December 06 2012

Cracow Bakery Ltd is probably the best, authentic polish bakery in London, UK.

What do they do?

Cracow bakery is one of the few bakeries in and around Greater London area that baker an authentic polish bread (brown, crusty skin, generally heavier and thicker than London Bloomer), cakes and polish pastries.
Generally they don’t take individual orders, but I am sure you can find their bread and cakes in one of the corner shops near by.

Anything else?

Christmas is coming and Cracow Bakery has a kind of Christmas Specials in their ‘menu’ ;-) First of all it is this chalka cake, which similar to french brioche. Second it’s the poppy seed cake and their cheesecakes. Full list of delicacies is available here: http://www.cracowbakery.co.uk/products/cakes. To chcek on full range of products simply visit their website at http://www.cracowbakery.co.uk

If you have a polish friend- get them cakes from Cracow Bakery for Chrismas. They will be delighted!





October 29 2012

House Extensions by Sebastian & Co Builders Ltd.

Who are Sebastian &Co. Builders Ltd?

Sebastian & Co. Builders Ltd was incorporated in 2006. They are builders who work mainly in Croydon, Purley, Bromley, Caterham and other Surrey locations.

 

Sebastian & Co Builders Ltd

Sebastian & Co Builders Ltd

 

House Extension Builders.

Full list of building services they provide is listed on their website, but I think it’s wort to mention that the main focus of their business is on building house extensions in croydon and loft conversions.

These not only boost the price on the existing value of the houses, but can provide a vital room for more family members.

Loft conversions

Comprehensive packages they provide include a planning drawings, consultations as well as the main work on converting the lofts into a liveable areas. Sebastian & Co Builders can construct various types of loft conversions including dormer, ‘L’ shaped gable typed and tailor made to the particular house and planning requirements. Please check on their croydon loft conversions section of the website.

 

Prices and Estimates.

As times change and material cost with it- it is always best to ask for a free estimate. That’s why I am not going to put any fixed prices or fees here, as they could get little outdated in time…





May 19 2011

Minicab Insurance Prices On The Rise.

Car Insurance companies decided to make an extra buck on minicab drivers and other private hire and taxi drivers this year (ie. 2011). Average insurance policy went up from what we see about 20-30%. Drivers and chauffeurs, even though with years of NCB- no claim bonus have to expect to pay more this year for their policy renewals. Many claim that this is due to these comparison sites like confused.com, comparethemarket and so on bringing the insurance prices way down in the past few years, which resulted in many drivers underpaying the market rates. Some minicab insurers and brokers say that due to those who got their insurance very cheap the rest have to pay more because there is only certain amount of money for compensations and accident claims.

So it seems to me that again we are all going to pay for underselling of those few companies which irresponsibly were offering cheap car insurance policies just to get new customers with believe they would not be bothered to change the insurer the next year, so they could charge them more for renewals. This was a practise with mortgages too, but with car insurance the hassle of shifting to another insurer wasn’t there. Tt is much easier nowadays to change your car insurance policy than it was years back. With all these comparison sites it takes minutes to get a new insurance and many people don’t care who they are with- they care about the price ONLY. AND if they filled the datails last year these comparison sites will keep their details (I don’t think anyone know that!) so when they come back they don’t have to fill them in again!

For poor minicab drivers, taxi and private hire chauffeurs it usually means that the insurance cost can rise this year as much as £200-£500,  sometimes even more! Who to go with then? Were to get your renewal? We found that there is a good source of information about Private Hire, PCO Insurance at- Minicab Insurance website. They have listed some of the well know names there. The online quote system wasn’t working as it seemed there is no single company interested to make one and publish it there! Also the forum seems abandoned, but I can only guess that with so little work around these days for us drivers most of us focus on driving rather than seating on forums. Let’s hope that 2012 will be easier for us all.

Your fellow driver- X Ray.





July 22 2010

McDonald’s at South Terminal @ Gatwick Airport

McDonalds located next to the BP Garage/Petrol Station on Ring Road North (ie. the exit road from the South Terminal) is one of the few McDonalds restaurants with a ‘drive through’ open 24/7. Front of the restaurant normally opens at 6am.

Yesterday for an unknown reason early hours in the morning the entrance to to forecourt of the restaurant and at the same time to the drive through was blocked with cones. Today at about 4am the restaurant was open- and I mean the ‘front of the house’ which normally does not open before 6am! I asked why were they opened and got misleading info from the night shift manager that they were opened all night throught for the past two months or longer. Well what the night shift manager did not know is that I was a frequent visitor there (at least once every day and often twice or more) and I could point which staff was there yesterday or the day before.
The restaurant (not the drive through) was definitely CLOSED before and today it was a first day they have kept it opened for 24h. I have to say some of the night staff members are great escpecially those at the counter (an English girl and an Indian guy). Keep up the good work guys.





April 28 2010

Taxi To Gatwick Airport.

With flight departure times early in a morning we often need to book a taxi to Gatwick Airport. There are many taxi and minicabs operators we can choose from. Often the small ones with up to 10 drivers offer the best, cheapest prices, but at the same time no service and old, dirty cars.

If you go for a taxi from one of the big operators you can be sure it will be clean, however the prices are respectively higher and sometimes can be double or more of the prices offerd by those small operators.

Is there anything beetwen these small and cheap and big and expensive taxis to gatwick airport? There are operators who work for themselves thus do not have to pay commission to anyone. Because they work for themselves they do care about the service they provide and their customers. Unhappy customer will never return. A satisfied one will not only return, but will recommend that operator to others.

It is not easy to find a small operator who work for himself. Common thinking is that the operator has to be someone with the office and many drivers working for him, which is simply not true. There are hundreds of small operators registered with the PCO London, who work just for themselves and do not have any drivers. They often cooperate with other small operators which they know by their real names not only by company name. There is one constant when it comes to small operators- they work hard providing the best possible service, because they work for themselves, if they did not provide a service they would not last a season.

When you order a taxi to gatwick next time- shop around, but remember this: leave yourself extra amount of time to get to the airport and make sure your operator is reliable, you would not like to miss your flight from Gatwick Airport because the driver did not turn up.





April 01 2010

Gatwick Airport have little respect for (taxi and minicab) drivers.

Recent roadworks at Junction 9 on M23 caused massive delays for passengers transfering by taxis from Gatwick to Heathrow Airport as well as for those travelling from Gatwick Airport to London.

The part of the road between Junctions 9A and 9- this is between the roundabout at south terminal and the actual motorway M23- was closed rom 21:00 for the past few days causing unusual traffic jams on the redirected route via Redhill and Reigate. As there was very little information for those exiting the North Terminal about the closures, many drivers including taxi drivers carried on driving from the roundabout at north terminal to the south terminal roundabout where they relised the road closure and were forced to make a round around south terminal roundabout causing delays for all the cars entering the roundabout from the M23.

It’s bizzare how could the mangement of Gatwick Airport allow Highway Agency to close the entrance to M23 at 21:00 when tens of flights arrive and hundreds of people try to make they way to another airport or home. The BUSIEST ONE RUNWAY AIRPORT IN THE WORLD and second busiest airport in the UK seems have little respect for (taxi and minicab) drivers and their passengers.

Today when I visited Gatwick junction – J9, the roadworks seemed to be finished but still the roundabout at J9 was blocked with ballards and boards informing to use an alternative route. There was no single man working there and no single digger or other machine. How can such an important junction be not prioritized by Higway Agency I don’t know, but it seems normal in the recent years that Highway Agency starts something and then leaves it to digest. They probably would say there is not enough money and workforce, which can be true considering the number of holes which need to be surfaced after the winter, but such an important junction should be done within a day or two and not left for a week!

I would like to see an apology from Gatwick Airport management team for allowing Highway Agency disrupt evening taxi operations from Gatwick Airport, but I do not believe it will ever happen.





January 30 2010

How can I add my airport taxi business listing to Yahoo! UK Local? (uk.local.yahoo.com)

If your business is located in USA and you would like to add your company details to local search (i.e. make a local listing so people can see you when searching the map), all you have to do is to go to http://listings.local.yahoo.com/. There you can have a ‘Basic Listing’ added for free!
What does a basic listing includes? It includes of a phone, address, and website !!!, business operating hours, your products and services. Not bad for a free of charge listing, isn’t it? God Bless America…

If you business is located in the UK and you would like to add its details to uk.local.yahoo.com… change the location mate, cause there isn’t easy, straightforward way of doing that.

Can’t I just add them at the same page Americans do?

No, you can’t do that. The only way to add your business details to a local UK Yahoo search is to go with the company that Yahoo have signed an agreement with in respects of managing ALL OF THE UK LOCAL LISTINGS- Infoserve Limited.

Have you ever heard of Infoserve Limited? Me neither and many of us did not until they called us.

About three days ago when I actually was shopping and had my office number redirected to my mobile phone, a nice lady called and said she was from …Infoserve – no!, she clearly said she was from YAHOO!!! WOW neither Google or Yahoo has ever called me before so I must admit I got a bit excited, but as I get tones of ‘spam’ and con phone calls offering gold solutions to problems I don’t have, or offering business life changing advertisement deals I wanted to think it off and simply said I was in Tesco shopping and could not have a proper conversation with Yahoo while pushing my trolley. The lady gave up, but promised to call another, more convenient time. What a relief…for some time.

I then performed a quick Google search on the claimed ‘Yahoo’ number she called me from- 08453677200, and found out that it was not Yahoo’s number. The number belonged to Infoserve Limited.

I then added a free basic listing via Infoserve website and now I am waiting for more phone calls from them, as I bet they are not going to give up my money without fighting (i.e. the money which can buy ads or ‘bold’ listings through them).

Will I get listed for free? I don’t know and I don’t care. My websites statistics prove that I should not care too much.

For the past year 2009 only 3.73% of my taxi related websites visitors came from Yahoo. I can hear what could Infoserve salesman now say- so how many visits did you get 300 000? So 3.73% makes about 12000 visitors, we can improve that figure.

I honestly believe they can improve that figure. The question here is how much will it cost me or you to improve the number of visitors or callers and if it’s worth it or not. You see I focus on UK market and Brits are my targeted group and I simply don’t believe it is worth to spend a big money for adds on Yahoo in my niche, on the UK soil targeting UK customers, not for local search results. For me, it was Google who sent the most ‘leads’/users/callers last year and with new Google products coming this year- Chrome Books, and Chrome Web browser that 3.73% of total visitors on my websites that Yahoo sent me last year will probably shrink this year and a year after…

What are your thoughts?

Should have Yahoo let us add our business details to their local search listings database directly? Do you find phone calls from Infoserve enjoying, or were you happy with they approach and attitude when they called? Do you think its right for Infoserve employee to say they call from Yahoo, are they authorized by Yahoo to do that? Do you find it acceptable, or cheeky? Do you think it is good for Yahoo’s image to let a third party company deal with Yahoo’s local listings? And finally did you manage without being pushed to buy ads by Infoserve to add your FREE local UK Yahoo listing?





January 20 2010

Easy transfer to and from London Gatwick Airport, Stansted & Luton Airport.

Are you looking for a cheap way to transfer from London to Gatwick, Stansted or Luton Airport?-  then read this article.

One of the cheapest shuttle services running from Central London to three of London Airports: Gatwick, Stansted and Luton is called easyBus. They provide London’s low-cost airport shuttle bus service. As far as I know it functions separately from well known easyJet airlines, so everybody, not just easyJet passengers may use it. At first, when they started I was convinced that they were targetting and serving easyJet customers only, but was not true . The service started just few years back and just like so called cheap airlines such as easyJet, RyanAir, WizzAir gained already many loyal customers. The question I would like to get an answer to is if easyBus really is the cheapest and most convenient way of travelling to and from London Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport & Luton Airport?

Lets find out the answer to the first part of the question, if the easyBus really can be

the cheapest way of getting to and from central London to Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport & Luton Airport.

They advertise that the prices for online bookings starts from only 2 pounds for a one way journeys and the bus runs every 15-20 minutes. Can this be true? Well no other way but to check it yourself. So I went on their website and as selected the date exactly two month ahead. Could I find a cheap £2 ticket for a transfer from London Central to Stansted Airport? Common, two month in advance it should be there. They say when you book in advance you could save more. Well two months is well in advance to my standards, but there are so many ‘standards’ in today’s world I really could not predict what to expect.

How much does a transfer to Stansted Airport cost, is it expensive or is cheap?

I filled in a transfer booking form and…
…there were 10 x £2 ticket choices of tranfers to Stansted for that day. First for 1:45am, second for 2:30am, then 11:45am and then seven in a row starting from 19:15 until the last one at 23:05. The most expensive transfer price with easyBus for thet particular day was at £7.75. I quickly went through other days prices and could not find a ticket for more than £7.99- NOT BAD. Train tickets must surelly be more expensive and after checking the express coach service from Victoria which was priced at £10.
I could finally confirm that at that point of my search easyBus could probably be the cheapest way to transfer to Stansted Airport from London. When I later checked other routes from London to Gatwick Airport and Luton it only confirmed that their prices can start from as low as £2 when you are willing to travel in off peak hours.

But is it the most convinient, comfortable way to transfer from London to London Airports: Gatwick, Stansted and Luton?

Well in my opinion it all depends where you live in London, and also how many of you are transfering to or from the airport. Since for those who live far from the Central London or one of the stop it can get more expensive than expected. If you are a group of 4 tourists located in one of the hotels near Heathrow willing to get to London Gatwick Airport a licensed private hire minicab service or a taxi can work cheaper for you than any form of public transport or a coach/shuttle. So make up your own mind, do the search as sometimes seemingly cheap looking options turn to be the most expensive ones.

This should not be the place where you finish your search, but where you start it. Below I enclosed the easyBus stops on the way to the three airports to give you a good start.

London-Luton transfer:

Route, bus stops:

1. London Victoria Buckingham Palace Road Stop 6
2. Marble Arch – Park Lane, Bus Stop 14A
3. London Baker Street / Gloucester Place
4. Near O2 Center Finchley Road Station
5. Brent Cross, A406, Shopping Center
6. Luton Airport, Terminal Bus Station

London Stansted:

Route, bus stops:

1. London Baker Street
2. Stansted Airport Coach Station Stop 12

London Gatwick:

Route, bus stops:

1. Fulham Road Fulham Broadway stop near L UG
2. Gatwick Airport North Terminal

And remember that there is a luggage allowance. You can have a 1 check-in baggae of total weight not exceeding 23kg and a hand luggage which should not exceed 5kg in weight, but I would advise you to check it on the website as it was true at the time of writting this article and could have change since then.

Have a safe journey.





January 08 2010

Minimum age for driving London Taxis, Minicabs and Buses.

Tagged Under : , , , ,

How old do you have to be to drive a London bus, taxi or a private hire vehicle (i.e. minicab)- Age restrictions.

Minimum age to drive London Buses

London Bus Doubledecker

Usual scenario for the minimum age for a London UK bus driver is 21. You must have on your license so called  ‘D’ category entitlement, or a ‘D+E’ entitlement if you want to be driving trailers which are heavier than 750 kilograms.

Saying a bus we mean a vehicle with more than eight passenger seats. There are however some exceptions.  As in many other fields Army gets some benefits. When you a a soldier, a member of armed forces you may drive a bus even when you only seventeen.

Those who are eighteen only can still obtain a D category which combined with a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) initial qualification will allow you to drive busses on routes which do not exceed 50 kilometers, this is about 30 miles and without passengers! So you can drive an empty bus for a maximum of 30 miles.

*Age 20 after passing a PCV test and Driver CPC initial qualification when driving on a regular service within Great Britain. The 50 kilometre restriction on the length of the route does not apply.

To get any further info on these restrictions its good to contact directly Driving Standard Agency. You may want to visit their website at: http://www.dsa.gov.uk/

Miniumum age to drive Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (eg. minicabs, limousines)

London Taxicab

Taxis are regulated in London by a body called Public Carriage Office which is now part of, or a branch of  Travel for London. Both Taxis and Private Hire Drivers must be at least 21 years of age in order to be granated either Hackney Carriage Taxi Driver license or a Private Hire Driver license.  There are no exceptions here, but councils outside Greater London might have and often have different rules and restrictions, so it’s best to check with your local council what is a minimum age for a taxi ar a minicab driver.