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Adventures & Learning Travel

Scotney Castle, England

Scot­ney Cas­tle is locat­ed near Tun­bridge Wells in the South of Eng­land, about 10 miles from daugh­ter Joan­ne’s place.

It’s yet anoth­er amaz­ing Nation­al Trust prop­er­ty with sump­tu­ous tea room/restaurant, amaz­ing main house & cas­tle ruins, and exten­sive gardens/grounds (780 acres) for walk­ing and hik­ing.

We spent a great after­noon there recent­ly on our UK trip and below are some of our pho­tos which don’t do jus­tice to the stun­ning bush­es, flow­ers and vis­tas.

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Adventures & Learning

BBC Sport — Relegation battle: Can Hull repeat escape at Newcastle’s expense?

Tomor­row is the final day of the Pre­mier League sea­son in Eng­land and the final rel­e­ga­tion team will be decid­ed between Hull and New­cas­tle.  Should be a good one to watch.

Hull face Man­ches­ter Unit­ed look­ing to over­haul New­cas­tle and avoid rel­e­ga­tion on the last day of the top-flight sea­son.

Source: BBC Sport — Rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle: Can Hull repeat escape at New­castle’s expense?

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Adventures & Learning

Sunday bike ride in Sugar Land

Its Sun­day and a gor­geous day with 72F and slight cloud cov­er.  We decid­ed to go and see if we could nav­i­gate the traf­fic on High­ways 6 & 59 to make it to the Town Cen­tre and beyond.  Here’s a map of our lit­tle route with­out the traf­fic details.

It says it was about 6.3 miles but felt much longer due to the fre­quent stops to nego­ti­ate traf­fic and cross­walks on the major inter­sec­tions.  We cov­ered urban bik­ing, love­ly lakes, a cou­ple of Star­bucks, the city Mall (who would think you could bike to Dil­lard’s!), and final­ly a tri­umphant jaunt around our neigh­bor­hood lake.

Bril­liant fun.  Below are a few pho­tos to mark the day.

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Adventures & Learning

World Cup 2014: Adieu Angleterre :-)

And so we say good­bye to the Eng­lish team who, with Italy los­ing to Cos­ta Rica today, can­not progress beyond the group stages.  Ear­ly baths all round then.

It’s a shame they have to exit so ear­ly but they just did not play well and it’s prob­a­bly the right result to send them home ear­ly.  At least the rest of the tour­na­ment can be watched with no nation­al inter­est at stake, oth­er than watch­ing the US team, who are of course still in the race for the lat­ter stages.

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Adventures & Learning Food Travel

Galveston Island

We decid­ed on the spur of the moment to take a trip down to Galve­ston Island, about an hour and half from Sug­ar Land.

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Adventures & Learning

US Mens’ Clay Court Championship

Michelle (Chris’ wife) and Stephen are off this evening to watch the US Mens’ Clay Court Cham­pi­onships at the Riv­er Oaks Coun­try Club in Hous­ton.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Chris, for­tu­nate­ly for me, Chris has to trav­el to Okla­homa on busi­ness and I had to use his tick­et 🙂

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Adventures & Learning Travel

Naples Beach Scene

Went for a bike ride from our digs down 9 blocks to the beach in Naples for a swim and had some fun observ­ing some of the local beach life!  The good deed for the day was res­cu­ing the starfish before he became lunch for the local pel­i­can gang.

 

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Adventures & Learning Travel

Customer Service Lives and Dies with the People you Meet

As we hit the US last week we expe­ri­enced three real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing cus­tomer inter­ac­tions and dif­fer­ent ways of deal­ing with sit­u­a­tions.  Two were great and one not so great.

Cartoon of customer serviceHotel for one night in Naples

When we checked out of the hotel after one night the recep­tion­ist asked the usu­al rote ques­tion as to how we enjoyed our stay.  We respond­ed that it was nice but the mat­tress on the bed need­ed replaced since it was very soft and non-sup­port­ive.  Addi­tion­al­ly the AC unit was very loud and inter­rupt­ed our sleep.

Instead of becom­ing defen­sive and argu­ing with us she smiled and said that she was so glad we had men­tioned these things and she would bring to the atten­tion of her man­ag­er imme­di­ate­ly.  Wow what a great approach. Instead of feel­ing shy for bring­ing these things up we felt very good that we had and that they may act on our sug­ges­tions.

Hotel in Ft Lauderdale

As we checked out of our hotel in Ft Laud­erdale, again we had the “how was your stay” ques­tion.  We’d had a lot of issues with the wifi in this hotel and men­tioned this to the man­ag­er who checked us out.  Instead of empathiz­ing with us, she imme­di­ate­ly became defen­sive and start­ed telling us why they could nev­er get the wifi work­ing cor­rect­ly in this type of hotel, and real­ly it was our fault for want­i­ng to use it!

Dif­fer­ent approach and we have a very dif­fer­ent view of this hotel as a result.

Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant Naples

We had a light bite in Tom­my Bahama’s Restau­rant in Naples ear­li­er today, main­ly because they have an amaz­ing veg­e­tar­i­an burg­er which we like to share.  We ordered the burg­er from a very inter­est­ing young man who wait­ed on us, who enthused about the qual­i­ty of the burg­er and why he was mov­ing more and more towards a meat free diet.  Final­ly some sup­port!  Some min­utes lat­er he came back to our table and sheep­ish­ly told us that the they had run out of avo­ca­do and would it be alright if the burg­er was served with no avo­ca­do.  Of course we said it would be fine expect­ing that would be the end of it.

Nice free dessert
Nice free dessert

His next state­ment floored us.  Since they had run out of avo­ca­do, that want­ed to offer us a free desert as com­pen­sa­tion!  Guess what we remem­bered about our lunch?  Not the lack of the avo­ca­do but the delight of get­ting a free desert.

I always think that the peo­ple who first or last inter­act with cus­tomers are amongst the most impor­tant in any orga­ni­za­tion and some out­fits are so much bet­ter at rec­og­niz­ing the need to train them than oth­ers.  A lack of focus in this area is always obvi­ous to the cus­tomer; why not to the orga­ni­za­tion?

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Adventures & Learning

Joanne and Betty come to Scotland

 My daugh­ter Joanne made the hero­ic effort to dri­ve near­ly 400 miles to see us for the week­end and intro­duce us to Bet­ty her new chi­huahua pup­py.   We had a blast with them but were quite exhaust­ed after they left us on Sun­day morn­ing.  Bet­ty like most pup­pies is on the go con­stant­ly then sleeps, then is on the go, then eats, then sleeps.  And so it went on.

It was amaz­ing to be wel­comed by the pat­ter of tiny feet on the floor each morn­ing, her tail wag­ging so hard you thought it might fall off!  And of course it’s always great to see and spend time with Joanne.

Here are a few pho­tos from the vis­it.

 

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Adventures & Learning Articles Food

Road Trip around the Trossachs, Scotland


View Larg­er Map

We decid­ed to set off and see a bit of central/nearly high­land Scot­land on the spur of the moment today.  End­ed up cov­er­ing about 170 miles and hav­ing some amaz­ing views and a love­ly snack lunch near Doune–dropped into an antique cen­tre and had veg­gie risot­to for lunch!  The food in Scot­land real­ly is bril­liant and has come a long way since I used to live here. There are many out of the way lit­tle restau­rants where you can get a decent snack or meal as you like.

Veggie Risotto for lunch.  Yum!
Veg­gie Risot­to for lunch. Yum!

As part of our sojourn on the road from Callan­der to Doune we turned into a place adver­tis­ing tea/coffee.  It turned out to be a “well­ness” retreat and quite run down look­ing.  We ate a deli­cious veg­an scone in the com­pa­ny of a child being home schooled by his mum, the pro­pri­etor of the place!   The sto­ry she was read­ing was real­ly engag­ing and it was a wrench to leave.  Quite a laugh!