Coffee morning in our local church
This was one of those days when we had no obligatory commitments, so first of all off to coffee at All Saints Church in Paulton. A couple were complaining that their car had left them down due to what the RAC man described as wet belt. It’s started to a halt on a hill and they had to get help. This was a Citroen that had done only 40,000 miles. Their RAC chap said that last week had been a record for the number of breakdowns. It was taken to the garage who told them that it would be after Christmas before the car could be fixed which would involve stripping down the engine. They have no substitute, so back to jolly old public transport and or lifts from friends.
That sounds like a healthy repair bill to me. Did his car insurance include having a hire car? Silence from him at this point. Things always happen at the most inconvenient time and this was a good example. At least they were not due to go on a long holiday a few days afterwards.
Buying wood logs for our living room fireplace
Our local log supplier could not help us, saying that they had to order a new log splitter from Finland and it would take another month or so to arrive so we went to our fallback place, Longleat Forestry, for a supply. The rules and regulations have changed quite a lot. Previously you could only buy freshly cut wood , as much as you want, pick your own. Now freshly cut wood can only be sold (and delivered) in one tonne bags.
If you want kiln dried wood you can select it yourself but it is more expensive. We had to pay £61.75 for 130 kilograms. In case you are wondering, you have to drive the car up on a ramp and it measures the weight of the car before loading and after loading. Last time I bought some wood of this nature it would have been about £45. In 2019 I paid £26 for 150 kg.
Visiting Warminster, Wiltshire
The day was fairly good and quite warm, 12° centigrade, so we decided to proceed into Warminster and see how the town was doing. We noticed that a lot of arty and minority appeal shops had closed their doors. We have seen other towns of this nature and we reckon that although there is a slight downward trend, the town itself is surviving, for the moment anyway.
Another test of viability is the number of charity shops of which we counted more than 10. It’s better to have a charity shop than no shops at all, but it just shows the difficulty in selling leases. I summarize that covid lock-downs made their mark because if I am informed correctly the shop owners were not given relief from rent and rents.
When we arrived, we parked by an old fashioned hotel – restaurant which served a two course meal for seven pounds. Something about it attracted me including a man who was standing outside doing nothing in particular so we went in.
There was a large group of old people, from a residential home we guessed, and they were having a very merry Christmas lunch. The sweet course for us for the day was apple crumble with custard and at that point I was totally sold. Homely, tasty, attractive, fills you up, what more can you ask for. Oh yes, and I had a steak pie with saute potatoes for the main course. Francoise had a very good vegetarian soup followed by plaice. We had all together three medium glasses of Pinot and I think the bill came to about 26 pounds.
We did not have the Christmas Menu which was atmospherically priced.
I liked the hotel because of its un pretentiousness. It was what it was. In the front was a man drinking a very fine variety of beer and enjoying himself in a quiet way. We joined him and started a conversation. He was making various origami shapes out of paper for origami or craft work. We asked him why he did this and he says it was the only hobby he could find which did not involve significant expenditure. He had no other hobbies. He told us the he had learnt the art by watching YouTube. He made a couple of examples for himself but decided to give them to us.
Good and bad staff attitudes
The young girl who served us was very sweet and keen to help. She struck me as being an unspoilt person who still had idealism. Nothing was too much trouble, not that we gave any. She put up with my jokes which I must complement her on. Anyway, another lady came along who was the manageress and she was an entirely different cattle of fish.
She marched through the front part of the cafe not giving us a glance and said she was terribly busy. She went to her car and got something and then returned and did the reverse journey. I did not get any feel of customer contact. Maybe the burdens of the restaurant were too much for her to bear.
I asked Pete, the man we were talking to, if he thought the area was going downhill and on balance he thought it was. He had only been in the area for just short of seven years and has moved here from Islington in London which he had mixed feelings about. We can only guess what is life story was and I’m sure, had we had the time, it would have been an interesting one.
If anyone is interested in visiting, it is the Farmers Hotel, 1 Silver Street, BA12 8PS. It is a Grade 2 listed building. See TripAdvisor Reviews here. It is definitely an establishment of character, which could do with a spruce up of facilities and more discipline with cleaning the accommodation part. B and B for two is £72.
I would guess from what I saw that the manager could do with some training herself. People are not numbers, madam. The hotel has an undeveloped website. Someone thought it was a good idea, then got distracted.
We were in town on a Tuesday but many of the eating establishments seemed to be closed. If you make it up the High Street as far as Boots the optician, not Boots the chemist, you will see a small passageway leading to a community cafe at the end on the left. We were drawn to this one as well and noticed that it was full of locals.
Do not rush through this unpretentious town too quickly. There is a lake and a pleasure area and in town lots of little side passages that you can poke your nose in to and imagine you are in the middle of the 20th century. It is an historic town and planning permissions have to be sought for many things. Pete told me that they were going to have a McDonald’s which he considered a retrograde step.
I suggest a couple of hours stroll and talk to people on your way.