Thursday, December 20, 2007

Health and safety gone bonkers

I was today denied a rare tuna steak by the catering company at work, on the basis that it was against their corporate policy -which I imagine has been devised by a health and safety consultant. I hate overcooked tuna!

The health and safety epidemic is spreading at a fast rate, at the expense of common sense -which seems to be in short supplies those days. Other examples I've come across recently include:
And I haven't even started on the subject of political correctness....

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Focussing on CO2: good for bears, bad for humans?

As environmental concerns are growing, the EU and governments, including London's and the UK's are increasing their focus on limiting CO2 emissions. I've got two issues with this strategy:

1. Unless China and Blair's Gordon's best friends across the pond actually do something, our efforts are vain. And by extension, focussing on car emissions is equally short sighted as transportation overall account for 14% of all emissions (for instance housing is 10% and industries 16%, and I don't hear of a congestion charge on steel production or house building). This is because while cars can be taxed relatively easily (unless one is prepared to get a licence plate in Andorra), establishing a carbon tax on Chinese toys imports is a bit more problematic, both on the international trade laws aspects and on the difficulty to calculate it fairly.

2. Focussing only on CO2 car emissions favours diesel cars, which emitt much more particulates and other pollutants have got serious implications for human health, especially in inner cities. To this, one needs to add other greenhouse gas such as methane (cows fart!).

I will thus continue to fill my car with unleaded to protect babies.

Read also my comment on this post from Greenmonk: On Small Changes, Small Cars, Tax and Pollution

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

From CatPro (the Campaign Against The Parking Rip Off)

This is a last minute thing we only have until MIDNIGHT TOMORROW!!!
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Scrap all existing and planned tolls, "road pricing" and so called "congestion charging".

Please pass it on.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Restaurant review: Le Vacherin in Chiswick

I had a nice lunch today a Le Vacherin, a French brasserie on Acton Common Green, in fact close to Chiswich park. For Richmondians, it's two tube stops and a 10 mn walk away (from Gunnersbury and BS.Inc. Tower).

The restaurant was empty when we arrived, which let me some time to look at the settings: restrained, classical but sleek and sober, I felt at home. It filled up with 4 other tables, which is a good sign on a mid-week lunchtime.

I had some sweetbread in tempura batter, which were surprising and good. They were really well cooked but I ended up discarding the batter because I felt it overwhelmed the taste of my favourite offal. One of my guest settled for the "Scallops, Black Pudding & Alsace Bacon", which seemed like a strange but apparently successful pairing.
I then followed through with some "Aged Beef Fillet Tail, Sauce Foie Gras", which disappointingly wasn't blue but medium rare. Excellent meat, but I hate when it's over-cooked. My two guests went with fish (dover sole and brill and seemed pleased). I un-diplomatically chose a red Burgondy (2005 Cotes de Beaune by Louis Latour, which was OK but I usually avoid large merchands): the wine list is good, not too intimidating but could do with a little more research.

The deserts were nice, I settled for the pear and almonds tarts -a little stuffy for a lunch. Cheese platter seemed a little restricted given the name of the restaurant (no Vacherin!)

Service was nice, reserved and discreet -exactely what I want.

The best news is the price: even with a £41 bottle, it all came under £60 per head, which makes it one of the best value proper restaurant around. I would definitely come back... and highly recommend it!

Le Vacherin, 76-77 South Parade, Chiswick, London, W4 5LF - Tel 020 8742 2121 -

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Good news: less flying rats...

It never cease to amaze me seeing "animal activists" who put pigeons before humans:
BBC NEWS | UK | England | London | Tests 'show pigeons are starving'

As far as I know, pigeons are not an endengered specie, but rather a nuisance....

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Richmond is strangely devoid of good fishmongers. The Manor Circus Sainsbury is simply abysmal (not fresh, incompetent staff, unchanged assortment) although the Twickenham Tesco is somewhat better (but don't go there on rugby matches days).

Johanna reminded me of two fishmongers closeby and gave a nice earth and sea recipe:
thepassionatecook: Pan-fried scallops on herbed lentils

Here are the fishmongers then:

Jarvis in Kingston: 56 Coombe Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey KT2 7AF (not far from Kingston hospital), 020 8296 0139
Opening Hours
: 7am - 4pm (Tue - Sat)

Sandy's in Twickenham: 56 King Street, Twickenham, 020 8892 5788. The Food Observer said: "Sandy's is proud of its British suppliers and keen to promote its good fishing practices. Don't miss the line-caught mackerel and day-boat North Sea cod."

There's a good one in Barnes too, here's what Thisislondon says:
In March 2006, the Fabray family took over the fishmonger's on Barnes High Street and renamed it the Barnes Fish Shop. The French sardines are good (£5.50 per kg), and there are plentiful fat Norwegian herrings (£4 per kg). For a change of pace try the squid (£11 per kg). Barnes Fish Shop, 18 Barnes High Street, SW13 (020 8876 1297).

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Friday, November 30, 2007

What is the problem with level crossings?

The Richmond and Twickenham Times seem to think it's bad driving: Natalie Fay reports a case where a driver sped to cross, hit a barrier.

Although I don't think driving standards are improving, the root of the proble is also to be sought in the frustration caused by gridlock. The Local and Central Governments want us to believe that congestion is just caused by the increase in the number of cars. They seem to forget that they haven't invested much in the road network in the past years, hence the RAD calling to Build More Roads.

It's quite strange that two simlilar situation produce different reactions from the same civil servants: one one hand roads, on the other air travel. The response to the latter issue is unabated airport expansion. They just forget that we need to get to the airport in the first place...

Another issue is more local: the concils, under residents pressure, are turning more streets into cul de sacs and making junctions more awkward in the name of safety. In Richmond for instance they've narrowed the A205/Clifford avenue at Chalkers corner and put bollards onto Church road at the Kew road traffic lights. As a result, in both cases what was two lanes is now 1.5 and traffic builds up because less cars can go through at one green light. If only they had built decent, segregated cycle lanes, with their own lights. But no, they spent money just doing it slightly worse -just like they will do in George Street.

Anyway, back to the level crossings: the problem isn't drivers. The problem IS their very existence: rail level crossings in urban areas are a dangerous anachronism.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Common green sense?

More cars, maybe need more roads?
Drivers Voice: Call to Build More Roads

Common sense? What's the economic impact of the UK being gridlocked? When I travel, in the US, in Europe (not to mention construction crazy countries like Dubai, etc...), I see road building everywhere. Maybe not always new roads, but improvement to try keep help people going by their business. Like mini-tunnels under roundabouts, removing level-crossings, etc...

The prevailing logic in the UK seems reversed: too many cars, let's prevent them from moving and people will switch. To what? The trotsky-greenies forget one thing: often there's no alternative, as the public transportation system is bursting to the seams, and getting even more expensive (in the news today: Passengers are to be hit by above-inflation rate fare increases.)

If they're right though, why don't they apply the same principle to Heathrow and stop people from binge-flying???

Oh, and finally -I was attending a presentation on green IT today. I am now officially carbon fatigued. The UK is at the top of the league for carbon awareness but far down when it comes to recycling and real emissions. Carbon emissions are important, but so are NOX, particles and more generally speaking sustainability.

It doesn't look like it's going that way: being cynical, I think companies are going to change only if they're forced to (by energy prices, customer sentiments for B2C and regulation).

We'll be cosmetically green, but not much more sustainable.

Put differently, everything will be recycled, yet everything will be the same.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Londonist: What Next For Waterloo?

The short sighted running of the Capital's transport network can't be better epithomised by the fact plans are not finalised for the Waterlooo Eurostar terminal:
Londonist: What Next For Waterloo?

In the meantime, the station lies empty, with the decomissioning estimated at £100,000. Trains won't alight on the former EuroStation before December 2008 (that's in 13 months!) and "Options for the medium to long-term use of all five platforms are being assessed as part of a wider strategy for the upgrade of the station" according to Junior transport minister Tom Harris.

I'm sure the commuters will appreciate, especially since platform shortages are one of the main causes for delays on the Waterloo-bound lines...

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Monday, November 26, 2007

BA can spam you but you can't spam BA!

BA sent me their thoughts about Heathrow expansion, so I thought I'd do the same. Here's their answer.... I've asked their press team if they had comments...

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----- Forwarded Message ----
From: British Airways Executive Club <>
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 4:14:32 PM
Subject: RE: Re: A message from Willie Walsh, our CEO

Thank you for emailing British Airways.  While we endeavour to offer as full a service as possible, we
do not currently respond to emails sent to this email address, which is used for automated
outbound mailings only.

Please use the following methods of contacting us if you have a query regarding your Executive Club
membership or a future journey with British Airways: (Executive
Club members can use: and then
select 'Your questions'.)

If you wish to unsubscribe from receiving email communications from British Airways, please click
here: All requests will be actioned within 10 days.

You can also unsubscribe via your online profile.
Simply log into your account: Go to 'Amend
Details', within your 'Manage my account' section, and refer to the 'Marketing Consent' options (near
the bottom of your personal details form).

--------------- Original Message ---------------

I am living under the flight path and am dismayed by this lobbying, especially since you reduced your footprint in Gatwick.

Home Login Contact Us
British Airways  Executive Club.
Be part of the decision.
Dear Mr Windsor,

You may have heard about the public consultation the Government has just launched on its plans to expand Heathrow airport.

As a regular flyer from Heathrow, you will know how prone it is to delays. Whilst Terminal 5 will deliver a seamless and relaxed customer experience, we are still restricted by the limited take off and landing slots available at Heathrow.

The proposals are to change the method of runway operation to create more take-off and landing slots, and to build a short third runway as a permanent solution to Heathrow's congestion.

The benefits of these proposals are:
  • Reduced delays for departures and arrivals;
  • The opportunity to add up to 75 new destinations, giving you more choice when flying
    from Heathrow;
  • Less queuing for take-off and landing, reducing aircraft carbon dioxide emissions by 330,000 tonnes a year.
I support the Government's proposals very strongly.

I believe these plans - which must pass strict environmental tests - represent our best hope for making your experience as our customer easier, calmer and more reliable.

I would be very grateful if you felt able to support our position. Doing so will take less than a minute of your time.

To register your support please click on the "find out more" button above, sign in to your Executive Club account and click on the "Register your support" button.

It is very important to us that the Government hear from our most frequent customers, as you are the people who know Heathrow best.

With best wishes,

Willie Walsh
Chief Executive, British Airways
Login |

Saturday, November 24, 2007

When plan B is not an option either

Richmond residents are quite well placed when in comes to transport networks: we've got easy access to the M3 (via the A316), M4 (via Kew Bridge, a bit better now they've removed the bus lane) and the A3 (via Roehampton lane because someone in the Royal Parks decided to close Robin Hood gate for good although it was only going to be temporary).

And we've got the tube (District line to Edgware road, takes a while but still gets you there), Silverlink trains, usually to places one doesn't want to go) and South West trains -when it works.
Two weeks ago, they shut down the service because of some engineering works and this week end, there's no trains and no tubes. Our friends visiting us from South London are coming on the bus, it will be a late and short dinner...

Engineering work starting on 24/11/07 at Barnes.
Track improvements and maintenance are taking place from 00:01 on 24/11/07 to 23:59 on 24/11/07 at Barnes.
Whilst work is taking place, buses will replace trains
between Clapham Junction and Twickenham via Richmond
between Clapham Junction and Kew Bridge
Show Further Information

Message Received: 15:07:37 17/11/2007

DISTRICT LINE: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November suspended between West Kensington and Acton Town/Richmond. Replacement buses operate for local journeys only.

Two rail Replacement bus services operate:

Service A: between Hammersmith and Acton Town, calling at Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, Turnham Green, Chiswick Park and Gunnersbury.

Service E: a late night coach service between Heathrow and Paddington station.

Journey times may be increased by up to 60 minutes.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

More on Heathrow

My comments and some other good ones here:
BBC NEWS | Have Your Say | Heathrow airport expansion. Your views?

The one from Richard Collard in particular reminded me of some Government lies:

The go-ahead for T5 was given on the basis of a cap on the # of aircraft movements. That # is close to being breached even BEFORE T5 becomes operational......far less a 3rd runway and a 6th Terminal!!!!

And another one from Andrew Jones on indirect costs is worth reading too:

"A report .. by the respected INFRAS Institute in Zurich and IWW at the University of Karlssruhe put the UK's external costs of aviation at around £14 billion per annum in the year 2000. .... Brendon Sewill.. calculates that, this year, the cost is likely to be around £16 billion.
And still they want more..."

The INFRAS site is here and there's a report posted there. The findings are quite interesting, in particular if you look at the climate change impact: air travel has a larger impact than road, in spite of a much smaller ammount of passengers carried. The report begs the question on why the UK government is not investing in canals (minimal impact, etc...) rather than just Heathrow.

My comments are not online yet but they were along the lines already discussed in this blog:

1. Why are successive Governments so closely aligned with BAA?

2. London has no less than 5 airport, Heathrow is the one located in the most densely populated area and with flights path directly over a capital. Why is it the one targeted for expansion?

3. Why is the Government not investing in alternative transportation schemes, such as rail for under 150 miles? It strikes me that there's no high-speed links to Scotland and the Midlands (how many flights does this represent?) while the Eurostar took 70% share from airlines on the London-Paris passenger traffic (something to thank the French for?). And by the way, why is Eurostar not continuing after StPancras onto Heathrow?

Finally, there will be a public meeting at the Richmond Adult Community College on Friday 18th January. Be there! The online form is here.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is sustainability sacrificed on the Heathrow altar?

Read this today:
Stansted runway plan scrapped in favour of Heathrow growth - Times Online

Doesn't this prove two things?
- That the government is in bed with BAA
- That the government has no commitment to sustainability

If there was somthing like a sensible to drive the transport policy, plans would have been made a long time ago to build high-speed rail links to the Midlands and to Scotland, with connections in Stanstead or Luton or even Heathrow. The Germans and French have done it a long time ago, after all it does not make any sense that a lot of Heathrow slots are used for those destinations.
As a proofpoint, in 15 years, the Eurostar has gained about 70% market share between London and Paris against the airlines.

Secondly, why direct all investment to Heathrow which is one of the only airports in Europe whose flight paths are directly above a city? No less than 2 millions people are affected -it is time to recognise the indirect costs as Sandy suggests in her comment (on the Times article)?

Just as a reminder, the Government is trying to bury a study on noise itself has commissionned.

Do act now: inform yourself and sign the petition now...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

25 million exposed to risk of ID fraud - Times Online

Absolutely amazing story.

The Tory MPs had a field day grilling government on why they did not comply with data privacy laws (although they starved the transportation and anything public from funds for 30 years). Politics aside, this shows the risk associated with collecting personal information: you're never sure which moron will cock up. As far as I am concerned, I think details including bank account numbers should be as guarded as nuclear codes: double key system, third party code encryption, etc...

25 million exposed to risk of ID fraud - Times Online

Laura is going to call me Jason Bourne again but anyway this is another good reason to have several bank accounts and password systems....

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Disjointed (and not accessible)

Posted some thoughts as comments on this Going Underground post:

Wouldn't it great if the London transport network was more joined-up?

Why are the two Edgware road stations not joined as one?
Same question for the different Hammersmith station: why doesn't the Hammersmith & City line not going a bit further underground to join the District/Circle lines stations?)
In Putney, why did they put tube and rail stations 150 m apart despite those two lines intersecting?

What would it take to make this world-class (and maybe Olympic-class)?

There would be immense benefits in commute time, as long changeovers can add 10-15 mn to a journey and are a major put off for people.

Rethinking those stations would help commuters, much more than charging people for entering in the city by car -which no one in their right mind would do if they truly had the choice.

Oh, and another thing would be to make the tube and trains more accessible. There are very few lifts in the tube, and I've been campaigning for quite a while to install a new footbridge in North Sheen. Of course it would be better to find ways to make the station accessible to wheelchairs (and buggies), especially since Richmond isn't either....

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mayor's evening flop

Tried to go and see the fireworks tonight:
Lord Mayor's Show: The Lord Mayor’s Fireworks

Arrived at North Sheen Station to see the trains were not running today. Why would they after all? Took the car till Vauxhall and finally arrived on the embankment, along with quite a crowd. The show lasted a mere 10 minutes. TEN MINUTES!!! Thankfully, the kids liked Wagamama...

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Could this have been avoided?

The whole neighboorhood has been talking about this tragic event, a there has been a fatality at North Sheen crossing:
Man's death sparks new safety fears - Richmond Guardian
It happenned right before children that were going to school...

I feel really sad and concerned about this, not so because I have been campaigning for a footbridge at this station -little can prevent a suicide- but more because I feel strongly there should not be a crossing at all at this place. I am not the only one to have thought about this:
New Crossrail plan proposed
Of course, it would be great to have an underground station as we could dream of a parking on top to encourage commuters to leave their cars and take the train. Just a dream?

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Keep taxing us, but the problem won't go away

These days, it seems that to many problems the solution is "more taxes" when it's up to the governement or a local authority to deal with it.

Take London traffic: it's bad. So what did Ken do? Tax people so that City boys can whizz around. But the only problem is that it's only buying time. It's just not working, check this article for instance: London has slowest traffic in Europe at just 12mph - Times Online
As the article puts it, positive incentives work, like for instance in Hamburg:
“Hamburg, in comparison, has a very good public transport system. They have free park-and-ride buses, and trains are coordinated; and if you’re on a bus, and you know you have a long walk from the bus stop to your house, you can ask the bus driver to call you a taxi".

People are not mad: if they have an alternative, they'd rather save money and time. Not sit in a car. London public transport is just not functioning, even the big money says so. For instance, I've blogged several times about The Drain which have been shut 6 months last summer to overhaul it. Well, tonight at 17:35 only one platform was operational at Bank, because of signalling problems....
Plus, it's the "most expensive in the world" (Guardian). As a passing comment, Ken's announcement to freeze fares before coming up for re-election is a really bad taste since the 1 zone ticket went from £1 to £4 in just a few years... At best it's spin, I'd say it's a con. Maybe we should look at our neighbours: in Paris, employers by law must refund 50% of employees travelcards. A simple measure that would make a lot of difference for many commuters and probably do more to move people onto busses, trams, tubes and trains....

Another one is waste management. The UK has a poor record on recycling and may even be fined by the EU (a positive catalyst for change I'd say). What's the response? Smart bins to tax people. You can guess where this will end: in the streets where fly tippers will dump their rubbish to avoid paying. Here again, there are little positive incentives, for instance in Richmond you can't recycle plastic (only bottles will be recycled from the 5th) and there's no collection for garden refuse.

My point? Politicians must try harder and be more creating when dealing with problems: the stick is not the only solution to all problems and in many cases taxes have perverse effects.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Londonist: Save Smithfield Market

Saw this on Londonist: Save Smithfield Market. I really like Smithfields, and in general industrial architecture from 18th and 19th centuries. But it looks conservation movements haven't yet caught up with this century, especially if you look at what they're doing to Camden Town Stables Market. Ten years ago it was vibrant and you could really find unique pieces and good bargains. Not anymore, it's too organised.

It's quite a shame really, and short sighted as well: in fine, depriving areas from their soul is bound to make them lose their souls and therefore commercial viability? People go to Borough Market because it's a market, not a supermarket. Disorganised, lively, unpredictable, cheap...

It's important to fight to keep industrial and folk heritage: when all streets will be transformed in retail chains malls, when the choice will be Gap and H&M, Starbucks and Nero, Pizza Express and McDonalds, people will stop going places. Why indeed travel when Richmond is the same as Wimbledon or Islington as Soutwark, or even Barcelona and Amsterdam? Residents in Barnes fighting to keep their local shops are so right...

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Should Americans eat more excrements (or just camembert?)

In this Slate article, Kent Sepkowitz asks whether the food chain is too clean?
Why Americans should eat more excrement. - By Kent Sepkowitz - Slate Magazine

The answer to the question is simple but not quite as simplistic as the author puts it. When I go to the US, it always strikes me that you can't find much fresh food in their supermarket: everything is sanitised and vacuum packed. They won't cook beef blue because it's against the law. They may be just ahead of us, I get this as an excuse here too.

I would rather suggest Americans to stop eating shit: dump all crap processed food, stop pasteurising all their "cheeses", eat sushi and beef tartare, fresh vegatables and oysters.

I bet they would soon discover that cooking from fresh ingredients, eating camembert, roquefort, raw seafood is not only better to taste but I also better for the waistline.

Camembert for instance is not pasteurised. Those who think it stinks may be right, I just say it's an acquired tate. My 6 and 3 year old love it so much that I am lucky if I eat 1/8th. Of course, roper camembert is of course unpasteurised and helps the digestion system to be reactive and healthy.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

RTT article on Garden road redevelopment

The Richmond and Twichenham Times has published an article about Garden Road redevelopment in which they quote me:
Residents fear waste site may be dumped on them (RTT, 1/10/07).

It exposes how unclear the council is and they quote in the article is a model... of political wooly technospeak. Read it and write to the council!

I've posted twice before on this:
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

All that money down the Drain

This morning, the Waterloo & City line was again closed. Signal failure apparently.

While I was walking (20 mn, good for me and it was not raining), I had two thoughts:

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Solving the email quota problem

Now, as I've mentionned before not everyone is disciplined with email and with the amount of email I get every day I blow-up my server quota every week. Until now, I had to delete every large attachment, save it on my disk drive and add something like <> to find it again (I have Copernic installed on my laptop, so I can just key in the file name, and then drag-and-drop it from Copernic into a message. This is a manual process and I've been looking for Outlook add-ons to automate it. I've searched a long time and found free ones that were also buggy and not satisfying.

The best one I've tried is from MAPILab and called Attachments Processor for Outlook. It does what it says on the box: it's quite simple to use and configure, just sits on your Tool menu and in the toolbar. There are a few nice options, like you can have renaming filters, you can do several rules to run automatically or manually, etc... For now, I've just created one to scan all sent items and detach them but you can run it on all outgoing items. I have yet to figure out the Archive feature though. There's even a function to reattach automatically files that were detached which I am very much found of. The complete feature list is impressive and since they're now at R4.2 I would think it's a pretty mature and bug free product. OK, it's not free but at $24 it's not expensive either if you can save a few hours trying to bring down your mail folder size when you're stuck in a remote country with only intermittent WiFi or slow PSTN access (it happenned to me during a trip in South Africa). Email deprivation syndrome is terrible...

The only snag is that I now have an attachment directory that duplicates with the files I had already stored on my HDA so I'll be looking at ways to deduplicate files on my disk drive although as space now seems so abundant it's a more long term priority (the main issue comes with backing up my HDA but then I've got a NAS).

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Petrol rip off?

I subscribed a while back to to try minimise my petrol bill. It's a great service that tells you where petrol is cheaper. Except that the petrol industry seems to be very good at making sure prices are in line in a given neighboorhood.

As you can see below, there's a huge difference between prices in Reading and in Richmond but with those areas prices are very similar... Looks like a scam to me...

5 cheapest stations in Reading for Unleaded...
Station : Shell/sainsburys Shinfield
Address : Shinfield Road, Reading, RG2 8HA
Brand : Shell
Distance: 2.22 miles
Price : 91.9p
Updated : 23-09-2007
Station : Asda Lower Earley, Price : 91.9p
Station : Shell Fairfield, Price : 91.9p
Station : Tesco Reading Extra, Price : 92.9p
Station : Morrisons Reading, Price : 92.9p

5 cheapest stations in Richmond Unleaded...
Station : Shell Oak Lane, Price : 93.9p
Station : Studley Grange Service Station, Price : 94.5p
Station : Sainsburys Richmond, Price : 94.9p
Station : Brentford Filling Station, Price : 94.9p
Station : Chiswick Flyover Service Station, Price : 94.9p

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Update on the update on the North Sheen station footbridge

View Larger Map
Following onto our campaign for a second footbridge at North Sheen station, we chased up our MP, Susan Kramer, who in turn chased again Network Rail.

It has been slow progress, not for the lack of trying from Susan's office but because of inertia at Network Rail.

In the meantime, the same Network Rail is spending its money on radio ads to keep reminding us how much level crossings are. We'd rather see them actually removing level crossings or making them safer: according to them, "an average of one person a month is killed at level crossings", most likely on one of the 1,521 sited on public roads.

Read also:

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Offices or homes?

This article from the Richmond and Twickenham Times states that the bourough lacks affordable housing.

What really puzzles me then is why the council wants more offices in the vincinity when so many stand empty?

Read my other post on the area behind the fire station (Market road, Garden Road and Orchard Road) which is due to be re-developped. The concil wants to change the designation from light industries to heavy industries, including offices. A developper in the meantime wants to build houses.

As a related issue, area behind the fire station (Market road, Garden Road and Orchard Road) is due to be re-developped. The concil wants to change the designation from light industries to heavy industries which angers residents. If there is a shortage of affordable housing, why adding more offices when so many stan empty on Lower Richmond road?

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

TSA security

For anyone having travelled to the US of A, this clip should bring back memories:

The daftness of the airport security regulations is at best annoying, if you add the gross incompetence of the so-called security staff it's actuall no laughing matter...

11/09/07 Update: even high-ranking officials are caught by the over-zealous-iditotic US aiport security: Cahill voices anger after customs detains his family over fruit [The Boston Globe]

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Read today's Time

The Times has a great article on Richmond council barking against motorists:
Drivers under siege from the council that hates cars - Times Online

Personally, my issue is not that much that they're againsts car but rather that they don't provide any other solution. I could go on for ever, but it's like Red Ken charging people to go to London: a) it's not a new idea, it's even medieval, b) it's expensive to administer, c) a private company makes a lot of dosh, d) only rich can now enter London (not nurses or teachers) and f) there's no alternative as the trains and tubes are over-crowded and not reliable and the cycling network is just a joke.

If Richmond council provided secure bike parking in all train stations, enough places to lock your bike when you shop and a proper cycling network we could speak again about taxing car. But not before.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Update on the North Sheen station footbridge

Last year, following my posts on the footbridge at North Sheen station, the office of Susan Kramer emailed me back the options considered by Network Rail.

As a reminder, the issue is that North Sheen has just a single footbridge and that pedestrians (and car) have to wait at the level crossing if they come from the Southern side of Manor road. Now, in any civilised country I've ever been to, a tunnel or a bridge would have been built to remove a level crossing in a dense urban fabric. Given the fact it is taking over 20 years to build a vital link such as Crossrail, I doubt this will happen in North Sheen so I've moved onto suggesting more pragmatic actions to remove the need for pedestrians to wait at the crossing. There is a serious safety implication, as there are no less than 5 schools within half a mile and kids just jump the barriers to cross.

You will find below those options, verbatim. My views are that the third option is interesting however it would make the access to the station even more concealed and difficult to find, however it would be easier to drop off passengers. We could even dream of a bike parking there to encourage carbon friendly commuting (would require CCTV surveillance to deter thieves).

Additionally and a more radical option would be a double bridge at the Eastern end of the platform. On the South side, this could link Sheen Court and/or Upper Richmond road respectively via the allotments and via Holy Trinity school (this would require to extend the pathway through the side of the school and along Sheen Court. Is is relevant here to note that Sheen court has 200 flats and Courtlands opposite is a similarly dense development, both currently have to walk a detour to go to the station -and be stuck at the crossing for up to 15 mn.

On the North side, this could link Manor grove, providing access to the neighbourhood around Bicester road, Somerton avenue and Lambert avenue -again a denser development.

This would give North Sheen three accesses and make quite a difference for local residents and encourage commuting by train. Then more than four trains per hour would be nice, but that's another story.


North Sheen Station – Summary of Draft Options

Network Rail, following appeals by local residents and elected figures, is exploring possible options to address the widespread misuse of the level crossing at North Sheen Station.

The options are in discussion stage and Network Rail would like the views of local residents and elected figures before developing any option beyond this initial point. (NB: No specific costs/ funding sources have been identified.)

Option 1 – Extension of footbridge to connect with the old pathway and relocation of the signalling box blocking access to this pathway.


  • Add an extending arm to the footbridge relatively in-expensive

  • Open up the old pathway to access the south of the level crossing


  • Relocation of the signalling equipment and reintegration with local signalling systems.

  • Closure of the railway line

  • Timescale of the work likely to be lengthy

  • All enhancements (i.e. new infrastructure on the railway) need to be DDA compliant.

Note: So, why did they remove the bridge in the first place then?

Option 2 - Install a completely new footbridge on the west side of the level crossing


  • Provision of crossing point for those south of the level crossing.

  • Could be used by all pedestrians on Manor Road.


  • Possible interference with the sight-lines of train drivers approaching the crossing

  • All enhancements (i.e. new infrastructure on the railway) need to be DDA compliant.

  • The western side of the crossing has residential buildings.

Option 3 – Extension of the footbridge to the old path, connection of the old path with a new route through the allotments.


  • Extension of the footbridge and reinstating the old path relatively in-expensive

  • No need to move critical signalling equipment


  • Purchase of land from the allotments

  • New path next to residential properties (lights etc)

  • All enhancements (i.e. new infrastructure on the railway) need to be DDA compliant.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Garden road redevelopment

It is quite fascinating how a council such as Richmond can behave. Residents between Chalkers Corners and Manor Circus have recently been addressed a letter by a developper suggesting the area close to Garden Road will be redevelopped for industrial use and possibly waster processing.
I must add that the tone of the letter was deliberately alarming.

This area behind Richmond fire station is currently home to a dairy plant, some warehouses and a removals company.

The letter was good though because it drew residents to a meeting which otherwise would have gone un-noticed. Sneaky politics?

After the brouhaha, the council sent us a letter saying the redeveloppment won't be for heavy waste management....

Here are my questions to them, what do you think?

Dear Sirs,

  • Having received your letter dated 17/8/07, about the redevelopment of the are between Market road and Orchard road. I hereby would like to share my comments:

    1. Type of business
    You imply the new development will be business or light industries. There are already un-occupied office premises on Lower Richmond road so it seems the area is not short of office space.
    What is the rationale of Richmond Council to encourage light-industries as opposed to housing?

    2. Parking
    The area is already quite stretched in terms of parking space, in particular we are concerned by the office block at the corner between Clifford avenue and Lower Richmond road not having provision for parking spaces. Will the council add the provision of decent parking space for this redevelopment?

    3. Green spaces
    The local development plan mentions the area has not enough green open spaces. We would like to have your comments on how this redevelopment is going to address this.

    4. Safety
    As opposed to housing which is occupied 24/7, light industrial premises are vacant at nights and week-ends.
    Is the council going to provision extra police forces to make sure that this redevelopment is going to stay safe?



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    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    No will for carbon friendly transportation strategy

    While binge flying relentlessly puts pressure to expand airports thanks to the fact aviation fuel is not taxed, the government has just released details of its rail strategy: Rail fares to soar as government slashes funding - Times Online

    Or rather the lack of:
    "Ministers intend to shift the burden of paying for the railway much more heavily to passengers, who paid 50 per cent of the cost this year but will pay 75 per cent by 2014. "

    This is appalling and hypocritical.

    On one hand, the government is encouraging motorists stealth tax pretexting carbon emission and on the other it simply does not invest enough in non-polluting public transport. Trains are over-crowded and little improvement is to come. It took over 10 years to get the Eurostar connected with a proper high-speed line to London -with a great result: over 60% market share against airlines on the London-Paris route. This represents many many planes not buzzing in Richmond skies....

    Commuters are often criticised for preferring their cars. This is in fact a perfectly rational choice. For instance, a Richmond resident working in Thames Valley Park in Reading, like many thousands of other employees, can travel by car of train. From North Sheen it takes about one hour and half although TVP is right between the Reading line and the Thames. This is because the station that was planned when TVP was developped has never been completed and one has to take a shuttle from Reading station.
    So it's adding 30 mn each way, which is £8 if you have to pay childcare, plus £11 in rail faires, versus less than £10 by car and one hour.

    Why can't we have continental-grade infrastructures? Why indeed...

    PS: read also Mike Rutherford's column on Autoexpress: More rail inefficiency and more rate increases – and more investment from the Government

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    Friday, July 13, 2007

    If ever you can find eels....

    The Richmond and Twickenham times relates the story of a rare local British dish, the Richmond Eel Pie.
    Interesting tale, dating back to King Henry VIII: apparently Eel Pie Island is named after that dish. The ait was also famous for music in the sixities -I wish I was there!

    Coming back to the Eel pie, it's apparently not that difficult to cook, the main issue is to find eels (and also to skin and bone them). Here's the recipe on The Great British Kitchen.

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    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Free marketing advice for Dualit

    I was looking to buy a Dualit toaster earlier this week. Seems simple enough, once you have made up your mind on the number of slots, right?

    On their website (which is not well referenced by Google: advice #1, spend some time on Google Sitemaps) they list the four slots at £152.95 in colours and £177.13 in polished steel. As this is a tad steep, I checked on eBay and found a good range of of new specimens under £130 and used under £50. Unfortunately they have only the hideous glacier blue and none of the eBay shops carries the metallic blue.

    Not being selfish, I remembered by better half wanted a new kettle. So I wrote to Dualit to know whether they also did kettles in either Lavender or Metallic hues. Nope. So, you'll find advice #2 below: why on Earth don't they make it easy to buy two of their products in matching colours?

    And you'll see advice #3: team up with other iconic brands, because frankly Marmite isn't going to cut it...

    Finally, here's advice #4: the Dualit web site doesn't work well with Firefox: that's advice #2, ensure wide browser compatibility. Maybe hire specialist consultants or use open source software.


    Take this as a suggestion for improvement then: it's always nice to be able to match coloured items in one's kitchen.

    Another suggestion: why don't you team up with Kitchen Aid to sell a set in metallic blue of your products and their famous mixer? You could announce it on July the 4th?

    Or do the toaster in the same coulours as the Francis Francis X1 -it is equally iconic and a yellow dualit would look really nice besides mine.

    Seems to me a better commercial idea than corkscrews....



    Dualit Enquiry Response wrote:
    Dear Ludovic,
    Thank you for your email enquiry. Unfortunately, we do not manufacture a Kettle is Metallic or Lavender Blue. However, we do have the Jug Kettle available in Glacier Blue.
    Best Regards

    Dualit Limited
    County Oak Way
    West Sussex
    RH11 7ST
    Tel: +(44) (0) 1293 652500
    Fax: +(44) (0) 1293 652555

    This email and any attachments are confidential. They may contain privileged information and are intended for the named addressee(s) only. They must not be distributed without our consent. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify us immediately and do not disclose, distribute, or retain this email or any part of it. Unless expressly stated, opinions in this email are those of the individual sender and not of Dualit Ltd. We believe but do not warrant that this e-mail and any attachments are virus free. You must therefore take full responsibility for virus checking. Dualit Ltd reserve the right to monitor all email communications through their networks.

    From: Ludovic
    Sent: 12 June 2007 13:37
    To: Dualit Enquiry Response
    Subject: Matching kettle for blue toaster


    Do you make kettles in metallic blue or lavender blue to match your toasters?



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