Technology that won’t happen…

I am an early adopter when it comes to most technologies. I think we have some fantastic gadgets and toys – both at work and at play.

Last week there was an amusing video posted by Amazon – showing a quadrocoptor delivering a small amazon parcel.

The announcement suggested that in the future we will be able to get these deliveries within an hour of ordering!

I have a feeling that our imaginations may have got a little carried away here. How long will it be before someone has their eye taken out by these drones. I think the CAA might have something to say too as our lower level airways became congested! If Amazon do this then why not Sainsburys too with your bottle of wine you need?

Nice thought though – just not ever so practical!

Can supermarkets ever be sustainable?

I am the least green person I know – although I do go to London on the train and sometimes get out on my bike. But there ends my light touch on the planet.

A few months ago I was in a place called Biddulph. If you get the chance to go there, don’t. Wash your hair instead. It’s the sort of place NASA could use for training – you know – no atmosphere. It’s also difficult to get to. Especially from Nottingham.

I valued some property there. It wasn’t one of my high-value jobs. And I had a look around the place. I came across a Sainsbury’s superstore. It was green. Very green – solar panels, rainwater harvesting, high insulation and generally those things we do in buildings to lower the carbon footprint. All good stuff and the feel-good factor was high. There were even posters to tell me how good I should feel.

But here’s the thing – they’re not really sustainable are they? The only thing they sustain are their profits.

As I have wandered around various places over the last few weeks it is plain to see that we have lots of vacant shops. Too many.

But they did have a use once upon a time – as shops. They haven’t always been vacant. And despite Mary Portas not wanting to apportion blame – the blame almost certainly lies at the door of the supermarkets. These monster (green) stores are built and they are like death stars – they suck the lifeblood out of everything around. Although Tesco have now announced an end to their big box concept the damage has been done.

It is not sustainable to build a supermarket which then shuts down all the local shops around it.

One of the biggest issues we face in reducing carbon footprint is the existing building stock. And buildings which are vacant will not attract the investment required to get them to standard needed…It’s a double whammy!

Sainsbury’s brutally honest about overcharging me…

I dislike going to Sainsbury’s – people park next to me when there are 300 spaces nearby.

But it’s not just that – they now tell me that if I had shopped at ASDA or Tesco I wouldn’t have paid quite so much for my shopping. They know precisely how much I would have saved by going to their competitor store. £1.06 to be precise.

So having told me they have scammed me for a pound – did they give me the cash back? No, they gave me a voucher for that amount to get me to come back to recover the amount I overpaid. And presumably get ripped off again?

I think this sort of ‘offer’ is rubbish. It tells me I could have saved money at their competitor. But my reward for being overcharged – to come back again with a voucher. It’s a self perpetuating rip-off.

Very irritating.

The alternative is I won’t go shopping (you might have guessed I didn’t anyway?)

Sainsbury’s pay me 40p to eat 181 calories…

I often buy my lunch at Sainsbury’s in Nottingham. It’s a five minute drive from the office and the nearest place where you get a choice.

bad for you food - and we'll pay you to eat it?

This week I picked up my pack of sandwiches and some Tropicana – and got to the till – to be told that this was a mistake. It was cheaper if I added a bag of Walkers crisps. 40p cheaper. It was very good of the nice lady cashier to point this out – but perplexing.

Being the health conscious freak that I am I took the crisps and saved 40p. I was going to throw the crisps away and save myself the 181 calories in the bag. But I do quite like salt and vinegar flavour crisps – and it can’t be right to throw away perfectly good food?

What about the homeless folks who are trying to scrape together enough to buy some basics?

Has the world really gone this mad. It’s known as a ‘meal deal’ – but where is the logic? I’m being encouraged to eat something I don’t necessarily want or need – in exchange for saving money. I have tried to think through the logic from Sainsbury’s perspective – and, hard as I try, I can’t follow it.

There are millions of people starving to death in the world and I’m certainly not. But I’m being paid to eat food…

Can anyone explain this? Have I missed something here?

PS I promise I’ll drop the food theme tomorrow – back to property!

The wobble happened….

I admit it. I went to Costa this week – twice. A free drink on Thursday (it was family and friends day – I was an honorary friend) and a paid for one on Friday. Both at the new drive through at Castle Marina in Nottingham. I was worried about this earlier in the week. It felt dirty.

The UK's first Costa drive-through

The new store, I have to confess, is rather good. It is new after all. It is better inside than Starbucks – which was last upgraded a few years ago. It now looks tired at the side of Costa. There is more bad news for Starbucks – Costa will have wi-fi fitted, it wasn’t working yesterday as they were having some technical issues… But the technical issue at Starby’s is that the numpties at Sainsbury’s say wi-fi interferes with their till system (I think not).

I understand that this is the first Costa drive-through in the UK. Six more are planned this year, but Nottingham has the first past the post badge.

The new Nottingham Best Buy store

Next door, Best Buy opened too yesterday. I didn’t bother early in the morning as they were queuing! And this morning someone called Alesha Dixon is singing. I have no idea who she is.

The store seems to have taken an age to open, which is not surprising as it is cavernous inside. The staff are `ll really friendly and are apparently expert in all manner of technology. I should imagine that Currys, Comet and PC world will be quite worried…

Just thinking through my coffee issue, I wonder if I could go and sit in Costa with my take-away Starbucks?

Parking – like rocket science?

There are some things in life which some people can’t do. Quantum physics, brain surgery and time-travel spring to mind. But what about that simplest of driving manoeuvres? – parking?

Sainsbury's parking - a speciality for some?

Over the last few weeks I have come across some quite breathtaking examples.

Last Saturday morning I was pinned into my car by someone who parked with our wing mirrors within a millimetre of each other. I clambered in through the passenger side. I was going to leave a tin-opener as a hint, but I didn’t. In reality it was too difficult to get out again!

Then I pulled into Sainsbury’s car park one morning – there were perhaps 6 or 7 spaces each side of me. The 4×4 who followed me in must have been attracted to my magnetic personality or just wanted to share engine heat? But guess where she parked? Correct – right next to me – at my drivers side! I did enquire whether there was a reason – but was firmly told to f-off. I was advised that she could park wherever she wanted. Which in hindsight is right. Just stupid.

The lines those nice people paint on the black tarmac just seem to be invisible to some people. Or just have ‘advisory’ capacity. Some people like to take up two spaces, others to park across the lines at a jaunty angle. Like in my photograph taken last Sunday in Sainsbury’s car park.

Perhaps it is ‘art’?

It certainly isn’t parking – well not as I know it…

Sticky nectar – waste of time

I am one of 16.8 million people who have a Nectar card. I wonder why.

I got sick of being asked about 2 years ago – so fell into the marketing trap. I am a card carrying member. And I do remember to use it.

I pick my lunch up and buy my Petrol (now diesel) at Sainsbury’s store at Castle Marina in Nottingham. Well, I do until they close Starbucks – at which point I will go somewhere else as a point of principle.

I digress. I must have spent thousands of pounds in the last couple of years so enquired about my balance. I have never cashed it in. My reward?


Well that has really been worth it. Twenty quid. For my ‘loyalty’. Wow. Two tenners.

I suppose it’s better than nothing, but is this really the reward I get for all those trips? All that clogging of my wallet – all that fumbling around?

What a complete and utter waste of time. And I have let them watch my predictable spending habits – petrol, food, petrol, food, petrol, food, petrol…ad nauseum. I hope they have enjoyed the experience.

I am going to cash the thing in to buy a tee shirt – pictured. And then I’m going to cut the card up. And join the facebook group .

I hate Sainsbury’s. Again.

Another milestone….

A few minutes ago, my blog reached 20,000 hits. I reached 10,000 on 6th May.

The list of most popular blogs goes something like….

1. An interesting opportunity in Russia
2. Jamie Oliver brings Italy to Nottingham
3. Justice – Crown Court or Twitter
4. MIPIM 2010
5. Architecture – the great divide
6. ipad – a new beginning
7. Cruel April Fool
8. I hate Sainsbury’s
9. Rage against Cowell
10. Little Boots food menu

Thanks for dropping by….

Shanghai – Starbucks!

I mentioned in my last blog that I had ‘found’ Starbucks in Shanghai. It won’t surprise you to know that I had done some research before I came out to Shanghai (purely out of interest of course). There are ten branches.

The Peoples Square Starbucks branch

I also found a review on-line, but this was in Chinese – and my Chinese is pretty limited. I can say “yes”, “no” and “goodbye”. So Google translator was useful back in the UK, but is less so here! The translation was:

Been put pigeons. Shopping shopping ah wandered here on. Other nearby café. Would like their home. Attitude has always been good. Sincere smile. Out accompanying the new Tiger Cup is nice. Super Cup 卡普奇诺加 or favorite little cinnamon. On the second floor of the sofa seat is very comfortable. Toilets very clean.

I’m not sure I saw any Pigeon based food or drink, they did have some of the regular Starbucks food – but not all. Blueberry muffin was good!

The food was quite ‘westernised’ and it is here that you realise that the Chinese people in Shanghai really do want to (literally) have a taste for the west. The formulaic way of serving and delivery was just the same as back home. The shop layout was identical as were the colours. They don’t have brown sugar though!

And there’s no sign of Sainsbury’s trying to shut them down…yet?

Lymington – a very nice place!

I am in Lymington this week – enjoying a week away from the frantic office!

Quaint cobbled-ness of Lymington

It is a fantastic place and you don’t need to take my word for it. It came out top in a survey in 2008 as the best seaside town in Britain.

We are staying at the excellent Elmers Court – a sort of modern day posh Butlins. Originally it was a Country House but is has had a chequered hsitory – including as a Magistrates Court, a School for ‘delicate’ children and during the war as a spy training school. Famously Odette Hallowes was trained here.

Lymington town itself is centred around a yacht harbour – the cobbled high street rises steeply and shares something with Nottingham; there are a warren of tunnels below the town! This was a smugglers paradise. It fits my story about rebels too.

Apparently Ben Ainslie CBE (Gold sailing Olympian) and Ken Russell (film director) live here. Johnny Depp is also rumoured to have a place here too. I haven’t seen any of them…

Like most places there are vacant shops on the High Street – but it sustains a Tesco Metro, Waterstones, ASK restaurant and others. The house prices are holding up; there are quite a few available in the £2-£4m range! I counted 6 estate agents in the town.

But there’s no Starbucks and so I’m beginning to wonder if we could move the Sainsbury’s Castle Marina branch here?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged BEn Ainslie, Best seaside town in Britain, Castle Marina, caves, Elmers Court, , Johnny Depp, Ken Russell, Lymington, , Odette, , Solent, , tunnels