Ack. Just got back from a trip out. Ikea was ace (as always) and I got my lusted-after cake stand as well as a few other bits that I needed. Yes needed, despite what Monsieur Umbel says.
The bad part was coming back and visiting Widnes town centre. What a hellhole it's become. Two new charity shops have opened in the last month. Now I like chairty shops as much as the next hoarder, but it's getting ridiculous. There are five or six of them in a 100 yard strip now, mostly full of utter bilge. The worst by far is the YMCA one, a new store set up on the cold embers of the late Ethel Austin's shop. I defy anyone to go in there and a) brave the hideous toothless, ranting staff or b) find even one item worth buying, and believe me, I tried. I'll give the Sue Ryder shop a little bit of grudging credit for the basket of cheap yarn by the till, but this is almost cancelled out by the two scabby dolls' houses for sale at over £120 each.
I know you shouldn't judge a whole town by its shops, but you'll be with me when I tell you that on many railings at junctions there have appeared signs advertising a company that will deliver booze straight to your door if you call them. Who needs to call out for alcohol? Why would you do this? Surely it's scraping the very rock bottom of Jeremy Kyle culture? Plus, you don't want to be facepalming in despair at traffic lights, because it makes you miss the green and people in their 4x4s will honk at you, or in extreme cases, drive right over the top of you to get past.
Now I'm no snob. I was dragged up in a Widnes council estate and only got new clothes at xmas and easter, but have pity on us and someone please sort out our industrial northern towns. I long for a better day out than this place can offer. I don't want to have nothing but a trip to the local Wilkinsons to look forward to. I don't need silk flowers or cheap emulsion paint that sweats off the walls the second the central heating comes on.
On the good side, the libraries are always empty and peaceful, even if they are stocked almost exclusively with Mills and Boon and Andy McNabb novels. The nice lady will order in anything you like and there's a spanking new computerised system for checking out by yourself. I feel like I'm on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise when I use it. We have a river too, though it would be much improved by less shopping trolleys and old car tyres poking out of the sand/mud. This is not just a cliché I've grabbed out of thin air by the way, the banks of the Mersey really are festooned with junk that would give any fly tipper the hots.
I'm off to diffuse my inner rants by playing with my Ikea presents.