Monday, November 23, 2020

Wonder Golf opening in Hastings

A new pop-up crazy golf course is opening in Hastings.

A new pop-up crazy golf course is opening in Hastings

The seaside town of Hastings will be home to a new pop-up indoor crazy golf course next month.

Wonder Golf is planning to open in the old Hastings Observer newspaper offices in the town centre and will operate for a month between the 4th December 2020 and 3rd January 2021.

Each of the holes on the crazy golf course will pay tribute to the heritage and cultural events of the Hastings & St Leonards area.

Visit the Wonder Golf website and Facebook Page for more information.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Grainger Games. A lost video game shop brand

This is the Stretford Mall location.

Grainger Games in Stretford Mall

The company was founded in 1996 and ceased operations on the 28th March 2018.

Grainger Games in Stretford Mall

You won't find a PS5 there, but there's still a rack of UFC3 games for the XBOX ONE and PS4 in there.

Grainger Games in Stretford Mall

As a brand with shops in the North of England and Scotland I only became a regular shopper there when I moved to Stockport in 2016.

Pac-Man street art by Gorse Hill Studios in Stretford

Found underneath Stretford in Manchester.

Pac-Man street art by Gorse Hill Studios in Stretford

Pac-Man street art by Gorse Hill Studios in Stretford


Thursday, November 19, 2020

New crazy golf course for Gourock

Gourock Park Bowling Club is planning to create a new crazy golf course.

Gourock Park Bowling Club is planning to create a new crazy golf course

We look forward to playing the 9-hole crazy golf course on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour in the future. We haven't been to Gourock on our previous travels in Scotland. It'll be nice to get back up there.

Gourock Park is home to a Putting Green and this will be redeveloped as part of the plans to transform the park.


Social distancing signs in Abingdon's Market Place

I've been documenting the Covid-19 social distancing signs I've seen during the coronavirus pandemic here and on my Instagram.

The ones in my home town's Market Place are nice and clear. They also include the Abingdon-on-Thames town crest which I think is a nice touch.

Social distancing sign in Abingdon's Market Place

The Market Place is famous as the location for Bun Throwing and the starting point for the Michaelmas Fair. Both events normally see thousands of people pack in or pass through to be a part of the occasions.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

An old video store inside a Happy Shopper shop

Striking old gold. Twice in one go.

I've spent a fair bit of 2020 reminiscing about 'the good old days' before the coronavirus pandemic. One of my areas of interest is in old retail brands - I am a marketer after all - and I have found remnants of a number of lost, dead and defunct brands. It's wonderful that these traces can still be found on the high street and at retail parks. If you know where to look.

I've found old Tandy and Toys R Us stores and signage - they are two brands I worked for in the 90s and the year 2000. I've also found old Woolworths, Big W, BHS, Kwik Save, Orange Mobile and RadioShack shops.

As I've been researching Blockbuster Video I've also noticed a number of old video shops. And last month we found a video shop still open and renting out VHS tapes!

One of the retro brands I remember clearly from growing up in the 80s and 90s was Happy Shopper. The colourful sign with the happy chappy face is a lovely throwback. Happy Shopper received a rebrand in 2000, but if you are lucky you can still find the original branding and signage on some shops.

The Wayfairer Discount Store in Ilkeston
The Wayfairer Discount Store in Ilkeston

While en route to an abandoned Toys R Us store in Preston I almost didn't believe my eyes as we drove past a closed Happy Shopper shop with the old signage still in place.

We actually found two Happy Shopper shops in Sheffield, one of which was still open. That store also had the original 1971 branding on the Covid-19 social distancing signage on the door! What a sight that was.

At the last Happy Shopper shop we found in Ilkeston, Derbyshire there was an extra bonus - it used to be a video shop too!

Video Box Office at The Wayfairer Discount Store in Ilkeston
You could hire videos from the Happy Shopper in the 1980's!

Video Box Office was the Business to Business part of ChoicesUK and launched in the UK in 1985 when the brand offered video rental services via third-party convenience stores. The following year ChoicesUK created a Business to Consumer operation with their own branded network of Choices Video stores.

While never as big as Blockbuster Video, Choices UK was a challenger to the market leader and the second largest chain of rental shops in the UK with 180 stores in the country. However, by 2007 the market for the rental of physical media was beginning to decline and other factors played a part in the brand going into administration. 59 ChoicesUK shops were taken over and rebranded as Blockbuster stores.

I wonder if there are any other remnants of Choices Video out there...?

Happy Shopper does still exist, as both convenience stores and own brand food & drink products. Many of the former Happy Shopper stores were rebranded as Premier shops. It has been part of the Booker Group since 1996. Booker itself is now owned by Tesco.

Guinness World Records Day 2020

Today is Guinness World Records Day!

Have you ever attempted, set or broken a Guinness World Record?

I've been a part of a few mass participation Guinness World Record attempts and tried some individual challenges too.

In 2009 I attempted the Guinness World Record for the 'Most Brussels Sprouts Eaten in a Minute'. That was my favourite so far.

Emily and I actually helped set a Guinness World Record in May of 2009. That was for 'The Largest Picnic across multiple venues'. Over 8,300 people took park in that effort.

We also helped break the Guinness World Record of 'Largest Gathering of People Wearing Boater Hats' while we lived in Luton back in 2014.

The 'Largest Gathering of People Wearing Boater Hats' in Luton
Mad Hatters!

Guinness World Record Attempts to date:
  • 2014 - 'Largest Gathering of People Wearing Boater Hats' - Achieved
  • 2012 - 'Fastest 400m Relay Hop' - Unsuccessful
  • 2012 - 'Largest Group Hop' - Unsuccessful
  • 2011 - 'The most people to ‘High Five’ simultaneously' - Unsuccessful
  • 2010 - 'The UK's longest Conga line' - Unsuccessful
  • 2009 - 'Most Brussels Sprouts Eaten in a Minute' - Unsuccessful
  • 2009 - 'The Largest Picnic across multiple venues' - Achieved

It's been a few years since our last Guinness World Record attempt. What shall we try for next?


Relation Blog Posts:

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Strangest Things in Blackpool

We've just started watching Stranger Things on Netflix and it reminded me that we saw the remains of the Strangest Things attraction in Blackpool earlier this year.

Strangest Things in Blackpool

The online reviews for the experience are quite something!

Strangest Things in Blackpool

Friday, November 13, 2020

Christmas Crazy Golf

Not long to go until Christmas!

It's highly doubtful we'll be playing any Christmas minigolf this festive season - our first Christmas in Lockdown.

Thankfully we've played a bit of yuletide crazy golf on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour in the past.

Christmas Minigolf
A selection box of festive miniature golf from top left - the Home Alone hole at Teezers Retro Golf in Coventry (played on an Easter Sunday), the pop-up Chrizy Golf course in Manchester and the Santa hole on the pop-up Christmas course at Devonshire Square in London

Check out the latest blog post about Christmas Crazy Golf from the team at Putterfingers.

NEW BLOG: Portable crazy golf hire adds a bit of festive cheer to small gatherings. Great for all ages, delivery to...

Back on the 30th November 2012 I won the first - and to date only - Chrizy Golf Masters minigolf tournament in Manchester!

Chrizy Golf Champion
Chrizy Golf Champion

Tales from a Gluten Free Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching I'm pleased to share my experience as part of Coeliac UK’s ‘Tales from a Gluten Free Christmas’ campaign. Visit the Coeliac UK website and check out the #gfchristmas hashtag on social media to find out more.

This year we've been missing meeting friends for a meal at our favourite restaurant, The Oxford Place in Leeds.

With a bit of luck we'll be able to get over there for a meal this year after the current national lockdown in England.

Dining out gluten free

Since we first heard about The Oxford Place in 2016 we've eaten there a lot. Not only is the entire restaurant and kitchen 100% gluten free and safe for Coeliacs, it serves superb meals that my non-Coeliac friends have loved eating too. They pass the "you can't tell its gluten free" test every time.

Last year I had my first Christmas Dinner at a restaurant since I don't know when!

Christmas at The Oxford Place in Leeds
Last Christmas at The Oxford Place

It wasn’t any old Christmas Dinner either. The Oxford Place always put so much effort into the dishes they serve up and they are a treat for the taste buds and the eyes.

Normally by this point of the year we'd have been to Leeds for celebration meals, for fun, to attend events and see friends. In 2020 we've been there a grand total of zero times.

We've had so many wonderful meals at The Oxford Place. From light lunches to three-course meals, to birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas Dinners with all the trimmings I've been able to feel somewhat normal again by having the choice of anything and everything on the menu without worry of cross-contamination, or the annoyance of having something removed or replaced to 'make it gluten free'.

We can't wait until we're able to get back to the city and The Oxford Place. I know I'll be making up for lost time and ordering a lot of food on my next visit.

If you haven't been to The Oxford Place I suggest you make a booking and try it as soon as you are able to.

A gluten free Christmas at home

Being a Coeliac doesn't mean you have to miss out on treats. I've certainly snacked on and scoffed my fair share of Christmas food since being diagnosed in 2008.

Last year you could get Lebkuchen by Schar at Asda. They were something I'd really missed so I bought a lot of them. I haven't seen them in store yet this year, but fingers crossed they'll be doing them again.

It'll be fun making some too. There's an excellent recipe for gluten free Lebkuchen in the Gluten-free Baking at Christmas book by 'The Happy Coeliac' Samantha Stein.

Home-made gluten free Lebkuchen
Home-made gluten free Lebkuchen biscuits

We'll be enjoying Christmas at home again this year, cooking up a superb festive meal with all the trimmings, including Yorkshire Puddings.

The range of gluten free food available in supermarket's Christmas ranges has also improved over the last ten years and we've ordered a few extra treats from M&S already.

What is your favourite thing about being gluten free at Christmas?

Check out Coeliac UK's Christmas website for more information, ideas and inspiration for gluten free food and drink.


Related blog posts:

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lost shops

Relics from a lost time.

Kwik Save in Barrow in Furness, Woolworths in Longton, Toys R Us in Preston, Tandy in Hitchin, RadioShack in St Annes on the Sea and Blockbuster in Manchester
Kwik Save in Barrow in Furness, Woolworths in Longton, Toys R Us in Preston, Tandy in Hitchin, RadioShack in St Annes on the Sea and Blockbuster in Manchester

Which lost brands do I need to track down next?

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Pop Golf opening at Boxpark Wembley

A new crazy golf venue is opening in London.

Pop Golf is opening at Boxpark Wembley in 2021

A new pop music-themed minigolf course is opening at Boxpark Wembley in early 2021.

Pop Golf is being created by the team behind the Mighty Adventures brand of minigolf.

It'll be another new minigolf course for us to play on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour in the future.

Visit the Pop Golf website for more information.

The Arden Arms in Bredbury, Stockport

Erratum - we missed a pub on our lockdown pub crawl of Stockport Borough.

We visited 265 pubs, bars and clubs during the national lockdown between April and July of this year. Some of those places were long established, others were new venues, a few were getting ready to open for the first time in 2020, while a number of others were lost pubs.

One of the pubs we missed during the first lockdown was the Arden Arms at Bredbury!

The Arden Arms in Bredbury, Stockport
The Arden Arms in Bredbury

We knew there was an Arden Arms in the town centre (pub #51), but as the Bredbury location is right on the border with Denton in Tameside it completely slipped off our radar.

The Arden Arms in Bredbury, Stockport
The sign of pub #266 on our travels 

We rectified the matter on Saturday though as we took our day's outdoor exercise at Hulmes Wood and walked back across the border into Stockport to snap the Arden Arms.

The Arden Arms in Bredbury, Stockport
Approaching Stockport from Tameside

The Arden Arms in Bredbury, Stockport
Right on the border

The Arden Arms in Bredbury, Stockport
Looking back towards Tameside

Related blog posts:

Friday, November 06, 2020

Unhappy Shopper

I'm actually quite happy about this purchase.

Emily recently spotted a range of retro and parody t-shirts by Manchester Tom on Instagram and I knew I had to buy this Unhappy Shopper one!

Unhappy Shopper t-shirt by Manchester Tom

Even though 2020 has been undeniably shite and I've barely been to any shops I wanted to go to, I have managed to find a few Happy Shopper shops with the nice old branding still in place.

Social distancing signs at The Happy Shopper in Sheffield

Check out the Manchester Tom website for more information.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

A retro Iceland shopfront in Port Talbot, Wales

Knowing my interest in retro retail signage my friend and minigolf rival Martyn Williams sent me over this snap of the retro signage at the Iceland supermarket in Port Talbot.

Iceland in Port Talbot, Wales. Photo by Martyn Williams November 2020

I don't know how I missed seeing it when I was in Port Talbot for the Welsh Doubles Championship last year!?

Port Talbot and the seaside bit of it at Aberavon are well worth a visit. I had a brilliant stay on the seafront in May 2019.

I'm really looking forward to returning to Wales when it's safe to do so. 2020 is the first year in ages that I haven't had at least a day trip to the country.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Shed minigolf

Chatting with Andrew Wilcox of Readers Sheds and the Shed of the Year Awards I was reminded of this excellent shed-based crazy golf hole we played back in 2010.

Garden minigolf in East Finchley, London

Not only do you putt into a shed, but it's a musical obstacle too. Marvellous.

Garden minigolf in East Finchley, London

The garden crazy golf course in East Finchley was the 250th we visited on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour. We've now been to 956 courses since 2006.

Garden minigolf in East Finchley, London

Visit the UrbanCrazy website for more information on the courses they create.

Garden minigolf in East Finchley, London


Keep YOUR Distance - Protect yourself

Check out this social distancing floor sign outside the old Blockbuster Video store at Fallowfield Retail Park in Manchester.

Signs of the old and the new. Together. In Manchester
Signs of the old and the new. Together. In Manchester

We're currently in Tier 3 Restrictions in Greater Manchester. 

Here in Stockport we've been under tight restrictions of one form or another since the first national lockdown in March.  

Tomorrow the whole of England will move into a national lockdown for the second time this year.

I wonder what other interesting signs I will see on my daily outdoor exercise this winter...?

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Budgens of Woodford

A look at the Budgens supermarket in Woodford, Stockport.

Budgens of Woodford

You don't often see Budgens supermarkets these days. Although I did spot this one in a nice historic building in Sheffield recently.

Budgens of Woodford

This is the only Budgens in the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport.

Budgens was founded by John Budgen in 1872.

The company is now a subsidiary of Booker Group, part of Tesco plc.

Market Store in Burnage, Manchester

We popped to Burnage to do some shopping last month and spotted this Market Store. There's something rather familiar about the signage.

Market Store in Burnage, Manchester

Market Store in Burnage, Manchester

Related blog posts:

- The Carpet Factory in Middleton

A video rental shop in 2020

Finding a video shop on Video Shop Day 2020.

Last month we were fortunate enough to stumble upon a video rental shop in Little Lever, Bolton. Yes, video as in VHS!

B.V.C. - Bolton Video Centre in Little Lever

The day we called in was Video Shop Day! What are the odds?

The old-school video rental shop was fully stocked with VHS tapes. I haven't seen anything like it for years.

They did also have DVDs.

What a marvellous time capsule of another era.

You can find B.V.C. - Bolton Video Centre in Little Lever, Bolton.

Monday, November 02, 2020

The Big Mini Golf Bucket List 2020

With lockdowns continuing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic let's take another look at The Big Mini Golf Bucket List we created back in March.

The Big Mini Golf Bucket List 2020

Just because your local miniature golf course may once again be closed over the coming months doesn't mean you can't keep up with your putting practice and have some crazy golf fun at home.

Back in March we put together a minigolf bucket list with ideas and suggestions of things to do in the world of miniature golf.

The Big Mini Golf Bucket List

1. Create a minigolf hole at home.

2. Go even further and build an entire crazy golf layout in your home or garden.

3. Play a minigolf videogame.

4. Send a minigolf postcard to someone you know (we love sending and receiving postcards!).

5. Write a guest blog post for the Ham & Egger Files.

6. Post about minigolf on social media and use the hashtags #minigolf #minigolfmonday #puttathome and #minigolfbucketlist.

7. Recommend a course for us to visit on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour in the future.

8. Play an online minigolf game.

9. Visit

10. Read a book about minigolf.

11. Watch and share a minigolf video online.

12. Download a minigolf app ready for when you can hit a course again.

If you have any other ideas of your own to add to the bucket list please do let us know.

The Big Mini Golf Bucket List 2020

Check out my blog posts about Minigolf in the time of Coronavirus and competitive isolation.

Good luck to all the minigolf courses out there over the autumn and winter months. We're looking forward to playing again.


Join our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour enewsletter mailing list.

Picture Postcard Magic - What have you been watching during lockdown?

Check out my latest guest post for the Reflections of a Bygone Age blog.

Picture Postcard Magic 31st October 2020 with Richard Gottfried What have you been watching during lockdown? With 2020...

Posted by Reflections of a Bygone Age on Saturday, 31 October 2020

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Budgens in Sheffield

A look at a Budgens supermarket in Sheffield.

Budgens in Sheffield

The supermarket on London Road was a Sainsbury's Local until February this year.

It reopened as a Budgens shortly after.

Budgens in Sheffield

You don't see Budgens as much as you used to.

The building really stands out and is one of the oldest in the area. A lovely sight to spot.

It opened as The Lansdowne Picture Palace in 1914 and became a Mecca dance hall called The Locarno in the 1950s. It underwent a number of name changes during its time as a nightclub.

Interestingly the building was a Marks & Spencer for a short time in the late 1940s.

Budgens in Sheffield
Social distancing signage and the welcome mat at the entrance

Budgens was founded by John Budgen in 1872.

The company is now a subsidiary of Booker Group, part of Tesco plc.

Steals in Blackpool

There's no place like this place, anywhere near this place, so this must be the place.

We had a walk round Chorley town centre back in August and spotted a Steals shop for the first time. The brand has some nice signage.

Looking online I found that Steals is a bargain clothes shop with branches in Blackpool, Preson, Accrington, Poulton-le-Fylde and Chorley.

We were in Blackpool in September and saw the Steals there.

Steals in Blackpool

Visit the Steals Facebook Page for more information.

The Floodgate turns one

Happy birthday to The Floodgate in Digbeth.

The Floodgate in Digbeth, Birmingham opened it's doors a year ago today.

Pit-Pat table golf at The Floodgate in Digbeth, Birmingham
Pit-Pat table golf at The Floodgate in Digbeth, Birmingham

It was brilliant to be the first player on the Pit-Pat table golf layout as I'm a big fan of the minigolf and pool crossover game.

You can also play on indoor baseball batting cages and a curling rink at the competitive socialising venue.

Visit The Floodgate website for more information, opening times and prices.

Check out the blog post from my visit to The Floodgate.

Not a Londis anymore

Spotting a modern day ghost sign in Salford.

While having a walk over the border in Salford City in the summer we spotted a modern day ghost sign for a Londis shop.

A Londis shop sign in Salford

The former Londis shop is now the Pure Convenience store and can be found on Viaduct Street in Salford.

It's always intriguing seeing ghost signs and they are more often old and partially faded painted signs on the sides and fronts of buildings.

Londis was created in 1959 and there are over 2,000 Londis shops in the UK. The brand name of Londis came from the words 'London District Stores'.

The chain of convenience shop franchises is now owned by Booker Group, part of Tesco plc.

Visit the Londis website for more information.

Related blog posts:

- Londi's not Londis

- Ghost signs