The shopping mall behemoth that is Westfield recently opened down the road from me and the wifey and I were there on the first day (woo hoo.)
Now, I've been there so many times, mainly because it's the only thing open after eight PM anywhere near me, that the initial excitement over having a mammoth shopping centre almost on my doorstep has now long gone.
When I was little I learned to ride a bicycle on a massive hill in the local park by me in Ealing. Years later I returned and was rather dismayed to discover that the mountain on which I had so many fun times was in fact barely even a gentle slope.
Going to Westfield, now feels like that. It's big, granted, but nowhere near as big as it seemed when it had yet to be explored.
It's still darn handy though but why, oh why are there no specialist electronic or photography stores? If you want fashion then Westfield offers a big range (though not a full range - you still need to go to the dept stores on Oxford Street for that) but if you want gadgets, TVs, cameras, a Currys or anything like that, then forget it.
Annoyingly W H Smith, which I love as an avid reader of many magazines, is diametrically opposite to the entrance through which I normally enter the centre. M & S is also a fair way in on the opposite side so it's still more convenient to go to Ealing for that staple of my diet.
Initially a lot of shops were also not open and to be honest quite a few still aren't. In particular, the restaurants outside the centre look woefully shuttered up waiting for their occupants to move in eventually.
On a more positive note, the lack of seats that I, and I know a lot of other people complained about, is less of an issue as stylish bum rests have popped up all over the place now. So my memories of knackered feet on the first few visits and having to sit on the ground should now be banished.
Oh, and wandering around Westfield at an hour before closing time is actually quite a pleasant experience compared to those initial opening days and every weekend when the place absolutely crams out and you can't walk in a straight line for more that 3 meters.