Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Visiting MR!

Yesterday we set off from Stourport in search of Narrowboat Matilda Rose, heading for Lower Heyford on the South Oxford canal we arrived at 11am to find Graham practising his F1 pit stop we approached in the car he was playing at being the F1 pit crews front jackman using his sack trolley as the jack - in the interests of authenticity we should have been approaching him at 60mph but we thought that might have spoilt the game somewhat - visit friend and 'splat' him in a country lane..perhaps not.
Anyway we parked up and got the sack of dog food out of the car - the real reason Graham had his sack trolley with him (unless anyone knows anything different..), and toddled off down the towpath to find the boat.
Floyd managed to 'fall' in the canal before we got to the boat so we arrived with a wet dog and had to dry the little tyke before boarding.

Practising my 'I am higher class than you' routine on Jill

Happy Graham

Joe hiding behind a pint
We had a lovely visit and enjoyed catching up with our cruising buddies.  If all goes to plan, we will be rejoining them in the spring and heading off to the R. Nene and the Fens for summer 2012.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Red Cross R us

We went into Kidderminster today to get a food parcel for Nb Matilda Rose - well not so much for the boat but for the folks that live in it; sack of dog food for Baxter and Muttley, wine and lunch for the other reprobates, Graham and Jill.  We are off to see them tomorrow... South Oxford canal somewhere..

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Wanna rail

Joe found an extending clothes rail on Ebay.  This particular one is priced at £4.99 and the very same rail ranges from a fiver to forty two pounds, unbelievable....
We have ordered two of these, one for the  wet cupboard and one for one of the wardrobes on board Yarwood.
You might note....the postage is free as well

Friday, 25 November 2011

Marital bliss breaking out...

We have just been into Kidderminster to buy a second telly for the new boat.  A small, discreet, cheap telly that means himself can clear off and watch motor cycle racing ( MotorGP) without me having to share the experience.  Don't get me wrong, I like bikes and racing, especially F1, but the Motor GP commentary always drives me to distraction, I want to gently grab the over excited commentators by the throat!!
I will also be able to watch can watch Strictly without inconveniencing himself..

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bit the bullet..

My brother David had been persuaded to donate an old but very comfortable chair to my care - it took a bit of persuading and I still only got my second choice but nevertheless, this venerable old Parker Knole chair was going to be completely refurbished and recovered and was going to be my very own comfortable chair aboard the  new boat Yarwood. 
Joe had managed to find another second hand chair that he found comfortable and this too was going to be refurbed and recovered in matching fabric.    Two chairs, both comfortable to their owners and covered in the same fabric, ideal solution; until...
the venerable Parker Knole collapsed - wood worm infestation had done its worst and the legs fell off when it was moved yesterday.

So we had a kind of 'sod it' moment, bit the bullet and today we visited Wilsons of Kinver, tried out the chairs for comfort and ordered two Captains Chairs... see below

They will be delivered in January directly to  Yarwood where they will be put together by the very nice man at Wilsons...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Caught slobbing

There I was yesterday morning wandering about alluringly in my jimjams and dressing gown - alright perhaps not so much alluringly as more Flo Capp - when a knock came on the side of the boat. 
"Hello" I called out
"Hello Lesley, it's Karen and Ian from Nb Tacet we thought to say hello as we are passing through Stourport."
Oh Goodness, it is approaching 10.00am and I have been caught at this late hour slobbing in my PJ's...
"I'm sorry I'm not dressed yet." I shamefully admitted, "Where are you moored I will come and find you."
They told me where they were and I hurriedly showered and dressed, waited for Joe to return with Floyd and then scurried up the towpath to find Nb Tacet on the York Street moorings.

Karen, Jumble and Ian aboard their boat Tacet

Karen and Ian and Jumble the dog invited me on board for a chat and a cuppa before they pulled pins and headed off towards Stourbridge. They have been busy filling their 'gap year' while their kids are at University and you can read about their life aboard on their blog here.
It was lovely to see you all and  best wishes for this your first winter aboard.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Little Man's lugs

Little Man, aka Floyd had to visit the Vet this morning because he has spent the last few days shaking his head and battering all and sundry with his lugs (ears).   Who needs alarm clocks when they can be awoken at two in the morning by the sound of  Labrador ears slapping about?   Anyway, nothing to worry about , just a bit of wax build-up which the Vet cleared out and because he was such a good dog, he got a doggy 'lollystick' treat. 
He is back now with his ear drops and we are £47 the poorer...  But, he's worth it!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

I have a fancy for...

I have a fancy for a RED kettle for our new boat, Yarwood.

It could be this one

or perhaps this one?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Got a call from 'Tom'

I got a call Thursday evening from 'Tom' at Specsavers to say my new gogs were ready for collection so on Friday morning I toddled up to the High  Street to retrieve them.  I had originally gone for varifocal lenses - I need spectacles for distance but I was finding that although I could see clearly to drive I couldn't see the sat-nav so I was constantly peeering under or over them to check route instructions....tiresome at best and dangerous at worst. 
After a fortnight of using varifocals, suffering dizzy spells and having to remember to hold my head at 90 degrees to the ground to stop from tripping over tree roots when walking the dogs I threw  in the towel, and the specs, and opted for bifocals.
So yesterday I was out and about in my discreet bifocal bings  buying floor coverings for Yarwood, walking the dogs and driving - no dizzy spells and no tripping over tree roots, these might just do the trick...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Irritable customer syndrome - pt3

The series continues, but thankfully this is the finale!

In part two I had written to the Managing Director of John Lewis's, Mr Andy Street, outlining my dissatisfaction with the service I had received from, of all things, his Customer Service team.
The John Lewis Head Office must have just opened on Monday morning when I received the first of two responses..

Thank you for your email to Andy Street who has asked me to respond on his behalf as customer service falls within my remit.
I am sorry to learn of the trouble you have encountered with your order from for three electrical appliances and I completely understand your irritation with us, especially as your concerns haven't been properly addressed.
Shaun Struthers has responsibility for customer service at and so is best placed to investigate matters and he, or a senior member of his team, will be in contact with you very shortly.  I will be updated with the outcome and I will inturn keep Andy Street informed.
In the meantime, thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our
attention and I trust we will find a way of restoring your confidence in our service.
With kind regards

Karen Eardley

That's more like it I thought as yet another email drops into my inbox from John Lewis.

Thank you for your email addressed to Andy Street in relation to the manner
in which we have managed things for you recently.  I trust that it is acceptable for me to respond in my role as a personal correspondent for Mr Street, in order to avoid any further delay.

As your email was addressed to Mr Street, I will of course ensure his
office is kept informed of my actions.

First of all please allow me to convey my sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.  I have taken the time to review all detail held against your order, which does not make for good reading. It is completely understandable why you feel so let down.
It was extremely concerning and to be completely honest, genuinely
embarrassing to learn of the difficulties experienced and that the dishwasher order was cancelled and refunded without prior notice.

I have spoken to a representative from Bosch today and have been informed that the original delivery was scheduled as a home delivery and not one to a trade address.

The order has now been reinstated with Bosch and will be delivered on Thursday 17th November. You should be contacted on Wednesday to advise of the time slot for delivery.I have noted that you have been refunded for the dishwasher and in order to avoid any further inconvenience, I have arranged for you to be contacted by a colleague at Head Office to manually bill for the dishwasher.

These actions I trust you find acceptable.

Given events, I feel it is fair that an allowance is justified. Therefore, as a more tangible expression of my apology, I have applied a refund of £75.00 (RMA 3430782) onto your nominated card. Please allow up to five days for the transaction to be processed by your card issuer.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to write to us, to highlight your concerns, and whilst I appreciate I am unable to alleviate the frustration and disappointment caused, I trust that I can at least reassure you that your experience will be instrumental in allowing us to improve the service we provide to other customers and, I hope, to you in the future.

Yours sincerely, 

Christine Chamberlain
Customer Relations Manager

Oh no, I've already got a dishwasher from another supplier!  I dashed off a quick response asking them to cancel the order and confirm the cancellation.  This they did by return and the next day I sent the following;

Dear Christine
Let me start by apologising to you for my less than gracious initial response to your email yesterday.   At the time I was rushing 'out of the door' when it came through and all I had time to do was try and save a wasted delivery.  Thank you for cancelling that by the way.

I wanted to let you know that you have indeed alleviated my frustrations with John Lewis.  You say you have 'taken the time to review all the detail' and that is music to my ears.  If I had been in your shoes I too would have been embarrassed by what I learnt and it is heartening that you felt the same way.  I didn't set out to be a difficult winging customer and I didn't set out to extract compensation but nevertheless your 'tangible expression' is appreciated. I hope that changes are made nearer the sharp-end of John Lewis's customer care, not to individuals but to approach and procedure, that said, let me
assure you that  I am back onboard as a satisfied John Lewis customer!

Thank you for your intervention

Yours sincerely

So John Lewis have redeemed themselves in my eyes and hopefully the 'sharp end' of their customer contact will get a bit more training/attention.  Gone was the thoughtless templated approach, I have had a proper answer, and proper apology, well done JL!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Too good to miss

What a glorious autumn day yesterday turned out to be.  It was too good to miss the opportunity to get out an about so I left Joe preparing some things he is about to put on Ebog and set off for a proper walk with the two dogs.  We walked north along the Severn Way from Stourport to Upper Arley about 8-9 miles all told.    Everyone we met had a smile on their face; that's what a bit of sunshine can do..

The sun is still getting to grips with the early mist over the river.

Bewdley Town Bridge

Victoria Bridge taking the Severn Valley Railway across the river.  Cast and erected by the  Coalbrookedale Company

The boys lead the way through the wooded river bank towards Upper Arley

Joe picked us up in the car some three hours later and after a welcome cuppa we left the boys to guard the fire in Caxton while we went up to see the progress on Yarwood.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Irritable customer syndrome...part 2

My comment "I feel another email coming on.." in the first part of this tale a couple of days ago was reinforced by a comment posted by Nev , a fellow blogger, urging me to 'write to the MD of John Lewis.   I took Nev's advice and emailed the Head Honcho on Sunday.

Dear Mr Street
I have been dealing with your Customer Services people about an order I
placed on 25th October for a washing machine, a tumble dryer and a
dishwasher.  The first two items were delivered; so far so good.   However,
my order for the dishwasher was cancelled, by your supplier apparently, and I
was sent an email at 15.04 on 9th November informing me of this by your
Customer Services unit.

I copied the email I had received about the cancellation of my order and then went to say...

I was somewhat taken aback.  No pre-warning, no options, no goods! 
My response below.

I copied to Andy Street MD the email I had sent in response to the cancelled order, reproduced in part below.

....I fail to see why a delivery company operating on John Lewis's behest can
decide not to deliver items that have been paid for in full, to an address
that John Lewis are prepared to deliver to and in fact did deliver to. 
Furthermore, I was given no opportunity to do anything; fait accompli,
order cancelled, money refunded.  This is simply NOT good enough.

a very irritated customer...
I then went on to say..

'So clearly I have some issues about what has just occurred.   This to my
mind is pretty shoddy service by anyone's standards.  And the response from your Customer Service unit...

Again I copied the email from John Lewis's Customer Service team that has added insult to injury and finished my email to the MD thus....

I am signing off as an 'very irritated customer', I have raised specific
issues and yet your Customer Service team deem the appropriate response to
be a polite but generic, bland, corporate, templated apology with all the
usual meaningless claims and assurances that doesn't even attempt to deal
with the specifics of my complaint.
Perhaps you can appreciate how the irritation factor might rise a few
I wanted a proper response: well frankly I wanted a dishwasher delivered
and not to be dealing with this corporate treacle, but needs must.
So could you please bring your influence to bear and get your Customer
Services team to provide an appropriate response to a poorly served
Yours sincerely

Will they respond?  To be continued..

Sunday, 13 November 2011

T-Mobile pointer

Apologies for the image - lifted from T-Mobile site

We have just bought the new T-Mobile wireless pointer for use with our mobile broadband.  The advantage of this little baby over the 3 MiFi is it will take an external aerial.  Joe has dismantled the Zoom we had been using and replaced it with the new T-Mobile pointer.  So at one end of Caxton we have a T-Mobile WiFi and at the other a 3 WiFi....and in the middle, two whiffy dogs.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Irritable customer syndrome...

When a customer signs off a letter of complaint 'yours sincerely, a very irritated customer' you might think that the Company in question would tread carefully in it's reply..
But no, they send out a templated apology saying how very disappointed they are and  then go on to trumpet their mission to keep every customer exquisitely happy at all times - my interpretation - and that my 'feedback' will be passed to 'the feedback team'.. 
Well isn't that just dandy, a feedback team indeed.

Of course, the response doesn't deal with the specifics of the complaint - templates don't do that.

I really don't understand why a company thinks that this is the right way to deal with complaints about service but apparently it is; you only have to have  seen a couple of episodes of the BBC's Watchdog programme where Companies caught in the glare of bad publicity all troop out the same type of trite meaningless twaddle.   "We are so, so sorry but 99.999% of our customers are ecstatic with our..."

So the specifics
On 25th October we ordered, on-line, a washing machine, a dishwasher and a tumble dryer from John Lewis.   On 31st October the washing machine and the tumble dryer were delivered as arranged to our boat builder's premises on an industrial estate.

On 9th November at 15.04 I received an e-mail from John Lewis's Customer Services Team stating..

I regretfully have to inform you that we have received an email form (sic) our supplier for your ordered Bosch XYZFX dishwasher informing us that the order has been canceled (sic). This is unfortunately because they are unable to provide items to trade addresses

The email goes on apologise for any inconvenience, say they cannot fulfil the order and that a refund is being arranged.

My reply concludes with the following..

I fail to see why a delivery company operating on John Lewis's  behest can decide not to deliver items that have been paid for in full to an address that John Lewis are prepared to deliver to and in fact did deliver to.  Furthermore, I was given no opportunity to do anything; fait accompli, order cancelled, money refunded.
This is simply not good enough.

And the response from John Lewis Customer Services

  • They are sorry to hear about the problems I have experienced
  • John Lewis is well known for its excellent customer service
  • It is dissapointing to read about problems experienced by our customers
  • We take all complaints seriously
  • We endeavour to provide a first class service
  • We want to renew our apologies
  • If you want to discuss, give us a ring
  • Your 'feedback' has been passed to our Feedback team.
Well that's sorted that then!

I feel another email coming on....

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

So useful..

We went up to Barnowl's workshop yesterday afternoon to see the progress on Nb. Yarwood.  The glass basin for the showeroom had been delivered so we opened the enormous package to check that it had arrived undamaged before repacking it and putting it in a safe place... 
What had also arrived was a package from Asda Direct - the four folding stools we had ordered at a total cost of £32, only £8 each and ideal for the confines of a narrowboat as many narrowboaters will avow to.

We already have these aboard Caxton and they are so useful as they store neatly under the gunwale.

Monday, 7 November 2011

How MUCH!!!

I have had for sometime, a set of fireside tiles earmarked as a likely candidate for Nb. Yarwood's saloon.    On Saturday I decided get them ordered.
The web site I found them on had them priced at £82 but you had to phone a sales person to order them.   So I go outside of the boat to get a clear signal, scrap of paper with tile reference and delivery address scrawled on it and the credit card to hand. 
When I got through I was informed that the tiles were now £110 - quite a hike -  and delivery would be £15!
"Fifteen pounds is a bit steep!"  I said....
"It's an overnight courier service." they replied..
"I really don't need an overnight courier service."  I said..
"It would cost the same with the Post Office" came the response..

At this point I felt a 'cut-off-my-nose-to-spite-my-face' moment coming on..... In excess of a 20% hike in the price of the tiles and a no-option delivery service with a silly charge...
No thank you.
I declined to do business with them.

Joe then found the very same tile set on another site, price £90 and free delivery! 
And, my nose is now nicely back in place......

Argyll Tile Set

Sunday, 6 November 2011

On line shopping

Yesterday we sat down in front of the PC and ordered more goodies for Yarwood.  Winging its way to us next week will be...

the glass basin for the shower room.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Seeing the light...s

I have just ordered these Tiffany style wall lights for our new boat, NB. Yarwood.

Wall light
Matching table lamp

and a matching table lamp.  We, (who am I kidding?) no not 'we', but Himself,  will refit each light with LED light units.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

All quizzed out..

We have been away visiting friends in Lincolnshire this last weekend and on Saturday night we were in Market Deeping at a quiz night.   Half way through the proceedings we were in the LEAD but after two poor rounds in the second half we ended up the 'first of the losers', i.e. 2nd place.  It's not about the winning but about the taking part...yeh right...

Valerie Ann



L-R Alan, Libby, John, a bottle of wine and Gloria
L-R Libby, John, Val, Gloria, Himself and Alan