The Anonymous Widower

The London Cablet

I took these pictures outside Carluccio’s in Smithfield.

It is called the London Cablet.

September 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A Plaintiff Plea On Wake Up To Money

I regularly listen to Wake Up to Money on BBC Radio 5 Live.

One morning, they were talking to Kentucky Fried Chicken about their new vegan burgers. As a coeliac, I say Yuck! to that!

Somebody else texted the program and said something like.

I’m a coeliac, how about more gluten-free food.

In fact it was a bad week for me as a coeliac last week.

  • I found Beyond Bread had closed on Upper Street.
  • Le Petite Bretagne  closed in Dalston.
  • I spent about twenty minutes looking for a coffee and a gluten-free cake in Liverpool Street.

All this passion for vegan and vegetarian food, is marginalising those like me, who have to avoid gluten.

I’ve still got a couple of cafes in Dalston, where this is possible and I could always go to M & S and take a cake home.

But I refuse to buy an expensive coffee maker.

After Liverpool Street, I ended up in Leon in Moorgate.

Note the excellent gluten-free cake and the posh cup and saucer.

Note, that because of my stroke, I like a proper china cup or mug

I tend to avoid American-owned chains like Costa and Starbucks, as some American gluten-free practices are suspect to say the least. I used to like Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate, but now I believe it uses addictive wheat-derived glucose, I wouldn’t dare touch it.

As I said finding good cafes and restaurants that do gluten free well is becoming more difficult.

  • Carluccio’s is creaking and many that I used regularly like Glasgow, Islington, Liverpool and Westfield have closed.
  • Pattiserie Valerie is struggling and has closed a lot of outlets.
  • Jamie’s Italian has gone bust.
  • If I go a bit upmarket, there is Bill’s and Cote, but they are not ideal for a fast pit-stop.

As last week, I suspect that most coeliacs hope that Leon or others following their relaxed, quirky and customer and diet-friendly model, prosper.

Freedoming

These days many pensioners like me, get free public transport in their local area.

Londoners like me, get a Freedom Pass, which gives free buses, Underground, Overground, trams and trains, within the M25.

I will often get up, look at the BBC London News, the weather and other sources. I may then decide to go to Canary Wharf, Richmond ir wherever  to have a walk, see an exhibition or whatever.

London is an amazing cornucopia of delights, which is a sentiment echoed by others who live close to our other great cities.

Free public transport enables this lifestyle.

I think the various cafe and restaurant chains can tap into this lifestyle, as often one of the reason to go to a place is to have a good meal or a drinki.

If like me, you like particular chains, I believe that their web sites could be an important part in planning how to waste a few hours.

Suppose, their web site  had the following features.

  • A simple list of all their cafes and restaurant, with st most a short description like “Close to Pierhead”
  • The ability to sign up to a simple e-mail alert of new openings and closures. Note the word simple!

I believe that if I got a message saying a chain had opened in say Kingston, it might prompt me to go and have a walk and perhaps lunch, with a friend I haven’t seen for years.

Note.

  1. Lists are much better than maps, if you don’t know the area.
  2. Companies are relying too much on apps, which are OK for finding places near where you are, but are useless, if you are using the cafe or restaurant, as the resewn to go or the starting point for an explore.
  3. I believe Carluccio’s troubles started, when they abandoned their list on their web site. I told them so in strong terms.

Patteriserie Valerie has an excellent list.

 

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Orchestra Pit At Waterloo Station – 14th March 2019

These pictures show the area nicknamed the orchestra pit at Waterloo station.

It looks like it could be open soon!

Although Network Rail and their pandering to the terrible tastes of the average rail traveller, this are will probably filled with gluten-rich junk food.

I’d like to see a Leon added to Waterloo, as they already have two Marks and Spencers and a Carluccio’s.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Ruined Saturday Mornings!

Since, I moved to Dalston in 2010, my Saturday morning routine has been something like this.

  • Take a 30 Bus to St. Mary’s Church.
  • Visit the Carluccio’s and have a gluten-free breakfast, like a full English or an eggs benedict.
  • Visit Waitrose for half my shopping.
  • Visit Marks and Spencer for my gluten-free shopping.

But things have changed.

Egyptian Buses On Route 30

A few weeks ago, new buses started on route 30.

I don’t use them, except as a last resort.

They were built in Egypt. Now, I’ve nothing against Egyptians or their country, but we make very good buses in this country and we should have British buses for British bottoms!

The new company running the route seems to not provide the same frequency anyway, so catching a 30 bus, would often involve a longer wait.

Carluccio’s Has Closed

But the need to take a 30 bus decreased, a few weeks ago, when Carluccio’s in Islington closed.

As there is no other place in Islington to get a quick gluten-free breakfast, that put a big hole in my Saturday mornings. I could go to Bill’s or Cote, but they take a lot longer and are much more expensive.

Waitrose

Waitrose too, are annoying me.

They have redone their self-service tills and they are useless for my way of shopping.

I have a large reusable M & S bag, that folds into my man-bag and although it was fine for their original tills, it’s too big for their new tills.

So to shop in Waitrose, I put the bag in the trolley, load my purchases onto the till without a bag and then after payment move them into my shopping bag. How inefficient is that?

I now limit my purchases at Waitrose by using the much-more customer friendly Sainsburys next door.

Anyway, Sainsburys have a much better gluten-free selection, than the terrible range in Waitrose, where no care is taken to make ranges of foods like sausages and burgers gluten-free.

In fact, I wouldn’t trust Waitrose on their allergen philosophy. The labelling might be correct, but it’s all about how different product types and ranges are handled.

You wouldn’t shop in Waitrose if you were a family with one member who was coeliac or gluten-free!

Marks And Spencer

Marks and Spencer at the Angel carry on as normal, as they have done since my paternal grandmother shopped there ibefore the First World War and, when C and I used to shop there in the 1970s.

But they have competition in that I am ringed by others of their stores in Dalston, Finsbury Pavement, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and London Bridge.

Yesterday, I ate breakfast in Leon at Kings Cross and then roamed the shops before doing my Saturday shopping in their Finsbury Pavement store. That one is now opening on Saturdays and I can get two buses directly from the store to the zebra crossing by my house.

Conclusion

All of these factors are combining to make me use Islington less.

What the Angel needs is a Leon, so I can have a fast gluten-free breakfast on the go.

One of the great things about breakfast in Leon, is that there is often time and space to layout your tabloid-sized newspaper and eat a leisurely breakfast.

 

November 18, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Carluccio’s Goes Posh

Not my words, but that of the waiter.

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It was a good quick breakfast.

The tea-pot certainly solves the dreaded tea-bag problem.

January 3, 2017 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

It Was Beautifully Cold Outside Carluccio’s In Waterloo

I don’t mind the cold and I ate breakfast virtually by myself outside on the balcony at Carluccio’s in Waterloo.

To be fair, staff said that it was cold and would I like to be inside. But I wanted to watch the destination board and I was wearing my thick Puffa coat!

January 4, 2015 Posted by | Food, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Over The River For A Tea And An Ice Cream

I walked over the footbridge on Fulham Railway Bridge, where I got a of tea and an icre cream in the Carluccio’s on the south bank.

It’s rather a large cafe and it sits right on the river. Their web site describes it like this.

Located on the riverfront, east of Putney Bridge and a minute from the High Street, the caffé boasts a huge riverfront terrace for sunny days.

I wouldn’t disagree and it would be a good pit stop on a walk by the river in the area. Perhaps, you might start at Putney Bridge station and walk across the railway bridge.

August 7, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

To The Football At Huddersfield

I arrived in Manchester on my trip from Southport at Piccadilly and had the long walk from Platform 13 to the main concourse to get the tram to my hotel. There are plans to put another two platforms here, so careful design must be used to avoid worsening a nightmare interchange.

I had a bath and then returned to Piccadilly for supper in Carluccio’s. This branch seems to be much faster than most and I’ve not missed a train yet there, due to a slow meal.

I nearly did this time though, as the next Huddersfield train left at 18:11 and I didn’t get to Platform 13 until 18:15.  But the crowded train was late!

I was in my seat half-an-hour before the match started.

Ipswich won 2-0 and I was able to catch the 22:00 train back to Manchester, where I had a non-alcoholic nightcap in Carluccio’s.

I suspect that Piccadilly needs almost to create a new concourse linking the dreaded Platforms 13 and 14 and the proposed two new ones to the lines in the main station, at the far end of the station.

Let’s hope some of the UK’s best architects are working on creating a station fit for the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first!

April 8, 2014 Posted by | Food, Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Pedestrian-Unfriendly City

I mentioned to a friend, who lives near Milton Keynes, that I might come up to see the new electric buses in the city. They suggested I come up and take one of the new buses to Bletchley Bus Station, where they would pick me up.

I got a return ticket on London Midland to Milton Keynes Central for just £9.55 for a journey that takes thirty-five minutes each way. Which I didn’t think was bad value.

There was information at the station about the buses, but compared to London, it wasn’t of the highest quality.

Clear But Fairly Useless Bus Information

Clear But Fairly Useless Bus Information

Although, the bus stand looked to be all new.

A New Bus Station

A New Bus Station

But it was all very draughty and after waiting for twenty minutes, I didn’t see any of the new wireless electric buses going to Bletchley.

A New Electric Bus

A New Electric Bus

Although a couple did pass without stopping.

Then my friend sent me a text to say, that they’d had a breakdown and when the AA came, they’d meet me in the central shopping in the city. There didn’t seem to be clear instructions about the best bus to get to the centrre and as it was a sunny, but cold day, I decided to walk, especially, as I could see a solitary lith with a map by the station.

A Solitary Lith In Milton Keynes

A Solitary Lith In Milton Keynes

The lith said that it would be about a fifteen minute walk, so I set off for the centre.  I didn’t pass any other direction signs or liths and eventually, I had to resort to the age-old device of asking a passer-by. I then got another message from my friend, who was still waiting for the AA.  A phone call later and we decided, we’ll meet another day.

I carried on walking and found the shopping centre, where I knew there was a Carluccio’s, so at least I could have lunch before returning. Carluccio’s cafes are usually fairly obvious with their blue canopies, but could I find it? Of course not! I couldn’t even find a directory in the shopping centre, giving any useful information. It was a new experience for me, to find a shopping centre without instructions to find your favourite shop. So I decided to go back to London and took a sign pointing to a bus station. But the dreadful place had one more surprise in store for me.  To get to the buses, I had to walk into the sun and didn’t see this beautifully camouflaged stone seat, as my eyesight isn’t a hundred percent, in certain circumstances.

A Camouflaged Stone Seat

A Camouflaged Stone Seat

I didn’t see it at all and it rapped me hard across both knees.

The Damage To My Left Leg

The Damage To My Left Leg

The picture shows the damage on my left leg.

When will those that design our pavements realise that not everyone is fit with perfect eyesight?

I wonder if a personal injury lawyer, would like to take on my case.

And then of course, there was no simple way to find which bus you should take to get back to the station.

When I got back to the station, I was wrongly informed, which was the next London Midland train back to London, so I had to wait for twenty minutes on a cold windy station with no shelter.

I shall never return to the most pedestrian-unfriendly city, I’ve found on my travels.  And as my friend will testify, they can’t even get the breakdown service for the cars that they expect everybody to use, correct!

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

A Very Good Football Trip

As I said here, my trip to Blackpool, yesterday, started well at Kings Cross.

As I had a few minutes before the Glasgow train to Preston, I had time to visit the Virgin First Class lounge at Euston. I think some companies charge extra for the lounge if you’re on a cheap ticket or close it altogether at weekends, but Virgin don’t seem to penny pinch like that at Euston.

The train was on time to Preston, but it did look very much like rain.

Approaching Preston

Approaching Preston

As I had booked to Blackpool North station, which is a walk of three kilometres to the ground, I asked if I could use my ticket to Blackpool South station, which is only about eight hundred metres.  I was informed that there would be no problem by someone from Northern Rail! I certainly hadn’t found a Jobsworth.

The guy on the train gave the same story and I arrived at the station to walk to Bloomfield Road.

Walking To Bloomfield Road

Walking To Bloomfield Road

I made it in plenty of time, walking in the sun, although the weather was threatening.

It really started to rain, just as I got under cover in my seat.

The match was a topsy-turvy affair, with Ipswich winning with the odd goal in five, scored in stoppage time. Ipswich were one-nil down at half-time, so unusually for a manager, Mick McCarthy threw caution to the wind and played with four forwards across the field.

He got the result all the Ipswich fans wanted and you do wonder, if he hasn’t found the best way to use the talent he has available.

I must admit, I did look at the two Blackpool goals last night on the BBC and I can’t help feeling that if Cresswell and Smith had been playing, one or both of these goals might not have been scored.

In the end the Ipswich fans all went about their journeys home happy with the result, so the two Blackpool goals didn’t matter.

As it connects better to the London trains, I decided to do the long walk to Blackpool North station. However, I didn’t have to walk all the way, as I found a 14 bus, that went near the station. There was the usual silly ticketing palaver, you get with a bus pass outside London and I do wonder if bus companies have shares in those that produce ticket paper.

I got a crowded train to Preston fairly easily, but it arrived there, just as a Euston train was departing. A Virgin employee told me, I had an hour to wait, but as I had an Off-Peak ticket I could take any train.  I then realised, it would be nice to eat something, so as a Manchester Piccadilly train was alongside, a gluten-free supper in Carluccio’s at Piccadilly station beckoned. I could then take one of the more numerous trains to London. The Virgin also told me, that the Manchester to London trains weren’t busy, as City and United weren’t playing.

Where had all the Jobsworths gone?

I had my supper in Carluccio’s at a fast pace and made the 19:35 train with ease.  I had intended to upgrade to First, but as I got four seats and a table to myself in Stearage, I didn’t bother. In fact the fifteen pound upgrade, I didn’t buy, virtually paid for my meal in Carluccio’s.

As I’d arrived in Piccadilly virtually dead on seven, I’d ordered, waited for and eaten my meal in about half-an-hour, whilst checking the news and the football results on the excellent wi-fi. So with luck, I’d be able to go straight home from Euston and catch the start of Match of the Day.

I did! It had been a very good trip.

In a few years time, going from London to Blackpool will be a lot easier, as they are electrifying the line from Preston, as part of the major electrification between Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. It has also been stated that this will mean a tour-hourly service of faster electric trains to and from London. But as I’ll still have the problem of getting a decent gluten-free meal on the way down, but as it will be a greatly improved service from Blackpool to Manchester Piccadilly, I can still go via Manchester and have a decent meal, whilst changing trains.

In fact, if like I did, you have a ticket from Blackpool North to London, you will have several stations, where you can change onto a fast train to London, if you just missed a direct train and didn’t want to wait two hours. You could change at Preston, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool or even Wigan North Western.

I can’t help but feel, that this long-awaited electrification is going to make a lot of difference to the whole of the triangle based on Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool.

It should have been done years ago!

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments