The thrill has gone from a shopping trip to Gunwharf Quays | Emma Kay

Is it just me or is Gunwharf Quays becoming less fun to shop in?

By Emma Kay
Friday, 14th January 2022, 11:29 am
Updated Saturday, 15th January 2022, 2:00 pm
Crowds wander through Gunwharf Quays during the official opening in 2001.
Picture: Luke MacGregor
Crowds wander through Gunwharf Quays during the official opening in 2001. Picture: Luke MacGregor

Last year, Gunwharf celebrated its 20th anniversary, but with Covid levels at a high there was not much to celebrate.

For me, Gunwharf is now just the nearest and easiest place to go to the cinema if you do not own a car. Sad to say, but the rest of it seems rather lacking.

It is still very much a shopping mecca that feels the pummel of many a boot each day. But every time I visit, I find myself poking my nose around fewer and fewer shops. On occasion, I might dip into the variety of eating places if I am feeling the urge for a delightful dessert heaped with cloud-coloured cream.

That urge though is not often, particularly with the big chain restaurants which blare out Happy Birthday repetitively, as that appears the mainstay for people go to Gunwharf: to celebrate a birthday bash in an eatery with slightly more upmarket window dressing than your local Indian restaurant or pub.

It is also terribly drab for children. Who remembers when Gunwharf had a Toy Zone?

Packed with deals and packed with people. A shop you could take your children too and reward them as you squeezed your way through seven pairs of jeans in the sales. There is so little for children now, save for the previously mentioned cinema experience.

Sure, there is a teeny tiny arcade and bowling complex but there are better and cheaper places to take your little ones to. Nine times out of 10 when I see families at Gunwharf, they are heading to the cinema with buttery popcorn, not pennies for the arcade. The modest Christmas fete that popped up with the Ferris wheel was a breath of fresh air and with children heading outside and not in to cinema seats.

Big brand names are Gunwharf’s bread and butter. The whole area is lined with big name stores with big lights and big displays and visited by people with big wallets. The kind of stores I walk into, too scared to touch the clothes much less try them on when I see the voluminous price tag.

I still mourn the loss of The Works store propped just across from the cinema where I could buy reasonably priced books, toys, crafts and notepads.

Or pop to HMV to peruse the shelf for DVD deals and find a cute flowery bargain at Cath Kidston.

I’m not saying the big brand names stores should sink to the bottom of the harbour, but a smattering of stores for regular Joes would not go amiss.

Tony Blair’s not worthy of the title

Tony Blair has been appointed Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

While in office he ordered our troops into Iraq and Afghanistan. A petition of protest of up to 1m signatures is a surprise and shock to absolutely no-one. Tens of thousands of people died and are still dying as a result of their participation in those wars.

Such snowballing petitions surely show how we, as a nation, are getting rather tired of constantly having to swallow the misdeeds of the privileged who get rewarded for slaughter and sleaze. War in Iraq and Afghanistan has been very real and very tragic for so many. A shuddering reminder of political power, that results in so much devastation for so many.

He has been added to a roll he is not worthy to have a footnote on, with many seeing this as further proof of the establishment’s departure from our wishes.

I’d rather eat children’s meals than waste food when dining out

A petite pocket meal may appear paltry, but in truth it is a perfect portion size. After all, leaving leftovers never feels good. I feel so guilty, I get my partner to hoover up the excess.

In our world of recycling we need to regulate our food intake too.

I have no shame in asking for a children’s meal if I know I will be unable to finish the whole thing. Why order food to waste it?

It’s pointless to pull the purse strings just to fill the social convention that you must stay within your lines. Most of the children’s options are perfectly sizeable and do the job just as well. The price gap is often very hefty meaning the prospect of a cheaper meal means you are more likely to go back.

Swapping for a light bite doesn’t make you tight, it just makes you sensible and healthier.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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