Queensgate Shopping Centre – Peterborough

Alot of the posts up to this point have focussed on examples of various different types of really good design. Now I have an example of really quite nasty design.

Herald the Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough. I spent 1.5 hours chugging through the countryside on the train today because the government has kindly put the nearest Identity and Passport Services office outside London about as far away from anyone as possible. In fairness I did get seen pretty quick (only a 10 minute wait), but the chap processing my passport did launch into a rather strong interrogation. I’d obviously sparked his suspicions because I’d left my postcode off the application form by accident and I wanted the passport couriered to my work address. In fact, as (apparently) my photographs look quite different he then wanted to see my drivers licence which of course I didn’t have. Hold up – you’re the government – can’t you have a look at my drivers licence on your computer… turns out that they can, why stress me out? He had a stack of red cards that I am sure mark you for execution or something. But I digress…..

Because the trains are at annoying intervals between Ipswich and Peterborough I had to leave at 12 for a 3 o’clock appointment then after about 15 minutes in the office I had to hang around until 5.45. Key Ros who heroically took the afternoon off to escort me to the frightening government offices – girl + boyfriend + time = shopping (or at least window shopping). So off we went to the Queensgate Shopping Centre.

This place is a cathedral to the 1980’s. Its sort of been designed to fit into an irregular vacant plot in the town centre – now this could be done in a stylish and well thought out way – but alas not, its a central cavern with corridors splaying out like an octopus. Its also absurdly car centric, its right in the middle of the town at the centre of all public transport but it has a 3500 space car park tacked on the end, thereby encouraging huge volumes of cars into the city centre. Its 5 minutes from a train station that has quite incredible connections (Liverpool, all destinations to Glasgow, Manchester, London, Ipswich, Norwich and stansted airport) but theres no well defined pedestrian access from the train station (actually the train station is another design disaster, but that’s another story).

So what makes it a paragon of 1980’s design? Well its mostly clad in cheap looking cream marble, the shop facades are surrounded with high mirror shine steel, there are lots of mirrors, and there’s no natural light outside the main atrium.

On the plus side it has a fine selection of shops including a John Lewis, a Superdry and decent sized Topshop/man combo and a pretty big Republic – not to mention the usual favourites like Schuh and Paperchase.

I can’t resist including a picture of Peterborough Railway Station. Try not to vomit.


PS – Apologies to any Peterborugh-ians that might be reading – the rest of your city is really quite nice.










Cool Clothes Roundup

There seem to be rather alot of sales on at the moment. I suppose its indicative of our new economic reality, but its annoying as there’s a fair amount of stuff that I’d like to pounce on (‘but Ros, look its half price – I’d be saving money’) – unfortunately I have a profound sense of guilt, and annoyingly strong self control.

As some sort of catharsis or purgation I offer the following roundup of stuff that I would buy if I was a spendthrift.

Number 1: Rad Hourani 

So its probably worth noting before you baulk at some of his designs that Rad Hourani designs exclusively unisex clothes – that clothes that are designed to look good on both men and women – Luisaviaroma.com have about 12 items in their sale and these are my picks…

This is a sort of combo t-shirt and jacket. The jacket splits off from the t-shirt at the shoulders but is fully attached. It looks nice and lightweight but is also loose enough to accommodate mens wider shoulders without looking ‘blocky’ as the contrasting jacket draws the eye downwards.

Ok so theres no real getting away from the fact that these look alot like a skirt over a pair of leggings – and in fairness thats basically what they are. However, the ‘skirt’ is actually a front panel that accommodates a couple of pockets and the leggings are really viscose trousers. I like the shape and with the right tshirt and possibly boots they’d look pretty awesome. He does do some decent looking boots, but they’re a bit to feminine for my liking – and they’re not on sale.

Number 2: Christopher Kane

Christopher Kane does a pretty decent line in colourful fitted t-shirts and jumpers that are printed with Hubble Space Telescope images (as well as an awesome Gorilla).

First up is this jumper that depicts a nebulous area of the galaxy some 20,000 lightyears away thats been dubbed a ‘star nursery’. Forget any mental images you might have of tiny little toddler stars, this nebula is thousands of lightyears across. Why wouldn’t anyone want to wear a tribute to such a remarkable bit of nature?

Same kinda thing above but a t-shirt. Enough said really.

Number 3: Topman

Arcadia Group stores do seem to have a permanent sale on (a bit like a classier and more interesting version of DFS). Anyway, their stuff is mostly definitely within my ‘on a whim’ price range that doesn’t require permission from The Rosalind.

These are only £8 and they’re a really cool fusion of ’60’s black horn-rimmed style glasses and more modern bright colours. And for only £8 I think I might make them mine!!

Update: Anyone thats interested – these are the links:

Rad Houraniwww.luisaviaroma.com for the sale stuff and www.radhourani.com for his latest collection which includes some really rather provocative unisex shorts….

Topman www.topman.com for the red glasses.


Evelyn Grace

Who is Evelyn Grace? Actually I have no idea, not even the wikipedia knows. What I do know however is that Evelyn Grace Academy is a new school, built in a relatively deprived area of inner-London (Brixton to be precise) with a large and historically under-achieving black and other ethnic minority population.

Why is it on my radar? The building happens to up for this years Stirling Prize for Architecture.

Designed by British architect Zaha Hadid its a sweeping ‘Z’ shaped structure with masses of glass and steel and natural light. It is an aspirational building designed inspire aspiration in an often over-looked group.

The sweeping curves and angles really do it for me, and I wish I went to that school!! Take some time to bask in the glory of it….

Whats the lesson here? I think its treat kids with enough respect to provide them with decent surrounds and environs and they’ll develop a sense of pride in their school and vicariously in themselves. Hopefully.

Space Boots

I was looking for some new boots to go with some skinny jeans and fitted tshirt combos and I came across these boots from Tom Rebl.

I love the copper colour and slightly metallic look. They remind me of a sort of Noel Fielding style from The Mighty Boosh. Kinda the sort of thing that a stylish starbase commander from the original Star Trek might wear.

As with other things I really like the sort of retro-futuristic styling, and the heel is not too extreme either.

I’ve promised Ros that if we succeed on our collective weight loss challenge (about 2 stone each) by October that I’ll make sure that theres a decent sum of money available for a wardrobe refresh. Perhaps theres room for a treat for me in there somewhere? We’ll see.

Another Advert

Just to continue on the theme of advertising, if ‘The Brighter Side’ is my 2nd favourite, then this one is number 1.

It’s an advert for the John Lewis department store – a sort of upper middle class aspirational store. Indeed, when I was moving house I sourced a number of things from them (bath mats) and felt oh so very successful.

Anyway, regardless of that – they do a pretty good line in understated and quite moving advertising that they use to emphasise their position as a constant in peoples lives. From that perspective they’ve got this following advert absolutely spot on…

 Apparently it cost several million pounds to produce, and the song is an excellent cover by Fyfe Dangerfield of Billy Joel’s ‘Always a Woman’.

The Brighter Side

Today I remembered an advert that I saw at the cinema a few years ago for the ITV1 television channel.

I recall it being an extremely beautiful advert and was so incredibly disappointed that it was advertising the worst of the UK’s 5 terrestrial stations. I love the childish adventure, and also the thought that there’s some parallel universe where a helicopter parent may land for just long enough to allow their kids to experience something magical by themselves.

Its has all the hallmarks of a quality commercial, inspiring music, stunning visuals and I’m pretty sure the voice at the end is Patrick Stewart from Star Trek and X-Men.


Nail Polish

So as a man you want to move in the fashionable and colourful world of coloured nails?

Up until this point its generally accepted convention that guys (with plenty of self-confidence) can use black, brown or very dark blue. But what if you want to stand out a bit more and take it to the next level?

There’s hundreds of colours available but my experience suggests that they’re generally all high-gloss. The problem with this is that glossiness makes it look like you’ve put loads of effort into it, it looks to manicured, too perfect.

As with most styles for men, its all about looking like you spent 30 seconds on something (when in reality you know you’ve just spent longer in the bathroom than your girlfriend – much to her chagrin).

The solution?


It turns high gloss nail varnish into a dull matt finish that makes it look a bit like you used a felt tip pen. Cool. Only £1.50 too.


Tokyoflash produce watches.

Lots of companies produce watches, but these guys have dozens of the coolest designs you can imagine. Not just in terms of shape or colour but in new and creative ways of displaying the time.

I like them because they’re something thats different enough to be interesting but no so outlandish as to be completely ridiculous – like for example strapping twelve pigeons to your wrist and telling the time by how often you get shat on (some people may actually like that, this is a non-judgemental blog).

I think this is really quite cool, not only that but you can probably pretend that you’re a secret agent, and no one else will be able to peer at your wrist on the bus and figure out the time.

Its not astronomically expensive either at just over £100.

They have some other interesting designs too…

For more details go to their website….

Kitchenaid – The World’s Prettiest Kitchen Appliances

So you’ve read my post on Smeg Fridge/Freezers and you’ve ploughed a grand into buying one, yet you’ve still got money to spend?

Well, let me help.

There’s a company based in Ohio (thats owned by Whirlpool, but we’re ignoring that) that hand assemble the most glorious looking kitchen appliances known to mankind.

First up is the humble blender, designed for perfect kitchens with orange juice on tap, croissants at the ready, and eggs boiled to utter delectable delightfulness, its a must for budding TV chefs or show-home owners everywhere.

I suspect also that it never ever makes a mess and probably even loads itself into the dishwasher – for £200 I’d expect nothing less.

Next up is the paragon of chic luxury living – the espresso machine. If you’d like to turn your morning coffee into more of a ritual than a spoonful of Kenco and boiling water then look no further. This coffee machine is guaranteed to make you suave, sophisticated…… and Italian. Actually even better – Italian American.

If you really want to go totally all out then don’t forget to buy a burr grinder….but in case you were worried, they do a beautiful one of those too.

So now when you invite your 20-something £100k a year Jaguar driving mates around to your pokey little cheap flat you can offer them one of 12 different grinding settings depending how smooth they like the crema.

In all seriousness though, they are gorgeous little things, the surround isn’t plastic, its cast iron, and the see through bits are all pyrex glass. They’re quality products and they even have proper toggle switch! Everyone likes a good toggle switch!

Hang on – whats that blue bit?

I was looking through a website thats filled to the brim with nice stuff that I can’t afford and I happened across this nice long sleeved t-shirt…

Looks quite nice, a bit expensive but its nicely shaped and the neck is open but not too wide. But hang on – whats that blue thing at the back? Is that part of the t-shirt? Is a scarf?

Turns out its a cape. Yes thats right, a cape. It isn’t a costume either, its a proper t-shirt designed to be worn in the street.

I’m interested in pushing the boundaries of fashion (see the post about the wedges below) but I’m not sure that I like the idea of a cape. It would definitely draw attention though (which is probably the point).