A sad goodbye to railway dining cars

Sad news reached me via Twitter this weekend – the very last restaurant car has trundled the East Coast mainline.

It was just one of the reasons which made the East Coast the best train operator for customer experience in my opinion – the chance to escape the humdrum of a long-journey and the tyranny of pre-packaged tasteless sarnies.

Writer Michael Williams eats his final railway restaurant car... on TwitpicHere, writer Michael Williams marks the occassion and eats in the final railway restaurant car with this audio recording for BBC Radio 4.

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Bakelady goes radio gaga

If you’re up and about early this morning, tune into BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Live when the Bakelady will be telling all about her secret tearooms.

For the uninitiated the get togethers of tea and fabulous looking cakes take place in secret venues organised via a blog and at around 7am today she promises a radio interview to hear, “the clinking of cups and slurping of tea and lots of chatter from my guests.”

and that’s not the only appearance this week revealed on the blog;

“As a result of another exciting email I received only a few days ago, from the very nice people at Radio 4, you can hear Kerstin and I talking to the lovely Jenny Murray on Woman’s Hour on Friday 13th May – no I’m not superstitious, at around 10am live from Manchester.

“That, for now, is all I can tell you about. The rest is being kept close to my chest, after all this is the SECRET Tea Room.”

Eating for £50 a week? The market’s the answer

It’s been interesting watching the debate sparked by this series of views on whether it is possible (as Sainsbury’s claim) to feed a family for £50 a week.

The trolley put forward which comes in on the money includes stables such as bread and pasta but also tinned soup, packets or crisps and chocolates, prompting some commenters to question the nutritional value of the offer.

One reader pointed out that, “if you learn the basics of cooking and source food at street markets where you aren’t ripped off and less tempted to buy luxuries you don’t need, then yes, you can feed a family of four.”

And I see Katie over at Leeds Grub has been doing just that by carrying out her own value for money investigation – buying some everyday foods from the market, TescoOnline and two city centre Tesco stores to compare the prices actually available to people.

TescoOnline was the only one to beat the market prices (by £1.11) but only because of a special offer on the fish and in all other categories the market proved cheaper.

It is also worth remembering that on the market you can ask for any quantity, where as the supermarkets encourage you to buy multiple packs to get the best price. This is great for families but for single people and students with small/ shared kitchens in the city centre this is far from ideal. Today on the market I saw a lady buying just a single slice of ham- no waste, just what she wanted.”

See her findings in full here.

Do you feed your family for £50? Sound easy or unrealistic? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Marmite and mymate the long tail

It’s more than four years ago that I blogged here about the merits, or, otherwise of the new to market squeezy Marmite.

So I was a little surprised to receive this comment in:

“Well, it’s the 6th May 2011 and I have just replaced an old, much loved jar of Marmite with a new jar of so called Marmite. Like many of the previous correspondents, I have eaten Marmite all my life (60 years or so) and this new jar of Marmite is definitely not the same. Its paler, thinner and much less tasty. In short, its an insipid imitation of the original.”

It prompted an image of someone so irritated by the new jar of Marmite that the first thought in how to redress the problem was to turn to the interwebs and see if anyone else felt likewise and, by search, so they did!

Of course I shouldn’t have been the least bit surprised. Having long tails of content is a well-understood online concept but it did make me wonder how long the comments thread might eventually run for.

And to think about the often used newsroom phrase, “it’s not old till it’s told” or in this case “it’s not old till it’s googled”.