The Anonymous Widower

Japanese Car Rental Firms Discover New Trend Of Renting Vehicles For A Nap Or Quiet Lunch

The title of this post is the same as that of this story on The World News.

It was flagged up first on BBC Breakfast.

But is it any difference to my behaviour?

I generally get up, do all my daily chores and have a bath.

Then, I’ll go out about nine and take an Overground train or a bus to somewhere quiet for breakfast.

I will sometimes go as far as Richmond for breakfast in Leon.

And if the weather is hot like is it is now, I might even just sit on an air-conditioned train and read my paper or watch the news on my phone, stopping where I fancy for a coffee or a drink.

All I need to ensure, is that at some point, I stop off at a Marks and Spencer to get the food I need for supper.

Courtesy of my Freedom Pass, all this travel costs me a big fat zilch.

I call it Freedoming.

Today, though I’m roaming a bit further; Manchester. Hopefully, I’ll get a ride in one of the new Class 195 trains to Manchester Airport.

 

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 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.

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

Freedoming – Freeport Braintree Shopping Centre

Freeport Braintree has its own Braintree Freeport station.

Judging by my journey today, it is not as successful as Bicester Village and it hasn’t been discovered by the Chinese Shopping Army.

But I was able to get there for £7.65 by buying a ticket with my Senior Railcard from the Freedom Pass forward operating base of Shenfield station.

I should say, you can get to Shenfield station at any time with a Freedom Pass, but you must use TfL services like TfL Rail, or buy an extension ticket from Zone 6.

These pictures show the Shopping Centre.

It didn’t seem to be as busy as I expected for a Bank Holiday Monday, but the Centre is very typical of this type of shopping attration.

Do they come in flatpacks from IKEA?

Passenger numbers for stations in the area in 2016-2017 were as follows.

  • Braintree – 788,000
  • Braintree Freeport – 82,698
  • Cressing – 33,176
  • White Notley – 10,552
  • Witham – 2,344,000

Bicester Village station by comparison gets 1,311,000 passengers.

Would More Trains Help?

The Braintree Freeport station only gets one train in each direction per hour.

Would more trains help?

Network Rail are looking at the possibility of a passing loop at Cressing, which would allow a doubling of frequency.

But if the current trains aren’t that busy on one of the premium hopping days of the year, I have my doubts.

Will The New Trains Help?

New trains often do help increase visitors to a town, city or attraction.

But I do wonder if a lot of the customers come from the North of Braintree and to get there from the major towns and cities of Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich means a change of train at Witham, where the main East Anglian expresses don’t stop.

So they drive! Or take the train to London!

Conclusion

The train passenger statistics tell the truth and they should be watched.

If they rise substantially and the new trains fill up, then perhaps that passing loop at Cressing should be built!

 

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Freedoming – Hertford East Station

Getting to Hertford East station cost me £5.80.

Wikipedia says this about the station.

The station was listed in 1974 as a Grade II* listed building; in 1996 the buffer stop lights on platform one were separately listed in their own right.

Sadly, I didn’t photograph the buffer stops.

Capacity Of The Station

One of my reasons for going to Hertford East station was to look at the capacity of the station.

I always feel that a single platform can handle four trains per hour (tph), as this regularly happens on the Overground.

So Hertford East station should be able to handle at least four tph.

But unfortunately, there is a single platform station at Ware on the way to the West Anglia Main Line.

So this probably explains why Hertford East doesn’t have a four tph service to London.

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Freedoming – Bebo Cafe In Hertford

I had gone to Hertford East station to take a few photographs of the West Anglia Main Line on the way and check a few things.

Finding myself in a town, I only knew vaguely, I walked towards the centre and found the Bebo Cafe.

It describes itself as a Gourmet Cafe and Coffee … on its incomplete web site.

I think it fills that bill.

Especially, as the very nice sandwich I had, was made on gluten-free bread.

I shall return!

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Freedoming

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been asked out to lunch, coffee or a drink by several old and new friends, who live in towns and cities outside of London’s Zone 6 boundary.

I have also visited several places for my own purposes.

The Zone 6 boundary is important, as I can travel there using my Freedom Pass.

So to get to these towns, I need to buy an extension ticket from the Zone 6 boundary.

Some of these are extremely good value if you use a Senior Railcard,

  • Bishops Stortford – £7.00
  • Hertford East – £5.80
  • Uckfield – £9.25
  • Woking – £5.35

These prices are all for Off Peak Day Returns.

What Are My Objectives?

I am not really sure at the moment, but I do like travel, good food, visiting museums and galleries, looking at old and modern engineering.

So it may just be a load of old rubbish, but it will also be fun!

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment