Friday, 31 July 2009

The Greek Legend of Hotstones . . .

Once, many years ago, there was a Seer, who foretold a tale of a brave young man who would travel the lands and slay the beast Medusa. Medusa was originally a beautiful goddess who used her long tresses to woo and seduce men. Outraged that her temple had been violated, Athena set a curse upon her, turning her luscious locks into snakes, and making it so that if her eyes were to fall upon any man again, they would instantly be turned to stone. People feared this vile beast, and so preyed that the Seer's words would become truth.

One day, upon his travels, the Seer came across a curious young man, basking in the sun. This man was called Iydalnis Basalt, and instantly the Seer saw his hero within, despite the sneers from his neighbours and rumours of his stubbornness and laziness. He tried to persuade Iydalnis that he had a destiny to fulfill, but all Iydalnis wanted to do was lay in the sun. Eventually the Seer had to resort to burning his home down on a quest to get Iydalnis into action, and it worked.

Together, Iydalnis and the Seer traveled across the land in hunt for the legendary fem-fatal, Medusa. Many adventures were shared, until eventually they came across the ruined temple where Medusa was said to reside. Iydalnis insisted on a sleep before entering to fulfill his destiny and slay the beast, but the Seer refused him, and so dubiously and lethargically, Iydalnis entered.

For an hour he silently scouted the ruins in search, and just before he was about to leave he saw her, with a head full of withering snakes. As he approached her from behind with his gleaming sword poised for certain slaughter, she turned to glare at him. Horrified by the sheer ugliness of the creature, Iydalnis froze in mid attack . . . and was turned to stone.

Yep, you guessed it. The Seer had been wrong. He should have foreseen Perseus slaying the beast instead of the lazy Iydalnis.

But one thing he did discover was that Iydalnis Basalt was now made of the smoothest stone he had ever seen. Eventually he called it Basalt stone, and that once heated, to get it into action, the lazy characteristics with which Iydalnis possessed would come forth. When placed on the body in certain areas, these heated up characteristics would transfer through the skin, and were found to be very calming and therapeutic - and before long these hot stones became famous throughout the world for their fantastic and detoxing relaxation methods.

A much plausible theory to believe as opposed to volcanic rock cooling and scientific blah blah blahs . . .

PS: I just have to add that it is our Spiritual Guide's `40th` birthday tomorrow. I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing him a very happy birthday, and giving him a BIG HUG! He loves them....

D. Ilott
Gridstop Ltd

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Humane Customer Services . . .

The point I've been trying to get across through numerous blogs is that we here at Gridstop Ltd, aka Cybercheckout, are genuine people, trying our best to provide you with a standard of service that is both professional, down to earth and friendly.

It's a proven point that people like to deal with people, not companies. How many times have you been on the phone to the customer services of some huge company, insurance for example (no offence), and the replies you get are bog-standard? It's as if these people have a textbook in front of them telling them what to say. Admittedly they answer your query, but there's no life to them. I often wonder if, when they turn up for work in the morning, the place automatically turns them into machines.

And it's here that I refer you to an episode of Friends, where Phoebe gets herself a job selling toner and meets a man who wants to kill himself. Her famous response: Is that because you're out of toner? But her textbook failed to explain how she should answer such a decline in sale, and she was stumped (notice how there's an episode of Friends for every occasion?)

It's not the case here. Here we are living and breathing - flesh and blood. We have no textbooks to follow. We answer your queries in a down-to-earth manner, and if you end up having a giggle at the same time, then so be it. It's not breaking any rules, and we're only human.

And to prove we are human, a classic blonde comment from a colleague whilst eating a Rice Cake.

"Are rice cakes made from the same stuff as Polystyrene . . . ?"

*rolls around the floor in a fit of giggly laughter . . .

I love working here . . .

D. Ilott
Gridstop Ltd

Monday, 27 July 2009

Fishy going's on . . .


Our poor office fish died last week. After suffering from a very fishy illness for a while, it all eventually grew too much for him and he sadly passed away. Yes, Cy - for that was his name, Cy - will be sadly missed, with his big black googly eyes and his flapping, flowing fins and tail. It was all very sad, and a minute silence had to be held by the entire office in memory of him.

*sniff, sniff*

But our spirits were soon lifted by the purchase of another. Beanz, he is called, and he is now a happy, healthy and valid member of our team. He will soon be trained to answer calls and customer queries, and be just as good as Cy was. He's not the only one either. He also has a companion, newly named Baked, who is just getting over his grieving period for Cy.

And there is also a black dog that often graces us with her presence. A right little miss is our Missy. She has been a member of our team for sometime now, and by the evidence provided, she will soon be fully trained up to a standard where she can competently take your calls - competently? . . . comPETently, get it? . . . (Groans all round)

It took her a little while to get used to our working environment though, as she just couldn't get out of the habit of tearing around the office. Sometimes she takes a step backwards and still resorts to racing around, but we forgive her for these instances, purely for one reason. She never likes to see a full bin and does like to help empty them - all over the office floor . . . Bless her little furry cotton socks.

All this just goes towards my theory that Gridstop Ltd, aka Cybercheckout, is run by friendly, approachable, down-to-earth people who like their pets. We take pride in selling our pet products as well as all our other products, and will happily answer any question or query that you have, regardless of how small or how complicated.

Also, whilst on a fishy topic, just to warn everyone, we may soon be getting some brand new products - fishing tackle! Yes, we will soon be seeing Missy sitting beside Baked and Beanz's fish tank with a rod and hook, hoping to catch some classy, prized goldfish.

Don't be surprised if she never answers your call after that . . .

D. Ilott
Gridstop Ltd

Friday, 24 July 2009

U.F.B.B.Q . . .

They landed and would have slipped amongst us without notice had it not been for they're size.

First they began to invade our computer screens, and all you had to do was click a button, and before you knew it, one was sitting on your doorstep, disguised as a cardboard box. Curious, these unsuspecting victims would invite them inside their homes, and then into their gardens. Once in, their plans were in to unfold.

It's only in our nature to open a parcel once delivered to see what's inside, and once you took knife to packaging, there was no going back.

They would sit on a garden table in the centre of everything and mesmerise everyone. They're main target seemed to be of the male variety. Spellbound, they would dress in strange attire and stand beside it guardingly. If someone grew too close the danger of being stabbed by a prong was imminent. What exactly came over these men has yet to be answered, but it spread fear in people's hearts.

Panic became widespread. People had no idea what was happening, and it frightened them. In some places they were even seen fleeing from their gardens. This soon died down though, and it was all due to a few brave who learned to try and coincide with these beings.

The truth of the matter was, they were, at the time, very misunderstood. They didn't want to spark fear into our hearts. They only wanted to feed us, and we soon grew to love them. Every summer weekend was spent with them, and not just in the garden. People took them away with their families - camping, to the beach, and even mere days out.

Life became bliss after that, and eventually every household owned their own portable gas bbq.

Yep, you guessed it. Hot weather is well on it's way again . . .

D. Ilott
Gridstop Ltd

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Importance of Tea and Biscuits . . .

Everybody has their routine in the morning, and nine times out of ten that routine includes making a cup of tea to kick-start you into the day. Then when you finally get to work, chances are you head straight for the kitchen for another one.

If your work place is anything like ours, then the chances are slim that you will walk out of that kitchen with a single cup of tea. The minds here thrive on tea and caffeine, and if any quality work is to emerge from them throughout the day the brain-cells have to be hydrated. I'm surprised someone hasn't thought of bringing in an intravenous drip.

It's because of this that we have a thing here called `The Dreaded Tea Round!` If someone bravely offers you a tea, then it is expected, upon pain of death, that the favour be returned. But, boy! is there trouble if you make a bad round! So, to save anyone from suffering this wrath, I'm going to explain how to make the perfect cup of cyber-tea or coffee:

With tea, the water is added directly onto the teabag. This in turn is stirred vigorously. Never add the milk before the water. It clouds the tea and prevents you from achieving that perfect golden colour and taste. This is added just before the teabag is about to pass out through dizziness after circling around the cup a hundred times. Add more than a splash but less than half a pint. Your tea should appear to have a perfect body to it now, and will be wonderful when slurped.

With Coffee, use a heaped teaspoon of granules, followed by plenty of milk - don't skimp here! - then add the water. Never add the water before the milk. This burns the coffee, giving it a slight bitter taste. If you use enough coffee and plenty of milk to compensate its strength, then you will have a cup that, too, should appear with plenty of body. The perfect cup of coffee.

And if perfection is what you are after, then I suggest some custard creams for dunking, and one of our kettles to boil the water in. Just don't over-dunk. You'll then have to face the soggy mess as you reach the bottom of the mug.

This is the secret behind Gridstop Ltd, aka cybercheckout's success! It's run by machines fueled by caffeine!

Gridstop Ltd

Monday, 20 July 2009

Stiff Upper Lip . . .

Three members of Gridstop staff got treated to a day out on Sunday. With compliments from our wonderful Courier firm, Global Freight Solutions, they were taken to see the Cowdary Park Polo. It was The Final of the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship - what ever that means. I'm not a polo fan, myself, and haven't the faintest idea what goes on, but both our Ebay Guru, Alison, and Equestrian Leader, Lisa, are. Andrew just poodled along for the hell of it, I'm sure . . . or it was the lure of free champagne.

But imagine their delight when our GFS account manager offered them places to go. Of course, Polo is a rather posh sport, and the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup, I assume, would be of no exception. Instantly they were faced with the dilemma of what to wear - being female, it's a huge decision. But they soon decided and off they went.

However, I soon heard of horror stories about tights being purchased from Tesco's on the way, and being squeezed into in the back of the car whilst our Spiritual Guide, aka Andrew, deliberately swerved back and forth. I was instantly filled with visions of women screaming, men laughing and denying everything, and legs flailing about everywhere. Oh yes, our crew fit in rather well with the posh ambiance. They done us proud!

But on a serious note, they did. The trip worked on the relationship between us and our couriers. Just like our team bonding days with our warehouse staff, it brought us together, allowing us to work more efficiently, and in the end providing you, the customer, with a much better level of service. There was a hidden motive behind them gallivanting off, and it couldn't have been all fun, what with all that champagne they had to force themselves to drink, to smile and laugh, and look as if they were enjoying themselves. All in the aid of trying to give you a better shopping experience.

It must have been a huge sacrifice for them, and my sympathy goes out to them . . .

But at least they learned a valuable lesson: Never attempt to put on tights in the back of a moving car. You're asking for trouble . . .

D. Ilott
Gridstop Ltd

Friday, 17 July 2009

Test or Tents . . . Tents or Test . . .

Yesterday. The weather was warm, the sun was shining and it was dry - perfect driving conditions for a test, unlike today, which is very wet and thundery.

Yes, it was D-day, yesterday. At 12.40 I was finally climbing in the car with the examiner, about to start my test. Was I nervous? That's an understatement. Did I fail? Surprisingly no! I passed. I am now officially allowed to jump behind the wheel of a car and terrorize our good ol' British highways. Such joy!

I had to come into work for a few hours yesterday morning. I had originally book the entire day off, but they would have been lost without me, so I agreed if someone was to pick me up. See! That's how much I love and am dedicated to this place! Our Spiritual Guide offered, and now claims that Cybercheckout should get all the credit for my pass. If I had stayed at home, I would have been thinking about the test and stressing myself out, but because I came in, my mind was taken off it, and I was more relaxed and unwound. I don't quite see it somehow, but if it keeps his mind happy, then I'll simply nod and agree . . .

Also, we had a new tent in. The Everest 12 berth tent. I was involved with the last batch of tents, putting them up, taking photos, etc, but because of my test, I missed out on this one. And a good job too, in a way. Just think of the number of bees I'd end up murdering, especially after last time. This tent is the same fantastic quality as the others, only BIGGER . . . and sleeps twelve people. HUGE!

However, despite the fact that my royal presence was absent, I still managed to employ a spy to capture any dodgy shenanigans that went on behind my back. And look! I'll let you make what you will out of this photo . . .

D. Ilott
Gridstop Ltd

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Her Majesty's Royal Cucumber Sandwiches . . .

I've always been one for the monarchy, despite what many people out there think. I just love the history that comes with it all, both British and European. It's provided creatives all over with recipes for romantic tales, horrific tales, and stories of tradegy and triumph. The horror writer in me is continuously drawn to such legends as the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the supposed connection between Jack the Ripper and Queen Victoria, and some of the darker, brutal ways the hierarchy dealt with crime and treason. I find it all fascinating.

Luckily today things are more humane, and the Queen even hosts tea parties with cucumber sandwiches in her gardens at Buckingham Palace. But these are by invitation only. To receive an invite you need to be a very lucky, privilaged person with whom the Queen herself deems suitable to grace her with your prescence.

So imagine my surprise when I hear that two people I know have been invited to one on this coming Tuesday. The first is my mother-in-law and her partner, who when they received their invites, couldn't wait to show everyone. They've contributed to a lot of charity work over the past, and it's about time a greater appreciation was shown.

And the second is our very own Farva - Pete Redstone, and his wife. He, too, has contributed towards a lot of charity work, and being a Councillor, has dedicated alot of his time and effort to the good of his community. Obviously he is looked upon as a person of great importance, and someone who will like cucumber sandwiches. In the office, nothing much changes. He is respected and loved by everyone here, but I have to say I think he prefers burnt toast as opposed to cucumber sandwiches.

So, you never know, Gridstop Ltd, aka, Cybercheckout, may receive the Royal Seal of Approval. Either that or we'll all find ourselves being publically beheaded. But on a more serious note, I just hope Farva doesn't develop that royal wave.

PS: Should my in-laws and boss meet over a cucumber sandwich and a china mug of tea, I just want to say "It's not true! It wasn't me! And I am sweet and innocent!"


Monday, 13 July 2009

Buzzing New Tents . . .

My apologies to all readers out there for the fact that there was no blog on Friday. We had a very busy day . . . out of the office.

Our shipment of brand new tents have arrived and are, as we speak, being loaded onto our website.

We spent the day taking advantage of the sun, and putting one of each up in a colleague's rather large garden. It was great team work, putting them up, taking photos, videoing them, testing them, and then taking them back down again. This batch is far better than our original tents (not that there's anything wrong with them anyway) but they have sewn-in ground sheets, colour coded poles and easy to follow instruction, luminous guy ropes so people don't trip over them in the dark, and . . . wait for it . . . the best comes last . . . our brand and website printed on the side. I think they're great.

Just like our last team-building day where tents were involved, the day was a success - but we did start to lag a touch towards the end. We got all the tents up, down and put away before the day was out, had a slight laugh during, and also managed to employ a few new members of staff to help us with our job . . . however, it was soon obvious that their minds were not fully on the task at hand.

Although, I do have a confession. I murdered a bee. It wasn't my fault! He was on my jumper when I picked it up and he stung my hand. By the time we acquainted ourselves he was half dead . . . poor thing. I couldn't sleep all night through guilt!

I called him Eric. 'Eric the half a Bee . . .' and this is dedicated to him:

A one... two-- A one... two... three... four...
Half a bee, philosophically,
Must, ipso facto, half not be.
But half the bee has got to be
Vis a vis, its entity. D'you see?

But can a bee be said to be
Or not to be an entire bee
When half the bee is not a bee
Due to some ancient injury? . . .

My thanks to the Monty Python clan for their thoughtful song in memory of my little Eric.

But seriously, check out our new tents!

D. Ilott

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Driving Miss Daisy . . .

Well, my time is drawing ever closer. For those who have no idea what is going on, allow me to enlighten you. I take my driving test next week, and I'm not scared one little bit . . . honest.

I feel proud of where I am today. Just think, a little while back I didn't even know how to start a car, and now I almost own a full UK driving licence - that's if I pass. If I don't then it's just not meant to be at the moment and I'll hold my head in shame. It's a big step for me, a huge achievement. For most of the staff here it's old-school and boring, but I'm chuffed every time I park the car straight! I can't help it! I'm a proud person.

However, when I first started taking lessons, I wasn't technically a stranger to the `rules of the road`. Most of it is down to common sense, but being part of a family with a long line of lorry drivers, you do tend to pick things up quickly. Having stowed away in their cabs numerous times to go off gallivanting around the country, I've seen some pretty funny things on our good ol' British highways, and let me tell you, there are more than a few idiots out there.

I respect lorry drivers. I know most of you huff at them, and with reason, but without them everything would technically come to a stand still. Who would deliver all the goods to businesses around the country, and then who would ship the items that you buy off the Internet to your door?

But there's one thing I've learnt through all this - you don't mess with these boys! They're a driving-force among their own, and it's clearly obvious that they're bigger than you. With the immense driving power behind them, you'll only end up worse off. And who knows, one day I may be in control of a forty-foot Volvo Globetrotter. That'll definitely be a day to give up driving altogether . . .

Keep on trucking . . .

D. Ilott

Monday, 6 July 2009

Office v's Warehouse . . .

More shenanigans . . .

We had another team building day on Sunday, only this time our warehouse people from up north were involved too. Seeing as they are based roughly a hundred miles away in a warehouse jam packed with our products, we don't get to see them very often. They are lovely people up there, and because most of the business happens down here, sometimes I feel our warehouse staff are somewhat over-looked and under-appreciated.

Of course they're not. Far from it! We appreciate the work they do for us very much, and it can't be easy putting up with the amount of stress and hassle we throw their way. Cybercheckout couldn't be if it were not for them. And we also appreciate what they did for us this weekend.

We went `narrow boating` on the Amazon Rivers of Leicester, and a good time was had all round. There was food and drink (perhaps a bit too much drink), and two narrow boats full of Cybercheckout crew, terrorizing the canals. Luckily no one fell in, although there were a few near misses (shame). Our plan was, if anyone did fall in then we would leave them and pick them up on our way back - if they survived the wilds of the Leicester waters, that was. We saw all sorts lurking in the depth below the boat. We saw fish, birds, crocodiles, sharks, Moby Dick's whale, and some even claimed they saw the Loch Ness Monster - or maybe that was just evidence of too much drink . . . `hiccup` . . .

But anyway, the aim of the day was to get to know each other a bit more personally, to develop relations between office and warehouse staff, and to put faces to the voices we hear over the phone. By doing this we will work much better with each other, strengthening the team that we've built, and thus being able to provide you, the customer, a much higher level of service.

If I remember rightly, I think it was a success . . . Hiccup . . .

D. Ilott

Friday, 3 July 2009

Rise of the Gazebos . . .

In light of the recent heatwave . . .
A tale set in a hot, not too distant future . . . (maybe even this weekend)

No one knows when it actually happened. No one can pinpoint the exact moment in time when things started to change, but it happened. The warnings that were given on the news and printed in newspaper's across the country were completely ignored. All the advice on how to take care of yourself and others were classed as foolish and unnecessary dribble. No one cared. It was a heatwave. They just concentrated on the fun they could have in the sun.

The first signs of attack were told by the plants. In the height of July, the green leaves turned brown and limp. The ground become baked and everything died in the staggering heat. But still this was over-looked. The change was taking place right before our very eyes, and no one noticed, and nothing was done to prevent it. Life was ignorant back then.

By the time help arrived, it was too late. The sun's rays scorched everything it could. Vengeance was its way, and you couldn't fight against it. A Resistance grew, with a few, brave people wanting to overcome the blistering heat, but it was useless. All plans were torn apart by the sun, and the future looked bleak . . . until they rose.

From where they came was a mystery, but one thing was certain. They withstood the attack. The sun pelted us with its intense heat, its aim to destroy everything wearing less than a factor 50, but they survived. In fact, they did more than just survive. They thrived.

More and more arrived, standing sturdy and strong upon four legs, and soon we discovered that we could use the shade that they provided. It was as if they had been sent to save the human race from incineration, and we were thankful. With these came hope . . .

I've seen the future . . .

I'm buying a Gazebo . . .

A rather warm D. Ilott

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

It's like a HEATWAVE.....

The weather predicts a heatwave this week, with temperatures set to rise to 32degrees.

In other words, it's going to be hot, hot, HOT!!!

They've issued warnings on how to keep cool, and what to do should you become too warm - because us Brits need it. We're not used to this hot weather. In fact, most of us have probably forgotten what it's like to have sweltering temperatures. We seldom get it.

And of course, who follows rules. You'll probably do exactly what everyone else will do when they get spare time and nice weather . . . go in the garden and enjoy. As you know, we sell many things that can entertain you in the garden. We sell numerous pools that you can use to keep you cool in the sun, we sell gazebos if you want to enjoy the great outdoors but stay away from the sun's rays, AND we also sell BBQ's, did you know that?

We have, just landed into the docks and soon to go on sale, a brand new bbq. Check it out! It's swish-swoo with sausages and burgers on top . . . okay, and what the hell, chuck on a few kebabs, a few steaks, bacon, and a few bbq'd peppers whilst you're at it.

This means you can continue in your garden all through the evening too. What a a glorious idea! Just don't set anything alight . . .

And remember, be sensible in the sun . . . (God, I'm sounding like my mum!)

D. Ilott