Exploring the world through the web

Experiencing life in any way you can.

Blessing 100 – 100 days of gratitude. April 9, 2012

Wow! When I started this blessing blog on 1st January I didn’t really think about getting to a hundred, despite deciding to do it every day for a year. The milestones don’t really occur to you, until you reach them. It’s been a challenge at times, not finding things to be grateful for; but finding different things to write about. The things I’m most grateful for: my Mum, my family, my home, my friends, my passions, they’re on going, I’m always grateful, at least I try to be; but keeping it fresh has been a  challenge; but it has also made me search hard each day to find something new.

Today Mum and I went into Norwich to do some shopping and visit the European market, which I think had a few British stalls, we ended up buying bread and cakes from a baker from London, I felt a little cheated! I did get a real French crepe with caramel which was gorgeous; but extremely messy to eat without cutlery, sheltering from the rain in the Royal Arcade. It was a little embarrassing sitting in my wheelchair, scoffing a pancake, in as discrete a manner as possible, while shoppers walked past; but I enjoyed it, so who cares?!

I was delighted because I managed to get a cake stand to complete my set from Lakeland. They’d sold out online and only had two in store, so I was really pleased. I’d got the large stand for Christmas and the cake store for my birthday, it’s cream china with little heart cutouts – really pretty and totally me! You can see it here http://www.lakeland.co.uk/43182/Amore-Ceramic-Two-Tier-Cake-Stand

Mum and I even stopped off at the new cafe in M&S which was great – I loved the concept of them serving the food you can buy down in the shop. I don’t know why I’d never really thought of it before; but it’s a great way to promote the products you already sell, showing people what they can do with them.

It was the perfect end to a really great Easter weekend and one I’m sad to see over.


Blessing 29 – What makes a great shop? How it affects on enjoyment and disabled customers. January 29, 2012

Following on from yesterday’s topic of what makes a great meal out, today I’ve been thinking about what makes a great shop? Mum and I popped into the city to do some retail therapy, well that was the plan at least. I didn’t actually buy anything; but I did collect my lovely free sample of Shea Butter Hand Cream from L’Occitane – how on Earth do you pronounce the name of that shop? I think I say it differently every time.

We went into one department store and it was the first time I’d been in there for years. I have to admit to being a little disappointed, as it was a nightmare to get round in a wheelchair. The stock was much too close together and on multiple occasions we had to reverse and go around another way. This drives me nuts! I believe that every shop owner should be forced to go round their store in a wheelchair, just to see the hazards and difficulties that it presents to their disabled customers. Other shoppers, with their sharp elbows and bags, are bad enough; but when shelves, racks and precarious stock is at risk of taking your eye out or just halting progress completely, it makes the whole thing a difficult experience.

Anyone that’s ever been in or pushed a wheelchair will know that they are not the most graceful of things and despite my Mum being a very capable driver in a car, I’m not sure she’d pass her test if it was required for pushing a wheelchair. We’ve removed a fair amount of paint in our time; but when it’s due to a badly arranged shop or a nightmare door I don’t feel too guilty.

When we did manage to get around the shop, I saw that they had so much stock, I wasn’t sure where to look, not in the “oh wow this is so amazing”  way; but more in the “my senses are on overload, I feel like I’m looking at a Where’s Wally Puzzle” kind of way. The thing that frustrated me was that there were so many things I know I would have loved, if it had been more spread out and/or better displayed. I understand the logic that they are trying to fit in as many products for as many people as possible; but for me it just didn’t work.

Which brings me to my point, what makes a great shop? One that you walk into and just have to buy something, everything, as much as you can afford. I’ve been into shops like that, where I can’t wait to go back and buy more, somehow it’s set up to sell.

There’s one example that comes to mind. A few months ago Mum and I went to a local Waitrose. Going in, the atmosphere just felt wrong, nothing was in the place you would expect, it was difficult to find anything and the whole shopping experience didn’t seem to flow. It was disjointed and uncomfortable and we didn’t buy very much – great for the bank balance; but not for the shop, or for us, we felt cheated out of a fun shop (I love food shopping, I’m “different” I know).

Just before Christmas we went back again and the whole shop had been refitted and reorganised. The only word for it was WOW! It was like being in a completely different store, the shelves and locations of the food made sense, we were happy to browse the aisles and it was as if we were led from one section to the next and all we wanted to do was pick things up and put them in the trolley. Products seemed to jump off the shelf, begging to be bought, they were even giving out free samples of cake! Seriously how much better can it get?! The cook ware and gifts section was beautiful, colourful and light. Everything was inviting and I wanted to spend money, in the end I had to resist so many things; but I came out feeling happy and satisfied after a really good shop, you know what I mean, you come home smiling, everything feels right with the world.

I think that a great shop has a good lay out, well spaced for wheelchairs (or prams/pushchairs for that matter), it must be light and airy. You need to be able to see what you’re looking at and it needs to be displayed well, in a way that makes you want to reach for a product, not be scared of knocking over the display. There has to be a flow to the shop, products need to be seamlessly arranged from the entrance, drawing you deeper into the shop, like a maze leading you further and further in to the treasures waiting at the centre.

If I’m in a shop, then I’m there to spend money (I hate window shopping, so depressing). I’m there because there’s either something I’m looking for, or I want to treat myself or someone else to something. Give me reasons to buy, encourage me in my decisions, make it easy for me to part with my money, because if you don’t Iwill be leaving empty handed and I won’t be rushing back.


What would you do with a million pounds March 5, 2011

What would you do with a million dollars.

What wouldn’t I do with a million dollars?! I’ve actually been thinking about this in the past few days. One of the chapters in the Paul McKenna book is about the laws of attraction (kind of like The Secret; but not exactly). He says you should imagine great things happening for you and the more you focus on them the more likely you are to attract those sorts of positive events to you.

In a way this is something I already do, when I was too ill to actually do anything towards setting up my virtual holidays, I used to imagine what I wanted it to be like. Now a lot of those things, which at the time just felt like a fantasy, have come true. So if it worked once, why not try it again.

If I had a million pounds I would invest £350,000 in Holidays From Home – first I’d get my app designed with no expense spared, getting all the audio recorded and going out with a  film crew to each of the destinations to take video, audio and visual recordings. Then I’d get my amazing designer to redesign the layout of the books so that I don’t have to compromise and make a choice between physical product and digital. I would take on staff to help me achieve things and ease some of my stress – firstly I would hire someone to help me with the administration and a sales person to do the side of things I don’t enjoy. I could start producing the holidays on a larger scale, importing items to include with the gift boxes. I would make choices I want to; but that come down to cost at the moment. The money would give me the freedom to make my dreams a reality.

For the rest, I would put £450,000 into property and savings so that I had something to live on, a security for myself and my family. With £200,000 I would take my Mum and brother on a luxury round the world holiday. Travelling first class, staying in the best hotels in their top suites – I’ve always wanted to stay in the suite in Las Vegas (I think it’s in the Hard Rock Hotel) with the bowling alley in it. We’d go to all the best restaurants and would do the tourist attractions, getting to do the luxury package tours and get the fast passes at places like Disney and Universal and all the behind the scenes exclusive tours. The great thing is that all the things I do, I could then record for my virtual holidays so it would be a great chance to add to the range of destinations.

I’d buy myself a complete new wardrobe, getting lots of handbags and I’d love to have some designer shoes made just for me.

It would be nice to know that the money was there if I needed it, it would give a feeling of security; but in truth I would like it so that I can do the things I’ve always dreamed of.