to support local producers, maybe time to practice what they preach.  Again one word to describe this behaviour, hypocrisy. Though I could add, stupidity.

And where are the Environmental Heath Inspectors? No problem on a cold day, but when I see meat and poultry in the sun when 30C in the shade, then there is cause to worry, as it says the stalls have not a clue how to handle food. If this is what I see in public gaze, what happens behind the scenes?

Looked in on Ben in Ben’s Records. Nothing by Agnes Obel. I suggested check her out.

cheese cum deli in Chapel Street

cheese cum deli in Chapel Street

Walked down Castle Street, popped in cheese shop cum deli. Let them know I had spoke as promised to a  few stalls.

For the last hour, getting very cold, cold mist making it worse.

cappuccino in Harris Hoole

cappuccino in Harris Hoole

Cappuccino in Harris + Hoole. I could have popped in one of the indie coffee shops, sadly Harris + Hoole now owned by Cafe Nero, but they all close early, and in Harris + Hoole I am guaranteed a constantly good coffee.  Unlike Caracoli, where the manager knows nothing about coffee and makes himself a laughing stock.  It is a tragedy the indie coffee shops close early, as in the summer they are turning away a constant flow of customers.

I was served an excellent cappuccino, but then barista said no, you deserve better.

Then when I left, served another two coffees.

Very impressed.  A barista who takes a pride in his work.

Two coffee places vie for No 1, depends who is serving, FCB kiosk on Platform 2 at Guildford Station and Harris + Hoole. Surrey Hills Coffee comes in at No 3.

Which again begs the question, why oh why, no quality coffee stall on the market, other than objections from Costa and Starbucks?

Nightmare of weekend rail works gets worse

October 30, 2016
North Camp rail works

North Camp rail works

The nightmare of weekend rail works, travelling down to Brighton last Sunday, could not get worse, could it? Unfortunately yes.

This Sunday, rail works on the line Reading to Gatwick and a repeat of last weekend’s nightmare with rail works Gatwick to Brighton.

Bus Reading to Guildford, then train to Gatwick.

As the clocks had gone back to GMT, and it gets dark an hour earlier, I set off an hour earlier, plus twenty minutes because bus was twenty minutes earlier.

A journey to Gatwick, that would take an hour, now an hour and a half.

I arrived ten minutes early for the bus. Road to station closed. Where to pick up the bus? No information at the station, nor an amended timetable or where to pick up the bus.

Displays on the platforms were not showing amended times, merely rail works and a bus service in operation.

No bus. The bus failed to turn up.

A bus for Reading arrived. The driver was asked to either contact the driver or his office. The driver refused on the grounds that he did not know the number of his own office.

Passenger decided to walk to another station and get to Guildford that way. Either way, train from Guildford to Gatwicks missed, an hour until next train.

Tough job passengers with a  plane to catch.

Not possible to cross the line due to rail works.

A detour to cross via a road bridge.  Dangerous to walk along, no footpath

On crossing the road bridge, bus turns up. Flagged down, and passengers get on the bus.

Now twenty minutes late.  No explanation or apology from driver as to why twenty minutes late.

For some perverse reason, driver decided to drive down the closed road. For what? There are no passenger to pick up, we are the passengers.

We tell him one passenger for Gatwick is on the other side, but not possible to cross due to rail works.

Driver decides to pick up passenger, even though pointless exercise, train missed at Guildford.

Driver, instead of going to car park, drives to another station.

Bus then stuck, as not possible to turn around the bus.

Eventually after much manoeuvring, bus turned around. Bus now running 40-50 minutes late.

He then goes to another station to pick passengers up. No passengers to be picked up.

Arrive at Guildford, train for Gatwick long gone.

Had though the bus been on time, sufficient time to walk through the station and catch the train, insufficient time to buy a ticket.

Any passenger coming by bus without a ticket should be allowed through to catch their train.

At Gatwick, no announcement how to get to Brighton.

I saw a train leaving in five minutes for Havant, stopping at Three Bridges, nipped across to Platform 7, and caught it.

At Three Bridges, unlike last Sunday, no announcements. I assumed as last week, walk through car park and catch a bus.

Very efficient, as soon as a bus full, dispatched.

Double-decker buses, as last week.

As soon as bus pulled out, luggage rolling around, nowhere to safely stow. Area for wheelchairs and buggies doubled as luggage space

French girl on the bus, said she had no idea what to do on arrival at Three Bridges as no announcements. She said trains in France do not provide this appalling service nor are they expensive.

Return from Brighton as efficient, as  soon as  a bus full, dispatched.

At Three Bridges, choice of two trains, one for St Pancras, the other for Victoria, both stopped at Gatwick.

Train to Guildford, then bus.

As train pulled into Guildford, announcement where to catch the train, and again at the station.

Bus driver appeared to know the route, in contrast to the driver in the morning who did not seem to have a clue where he was going.

Afternoon in Guildford

October 28, 2016

Mid-morning a chill to the air, by midday, pleasant and warm and sunny.

By the time I reached Guildford, cloudy, but not cold.

Last week, left stranded by sick bastard guard who thought a great joke to leave passengers stranded. Trains were re-timed two minutes early to that shown on the timetable. Sunday I found alternate trains re-timed two minutes early.

To date, no reply to complaint to cowboy rail company, no information at station that an alternative timetable in force.

North Camp small print on station timetable

North Camp small print on station timetable

I queried at the station. They said, check small print on the timetable, it says an amended timetable from 10 October 2016. In the past, there would have been new timetables published, now a tiny note in the timetable, old timetable still displayed at stations.

This is the contempt the rail companies have for passengers.

A cappuccino off FCB coffee stall at Guildford Station. A mistake, as by the time I reached Debenhams, literally no food left.

Vodafone stole £1100 from my bank account

Vodafone stole £1100 from my bank account

A lady in the High Street mounting a one woman protest against Vodafone. They had stolen £1100 from a her bank account. Whilst I was talking to her, several people stopped to tell of their bad experience with Vodafone. She said she had had people telling her all day long of their bad experience with Vodafone.

Vodafone are infamous for piss-poor service. They have recently been fined £4.6 million by Ofcom for their appalling customer service. It is the largest ever fine imposed on a telecoms provider.

They also dodge tax. They were the first company targeted by UK Uncut for tax dodging.

Not a company to touch with a barge pole.

Guildford cheese shop cum deli

Guildford cheese shop cum deli

What was an awful record shop in Chapel Street is now a cheese shop cum deli. A good selection of cheeses, and chatting to the guys, they know their stuff. Fancy breads. I would rather see a wholemeal loaf. A rather poor selection of cakes.

I tried Colston Blue. Excellent cheese. I suggested they stock Lincolnshire Poacher.

I told the cheese stall on the market, now a cheese shop. Out of curiosity, I tried the Colston Blue. I was surprised a big difference in flavour. I can only assume age.

Four o’clock, and a chill in the air.

Why are pomegranates so expensive?

In Lidl 79p each.  Off market stall in Aldershot, three for a pound, but small pomegranates. Waitrose two for £2-75. Off the market stall in Guildford, two for a pound, but as large as a grapefruit. I weighed in M&S, half a kilo each. In M&S no pomegranates. Only seeds in a tiny plastic box, works out at £20 per kg. On the market in Winchester, no pomegranates. I asked the stall after they had closed. The answer was what I expected, too expensive.

To think,  a couple of weeks ago, I was picking pomegranates, last week piled up in Monastiraki, though I did not inquire the price.

Afternoon in Guildford

October 21, 2016
Angel Inn

Angel Inn

Over half an hour late getting to Guildford, as the sick bastard guard on the fast train thought it a great joke to leave passengers stranded. Then further delay waiting to buy a ticket at Guildford as the guard on the slow train could not be bothered to walk through the train to collect fares.

But at least an excellent cappuccino by Chase at FCB coffee kiosk on Guildford Station.

Too late to eat. Ended up at Thai takeaway at top of High Street, but did not mind as their food is great.

On my way I popped in Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage and had a chat with the owner. She owns both.

She now closes Friday afternoon. Too costly to remain open, employing five staff. They also closed a month in the summer. Sadly a sign of the times, everyone struggling.

I mentioned to her the pop up shops opening in shipping containers in Guildford. A good idea but entirely wrong location. Opposite where the disastrous farmers market was held when the High Street was closed.

Pomegranates very expensive on the market. Two for £2.  Even more expensive in Waitrose, £2-75 for two. Yesterday 75p each in Lidl.

pomegranates on market stall in Monastiraki

pomegranates on market stall in Monastiraki

To think a little over a week ago picking fresh from the trees.

I regret I dd not buy from a market stall in Athens a couple of days ago.

Disgraceful behaviour of guard on 1234 Reading-Gatwick train

October 21, 2016

There is a problem  at North Camp Station, a known problem, barriers drop and passengers cannot cross the line to catch the train.

Today the  barriers dropped five minutes early.

When the 1257 (1255) train to  Guildford pulled in, the barriers did not open immediately.

The guard could see passengers waiting to cross the line, with at least one person waving to indicate they wished to catch the train.

As passengers crossed the line, hurried to catch the train, the guard signalled for the train to leave and waved and smiled at the stranded passengers.

Maybe he thought it a sick joke, to pull away deliberately leaving passengers stranded.

His action cost one passenger at least £20 in taxi fares to get to Guildford. She was starting a new job and could not afford to be late and lose her job.

This guard should be fired.

1334 (1332) train from North Camp, guard never came through the train to collect fares. This necessitated further delay at Guildford queuing to buy a  return ticket. The ticket office at North Camp was closed.

Train companies complain of fare dodging, but make no attempt to actually collect fares from passengers who wish to pay.

The display on the platform was indicating trains running two minutes earlier than shown on the timetable. There was no poster or other information to indicate there was an amended timetable in operation.

Afternoon in Guildford

September 16, 2016
Guildford Grammar School

Guildford Grammar School

Yesterday was hot, Tuesday the hottest day of the year. Today, at least at lunchtime, cold, though it did warm up a little by mid-afternoon.

Last night a violent thunderstorm, very heavy rain. This morning, many places flooded, trans cancelled, a train derailed following a landslip.

Government promises flood protection. Hard flood defences do not work. Even if protect one area it simply sends the flood water downstream and another area floods.

We need soft defences, slow the flow of water, rewild the countryside. We also need to address the causes of climate instability. The government is doing neither.

Reading-Guildford-Gatwick train running at least five minutes late. By the time Guildford reached, ten minutes late.  Announced train will only go as far as Redhill, alight and catch another train to Gatwick. But, at least train guards, there were two of them, walked through the train and explained the situation to passengers. Unheard of customer service.

Excellent cappuccino from Chase at FCB coffee kiosk.

I was unable to buy ticket at station, machine in ticket office not working, guards on the train could not sell a ticket as they lacked a ticket machine between them. Queue at Guildford to buy a ticket.

Lunch at La Casita. A always excellent. Sorry to learn my friend Katalina returning to Spain.

Beans off Surrey Hills coffee roaster, single origin from Brazil, roast date 8 September 2016.

I could smell the beans all  afternoon, until I put books in the bag they were carried in. The paper of the books must absorb the aroma of the coffee.

AeroPress on Guildford market

AeroPress on Guildford market

AeroPress coffee maker, £25 in coffee shops in Brighton, £26 on coffee stall on the market in North Street, £27 in Steamer Trading. It goes up by a a pound every time I look.

Coffee machines in Steamer Trading not worth buying. Domestic espresso machines do not make good coffee, no one tales them seriously.  Nespresso machines forget it.

Deliveroo Guildford

Deliveroo Guildford

Chat with serfs working for Deliveroo. I thought they were a Guildford company, but they are now everywhere. I only noticed them in Guildford a few weeks ago. Now they are like a blue plague all over Guildford.

For the first time seen in Guildford on motorcycles. Unlike Brighton where cyclists only paid for delivery, maybe different for motorcyclists, I was told both get the same rate, £6 an hour, ie less than minimum wage, plus a pound for each delivery. No delivery in an hour, and earn less than minimum wage. Deliveroo serf bears all the costs, cost of motorcycle or cycle, insurance, deposit of £150 for box, clothes and other gear (but is it refundable). For the motorcyclist, and only a low power motorbike, insurance of £200 per month because being used for business. . He said needed to work 70 hours a week to make any money, he would prefer to work 30 hours a week. The Deliveroo serf bears all the costs, because deemed to be ‘self employed’, In reality, not self-employed, as only working for Deliveroo.

The takeaway pays a  fee, either a minimum or a percentage of the value of the order. The recipient of the order pays two pound.

No, or little costs to Deliveroo, they cream off the profit, the serfs put up the capital, do all the work,  take all the risks.