Tag Archives: Shops

TOURS IN THE TIME OF COVID (With a nod to Gabriel García Márquez)

The cut-out policeman looks so real I nearly wished it Good Morning!!

Before Covid, we’d been on bus tours in Spain and to Prague, Vienna and Budapest, and on River Tours on the Rhine and the Danube, but now our tours seem to be confined to Tours of London Supermarkets.

I was born and brought up in the East End of London, then a poor, mainly Jewish district. We lived in a cold-water tenement on the third floor of Wentworth Dwellings in what was known as Petticoat Lane, though Petticoat Lane hasn’t existed as such for nearly 300 years. After a boundary rearrangement it was renamed Middlesex Street. We first lived in a third floor flat opening onto Goulston Street and then in one overlooking Wentworth Street, both streets crowded with food stalls on weekdays.

My mother went shopping every day – there were no fridges in the 1930s. We tried to stop milk going sour, and butter melting, by storing them in a mesh-fronted cupboard on our tiny balcony. We were rarely successful. There always seemed to be a cheesecloth bag hanging from the kitchen tap with soured milk turning into cream cheese.

One of my chores was to buy our bread, usually from Kossoff’s bakery opposite. If the total added up to a few pennies and one farthing (¼ penny), the assistants would tell me to forget the odd farthing, rather than bother to give me three farthings in change. My mother wouldn’t accept charity from anyone, so, having climbed the six sets of steep stone stairs to our flat on the third floor, I would have to go down again and take the farthing to the shop.

Now, of course, we have fridges and freezers and in a district like ours, where individual food shops have virtually disappeared, we shop once a week in supermarkets, not daily – usually Tesco or Sainsburys and occasionally Waitrose.

My favourite white bread flour is Allison’s Very Strong White Bread Flour. I first found it in Tesco but the last time I was about to run out they no longer had any in stock. I ordered some online from Amazon Fresh (Morrisons) but the road works in Victoria blocked the lorry entrance to our flats. To my chagrin, the delivery driver gave up and took my shopping back to the warehouse.

I saw online that both ASDA and Morrisons stock that flour and decided to visit each of them for the first time. Both are designed to make everything look as if it is at a cheaper price – some definitely cheaper than in our usual supermarkets but sometimes just less in the packet, so not really any cheaper.

After our Tour in the Time of Covid, we’ll stick to Tesco and Sainsburys alternately – we like some versions of our favourite products in one and some in the other. We’ll make an occasional trip to Waitrose – the most spacious feeling of them, for things not available at our usual stores.

However, when I next run out, if Tesco and Sainsburys don’t have my favourite flour in stock, I’ll make up a delivery order from ASDA or Morrisons, rather negotiating the nightmare junction that is at Elephant and Castle, and traipsing up the Old Kent Road or Walworth Road.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.
Woman in a White Coat

 

 

CLICK AND COLLECT WITH A SMILE

Click and Colletc at ASDA

Isn’t it great how a helpful, smiling, shop assistant cheers you up for the day? Even when it’s a cold, grey, miserable day, with the rain pelting down.

There are road works outside the exit to our car park and, though we can drive out, there is no easy passageway for vans or lorries. I’d nearly got through the stash of my favourite Allison’s Very Strong White Bread Flour and the Tesco we patronise no longer stocks it. I prefer the taste and my bread seems to rise more with that flour. Nor was it listed for Tesco online, so we made up an order for Amazon Fresh (Morrisons) to be delivered. Minutes before the delivery was due, a text message ‘Delivery cancelled. Failure of Access’ appeared. The driver could have parked around the corner and walked his trolley to our entrance, but he didn’t. Just took it all back to base.

Online, I found that ASDA stock my preferred flour and I made up a ‘Click and Collect’ order. The Grocery Collection, ‘Click and Collect’, point was clearly marked and had covered parking – a great advantage on a very rainy day. When we arrived, there were instructions to click on ‘I’m here’ on the confirmation email we had received. I’d only registered at ASDA that week and couldn’t for the life of me remember which password I had used. I failed to log on several times, but fortunately, the assistant was just bringing out another customer’s shopping and identified us by name.

She soon brought out our shopping in small crates and we started to load it into the boot of our car only to find that one packet of flour was the wrong one – Strong Bread Flour instead of Very Strong Flour (my preferred Canadian flour). The packets are almost identical except for the title.

‘No problem’, the assistant said, with a smile. ‘I’ll change it for you.’

It wouldn’t have been too annoying if she had been unable to find the right one, as I’d ordered several packets, but she was soon back with the correct one and yet another smile.

We’re all too used to grumpy assistants, especially on such a miserable rainy day, but she was a ray of sunshine. I’m sorry I didn’t ask her name but, by the time we’d finished loading our groceries, she had gone back inside. Maybe I’ll send this piece to ASDA – except I wouldn’t want to get in trouble whoever put the wrong flour in our shopping in the first place.

Read more of my stories in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and my previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the  7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

 

 

BREAKOUT AFTER LOCKDOWN

Lovely to see a full supermarket and more being unpacked.
Just before lockdown, the fruit and veg racks were virtually empty!!

Yes, we were fortunate in that, being aged and vulnerable, after a couple of weeks we were able to get supermarkets slots. It was all very well, but inevitably, although they appeared on their websites, some items would be unavailable on the day. Flour, yeast and baking powder were particularly hard to come by. I was able to buy 10kg of bread flour in 2.5kg packets from eBay at a moderate price but was reduced to paying £7.99 for a £1.50 bag of self raising flour. There were plenty of profiteers out there.

The bliss of being allowed out to shop in person!! We went to a large Tesco’s very early on the first Monday vulnerable people were allowed out. There were hardly any other shoppers and the store was immaculate. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I approached the Baking aisle. Such a variety of different flours! And being able to choose just the size and kind of fruit and vegetables we like.

OK – I’ve been to the Uffizi, glided down the waterways in Venice, seen a giant hippo on the lawn in Malawi, but that Tesco store was right up there with them!! Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now is£2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

https://amzn.to/3hX6z2D

BIG PACKS AT THE SUPERMARKETS

Yes, we are fortunate – being elderly and vulnerable we can get slots at supermarkets but we do miss being able to choose our own fruit and vegetables. The two of us can cope with a 2.5 kg bag of potatoes if we keep the potatoes cool and in the dark but 1 kg of carrots is just too much.

OK – so I’ve made carrot and orange soup, had sliced carrots as a vegetable and spiralized some with the remains of a courgette to make a pretty combination of carrot and courgette spaghetti as a vegetable but there was still 1/3 of a bag left. You can order some single fruits and veggies but you can’t choose the size. I ordered a leek and the one I was sent was a foot long and nearly 1½” in diameter. Almost half was composed of dark green earthy tough leaves. I would never have chosen it, had I been able to go to the supermarket in person.

My English granddaughter is a great Vegan cook and sends me images of her very professional looking bread. Not to be outclassed, I got down my Bread book by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter to look for something new. To my delight I found their Carrot and Fennel Seed bread. Absolutely delicious. I reduced the amount of seeds to 1 teaspoon but I think when I make it again I’ll omit the seeds.

My Carrot Bread will now join my Beetroot Bread and Square Challah fun loaves.

 

Love the orange carrot flecks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

 

CARROT AND FENNEL SEED BREAD   

Made in breadmaker on Basic Program

500 gm strong white flour                                                                                    Continue reading BIG PACKS AT THE SUPERMARKETS

Sunshine and Showers and a Double Rainbow

Didn't realise thee was a double rainbow until I saw my photo
Didn’t realise thee was a double rainbow until I saw my photo. Just visible in the top right hand corner if you click on the image.

That’s what it’s like after you’ve had a heart attack, had stents inserted in two of your coronary arteries, needed an intra-aortic balloon pump and artificial ventilation – some sunshine, some showers and the occasional double rainbow. Good days and bad days and then the sun comes out and there’s a double rainbow.

Out of hospital a month now and trying hard to get back to a semblance of normality. Had to cancel my classes but still enjoy cooking even if I have to sit down during the preparation. Had a couple of trips to the supermarket with Josh but still get tired easily.

 

Gothenburg – a cook’s paradise

Our favourite cookshop
A cookshop a few metres from our hotel

Most of our favourite cookshops in London have vanished. John Lewis and Peter Jones still have respectable cooking departments, while those in most of the  other big stores have shrunk.

In contrast, not only were there large cookshops in the big stores within walking distance of our hotel in the centre of Gothenburg , but there were at least five independent cookshops full of ‘don’t need but must haves’!!

And even with the unfavourable rate of exchange the prices were quite reasonable . Perhaps in Sweden they don’t only sit glued to cookery programs on the TV but they actually cook!! Judging by the amount of space given to cake baking and decorating, the Swedes are into cakes and pastries in a big way.

LAKELAND IN CENTRE COURT MALL WIMBLEDON

Delighted to find a Lakeland where it's convenient and easy to park
Delighted to find a Lakeland where it’s convenient and easy to park

Our son, Simon, says that we have too many kitchen gadgets but I don’t think that’s possible. For me it’s like not being able to be Too Rich or Too Thin!!

When I was cooking today, I realised just how many of the kitchen tools I use everyday came from Lakeland – including some they no longer stock like the little pyramidal plastic pots I use to freeze aliquots of lemon or lime juice or herbs. We were delighted when Lakeland opened a branch in Centre Court Mall in Wimbledon. Whatever we go there to buy we end up buying more.

Tempting Bowls and Plates
Tempting Bowls and Plates

Joshua didn’t really approve of the fact that though these bowls and plates look like Spanish pottery they’re made of Melamine – but who cares? We’ve had our recent share of breakages and I found the small bowls on the left irresistible!!

IKEA RIDES AGAIN

At Edmonton
At Edmonton

Josh decided he no longer liked the soup bowls we’d had for years and having four children there’s always someone to pass things on to.
We scoured the Oxford Street stores, found possible white embossed bowls in House of Fraser but weren’t sure.

Love it or hate it – ‘it’s only something we picked up in IKEA’ we say – but we rarely come out of IKEA empty handed.

Can you go wrong for 65p?
Can you go wrong for 65p?

We found some possible plain white bowls for £1.30p and some little glass dishes we’d been looking for at 80p each.
Then on the long, long walk to the checkout we saw some very similar bowls at 65p.
At £5.20 for eight they’ll do fine. After all, it’s the look and the taste of the soup that counts and we have soup and a cheese platter once a week. Shame the small cooked breakfasts we ordered were cold. Couldn’t be bothered to waste the time complaining.

When I lived in Petticoat Lane 1931-1956, during the week the stalls mainly sold food – fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry, but on Sundays you could buy a variety of small household goods.

Memoir extract from Chapter 2 Woman in a White Coat Part 1

On Sundays the character of Petticoat Lane changed. The market expanded to Middlesex Street, Bell Lane and the cross streets. There were stalls selling leather, clothes, crockery and linen, and there were always mock auctions. Continue reading IKEA RIDES AGAIN

The Greville Room at the British Museum

Museum Artefacts
Museum Artefacts

The goodies in the museum’s big shops are for the hoi polloi – like you and me; those in the Greville Room are for the more discerning and the wealthier visitors.

Not sure any of those on this front table would be to my taste but there are some delicious smaller artefacts in the glass cases around the edges – beautifully carved wooden Netsuke, glass vases and beaded skulls – as well as Isnik ware, jackets and scarves – and much more.