Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chapter 58: Paradise Isn't Too Far Away...

This week I'm going to talk about... Holidays at home! Every year people talk about going abroad on their holidays. They want all inclusive, constant cocktail slurping, water park splashing, sun tanning fun. When I was in Year 7/8 I was super self conscious, but even more so after the summer holidays. Because I have red hair and freckles, it's pretty hard for me to tan. The closest I ever got to a tan was when I accidentally slept on the sun lounger in Salou when I was 13 and got prickly heat all over my back. Even then I was gutted, cause it was hardly a body part I could show off. No, my nice massive warm blazer at school wasn't irritating AT ALL after that.

Last weekend I had the privilege of being invited to a wedding in the Lake District. I'd never been before, but I'd heard great things. Whenever I thought of it before, I thought it would be a nice place of relaxation and beautiful sites... a chilled out place to get away from every day stresses. And believe me, it was just that. I was invited as my best friend's guest and she was doing the hair and beauty for the bride and bridesmaids.We arrived on the Friday and as soon as we hit the country side it was incredibly picturesque. We arrived at our location and from the moment I seen it, I gasped in shock. "Is this where we're staying?" "Yeah Trish" said my friend. It was out of this world. A Manor House right on the Lake with beautiful hillsides, sheep, a barn - basically it was the definition of breathe taking. Here was the view from our room:

Pretty amazing, huh? Views aside, the weekend was so lovely and Katie and I felt so honoured to be a part of the weekend and we just want to say a massive congratulations to Mr & Mrs Henley! Wishing them all the love and happiness in the world xxx.

These views just go to show that you don't have to travel far to feel like you're a million miles from home. Let's face it, I love Birmingham, but it's great to get away every once in a while to take a break from reality. My family and I will be off to Anglesey in Wales for the week and I just can't wait! I have also heard so many great things about this place, but mainly that it is the ultimate location to chill out. We are renting out a house on the beach for the week, complete with a hot tub, loads of DVD's and a pub nearby! If the views look like the picture's I have researched I will definitely be returning to Birmingham feeling relaxed and refreshed:

As you know I went to Paignton, Cornwall with my family last May and it was just fantastic. It was for a long weekend but I wish we were there longer! There was so much to do like going to the beach, the Zoo, there were Crazy Golf and Go Karting sites near by, but also it was the perfect place to take the kids and the cottage where we stayed was dog friendly so that was a bonus for us because it meant we could bring little Penny (our Lancashire Healer, she's a beaut. She'll be coming to Anglesey as well). The cottage was super homely so if you felt like just chilling out for the day, the cottage was the perfect place to have a lounge and relax. I took quite a few photos from this holiday, but here are a few from the beach I took on the first and second day:

I'm hoping these pictures will help you all see that you don't need to go too far to have a good time away from home. It's good to plan ahead, because then you always have something to look forward to! If these pictures weren't enough, check out the old Holidays at Home 2012 advert. Yes it's old, but the point is clear!

On that note I'll leave you with this.

Toodle pip.
T. x

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Chapter 57: "Hi, Can I Help?"

Customer Service... an ongoing topic of discussion that many feel strongly about. I am one of them. Having worked in retail for about 6 years of my life, I learnt that manners cost nothing. People love it when you are polite and helpful because at the end of the day, that's the line of work you're in. You're NOT allowed to let feelings outside of work intervene with your day. If you are pissy because you've had an argument with someone, don't let them feelings reflect in your work. Customers will notice, not come back to you, not come back to the store, you will lose custom and this vicious cycle goes on. But talking from experience this is hard to do... When I returned back to work after having time off for a bit, the following happened:

Me: "Hi, you alright there?"
Customer: "Yes I want to pay off my store card but I'd also like to make a return and pay for these."
Me: "Okay which would you like to do first?"
Customer: "Whichever."
Me: "Okay I'll do the card first and then the return." (I do the card and then the return. Turn away for a second to hang the return up but my friend tells me something and I giggle. I then turn to the customer).
Me: "Pardon?"
Me: "I'm sorry but I swear I didn't! Bastard isn't even in my vocabulary!"
Customer: "DID SHE JUST CALL ME A BASTARD?!" (Asking my friend who made me laugh).
Friend: "No pet she didn't I swear!" (He's Geordie).
Customer: Just let me pay for my items.
Me: "That's £XX.XX"
Customer: (Hands card over).
Me: I'm sorry you can't use your store card because you have just paid it off and that will take a few days to clear."
Customer: "WHAT?!"
Me: "I'm really sorry do you have any other means of payment?"
Customer: (Ranting very loudly, in the end pays using cash. After the transaction is complete, I run off crying.)

You see... I KNOW it's hard not to show feelings at work. However, I'm going to be brutally honest... you don't have a care for customer service, what the HELL are you doing in it? Retail was NOT my career, so I got out of it. It was merely a stepping stone whilst I finished uni and focussed on what I really wanted to do. But I can tell you this, I ALWAYS went that extra mile. I figured, this is my work for the time being, I might as well make the most of it.

I'm going to go through two scenarios that myself and my family have gone through this week:

  1. My Dad, Sister and Brother-in-Law went to Wembley for the Community Shield to watch the mighty Arsenal! We all had such an amazing day and of course, it was made better by Arsenal beating Man City 3-0. After our lovely day, we hit the motorway with our belly's empty and our mind's on some lush pub grub. My Brother-in-Law drives past this pub every day on the way to work and he thought it looked nice, so we went there. My Dad wasn't feeling 100% and we put it down to the fact we were all tired and quite hungry. So we chose our food and drinks and ordered straight away - 4 drinks, a sharing platter and 4 mains. The woman who we ordered the food from was NOT paying attention and looked quite scatty. All in all, she was extremely rude! We ordered this at 19.45. Time was ticking and I was getting more agitated - where the feck was our starter?! I was thinking if the starter is taking THIS long, how long will the main's take? We got a waitresses attention and she went in the kitchen to check. She said it would take less than 5 minutes (it was pretty clear from her flustered look that the order hadn't even been processed). 10 minutes later... still no starter. A different waitress finally came over with our starter. We told her the situation and sort of, vented if you will. However she was very nice and honest and went out back to check to see how long our mains would take. She returned with a sheepish look on her face... "Well, it's not good news. Basically we don't have any Italian Chicken" - this was my Sister's order. My Sister's face was not impressed. The waitress then said, "If I were you I would eat your Starter, get your money back and leave." Let's face it, she could have lied to us and said it wouldn't be long, but she was honest and we respected that. However she didn't explain the situation to her manager so I had to explain it ALL over again. When I did, she said I could only have a refund for the 4 main meals I never received. So basically I still paid half of the total for the absolutely atrocious service. So... I have sent an email of complaint, explaining I want the full refund and if not I will be exploiting them in this weeks blog. Unfortunately, they haven't replied on time... so I've gone ahead anyway.
  2. My Sister popped to a Salon in West Bromwich yesterday to purchase some GHD's. We were discussing how you can't really get much better than these straighteners and so naturally, we NEED them in our lives. So she popped into the salon and this is how the conversation went:
Esther: "Hi, I was just wondering if you have any GHD's for sale?
Girl: "Err yeah we do just hold on a sec..." (Girl goes to interrupt Manager cutting hair)
Manager AKA Moody Asshole: "Alright."
Esther: "Yeah hi, I was just wondering what GHD' s you have for sale?"
Moody Asshole: "We have a few what ones are you after?"
Esther: "Well what are the differences?"
Moody asshole: "Look I don't really have time to go through it now 'cause I'm cutting my sons hair."
Esther: (Completely bewildered because a) she's never been to the salon before and is willing to buy £100+ straighteners b) he should not have this attitude with her because of this and c) he's cutting his SON'S hair, not JLo's) "Okay I'll just have the black ones then."

I will NEVER understand why this sort of attitude is necessary. But the whole thing for me, is how to approach a bad situation like the ones I listed above. Before the waitress came over and was really polite, I was ready to let loose on the woman who took my order. Had the nice girl behind the till at the Hairdressers not been there, Esther might have spoken her mind about the way the manager spoke to her, or even just walked out and gone elsewhere, but she wanted them then and there, just like I wanted my food then and there and after I had my partial refund I wanted to get out as fast as I could.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, we always think about the maybe's and the what if's and the coulda/shoulda's. When I was in New York, I had this picture done:

I was so excited because my Nephew loves each of these characters and I thought, I just HAVE to get a picture. Katie was trying to get my attention before because she knew what was coming... Next thing I knew, the feckers were asking for $5 each! I had to pay it and Katie put in too as she felt bad (and also 'cause I dragged her into a pic). But later on that night whilst in the interval for Wicked I said to Katie, "Katie, I've got to go hunt them fuckers down in Times Square tomorrow and get my money back, they basically robbed me." She looked at me as if to say, "You serious?" I was deadly serious. She said not to worry and we all learn from these things and what's done is done. 

We all look back and think of the things like this and think of the best scenario's in our head, but it's true, we live and learn. What I do know is, NO ONE should settle for poor customer service.

I KNOW you've all had bad customer service in your lives, please enlighten me and join in on the convo. See if maybe we can get #badcustomerservice trending on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Contact me on the back of here, my Facebook page or tweet me @triciabaxter.

Remember, when times get rough at work, Dolly knows how you're feeling.

I'd also like to take a moment to remember the late and great man that is Robin Williams. Such terrible news of a man with talents that touched the lives of everyone from Hook, to Good Will Hunting. Here's one of my favourite scenes with him I'd like to share. Something my Mammy pointed out to me once is in this scene; the reason why I love and relate to it so much. RIP, Robin.

Thanks for reading guys.
Peace & Love.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Chapter 56: Love is A Drug...

Love is a funny thing and it can make you do even funnier things... For instance, public displays of affection. Holding hands - to me this is perfectly normal, but for most, it's not a necessity and some don't need to in order to be comfortable with each other. One gripe for me is men putting their hands in the jean pocket of their girlfriends arse. This seems to happen quite a lot in supermarkets... I mean, come on... I'm buying food, I don't want to imagine upchucking it. But the one thing that seems to be 'trending' a bit too much, are social networking statuses. Now I know about 80% of us are guilty for doing this at one stage or another in their lives. I'll hold my hands up now and say I've done it with past relationships... But I've lived and learnt from that. Not only that, they were no where near HALF as bad as some of the statuses I have witnessed this past year. They seem to be more prominent to me now as a singleton and I have to say, I'm baffled as to what this actually proves anymore? Who exactly are we trying to prove ourselves to? Here are the sort of things I'm talking about:
  1. "Have I told you how much I love you? Even though I'm lying right next to you? Thought I'd leave it on here for you to scroll past when you wake up :)" - OKAY, first off. What an insult. What makes him think that the first thing she's gonna do is wake up and go on Facebook. Secondly, if that's the first time you've said you love her, that's really bad. Lastly, stop being a sap.
  2. "I can't believe how lucky I am. Not only because I've found someone I love, but also, my best friend." Okay, things like this are sort of obvious between you and the person you're with. You don't need to vocalise this shit to your 500+ mates on Facebook.
  3. #love #boyfriend #girlfriend #cinema #cinemadate #romeo&juliet #popcorn ... the hashtags go on.
Although I can't lie.......... you know I love a hashtag.

Another thing that really irritates me is when a couple goes from "Single" to "In a Relationship" and vise versa and people are like, "OMG who is it?!" or "Oh no I'm so sorry, what happened?" Again, why would anyone really discuss? "Oh it's Hayley from WS1 that night you remember?" or "Well it was because they didn't show me they loved me enough on Facebook."

What I want to know is, why exactly is there a need for this? If this is what people are putting on Facebook, I might need a doggy bag for what they say in real life. However, that would be NONE of my business and really, that's how it should stay. Your love life should be YOUR love life. Not yours, your boyfriends, Bill-John's, Sally-Anne's and their dog - yours. Whether it is going great or going bad, no one wants to know because it's a private matter that should be kept that way because when stuff about your relationship is shared amongst others, it's not just about you two any more.

What do you all reckon? Do you actually want to read about people love lives? Many of these statuses get 30+ likes. Why do you think that is? Email on the back of here, Facebook or Tweet me @triciabaxter.

Remember, don't mug yourself.

Big love.