Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Internet indulgences

on July 9, 2012

The Internet came to England at some point between September 1995 and June 1996. Other people may think differently, but I know that’s when it was because I lived in France during that period and whilst there was definitely no Internet when I left, it was here on my return.

Now, I may be a words person, but when it comes to scientific and technological definitions I’m pretty clueless, so you might be desperate to tell me I’m wrong. I’ve a vague idea that the various terms used on this topic, such as World Wide Web, Internet, Online, Browser, etc are not interchangeable and have precise meanings (in fact, during my MA I was taught quite specifically that “online”, “on line” and “on-line” were very different things), but whatever I’m actually referring to was definitely known as The Internet when it was first introduced to me.

“There are new computers in the library,” I was told by a friend. “And they have The Internet on them.”

I knew about The Internet. It had something to do with email, which we’d all been given when we started at university and was how we kept in touch with friends, both within the university and at other academic establishments (except during the holidays because emails could not be sent to people’s homes, even if they had a computer). Apart from propelling the emails, in its silent, mysterious way, The Internet was an enormous encyclopaedia, full of facts and useful information. Once, not long into that first term back from our year abroad, I was discussing something with a friend and she said “I bet you could find that out on the Internet.” I went to the library to see if her suspicions were correct: I logged on, clicked the Netscape icon on the screen, watched the little wheel rotate a couple of times… and then hurriedly logged off in case I was Doing It Wrong. After all, apart from the course I’d taken in Word 2.0 (seriously) during my first year, I didn’t use a computer for anything other than email. My department accepted assignments in longhand, which could be done in my room rather than going out to another building (if not another part of town), so there was no need. In our inexperience, Doing It Wrong was a serious concern and, we believed, could potentially lead to Breaking The Computer (and just imagine if I had broken The Internet as well!).

How times change! Just a year later I was starting my MA, and was introduced to a range of software packages as well as to the marvels of The Internet. It did indeed turn out to be a wonderful storehouse of information, both useful and useless, although at the time that was a bit difficult to find and I was fortunate to be studying Information Management which involved training in Boolean searching (still sometimes useful). Someone told me about Google just after I started my first professional job, and I felt very avant garde to be using that when most people I knew were still deciding between Hotbot and Lycos, or maybe having a go at Jeeves. Then I discovered that I could use the Internet to “find” people, via Friends Reunited or university alumni pages.

And then… SHOPPING!

Some people are highly suspicious of Internet shopping. They worry about things like credit card fraud, identity theft and misrepresentation of goods. They complain that virtual stores are impersonal and difficult to deal with when things go wrong, and lament the demise of the local high street. As far as I’m concerned, though, if you pay close attention to security and take care to research new sites before you place your first order, the only drawback to Internet shopping is that you might spend too much money. Provided you can keep yourself under control in that regard, there are numerous benefits over high street shopping, such as trying on clothes in the comfort of your own home and lower prices available through not having to pay overheads on expensive shop premises. It’s better than other kinds of home shopping, because the order is placed instantly (unlike mail order), and you don’t have to spell your name to anyone (unlike phone shopping). All sorts of products which I couldn’t even find in shops are now at my fingertips.

Nowadays, most of my shopping is done online (having twice been through early parenthood, I think I’d have become a devotee even if I hadn’t seen the benefits before!).  The developments in technology over the past 16 years mean that not only can I sit at a desktop PC to place my orders, but I can curl up in my own living room with my laptop or even order on the move via my phone.  My groceries are delivered by Tesco on a weekly basis and, because I pay a three-month charge upfront, delivery only costs me £3 per week which is well worth the time and effort it saves me. I order clothes – especially school uniform – and if we don’t like them or they don’t fit, returns are often free these days. But what I want to share with you now are some Internet companies who sell lovely treats.

A friend recommended dotcomgiftshop earlier this year. They sell gift items, such as homewares, jewellery and toys, and most of their products are really beautiful, often with quite a vintage feel to them. Their delivery is very quick, too*. What’s remarkable is how cheap things get during their sales (they’re having a 90% off sale at the moment – a couple of weeks ago I placed an order on my phone, which is a little bit too small for me to see clearly, and managed to order double quantities of some of the items, although the total price was still so low I didn’t realise until the parcel arrived!). When they’re not having a sale, they have constant special offers and a Deal of the Week in which an item is often reduced to half price. They have a Facebook page where you can often find special offers or discount codes and recently they published a 10% off code which could be used in conjunction with the sale, so I placed a small order which included these pretty wooden cubes:

BATH cubes

They go well on my bathroom window-ledge, in all their distressed loveliness, and the colour (turquoise – a bit hard to see on the picture, I’m afraid the gloomy weather we’re having here makes photography quite difficult) matches my other bathroom accessories perfectly.

My other current favourite is Delimann. I mentioned them a while ago in the context of cream teas, but I really want to say again what a super company they are. Since I came across them on another blog back in March (pretty sure it was Domestic Sluttery, but I’m not certain) I’ve sent four Delimann gifts, all very well-received, and have just organised another for my father-in-law’s birthday next week. Sadly I have not celebrated any special occasions of my own so nobody has been able to return the favour. However, last week, whilst eyeing up (yet again) the old-fashioned Gisela Graham designed pitcher, I noticed that the “A Pitcher of Summer” hamper – comprising the pitcher and two bottles of juice – is currently offered with free delivery. This means that the hamper costs less overall than the pitcher on its own, so I decided to treat myself. I’ve made a couple of enquiries regarding delivery if I wasn’t at home and I have to say that on this occasion, as with the others when it’s been necessary to correspond, the customer service is second to none (late-evening emails, delivery checks, adding extra information after an order has been placed, etc). Today my box was delivered (whilst I was out, and exactly to my specifications) and I was delighted to open it:

Delimann juice hamper

As well as resting on a bed of straw, the two bottles were bubble-wrapped and the pitcher was boxed, but I removed that packaging for aesthetic purposes! You’ll notice that there’s also a bag of fudge and a gift card (despite the fact it wasn’t a gift) in the box, and here is the most lovely part:

The fudge is a gift for me! (And having eaten about two-thirds of it now (!), I can say that it is most delicious and tastes handmade.)

Delimann deliver internationally, although there are some conditions with most of the products being fresh foods. I can’t recommend them enough. If people lament the move from local to internet shopping as causing more impersonal and unfriendly transactions, then this company is definitely one they should try. They have succeeded in marrying the convenience of internet shopping and (inter-)national delivery with the friendliness and customer concern of the traditional local store where they began (and are still based). They, too, have a Facebook page, which keeps followers up to date with their latest offers and products and is well-manned as another customer services channel.

I have lots of “favourite” Internet places which I’ll share with you as and when it occurs to me to do so.  Please let me know your recommendations, too, I’m always keen to hear of new ones!

*dotcomgiftshop deliver to a handful of countries outside the UK, but not everywhere.


One response to “Internet indulgences

  1. fionamerrick says:

    Love this post! And I also love the dotcomgiftshop. Shall be having a look at your other recommendation forthwith! I’m pretty sure you’re right about the Internet, by the way – it was definitely invented just as I started university 😀 xxx

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