Can someone please buy me some ruby red shoes? Think of all the money I would save on air fare.
In the spirit of the Wizard of Oz and other wind storm related things, London sounds like it's blowing away tonight. Seriously Saskatchewan, tonight London's gale force wind takes the prize.
Unrelated to stormy weather (I hope) - tomorrow le garçon and I are heading to Manchester where he is giving a talk about brilliant webby things. We are staying up there overnight and spending Thursday exploring the city, which, based on this website, actually looks like it might be cool.
Anyone out there from Manchester? Any tips?
Sweet dreams my pretties.
These lovelies found via adnspirit.
Let me preface this by saying that I am likely not your target customer. I am not independently wealthy and although I prefer not to, occasionally I do need to at least consider whether it is more clever to buy the £4 pasta sauce, or the jar for £1.
Despite this, my desire to visit your glowy fluorescent halls has, for the past few months, won out over considerations of money and I have been overcome with an addiction to your crispy and fresh leafy greens (not easy to come by in the UK), your organised aisles of neatly stocked specialty items, your genuinely impressive array of fresh herbs and your cheery employees. Your store is sunny and bright and is something like what I imagine a grocery store in heaven might look like. You know the angel in the Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercials? I bet she shops at a Waitrose.
It never smells like sour milk and you don't have any of those horrible self-checkout counters that has taken over most other grocery stores. I really resent that M&S, which is arguably just as expensive as you and, which runs a campaign based on their difference in quality to justify high prices (it's worth every penny!), have replaced nearly all humans with an extremely unfriendly self check-out system. Unless you shop during peak time, you have no choice but to bumble through one of those unpleasant machines yourself (usually only to find out that after all your effort, the machine doesn't take card, or coin, or just generally hates you).
Waitrose, maybe it's because you are a genuine diamond in the roughage of unfriendly and painful shopping experiences or maybe it's because even though I know I can't afford you, I still persist in giving you all my money (and I do it with love), that you broke my heart a little bit last week.
For the last month and a half you have not had any whole wheat pasta on your shelves - nothing. The only pasta of the whole wheat variety is that sticky gluey stuff in the refrigerated food aisle. And just between you and me, it's really pretty awful. The first few times I visited, I gave you the benefit of the doubt but last week, I decided to enquire at Customer Service. Here's where it gets ugly...
Although you have a big, bright and welcoming Customer Service desk, the girl who works there told me that to actually ask a question related to Customer Service, I need to dial a toll free number. She was nice about telling me and gave me the number but ... really? I also didn't get the impression it was just bad timing but that as a matter of course, to speak to Customer Service you expect me to use the telephone. The big desk is apparently a ruse - I guess if we see it, we assume we can get it and that makes us feel better? The poor kids who actually work at the Customer Service Desk must just be hoping that no one actually thinks to, er, ask a question.
Anyhow, I went home and called the toll free number. Thankfully, it didn't lead me to a phone tree or automatic recording, but rather a real human who was quite friendly. She explained (in a very perky manner) that other than the gluey fresh pasta, you have discontinued your line of whole wheat pasta and do not plan to carry another line any time soon.
In this age where people are trying to be healthier, you, my beloved Waitrose, have decided to discontinue your entire whole wheat line of pasta? When your USP is that you offer good service and specialty items to justify huge price mark ups, you've decided to discontinue your entire whole wheat line of pasta? (I could go on...)
I suppose I should be thanking you. Despite my best efforts at convincing myself otherwise, I now feel compelled to go half a block down the street to Morrisons (the horror!), which makes me sad and angry because it is the grocery store equivalent of a MacDonalds Playroom on a Saturday afternoon.
Still, though I am missing you now, in more ways than one, this transition will eventually be good for my health. Which is what I'll be trying to tell myself next time I'm at Morrisons stumbling over toddlers and fighting for the last browning head of lettuce, while trying to avoid slipping in the pool of sour milk on the floor.
I haven't posted much about it here, but Dan and I have been planning the first Ignite London and it's happening tonight at Ginglik in Shepherd's Bush. Doors open at 7 pm and the talks will start between 7:45 and 8 pm. Admission is free.
Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest of O’Reilly Radar and Bre Pettis of Make. Since then hundreds of five minute talks have been given across the world. Besides Seattle, there are thriving Ignite communities in Portland, Sydney, NYC and a lot more. The idea is simple: presenters are required to stick to a rigid format of 20 slides, each of which changes automatically after 15 seconds, ensuring that each presentation is exactly 5 minutes long. The format forces presenters to think long and hard about every slide.
We have some really great presenters lined up and I am genuinely looking forward to hearing their talks. If you are in the neighbourhood, be sure to check it out and say hello.
A last word of thanks to our sponsors: presenting sponsor Box UK, venue sponsor Ginglik (especially Colin for all his help) and non-monetary promotional sponsors the BBC and O’Reilly. Most important, thanks to all of tonight’s speakers who have donated their time, energy and creativity to creating an interesting and eclectic range of talks.
Lots here including a visit to a very empty St. Pancras, the Islington Urban Farm (where the above lovely is from) and a bunch of other bits and bobs.
Visit the entire Flickr set here.
I've posted most of the images from my east coast (Boston and NYC) work trip we took in mid-October on my Flickr.
You can see the entire set, including images from the lovely Harvard University, here.
This video was taken with the camera on my iPod Nano. The image quality is OK, but the sound is a little dodgy.
Anyhow, there is some kind of crazy ass tropical storm in the UK today, the likes I've yet to see in over a year living here. The wind is from the south and is cutting a swath from the channel straight into my garden.
I am from Saskatchewan (land of -50 C and winds that almost literally cut you in half) and I don't pretend our little gale compared to January in the Canadian prairies, but it is different. It feels tropical. London is far enough away from the ocean that I sometimes forget that I am living on an island. Today, with the wind moaning outside and the trees buckled over, coupled with the warmish +15 degree temperature, I feel a bit out of sorts. Like Dorothy, right before the lights go out. I think I'll stay in.
I could easily construct a top ten list of the things I find most culturally odd about Britain (and in some ways, I have an ongoing one I am compiling and revising constantly in my head). On that list I would definitely include that supermarkets in this country consistently do not refrigerate their eggs. It is also considered completely normal to keep your eggs on the counter top in your kitchen, not in the ice box.
According to the Egg Safety Centre (yes, there is such a thing!), you should refrigerate eggs and even throw out any that have been accidentally left out on the counter for over two hours and the USDA agrees. Despite the fact that it feels patently wrong to me to not refrigerate any animal products (meat, eggs, cheese, milk ...) I do regularly eat eggs over here that have undoubtedly lived chill free on a supermarket shelf, and as far as I know, have yet to get sick from them.
I do put them in the fridge the moment I get home from the market though and I have to say, if I think about it too much, it creeps me out a little.
Two points to anyone who can tell me how this cultural anomaly came about!
Robin Eggs image from Photoholic1.