Friday, November 18, 2005

Greenbelt Planning Weekend pt 1

Having made reasonable time across to Settle (Rob is very forbearing of a spectactular piece of driving on my part, when I forget the double roundabout layout of the Tickle Trout junction and manage to leave the northbound M6, only to rejoin it 30 seconds later), we arrive at Dalesbridge for the newly combined Greenbelt Operations and Programming Group planning weekend.

Walking into the main house it feels like coming home...not so much due to the surroundings (though after three years they do feel familiar), but because of the people.

This is family.

Of course any good family reunion needs a recurring theme and it seems we are not spared our particular signature nightmare – the appalling service of food in a local hostelry.

Sally has called ahead and spoken to them about whether they can handle our requirements, so there really is little excuse for the shoddiness that ensues.

To give you some of the highlights:

Evil Harv (he tells blatant lies you know, not to be trusted…) and Joe, arrive well over an hour after the first group of us ordered…and get served first (smug bastards!). Explanation from the waitress: “well we did them ahead of the large order”.

When our food does eventually arrive it’s missing Martin S’s steak. Waitress response: “well it’s not on your bill anyway…” . Apparently this means we shouldn’t therefore mind (you’ll note the lack of apology, trust me it’s not the thoroughness of my reportage that holds the fault in this).

My plate is passed to me by the waitress, without any warning that it is nuclear hot. My squawks of pain and the smell of burning flesh from my thumb merely receive a vague shrug and she simply walks away. Again you’ll note the lack of apology/offer of medical care etc…

At length, Martin’s steak eventually arrives. With potatoes when he’d ordered chips. His remark to this effect is met with the classic line “well he’s done potatoes now”.

As Martin S boils like a volcano about to blow, the ever marvellous Martin F finds the landlord, ‘has a word’ and a bowl of chips arrives.

Of course this act of small amends is slightly undermined, when the bill arrives and we discover that not only is Martin’s steak now well and truly on the bill, but we’ve also been charged extra for the boil of chips.

Out of a party of about 25 people, we leave a tip of around 75p.

But as I’m feeling generous, here’s another tip for the New Inn at Clapham: your food is good, your beer fine, your bar staff lovely, but that waitress (you know - the grumpy, surly, misanthropic, rude, finger burning one) needs some serious training in customer care.

And hey, it’s not just us that think so...a couple of strangers approach our main table having finished their food. The woman enquires if we’re staying over at the inn. Fearing the worst (we might be a touch rowdy for some I guess), we assure her we’re not. “that’s a shame” she remarks with a conspiratorial glint in her eye “...we were hoping for safety in numbers at breakfast!”.

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