Carrefour


In a Belgian Supermarket 2

Last month we1 went to my home town in Northern Bavaria2.

In the past we used to take the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, an easier drive3, but recently this ferry got really expensive. We have neither too much time, nor too much money, so deciding wasn’t easy, but in the end we went with the cheaper option: going through Dover to France. This option was much cheaper than what the ferry we used to take costs now, but the drawback is that it involves two whole days of travelling (driving from North West England to South East England, then taking the ferry to France and then driving through Belgium and the Netherlands into Germany (driving through four different German states. Bavaria for example is more than twice the size of Belgium, but within a country there usually isn’t much variation, so there aren’t too many new things to discover, compared to driving through another country. Saying that, there was a new part of the motorway in Germany which was quite nice. On the side of the motorway you can see all the ‘trees of the year’ from the previous decades and a sign showing the name and the year for that tree.).

Well, it’s a little adventure that, as an added bonus, contains the opportunity to buy cool stationery and other items I can’t get in the UK or Germany (except stationery this was mainly caramel tea and flavoured Perrier).

So here’s a mini blog post about a visit to a Belgian supermarket: Carrefour, a French chain that is present in many countries. They used to sell their own Rhodia clones, but I haven’t seen those in recent years anymore.

This being Belgium the main attraction was to stock up on Atoma style notebooks – and the Belgian supermarket didn’t disappoint.

Atome-style notebooks

Atome-style notebooks

They also had a surprising amount of retro video game hardware. I found that very cool as I used to collect retro video games. I did/do have an interest in this: Fifteen years ago some friends from Singapore and I were running the biggest Gameboy web site at that time (called EAGB)4.

In a Belgian Supermarket

There was also a great choice of Lucky Luke comics. A big proportion of German shops selling magazine will sell Lucky Luke comics, but you wouldn’t get the choice you got in this supermarket – unless you go to a specialist shop. The photo I took on the day was blurred, so I’ll just skip adding it to this blog post.

…and finally: flavoured sparkling water. In the UK flavoured water has sweetener in it, basically making it lemonade, but in Belgium you can get Perrier with all sorts of flavour. Nice. I know these from Shanghai, but in Belgium they are much cheaper.

In a Belgian Supermarket

  1. My family and I. []
  2. Franconia []
  3. Without packing you travel 1 12 days []
  4. I still have an interest, but no time – my free time is mainly spend on stationery now. []

Deli No.7083 HB 1

Shanghai

Shanghai

The Deli 7083 at Carrefour

The Deli 7083 at Carrefour

Yet another blog post related to my recent visit to Shanghai.

You might remember the Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101, together with the Chung Hwa 6151 it forms the pencil backbone of Shanghai. Whenever you see a pencil in Shanghai it usually is one of these two – and they are made in Shanghai, too.

…but what happened? Deli dared to enter Chung Hwa’s home turf – disturbing the natural order of things.

…and what a pencil they sent to threaten Chung Hwa’s hold on its home territory: it’s the Deli No.70831.

The Chung Hwa 101 in its natural habitat

The Chung Hwa 101 in its natural habitat

Price

I bought the 7083 in the Carrefour in Shanghai’s Hongkou Dragon Dream Shopping Centre and paid 11.80 元  (~$1.80; £1.25; €1.65) for a dozen HB pencils. They were also available in 2B and 2H.

The Chung Hwa 6151 in its natural habitat

The Chung Hwa 6151 in its natural habitat

Appearance

Let’s look at the appearance first. The 7083 looks like a pencil with a very thick layer of paint. The paint seems to be applied very well, except near the end of the pencil, which seems to have been dipped in just a bit too much paint. The 7083 has an unusually large diameter for a modern pencil. The paint job and the large diameter make it feel like a much better pencil than what you’d expect from a pencil with this price tag.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

It is dark green like the Chung Hwa 101, but there’s also a similarity with another pencil. The shade of green used is virtually identical to the one used for the Castell 9000.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

Lead

The 7083 lays down a very dark line and feels very smooth, even creamy when writing – but just to put this into context, we are talking about a very cheap pencil. The 7083 is not as good as the big boys, like the Mars Lumograph. Nevertheless it is very good and probably the best pencil I have tried in this price range.

If I had to compare to a pencil that is well known I would compare it to Staedtler’s Mars Lumograph in B. Point retention is very similar, but in direct comparison it is ever so slightly lighter than the Lumograph in B and slightly less smooth and erases slightly worse than the Lumograph in B2.

It writes well even on paper that is not good for non-soft pencils, like the original (‘Kraft’?) Field Notes.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

Wood

The wood is slightly red, similar to the one used for the Chung Hwa 101 and when you knife sharpen the 7083 you notice that the wood is harder than cedar wood.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

Conclusion

A great pencil that is nearly as good as much more expensive pencils. It has a strong paint smell, similar to other Chinese pencils, but for this price you probably won’t be able to find a much better pencil.


Price: December 2015

Exchange rates: January 2016

Please open images in a new tab/window to see them at full resolution.

 

  1. I assume the product number is derived from the last digits of the bar code before the heck digit …or maybe it’s the other way round. []
  2. In case you wonder why, based in these statements, I don’t compare it to the Lumograph in HB: It is still much closer to the Lumograph in B, which shows you how minute these differences are. []

Tesco, LeGou and Maped 2

When I go to the supermarkets in Shanghai it’s usually E-Mart, a large Korean supermarket chain. In the past I used to go to Carrefour, but I think I haven’t been to a Carrefour in Shanghai for at least five years – just because it’s less convenient to go there. It’s a shame, because they always had a good selection of Faber-Castel products with very low prices. Even though I’ve seen Tesco in Shanghai1 in the past, I’ve never actually visited one.  This had to change. I mentioned Tesco in previous blog posts. It’s one of the biggest or the biggest supermaerket chain in the UK. Many Brits try to avoid Tesco for various reasons, but my wife and I usually don’t mind and visit more or less all supermarket chains nearby, we don’t have a particular favourite.

The Tesco I went to is in SongJiang, not far from the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. The selection of stationery is fantastic, much better than in the English Tesco extra I usually visit. The stationery products on offer are dominated by Chinese brands, which is no surprise – there are a lot of Shanghainese M&G products in the shelves. Even though I did not notice this brand in the beginning of the decade, it has certainly been in all the supermarket chains in recent years. Pencil-wise the choice is not great, there are only a few different pencils to choose from. Most are hexagonal, some are triangular. Most space was reserved for Tesco’s own brand yellow pencils (I’ll try to check where they are made when I go there again), Staedtler’s yellow pencil 134 (produced in Shanghai) and Chung Hwa’s Drawing Pencil 101. Pens are surprisingly cheap, but I’ll write more about that another time. One brand that seems to grow year on year in China, Britain and Germany is Maped. Maped –  Manufacture d’Articles de Précision Et de Dessin (Manufacture of Precision and Drawing Tools) is a French company established in 1947. Unlike companies like Staedtler or Faber-Castell, Maped concentrates more on non-pen stationery, like paper-clips, scissors, etc. Since 2006 they own Helit and Diplomat, two German companies. Helit manufactures Bakelite desk accessories and other items. You can see their Bakelite blotting roller in this blog post. This blotting roller is from a mould or based on a mould that is at least 90 years old. Back to Shanghai: I’m quite happy to have so much choice. You can be sure that I already bought quite a few stationery products in LeGou Tesco.

A small fraction of the stationery in LeGou

  1. Tesco entered the Chinese market in 2004 when they bought the Chinese supermarket chain 乐购 (LeGou – Happy shopper) []

Carrefour Bloc-notes 5

On a recent trip to Belgium I saw this pack of notepads in a Carrefour corner shop. Carrefour is one of the largest supermarket chains in the world, but there are many countries where they are not present (yet).

These Carrefour notepads seem to be available in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. The notepads use 80 g paper, are A7 size and have 160 pages.

The orange-coloured cover and the purple (5mm) grid are very similar to Rhodia paper, but even though these notepads are made in France neither the orange nor the purple match the colours of the Rhodia notepad I have at home, so I cannot be sure whether the paper is made by Rhodia or whether it is just a look-alike.

The cover is pre-folded, making it easy to fold it back when writing.

The paper has the same weight as Rhodia paper, but the surface of the paper, as well as the shade of white is also different, making me think it is not Rhodia paper.

Comparison Carrefour / Rhodia notepad

Nevertheless it is very nice paper, it is quite cheap and copes well with pencil and ink.

If you know whether it is made by Rhodia please let me know.