Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What to do this WE?

RUN the Asics Kingston Breakfast Run (if you have registered, you can always go to see the start and finish)

WATCH the boat race (thanks to Tony for the tip)

PLUG IN musical benches (thanks again Tony)


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Londonist Flickr RSS feed

The guys behind the Londonist blog have also got a Flickr group.

Here's the RSS feed.

Very nice pictures....

Monday, March 27, 2006

White wines selection at Waitrose

I've compiled this list for James, who seems to enjoy parting seven to pay for marketing expense rather than producers.

Try a Saumur instead:

Or you said you liked Muscadet:

Otherwise, Robin is absolutely right -Prissé is a very nice cave, nice people too:

Finally, Macon Lugny is better and still under your £7 screw-top thing:

Frankly, don't you think there is a case for not polluting our earth by shipping wines all the way from Kiwiland?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

NOT something to be remembered!

This article on the beeb reports a ceremony to honour the guy who invented winter time:
BBC NEWS: Daylight savings pioneer honoured (23/03/06)

But is this to be remembered? I mean, this is a tragically stupid idea, that to be 2 hours ahead of the sun in winter. And -as anyone having kids or animals- to change twice a year is a royal pain.

Link: Wiki on daylight saving time, which is BTW not proven to save anything -I've NEVER read any study proving those energy savings.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Londonist blog

This is a great blog about London, here are two posts I found interesting:
Londonist: TfL Are No Fun Any More, or where Transport for London is threatening to sue Geoff, a blogger who produced alternative versions of the underground map. See pictures displayed here by solidarity.

Geoff's silly tube map with accurate distances:

Map showing where it's quicker to walk:A mirror copy can be found here.

Another thread is about a mysterious red line that someone drew, apparently to outline WC1. I positively love this about Brits: their weird excentric original hidden side.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Another train tragedy in waiting at North Sheen?

I've read with despair accounts of the Edmonton rail tragedy in which two boys, both 16, died at an un-protected rail crossing.

No later than last week, I've seen four Christ Church schoolboys jumping the automatic (unmanned) barriers at North Sheen train station -when they are down, there is no footbridge to cross the railway and the wait is often over 10mn. In a separate instance, another young man did the same thing.

I've raised the subject many times with our local MP, Susan Kramer, as adding a footbridge was one of her electoral promises. Apparently she had meetings on the subject:

Thank you for your recent email to Susan Kramer MP, regarding the above issue. During the last few months, Susan has been trying to arrange a meeting with senior representatives from Network Rail in order to discuss this issue.

I am happy to report that Susan has now had two separate such meetings with representatives from Network Rail, who have advised her that they have now launched a consultation as part of their South West London Route Utilisation Strategy - during which this issue will be given due consideration.However, in an effort to make sure that this issue is given the level of consideration that it deserves, Susan has now written to the Chief Executive of Network Rail, Mr. John Armitt, to raise this matter directly with him.

Additionally, we soon hope to launch a petition to Network Rail, calling upon the company to provide proper footbridge access to North Sheen Station as part of the changes implemented in their South West London Utilisation Strategy mentioned above.

Very kind answer indeed, still no footbridge. tag for my other posts on the same subject:

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Restaurant review: St John's bread and wine

I had the pleasure to go for lunch in nice company at St John's Bread and Wine, in Spitafields. For those who don't know this institution, they also have a sister restaurant in Smithfields.

This is a restaurant located minutes away from the square mile, yet informal: there is no table cloth and tables are sqeezed close to each other. The hearty food is how I like it: simple and quality ingredients. The wine list should keep everyone talking, it's well researched (by this I mean they DID work on it, avoiding merchands and looking for great picks). There are excellent value wines from small producers (like a st chinian at £15) but I guess because the ABN Amro HQ are just besides there's also a romanée conti at half-a-grand.

One of us was a champaign addict, so we had a Ruinart (£38). Now, I'm not usually a bubbly fan as I view reds as a better quality/price ratio (there's so much average bubblies). The Ruinart web site says it's made mainly with chardonnay, which is quite a prowess as the result has lots of body and tanins.

The idea of eating at St Johns is about collaborative sourcing: pick and share. So, what's the food like?
Well, we had some salad (with beetroot I think, £3.50), pickled herrings (£5.60) which were melting so nicely that we had some more a second serving. I had some veal kidneys with bacon and dandelion (£7) and because I am an offal fan I had all. And the ruinart kept the pace with it, which really surprised me. Langoustine mayonnaise (£10) paraded next, followed by some brill and parsley (also a tenner) -which I did not taste but looked firm, fresh and delicious. There was some beetroot, sorrel and egg (£5.80) making rounds as well and I could not resist the english cheese-board. Which wasn't bad, even good I must say: there was some goat, stilton, leicester. And since they bake bread on the premises, I did not have to do with the damn crackers (I love stilton and port, but crackers for cheese? Come on...)

St Johns is dangerous: it is evident that they make a lot of efforts in sourcing best ingredients and wines. They know how to combine this for a true and great bistro food experience. Once lured inside, you will re-invent the world. For a quite a while probably. You have been warned.

St JOHN Bread & Wine Spitalfields
94-96 Commercial Street London E1 6LZ
+44 20 7247 872

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What's wrong with supermarket yeast?

As usual, I went last Saturday to buy some fresh yeast for baking bread (see on Foodings if you can read French), this time at the New Malden Tesco's.

The bakery staff answered me that it was company policy not to give it anymore, because "if it's a bad batch, some customers have sued Tesco's".
But what happens if they bake bread with a bad batch then?

Last week-end, the bakery staff at the Clapham Asda looked like they could not be asked, told me that it was their policy not to give any and started to argue between themselves. I went to the customer information desk and complained, they told me it was an "old policy" but that they did not have any at the time.

As far as Sainsbury's are concerned, they sell it and it's usually fresh.

Otherwise, Richmond bakers can find fresh yeast at Olivers' (great health/organic shop in Kew station approach, ins't it Joanna?

Unfortunately, the frest yeast I find in the UK still does not smells as good as the one I find find in Franch bakeries and does not rise as much. Sainsbury's is the best, the one I find at Oliver's is not bad but it a bit brown and squidgy, not silky and soft.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Wall Mart gets it, Sainsbury's doesn't

Read today that WalMart (site down today!) is enlisting bloggers to help try restore their ailing public image:
Wal-Mart enlists bloggers in P.R. campaign (The New York Times, 6/03/06)

Compare and contrast this with the surreal conversation I had on Friday with Sainsbury's PR lady when I called to try enquire about their labeling policy:

Are you a journalist?
No, I am a blogger

A what?
A blogger, someone who posts on blogs.

Sorry, we only deal with *proper* journalists
Ah, so you don't recognise blogs as an influential outlet then?

So I suspect I can't send you my question? Because your form doesn't work.

No. Our form works.
No, your form doesn't work. And I'm sure the blogging community will appreciate this... Bye....

(note that ASDA's form does not take URL's either :-(

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

Tesco ducks question on labeling...

Further to my post on "Supermarkets 2: labeling (12/12/05)", I've contacted Tesco's PR department (Sainsbury's got an idiotic and non-working form -a good way for their PR not to get any more work!).

Their response is below, as well as my response to their response. In a nutshell, they did not get the point and just cut&pasted a standard answer....

Stay tuned!

From: Ludovic Windsor
To: Tesco Customer Service
Date: 10 March 2006 11:56
Subject: Re: TES1895025X Re: food labeling

Dear Helen,

Thanks for your email, but you did not answer my point.

I specifically have an issue with precisely this point:
"Food labels are controlled by Government legislation and should allow customers to compare the quality and quantity of different products, as well as the nutritional value."

I believe that Tesco -and other major retailers- do not comply with this when selling in particular -but not only- fruits and vegetables EITHER by unit OR by £/kg. This indeed does not allow to compare the price. I went shopping the other week at your Twickenham store and you were selling cooking apples by piece, other kind of apples by kg and yet other kinds by pre-packed bags (of 10 I think).

How can consumers know which is the cheapest by kilogram?

I believe this practice is misleading and would like your comments.



From: Tesco Customer Service To: Ludovic Windsor Date: 2006/3/10

Thank you for your email.

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns regarding our food labelling.

Food labels are controlled by Government legislation and should allow customers to compare the quality and quantity of different products, as well as the nutritional value.

We try to give as much information as possible on our product labels, but design legislation, which prevents products being packed in oversized packs, restricts the amount of space and wording that can be used. Being very aware of the environmental impact of packaging waste, we therefore try not to use excessive packaging on our products.

At the moment, the law states that we are not required to list certain ingredients. For example, if water makes up less than 5% of the product, it does not have to be included on the label. Also, it is not necessary to fully list compound ingredients. For example, pastry in a quiche may not have its ingredients listed, if it accounts for less than 25% of the product.

However, we do know that some of our customers require extra information when choosing products due to allergies, etc. Therefore, we have a selection of free-from lists available that we send out to our customers. If you would like one of our lists, please call our Helpline on 0800 505555.

Thank you for letting us know your views.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us at xxx.

Kind Regards

Helen xxx
Tesco Customer Service

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ludovic Windsor" Date: 03 March 2006
Subject: food labeling

Dear Sirs,

Could you pls pass this request to your PR department?

I am a blogger/consumer and wrote the following post:

I would be most interested in your reaction, in particular to know if you abide by the EU legislation cited in this blog post.


Ludovic Windsor

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why is the governement pushing to increase number of night flights?

However, those assumptions are biased, to say the least:
  • A direct relation between economic growth and the need for air travel is far from being proven, as remote working and telecommunication change our daily lives
  • Why should air travel continue to be subsidised at a rate of £557 per tax payer and per annum while alternatives such as fast trains are not being promoted and funded? Why also should flying to the South of Spain be cheaper than taking the train to Penzance?
  • There are major international 5 airports around London, against only 2 in Paris and one in other major economic capitals. The fact that BA and BAA would be more competitive with 3 runways at Heathrow may be true, but that’s another statement. Why anyway would Londoners need to pay the price of BAA and BA’s profits? Unless they are suggesting giving free share options to people living under the flight paths, I see no reasons.

  • The agenda of those lobbies go directly against the welfare of 1m people living under the flight path and does not consider the indirect costs at any point:
  • why should they tolerate more aircraft pollution?
  • why should they tolerate more aircraft noise, especially at night?
  • Why should they tolerate more congestion, taxes, etc?

  • Heathrow itself was built on farmland using war-time regulation to avoid a public enquiry and is badly located: it's to my knowledge one of the only European airports to be built on the West side and at short distance of a capital or major city. Given the winds in Europe are dominantly Westerly or Easterly this is quite a poor planning decision. It explains the huge environmental impact of Heathrow and why over 1m Londoners live directly under the flight path. In this respect, Gatwick, Stansted or Luton are much more sensibly located and are closer to main communications link.

    Read this for more on how the South East Regional Air Study neglected indirect costs. In tax only, the negative balance is £8.5 billions in favour of the air travel lobbies… Little has been done to quantify the direct and indirect impact of aircraft noise and pollution.

    In conclusion, the massive subsidy enjoyed by air travel and on the other side the equally large but little researched induced costs is based on flimsy economic assumption. If only a small part of those direct and indirect costs and if tax subsidies were removed, Heathrow could DOWNSIZE!

    Links: HACAN ClearSkies