The Anonymous Widower

A Nation Of Shopkeepers

The phrase a nation of shopkeepers, has often been said about the British or the English in a derogatory manner by the French and others.

The Fort Kinnaird Retail Park in Edinburgh is according to Wikipedia, the second largest in the UK.

This Google Map shows the layout of Fort Kinnaird.

fortkinnaird

Note the two Borders Railway stations of Brunstane and Newcraighall to the East of the Park, where lines lead to to Waverley station and the Borders .respectively.

But there are other railways in the area.

  • The East Coast Main Line runs North-South, just off the map to the East.
  • Leading away to the West is the Edinburgh Suburban and Southside Junction Railway, which is now a freight-only link across the city.
  • Links exist between the East Coast Main Line and the Junction Railway.

So it could be said that a lot of trains pass Fort Kinnaird.

Plans are in development to open up the Junction Railway to either heavy rail or trams.

Surely, it would be sensible if there were a station at Ford Kinnaird to tie it all together.

If I’m right, the Scots are surely a nation of rail-connected shopkeepers.

 

 

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Marks And Spencer Have Changed My Life

Coming back today, I went to Marks and Spencer in Waterloo station, which although it is not a full stop, must be one of their bigger Simply Food shops in stations.

These pictures sum up the visit.

Some of the products have only been available in the last year or so.

  • Chicken Pakoras
  • Crisps With Exotic Flavours
  • Gluten-Free Gastropub meals.
  • Humous
  • Kent IPA
  • Pasta Salad
  • Scotch Eggs
  • Snacks Wth Taste

When I was diagnosed nearly twenty years ago, you were lucky to find anything quick to cook in any shop, except eggs and fish.

What would I like to see now?

  • Most ready-meals  made gluten-free and labelled as such on the top.
  • Ravioli, that is gluten-free.
  • Sausages and burgers gluten-free, as in Marks and Sainsburys.
  • More gluten-free real beers.

I think it is true to say, that it’s going my way.

October 30, 2016 Posted by | Food | , , , | 7 Comments

An Unusual Free Gift

I recently bought a metal cable tidy from Ironmongery Direct. I intend to use it to pass aerial cables to y television, through the kitchen work-top.

An Unusual Free Gift

An Unusual Free Gift

As you can see it came with an unusual free gift.

It gives a whole new meaning to adding a little sweetener to a deal.

August 9, 2016 Posted by | World | | 1 Comment

A Good Start To A Day

Yesterday morning, I went to IKEA and ordered the last set of cabinets for my kitchen. Remember, that for some reason, their computer has banned me from buying anything on-line.

What I needed is scheduled for two deliveries this week, as one item isn’t available for home delivery from their Tottenham store, as it has to come centrally.

So imagine my surprise, when the first delivery happened at 08:15 this morning.

But at least, it means I don’t have to wait in all day for a delivery.

August 8, 2016 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

What Will The Elizabeth Line Do For Oxford Street?

I have decided to use Elizabeth Line for Crossrail from now on, as most articles seem to be dropping Crossrail in favour of the operational name.

I had an e-mail from Crossrail today and they’re still using Crossrail.

I have written before about Crossrail being a line for shopping in Is Crossrail Going To Be The Shopping Line?, but today I found this article in Retail Week, which is entitled London’s Oxford Street anticipates £1bn boost from Crossrail. This is said.

The iconic London high street already generates £5 billion per year in sales and New West End Company hopes to hit an annual target of £6 billion by 2020 – two years after Crossrail’s Queen Elizabeth line is expected to completed.

With the Crossrail providing direct commutes for counties such as Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex, New West End Company hopes the three-mile shopping precinct experience a 30 per cent increase in visits.

In addition, 2000 new retail jobs are expected to be created, and the nearby Bird Street will transform into a new shopping precinct thanks to private donations and £200,000 from Transport for London’s Future Street’s Incubator Scheme.

Is Brexit figured in to these calculations?

I think that we may say more changes on Oxford Street, as surely Crossrail will enable other changes.

Oxford Street will have the following stations and entrances as you proceed from East to West.

  • Holborn – Central and Piccadilly
  • Tottenham Court Road (Current Entrance) – Central, Elizabeth and Northern
  • Tottenham Court Road (Dean Street Entrance) – Central and Elizabeth
  • Oxford Circus – Bakerloo, Central and Victoria
  • Bond Street – Central, Elizabeth and Jubilee
  • Marble Arch – Central

So could we see much of Oxford Street being pedestrianised?

The Mayor has said he would be in favour. According to this article on the BBC, it will happen by 2020.

I think that because of the number of the number of stations just North and South of Oxford Street, I do wonder if the pedestrian area could include Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Soho.

The main pedestrian routes would link up.

  • Green Park, Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue in the South.
  • The British Museum, Bloomsbury and Holborn in the East.
  • Euston Road and Regents Park in the North.
  • Hyde Park in the West

Where would all the buses, taxis and cars go?

I think that there will have to be a serious rethink, which could see drastic reductions in numbers of all three!

But there will be other knock-ons as Crossrail will for a few years give spare capacity, that could be used to advantage.

The Central Line Should Be Less Busy

The Central Line will have excellent connections to Crossrail at Stratford, Liverpool Street and Ealing Broadway.

It is expected that as some cross-London passengers, who now use this line, will switch to Crossrail, thus releasing capacity on the Central Line.

It would certainly create a high-speed shuttle between three of London’s main shopping centres; Westfield at Shephered’s Bush, Oxford Street and Eastfield at Stratford.

Updating The Central Stretch Of The Central Line

The central stretch of the Central Line will have two rebuilt stations with full step-free access after Crossrail opens; Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street.

Closure of the Central Line in Central London would be possible if needed fr engineering works, as the line has several turn-backs, so it could be run as an Eastern and Western section, whilst say major works were done in the centre.

This partial closure would enable the following.

  • A step-free station to be created on the Central Line at Marble Arch.
  • Step-free access to be created to at least the Central Line at Oxford Circus.
  • Step-free access to be created to at least the Central Line at Holborn.

It is interesting to note, that during the building of Crossrail, access to the Central and Northern Lines has sometimes been restricted at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road and Londoners didn’t moan too much.

So selective closure to get higher-capacity and step-free stations in the centre will not be the disaster it could have been, especially, if the improvements were done in a phased manner.

But all three are prime sites and there must be significant potential for over-site development.

Additionally, if you look at the railway lines on carto.metro.free.fr, this is a map of the lines between Holborn and Tottenham Court Road stations.

British Museum Station

British Museum Station

Note the old British Museum station on the Central Line.

I wouldn’t know whether it is practical to reopen the station, but I suspect Transport for London’s route planners have looked at the possibility to give better access to one of the busiest museums in the world.

As the Central Line through Central London is effectively a loop of Crossrail, it gives the great advantage of creating a double line across Central London, that offers redundancy, if either line needs to be closed for serious engineering work.

The Central Line never had that luxury before, so expect serious improvements on any Central Line station between Stratford and Ealing Broadway.

The Outer Reaches Of The Central Line

I suspect that Crossrail will generate more traffic on the outer reches of the Central Line to Epping, Hainault and West Ruislip.

These sometimes forgotten parts of the line will undoubtedly improve and change.

Wikipedia lists some of the line’s Cancelled and Future Plans.

I think what happens could surprise everybody.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 has just one interchange in the Oxford Street area at Tottenham Court Road station.

I would be very surprised in that in the massive rebuilding of the current station for Crossrail, that provision hasn’t been made to connect to Crossrail 2.

There have been surface issues around the station concerned with Crossrail 2, but given good planning of the project, I feel that the building of Crossrail 2 would only effect the area in a similar way to the replacement of a major block on Oxford Street.

Crossrail 2 will have two major effects.

  • It will bring large numbers of visitors to the Oxford Street area.
  • Just as Crossrail and the Central Line will work as a high-capacity pair, it will work closely with the Victoria Line to relieve that line.

This leads me to the conclusion, that the wider Oxford Street area needs to be and will be pedestrianised.

 

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Are Sainsburys Winning The Bag War?

Since the five pence charge was introduced for plastic bags in England, there has been very little innovative thinking by shops about how they could use the bags to drag people into their shops.

Summing up the shops I use and the comments of others, I would say this.

  • Waitrose – Thin and useless
  • Tesco – Thin and useless
  • Marks and Spencer – Not too bad!

And then there’s Sainsburys!

A Reuseable Plastic Bag From Sainsburys

A Reuseable Orange Plastic Bag From Sainsburys

 

They are surely the best, as you can fold them flat and then into a size to fit in a coat pocket or bag.

The one in the picture is probably six or seven weeks old.

One day last week, I needed a few items to complete my supper like some strawberries and I hadn’t got a bag with me. So I walked past Marks and Spencer and Waitrose to Sainsburys and bought them there together with a 5p. bag.

Do you think that Sainsburys have deliberately made a 5p. bag that lasts to attract shoppers to their stores?

Judging by the number of orange bags, I see on the streets of London, I certainly think Sainsburys have been thinking this one through.

  • Orange bags are easy to spot, so you always take one.
  • As they’re easy to fold, some might fold them and put them in their pocket or bag after putting the shopping away.
  • Seeing lots of orange bags on the street, reminds shoppers to get what they need at Sainsburys.
  • Because of the quality of the bag, it makes you think well of Sainsburys and their products.

On the other hand, IKEA deliberately make their blue bags impossible to fold, so you leave them behind, when you go shopping.

June 12, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Infuriating IKEA

In Sorting Out IKEA, I said this.

Ever since Summer 2015, I’ve been unable to purchase anything on-line from IKEA. It is very difficult trying to build a kitchen in phases to have to go to the store to buy or order everything. Especially, when you can’t drive. I am lucky, that I can get a 341 bus to IKEA from about two hundred metres away and can even catch a bus from closer, that uses the same stop as the 341 at Manor House station. So it might take about an hour, but it’s not an arduous journey.

I think that the reason for non-delivery, is that that don’t like my home address, as they use a system that checks it against a list of ones with a large number of problems in the past. These were long before I bought the house.

Things have not changed, and I still can’t buy anything on-line, despite having high credit scores that show no problems.

As I need one cabinet to fill a space, I went to the store at Tottenham to buy one.

But you can’t pick it up, as it has to be delivered. So I ordered it in the store and then had to walk miles to get out to pay for it.

How was my shopping experience? Unnecessary and f**king awful, would be the best description.

I now have something small to buy and I shall have to repeat the process for something that I can hold in one hand.

June 5, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | 4 Comments

Leicester City Centre

This Google Map shows the relationship between Leicester station and the City Centre.

Leicester Station And The City Centre

Leicester Station And The City Centre

The station is in the South-East corner and the big High Cross Shopping Centre and the cathedral are in the North-West corner.

Leicester City’s stadium is off the map to the South-West.

I could just about walk it to the Shopping Centre from the station, but it was at the limit of my range with the faciitis in my right foot.

I took these pictures as I walked between the station and the centre.

If there was a city, that needs a people mover of some sort between the two locations, it is Leicester.

All European cities would run a tram and with the latest technological developments, the tram would now be battery powered as in Seville and soon to be seen in Birmingham. On such a short distance, it doesn’t even have to have rails, but could be a rubber-tyred, double-ended articulated bus. I once saw a concept like this is in a Wrightbus presentation.

I made one big mistake on my visit to Leicester.

I was intending to go to the cathedral and have some lunch, which I did in Carluccio’s in the High Cross Shopping Centre.

As I was hungry, I had the lunch first and found that the shopping centre has been designed, so you have to go back through it to get anywhere.

As I didn’t want to buy anything except lunch, that would have been a pointless exercise.

So after wasting twenty minutes walking in the wrong way, I was running too late to visit the cathedral.

So on your visit to Leicester visit the cathedral first and if you’re in a hurry and want something to eat afterwards, don’t go in the shopping centre.

A properly-designed people mover going from the station to the pedestriansed central are and on to the cathedral would not only solve my problem, but it would surely attract a lot more visitors to the city to visit the cathedral and Kind Richard.

The one thing that a people-mover in Leicester, doesn’t have to be, is a fully-fledged tram with overhead wires. That is so nineteenth century for short routes in city centres.

Get it right in Leicester and I can think of several other towns and cities, that could use such a system.

 

 

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

How Many Shoppers Will Mourn The Death Of BHS?

I suspect, I’ve not been into BHS to buy anything this century.

I used to use the one in Ipswich occasionally, as they had a very conveniently placed toilet if you were passing on the way between a lunchtime pub and the football. But now that I live in London, when I go to the football, my route is different and the station and the ground have good toilets as well.

I also used to use their Oxford Street store, as a cut-through from Oxford Circus station to John Lewis, especially when it was raining. But about five years ago, BHS blocked the route off, so that ended my visits to that store.

I shan’t be bothered if all the BHS stores in the country close. And I suspect most people, unless it effects their employment won’t be bothered either.

In fact, it might be better for me, as I wonder if John Lewis will take over the Oxford Street store and use it innovatively with their flagship store next door.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | World | , | 4 Comments

Sorting Out IKEA

Ever since Summer 2015, I’ve been unable to purchase anything on-line from IKEA. It is very difficult trying to build a kitchen in phases to have to go to the store to buy or order everything. Especially, when you can’t drive. I am lucky, that I can get a 341 bus to IKEA from about two hundred metres away and can even catch a bus from closer, that uses the same stop as the 341 at Manor House station. So it might take about an hour, but it’s not an arduous journey.

I think that the reason for non-delivery, is that they don’t like my home address, as they use a system that checks it against a list of ones with a large number of problems in the past. These were long before I bought the house.

If this is the case, a friend who used to be the Compliance Director of a major finance house in the City, said make a request to see what they have on you, under the Data Protection Act. So I searched Google and found this page on the IKEA web site,  entitled Privacy Policy.This is said.

For the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 IKEA Limited, is the “data controller” collecting your data. Our registered company address is: 500-600 Witan Gate House, Witan Gate West, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK1 1SH. If you have any questions regarding this policy or in respect to data privacy, our contact details are;
IKEA, Customer Support, Kingston Park, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE2 9ET
Telephone number: 0203 645 0000
e-mail:customer.service@ikea.com

So I sent this e-mail to the e-mail-address on Monday morning.

I will give you a bit of background.

 

In December 2010 I purchased and moved to XXX XXXXXXXXX XXXX, London N1 XXX, where I have lived by myself since.

 

The property was built new around 2000 and before I purchased the house, it was let out to a selection of tenants, most of whom seemed to have skipped without paying the bills for energy and lots of other purchases, judging by the number of bailiffs, who used to call.

 

From 2011 to July 2015, I bought more than several IKEA products on-line and they were all successfully delivered against xxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.com to the N1 XXX address. I had started to rebuild the kitchen and currently it sits half-completed.

 

Order numbers include XXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXX

 

In October 2015, I tried to place some further orders and despite getting the initial confirmation e-mail several times, no product was ever delivered.

 

In the end, I took a taxi to Edmonton and ordered and paid for the products in the store. They were delivered OK, but I had to waste an afternoon travelling to Edmonton and pay extra for the taxis.

 

Because of the difficulty, I assumed it was an unsuspected problem with my credit history, so I joined Experian and when I looked last week, my credit score was 986, which according to a friend, who runs a financial business, is good.

 

But it doesn’t appear to be good enough to buy products on-line at IKEA!

 

I am now ready for the next phase of the kitchen. So as to test if the hiccups of last summer, were just a passing issue, I attempted to place a small order. Despite getting the order number of XXXXXXX and the first confirmation e-mail, no money has been taken from my credit card and I have not had the Delivery Advice e-mail advising me of the actual delivery date. On trying to track the order, it is not in your Order Tracking system.

 

Obviously, I would like to find out, why you can’t accept my orders and to that end, I want to obtain all the information you hold  about myself and my address and e-mail address, under my rights as laid out by the Data Protection Act.

 

I understand there could be a charge for this.

 

Obviously, confidential information has been redacted.

So far, two days later I’ve not had a reply or even an acknowledgement to my e-mail.

Today, I will be sending a copy by post.

April 20, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments