Monday, 18 August 2008


During the build-up to the Olympics, East Anglian Troy must confess that thoughts of the event weren’t firing his imagination. However I decided to watch the opening ceremony just out of curiosity (mainly to see how high the bar was being set for London) and I was VERY impressed. It was never my intention though to get over excited about any particular event.

My attitude has certainly changed over the last few days! Can you believe Team GB being THIRD in the medals table (at the time of writing at least*)? There have certainly been some heroic performances. I knew we were strong in sailing and cycling but Rebecca Adlington’s Gold medal in the 400m swimming seemed to come out of nowhere. It was heart warming to see her joy at winning and to hear the interviews with both her and her family who were watching back home. Then to find out that the 800m was actually her real forte wetted the appetite for weekend. I can’t actually imagine swimming 800m against the clock – I’m a weak swimmer (like to keep within my depth) and at the end of one length of the pool (a constant 1.2m deep at the gym) I need to stop for a breather. “Becks” can certainly swim – we have a new national hero in the “Mansfield Mermaid”. Back in the Spring it seemed a no-brainer that Lewis Hamilton would win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year – but the odds now must be on Rebecca, and quite rightly.

I can remember back in the late 60’s and the ‘70s when we were pleased to see GB achieving a single Gold at the Games. How times have changed. A neglected hero here is Sir John Major – it’s lottery money from the National Lottery which he set up that has made this great improvement possible. Someone on the radio was complaining about the money spent on the Olympics. I understand where they are coming from, but the Olympics will inspire millions around the world – to take up swimming, sailing, rowing, riding or even the “hop, skip and jump”. So let’s celebrate something positive. Even if not a penny was spent on the Olympics we’d still have to suffer news of Saddam, Mugabe, Putin, Bin Ladin and our local villain, Gordon Brown.

* we finished fourth overall - a brilliant result

Sunday, 17 August 2008


The Troy family have recently experienced very contrasting levels of service whilst eating out in English pubs.

Two weeks ago (Friday 1st) we were enjoying a week’s break down on the south coast and had just driven down that day from Suffolk to our rented holiday home in Rye Harbour, East Sussex. Having settled into our cosy and comfortable cottage we went out for an early evening walk and to have supper in the local hostelry. The pub sign said “Meals 7pm to 9.30pm” so as it was about 6.45pm we had an enjoyable walk by the harbour in the fresh air to build up our appetites. We then entered the WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR pub, chose one of several empty tables, picked up the menus, read through the many Specials written in chalk on a blackboard and made our choice. Mrs Troy went to the bar to order. “The food will be about half an hour, is that alright?” asked the barman. Mrs Troy looked at me and I nodded – we were in no rush, we were on holiday. The handwritten receipt had 7.20[pm] written in the bottom right hand corner. We had chosen simple fare – fish & chips; gammon ham, egg and chips; and for Troy Junior, chicken nuggets and chips. About 8pm the first sight of food arrived, but for another table – we’ll assume ours is next. At 8.10pm (after 50 minutes of waiting) I went to the bar for “a progress report on our order”. The barman checked in the kitchen then mouthed to me “about 5 minutes”. Good, we were getting peckish and Troy Junior normally goes to bed about 8pm. By 8.25pm with Troy Junior visibly wilting, Mrs Troy was getting annoyed when more food appeared which wasn’t ours. Meanwhile we had seen someone sitting at the bar smoking, with the smoke drifting our way – completely against the law! She went to the bar. “It’s been over an hour – where’s our food!”. The barman called the chef. Mrs Troy complained about the wait. “Have you ever worked in a kitchen?” asked the chef. “You can have it now but it will be raw” he kindly offered. If we hadn’t paid upfront we would have left. At 8.32pm (72 minutes after ordering) the food arrived. It tasted excellent and I wolfed mine down leaving a completely clean plate. Mrs Troy picked at hers because she was by then “passed the hunger stage”. Troy Junior was very sleepy but ate most of his.

And here is the contrast. This Saturday (16th) we went to our local village pub – THE CROWN at Claydon, Suffolk. It’s a very busy pub, especially on a weekend evening with 20+ tables of which 2 were vacant. At the bar I ordered – Lasagne, Mini Grill (chops, liver, sausage, chips and peas) and for Troy Junior a hot dog, mash and beans. The Troy family eat simply when out! The order was timed on the Visa receipt as 19.04 (7.04pm). At 7.19pm all three dishes arrived. This, in a crowded pub with many, many families eating at the same time. Delicious food – we eat there once or twice a month and know we’ll get good food, served quickly and very reasonably priced [see August 1st posting for significance of the last criteria].

In summary – WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR pub at Rye Harbour took 72 minutes to serve three simple main courses. Very rude service, price £22+ including drinks. THE CROWN at Claydon took 15 minutes to serve three simple main courses. Polite prompt service, price £18.62 including drinks. WHAT A CONTRAST!

Have you had any similar experiences in contrasting service levels?

Friday, 1 August 2008


August 1st is Yorkshire Day. Today all Yorkshire people celebrate the historic county of Yorkshire recognising it as it was prior to the boundary re-organisation of 1974. East Anglian Troy is a born and bred Yorkshireman and proud of it! You can take the man out of Yorkshire but you can't take the Yorkshire out of the man.

I was born in Otley and spent the first four years of my life in the village of Calverley. Then we moved as a family to Harrogate - "the posh end of Yorkshire" - where I spent the rest of my childhood. After a three year spell at the University of Nottingham I returned to live and work in the City of Bradford where my family roots go back several generations. In 1983 I moved to work in Coventry for a short while (no, I wasn't sent there!) and then spent the bulk of my career working in London and living in Hertfordshire.

In 2006 I retired to Suffolk. Mrs Troy wouldn't let me move back to Yorkshire as she prefers the warmer weather here in the South East of England. However Suffolk has proved to be an wonderful compromise. Like Yorkshire it is a mainly rural county with some beautiful countryside and tranquil coastline. We settled in quickly, I bought my season ticket to Ipswich Town FC and feel very much at home here. We have found the people, like in Yorkshire, to be open and friendly. However on the 1st August a Yorkshireman's thoughts return to home and to toast the historic county of Yorkshire.