Complaint: Tesco Avocados

Sometimes it takes a bit of work to get a refund…or just to find common cause with your refunder:


Dear Tesco

I am generally not a fan of your food quality – some will call me a snob, but I am from up north so not entirely sure that is something that can be aimed at me.

Anyway, I actually quite like your avocados, and go through several a week.  Well, I normally like your avocados.

Over the last month, I have had two pretty horrid, soft and close to inedible avocados from your Rayner’s Lane store.

I will keep buying them from there, as the good ones far outweigh the bad, however I have not been left amused by the quality – I live in London and need my avocados.  Do you not understand?

Also, your store sometimes smells of poo.  Actual poo.  This has been only on occasion this year, but last year it was fairly consistent.

Any idea why?

Kind regards
James Avocado Winfield


Dear Mr Winfield

Thank you for your email.
I am sorry to read of the problems which you have encountered, when purchasing advocados from your local store. I can appreciate how annoying this must have been for you, especially as the some of the advocado’s have been of poor quality and the store seems to have an unpleasent odour.

We’re committed to sourcing our products responsibly and take the quality of all of the products we sell very seriously. Any complaint about a product is recorded which allows us to work with our suppliers to ensure that our products are of the highest quality.

In order for me to ensure that this is done, I’d be very grateful if you could reply to me with some details, which I’d like to pass on to our supplier with your permission. Could you tell me:

– Your full postal address – Your telephone number – Product barcode – Cost of the product – Use by/best before date – Supplier code –

Our technical teams work closely with our suppliers to alert them to any product concerns and ensure that the highest standards are being met. Unfortunately, it does appear that something went wrong on this occasion, but we hope you’ll be reassured to know the information you have given us will help us to stop this from happening again.

Upon receipt of these additional details, I would also be happy to send you a Tesco Moneycard to reimburse you for the cost of the product.

Also, please can you advise me which store you purchased the advocados from? As I would like to raise your complaint about the strong odour circulating the store.
Thanks again for taking the time to tell us about this. I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre



Gosh I don’t remember what date I bought them on, let alone what the barcode was!  It’s a struggle to remember my name sometimes.

They were in the loosely supplied section, so had no sell-by date.  The store is the one close to Rayner’s Lane tube station.  One occasion was a couple of weeks ago (they all felt out of date actually, the one I bought I hoped less so…alas), the other occasion in December.

My address is below and my phone number is xxxxxxxxxxx.  I hope that helps.

Kind regards



Dear Mr Winfield

Thank you for your reply and please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in my response.

Sadly, I have been unable to reach the store by phone. I have therefore sent your feedback to the store, regarding the smell in store. So, hopefully this can be resolved as soon as posisble.

In addition, I am sorry that the packaging is no longer available for the advocado’s. As you can appreciate that we would require the barcode number, in order to feed your comments back to the relevent Supplier and also provide a refund.

Going forward, should you experience any further quality issues with the products which you purchase from us, please return this to store along with your receipt.

Thank you for contacting me and for bringing this to my attention.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre


Dear xxxx

I am not sure that you have understood my previous e-mail.

The avocados in the store are sold loose.  They have never had any packaging as such.  This is fine.

However what is not acceptable is when they are inedible – ie sold when they are clearly out of date.

This is surely a Tesco store management issue as opposed to a supplier issue?



Dear James

Thank you for your email reply.

xxxx is out of the business so please allow me to respond in her absence.

If the avocados are coming into the store in this condition, then xxxx is right in believing it is a supplier issue.  Staff are trained to check stock periodically to ensure anything that is not fit for consumption is removed whenever possible.  Loose fruit and vegetables is certainly something the staff are able to keep an eye on as they don’t contain any outer packaging as you’ve stated.

Usually even loose products will contain an Oval shape type sticker with some supplier details.  This would have been helpful to xxxx, but I realise you’ve now thrown everything away so this is not possible to take from you.

With that said, I can see that xxxx has made the store fully aware of your concerns and especially in regards to the odour you’ve experienced whilst shopping there.  This is being investigated behind the scenes to help ensure any future visit is a pleasant one.  If not, please do ask to speak with an in-store Duty Manager.

As we have no supplier details or product to have returned to the store, it is very difficult to refund you for these.  If you had photos of the supplier’s sticker, along with any photos showing the poor quality, we would have been able to help.

Please rest assured that it’s never our intention to frustrate or disappoint any customer at any time.  However, I do hope the above explains why I’m unable to meet your expectations on this occasion.

If you still feel a refund is in order, I would kindly suggest speaking with the store’s Duty Manager on your next usual visit.  Please do take along your till receipt to help them assist you further.

Thank you for your time and if there is anything else we can do to help, please do let us know.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre


A week or so later…


Dear xxxx

I appreciate that you are probably thinking, “thank **** we shut him up”, but just like a bad smell, or perhaps Nigel Farage, I am back.

So I’ve bought another avocado from the local Tesco Express store so that I can send you a photograph of the barcode.  I appreciate that it isn’t exactly the same sticker as the two badvocados had, but I expect that it is exactly the same barcode.

I don’t really know why I am persisting with this, but I do feel that there is a slight soon-to-be-denied lack of trust towards what I am saying, and that you perhaps feel that as I am a northerner, I cannot possibly be eating something as healthy as an avocado.  Don’t worry, I will consume large volumes of bacon, beer and cocaine as soon as possible.

Alas, I am stuck with my morose feelings of incompleteness from two well below standard avocados – and now another one which I haven’t opened yet, but should be ok.  But there is that element of trepidation.

I should probably just leave it here and not still be banging on about it, I could just avoid shopping at Tesco for a few weeks to give myself some vague satisfaction that I am sticking it to the multi-national corporation for allowing two bad avocados to be purchased.  I am sure that you will miss my average monthly spend of around £31.54 as much as we missed Nigel Farage not being on the news last week.

Anyway, photograph of barcode pointlessly attached.

I look forward to your corporate platitudes in return.

Kindish regards


ps If you get bored on your lunch break, I do a fine collection of roast dinner reviews on my blog –


Dear James

Thank you for your further email and my profuse apologies for the week taken to reply.  I was offer for a few days and unfortunately the email wasn’t picked up by a colleague.

With that said, I’ve now arranged for a £10.00 Tesco Moneycard to be sent to you in the post.  This should arrive within the next 5 – 10 working days.  I’ve also notified the supplier for internal purposes, sp rest assured that they’ve been informed of your experience behind the scenes.

It’s been a pleasure to help and if there is anything else I can do to help James, please do let me know.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre


Dear xxxx

Thank you for your e-mail and your kind offer of compensation – I only wanted £2.20 but hey, I won’t say anything if you don’t.

Slightly bad timing though as I was fishing around for things to give up for Lent yesterday.

In previous years I have given up paper clips, zebra crossings and trimming my eyebrows.  It gets more difficult to think of suitable things to give up for Lent – it always kind of slaps me in the face when I’m not expecting it – and you’d have thought that they would have had it on a different week to Valentine’s Day, but hey ho.  Hopefully they’ll look into the timing issue for next year.

Anyway, so I was waiting quite a long time to use the self-service machines yesterday – not your fault, just some very slow people in front of me, when it dawned on me – I should give up Tesco for Lent.

Oh well, I’m committed to it now.  Though last year I gave up talking about Brexit for Lent, which didn’t last very long.

I look forward to having a Tesco avocado feast in early April.

All the best


Conclusion – all you need to do is show your contempt for Nigel Farage to get your own way.

Complaint – Brexit Costing Me Another £1 A Month – OFFICIAL!

I received an invoice last month from my hosting company for £5.99 instead of the usual £4.99.  Cue an e-mail:


I noticed that you are trying to charge me £5.99 for hosting this month, instead of the usual £4.99.

Please can you correct your invoice and ensure the correct amount of £4.99 is charged.

Kind regards


Hi James,

Thank you for contacting us on the matter and apologies for the delay in my reply.

I’m afraid the price of £5.99 is the correct amount of the hosting package as we have increased our hosting package’s prices by 20% and we have notified all of our customers about this change via email.

Since 2003 we have offered the same great service without any price adjustments. Over those 14 years we have absorbed the cost of inflation rather that passing the cost on to our customers.  Due to the effects of inflation and a weaker pound, our hosting is now cheaper in real terms than it ever has been. We need to make a one-off adjustment to address this so that we can keep offering the same excellent standards of service and continue investing in our infrastructure, improving reliability, performance and features.

Please let me know if you require any further assistance as we would be more than happy to help!

Best regards,

Technical Support.



So basically my hosting costs have gone up 20% due to Brexit?

Also I was not advised of the increased cost.




Hi James,

I have just double-checked and our system should have sent an email to you entitled ‘Important news about your hosting’ on the 08/12/2017.

I fully understand how troubling this can be for you, however, we promise to not let you down as your hosting provider!

Best regards,

Technical Support.



I’ve just done a search of my e-mails and cannot find it.  Anyway, I’m more annoyed that Brexit is yet again costing me money – I dread to think what you think of the UK over there in Hungary…then again your leader is hardly a saint!  I’m guessing Hungary from your name, apologies if I am wrong.

All the best



Hi James,

My apologies for the email being lost!

I fully understand how troubling this can be and how Brexit has caused you a loss in money. I’m afraid, I am not from Hungary, however, no worries!

I hope you have a fabulous weekend and please drop me a line if you require further assistance!

Best regards,

Technical Support.


Proof that Brexit is costing me yet more money.

Complaint: Society Six

Good afternoon

I’m not having much luck with yourselves.

Recently I used my voucher from my previous complaint for the t-shirt that I had ordered that fell apart.

Instead of receiving the expected t-shirt, I received a shiny silver postcard from the Royal Mail, advising that there was a £4.48 customs charge to pay.  Oh and an £8.00 fee for the privilege of handling it.

So a total of £12.48, or roughly $5,000.00 with the post-Brexit vote exchange rate – but that’s all good because we’ve taken back control.  Yeah.

I don’t mind paying the customs charge, but surely it should be added at your side?  Surely your customer should not be paying around 100% extra to get the t-shirt from the warehouse – and don’t forget the administrative burden of trying to use the damn Royal Mail website – trying to remember which one of my several accounts and passwords that I’ve had to set up over the years it actually still accepts.


I’m quite happy just to blame Donald Trump and forgo a couple of salt beef bagels, but I just wanted to feed back the ballache and extra charges I have incurred (for my free t-shirt which replaces the broken one).

All the best and good luck with your anti-President.



Hello James,

I am very sorry that you are being asked to pay a customs charge. It does state on our site and in your order confirmation emails, there is a possibility of a customs fee for all international orders at time of delivery.

Your cart will not reflect these duties as they are applied at the time of arrival by the custom’s office that received them, and are not applied or collected by Society6. Customs fees are separate from shipping fees with Society6.

I do understand that this charge has come as a surprise so as a one-time courtesy I can refund the amount of the customs costs from your total you paid with Society6.

Just attach a photo of the customs receipt to submit for a refund of these charges.

We apologize for any inconvenience.



Hi Julia

I have attached photographs of the customs charge. I hope this is sufficient.

Please can you confirm how the charge will be refunded? I hope not in vouchers, as I am not keen on purchasing again from yourselves – I really like your designs – in product terms I really would like to spend more money with yourselves, but the customs charges and subsequent extra time and effort in retrieving items make it fairly prohibitive.

Are you not able to add the customs charges onto the checkout process?

Or have you considered opening a European distribution centre?

Kind regards



Hi James,

I apologize for the inconvenience. We are looking at ways to avoid customs charges in the future.

Unfortunately it looks like this order was placed with a $25 off coupon, so there is nothing for us to refund the customs charge to.

All we can do is offer store credit for a future order.

I apologize for the inconvenience here. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Detox Update

It is a month into my 3-month detox already.

In terms of alcohol it has been piss-easy.  Rarely have I considered having a drink – I am comfortably managing afternoon visits to pubs with only soft drinks.  Only when something has annoyed me and I’ve had a mini 5-minute rage-strop have I thought about alcohol.  Though it would be nice to have a glass of red wine to write this with.

Avoiding red meat is another question.  Sausage sandwiches and sausage rolls are out – but I do crave them quite often…very often at first!  I’m not strictly avoiding red meat, I do allow myself it on a roast dinner (I cannot have chicken every week…and me eat a vegetarian roast…yeeeeeeaaaah), but otherwise I have avoided it.

I’ve just added chocolate and cake to my banned list…might as well for the hell of it.

Alas, my diet is pretty much super-healthy yet I am not losing my belly.  Which is pretty annoying.  Yeah I know what you are saying, “do some exercise you tosser”.  Time, ladies and gentlemen.

I am occasionally a bit bored by all of the restrictions.  This time of year is perfect to do a detox, as people are going out less and there are far fewer invites to events.

Unsurprisingly I have no money either.  For January I had to pay for my flights for a holiday which I absolutely cannot afford, plus pay back my overspend in December.  In February I am putting my holiday spending money aside so I’ll have a budget of just £300 which needs to pay for food too.  In March I am going to buy a new phone outright, so again I’ll have a budget of around £300.

Which I can survive on – I’m not complaining about it – some have far less than I do, but means I have to limit my fun and my expenditure.  So for example, this weekend I am going to treat myself to a piece of fish from the local fishmonger – hardly a peak of excitement.  Dover Sole, perhaps?  Don’t think I’ve ever had it.

I am also trying to work out ways to expand my earning potential.  Clearly web development is the key to that.  I need to upgrade my skills, and learn AngularJS to help with work – I have started and some of it is sinking in, but until I start using it on a day-to-day basis, I won’t fully understand it.

But upgrading my skills for work is one thing – whether it will increase my earnings from my actual job this year I cannot answer.

So the other side is to make sure that I have an active website advertising my skills in the hope of picking up the odd client – I have had some small pieces of work over the last year but they only paid enough for a handful of roast dinners.  Then again, I don’t have much free time, so there is only so much that I can actually do.

I do already have audiences on, for example, my roast dinners blogs – I even had an enquiry the other day from Roast Dinners Around Reading, in regards to improving a website – though he’s disappeared since I mentioned a price.  Maybe it was too high…I’m still struggling with the idea of pricing myself.

Some simple banner ads would surely at least get a few people across – though I need to build the website first for my imaginary web design agency.

Also I could make a website for my weather page – given that I have over 5,000 followers, there should surely be something I could do to monetise it – perhaps an individual paid-for weather forecast.  Or maybe just host advertising for local businesses…I’m only talking small amounts.  Hell, maybe even a donation button – a few people have in the past asked if there was a way to pay for my forecasts.  Or a paid-for app…but that is another mission entirely.

I actually want to start two new blogs.  Yes, I know I don’t have time to update most of my current ones.  One is potentially going to be called Love, Life & Loathing of London – again with the aim of trying to have some minor kind of monetisation.

The other might just be an Instagram page, or maybe a small blog, called Moorgate Munching – helping to find good food in the specific area where I work.  Not that I can often afford to eat out at lunch, and I don’t have the time to write-up any large reviews anyway.  Maybe it won’t happen.

As always, the lack of time in my life matches the lack of money.  I know I’m not unique in either of those senses.

And, of course, this weekend I will end up concentrating on cleaning the house.  Instead of doing any of the web development projects that I have outlined above – as I feel spiritually much more positive in a clean house, and cannot yet afford a cleaner.  If only I had some more time so I could do some web development to help increase my earning potential so I can afford a cleaner to give me more time to help increase my earning potential.

It is very much a heads-down period, trying to concentrate on various areas of self-improvement, so I can enjoy life more in the rest of the year, and future years.  Sacrifices, my friend.

Yet I have also found some time to enjoy London recently.  Last weekend I went to the British Museum…well actually that was really dull but it was just nice to wander around with my favourite.  We had dinner in a really homely place in Soho called Claw – I had some awesome fish fingers with just delectable mayonnaise…I don’t actually like mayonnaise so for that to impress me was quite something.

I then had a second trip to Soho last weekend, this time to exchange a trinket for a chocolate bar from a Cadbury’s pop-up (sorry mum but I swapped that tacky Hull keyring that you gave me for Christmas that I was going to throw away…I’m sure you would have done the same).  Free chocolate! Yeah I gave up chocolate on Monday.

Roast dinners have, of course, continued – I also went to some fairly random show at the Vault Festival last Sunday…a drag queen doing an hour of cabaret in the world’s dampest “theatre” perhaps wasn’t the best thing I’ve seen in my life…or at least the most suitable for my tastes.

I’m also starting to plan other holidays that I probably cannot afford without another month off the booze.  I’m accepting the likelihood that if I am to achieve my goal of going to 4 new countries this year, then I’ll likely have to do at least some of it by myself.  It isn’t always easy to find people to go on holiday with – especially given the low budget that I have.  Though I haven’t really been trying.  And if someone popped up now and said, “I’d love to go on holiday with you”, then I wouldn’t be able to commit either.

Anyway, I quite fancy a trip to Slovenia, staying around Triglav National Park and getting some mountains, lake and forest stuff in – the scenery just looks gorgeous (yeah I’m nearly 40).  Just going for a walk, enjoying the surroundings, having a few chilled out beers, staying in a B&B or two.  And perhaps a day in Ljubljana too – which I definitely do not pronounce correctly.

I also quite fancy trips to Vienna, Athens, Budapest and Belgrade – if I am being more adventurous then I also fancy Tbilisi and Tirana – capitals of Georgia and Albania, respectively, just in case you didn’t know.

Whether I’ll be able to afford any of them is, of course, the perennial question, but if I do increase my earnings and am careful with my spending in this country (ie no nightclubs and cut down on random boozy sessions) then I should be able to squeeze one or two in.

So, another two months of this detox to go.

I don’t feel inspiringly fantastic and I have barely lost any of the weight I have put on since last April.  I still don’t have any money, I haven’t ticked much off my to-do list and I have barely touched any non-work coding projects.  And still need to buy some new pants.

Yet I feel that I am going in the right direction.  Broadly speaking, life is imperfectly good.

Roll on April.

Happy 38th Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me…yeahhhhhhhhh.  I find my birthday increasingly psychologically bizarre – it’s like a form of validation for myself as a human.

Despite Brexit, I generally think I’m a decent, funny and occasionally interesting person but I still have doubts about myself, and wonder whether I could be a nicer, happier, more interesting, etc, person to be around.  And then when I organise a birthday meal (or whatever I organise) I worry that nobody will turn up, or people will cancel.

So the weeks running up to my birthday I always have these very occasional paranoid, insecure thoughts that maybe everyone thinks I’m an arsehole – or worse, that I’m boring.

Weird, I know, but hey.  I do very occasionally have those thoughts.

Having a birthday in January isn’t exactly the most convenient of times – yesterday was cold, pissing down with rain, even snowing – many people are skint, on detox, diets yadda yadda.  So people have plenty of excuses to say no, and plenty of reasons to cancel. Not to mention that some of my closest friends are living in other countries (yes Scotland counts too), and many in another town.

Every year I go through the same phase from “I’m not organising anything this time” a month or so before, to waking up on the Sunday wondering if everyone has cancelled…one of the only times I was not excited about the possibility of snow!

And, of course, everything went fine yesterday and I had a really nice afternoon, as happens every birthday – despite the lack of beer, oh and not getting to sleep until 4am the night before – both of which made me socially slightly less capable than normal with stuttering introductions and jerky hugging.  Oh and the roast wasn’t great either, but sufficiently decent.

Thank you for those who are able to attend.  The effort and company was hugely appreciated.

My actual birthday is a Monday.  Yeah you’ve probably worked out that today is Monday already.  In hindsight I really wish I had booked the day off work.  I don’t normally – last two years were Friday and Sunday birthdays, respectively, but this year was a Monday.  I normally don’t take any time off before Easter, as I like to save my holiday for when it is warm…or should be.  And I only get 20 days holiday, so I didn’t want to waste holiday days.  But yeah, in hindsight I should have had the day off and done something I enjoy, maybe a walk around Regent’s Park, or explore somewhere…or a museum.

So instead, I woke up late so had to rush to get ready…trying my hardest not to be late to work any more from my own doing.  Had another bad night’s sleep last night so I was feeling really tired.

I was really looking forward to my salmon bagel at work (free breakfast on a Monday) – alas by time I noticed that it was served, it had all run out.  I stormed out of the office in a huff – I DESERVE SMOKED SALMON ON MY BIRTHDAY.  I ended up buying a chicken sandwich and a Red Bull (haven’t quite given up caffeine yet on the detox), came back to the office to find that they’d put out more smoked salmon.  Sigh.  6% of my remaining £60 budget for the month wasted on a half-eaten sandwich due to my strop.

On my lunch break I went donut shopping – first to Doughnut Time, which is a new place on Old Street – only to get there and realise that they are £4 each.  £4 for a fucking donut?  Not even on my birthday.  So I then went in the other direction to get a strawberry and cream Krispy Kreme donut (are you really still reading?) from possibly the most miserable and disinterested person I have seen outside of Sunderland.

Not the busiest day at work as I was waiting for projects to be signed off, so kind of doing quite bitty things, and testing, but a new project came through in time for my sugar high comedown.  I much prefer it when I can get my head down and code, but alas, today wasn’t one of those days.  The rest of the week should be.

What is the point of this blog?  Well today was just another day, punctuated by some very nice messages and a couple of gifts,  with a big fat completely unnecessary pie to end.  The pie was suitably average too – despite being from M&S.  I swear their food quality is going down quite significantly.

I spoke to my parents briefly, wrote my weather forecast and now am going to bed.  Early.

With validation.  I have had my required validation.  Thanks to all those that have sent me a tiny bit of love and validation.  It does mean a lot.

Now I just want one more birthday present.  A good night’s sleep.  Though I suspect I have a bit more fun to come this weekend.  Who really celebrates their birthday just once?

Cultural Adventures

It’s crazy to think of what people think of me as a Hullite now compared to a couple of years ago.

Prior to Hull being the UK’s City Of Culture, most people would have had me down as some kind of cultural oaf – yet now, Hull is synonymous with cultural offerings, and of course, being from Hull means that one is now highly regarded in cultural matters.

People from Reading are proud to have a new burger made in their honour.  People from Hull are proud to now be regarded as exemplary custodians of culture.

Whilst Hull may now be the centre of culture in the UK, London still has a few offerings, and I have been on my adventures recently.

Starting with Russian protest art at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea (thanks for the election wins, by the way).

It included features on Pussy Riot, Oleg Kulik and Pyotr Pavlensky, whom I am sure that you are all aware of – Oleg being the man who “artistically” acted as a dog, Pyotr being the man of stunts such as nailing his bollocks to the ground on Red Square in Moscow – ouch.

Alongside these were some rather defecating depictions of world leaders.



Jeez what the hell is going on with the layout?  That’s why I don’t start new blogs on Blogger.  Anyway…

There were also some cardboard boxes.  I like boxes.  Which is pretty useful working for a storage company.

Much better layout.  Speaking of design, I then also went to the Design Museum in Kensington.  In terms of the building, I really like what they had done – but it did seem quite a waste of space.

The actual exhibitions were rather crammed and badly designed – often with no logical flow.

It was of mild interest to see the collection of old electronics, but so, so much more could have been done with the exhibitions themselves.

Nicely designed toilet though.

A couple of weeks later I went to watch a pantomime for the first time since I was a young child.  In a caravan.  Oh yes I did.  It was really clever, 20 minutes long, amalgamating Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, around the modern-day theme of sexual harassment in the workplace.

I highly enjoyed it – and might go see their next performances at Vault Festival in February/March.

Then we went to look at a Gingerbread City – which was Instagram heaven.

The last one was my favourite as I just thought it represented modern life brilliantly.

These were all gingerbread buildings created by firms of architects, and on display at the “Museum” of Architecture – a very small museum consisting of one room that you could visit.

And of course, I did some culture in Hull.  There were 4 installations of robotic arms, programmed in different ways to represent communication.  Some communicated with each other, some communicated with us, some communicated with space – and the final one communicated with the statue of William Wilberforce.

Interesting – not overwhelmingly amazing but thought-provoking to an extent.

The Big Detox

So as of January 1st, I started a 3 month detox.  Well, technically January 2nd once NYE has been taken into account.

Though I was quite looking forward to a detox and could tell that I needed it, I didn’t want to do a 3 month detox.  My doctor is recommending it.  Yes, despite Michael Gove’s proselytising, I have not yet had enough of experts.

A year ago I had some general tests done – I had some slightly unusual symptoms – nothing especially worrying, nothing serious or life-changing, but thought given my previous 20 years of bodily abuse, that it would do no harm to go to the doctor instead of ignoring it.  Perhaps influenced by my father having had cancer the previous year, it seemed time to overcome my pretence that everything will be always be fine…as things normally do fix themselves.

Googling had also started to make me worried that I had diabetes, kidney failure or leprosy, so it seemed the wise choice to go see the doc.

He said nothing was probably wrong but did some blood tests anyway.

Everything came back fine.  Except for my liver which was overly fatty.  He told me to cut down on alcohol, lose some weight, and go back around May for another test.

I duly cut down on alcohol and I continued to lose weight.  The liver does repair itself if you give it chance.

Then summer happened.  And I found myself working in the centre of London with temptation everywhere.  I slowly put on 12kg, becoming the heaviest I have ever been – and drank a lot.  A hell of a lot sometimes.

So I had a month long near-detox in September, and went back for those tests, thinking everything would be clear.

No, my liver was slightly worse.  Though this doctor was easier to understand, and much clearer on what I should do.

I could ignore it, but the chances are that I would develop problems with my liver if I continued my lifestyle without giving my liver chance to fully recover.

So the options were 4-6 months with only 1 or 2 beers a week.  Or 3 months without.  Apparently the liver needs this long to repair damage – my annual month off is barely scratching the surface.

Fuck teasing myself with 1 beer a week, especially when the sun comes out in spring.  I’d rather go without.

I asked if there was anything else that I should avoid – energy drinks, perhaps?  Apparently they are fine, but he recommended that I avoid or reduce red meat if possible – though he did say he wouldn’t expect it as it isn’t a perfect world.  Which means cutting out beef, lamb, pork, pork chops, pork belly, bacon, ham, chorizo…you get it.  Sigh.  I’ve decided to cut out most red meat – once a week at most, ideally once a fortnight if I can.

So.  Three months of no alcohol, and only having red meat once a fortnight.

And that includes my birthday.  Yikes.

I’m cutting out caffeine too.  And cakes – maybe one a week at most.

Might have to keep chocolate in the mix though.

Roll on April 2nd.

James Went To Sevilla

Back in September, I decided that I’d like another holiday before the end of the year – I wanted to sit and drink beer in the sunshine one final time before winter arrived.  So I stopped drinking for a few weeks (minus one or two very minor aberrations).

I didn’t know where to go, or who to go with.  I did suggest to a couple of friends about the idea of going away, but none seemed even remotely keen but I’d also been thinking about going away by myself.  I was going to do the Swiss Alps trip by myself – I didn’t expect my sister to be keen when I semi-drunkenly mentioned it last year.

I am quite comfortable on my own – I’ve had to learn to be so and it hasn’t been easy in the past.  So I had been seriously considering the idea of going away by myself for a year or so, and I didn’t put much effort into finding a companion once I’d asked a couple of people.

Why Sevilla?

When my colleagues asked me, I simply said that I wanted to look at Spanish women.

Google had made promises to me and I had to go look myself.

The first realistic week that I could afford was the first full week of November and I didn’t expect many places in Europe would be warm and sunny at that point.  South of Spain was the one likely spot, and my parents had visited Sevilla earlier this year and were rather enamoured by it.

Whilst I begrudged the idea that I was not visiting a new country, it ticked my boxes – cheap, good food, pretty women, and some culture.

It was a frosty morning and I was getting one of the first tubes of the day.  I was still quite zombiefied (and a touch hungover from my dinner and drinks the day before) when arrived into the glory of Luton airport.

Though Luton airport was less shit than I expected, and I even managed to find an affordable pint of craft lager.  Airport beers are obligatory, even early on a Monday morning by yourself.

My Easyjet flight was surprisingly relaxing – I could have been on any airline, and nobody tried to sell me something every 10 minutes.  At least that I noticed.

My apartment was small – a fairly cheap airbnb affair.  My host was very friendly and helpful – thankfully he spoke more English than I did Spanish though I tried my Spanish “skills” when writing.  It had everything I wanted in one small, cosy apartment.  Not sure I would want to live in such an apartment, but it would be a perfect starter home for someone wanting to get onto the property ladder in Spain.  Or around £400,000 in London.

The first priority was to put my shorts on, get a beer and start reading my £0.01 book from Amazon, Adventures on the Wheels of Steel: The Rise of the Superstar DJs by Haslam, a book about the history of music scenes and in particular DJs, with the obligatory fawning chapter over the wonderful Jimmy Savile, and all the charity work he did.  At least he was apparently wonderful when the book was written a good 15 years or so ago.

I made it to some long open boulevard that my host had recommended me.  It wasn’t the most salubrious of areas but at least the relatively low-lying sunshine was shining on me due to the open expanse.  My abiding memory was of lots of flies, which kind of suited reading about how revolutionary Jimmy Savile was as a DJ.  Shudder.

For the rest of the day, I wandered around aimlessly, had a couple more beers, bought the obligatory ham, cheese and baguette for the apartamento in case I became hungry.  In the evening I went out for food, again I took my host’s recommendation and went to a tiny little side street tapas place – I had two unimpressive dishes and a beer for a very impressive €4.40.  Just over half the amount I had paid for a plate of broccoli the day before.  Seville is cheap – even when I mistakenly sat down in a tourist trap cafe, I only paid €3.50 for a large cerveza.

My meal was culinary disappointing enough to dissuade me from spending any more money – and I was trying to do the trip on just €120 of spending money (I failed but not by much).

At the end of the day I wasn’t impressed with Seville.  Neither charmed nor interested – I’d drank cheap beer with flies and had fairly uninteresting but cheap food.  Oh and why did pretty much every dish come with fries?  Oh, and I had only fallen in love once.  Where were all the hot Spanish flamenco dancers on every street corner that Google Images promised?

I don’t like failure so I needed a plan, and decided to book a tour of Seville for the next day.  Two tours, in fact – both free tours (albeit with a tip being socially acceptable – and deserved).

The first tour was a tour through the historic part of the city to see the monuments.  There were two tours, one Spanish and one English.  The Spanish one, of course, was headed by a super-hot senorita.  I decided English would be more appropriate – he did once live in Manchester and was astounded by newspaper headlines of incoming heatwaves…with temperatures of 20’C.

Seville in the summer reached 46’C this year.  I would probably die.  I was perfectly happy in temperatures of 22’C to 25’C – though the mornings were notably chilly, and as soon as the sun disappeared by around 6pm, it quickly got chilly again.  Even I needed a jacket in the evening.  Yes, I did get one or two strange looks for wearing shorts – either that or Spanish women were finding me surprisingly attractive – I am going for the former.

So the tour.  We went past churchy stuff, though thankfully being on holiday without my sister meant I didn’t have to then later go in them.  We went past the city hall, which amusingly one side was not decorated on the outside as they had run out of money in whatever century it was build – and could either afford to finish decorating the building, or throw a party for whoever it was being built for.  They chose the party.  I do love the Spanish.

We went past the palace, Alcazar, though not an awful lot to see on the outside, we were regaled by stories from our guide.  And then onto the university – which used to be a tobacco factory.

Then finally onto a set of buildings that were built by other countries as gifts to Spain, in some form of Expo.  As you can see, I haven’t remembered much of the historic details – but there was some stunning architecture, especially in the beautiful park to finish.

The tour was excellent – I really do not know why I don’t do guided tours when I go abroad.  This will change.  Especially if they are free.

Time for a couple of beers in the sunshine, and back to my book.

By late afternoon I went on another tour, this time of the old gypsy district, which used to be a no-go area historically.  And also where Flamenco dancing was reputedly from.

This tour guide was also excellent – though he only had two of us to show around.  Some of it was a bit churchy and stuff, but some of it was fascinating about the history of Seville, and this particular district – especially in regards to the history of the Moors.  I won’t attempt to reproduce it in print as it would only be #fakehistory.

In the evening I also had my best meal of the holiday.  I spent ages trying to research tapas places – nowhere convinced me until I found a place called Bodega Dos De Mayo.  When I arrived, fairly late, it was busy and there was nowhere to sit.  I did think about going elsewhere, but I ignored my stabs of impatience and solo social awkwardness and hung on the street corner (I didn’t see any prostitutes in Seville, by the way) until a table came free.

I was thankful that I did – the pork loin (with fries, of course) was beautiful.  I then tried two new dishes.  Firstly I tried bull – it was very earthy and almost had a touch of liver about it.  Very nicely cooked though I will happily ignore it on future menu lists.  And then patatas sevillanos, which was a gorgeous dish of potatoes, spring onions, chives, some kind of sauce – and then a chunk of tuna oddly placed on top – as you do…the Spanish are bloody weird at times.

For the final day, I wanted to do something cultural, have some chorizo, some churros and some flamenco.  I didn’t have much money left so that was a factor in my decision making – for when is it not?!

I started with a small plate of chorizo and fried eggs.  Quite why it was so hard to find chorizo in Seville, I never found out.  And I wasn’t that impressed with my decision making – I could have made this back home in England.  What was I doing?

I tried to make up for this by finding some churros – my Spanish amiga raves about them – I think I have had them in England once, thought there were rubbish but assumed that was because I had bought them from Nando’s or whatever chain hole it was.

All day I looked for them, but nada.  Then I remembered that the oldest bar in Seville was supposed to be the best place.  I went in and asked in my best Spanish.  He didn’t understand me.  I typed “churros” on my phone and he barked back at me, “no”.  OK…

But on the street corner near my house, there was a little takeaway stand.  The not so attractive Spanish lady serving me was very efficient.  Alas, the dreadful churros I had in England were far superior and I ended up throwing them away.  The chocolate they came with was particularly naff.  I blamed my decision making process again.

Churros are shit.  Do not be fooled by Spanish people telling you otherwise.

Thankfully, my decision making process was spot on for which cultural visit to undertake, for Alcazar was rather wondrous.

A sprawling palace with very large grounds, I found myself getting completely lost on a few occasions – once in a maze which I decided to enter, believing that it wasn’t really a maze and then getting stuck.  The peacocks found their way out quite easily by going through the small gaps at the bottom.

It was a truly beautiful place and where the King & Queen of Spain stay now when they visit Sevilla. I could have spent hours in there but I fancied a beer so off I went to sit, read my book again, and watch the world go by.  Or watch Spanish women cycle by.

I ended up a little tipsy that night and decided to have a steak.  Not exactly especially Spanish but hey.  It was good but nothing I’d not had before – and by this point I was relying on my card to pay and of course it wouldn’t.  I feared a stint of washing up but managed to find a working cash point at the third attempt.

That will have to do you.  I started writing this when I got back which was a month ago.  And have only just finished it now.

By the end of the visit I was properly enchanted by Seville.  I loved all the cute little roads and how close everything was – rarely did I walk down a road twice.  I liked the laid back atmosphere, yet there was still a vibrancy.  It did almost have a cool Californian feel to it in places, with lots of people cycling, skating and rowing – yes on the river there were loads of people in canoes and kayaks, every single time I went past.  Yet I only saw one gym.  I did see a few fat Spanish women.

It even has a music scene.

Alas, I didn’t make it to a flamenco show.  I considered buying a flamenco dress apron for a giraffe, but as I live on my own and use water and soap to clean my hands instead of aprons, it would have been fairly pointless.  It was enough to amuse myself at the thought.

I know a flamenco dancer in the UK anyway – albeit she never invites me to her shows.  I may have popped the myth about Spanish women being exceptionally beautiful too – or maybe I just expected too much from all the beautiful women in Ibiza.

The food was good but not brilliant – it was gloriously cheap over there though.

Seville is definitely up there with my favourite cities that I have ever visited.  Not quite in the must-visit category with Berlin and Barcelona – but in the secondary category.

I did really, really like Seville.  And there were even a few people with mullets there.  Modern mullets – like mine.

Adios.  Next up for me on my travels is Madrid, in April, for my father’s retirement.

Nearly Holiday Time

1 more working day and I have a whole week off work.

In fact, it isn’t even a proper day of work tomorrow as the afternoon is an OKR session followed by some form of beer.

I do need a week off.  I’ve required a holiday for ages.  This will actually be the first full week off work since I started my job in April.  And the whole time that I was unemployed I was doing 5 or 6 day weeks of 9-5 studying/coding.

So effectively my first full week off since Ibiza 2016.  Which wasn’t exactly restful.

I’m not exhausted, but my pzazz has gone, my physical and mental strength is lower than normal, I’m struggling even to write this blog post – the words are there somewhere but pulling them out of my brain is harder than…nope…too hard to create an analogy.

It just feels like my brain is on a lower wattage.  Not at all helped by the ridiculous amount of weight I have put on since March, which is often down to me eating too much when tired.

So I’ve got a whole 9 days without any work.

More importantly, I am going to Seville.  Just for 3 nights – it was all I could afford, though I was quite impressed with myself to save up that much.

Why Seville?  I like Spanish women.  Have I ever told you that?  I am pretty much going so I can look at hot Spanish women.  With the side-bonus of having a few cheap beers in the sunshine – 20’C and consistently clear blue skies are forecast which is just perfect for me.

A quick Google search leads me to understand that most women in Seville dress like this.  Albeit with it only being 20’C, I am sure they will all have massive coats, hats, gloves and scarves on.  My shorts are in the washing machine right now.

I’m quite interested to go on holiday by myself.  Maybe I’ll get bored on my own – but I doubt it.  I do, however, like to share good experiences with others.  I am not especially good at introducing myself to random people, but maybe I will get talking to one or two random fat, ugly Spanish women.  Los elefantes son azules.

Not entirely sure what I’ll do.  I rarely plan a holiday’s contents until the day before.  Ideally I won’t spend any more than £100 whilst over there, or €101.  A lot of walking, a lot of sight-seeing, a fair few beers which I believe are priced around €1.75 for a pint, and some tapas.

I guess I’ll go watch some flamenco too.

Who knows.  I’m just looking forward to not really having a plan.  Not having to think about JavaScript.  Not having to get up for work.  Sunshine.  Beer.  Relaxing – well…


My First Spanish Letter: Consell De Ivissa

Last time I went to Ibiza, I saw that the Consell De Ivissa had a ‘Refugees Welcome’ banner outside.  I thought that I should write to them.  9 months later, I did.


Hola Ibiza

Mi nombre es James y yo amo tu isla.  Lo siento por mi Español malo.  Estoy apriendo.  Yo intento.

Lo siento acerca Brexit.  Y lo siento acerca estupido politicos hablamos acerca guerra entre Inglaterra y Español.

Yo penso Brexit sera muy malo.  Muy mierde.

Es posible necessito escapar.  Cuando yo visite Eivissa año pasado, yo vez un poster de “Refugees Welcome”.  Esto incluye Ingles Brexit refugees como yo?  Si se convierte muy malo cuando (si?) salimos, necesito salido Brexitland – sere un refugee.

Puedo beuno por Eivissa.

Primero, amo tapas – yo cocino bueno.

Siguente, soy un DJ.  Pero todos un DJ – tu eres un DJ tambien?

Puedo ser un empresario y emplear unos Ibicenos.  No, no vendo drogas – hago sitios web.

Y yo soy un critico de cena de asado – el especialidad de gran Bretaña.  Ayudo los restaurants en la isla mejorar sus cenas de asado.

Finalmente, soy un pronóstico del tiempo – bastante famoso tambien.

Puedo perfecto por Eivissa, no?  Entonces en uno o dos años, cuando sere un refugee, puedo un refugee en Eivassa?

Por favor.


James Winfield


This was sent back in June.  I did not receive a response  I appreciate that Spanish people have long holidays so I followed up in September:


Hola Eivissa

No me recibi un repuesta.  No me amo?

El verano es terminado (esta terminado en Londres en Julio), espero oigo hasta pronto.




Still no response.  Fucking Brexit.