It is easy to judge a whole town by the service from just one person you deal with.
The person in the service station, for example, is chatty and friendly so you get a good feeling about the town from that experience.
But when someone decides to share their bad day, you quickly move on.
I have been away for a couple of days and have experienced both extremes of service.
I was at a hotel with a group of people and watched with a smile as the woman behind the bar dealt with a loud bloke who might have had one or two drinks too many. She chose her words carefully, smiled and was very pleasant as she turned him down his order for another drink, in a way that could not possibly have offended him.
One of my favourite features of Blenheim is the water spout on the Taylor River in front of Raupo Cafe.
It is simple but effective and adds interest to the area.
I have written about all this before.
But it hasn't been working for a while. Every time I go across the bridge above the spout I have been looking out to see if any water is shooting out yet.
Finally this week I fired off an email to the council to see what's wrong with it.
Last time I looked, it was about March. Or maybe April. I remember Easter.
But where has the rest of the year disappeared to? It is December 1 on Sunday. There are only 26 sleeps until Christmas, and Santa is appearing in Picton at the annual street parade.
When did all this happen?
It just slides right up on us. The weather gets warmer, the days get longer, the kids finish their exams and come home for the holidays but suddenly something twigs and you realise the days left in the year are very limited.
It hit me when I was reading the story in Marlborough Midweek leading up to the Picton parade. Somehow that brought things into focus. The calendars are still on November, but the big build-up to the end of the year has started.
It has been a week of change for us at the Express.
Actually, the week has been a culmination of change in a process that started months ago.
And it really goes further back still, but I won't go there.
Hopefully you've noticed the layout changes we've made to the paper, starting on Wednesday this week.
The most noticeable one is the new masthead. We've gone from the Old English font and broken out with a masthead that's more modern.
I'm one of those people who can't understand why the Government still allows people to waste their money celebrating a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London more than 400 years ago.
Everything about it is wrong.
I'm not completely against fireworks; I just prefer them in the right place at the right time and ignited by the right people.
The best time is major celebrations like New Year's Eve.
And I will accept that community events like the Lights Over Marlborough fundraiser in Blenheim on Saturday night also fall into my approved category.
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