I’ve Been to Mecca

No, I’ve not been to Saudi Arabia but read on.

As you know we moved offices at work on 1st April. Our new offices are much smaller than the old offices and are open plan. this means that most of the contents of our old offices cannot be transferred to the new premises. We were given the option to ask for any of the old furniture for our personal use. Sadly the one item I asked for was not available.

Last Thursday though one of my colleagues was collecting some furniture from our old offices. She on her return to the new offices expressed surprise that no one had taken the office TV. This was of interest as Michelle had said her TV was on the blink. I asked and was told the TV was available, so on Friday I drove into Central London to collect the TV, along with my labourer Tom. We collected a TV and matching DVD player and TV cabinet. Bargain- at the cost only of £12 for congestion charge, 1/2 gallon of fuel and a small donation to charity.

As luck would have it, on Sunday I was travelling by car to see Michelle, so could get the TV to her.

Friday afternoon brought a visit to Tesco to do some shopping for tea. Now, I do not know about you, but when I see a label on the shelf saying 3 items for the price of 2, I expect to get 3 items for the price of 2. Apparently not at Tesco in Goodmayes. I was charged for all 3 items. When I went to the customer service desk to seek a refund, I was given a lesson in customer service.

Firstly, I had to wait for the 2 customer service staff to finish their discussion about their respective families before they deigned to bother speaking to me.

Secondly before I had a chance to explain why I had been over charged, I was told that the discount had been applied. When I pointed out I had not even explained what was wrong, the smiling willing assistant grumpily started to re scan all the items. When I pointed out the 3 that had been charged and not discounted, she told me the items were not in the 3 for 2, despite the shelf ticket saying so. I at this point couldn’t be bothered to argue and told her to re credit all the shopping and I would go elsewhere. I also pointed out that it was actually a criminal offence for Tesco to advertise prices on shelves and charge more at the checkout. However, I was informed that the law doesn’t apply to Tesco as they offer  twice the discount if they are wrongly priced. So there you go, Tesco think the law doesn’t apply to them.

I got my discount and trotted off later to Sainsbury’s where I got a better quality range of products and got service with a smile. Perhaps I should email Philip Clarke the CEO of Tesco on philip.clarke@uk.tesco.com and point this out to him.

Tesco & customer service – never the twain shall meet.

A quick Google search this evening reveals the following interesting websites




On Friday late afternoon, I took Tom down to Hornchurch to see a friend of his who was 18 that day. Belated birthday wishes Barney! This resulted in an invite to join his family for a night out – drink, food and entertainment for £20 a head – a bargain. I was touched that Tom & I were invited to what was a close family function.

The location of this do was somewhere I have never been before. A chance to lose my cherry so to speak. Anyway, we all headed of to here

Whoops, no, sorry wrong Mecca. It was here we headed for


Yes, we went to Mecca for a night at the Bingo. As you have to be 18 to play Bingo, it was the first time Barnet had the chance to play. So Tom, explain how come you were there, and drinking alcohol come to that. If I recall correctly you are only 17. You didn’t commit a fraud contrary to section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 (fraud by misrepresentation) did you Tom?

Yes, after last week at Dagenham Market, this week I went to  Mecca Bingo @ Dagenham. I lead such a classy life eh? The food was as you would expect from a Bingo Hall, all served with chips. Actually, I have to say that for fast-ish food it wasn’t bad, although Greg (Barney’s Dad) did not agree. His steak pie seemed to lack steak.

The highlight of the night at bingo is apparently the “National Game” which had a top jackpot of £28,000 +. Sadly this was not won by me or any of us. Crying face

I did however manage to get a full house on one of the local games and won £100. Open-mouthed smile. This allowed me to get back my £20 admission money and the £20 I paid for Tom and to buy drinks for everyone for the rest of the night. I’m so generous eh?

At the end of the bingo session, there was a cake produced for Barney. This was no ordinary cake though. No, it was NOT an M&S cake. It was made up of Chupa Chups lollies, chocolate eggs, fried egg sweets and other sweets as well. apparently, Barney does not like marzipan. This was an unusual cake and absolutely delicious. A very novel treat and delicious.

The night ended with a karaoke session and provided much entertainment. Cheer Up Sleepy Jean anyone? Fortunately there are no photos of the karaoke to embarrass me. Well. I hope there aren’t!

Thanks Barney, Greg, Dianne, Joe, Ann-Marie and Matt for a great night & helping me lose my bingo cherry.

Saturday brought a visit to Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club and after that a trip to see Darlington play in the 2nd last ever game at Hayes & Yeading’s Church Road Ground. More about that in my ground hopping blog.

Sunday brought the Witham Wander  (see separate blog re this ride) before a 300 mile drive to the North East, dropping Tom off at my parents’ home before arriving at Michelle’s just as the clock was striking midnight.

She Hates Me – She Really Hates Me

No, not Michelle, I think she just tolerates me but hopefully does not hate me.

Anyway, yesterday, Sunday 17th April 2011 was the day I did my longest bike ride since last year’s Police Unity Tour. I did the Witham Wander which is a 103km (63 mile) bike ride in Essex. I did the ride last year and also back in 2006.

This is a great event and credit must go to the organiser for his time and trouble in arranging the event, along with a 150km and a 200 km ride also on the same day.

My son Tom did the ride for the first time, and I was also accompanied by Drew and his son Sam. Drew, Sam and I did the ride last year. It was interesting to see how well Sam has come on in the last year. Then he struggled round the 2nd half of the course, this year he positively flew round including up the steep hill near the end. Tom also did fantastically considering he has ridden very little in the last year. His new slim line figure proves how much easier it is to ride if you are not carrying excess weight.

The ride was around an area of Essex know to some as the Essex Alps. Well, its hardly the Alps, but there was some 2388 feet of climbing involved in the ride. It is a pleasant ride through the countryside.

An Audax is a ride where you get a sheet telling you instructions and you have to navigate the course. There are no marshals etc. You have to answer a couple of questions along the way and get your card stamped between certain times at a check point.

Well, the first question we had to answer related to the number of the first house on the right in a village we did not pass through! Hmmmmmmmmm, no wonder I got lost when I went to the village but couldn’t find the pub for the next turn!

Some 10 – 15 km before lunch, I got a front wheel p*nct*re  – grrrrrrrrr. Never mind, a quick fix and we were on our way again. After a cup of tea and a cake at the control point, we set off again, or rather weren’t. You see, I had managed to pick up another p*nct*re , this time in the rear wheel. Fixed the p*nct*re , got the flint out of the tyre and away again. Within the next 24 kilometres, I had another 2 rear wheel p*nct*re , each in different places, and Sam had a front wheel p*nct*re . I wonder what we (especially me) had done to upset the p*nct*re fairy.

The repeated stops for p*nct*res meant that we were struggling to get back to the finish point within time. We had to push on for the last 25 kms. At one point we were doing in excess of 40km/h trying to get back to the finish on time. We eventually made it back with around 2.5 minutes to spare! Good job we put our foot on the pedal towards the end.

There is a nasty hill at the end of the ride. It is around 1.5 km uphill. Last year, I got up it ok, but Sam struggled and I waited for ages at the top. This year, Sam rode up the hill very easily, whereas I struggled. Firstly, my chain dropped off , so I had to stop on the hill. It is never easy to get started on a hill again and get your rhythm going. I did manage to get going and was following Drew, when he had a problem with his gears, I tried to go round him, but he started to ride away again, so I had to slow down as I couldn’t go fast enough to get past him. This disrupted my rhythm and I never got going properly after that. I struggled up the hill after a couple of stops. Sad smile

Still we all completed the ride in the time and after a bite to eat in the village hall, it was time to load the bikes onto the car and head off home. In my case, it is off to Newcastle via Ilford – arriving home at around midnight, having driven around 360 miles and ridden 63 miles in one day.

Roll on the Police Unity Tour


So, who hates me? Obviously there are plenty of candidates for that role, but I was talking about the p*nct*re fairy. I have obviously upset her this weekend.