Monthly Archives

April 2010

H is for… Handbag meme

Posted on 30th April 2010 in Blog/ coffee/ Handbag meme/ health/ New York/ starbucks

H is for… Handbag meme

A long time ago, @linsay1978 tagged me in the Handbag meme, the rules of which are:

* Put the Logo on your sidebar, or within a post.

* Pass the award onto 12 Bloggers.

* Link the nominees within your post.

* Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

* Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

So, what’s in my handbag?

I warn you, my handbag is a bit of a bottomless pit…. Mary Poppins has got nothing on me!

The BAG:

Medicines and make-up, all essential of course

The spoils from Starbucks…

Purse (including new york subway tickets, obviously) passport, bank books, nspcc sticker, 2 x external hard drives, keys, diary, phone, 4 different colour pens, home banking device and an umbrella

And, erm, everything else! I did throw some of this away after taking this photo – for which  my bag is both grateful and lighter!

Now, to tag 12 other bloggers – ladies it is over to YOU!

1. @thecakenest

2. @fishwifemark2

3. @littleplanetsue

4. @Caroljs

5. @Sleepytot

6. @AngelHales

7. @Sleepless_Mum

8. @Prymface

9. @buriedwithkids

10. @notSupermum

11. @little__witch

12. @metajugglamum

M is for… MADs!

Posted on 25th April 2010 in adultery/ benefits/ Blog/ caffe nero/ cats/ Cattery/ child/ Christopher Biggins/ coffee/ cream/ Cry/ customer service/ debt/ divorce/ doctors/ eczema/ Elvis/ Feral/ guarantor/ health/ house/ Itchy & Scratchy/ James Blunt/ Kreativ Blogger/ MADs/ Rihanna/ self esteem/ skin/ son/ starbucks/ steroids/ Take That/ Titanic/ Twitter/ Vets/ writing workshop

Blimey O’reily my name has popped up in the MADs list!

I wonder if it was my rants about coffee and customer service?

My frustration over my son’s battle with eczema?

My honest account of my recovery after the breakdown of my marriage?

Maybe it was learning that Dermot O’leary used to lay on my desk?

My tale of a random act of kindness?

Maybe someone liked reading about my cats Elvis and Maisy?

I doubt it was my infinite playlist….

Whatever it was I am very grateful to Twitter and the blogging world because it is really fun to share experiences with people, I’ve been reduced to tears (both of sadness and laughter) from other peoples blogs and I know I don’t stand a hope of winning with my 7 posts, but it is still pretty cool to take part!

If you would like to vote for me – I’d be delighted! Just click here and then enter my blog name www.coffeecurls.wordpress.com into the areas where you’d like to nominate.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE

S is for… Starbucks

Posted on 24th April 2010 in Art/ Blog/ caffe nero/ coffee/ customer service/ review/ School Governor/ starbucks

Anyone who has kindly read C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero will know that I have recently expressed my views about the differing levels of customer service that I have experienced in Caffe Nero and Starbucks.

A million years ago when I used to work in customer service I was taught to invite feedback, whether positive or negative as then you get the opportunity to: ‘turn every complaint into a compliment’

For this reason, I feel strongly about bad service and if I ever experience it, then I do like to the let the company in question know. Equally if I feel that I have received exceptionally good service I also like to let the company know – it does a person good to know that they are appreciated.

So I wrote C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero as a way of acknowledging the great service I’d received at my local Caffe Nero. But then as I had made some less than complimentary comments about Starbucks I thought it only fair that I offer Starbucks the chance to see what I’d said.

I think it is true to say that I wasn’t really prepared for the events that followed!

After exchanging a couple of tweets, the Starbucks UK MD (nice American man called Darcy) rang me and said that he would arrange for the district manager to call me and arrange a meeting.

The meeting was set up for Tuesday 20th April and I duly went along to Starbucks, not really too sure what to expect.

OK – The Good Points

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously they took my concerns.

I was in Starbucks for about an hour and a half, which means that the district manager and the branch manager both gave up an hour and a half of their time just to speak to me.

I asked them all the questions that I had been given by the good people of twitter, they listened, made notes and answered them all.

They gave me a coffee at the start of the meeting (latte – with an extra shot of course) and about half way through a barista delivered a caffetiere with some different coffee in for us to ‘taste’. What was nice about that was that the branch manager had specifically selected the blend of coffee as it was one of their ‘bolder’ coffees because he had noted from my blog that I prefer strong coffee.

They were both very knowledgeable about Starbucks. After listening to the DM at length, I am also now very knowledgeable about Starbucks! The branch manager, in particular, came across as being genuinely concerned that he had an unhappy customer, which was quite touching.

They have a display of ‘local art’ on the wall, they see this as being of benefit to the community. I thought that was quite a nice touch.

And – The Bad Points

On Sunday 18th April I did a ‘secret squirrel’ visit to Starbucks with my family as I suddenly felt conscious that I hadn’t been in for a while and maybe it was lovely now….  However, we were served cold coffee, we weren’t offered any cutlery with our food, there was a broken plate on the floor and the staff were quite unattentive even though the place was very quiet. Also the upstairs was roped off, leaving only the downstairs tables and just one toilet available to customers.

I’m left a little confused as I felt a real sense of Starbucks being a ‘corporate’ enterprise and I wonder if that is why they are lacking the personal touch.

My Questions

1. Myself and people from various different towns on twitter feel that Starbucks is lacking cleanliness, especially in it’s toilets. They made a note of that and said they would feed it back to HO.

2. Is there a problem with your wifi as people have mentioned that they’ve found it very frustrating to buy a coffee, then sit down with their laptop only to find they can’t connect. The district manager did admit that this was a problem that Starbucks were currently experiencing, he said they are currently changing their service provider which will hopefully alleviate the problem.

3. Why are your drinks sometimes cold? Apparently the ‘flat white’ is meant to be served at an immediately drinkable temperature – in one gulp.

4. I have had cold latte before – is that because your milk isn’t hot enough, if so, could there be a risk of bacteria? They said the only way that could happen would be if a barista had steamed some milk for one customer and then let it sit and used it again for a subsequent customer rather than steaming more milk. The branch manager said he would speak to his staff to make sure this wasn’t happening.

5. Why don’t you have a full range of merchandise in all stores.Apparently merchandise is only available in larger or newly renovated stores. The district manager told me that Starbucks merchandise is quite collectable.

6. Why don’t you offer a loyalty scheme – like the Caffe Nero buy 10 coffees get 1 free scheme. The DM said categorically that Starbucks would never do a scheme like that.I said I thought that was a little short sighted and that the reward card is very popular and I couldn’t believe that it didn’t lose them customers. He did say that it was potentially a problem for them in the London branches.I have to say I felt he spoke quite derisively of the Caffe Nero loyalty scheme which surprised me.

7. Will your ‘proudly brew’ concessions ever do frappuccinos? The DM said that Starbucks will very soon be bringing out a massively extended range of products across the board including ice creams, shots in a can and many take away items.

8. On behalf of @nudieprincess I asked why in the Brighton store they often serve a latte with half a cup of froth. The DM told me that a latte should have no more than a quarter inch of froth. The BM said that if you are served a latte with much more froth than that then you should return it to the counter as ask for a fresh one. They also said you need to ask for a ‘wet’ one if you want no froth.

My Conclusion

I massively appreciate how much effort they took to listen to me. I am after all just one disgruntled customer in a sea of happy ones. When I left they gave me a couple of coffee samples from the Via range and a preloaded starbucks card (which I haven’t decided yet whether or not to use – I’m not sure if it would be hypocritical of me to use it?). This was nice of them but certainly not what I went there for.

What meant more to me was that the BM wrote down both his email address and mobile number and asked me to keep in touch. The DM asked me to ‘work with the BM’ and feedback after future visits to say whether I felt there had been improvements in the branch.

I went there thinking they would tolerate me, that they would listen for 10 mins, give me a coffee and then send me on my way. But they didn’t, and whether I like their coffee or not, whether I feel their branches could be cleaner or not, I cannot fault Mike and Carl for the way they handled my complaint and the fact that they both made me feel that they valued my opinion and had all the time in the world to listen.

I can’t say right now that I’m ready to ditch Caffe Nero, but I can say that Starbucks have an impressive reaction to customer complaints which is clearly led from the top – and the branch manager of my local Starbucks is a real asset to their company.


R is for… Random Acts of Kindness – Pay It Forward

Posted on 22nd April 2010 in adultery/ benefits/ child/ counselling/ Cry/ debt/ divorce/ guarantor/ house/ self esteem/ son/ writing workshop

R is for… Random Acts of Kindness – Pay It Forward

I looked at the lovely Josie’s Writing Workshop prompts again this week and thought – nah there is nothing there I can write anything about… Kept looking back and running through the list and kept coming up with the same answer – nope nothing there for me. But it was obviously still in my thoughts, as when I was getting dressed this morning a random act of kindness came to mind.

So. R is for… Random Acts of Kindness – Pay It Forward

If you’ve read A is for… And Then He Left Me you will know that in 2004 I was left in a bit of a bastard situation.

During that time although I experienced some incredibly low points I also experienced some amazing acts of random kindness that served as a lesson to me that I will never forget. That lesson being – pay it forward.

As mentioned in A is for… And Then He Left Me I was bailed out of having to move my children to another town to live in a B&B by a ‘friend’ who stood guarantor for me on a rental agreement. What I didn’t say was that this person, who we shall call W, had only known me for 2 weeks when they did it. I never once asked them to do it, in fact I seem to recall that I refused point blank, but W insisted. The letting agency initially turned them down because they had only known me for 2 weeks but, undeterred, W somehow magically sorted it out and my tenancy was approved.

It isn’t normally in my nature to accept things off people, especially people that I hardly know, however there was no financial risk to W (unless I missed payments which I knew that I wouldn’t) and I really had no other option so I begrudgingly accepted this kind and generous offer.

The generosity didn’t stop there though, after learning that my ex-husband wasn’t contributing financially, W then bought my 2 boys ALL their school uniform for the new September term – including PE kit, pencil cases, lunch boxes, shoes and winter coats! PLUS new Star Wars duvets sets and PJs. (And a mysterious deposit of cash – although W denied any involvement in this….)

This is where it got a bit tricky for me and my morals as suddenly money was actually involved. W had bought things and I had no money with which to pay W back. When I, repeatedly, raised this as an objection W’s one and only answer was always: “Pay it forward – if at some point in the future you are ever in a position to help someone who genuinely needs help, you can pay me back by helping them.”

I know this post probably sounds a little unbelievable, but I assure you it is completely true. There were absolutely no strings. I only ever knew W for a short period of time but they made a huge difference to my self-esteem and my belief in human nature and the kindness of strangers.

W used to say that it was redressing the balance, just ‘righting a wrong’, ie my ex-husband had wronged me and W was putting it right. I thank you W from the bottom of my heart.

F is for… 5 songs that make ME meme

Posted on 19th April 2010 in Clubber/ Cry/ James Blunt/ jason mraz/ Mr Vain/ Rihanna/ savage garden/ Take That/ Titanic/ Uncategorized/ wedding

F is for….5 songs that make me cry

I was tagged by the lovely Julia to take part in the infinite playlist. I’m not overly familiar with the format of that meme so forgive me if I’ve done it all wrong! This meme was originally created by Liz from LivingWithKids which I am sure everyone except me knew! Thanks Liz, I’ve enjoyed looking through songs from my memory, could’ve posted lots more!

Firstly, because I’m a soppy old bugger at heart. The theme to Titanic. I remember sitting in the cinema counting ceiling tiles to try and stop myself from crying…

The second song I didn’t realise still upsets me until I heard it the other day in Accessorize and suddenly felt that ‘lump in the chest’ feeling that you get when you are hit by emotional sadness. If I may remind you of my ex-husband he who treated me so badly in A is for….and then he left me. Well about 9 months after he left, he decided the grass wasn’t greener after all and decided that he wanted to come back. (Good luck with that.) One of his tactics was to tell the kids that he would come back ‘if mummy would let him’, another was to buy me the James Blunt album with a little post it note on it saying ‘Track 4 xxx’. So, I only had a little hand held CD player (which I’d bought to play a self hypnosis disc on as I couldn’t sleep) and once the boys were in bed I sat down and listened to track 4. The first time I played it I absolutely sobbed. Then, I played it again and I got really, really ANGRY – first line ‘Did I disappoint you’, yes ex husband I did find it a little disappointing when you ran off with someone else and left me homeless!

Cheery this isn’t it! And onto song 3. Can’t do any more sad ones, so have just changed the title to 5 songs that make ME, hope that is ok. Song 3 therefore is Take That – Do What You Like – and if you’ve never seen this video it is worth a watch as it is the boys as you will never have seen them before! Cod pieces, spangles, bleached hair and lots of waxed chests! Boys what were you thinking? Lol. I love Take That and have seen them 3 times :o)

Songs 4 & 5 are the first 2 songs that played at my wedding. The second one I chose and asked the DJ to play without my husband ever having heard it before – though him apparently he likes it now!


Song 6. Back in the day I was a bit of a clubber… This one could have been one of many, I toyed with I’ve Got A Little Something For Ya, She’s Got That Vibe, Return of the Mack, Raindrops, Fire Starter, I Luv U Baby, U Sure Do…. but in the end I went for Mr Vain.

Last one, hmmmmm going with what I’m listening to in the car at the moment which is Rihanna. There are 2 in particular that I play over and over, this is the first:

and this is the second:

Sorry, I know that I got to 8 songs in the end!

Now I get to tag some others…. I’d like to see what SingleDadsDiary, HimUpNorth, MyDaddyCooks, Spences10 and Prymface will do with this one. So over to you guys – let’s hear your 5 songs that…..

I is for… The Itchy & Scratchy Show

Posted on 13th April 2010 in cats/ child/ cream/ doctors/ eczema/ health/ Itchy & Scratchy/ oil/ skin/ son/ steroids

The Itchy & Scratchy Show……

My oldest son has had eczema for the whole of his life – 10 years. Today’s visit to the doctor has prompted me to write this blog as I feel the need to offload a little about how frustrated I am and how much of a failure I feel for not being able to save him from the pain, discomfort, embarrassment and distress he has to endure.

I include the word embarrassment in that list because unfortunately he does have children ask him if it is ‘catching’ and often gets comments about his appearance if his skin is particularly bad. When he tells me about these things I have to be very grown up and not ask for the child’s name so that I can pop round and ‘educate’ them a little…

I first noticed it after bathing him in the gorgeous smelling Johnson’s products that I had so coveted during my pregnancy. I so longed to bath my baby in those heavenly scented bubbles, then oil him and talc him! Sadly after a dip in the good stuff his skin was rough and red – where was my ‘smooth as a baby’s bum’ baby? I know it is incredibly selfish but I have to admit I felt a bit cheated!

I saw several health visitors for routine checks and they all said it was infantile eczema and that he would grow out of it.

I have seen countless GPs, dermatologists and have had a private appointment with a Paediatric allergy specialist. Everyone seems to try and treat his symptoms without trying to work out what the triggers are. It seems crazy to me to keep throwing medicine at him when if we could eliminate at least some of the triggers then surely he wouldn’t have the symptoms in the first place?

Where we’ve seen an immediate reaction we then try to avoid those things in the future. For example: ketchup; juice; apples; cut grass; dogs; sweets; bath products; soap; baked beans etc etc

Extra frustratingly, my sons dad (my ex husband) has a very cavalier attitude to the eczema and often tells my son that ‘mummy makes it worse by not letting you have things’ and, my personal favourite, ‘you’ll grow out of it when you are 7′. My son believed him. He was devastated after his 7th birthday when it didn’t go.

We saw the paediatric allergy specialist using private health care and he said the cause was Oral Allergy Syndrome and gave us a huge list of things which ‘could’ trigger the flare ups. But he stressed that not all of the things would. I asked if my son could have allergy tests (this was a private consultation after all so not bound but NHS financial limits) but he said it was impossible to just test for random things. For example if my son eats an apple, he has an immediate flare up and sometimes his lips even blister, so the doctor said he could test for allergy to apples as that was a specific thing…. Forgive me for questioning a man who has had many, many years of studying, training and experience – but what is the point in that?

You aren’t meant to use steroid creams for longer than 7 days at a time. I have said to every doctor I’ve seen that he uses steroid creams EVERYDAY. They all take one look at him and say ‘but how bad would he be if you didn’t?’

So, after today’s visit to the GP (who is lovely, and very understanding) we have hydrocortisone for his face, betnovate for his body, lipobase for everywhere, aveeno bath oil, a peak flow meter, nedocromil eye drops, sodium cromoglicate nasal spray, cetirizine antihistamine and montelukast tablets…

And of course Medised for when it all gets too much.

Sorry for such a downhearted blog, there wasn’t really a way to happy it up.

S is for… 7 Things You Don’t Know About Me

Posted on 9th April 2010 in Art/ cats/ Cattery/ Feral/ Kreativ Blogger/ Twitter

7 things you don’t know about me…….

Day 2 in my blogging life and I have been tagged by @himupnorth

A thing called Kreativ Blogger – good, no pressure then.

Ok, so I’ll cut the crap and the intros and get straight to the SEVEN THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME

1) When I was a child I wanted to either be an author or own a cattery.

2) I ensnared met my husband online. Myself and 3 friends all did internet dating. It was brilliant! Once we worked out how to weed out the weirdos (there were a fair few) it soon became obviously that most people were very genuine. I will probably make this the subject for ‘I is for….’ if I ever get around to it. Of the 4 of us, 3 of us are still with people we met online. NB: My husband didn’t meet my sons for 6 months, the children always did and always will come first.

3) Tenuous claims to fame….

– When I was about 3 I hit Christopher Biggins in the face! My grandfather was (among other things) a theatrical agent and he arranged for us to see Mother Goose and then go backstage and meet the cast. The character played by Christopher Biggins had been mean to another character who was played by an old lady and my 3 year old self felt this was wrong.
– My dad used to live in a flat above Jordan and ‘Ace The Gladiator’.
– I used to go out with a famous political correspondents son – allegedly.
– About a year before he hit the big time Dermot O’Leary used to come in and lay across my desk to show me holiday photos and generally rummage through my drawers! He used to bemoan his lack of success with women and his dreams of being famous. He taught us all the Macerena in the middle of the banking hall one day….. I know it is a cliché but it was obvious that he had IT and would be something special. Love you Dermie.
– I went to school with the boys who wrote ‘Eat My Goal’
– I went to school with Nihal from Radio 1
– My cousin went to school with Damon from Blur
I’ll stop now, it is along and increasingly tenuous list!

4) I have an underactive thyroid. Not the most glamorous of illnesses that one and nobody ever knows what it is. It was diagnosed fortunately by an attentive GP when I was about 18 – at that time it was overactive but had literally just burnt out. I much prefer the symptoms of it being overactive – at that time I was just under 8 stone, swam, jogged, did aerobics ate cake for breakfast (normally M&S walnut layer or cherry madeira), m&ms (peanut) for lunch and whatever I fancied for tea!

5) My mum brought round my old year 5 school report a couple of weeks ago, the nicest comment in it was from my Art teacher who (bless him) said ‘Lisa is a talented artist’. He was an entertaining teacher, always stank of booze and often nipped into the ‘supply cupboard’ during lessons for 20 mins or so. He was incredibly talented, while I would sit there cocking up the perspective on something and he would just lean over and in 2 strokes of a well worn pencil he would leave a perfect sketch on the paper. He was certainly wasted at our school, guess it’s no wonder he drank so much. It was known throughout school that he had an evil temper and it was rumoured that he once dangled a boy out of the window (10 floors up) for back chatting. Looking back I guess I am lucky that he thought I could draw!

6) If I won the lottery I would buy certain local Cat Rescue who are well known for only rehoming dying poorly cats. They have a ‘feral pen’ there which makes me sad. I have tamed (to varying degrees of success) a few feral cats and personally think that a fair few of the cats in the feral pen could be tamed and rehabilitated.

7) I regret not getting to know my grandparents better when they were alive. My grandfather left behind some typed memoirs which are fascinating but have left me with so many questions to which I will now never know the answer – if you still have your grandparents, ask away while you can.

Finding 7 people to pass this on to has been really hard, as I am new to all this I don’t know who has already done it and if it is a big blog faux pas to tag someone who already has? No bugger volunteered so I had to choose, fingers crossed!

My 7 people are:

1. @Sharonkitten
2. @redmummy
3. @blottedcopybook
4. @SingleDadsDiary He will kill me for this! :o)
5. @Hedgewytch
6. @christinemosler
7. @babydinesout

E is for… Elvis

Posted on 7th April 2010 in cats/ Elvis/ Mother/ Vets

There’s a cat works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis….

Elvis is one of my cats. We got him from a rescue centre and he is a jet black cat. The children and DH wanted a different cat but I know that black cats often get left behind at rescue centres as people don’t think they are pretty. Being a sucker for a sob story it was therefore inevitable that I would be going home with a black cat. Personally I do think that my mini-panther is beautiful and he inspired my one and only ever Hiaku (at least I think it is one, be kind if I’ve messed up?).

Sleek, black, handsome cat
Sits, waits, aloof yet alone
Until I come home

Should point out here that while I am a sucker for a sob story I am also not a saint and my 2nd cat is a pretty little torti-tabby called Maisy!

Elvis may not deem himself a ‘lucky’ black cat as since we’ve had him he has had 2 major accidents.

Accident 1: 1 day a week I work late, on that day my mother collects my 2 DS from school and takes them for dinner at sainsburys (for some reason she won’t cook for them) on these days she thinks nothing of texting to me to ask ‘need anything from sains?’ or similar. However on this particular day I heard nothing from her. Then at about 6:30pm I got a frantic phone call from DH, he NEVER phones me so I knew something was wrong. So DH says ‘there’s something wrong with Elvis, he looks funny’. I dashed home, took one look at Elvis and screamed at DH to call the vets.

Meanwhile mother is muttering that he looks fine and DS1 is saying ‘I told nanny he wasn’t well but she said she thought he’d been playing with ketchup’.

There were bloody paw prints all over my cream suede dining room chairs, which the children had noticed at 3:30pm but my mum had insisted that the cat had just been playing with ketchup…

Anyway, after a night at the emergency vets – because of course by 6:30pm the regular vets was closed – an operation to reconnect his jaw, rest for his broken ribs and lots of painkillers (and a bill for £856 which wiped out our wedding savings) Elvis was mended. I can’t remember if he was particularly bright before the accident, but lets just say that although he is beautiful he isn’t the sharpest claw in the paw now.

Accident 2: Elvis had been missing for a week. We were about to move house. We had pretty much mourned the loss of Elvis. Then one Wednesday I was leaving the house to take the children to school and in the distance I noticed a black shape progressing along the middle of the road, terminator style, dragging itself by it’s front legs. Elvis was back. Screamed at DH who ran out of the house in his dressing gown, screamed at children to get back into the house (Elvis wasn’t a pretty sight and DS2 not good with horror) and ran down the road to Elvis.

Since Accident 1 I did have the foresight to get Elvis insured ‘YAY’. This time he had broken his pelvis in four places and had to spend three months in a cage. During his three months in captivity Elivs learnt to say ‘hello’ this I guess is because I used to call out ‘hello’ to him everytime I cam home. My brother says it isn’t because of that, he says it is because I am ‘not right’.

Miraculously Elvis made a full recovery. In the car journey on the way back from the vets after being told he had pulled through we switched on the radio and “Elvis isn’t dead, Elvis isn’t dead, Elvis isn’t dead ‘cos I heard it on the radio” was playing, we all laughed. I did reflect that if Elvis had in fact actually been dead that song would probably have just cemented a traumatic memory for the kids!

He is now back to bullying Maisy and on the first venture out into our new garden he discovered that the garden opposite contains an aviary…..he likes sitting on the aviary.

C is for… Coffee, Cats, Caffe Nero and Customer Service

Posted on 7th April 2010 in caffe nero/ cats/ coffee/ customer service/ review

CoffeeI’ve realised recently that some of my most favourite things being with the letter C.

For example: cats; chocolate; cuddles; cakes; coffee and customer service. Not exclusively those but they spring to mind as favourites, as it goes I quite like crocuses, clouds, crusts and charisma too!

Two of my favourite things have led to my first blog (insert first blog sytle fan fare here…..) and they are coffee and customer service, two things that I happen to be quite passionate about.

I remember feeling quite exotic (yes, exotic) when a branch of Starbucks arrived in town! Had a few coffees in there, once you got over the odd aroma that I’m sure they pump into every Starbucks, it felt decadent, luxurious and almost naughty to go somewhere just for coffee.

But then, one day on the way to Starbucks I noticed a Caffe Nero sign! When had this snuck into town? Why hadn’t I known before? I had visited Caffe Nero in Lakeside (buy peanut & choc chip cookie from Millies, take to Nero’s and sneakily eat while drinking coffee = heaven) and had marveled at the depth and strength of their coffee – buy the wrong thing and the coffee was strong enough to make you nauseous….

And so began my love affair with Caffe Nero and the grande latte *sigh*. The staff were smiley, the air didn’t smell of strangely burnt plastic, the chairs were large and comfy, it was relaxing – it felt like home!

I began going there once a week, sometimes with BF, sometimes with DH and after a couple of weeks the lovely lady started remembering what I drank and would say those most flattering of words ‘your usual?’. I began looking forward to my chat with this smiley lady almost as much as my massive coffee and soon my coffee drinking became more like visiting friends. Even the grumpy (in a nice way) manager soon managed to remember my drink and once I’m sure I saw him smile.

I looked for a facebook page to join in support of my Caffe Nero, there wasn’t one so I set one up. Soon after the lovely lady added me as a friend – now she added ‘I love your wedding pics’ to ‘your usual?’ – ah personal service I love thee so!

There was a dark day, when out for lunch with friends and one of them insisted on Starbucks…. Suddenly I was back in the burnt plastic aroma, no smiles at the counter, tasteless coffee that you had to wait for ‘at the end’ – the drinks appearing in no discernible order making you feel both impatient and unimportant.

The sheer level of customer service that I (and indeed all their regular customers) receive at Caffe Nero was summed up for me recently when I visited the day after my birthday. My lovely lady has long since been promoted – she deserved it and the grumpy (in a nice way) manager was serving ‘did you have a nice birthday?’ he asked, followed by ‘did you do anything nice?’ and ‘these are on me today’. After at least 4 years in this town would anyone at Starbucks even know what I drink? “I think not baby puppy.” ( #Cats & Dogs – 2001 great film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0239395/ )

These two staff members, lovely lady and grumpy (in a nice way) manager could start a customer service revolution. You guys are great and I thank you for making me feel special just because I ordered a coffee – ok and the occasional almond croissant..

I read recently that in Japan there is now a coffee shop where you can rent a cat for half an hour to pet while you have your coffee – hmmmm I haven’t been to Japan, yet!

UPDATE

The UK MD of Starbucks has kindly offered for me to meet up with my local Starbucks District Manager to discuss company ethos – I have agreed and supplied my email address. Will let you know a) if a meeting happens and b) the outcome

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