18 July 2009


Today is my 5th wedding anniversary.

When choosing anniversary presents, the husband and I use the traditional gift table as our inspiration. Usually, we try to be fairly inventive, interpreting the medium if necessary to make the gift fit. For year one, I bought him the newly published Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and he got me plane tickets (paper); for our second I bought him designer denim that he wanted (cotton and remember, he's schmancy!) and so on and so on.

For the fifth wedding anniversary, the traditional gift is something made of wood. This year, I bought him a walnut and sycamore clock to put on the boat. Traditional, applicable, admittedly not very imaginative.

Here's where the interpretation bit kicks in. We went to Derek Woodman and he bought me this:

My very own little whizzer.

Thanks, hon!

Happy Anniversary! xx

11 July 2009

The Bad Service Cafe

One of the (many) differences between living in the hub of Silicon Valley and a tiny little town in the Northwest of England is the food. One of the differences between living in the U.S. and England period is service. Customer Service. Or, rather, the lack thereof.

Today, the husband and I needed lunch and we wanted food without the consequences (i.e., washing up, not calories) and we headed to the Mill on the road behind our house to the Bad Service Cafe.

The weather, though overcast, was nice enough for us to sit outside. The only table available was covered in cups and lettuce and other vestiges of the previous patrons' lunch. A "waitress" (and I use the term loosely) came to our table in a tank top with bra straps and her midriff showing, along with the top of her underpants above the band of a pair of calf-length, sloppily-worn black leggings. Oh, did I mention that her leggings were dirty?! Dirty. She took our order and shuffled away... without clearing the table.

A different "waitress" came - chewing something - and cleared the table... partially. She went away, but didn't come back.

A third girl came to tell us that the drink I requested wasn't available. I changed my order. To our surprise, before she walked away, she cleared the rest of the table... but she didn't clean it.

No. 2 came back to the table and delivered the husband's tea and was about to walk away when I asked her to clean the table. She said, "Sure," but the look she gave me said,"You're getting a sneezer instead of an iced coffee." She went away, got a cloth and came back to clean. She seemed stumped by the act of cleaning a table. I kept quiet. I was trying to limit the damage to the sneezer.

Once our food arrived, we were forgotten. We suddenly ceased to exist. We became ghosts, phantom visions, noises that requested extra napkins or more water, but insubstantial, unreal. Worse, we were outside and all of the outdoor tables at the Bad Service Cafe are conveniently located behind brick pillars. I truly believe that this is so that they can ignore us with impunity.

And today they were fairly on top of things. Normally, we're inside and the staff are all sitting at a table chatting while the customers sit, starving, watching them chat and dreaming about delicious sandwiches or puddings. They forget who ordered what (even asking when the there are only two people and they've ordered the same thing), they never know what drinks are available on any given day, and when you order Cheese and Onion Pie, you get Cheese and Onion Lake. I am not kidding. Ask Himmelbjerget or Pendle Stitches, if you don't believe me.

The problem? The food is good, really good. It's just that the service is bad - really, really bad.


We'll go back the next time we're in need of a quick fix. We always do.