Sunday, September 19, 2010

Freezing in Strikes Garden Centre

We took my mother (86) and my friend Connie (90) to Strikes Garden Centre for lunch.

As we walked through the doors, a blast of cold air hit us. It was freezing in there. Actually it was pretty chilly outside too but if anything it seemed colder indoors.

We walked round to the cafe, penguins hopping away from us as we went.

The cafe's part of the main garden centre so wasn't any warmer than the rest of it. Diners sat at cafe tables, wearing jumpers, coats, scarves and gloves, which made it tricky to eat their lunch.

"It's freezing in here!" I said to the girl behind the counter. "Why's it so cold?"

"Errr - - yes, it is," she said. She was slightly distracted because of a couple of polar bears which were trying to get into the kitchen.

"So why?" I asked.

"Well, it's because of the plants outside," she said unconvincingly. "It's because of the glass windows."

"Well that's not exactly the case, is it?" I asked. "I've been here in winter and it's been much warmer than this."

She looked embarrassed. "Well, it's because the owners won't turn the heating on until a certain date."

"Aha!" I said. "Now we have it!"

We shivered our way through lunch. The hot tea was lukewarm after about a minute and by the time I'd eaten my cheese omelette ice crystals were beginning to form in the jug of milk.

Then, whilst Mum and Connie were looking at bulbs, I asked the girl on the checkout why it was so cold.

"Ooh yes, I know, freezing in here, isn't it?" she said. She just seemed to accept this as some kind of Act of God.

"So is the manager about?" I asked. "I plan to ask him to turn the heating on."

She seemed baffled by this, but nevertheless explained that he was the tall bloke over there.

"Hello," I said, "Could you tell me why it's so cold in here?"

"Well it's quite a cold day outside," he replied.

"Yes, I know that," I said. "But I know from past experience that this place has heating. Why can't you turn it on?"

"Well it's not that cold," he said defensively.

"Really? Have you a handy thermometer we could look at?" I asked sweetly.

He didn't rise to this one so I tried,

"There's a cafe here and if you have a cafe it needs to be warm. Usually people don't choose to eat their Sunday lunch wearing their coats. I'm here with two elderly ladies and they're both frozen."

"Well it was hot yesterday."

Okay, he was really annoying me now. I think it was mutual.

"Yes, you get that in Britain in autumn. One day hot, the next cold. That's why buildings generally have heating. Why can't you turn it on?"

"Well we don't turn it on until it gets cold."

"It's cold NOW."

"Yes, but we turn it on later in the autumn, when it gets cold."

"It's cold NOW."

He shuffled a bit.

"Ah well, we have to get the engineer in to fire it all up. We can't just switch it on."

Two things. I would guess that Strikes have a money-saving policy of not turning the heating on until October no matter how cold it is. If they haven't such a policy, perhaps they'll tell me.

Secondly, it would be good if they gave their staff a bit of training in customer relations. If he'd have weighed in with "I'm really sorry about that, yes, it's freezing in here," then I might have been a bit less angry.


Blogger John said...

I spent a while trying to work out the title before I read this.

Blissfully unaware, as I was, that there was a garden centre called Strikes.

I thought maybe, in a moment of heightened excitement, you'd transposed the capitals and some bizarre meteorological phenomenon called Freezing In had struck a garden centre.

ThenI tried to work out what freezing in strikes might be and how they would affect a garden centre.

I pondered over the difficulty of freezing something in strikes and thought maybe you meant stripes, the P and the K not being that far away from each other, but my knowledge of your many days teaching the mother-tongue put the thought from my mind. That and the hanging subject.

When you you write to them about the heating please tell them Strikes is a stupid name for a garden centre.

8:03 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

You know, the same heating philosophy is present in most state schools. No heating till October and none after May 1st and when 3.15pm comes, off with the heating to save money even though there might be cleaners and teaching staff still working through till 5.30 or 6.00. I admire you for creating a bit of a fuss.

10:35 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

My comment disappeared. I was just saying that around here the temperatures are still in the 90s (30s Celsius) during the day but dip into the 60s at night. Our area's swimming pool, which had been scheduled to close on Sep. 15th, has had its season extended through Sep. 30th. It's not the tropics, but it isn't the arctic either.

11:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've probably two choices: don't go back until October, or just find another garden centre with tasty lunches.
I abandonned one of chain of garden centres when they removed a nest of robins, killing one of them, because they were nesting above the cafe area in one of their garden centres.

8:44 am  
Anonymous Shooting Parrots said...

It seems to be the way with institutional heating boilers. It doesn't matter whether they are new or old -- they're fired up on a certain date in autumn and switched off again on an arbitary date in spring. There must be a heating engineer out there who can explain why. Or is it that they can't read?

10:05 am  
Blogger Debby said...

I don't do cold. I'd have had to leave and eat elsewhere!

2:14 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home