EDitorial ± 18-Feb-2011

Ipswich Lunches: B&Q

In the grand old town of Ipswich, there was once a time when, if you needed a handful of bolts or a drill bit, you'd head to your local hardware shop. Town centre-wise, that was Martin & Newby, of course. Then came Texas Homecare in place of the bowling alley near the greyhound track, followed by Homebase. And another Homebase, and a Focus, until the last little fella disappeared like a washer down a plughole. Yet smaller towns like Woodbridge, Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Diss have all managed to cling on to their own independent outlets. Discuss.

With Tesco-like dominance, the behemoth that is B&Q have not one but two Big Sheds around the town: one monster near the Asda park-and-ride, and this megastructure on Ransome's Europark, both of which have in-house caffs. Everything you need to know can be inferred from that functional orange upper case COFFEE SHOP lettering (hello, Felixstowe).

On the fresh off-white side:

  • they offer a range of jacket spuds and "B&Q cafe" be-labelled sandwiches
  • my chicken burger in a ciabatta with red onion & tomato was perfectly OK
  • cafe has loads of natural lighting
  • that wall of certificates leaves you in no doubt as to their hygiene
  • prices are reasonable

On the sad magnolia side:

  • distant view of Waitrose, oops, the Crane Site, is less than inspirational
  • no papers or WiFi and only home improvement pamphlets to browse
  • those canvas prints urging customers to Enjoy and Relax are akin to the Demotivator posters
  • that red sauce isn't by Heinz

It is what it is. Ideal if you're lugging the kids around, with nothing nice to spoil or knock over, plus choccy bars at the counter. Quite who would carry the B&Q coffee loyalty card, I do not know, but (a) you only have to collect six stamps and (b) they give you the first one free. And if you don't fancy it, then head home and D.I.Y.

If it was a car -- Vauxhall Vivaro.
If they were passing by -- Derek Martin.