Tag Archive: Review

Statute Of Liberties!

I am heartened, not to mention a little surprised, in many ways that so many people have read my review on the Snowden Mountain Railway, such that it appears in the first page of a Google search on the thing.  I suspect the views of that post equal all of the rest of mine put together!  It shows that some form of direct action can work and that my voicing my opinion and translating the disappointment my children felt may have avoided at least some others having the same experience. Adults can take these setbacks on the chin and muse and moan about the injustice to anyone who will listen, as indeed I have done, but for children this sort of event is more unfortunate and therefore from a parent’s point of view way more vexing.  In this day and age when getting children out of the house and off phones, computers and games consoles is increasingly more difficult it is essential to pick your activity carefully both within budget and something that will appeal sufficiently for them not to feel resentful for having been hauled out of their pits!  One of the most pleasing things is that the benefit to the Lake Railway has been as tangible and this is well deserved.  The experience we had on that did go a fair way to mitigating that on the SMR and I am grateful for it having done so because I imagine, I hope, what they are more likely to remember the SMR for is their father’s ire and indignation rather than their own memories of the mediocrity it all (thankfully they didn’t have to pay for it!).  The rest of the holiday was equally pleasurable with plenty to do in that part of the world and enough to occupy a few days in Llanberis at ground level alone.

Have I heard from the SMR at any stage since our trip, no. Has it damaged their finances much, I shouldn’t have thought a great deal. But it has a little bit and, however insignificant it may seem, the contempt they have shown to my family and others I know has bitten them in the arse, even if the equivalent of that of a mosquito.  There is such little recourse these days when larger organisations do customers an injustice that it is all the more important to speak out by whatever medium you have available, voices, however quiet can still lead to a conversation.  Review sites like Trip Advisor can have both a positive and a negative impact on places, this is not always a good thing as smaller places can be hit disproportionately hard by one bad review whilst the larger ones can absorb it into a morass of sycophancy.  Look no further at the SMR itself for an example of the latter.

At the time of writing the SMR’s Trip Advisor stats are:
  • Excellent – 486
  • Very good – 378
  • Average – 211
  • Poor – 109
  • Terrible – 118
Total reviews 1,302 – There is only 1 of the “terrible” reviews that the SMR have seen fit to respond to and it is one about the lack of the Welsh language being used, none of the things relating to either prices of the train or the parking are deemed fit for comment.  Conversely the “excellent” reviews are greeted with a great many sycophantic responses, I wonder if the original poster were paid to leave their comments!
I notice gladly that there has been no contradiction of my assertion of the Padarn Lake railway being a positive experience and this certainly speaks volumes.
Their Trip Advisor tally is:
  • Excellent – 133
  • Very good – 117
  • Average – 56
  • Poor – 13
  • Terrible – 9

Total reviews – 328.  Obviously this is far fewer than the SMR but the proportions make pretty stark reading, just under 7% of their reviews are at the worst end (Poor/Terrible). They have had 1 terrible in 2015 which was pretty much as a result of the SMR!  Other than that they not had a “terrible” since June 2013 and had responded to the last 2 they did receive.  Their Excellent/Very Good tally is over 75%.  The SMR’s record on the worst end is more than double the Lake railways’ at around 17% and at the Excellent/Very Good they manage only 66%.  So if you then add cost in to that you’ll get an idea of how it all stacks up.  And I haven’t even come to the car parking, a subject that many people leaving reviews seems to merit more anger than any event of the rest of the day!

I hope the people who have chosen to take the SMR have had a better time than we did, I bear those people no ill will and I hope as few children as possible have had a negative experience because at the end of the day my purpose was in the hope that this would be the case.  Likewise I’m sure many of the people working on the railway do care about their customers and are merely hampered, and perhaps equally frustrated by, the failings of the system at management level but I find it such a shame that the bean counters should have been allowed to rob the railway of its magic that I feel duty bound to ensure that my review remains out there alerting people.  One day a manager might come across the assorted negative feedback and think ‘this is wrong, I’m going to change it and make the railway great again’.  Yeah I won’t hold my breath either!

Song Of The Day ~ The Doobie Brothers – Long Train Runing

the_band2.jpg Love’s The Cure

The Afterglow

Date: Sept 2005   —   Free   —   Music

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If myspace.com gives me nothing at all it will have introduced me to The Afterglow from whom I received a free CD which turned out to be really rather fucking decent. The band are a group from the North West around Liverpool but seem to have spent a large amount of time out in Turin where they formed in 1998 settling on a line up a couple of years ago, and consequently they juggle their time between the UK and Italy. I got the email saying “The Afterglow want to be your friend” from myspace, I don’t have a vast amount of friends on it but I do tend to vet the music before consenting to be pals, I like to think that far from being a myspace tart I am rather exclusive!!! In this case I was happy to hear the four songs on their site 3 of which were taken from their current EP.

After adding the group as a mate I received a mail from their backroom team asking me if I wanted a free copy of their EP. Something to do with Gift Horses and Mouths sprang to mind. Some 3 days or so later up it appeared. By then I had already downloaded most of it because they are allowing free downloads from the myspace site and the music was good but no matter having the physical disk meant I sat and listened to it all through.

The opening track Love is a really easy entry into the band’s music. It goes straight into a languid rasping guitar and steady drum almost anthemic. The vocals are clear and the style is alluringly eclectic, something about the lyrics and the lines not quite being symmetrical, whether the Italian influence being a more poetic lilting language, it’s a difficult trick to pull off, someone has done it before but I can’t recall whom, I like it anyway and it’s nice to hear something that conforms to many good things whilst not just being a re-hash of everything that has gone before. The chorus is the strongest hook of the song, it brings Dave the vocalist’s voice out a little more and he’s got a grand and melodic pair of lungs.

Things I’ve Lost continues a mini theme that appears to run through certain parts about the fear of getting older. I can equate to this! It’s a good song but a little eclipsed by Love but mainly because I think it would be bloody difficult not to be.

As if to emphasise a flair for the accoustic track the thrid track Easy is a real find. I’m a sucker for well-strummed accoustic guitars and add a strong piano part in and you are likely to have the ingredients for a good rock ballad. Again the song is simple and unpretentious, a nice change to minor key for the chorus is another of those things guaranteed to get me hooked. If I like Love for its Summer in the car windows wound down quality, Easy is much more of an evening sunset mellow song, sort of thing you play whilst relaxing with some booze and the girlfriend.

Another Lie In The World is a considerable slow-down in pace I like the melody and the lyrics the song has a little more electronic feel to it although I don’t like the very synthetic sounding drum beat I find that detracts from the song which is a shame because other than that its accoustic simplicity has a certain charm.

I hope the band do well, I like their music, their ethos and the friendliness of their staff. As such they are the Baron’s top tip for Summer ’06. And it’s not as if you’ll even have to shell out to find I’m right.

The band are back in England in the Summer and playing near me in July, judging by the likely price of the gig I can consider it cheap payback for the EP and thus get the gig for free you get precious little these days for free and practically nothing that’s any good. This is a nice exception to that rule, if you miss it then you’ll only have yourself to blame.