Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Are empty High Streets the future?!!

    As more High Street shops and chains close down, due, as they claim, to online shopping habits, what does the future really look like?

     Experiments were done many years back where someone was moved into an empty house and had to survive without moving out of the door. It's possible of course. We buy our groceries online and have them delivered. Furniture is bought online and delivered, either flatpack or otherwise! Clothes and shoes are bought online. Technology - computers, phones, TV's, etc are carefully researched and then bought online. In fact everything can be bought online - except maybe a cup of coffee!

    So will the High Streets be devoid of shops? We won't need a physical M&S for either food or clothes. We won't need the supermarkets. We send e-cards so don't need Hallmark, Paperchase, Clintons, Cardies etc. We do still want to go out to have a coffee & carrot cake or light lunch, but usually while out 'shopping', not a special trip. What about Charity Shops? They're the kind of place we pop into while 'in town', how would they be able to survive without other shops around?

    For about three years I worked in South West London and lunch times were spent walking up and down Putney High Street - rather quickly I must admit, it wasn't my favourite past-time! So I have just gone down that street again, via Google maps - see, don't even have to go there! - to refresh my memory of those High Street shops:
   > Estate Agents - with Primelocation.co.uk or Zoopla.co.uk or Rightmove.co.uk, one doesn't even need a High Street office. See the property online, book a viewing, meet at the house!
   > Banks - when was the last time you went into a bank!? 
   > Hairdresser - ah, now there's one you can't do online!!
   > Paddy Power / Ladbrookes - online, even the Lottery can be played online.
   > Currys/PC World - all online.
   > Specsavers/Vision Express - they would probably be relocated to medical centres or hospitals, as would dentists.
   > Poundland - Ebay, Amazon, Freecycle, Gumtree, all just as cheap!
   > Even bicycles can be researched online and delivered to your door!
   > Blockbuster videos - with HMV just having gone under (CD's etc), I wonder if DVD shops will be next? 
   > Jessops, the camera shop, are also a recent casualty. 
   > Robert Dyas - although hardware and builders' merchants will probably last longer than most High Street shops, again one can buy all these things online and anyway the huge warehouse type places for builders are not usually on the High Street.
   > Employment Agencies like Brook Street, Reeds - we have Monster Jobs and the suchlike.
   > Flight Centre - book flights online and utilise the freely distributed airmiles!

    Is the future society going to be an isolated one with everyone huddled in front of their computers - in whatever form they may take? Are the streets going to be empty?!

I think it's time to support all those lone voices pleading for us to support the local traders! But perhaps the local traders should try and entice us by giving us as good a deal price-wise as we get online! Which means perhaps buying online should not be so attractive? And business taxes, rents and other overheads not be so exorbitant!?

It's not as simple as it sounds after all!  But we should all be at least a little more concerned and make a little more effort not to shop online, if at all possible, don't you think so?!!!

Thursday, 10 January 2013


     On Monday I invited a few ladies around for tea. The drinking kind not the English eating kind! Tea in a cup not something that isn’t tea, on a plate!!  I’m not an avid tea drinker. I think I prefer coffee but nowhere near anything resembling a connoisseur of either. Monday evening was to be a TasTEA evening! Sorry about the pun, bit cheesy – so maybe it was English tea after all!!
     As I said I don’t drink much tea and I find ‘normal’ tea, i.e. not herbal or fruity teas, quite strong and they leave a really ugly stain in some cups and mugs. But I have got into a habit of having a cup of Rooibos tea with breakfast in the mornings. Rooibos, pronounced Roy, as in the man’s name, and Boss, the guy you make coffee for, with the accent on Roy, is a South African tea which when directly translated means Red Bush. And just in case you think you can pronounce it any which way you want because you don’t care, please just have some respect for a different culture, country, language and spelling – sorry that was a reactionary comment to a totally different situation that cropped up this week! It’s Rooibos – Royboss!
     Anyway as I was saying, again, I have a cup of Rooibos with breakfast in the morning, no milk, no sugar. It’s caffeine free, a low tannin content, rich in polyphenol antioxidants, contains no colourants, additives or preservatives and no calories!! My father used to think it smelt awful, but it didn’t take long before it was the only tea he would drink and he too preferred it without milk. It’s quite acceptable to drink it with milk and sugar of course!
     But to get back to the TasTEA evening! The idea was to taste teas! And in particular a tea perhaps the ladies hadn’t tasted before. The evening was also billed as being on a shoestring so I didn’t go and buy up every un-tea sounding tea on the supermarket shelf, but settled on a few herbal, a few fruity and then found the Twinings Selection boxes.  I think most of the ladies tried something reasonably new but I don’t think they went all out! Most of them knew of, and had at some time had Chamomile – the ‘sleepy’ tea, and some of them tried Camomile & Spiced Apple “a moment of calm”. I don’t think anyone touched the Peppermint tea, which is apparently good for muscle & joint pains, soothes indigestion, helps cure hiccups, helps stop diarrhoea, eases IBS, relieves morning sickness, and is an anti-spasmodic for constipation – but please see your doctor etc. etc. In fact Chamomile (or camomile, apparently the spelling with the ‘h’ “more accurately corresponds to the ultimate Latin and Greek source”- Wikipedia) and Peppermint seemed to be the panaceas for most ailments, as we ladies discovered while doing a Tea Quiz! And I think the red box of Pomegranate Tea was quite understandably ignored!
     It was nice to have the Twinings Selection boxes with Blackberry & Nettle, Cranberry Raspberry &  Elderflower, Pomegranate & Raspberry, Blackcurrant Ginseng & Vanilla (surprisingly very nice!) and Cranberry & Sanguinello Orange in the Fruit & Herbal Selection. The Green Tea selection had Apple & Pear (not that enthralling at all!), Cranberry (I don’t like anything with Cranberry!), Mango & Lychee, Pineapple & Grapefruit, and Orange & Lotus Flower.

 Anyway we had a nice time together, some of us with our dainty cups of pure tea, no milk and some of us with our comforting mugs and the teabag string hanging out!
     We ended the evening quite relaxed – tea does that to you – and with a challenge. Did you mother ever tell you, or have you ever said to your children, “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t even tasted it!” Some people do that with Christianity. They say they don’t think ‘church’ is for them, but they haven’t ‘tried’ it! There’s a verse in Psalm 34 verse 8 that reads: “Taste and see that God is good!” It’s not going to cost you anything, taste!
     And now I can either save these teas for another ladies’ get together, or taste some more flavours myself!  I think I might, maybe try a Blackberry & Nettle………???

P.S. Twinings offer free samples! 

P.P.S. Nah! the Blackberry & Nettle is a little too fruity for me!! :)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Family History treasure for Christmas 2012!

When she was 20!

When he was 3!
     Well Christmas 2012 was definitely different! It was the first Christmas we, as parents had woken up on Christmas morning with no children!  For many years our children woke us up, as most kids do, at some ridiculous time in the morning wanting to open presents, (although they’ll say that for more years Daddy was the one who woke them up on Christmas morning!!)  But with children all grown up and living far away, it was just the two of us - for a while!

     Apart from the Cereal-Bar-Christmas Lunch, my family history hobby brought a few gifts as well! 

There is a ‘French Lady’ in the Kelland family’s past (1824-1886) and other researchers also appear to have struggled to find out her past; all we knew was what was recorded on her marriage certificate - that her father was ‘a French Army officer’. 

     When I by chance found a forum message mentioning the French surname, I was given a most surprising gift as a fellow researcher shared his information on our common ancestor. 

     It revealed a story of fleeing from the French Revolution, then abandoning children in Devon and returning across the channel; 
orphaned children under five years old put in a workhouse; and cross-continental family feuds. Someone was remembered in a letter for their music & painting lessons. I heard of a great great uncle, a sea captain, who sailed emigrants to Australia and decided to stayed there; and another great great uncle who was shipwrecked, when no-one survived and no evidence of the ship was ever found. I discovered a 2nd wife for great great grandfather when he remarried at 70 years old! Relatives of a great uncle, living in South Africa with information on grandfather Kelland shared the stories that had been passed down to them. On the Crossley family side via another forum message, another far-back cousin’s story came my way with some of his trials and tribulations when he settled in America and helped some of his family settle too.

     All in all, some surprising and interesting treasures which add colour to names and dates!

(Pics 3,4,5 from google!)