Thursday, January 30, 2014

great customer service

The train company, First Capital Connect, are using twitter for the bulk of their customer relations work. Reading through their timeline is eye-opening, with tweet after tweet of gracious apology and information in response to grumpy customers.

It might be screen-based, but their customer service is personal and has a great sense of humour. The Bedford-Brighton line was delayed this morning which meant that my Luton-St Albans journey took a little longer than it should have done. The cafe were playing the Indiana Jones theme which really lifted the mood of the situation. So I tweeted. And this happened:

Well done Jay and the team at @FirstCC

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

five minute friday: visit

fem minutters fredag​​: bes√łk*


I've just spent 90 minutes on the phone to a friend.

For many people that's not so remarkable. In fact, for teenage girls that's probably a short call. But it's unusual for me - I prefer email or text or even FB chat for catching up with people. I gave up on voice calls ages ago. Never a conscious decision, they just slipped away. These days if my phone rings, it's probably my mum.

But today was about catching up with a friend who moved away last year. We used to live a few minutes apart. Today a quick "visit" would take over 10 hours travel there and back. I miss our regular times of chatting, laughing, sharing and praying. The travel was easy and the company was too.

A phone call will never be the same as an evening on the sofa but actually, after the conversation, I really do feel like she visited. I'm grateful for my friend and I'm inspired by all she's up to.

This blog is part of Five Minute Friday - a group of bloggers who write about a given subject for five minutes without, stopping, overthinking, editing or backtracking. There's rules:

* Check what the prompt is on
* Write a post in only five minutes on that topic on your blog.
* Link to Lisa's website and invite friends to join in.
* Select the permalink to your post {so not your blog url but your post url }
* Using the linky tool at the bottom of Lisa's Five Minute Friday post enter your link.
* Your post will show up in our Five Minute Friday linky.
Be sure and encourage the person who linked up before you! 
Five Minute Friday

* Last time I did FMF I had just had an influx of Latvian visitors to the blog. This week I have had 85 visitors from Norway. So the title is in Norwegian. Velkommen. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

what made 2013 special

For a few years I've enjoyed reading Liz's list of firsts. I don't think she did 2013 but from 2010-2012 she wrote lists of things she'd never done and aimed to try as many as possible each year. Seemed like a great way of making the coming year interesting and being challenged to move beyond the familiar.

I've never written such a list - perhaps I should? Or at least maybe I should blog my own "firsts" as I achieve them this year?

But had I written my own, there's one event from 2013 that would definitely have been on it, and remains a definite highlight of last year for me, and for Dan too.

We're both musicians and enjoy playing with orchestras in all sorts of contexts, including the Greenbelt Festival Orchestra. The Festival Orchestra is an occasional orchestra who gather at the festival for annual performances. It's rarely the same orchestra twice, although there are familiar faces. Through this group I've played Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, a brand new piece composed specifically for us (although I forget its name or the name of the composer, oops!) and even Taverner's Seven Last Words From The Cross in the presence of Taverner himself. And almost all of those in driving rain on a stage in a field. Sounds crazy but I love it.

When we decided to go to Greenbelt in 2013, I contacted Harry who oversees the rabble, to see what this year's concert would be. Harry was really quite apologetic that this year's programme was not classical - he needn't have apologised as the alternative really was far more exciting for us.

So at the end of August 2013, we joined the Greenbelt Festival Orchestra on stage with Duke Special and his band to play at the close of the festival on Monday evening. There are several videos of the event on youtube and facebook. Mostly quite blurry but you can usually make out Dan playing trombone in the back row, wearing a hat. I'm sitting just in front of him playing bassoon but I'm hiding behind the strings!

We've been Duke Special fans since we saw him by accident at a small gig at the Kashmir Klub in London in 2003. Dan was playing there with Meeker, and one of the 4 other bands was a guy with dreadlocks, a piano and a double bassist. We loved the rich harmonies and style of his songs but couldn't remember who he was. Later that year, a friend dragged us into stage 2 at Greenbelt (when it was tiny and dark and mostly held unknown acts) to see someone he knew in his new band. Duke Special. We were hooked and have enjoyed seeing him perform in all sorts of places since - numerous Greenbelt venues, small pubs in Brixton, the Glee Club in Birmingham, supporting Divine Comedy at Warwick Arts Centre, the Bush Hall in London, and with an orchestra in Camden's RoundHouse.

It really was a privilege to be able to play with him, Chip Bailey, Ben Castle and the rest of the band - some songs we knew well and some new repertoire too. Loads of fun rehearsing and such an amazing atmosphere playing to a full GB crowd, coming together at the end of the festival to enjoy one last performance.


Sometimes I do go on...