The Anonymous Widower

Could I Survive Four Months Self-Isolation?

As I am over seventy, it is quite likely that if newspaper reports like this one in The Times, which is entitled Coronavirus: Millions Of Over-70s Will Be Told To Stay At Home For Four Months, prove to be true, I shall be spending at least four months, alone with my television, my books and the Internet.

These are a few thoughts.

How Does My House Get Cleaned?

When I moved into this house, I decided that I didn’t want to have anything to do with cleaning the house, so I hired a contract cleaning company, who come every Monday.

I also reduced my cleaning utensils to those that I would to clean up a spill.

  • A dustpan and brush
  • Kitchen roll
  • Washing-up liquid.
  • A portable Dyson vacuum cleaner.
  • A few sponges.

At least I don’t spill much.

How Do I Get My Clothes Washed?

My clothes washing arrangements may seem strange to some.

  • The cleaning company also looks after my bed-linen and changes it on Mondays.
  • Most of my clothes like underwear, shirts and jumpers are washed by a lady, who collects them from my door and brings them back a few days later.
  • I take trousers, jackets and suits to the dry cleaners.

Since my washing machine packed up about three months ago, I haven’t replaced it and I use a pair of new socks every three or four days. It’s cheaper than buying a new machine.

I can see problems arising, as my lady, who does the washing, is not in the first flush of youth or good health and may be told to self-isolate.

But I can afford to get more clothes delivered.

How Am I Placed For Home Deliveries?

Despite my front door virtually opening onto the street, I have problems with home deliveries.

  • Inevitably, they come when I’m out! But that won’t happen, if I’m confined to barracks!
  • But the major problem is that I share a post-code with the mews that runs down the back of my house and drivers relying on sat-navs inevitably end up in the mews. It happened last week and only because I’d given the company my home phone number, which the driver rang, did I get the parcel.

I should say, that most things that I need I collect from shops, because of the delivery problem, which inevitably means I have to collect it from a Post Office or depot a short or sometimes long distance away.

I Like A Daily Paper

I buy The Times most days and I also have an on-line subscription.

Being brought up in a print works, I like the feel of papers and as I do most of the puzzles in The Times every day, I don’t have to print them out. Not that I can print them out at the moment, as no-one can work out how to drive my printer from this terrible Microsoft Surface Pro Studio computer.

If anybody knows how to drive a HP LaserJet P1102w from one of these awful computers please get in touch. And if you are anywhere near London N1, there will be a beer waiting if the fridge or a boiling kettle, if you turn up.

I buy the paper from the shop round the corner, but I can’t find anybody to deliver one!

It sounds like there’s a business there to deliver papers to those, who the government insist are isolated in their own homes.

What About My Food?

At the present time, I shop most days and generally keep the following in the fridge.

  • Two bottles of milk; one in use and one full.
  • Some fish pate or M & S salmon parcels.
  • Several small pots of M & S Luxury Honey & Ginger yoghurt.
  • Three pots of cut fruit from M & S, which I usually eat at a rate of one a day. Sometimes with the yoghurt.
  • Benecol spread instead of butter.
  • Two or three ready meals.
  • Two packs of M & S gluten-free pasta, which has a two months life. I cook it with peas in a yoghurt sauce, with each pack giving two meals.
  • Three bottles of Adnams 0.5% beer from M & S. I’ve also got plenty of this in store.
  • Some eggs and cheese.

In various store cupboards, storage jars and bowls I also have the following.

  • Several bananas.
  • Lots of dried apricots
  • M & S gluten-free bread.
  • M & S gluten-free ginger snaps.
  • Plenty of tea bags.
  • Tins of sardines
  • Tins of baked beans,
  • M & S gluten-free granola, which I eat with yoghurt and apricots
  • M & S gluten-free porridge pots, which I eat with honey or strawberry jam.

I should say, that most days, I eat breakfast out either in Carluccio’s or Leon.

You will notice that I shop extensively in Marks and Spencer. But I have one only about five hundred metres away in Dalston and in Central London, you pass one of their food stores very regularly.

I can also go to their two larger stores at Finsbury Pavement or The Angel, if I am able to risk the bus.

  • It should be noted that I have strong connections to M & S at The Angel.
  • My paternal grandmother used to shop there before the First World War.
  • C and myself used to shop there in the early 1970s, when we lived in the Barbican.

There is also a Boots next door, where I get my prescription drugs, which was also used by my grandmother over a hundred years ago.

How Will I Get To The Doctors?

It’s walkable!

Conclusion

I think, that I’ll survive.

 

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Food, World | , , , , | 1 Comment

LEON Scraps China Cups Because Of COVID-19

LEON used to offer proper china mugs in their restaurants.

Not in every one, but in some that I use.

But not any more, as last week. they were using paper cups.

I was assured that as soon as they can the china mugs will return.

March 15, 2020 Posted by | Food | , | 1 Comment

The Northern City Line Must Almost Be At Capacity

Most Monday mornings, I go to LEON on Moorgate for breakfast.

I go to that branch, mainly because I can get a proper china mug for my tea and also because a cheery member of staff usually has what I want ready within a minute of my entering the store.

One day, I’ll confuse them by having something different! But then she looks the sort, who enjoys a joke!

To get to Moorgate station, I can take a bus, but I usually go via the Northern City Line from Essex Road station, as it’s quicker in the Peak and drops me in the right side of Moorgate for LEON.

Today, the train was very full and it looked like you’d have had trouble squeezing in any more.

Since the new Class 717 trains have been introduced ridership has grown and the trains are getting more crowded in the Peak. This is despite an 11% increase in capacity, compared to the older Class 313 trains.

Currently, there are the following Off Peak services into Moorgate station.

  • Four trains per hour (tph) – Welwyn Garden City
  • Four tph – Hertford North, Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage.

There are also extra services in the Peak.

Various improvements and developments will affect the number of passengers going to and from Moorgate.

Improvements To Stevenage Station

Stevenage station is a bottleneck on one leg of the services  of the Northern City Line to and from Moorgate station.

An additional platform with full step-free access, is being added to the station and should open this year, to terminate services from Moorgate station.

Currently, services that stop at Stevenage station, that are going North include.

  • One tph – LNER to Leeds or Harrogate.
  • One tph – LNER to Lincoln or York
  • Four tph – Thameslink to Cambridge.
  • Two tph – Thameslink to Peterborough.

These will be joined in Autumn 2021 by East Coast Trains to Edinburgh at a frequency of five trains per day.

I suspect a lot of passengers going between the North and Hertfordshire and Cambridge will change at Stevenage, rather than Kings Cross.

The works at Stevenage also give the impression, that they could handle more than the four tph, that run on the route.

Improvements To Highbury & Islington Station

Highbury & Islington station is going to get more escalators and step-free access to the four deep-level platforms at some point and this will surely attract more passengers to use both the Victoria and the Northern City Lines.

Frequency increases are also planned for the North and East London Lines, in the next year.

Will the Northern City Line be able to handle the extra passengers?

A Second Entrance At Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station is one of the constraints on even more trains on the ever-welcoming Dear Old Vicky and may have had money allocated for a second entrance with more escalators and much-needed lifts.

As I said with Highbury & Islington station, will the Northern City Line be able to handle the extra passengers?

Rebuilding Of Essex Road Station

I think that Essex Road station could be a good investment for a creative property developer.

  • The building has little if any architectural merit.
  • The location is convenient on a busy road Junction.
  • Large numbers of buses pass the station, but the positioning of bus stops could be improved.
  • The station needs step-free access.
  • A large number of flats could be built on the site, with good access to the station.
  • Car parking is terrible locally.

I could see this station being transformed.

But if it were to be improved with much better access, it would further increase the number of passengers using the services into Moorgate.

The Gospel Oak And Barking Line

If you are going between Barking and the West End, lots of passengers in the Peak seem to change to the Victoria Line at Blackhorse Road station and numbers doing this seems to have increased since the Gospel Oak and Barking Line was electrified and now, the route  has double the capacity it had before.

Also are more passengers needing the City walking across at Highbury & Islington station.

It should not be forgotten, that the Gospel Oak and Barking Line is being extended to Barking Riverside with a same platform interchange to c2c’s services to and from Grays.

An increase in frequency between Barking and Gospel Oak is also planned.

Developments on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will increase the number of passengers going to and from Moorgate station.

Crossrail

Consider.

  • The route between Moorgate and Highbury & Islington stations will become an important link between the Victoria Line and Crossrail, as there is no direct connection between the two lines.
  • The short route will also link the North London Line to Crossrail.
  • I suspect too,that passengers from Hertfordshire will go all the way to Moorgate for Crossrail.

In addition, when Crossrail opens, Moorgate station will be fully step-free with umpteen escalators and lifts.

Will there be enough capacity and services on the Northern City Line?

Conclusion

Rough calculations and my instinct suggest that there will need to be an increase of services into Moorgate station.

Currently, in the morning Peak, twelve tph or a train every five minutes run into Moorgate station.

  • This frequency is easily handled in a two platform station.
  • Lines with modern signalling on the London Underground can handle up to thirty-six tph in a two-platform station.
  • The route is double-track between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations, where the route splits into two.

Twenty or more tph could be run on this simple route, with modern signalling.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Toned Down Automatic Leon In Leeds Station

Leon have opened a new outlet in Leeds station.

It’s toned-down with an automatic order facility.

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Leon Has Smart-Looking Glasses For Gluten-Free Beer

I had lunch in Leon at Ludgate Circus.

It was only a chicken burger and fries, but I did have an Estrella Damm Daura.

It even came with a smart-looking Glass.

December 24, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , | 2 Comments

Top Class Service With A Smile

I only went into this busy Leon on Tottenham Court Road for a hot chocolate and a gluten-free cake.

As it takes a minute to make a hot chocolate, the young lady at the counter, suggested I sit down and she’d bring it over.

Which she did with a smile.

December 22, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , | 2 Comments

Rescued By Timpsons

Putting my boots back to go to the Football at around five, one of the laces gave up the ghost.

Timpsons? Surely, they could help.

But I would have to hurry, as it shut at six o’clock. I suppose the good peoiple of Manchester have to get up early to work in the satanic mills, so shops close early.

I eventually found a Timpsons in the Arndale Centre and for a few pounds, I got some new laces.

As the price included fitting, that must be three cheers for Timpsons!

As I left the Arndale Centre, many shops were closing.

Could the decline in High Street sales be partly because opening hours no longer fit the times, when the public now want to shop?

I regularly shop for everyday needs in the evening, if the television is rubbish and will go out for a snack supper to say a Leon or Carluccio’s and then perhaps pop-in to a Marks and Spencer to get food for a few days or perhaps some clothes from Eastfield. Usually shops in Inner London close at nine or ten.

My local M & S foodhall in Dalston, which is shutting at ten tonight, is just two bus stops away.

Perhaps, more people need to live in City Centres to revive them?

 

 

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Big Companies And Contactless Ticketing

I use contactless ticketing a lot and have never had a problem that has cost me any money or even inconvenience.

I also check my credit card statement regularly to make sure everything is as it should be.

But what annoys me is that you use your card in some multiple outlets and the information on your statement, isn’t that precise.

I know Leon; the natural fast-food chain aren’t that big, but every transaction from them is precise and identifiable.

Some big companies could follow Leon’s example.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Finance | , | 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.

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

Is Leon The Only Fast-Food Restaurant, Where You Get Personal Service?

When I ordered my full English pot in Leon a few minutes ago, they were temporarily out. So the assistant told me to sit down and he brought it to me a couple of minutes later.

This regularly happens in Leon and it’s one of the reasons I go!

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment