The Anonymous Widower

Mayor’s Plan For Shopping That’s Right Up Your Street

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on page 48 of Saturday’s Times.

This is the precis.

The former John Lewis boss is using his retail experience to help to rejuvenate Walsall.

|According to the article, Walsall town centre is in a bad way with large numbers of empty shops.

The article is positive about Andy Sreet’s plans and feels, that if anybody can bring about a transformation, then he can with his retail experience.

I wish him and Walsall luck!

June 1, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 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

Plastic Bag Fee ‘To Double To 10p’ And Include Every Shop

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the guts of the story.

The 5p fee for plastic carrier bags in England will be doubled to 10p, and extended to all shops, under plans set out by the environment secretary.

The change is contained in a government consultation aimed at further reducing the plastic used by consumers and could come into effect in January 2020.

Smaller retailers, who are exempt from the current levy, supply an estimated 3.6 billion single-use bags annually.

I’m all for this, if it cuts down the amount of plastic, that blows around the country, before ending up in the seas.

This is the bag I use.

Note.

  1. It folds up, so that it first into my man-bag.
  2. It easily holds two days of my food shopping.
  3. The handles re very comfortable, even when carrying eight bottles of beer.
  4. I’ve had it over a year now and it is finally showing the odd sign of wear.
  5. It is big enough to hold a copy of the Sunday Times without folding.

It did cost be five pounds from M & S, but how much have I saved on five pence bags?

It is not a perfect bag, but it is a good start.

Other things, in the same vein, that I’d like to see.

  • A charge on takeaway food, especially pizza boxes, which seem to end up in front of my house.
  • A fine for piling household and commercial waste around litter bins, which is very prevalent in this area, despite council camnpaigns to stop it.
  • Remove the foxes back to the countryside, so they don’t spread the rubbish all over the street.

As to the latter, foxes seem to have eaten most of the cats, hedgehogs and birds, so it is their only way to get food.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

The Knightsbridge Desert

On Saturday, I visited an event between Knightsbridge and Sloane Square stations. I was thirty minutes early and the person, I was meeting was running a few minutes late, so I decided to have a coffee.

I remember Sloane Street from the 1960s, when we would take the kids to the area to area to perhaps do a bit of specialist shopping, have a browse and have lunch in one of the many nice cafes. Or in the 1990s, when C and myself, would stay overnight in the area, see a show and buy a few clothes we needed. I still wear the Gieves and Hawkes jacket C bought me in Harrods over thirty years ago, on such a trip.

But now it is a desert of expensive shops, with nothing else in sight. I could afford to shop there, but I have two problems. I can get better value for myself in local shops or markets and I don’t have a lady of my own age to indulge.

I eventually found a pub and had a very good coffee.

The only thing I found interesting in the area, was the rebuilding of Knightsbridge station.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Contactless Payments For Food In Marks And Spencer

I have been using contactless bank cards to buy my food in Marks and Spencer for about sixteen months now.

I started making a note of my spending this way, as I wanted to check that this method of payment was secure.

It is!

What has dropped out of my research is that the average price of an item over those sixteen months, has been a couple of pence over two pounds.

So now, I usually only  buy fifteen items, so that I’m just below the contactless payment limit.

  • If it’s a couple of pounds over, I just drop a couple of pound coins in from my pocket, before using the card.
  • As it happens fifteen items always fit in my reusable bag, which I stow in my manbag.
  • I haven’t bought a new bag for a year and rarely pay 5p. for a plastic one.

The self-imposed fifteen item limit has certainly speeded up my shopping.

I wonder if other chains have the same item cost!

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , | 1 Comment

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

Bad Logic From Marks And Spencer

I am not the largest of individuals being around one metre seventy and sixty-one kilos.

But then many coeliacs are on the smallish side.

So when I saw this small meal which was entiled Beef Chilli & Cheese Filled Jacket Potato, I suspected that it could be gluten-free, as it seems most of Marks and Spencer’s beef chillis are made without gluten.

On turning the packet over, I found my reasoning was correct, as the dreaded g-word was missing.

Next to this baked potato on the shelf, was a Smoked Haddock Mornay Filled Jacket Potato.

Now this is where the logic is bad

  • Some of their fish dishes with a Mornay sauce are gluten-free and others are not. This was one of the ones with gluten!
  • Surely, if all chillis can be gluten-free, then all fish Mornays should be the same as to gluten.
  • Perhaps, all baked potato dishes like this should also be the same as to gluten.
  • I also think that with fish, shepherds and cottage pies with a potato topping, whether a pie is gluten-free or not depends on the range.
  • And with sausages and burgers, they are all gluten-free.

If you are vegan or need to be dairy-free, I’m certain there are other examples of similar products varying as to acceptability.

How Was The Eating?

Not bad at all! I’ll try another, but I would love to try the smoked haddock variety!

Conclusion

I believe that a regular shopper in a particular supermarket chain, should be able to ascertain, if a product is suitable by just reading the title. They can always check by reading the detailed labelling

 

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Philip Green Going To Suffer The Same Fate As Gerald Ratner?

Gerald Ratner‘s misdemeanour was that he described some of his company’s product as crap, in a rather elaborate way, in a speech to the Institute of Directors.

The company’s share value dropped and he eventually left the company.

But he obviously has a lot of good qualities as he has been successful since.

Philip Green on the other hand, hasn’t had the best of publicity in recent years and especially in the last few months.

How long will it be before he suffers an enforced retirement?

November 6, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Should We Exempt Low Alcohol Beer And Wine From The Age Regulations

I drink Marks & Spencer ).5% Southwold Pale Ale for four main reasons.

  • It is low alcohol and doesn’t interact with the Warfarin, that I am prescribed to control the INR of my blood, so I don’t have another stroke.
  • Because it is made with less barley, it appears to be gluten-free to my body.
  • It also has the proper taste of real beer.
  • It is brewed by Adnams in Suffolk and I started drinking their beers at fourteen under supervision of my father, whilst we played snooker in Felixstowe Conservative Club.

As my GP says, at 0.25 alcohol units a 500 ml bottle, you’d have difficult drinking enough to affect your health.

There is one annoying thing about it and that is buying it.

This morning, I bought three bottles in the M & S store at the Angel, where my family has been shopping since before the First World War.

As I usually do, I used one of the automatic tills and had to wait for a minute or so, whilst the assistant verified that I was over eighteen.

The store was busy and she was helping someone with another till.

I wonder what would happen at the checkouts, if there was no age check on low alcohol beer and wine.

  • It would obviously speed up the tills with some customers.
  • But would it have the affect of brewers and winemakers, making more quality low alcohol products?
  • And would these be purchased by those who knew they should cut their alcohol intake?

It’s probably one of those ideas, that would go down well in London boroughs like Barnet, Islington and Richmond, but how would it go down in places where alcohol was a necessary way of life for many?

How too, would such a drink fit with those of a Muslim faith?

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Food, Health | , , | 7 Comments

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