I have been thinking about the value of personal recommendations. Where trust and quality are more important than impersonal quantity. Where one good personal recommendation trumps five hundred Trip Advisor reviews. And then I remembered Ian and Margaret and their pre-internet ways. I was designing a completely new house for them. This meant many trips to the West Country, involving many lunches.
So a typical meeting day went something like this: I turned up at about 10 am, we’d have an hour of putting the world to rights chat (well, I’d listen), then get down to the architectural stuff. Then at 1230, Ian would announce, “I’m hungry. Let’s go and find something to eat.” The three of us would clamber into his big old Mercedes estate, and off we’d set. No decision was ever made about where we were going before we were moving at speed. Then the best bit happened: Margaret opened the glove box and out came the A5 leather-bound card wallet. This held dozens of business cards of places they’d been that passed their quality test. Some had handwritten notes on them.
“What do you fancy, Ian?”
“Not sure, Marg. Do you remember that place where you had that Lobster Thermidor?”
“Yes, you do. We went with Alf and Julia about five years ago.”
“Oh, that was, erm,” she’d rifle through the cards. “Here it is, the Drewe Arms in Drewsteignton.”
“That’s the one. Lovely there, Carl. Give ’em a call, Marg. Check they still do Lobster Thermidor.”
Luckily there was only one road out of where they lived. The narrow, twisty, high-banked lane was a zone for search and decision-making. Only a little looking at the road and plenty of back and forth and rifling through the cards. Often the place had no tables, was out of Lobster, or an abrupt change of mind made. So we’d go back through the entire process again.
No sat nav, no Google. Just a book of business cards and a lunatic country lane driver. Great fun. Always great food. That little book of cards was gold dust. There were sections at the back for places further afield, but most of the cards were within an hour’s drive. Everyone should have one of these in their glove box. Places to eat, stay, get a drink, buy a gift or get a steak to cook at home. All within an hour of home. So dear readers, how about we make our own? You send me your recommendations from Sandbanks to Southsea and up to Salisbury, and I will build us a booklet like Ian and Marg’s and work out a way to distribute it.
This week’s web links include knobs, roast chicken and an Italian restaurant. Any comments or suggestions you can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best
This Week’s Links:
Something a little different for Sunday roast
The question that’s on all your lips: Should I use handles or knobs in my new kitchen
This a highly recommended Italian restaurant if you are ever in Lincolnshire