Back in 2011, in a bit of a reversal, I wrote a blog entry "Can Anybody Get It Right?" in honour of those companies that DID manage to live up to my standards. I don't think those requirements are particularly high, I just expect things to work as they should. If Amazon Prime says they will provide next day delivery, I expect my product to arrive...next day. Often it doesn't, which is why I constantly rant about them. The same applies for South West Trains, who constantly arrive at my required destination well beyond the scheduled time.
So, almost three years on, is anybody still floating my boat? Are there any newcomers to my band of heroes?
Well, here's my list of honours...
Yes, they're here again. Despite customers numbers being way up, and being far busier than they would have been in 2011, Ocado still never fail to deliver. We even trust them to bring our food products on Christmas Eve with no backup in place.
The product range keeps getting bigger and now, instead of being fully dependent on Waitrose goods, many products now arrive as Ocado own brand. The quality is just as good, it's just a little cheaper. Talking of cheaper, a Tesco price match is in place for branded goods. If there is a better deal on Coke or coffee at Tesco, the Ocado checkout will match it for us.
The price of deliveries may have gone up a little over time but, in reality, no doubt the cost of providing the service has too. They come, on time, whether it's bright sunshine or snow outside - even equipping their fleet with winter tyres so they don't let people down. In a recent example, the Ocado delivery truck got a puncture on the way to my mother-in-law's house. Instead of failing to deliver, the driver carried all the bags about a quarter of a mile down the road to her home. Then, on his return, transferred the rest of his deliveries to a backup van that had arrived to prevent any interruption to service.
In my last article I said I how I had recommended Ocado to all my family and friends. Now they have and they all use them.
Like my dad and his dad, when I bought my first lawn mower I bought a Flymo. It worked. It didn't cut particularly well, but it worked. It didn't pick the grass up very well, but it worked. The cable wasn't very long and needed an extension, but it worked.
In fact, it worked for far too long. Over 10 years I carted that damn hover mower around and I never took any satisfaction from it. One day I even ran over and cut through the cable. I prayed it was dead, but still it survived.
In the end, enough was enough. It would still cut grass, but it was never very good at it. I had a nice new home with a nice new garden and wanted something that would do a proper job. This meant a petrol mower and enter Honda UK.
The Honda Izy range is entry level when it comes to petrol mowers, but that doesn't mean it's cheap and nasty. Gone are the days of mixing petrol and 2-stroke oil, modern Honda mowers come with proper 4-stroke engines. You simply fill it with normal unleaded, the same as you use for your car, and pull the string. Once. None of this pull, pull, pull nonsense. You just pull the string and it starts up...first time.
We're now in the middle of March and last weekend I mowed the lawn for the first time this year. The mower had been sat stationary in the shed since the end of October; a good five months. I pulled the mower out, filled her with fuel (they recommend you run it dry before storage) and pulled the cord. She fired straight up.
I call her "she" because I love her. She just works and she cuts my lawn beautifully. She cuts closer than my old mower and she picks up all of the bits. She doesn't blow the bits into the flower beds. She doesn't blow grit into my eye. She just works. I can get her out of the shed, start her up, mow the lawn and put her back again in a quicker time than it took me to get the Flymo out and play the "extension cable through the kitchen window" game with my wife.
I'd once though of petrol mowers as heavy and unreliable, but now I realise they are more convenient and a great investment. In fact, I got into power tools so much that I've even expanded into the Honda Versatool range that provides me with strimmer, hedge trimmer and chainsaw/pruner all using one petrol power unit. Like the mower, it just works and I'm now taking summer bookings from family and friends to prune their trees.
A bit of a local recommendation but, if you're ever in the City of London, go down to St. Paul's and drop into Barbecoa Butchers.
A collaboration between chef Jamie Oliver and pig farmer Adam Perry Lang, this butchers sells quite simply the best pork I have ever tasted anywhere in the world. If you like pork chops, bacon or a bit of tenderloin fillet, I cannot recommend it enough.
Lean, full of flavour and great value, Barbecoa has become my only source of pork products for the household. The staff are outstanding too, chopping and trimming meat to your exact specification. I recently went in for a specific amount of tenderloin pork fillet and they butcher weighed every piece they had on the counter to find they were all a bit too small. Not wanting to give me two bits from two different animals, he walked straight into the glass door fridge and I watched as he cut me one straight out of a whole pig that was hanging in there.
How many butchers that you know would cut into a whole new animal just to give you a piece of the right size? Now I'll tell you that this was 5.30pm on a Friday night. This is a premier league butchers in a world of non-league players.