Please Don’t Say I’m Moaning, But….

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Now, I don’t want to seem like I’m grumpy and that, being back a couple of weeks I’m bashing the UK already, but….

I’ve got 2 issues, both related, which are really starting to tick me off a little. I don’t want to think that having experienced North American customer service, that this is clouding my opinion….

Firstly, 2 weeks ago, we went to look at a house with a view to renting it, in the South East. We called, and set up an appointment, were there at the allotted time and things were looking good. A very nice place, well within budget and all the space we’ve ever wanted. I should have known things weren’t going to pan out, when it turned out to be the owner who was the one to show us around as opposed to the letting agent….

So, having shown an interest in renting the property, we called the agent the next day, with our offer.

And that was the last we heard from them. We called back a few days later, to be told our offer had apparently been accepted. Great, we thought, although someone might have let us know, and they were calling back later with a moving in date. But, no call ever came. So a day later I called back, a little irate as to the why I was having to keep chasing them. Apologies and excuses of training errors in the office didn’t exactly put my mind at ease.

No word was heard from them over the weekend, (and why would there be? I mean when you hear on the news that the country is in dire straits, you don’t expect people to actually be hustling for work do you……). Yesterday, as the letting agent was "with a client", we were told he’d call back later. Guess what? No call.

Which leads me to the second similar issue….

I have tried to register with a tutoring agency, to rustle up some work and bolster the coffers whilst we’re here. However, the woman in charge seems in no hurry to reply to emails at all, when a couple of days after sending her a couple of questions, I’m still waiting for a reply. When I worked for a similar agency in Richmond, the lady running the business, would return my calls, not emails, within the hour, even if it was to say, she was a little busy and would be calling that evening, which, I might point out, keeping her wotd, she did. No emails, no text messages, no Facebook or Twitter update, a call, on the phone….. So, if this is the case, is it really feasible that this new lady is going to be able to find me enough work? I’m doubtful, I’m afraid to say.

This is the 21st century for crying out loud. How hard is it to keep clients or customers informed? A 2 min call to say we’re still working on a date for moving in, or a quick email reply to a question? That’s too much to ask is it? In this day and age, when everyone has iPads, "sweet" iPhones ("sweet" iPhone? Another grumble, for another day…..), smartphones and laptops to keep organised and improve their productivity and make their work life so much easier, everyone seems to have forgotten that at some point, you’ve got to stop fart arsing about on your gadgets and do some bloody work, which entails speaking to your clients and prospective customers.

And before I get, "if it was so much better in Canada, bugger off back there", I would point out, that when we went to view properties in Richmond Upon Thames, the agents were only to please to fit me in that day and were, and have since, been keeping me informed on a daily basis.

If my experience is anything to go on, it’s not hard to see why London get’s all the jobs…..

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I Think I See The Problem….

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Should you already know this, do bear with me, I’ve only recently returned to the UK for a visit…..

Libraries, as regular readers may be aware, are a favourite haunt for me, so on arriving, it was one of the first places I thought I’d investigate and see how it compares to the Canadian counterpart.

One thing different, is the charging for rental of CD’s and DVD’s. I can accept the 90p charge per CD, it seems fair, but the 60p/80p reservation fee seems steep and to be blunt, a little stupid. Make the rental a round quid, for goodness sake. If I want to support my local library and make use of it, by renting a lot of items, it isn’t long before the cost outweighs the benefit of using the place.

The DVD’s make this point, even more clearly. As a case in point, I thought I’d compare something I saw on Amazon, the entire box set of all 8 series, including the made for TV movie, of "24"…..

Let’s assume, on the positive side, that in each "sleeve" at the Eastbourne library, it contains 2 discs, each containing 4 episodes.

That means 3 "sleeves" per series, 8 series, means 24 sleeves.

Renting, from the library, 24 sleeves @ 3 quid a sleeve, is 72 quid…..

Now…. check this out…..

http://www.amazon.co.uk/24-Complete-Season-Redemption-Packaging/dp/B005MX5MQW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321209754&sr=1-1

…. if it’s 1 disc per sleeve, which is likely, and the library service in the UK is an utter rip off. And this doesn’t even include the "fees" you get charged of a quid, per item, to make a reservation….. so, you can add another 24 quid to that 72. So, a hundred pounds. To rent a TV show series, that I can buy brand new for 40, from Amazon. I think I see the problem here…..

Which probably explains why the DVD rack was full, and the majority of people where in there using the computers.

In Canada, both the rental of every disc, along with the reservation of each disc, CD or book, is free.

Anyone use the library for DVD’s and CD’s? Or know of anyone who does? How popular is the rental of DVD’s and CD’s from UK libraries? I’d love to know, as right now, I see no point them at all.

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It Was This Big!….

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Honest….

It Was This Big!....

“Caught” in the Enterprise Shopping Centre in Eastbourne, which has a number of nice little, independent shops, from crafts and health, to a fishmongers and a butchers. If you’re in the town, take the trouble to wander along and discover it yourself. You’ll find it up behind the railway station.

The Thames @ Twickers….

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Spent a grey day in Twickenham, on out current vagabonding experience in the UK….

A bit of a grey day, but thought I’d try the effects on the camera. Swans and pigeons and, of course, Canadian geese!

Thames @ Twickers(2)

Thames @ Twickers(1)
Just to the right of the shots, is a pub, where many a summer evening was whiled away, as the sun went down, with a pint in hand.

In fact, along the Richmond/Twickenham stretch of the River Thames, many a pub was frequented as we strolled along, or cycled. Not that it’s all ab out the pubs, but after a days fishing on the water, or a walk on a sunny afternoon, some pub grub and a pint can’t easily be beaten.

I’m on the lookout for a decent Ploughman’s now. Any suggestions?

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Eastbourne Seafront….

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Eastbourne Seafront….

Originally uploaded by Jesus Boom

Better on a sunny afternoon, but it is November I guess….

Click on the pic to embiggen, if you fancy a shoofty at an embiggened version.

The bike failed to start, parts need to be ordered, but I will get the girl going again. I’ve got to. I promised her I would when the tarpaulin was removed and I once again took my position in the saddle.

We’ve been exploring the old town areas of Eastbourne, I don’t know why we haven’t before and discovered the Meads part of town, which was very nice, having a the feel of a little village with lots of buildings with a lot of character. I think if we were to move permanently to Eastbourne, that’s where we’d like it to be. Although, it’s quite desirable and pricey….. so maybe as close as we can to the area might be a better idea.

No further plans or news as yet.

Initial Musings….

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I’ve put off writing something regarding our "visit" to the UK after 6 years, but I’ll try to get it down here….

First impressions;

1. Where are all the bangers? All I see, everywhere I go are newish, sparkling motors. When I was starting out, I had a banger, most of the first time drivers I knew had one. We were students, it was all we could afford, or all our parents would stump up the cash for. What happened? If you’re telling me you can’t afford to live here, to buy your food, I can see why…..

2. The food…. it doesn’t seem all that pricey, to be honest. Everything we bought in Canada was twice if not 3 times as much, and not as good quality either. So, maybe if you hadn’t splashed out on state of the art mobile phones, the shops of which are always busy, you might be able to eat properly. Just a thought….

3. The big stores, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Boots, WHSmiths, all look tacky, or tatty inside. What happened? There are sale, or deal signs everywhere, bombarding you when you get in. Luckily, I’m immune to ’em…. On a positive note, the smaller independent stores look to be a lot more inviting.

4. Most places seem a lot cleaner than I rememeber. Parts of London we visited weren’t as bad as they used to be and even railway platforms we stopped off at were not bad.

5. Speaking of railways, we took one from Eastbourne to Richmond, buying a One Day Travelcard. Cost? GBP 9.50 each. Now I know it was after 9am, and we had to return after 7pm, but I didn’t think that was too bad for a day trip to London, allowing us to use the bus, train and underground all day unlimited. The odd thing was, the website I was looking at the night before said it was going to be GBP 19 each…..

So, some things change, some things stay the same.

Oh, but the telly programmes, are utterly, utterly crap. Sorry, but they are. In fact, words fail me as to how bad that really is. Please, stop trying to tell me how wonderful the BBC is. The nature stuff is OK, but the rest, is mind numbingly awful. And ITV….. please….

Should I return full time, the TV licence won’t be on the list of things to get, I assure you. Give me my Netflix account and the library anyday.

A highlight though, one thing we have enjoyed so far, was spending a Saturday afternoon in the pub, with the kids, watching Arsenal play Chelsea. Being an Arsenal fan, the boy was in his element, cheering with the crowd when they scored, groaning when they conceded a goal. There were fans of both sides, there was no animosity, no violence nothing, only good humoured banter back and forth. Bugger getting Sky to watch it, I’d take a pint with a group of like minded fans anyday.

Pictures to come….. and more insightful commentary…..

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A Change Was Needed….

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Having been in a bit of a rut, unsure of what to do next, decisions have been made and we’re off on a bit of an adventure….

”It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” Alan Cohen

Faced with 2 options, neither of which we were keen to go ahead with, the 3rd “definitely right” plan, failed to present itself. So until it does, what better than an “extended holiday”….

Breaking the cardinal rule of “never go back”, we’re heading to the UK for a bit, visit family and friends not seen for too many years whilst we have a bit of a rethink as to our next destination. It should be interesting, as those same family members not seen for 6 years, are being descended upon, unaware of our plans, which we kept “shtoom” until now.

So, for now, we bid farewell to the Okanagan as the snow on the tops of the mountains, seen from the windows, hint at the return of winter. Although warnings of imminent –20Deg in the UK mean we ought to pack the big coats and snowboot cleats.

All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves.” Amelia Barr

Whilst there, in the pipeline are football camps, stage schools, recording sessions and live gigs. So, for now, stay tuned. There’s a change a’coming…..

BC Tree Fruits…. from the US….

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A B.C. Tree Fruits worker launches hunger strike after being suspended for speaking out against his employer.

That’ll be NAFTA for you. Mind boggling, that we’re surrounded by orchards in this area and it’s better to import them from the US, than support our local growers.

But, of course, I’ve got to “save the planet” by holidaying in the back garden, using the car less, or switching to mercury lightbulbs… maybe it’s just me, but, I’m suspicious….. I’ve got a real strong feeling I’m being fed a load of b*llsh*t

UPDATE….

Let me get this right then, BC Fruits are supposedly dealing with not just BC Fruit, but Washington state also so says this “whistleblower”…..

So, being a farmers market regular and buying my fruit and veg from local growers, I thought I’d do some digging around on the BC Tree Fruits website (www.bctree.com)…..

Because since 1936, we’ve helped to promote not just British Columbia’s amazing apples, but also pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, prune plums and nectarines. And even some stuff that doesn’t grow on trees, like grapes and blueberries. Hence, fruits.

We’re a part of the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative, owned by over 800 local grower families.

No mention as far as I can tell of including apples from Washington, (in the U.S.) in a British Columbia local growers outlet, unless they’re included in those 800 local grower families and a state, from another country can be classed as local of course. I, as always, am happy to be corrected.

Our new tagline lets you know that our produce is nothing short of delectable. It’s also a subtle reminder that we have way more than apples (though we do have a lot of apples). Like pears, peaches, cherries and a whole host of other fruits grown by 800 local families who love what they do and where they do it: the Okanagan.

I see…. “the Okanagan”….. not Washington then. And oh, there’s a map…. http://www.bctree.com/about/our-growers

….. have a guess if Washington is on it…..

I think I’ll be spending a little more time at the Famers Market this week and see if I can find out some more info on what exactly this lot get up to…..

How You Like Me Now….

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On a bit of a “YouTube Music Video Trip” at the moment…..

Just found this lot after watching “The Fighter” and hearing this tune. Good idea to have this one up as loud as possible…..

I’m gonna play it again….

And then, this bit of guitar playing never ceases to impress me…..

Normal blogging may resume shortly, if I can think of something to report….