Take a look at this photo of a summer shoe sale at Next.


For the benefit of people who’ve never bought shoes in the sale: it’s the norm for sale shoes to be organised by size rather than by style. That’s basically because all the sale stock is out on the shelves, so there’s no point finding a shoe you like in the wrong size and then asking if they have it in a 5. They won’t. It’s a jungle out there.

Cross is the word

Here’s another observation test for you. Does the pub pictured below sell food?


Not sure? Have a look at a different view of the same pub.


Still not sure? How about now?


One final picture in case you’re still dithering:


Melaleuca alternifooledya

Here’s a little test of your observation skills: how much would you expect to pay for one of the bottles of tea-tree oil pictured?


If you said £3.09, you’re wrong. If you said £4.09, I can see that you’ve worked out this is a trick question, but you’re also wrong.

Don’t worry, I got it wrong too. I bought one of the bottles of tea-tree oil from that shelf and I didn’t realise until I left the shop that I’d been charged £7.79 for it.

Why Nationwide "banking" sucks generally

In my previous post, I set out the problems I had with Nationwide’s internet banking. In brief: it took me six months to get to the point where I could actually log in and do something with my own money. What I tried to do then was to transfer money into the HSBC account I share with my husband, so that we could pay our (Nationwide) mortgage. As my previous post makes clear, this proved impossible because Nationwide required me to use a card reader to carry out the transfer, and the card reader didn’t work.

Why Nationwide internet banking sucks

Just over a year ago, I took what I thought was my first step towards more ethical banking: I opened a Nationwide current account. Before I opened the account, I made sure to ask about the internet banking. Did it work? Was it straightforward? Easy online banking was one of the few things I liked about my old HSBC account, and I wanted to be sure Nationwide would offer the same thing. I was assured that Nationwide’s internet banking was very easy to use and naively, I believed it.

The blank back of the monitor

When you get your blood pressure taken at the doctor’s, what do you see? Something like this?


In reality, probably not. When I think of blood pressure readings I imagine numbers on a display, but my actual experience of blood pressure measurement is different.

Not once, in all my years of visiting the doctor, have I seen the front of a blood pressure monitor in the surgery. It’s always positioned so that the doctor can see the numbers, but I can’t.

Stealer's wheel

Today I discovered that the front wheel of my bike had been stolen. It must have been an easy crime to carry out; the bike was parked at Oxford train station with just the frame locked to the stand. It probably only took the thief a few minutes to get the wheel off.

I was tempted not to bother reporting it to the police because I know very well that I won’t get the wheel back, but I decided I didn’t want this crime, however small, to be invisible.