Welcome to the Ex-Official Blog of Writer, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain which stopped being active on 31st August 2016.

For more regular updates follow Momtaz on Twitter: @TheCraftCafe Instagram: @The_CraftCafe Vine: @TheCraftCafe Periscope: @TheCraftCafe Snapchat: Momtazbh

For workshop bookings, writing commissions, presenting jobs, craft project designs, or any kind of enquiry email contact@momtazbh.co.uk

Momtaz's NEW BLOG is www.craftandtravel.com

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Opening Verdict: Westfield Stratford City

Best freebie: New Look
When Europe's biggest urban indoor shopping mall opens on your doorstep (well 20 minutes away) a girl can't just sit at home. She needs to be there to watch the ribbon being cut and so I headed out to discover the delights of the new Westfield in search of freebies and special offers. Starting with a free photo (more on that later!)
Worth queuing for: Hotel Chocolat
Most stores had opening offers for the first customers through the doors. Forever 21 gave away £50 in vouchers to the first 50 shoppers while Topshop were offering free leopard print manicures. Appealing yes, but I knew instantly where I'd be queuing. Hotel Chocolat is my favourite brand of chocolate so when I heard they were handing out goody bags I was so there!
 Inside was yummy scrummy choccy....all for me : ) Success!
Best technique to attract women
Semi naked men with six packs?....Now that's a way to get attention... except I didn't figure out what this store was, just that there were male models outside it!
Oddest use of space: Look Magazine
Look Magazine took over a shop space. Today from 10am-9pm only bloggers were allowed in. You also had to 'make an appointment' to go inside. This sounded intriguing like they were interested in meeting/talking to bloggers. When I went inside to 'book' they said ' Are you a blogger? Great. Here's four computers. Blog away.....' So basically it was just a room  of computers on which you could blog from. There were no free magazines or activities, they didn't even ask what blog I write : (
 Best windows
Other empty shop spaces were used more inventively with random window displays like these two. N.B. There's not a huge amount of empty spaces but some shops like book store Foyles aren't open yet).

Best customer service: Apple Store
The Apple Staff burst into applause; screaming, shouting, clapping and cheering at all customers as they entered; now that's a way to make a person feel special!
Beauty fan's idea of heaven: Lush
I'm a tester junkie, so imagine my delight at entering a new shop where all testers were fresh and untouched? Heaven! Lush also gave away free glittery juice, yes GLITTERY JUICE! An idea I am pinching from them!
Most intriguing shop name: Pulp
How a shop is allowed to be called Pulp is beyond me. It should be exclusively reserved for the band. I had never heard of it or been inside before. I discovered that it's full of band t-shirts....but no Pulp ones. More rockier stuff like Muse and Nirvana. They also had some bands doing in store performing live sets today and tomorrow - one for the alternative teens. Strangely I also spotted THREE, I kid you not, THREE types of Stone Roses t-shirts on sale....what yoof today wants one of those or is that to appeal to the older folk???!!!

Pulp stocked my favourite brand of hair dye....now you know my secret. Though I won't be buying future bottles from here, they retailed at £4.99 each, I pay £1.79 from a local afro hair shop!
Busiest moment: Ribbon cutting
Just after 11am the mall came to a stand still, no one could move. The reason? Mayor of London Boris was here to cut the ribbon (a moment I witnessed but just missed photographing : ( )....
Biggest celeb: Nicole Sherzinger
...then we were treated to four live songs by Nicole Sherzinger from The Pussycat Dolls. Yes she's utterly gorgeous and can dance but her songs are dreadful...her brand of pop is sooooo unlikable, and irritating. And her voice so grating....but what was most amusing was that despite the fact she 'talks' confidently when she's 'singing' she couldn't speak normally when she was supposed to be addressing the crowd:  'Wazzup Westfiiiieeeeld?' is hardly original and everything else she said was so mumbled. Stick with modelling. Seriously.
Worst backdrop: New Look
Alot of stores had live DJs, but New Look's made no effort what so ever. Check out that wall space. All he had up was an advert for how to book him for your wedding, talk about CHEAP!!!!!! Maybe it's because they put all their money into the free photobooth where my photos were taken at the start of this post?
There was a fabulously sparkly photobooth with added wind and lights to make you look like a celeb. You got to strike four poses, and could keep the snaps.
 Worst stock: Forever 21
Forever 21 is billed as the coolest fashion store of the times...a hip Californian chain that only arrived in Europe this year. It attracted the biggest crowds so of course I had to check it out. It was basically like H&M, affordable BUT the most hideous, unflattering, unfashionable clothes ever.....picking out which one to photograph was so tough, there was so much awful stuff, this combo made the 'what an 80s nightmare, it should never ever be worn by anyone' grade, hence the mention in my blog!
Yummiest thing: Great Eastern Market
As well as lots of decent places to eat there's also an alleyway of delicatessan type shops where you can sample unusual breads and snacks.
Biggest surprise: Greggs
The other day I had a builder working at my flat and the first thing he asked me was where is the nearest Greggs? For the uninitiated, Greggs is where you can pick up a tea and sausage roll on the move. Or in my usual case, a cup of Heinz Tomato soup and vegetable pastie on days I'm feeling in need of some thing 'cheap and trashy', certainly not how you would describe this branch. Talk about Gourmet Greggs, it even had seats!
Something for everyone?
This view fascinated me. On one level it's chocablock with suited and booted types at the champagne lounge and below it, a children's play area. It sums up Westfield perfectly. It really did feel like there is something for everyone here. I was very impressed with the clear, light, airy layout and variety of shops and services. Its location is appealing as are transport links - it's just so surreal to think it actually exists. It's far superior to the West London Westfield which is focused on strange designer shops no one needs to go to. Here it's more diverse and already I'm feeling there is no need to be swinging by Oxford Street anytime soon.
 Old Stratford

When I took these two photos I was standing in the middle.On one side is old Stratford and behind, the new one. It's so strange to see an area transform so much. The old centre is still there but houses pound shops and indoor fruit and veg markets but now there's another world, a few metres away. 
 New Stratford
 Thank you: HSBC
After a morning spent seduced by the shops (I also had a tasty lunch of an Ackee and Plantain Sandwich from Caribbean Scene who are a local restaurant who have set up a stall inside, and treating myself to a sit down massage which my shoulders were crying out for), it was time to head home. I spotted my bank in amongst the mall and as I went to pay in a cheque I was offered a free Krispy Kreme doughnut, just what I needed to lift up falling energy levels. Who would have thought a bank would be dishing out doughnuts? I think this makes me forgive them for the rubbish new internet banking system they've recently introduced. Maybe HSBC aren't that bad after all?
So anway, Westfield Statford City: The Verdict.....it's a Thumbs up from me! Well worth a visit if you're ever in these parts and want to do some high street shopping. No doubt I will be back soon : )


  1. Looks like a fab day. You're so lucky to get that chocolate goody bag, I love hotel chocolat too!

    That clothing combo you photographed is just scary, does someone think that's fashion? Arrghh! I like the photobooth pic, you look glam! I want to try it! X

  2. Thanks Jennifer! I recommend you get yourself to your nearest Hotel Chocolat soon, (my fave is Eton Mess! Yum!) Oh and the strange thing about the photobooth was that is was old school, you couldn't see the images until they were printed, not like the digital ones you get today so they really do capture four seconds in time!

  3. Great post!I am loving to visit your blog...i will come back soon