Habitat web site: the worst retail site ever?

It’s at www.habitat.net and it’s the most frustrating pile of poo I’ve ever had the misfortune to have to use, ever. First you’re presented with this screen of small print, asking you to install “Flash” (which I’ve already got, thanks):


After reading the small print, you have to guess that the next thing to do is to click “United Kingdom” at the bottom, which takes you on to a page where things scroll up, down and around, and irritating jingly noises play. From there things improve: you can at least search for things sensibly, but try going “back” in your browser to the last product you were looking at, and you’re dumped back to the page above instead. Nice. Some of the stuff doesn’t even work: I clicked on “Art on Demand” and got this useful screen:


In the spirit of constructive criticism, I thought I’d use the feedback form to let them know (as if they didn’t already) that their site was the worst site ever. That’s the Worst. Site. Ever. Brilliantly, I had to fill in my full name, address and other contact details just to send them a comment. And when I’d done that, I just got another blank comment screen. Had my comment been sent? There was no way they were going to let me know, that’s for sure.

I know a short cut to find stuff! Like most people, if I want to find “widgets” at “XYZ shop”, I just go to Google and type in “widgets XYZ shop”. Doesn’t everyone? Guess what? It doesn’t work for Habitat’s site. Try searching for “Habitat kitchens” at Google and see what you get.

I bet they paid a fortune for all that nonsense too.

Addendum: I’m not alone. This critique puts it more eloquently than I did. “Now, how can a (plainly very expensive) website end up in such a state? How can a team of plainly very skilled designers and engineers produce something so deliberately bad? The answer is simple – they don’t care.”

The Appliances of, er, Sciences

View from the utility room door

Allan the kitchen fitter (another top man!) has had a pretty good week. OK, it’s mainly been spent opening boxes and discarding packaging, then discovering the wrong kitchen units have been sent, but in between he’s got the bulk of the carcasses in, and subsequently most of the appliances. So we now have a working dishwasher, sink, fridge and main oven. Apparently the hobs will work too, although with no worktop , we haven’t had the nerve to try them, balanced on pieces of wood. The combi oven hasn’t arrived yet, but apparently it needs a degree in computer programming, so we might need the extra time. Tony has been a real trooper getting all the electrics in, and only has a few lights to finish, and to help me with the sound system (those remaining holes in the ceiling!).

By the way, I started a Bryant Victoria House owners discussion board this week.

The Extension is Finished. Now the Kitchen begins…


OK, the builders are just about done, inside at least, and Dawn has diligently done a lot of the painting (a nice creamy yellow). On Monday morning the kitchen fitter will be here. Indeed, the boxes are already arriving (below). Tony the electrician, my hero, has just about finished wiring in all 29 downlights and connected up the incredibly jazzy Lutron controller. It’s all coming together, it would seem!


Kitchen Extension series: Part 1
Kitchen Extension series: Part 2
Kitchen Extension series: Part 3
Kitchen Extension series: Part 4
Kitchen Extension series: Part 5
Kitchen Extension series: Part 6
Kitchen Extension series: Part 7

The 2006 Music Anthology


Bugger. I returned from a new year break to a CD in the post from the infuriatingly efficient Peter Swanson with his selection of best tracks of the year, so naturally I had to drop everything (bags, small children, etc) to get my own one put together. I decided to choose my favourite new albums of 2006 and then include a track from each, so that means no standalone singles (and therefore no Touch the Sky by Kanye West). More importantly though, I had to leave off anything Peter had included on his CD, otherwise the list below would have included the albums from The Arctic Monkeys, Seth Lakeman and (possibly) Neil Diamond.

So here goes with my albums of the year!

Although the original cast recording was probably released in 2005, the show only opened in the UK this year, and so Monty Python’s Spamalot sneaks into the list (and would probably be the first soundtrack ever to do so, even if I’d been doing this list for 20 years). I loved the show. Another soundtrack is Love, the music from the Las Vegas show which is a sort of mashup of Beatles stuff. Doesn’t improve on the originals, but it’s terrific to hear alternative mixes of classics from a production team which obviously cares. To my shame, I went to Vegas in October and didn’t think to book to see the show.

Looking at the critics’ roundups of the year, Joanna Newsom’s Ys is well in there. Given the reviews, I just had to buy it and listen to it a lot, but as yet, I can’t see quite what the fuss is all about, although it is good. Plenty of other female vocalists got a look-in as usual though, including Amy Winehouse (and while we’re at it, how did I take so long to pick up on her earlier album? Never mind, gig tickets are booked for February) and Lily Allen, whose Alright Still was a joy (and contained the best lyric of the year in “There was a little old lady, who was walkin down the road, she was struggling with bags from Tesco; there were people from the city havin’ lunch in the park, I believe that it’s called al fresco”).

On the Folk front, the Cambridge Folk Festival was another good one and I’ve sneaked in a couple of tracks from EmmyLou Harris and Nickelback Nickel Creek, which aren’t of course strictly from a 2006 album, other than my own compilation of highlights. Roddy Woomble of Idlewild’s My Secret is my Silence was arguably my favourite album of all this year, and it was a special moment to see him “busking” songs from it at Cambridge.

Nouvelle Vague just about successfully showed their earlier album of “lounge” reinterpretations of eighties new wave classics wasn’t a one-off novelty, with the Band A’Part follow-up. You have to hear it to believe it. Morrissey’s May gig was an interesting experience, and naturally I’ve included Ringleader of the Tormentors in my 2006 selection. Other stalwarts from even earlier decades making the grade include Neil Young (Living with War) and David Gilmour with On an Island. Check out Dave performing Arnold Layne with David Bowie as a tribute to Syd Barrett.

Bands more from the noughties whose albums impressed this year were Keane, The Feeling, The Killers, Fratellis and Muse. Most of these were pretty widely approved critically, so I can’t claim to have discovered an obscurity in that lot! But hey, some years you go waaaay left-field, and others you find your taste firmly in the mainstream. This was probably one of those years. Now I’m off to listen carefully to Mr Swanson’s more intriguing choices.