The Anonymous Widower


Just heard the CEO of Nrdpresso defending his product, where seventy-two percent of the product goes into landfill.


My tea-bag goes straight into the food composting bin!

So much more environmentally-friendly!

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , , | 3 Comments

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.


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.


  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

Leon Goes Posh!

I took this picture in the Leon Restaurant on Moorgate yesterday, where I often go for breakfast.

I’m not a lover of plastic cups and in that restaurant, I can have a big mug of tea with my gluten-free full English in a pot!

As you can see, those who don’t like plastic cups or mugs  sized for builders, can now have their beverage in a real cup and with a posh saucer.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Bean About Town

I liked this name when I saw it on a coffee stall outside Kentish Town station.

I also noted that the stall was selling the mandarin and chocolate chip gluten-free cake.

I’d have had some, but I had just had breakfast.

When I’m in the area I’ll check them out properly.

April 8, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment

A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5

The Heathrow Pod I talked about in An Innovative Scheme For A Rail Link To Glasgow Airport, just had to be seen, so when I found myself at West Drayton station and a 350 bus arrived with Heathrow Terminal 5 on the front, I just had to take it.

I got on the top deck and took these pictures, followed by others when I arrived at the Terminal.

Many of these pictures of the system were taken from the Cafe Nero on the Departures Level of Terminal 5. This cafe is a good place to meet someone, as the views are good if you have to wait.

I got a good view of the Heathrow Pod, but because of all the steel-work in the way, getting a good photo was not easy.

A few points about the Heathrow Pod.

  • It appears that both carriageways of the system are bi-directional.
  • The developer’s web site is here.
  • The official web site is here.
  • The most interesting comment was from a member of British Airways ground staff, who said that her kids always want to use it.
  • BAA has a stake in the company that makes them.
  • What I saw is probably a restricted system designed to be as reliable as possible.

Here’s a video

Watching the video and reading about the pods, I suspect they are best described as self-driving cars, that run on a restricted network of roads, which are described as guideways.

But the most interesting snippet is this from the developer’s web site, about a proposal for a new PRT system at Heathrow.

In May 2013 Heathrow Airport Limited announced as part of its draft five year (2014-2019) master plan that it intended to use the PRT system to connect terminal 2 and terminal 3 to their respective business car parks. The proposal was not included in the final plan due to spending priority given to other capital projects and has been deferred.

There have been suggestions that they will extend the service throughout the airport and to nearby hotels using 400 pods.

I’ve read somewhere, that connecting to Kingston-on-Thames is in their sights.

This is perhaps not so fanciful as you think. Look at this Google Map of the Western end of Runway 09L at Heathrow Airport.

The Western End Of Runway 09L At Heathrow

The Western End Of Runway 09L At Heathrow

If you can’t quite distinguish the Heathrow Pod, which is the narrow line snaking its way across in front of the runway, here’s an enlarged view of the Heathrow Pod on the Northern side of the runway.

The Car Park End Of The Heathrow Pod

The Car Park End Of The Heathrow Pod

And here’s another on the Southern side.

The Terminal 5 End Of The Heathrow Pod

The Terminal 5 End Of The Heathrow Pod

The Expansion Of Heathrow Airport

Looking at these Google Maps and applying my devious mind to the Heathrow Pod, I am coming to some conclusions about the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

  • Pollution caused by traffic is a big problem around Heathrow. By developing existing and future train services and an extensive Heathrow Pod system serving hotels and car parks, all cars, taxis and buses could be removed to a sensible distance from the Airport.
  • In the Heathrow Hub proposal for expansion of the Airport, there is a 650 metre gap between the two portions of the Northern runway. This gap would allow the ILS for the Eastern runway to remain in place and so the approach to this runway would probably be identical to what it is now.
  • I suspect the runway gap would also allow the Heathrow Pod to remain in its current place. But that would not be as tricky to move as the ILS. Or as safety-critical!
  • The Heathrow Pod system has charisma in digger-buckets.

I feel that an expanded Heathrow Pod could just swing the government to back Heathrow Hub, rather than totally new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick.

The Ultimate Heathrow Pod System

After a drink, I’ve let my mind race ahead.

  • Heathrow Pod stations could be placed in all hotels, car parks and train/bus stations ringing Heathrow, up to perhaps five or even ten miles away.
  • Passengers who are flying out, could scan their boarding pass and passport in the pod.
  • The pod would take you to the appropriate holding area for your flight.
  • Or if you failed the checks to an appropriate area for further checking.
  • Passengers who are flying in, would use the touch-screen terminal to tell their pod where to go.
  • A quick scan of your parking ticket could take you to the station nearest to your car.

I’ve always been sceptical about driver-less cars, but these versions which are all identical running on a fixed and limited network of guide-ways could be another matter.

A Sad Footnote

The driving force behind the system would appear to be Martin Lowson.

Sadly he died in 2013.



October 21, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

A Cafe That Doesn’t Take Cash

IKEA have opened a cafe in Shoreditch High Street, which is just a short walk from the station of the same name.

IKEA Cafe, Shoreditch

IKEA Cafe, Shoreditch

I was a bit disappointed, as the gluten-free options were non-existent and it didn’t take cash.

So I had a small cappuccino in a paper cup and left to get the train home.

I won’t be bothering to go again!

September 15, 2016 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment

Coffee And Seats At Manchester Victoria

The upgrade at Manchester Victoria station is approaching completion and as I passed through yesterday, the refreshment room was open and their were extra chairs everywhere in a Northern Rail promotion.

It’s just a pity that the coffee shop, just had to be those tax-avoiders; Starbucks.

May 18, 2015 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A New Route To Legal Services

I passed this cafe in Hampstead yesterday on Haverstock Hill.

A New Route To Legal Services

A New Route To Legal Services

I suppose that The Legal Cafe might make a sensible profit on the coffee and cakes.

March 12, 2015 Posted by | Food, World | , | Leave a comment

A Board Outside The Haggerston Espresso Room

I’ve used the Haggerston Espresso Room several times, as it’s near to my doctor’s surgery and it serves decent coffee and tea.

The pictures show both sides of the board that was outside.

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment

Stourbridge And The Parry People Mover

I went to Stourbridge to see the Parry People Mover that is used on the branch line between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town.

But as the pictures show, I also found a well-thought-out solution to the problem of how do you create an integrated transport hub in a town.

It was one of the first bus interchanges I’ve found outside London, where if you’d been dropped to get to X, you could have found the way without asking anybody.

One thing the pictures don’t show, is that on both trips the number of people on the train was more than you generally see on the Class 153 between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

I would also recommend the Coffee Collective. It is a short walk from the bus station and is obvious, when you exit the subway.

But having ridden in the Parry People Mover or Class 139, what do I think of it?

The first thing I would say, is that if you look at the pictures, you’ll see it is a genuine step-free entrance and exit. A lady pushed a baby in a buggy into the people mover, when I travelled, and it was as easy as any train I’ve ever seen.

You could say, wouldn’t it be cheaper to use a quality bus at Stourbridge to link Stourbridge Junction with the bus station in the town. Obviously, London Midland hasn’t done this. But, when they did this in the past, they brought back the Class 153, so perhaps this connecting train is a great traffic generator for services to Birmingham.

Other than that, it just did what you would expect a train would do and transported the around twenty passengers to the other station without fuss. The vehicle had a feel somewhat like the Docklands Light Railway, although it was a lot smaller.

As it is powered by a flywheel driven by a small internal combustion engine, this type of vehicles could have a range issue, but it won’t be as severe as that of a battery-powered one. In this section on the future of the Class 139 in Wikipedia, this is said.

This will entail an articulated unit, with a pair of PPM60 variants at either end of a fixed passenger unit—the whole unit will be capable of accommodating up to 220 passengers and travelling at up to 60 miles per hour (100 km/h) on railways or 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) on tramways.

If a double vehicle could move even 100 passengers over a distance of fifteen miles, then the branch line I know best; Ipswich to Felixstowe, could be run by such a people mover. It probably isn’t much slower than the Class 153, so it shouldn’t give too many problems with scheduling amongst the freight trains.

Two vehicles would probably be needed for the line, but it would seem likely that the frequency of passenger trains could be increased.

A special version of the vehicle could be designed for tourist branch lines such as the one at St. Ives, with space for bicycles.

How much extra traffic would shiny new trains, running more often, generate?

Having seen this first use of a simple energy-efficient people mover, I think that in a few years time, vehicles based on similar principles will become commonplace. Just as London’s new Routemaster, has shown that buses should be hybrid with flat floors and lots of entrances/exits, we will see a series of rail vehicles, where flywheels or batteries are used to create efficient hybrid drive systems and stylish modern vehicles sized to the traffic.

Eventually, I think we’ll see this type of train on a branch like Romford to Upminster, which is only about six kilometres long and has a speed limit of only 30 mph. If they are the only traffic on such a branch, this would remove the need for electrification. You probably wouldn’t take it down, but you’d switch it off. On the other hand this would make it easier to nick!

But because this type of vehicle doesn’t need electrification or other expensive infrastructure, it also opens up the possibility of adding new services and even lines. Go back to Felixstowe. The town used to have a station at Felixstowe Beach, which is close to the port and still served by the Felixstowe branch. It might at some point be thought to be a good idea to restart this service. It would be so much easier to do this with a vehicle like a Class 139 or a successor.

There are also quite a few heritage and freight-only branch lines connected to the main UK rail network. Could vehicles like this be used to run commercial services to connect passengers to the network? It would all depend on the branch line, but some companies are looking at possibilities.

Once one scheme is successfully up and running, I feel others will quickly follow.




November 20, 2014 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments