Deb's Digest
Debbie Atkinson’s family life column, as featured in the Southport Visiter.

Friday, 10 February 2012


I often do bits of work as a mystery shopper / diner and I enjoy it. I'm so glad that my views will be used to - hopefully - improve poor service. There have been so many occasions when we've walked into a pub hoping to find a roaring fire and decent food but end up leaving having encountered neither.
Recently on the way to Harrogate we called into a pub that had been taken over. It looked ok from the outside and we were in need of sustenance and warmth. We parked up and walked in. It was dark, it was cold, there was a smell of disinfectant and the chairs were caked in grime and dust. I wanted a non-alcoholic beer which wasn't stocked. Ok then, a tomato juice but not a chilled one. Sorry, only chilled. We left. We were so disappointed that I put a long comment on Trip Advisor. I've just had a reply from the owner. He says he's worked through my list and now has roaring fires all day, stocks non-alcoholic beer and has taken on two cleaners. I began to feel really sorry about my comments but no, I've decided that I may have helped him on the long road to success - I really hope so and I've told him we'll call again next time we're out that way.
Today we went out for lunch to a lovely pub in the country.  But again, it was spoilt by being freezing cold. There was a candle on every table but not one was lit. I couldn't even bear to take my gloves off to hold the menu, so yet again, we left. We returned to an old favourite where there was a roaring log fire and decent food - it was packed, which just goes to show that good management will bring in the money.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


I was delighted this morning to see that The Times had used my letter - and bottom right too (prime position!). I actually knew last night that it would be in because I checked online. There are always a few "smart" comments made by the same people underneath the online letters and as usual there were some accompanying my offering. However, one comment made me smile. It was from someone called "A. S." who had gone to the trouble of working out that this was my 20th published letter, adding: "well done indeed". Very nice of A.S to keep track but I'm pretty sure that's wrong because my tally gets it to 26. Now I'm going to have to check.

Hopping and bopping

Sir, My vinyl copy of Crocodile Rock gave me more for my money than any of the digital versions (letters, Feb 6-8). However, I only realised recently (now aged 60) that the extra verse I had got used to singing along with was the result of a scratch, probably inflicted during my 21st birthday celebrations.
Deb Atkinson
Southport, Merseyside