Friday, December 12, 2008

Children friendly pubs: and the winner is...

The Marlborough sits chiefly on top of Richmond hill and boasts one of the largest gardens -complete with children playground- of the area, making it one of the favourites around, along with the Victoria in East Sheen (great food but overpriced), the Tapestry in Mortlake, The Crown in St Margarets, Stein's on the river and the Hare and Hounds in Sheen.

(I must say the Lass'o'Richmond is missing, I have yet to investigate this one).

So, back to the Marlborough: garden is great, wine and beer selection is adequate and the food good: fish in general is great, meat not so tasty and burgers are rubbery and overcooked, the mediterranean platter is great to share with friends.
Service is fine, though quite slow in busy summer days.
Pricewise, it's in line with the other pubs around -not the most expensive, but not particularly cheap. Kids portions are reasonable.

Verdict: thousand times nicer than ending up at Pizza Express and probably one of the best pubs for summer evenings with children and relax WE lunches all year long (book early though).

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Children aren't the center of the world

The Times has more today on Childcare is bad for your baby, working parents are warned. If this doesn't make any working mum feel guilty, what will?

Beyond the tabloidic headline, there's more on the fallacy that socialising children in bad for them. But nothing on the benefits for mothers and the society of women in the workforce. And nothing either about brats spoilt by mothers bored at home...

It's quite amazing to read this in 2008...

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gastropub review: The Plough

The Plough - Bars and Pubs in east sheen, United Kingdom
The Plough (link to the Trusted Places page where you can leave your own ratings) in East Sheen has been "gastropubed" recently, refurbished from a traditional pub into something more in tune with its fancy sourroundings.

We ate there with the family back in August and had a sirloin (overcooked) and some Toulouse sausauges with lentils vinaigrette. The food was good but the portions small (even the additional chips was ridiculous), the kids meals were dear at £6.50 even if the mains were sensibly priced (£14.50 and £8.50 respectively).

Wine list and beer taps are middle of the road, so is service.

Verdict: value alternative to the nearby Victoria even if they miss a kids playground.

The Plough
42 Christchurch Road

East Sheen

London SW14 7AF (good idea to grab this domain name, even better if they actually had a web site!)

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Restaurant review: Le Bouchon Breton

Le Bouchon BretonLe Le Bouchon Breton is nicely located on the new mezzanie floor of Spitafields market -perfect for a city lunch and Xmas shopping in one trip. The seafood is excellent, the menu goes around all the French classics, even to the risk of being cliche'd (like the frog legs).
And as France is the largest country of Europe, inspiration doesn't stop at the Brittany borders: there's choucroute and meat.

I tried the oysters (very good indeed) and the choucroute -very nice despite being a bit watery- with an excellent Alsacian riesling.

The service was very attentive, they gave me the "champagne table" though a quite slow for a lunch. My partner in crime took a salade de pissenlits (dandelion salad) and some smoked eel -and loved it. We ended up with some profiteroles (too much ice cream to my taste) and a Coteaux du Layon. The lunch came at £160 which isn't cheap despite the high food quality.

Highly recommended!

Le Bouchon Breton
1st Floor, 8 Horner Square
Old Spitalfields Market,
London E1 6EW
08000 191704

See the other reviews:

Le Bouchon Breton London - French Restaurant Review, Online ...
  1. Le Bouchon Breton Restaurant. 8 Horner Square, Old Spitalfield Market, London, E1 6EW - Tel: 0800 019 1704. Reviews, Menus, Maps and Book Online.
    - 47k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
  2. Le Bouchon Breton Champagne Bar London - Pub & Bars Information ...

    11 Oct 2008 ... Le Bouchon Breton Champagne Bar London - Pub & Bars Information , 8 Horner Square, Spitalfields, 8 Horner Square, Spitalfields London - Pub ... - 63k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
  3. Restaurant review: Le Bouchon Breton | Life and style | The Guardian

    15 Nov 2008 ... Outstanding but with an eighth of the bustle and merriment of a cafe on La Rue Morgue. - 90k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
  4. Le Bouchon Breton - - Review - Time Out London

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

More on Manor road and Heathrow

Seems now the government is embarrassed:

Decision on third runway delayed(

"Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners claim the government is stalling"

"A decision on whether a third runway
should be built at Heathrow Airport has been put back to January 2009,
the Department for Transport has said.

And also, the impact of the Airtrack on local level crossing is making into national news:

BBC NEWS | England | London | Rail link 'may cause longer wait'

Read also my previous post: Airtrack and North Sheen Crossing

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

This year, Father Christmas will be old fashion

I'm doing what most parent spend most of their free time in December and November and have decided to resolutely be old fashion: no wii or activity pads or else, I think it will rather be garden games, that we can play together and outside.
QUOITS SET (563) - ENJOY HOURS OF GARDEN FUN WITH THE ANCIENT GAME OF QUOITSBoules (8 Per Game)GOOD IDEAS CROQUET SET (309) - Enjoy real english croquet in your garden! REDUCED TO CLEAR.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Darling and the impact on the Sterling

Read this morning Pre-Budget Report and Alistair Darling's £1 trillion debt gamble (Times Online)

What the chancellor, and the media, forget to say is that VAT cut won't help much in an economy that's hooked to imports.

More borrowing probably in fact will further weaken the Sterling Pound, resulting in more imported inflation and negating those 2.5% VAT cut.

Time to join the Euro?

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Traffic in Richmond park

Richmond park has come up with a way to limit the increasing Traffic in Richmond Park: The way forward for Case 17165.

In a nutshell, they're talking about closing the Pen Ponds (photo from Richmond Upon Thames Daily Photo) and putting a land train in place.

I find this just short of hypocritical and short sighted:
  • hypocritical -if they want to restrict traffic to Pen Ponds, why then do they have a diesel-powered snack-food and ice cream van selling their wares there? (and also I wonder, why does it have a German licence plate?)
  • short sighted -they've closed Robin Hood gate and displaced a lot of traffic onto adjoining roads, specifically the A205 is now quite terrible and the A3 was never improved either.
While I understand the reasons to restric traffic in the park, the "not in my street" approach is creating increased congestion on fewer streets each time a gate is closed, a street is made one way or transformed into a cul de sac (latest one to my knowledge is Well Lane in Sheen, which I find strange and not motivated)

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Restaurant Review: Club Gascon

I'm running way behing with my restaurant reviews and Cook Sister has already posted a very good review, so I'll simply link there: Cook sister!: Comptoir Gascon

I don't have much to add, apart that it's a very good address, a bit tough to get a table (book in advance) and another good reason to go to Smithfields.
Comptoir Gascon
63 Charterhouse Street

Tel. 020 7608 0851

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parking in Richmond

Another parking post, after the one on Kingston hospital parking: I need not to add much to the picture apart that I was taking my child to the Doctor's surgery and ended up putting a pound for 15 mn.

It seems that councils are seeing parking as a goldmine: they're using private agencies to aggressively enforce it, brought in charges on Sunday and taxing cars that don't pollute as they're not moving when parked...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Airtrack and North Sheen Crossing

I picked up last week a flyer from the LibDems at North Sheen station, to read that at my great pleasure Susan Kramer has obtained that the footbridge to the South side of the track will be rebuilt.

This is not only a practical issue, as with the new train schedules the level crossing in Manor road is down a a lot (read in the RTT: Level crossing bottlenecks choking Richmond, apparently it could be 75% of the time in the future!) it is also a safety issue. Indeed, I'm glad to get someone chiming in on something I've raised over two years ago:

Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon discussed safety concerns to pedestrians brought about by the delays.She said: “People get so frustrated waiting for the barriers thatsome have been tempted to go round them and run across the tracks.“Children have been seen doing this and it’s just an accident waiting to happen.”

It's also unfair for local residents: we get all the congestion but only four trains per hour at peak time. At least, we should get four trains per hour off-peak as well.

(plus, let's fine stationary cars too: Stuck at a level crossing? Turn off the engine or pay £20 fine - The Times)

What's the link with this and Airtrack, the plan to improve Heathrow's access by rail? At first sight, it looks like a good idea, and I am always supportive for better public transport.

However, it's hard to read without being suspicious of BAA's intentions, here's my take:

  1. BAA and BA build a new terminal in Heathrow (despite massive local opposition, read on Heathrow runway debate a 'sham'), claiming it's vital for the economy (without supporting this with any proof) and despite London being served by 4 other airports...
  2. Oh, shoot, access to Heathrow by public transport isn't that good and, as opposed to what's going on the continent, there's no high-speed rail link.
  3. And, bugger, if they extend the airport, they won't meet the new EU emission criteria, even with BAA's imaginary green’ jumbo (The Times).
  4. Easy: they just improve the public transport and create a car-free zone around the airport.
  5. Expensive? Not really, they say let's just extend the existing train lines, charge more for parking and create a road tax on the model of Red Ken's London Congestion Charge.
The snag? The train network, for not having received significant investments in the last 30 years, is completely saturated in the South East of England. And those trains to Heathrow, they will have to run somewhere. Like through Richmond...

This is why I oppose Airtrack, unless they actually invest significantly to increase rail capacity: North Sheen should be buried underground, a car park created on top to encourage people to park and take the train and we should see 8 trains an hour.

You can make your views heard on Thursday

Read my other posts on the North Sheen footbridge and those on Heathrow Expansion.

And also: MPs attack Airtrack (RTT)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Borough market

DSC_2416 par vous I was surprised to see how many people did not know about Borough Market.

It's a great trip for Sundays: from Richmond, just change trains at Waterloo East and walk back along the Thames -stopping by the Tate Modern.

At the market itself, there's a great variety of foods to be bought: great fish, meat, game selection, fantastic cheese selection, many unpasteurised -French, Dutch, English: do try the Stichelton and pay a visit to Neal's Yard DSC_2438cheeses.DSC_2440

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

BAA wakes up to the sound of locomotives?

Train- © hfng - Plane- © Lars Christensen - Fotolia.comBAA changed their whining pitch and now says that Heathrow 'needs rail links as well as third runway' (Evening Standard).

That's of course after the Tories said they were in favour of a £20bn plan for a 180mph rail link instead of Heathrow third runway.

At a conference BAA urged the rail industry to work with the aviationsector to generate a "once-in-a- generation opportunity to create aworld-leading air and transport hub at Heathrow". BAA said its aim isfor a "third runway built within strict environmental limits and ahigh-speed rail network that will connect the UK's hub airport withevery major centre of population across the country".

Yeah right. Seems like they want to have their cake and eat it. Personally, I frankly doubt they really want high-speed rail: in France, the SNCF predicts that the introduction of high-speed trains running at 360 kph (224 mph) would mean that the airlines passenger share between Paris and Toulouse (585 km or 360 miles) would fall from 80% to 30%.

But they kept some of their usual lies: "Mr Condie highlighted Paris and Frankfurt, which have both developed high-speed rail links and have more runways than Heathrow."
This of course is misleading as they compare Heathrow (2 runways) instead of London (5 runways, plus one un-used in Gatwick) to other capitals. What is true is that both France and Germany have linked high-speed trains (TGV and ICE) to airports.

Read also my other posts on Heathrow expansion.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kingston hospital parking

You'd better not be in a rush to go to Kingston Hospital.

Firstly, it's badly signposted as there are no signs from Kingston hill (A308) to turn into Galsworthy road. No map on their web site either, as they "We strongly recommend that patients and visitors use public transport to get to the hospital."

That's fine more most, maybe more difficult if you're sick or pregnant and about to deliver. Which are some of the reasons people may want to go to hospital.

Then to make it worse, they shrunk the car park when they extended the hospital (they probably did not think about locating a parking under the new building?) and you need to have change as they charge you £1.5/hour. It's not only an inconvenience to patients, but also to the staff it seems: Demo over hospital parking fees (BBC).

I think the Scots are smarter: NHS car parking charges abolished (BBC Scotland)

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The new treetop walkway in Kew

DSC_2388 par vous
The new walkway in Kew is nice, beautiful from an architectural standpoint and nice views too...

Friday, October 17, 2008

And now wash your hands...

Some scientists, maybe with too much... time ... on their hands, decided to swab 409 people and this led to the following headline:
BBC NEWS | Health | Faecal bacteria join the commute

In this article, we learn Newcatle bus commuters are dirtiest. All that could be laughable if the lack of basic hygene didn't lead to some potentially embarassing sicknesses.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Joanna's wonderful sourdough bread

IMG_8267 par vous I've been baking bread, from scratch and by hand for for now well over 2 years (see here for my inital receipe in French) and have had wonderful experiences, all very tasty.

I've never however been fully satisfied with the size of the bubbles, those air pockets forming in the bread, so when I read Joanna's post on French sourdough loaf (and lots of lovely holes!!!) I read it attentively!

She very kindly dropped off a jar of starter (levain) on Friday I set out to follow her instructions. Well, about as well as men can follow instructions I guess...

In the evening, I revived the starter using 50g Shipton wholemeal flour (I ran out of the Shipton Mills organic flour I buy from Oliver's) and about 60g water (to keep the same consistency). I did let the starter bubble all afternoon because I felt it did not work enough, and then it went back into a larger glass jar and into the fridge overnight.

On Saturday noon I augmented the dough with another 100g water +100 grammes of white flour this time -that's 100% hydratation. This time, I bought "Waitrose Extra Strong White Flour" made from "Canadian Red Spring Wheat -a mouthful of unwarranted capitalisation.

In the afternoon, I mixed the dough following Joanna's proportions with a mixer and dough hook for about 4 mn (I usually do it all by hand) and then folded it three times, with a few hours intervals: the dough was very wet with your proportion, I guess I usually work with less than 60% hydratation. By the end of the afternoon, the dough was still very soft but quite strong so I shaped it (on my brand new silicon mat from KooksUnlimited in Richmond). By the evening, I shaped the dough and although it still had not proven to what I would usually expect, I baked it -with a tray in the oven where I added some boiling water to create steam.

Dunring the baking, the bread experienced a much stronger "oven spring" than usual which added something like 20% in volume -amazing. I baked it for about 45 mn.

So, in the end, I got a soft white bread (I did not add rye flour because I ran out) and with A LOT OF BUBBLES!

Conclusion: I have a wonderful bread, and tried it with some Neufchatel cheese from my friend Michel and this morning with my home made honey -FAN-TAS-TIC!

But why?
  • Was that the very slow fermentation? (I plan to try with very little -like 20g/kg flour- fresh yeast and double the proving times from my initial receipe)
  • Was that the mixer kneading and folding technique?
  • Was that the increased hydratation?
  • Or is the dough stronger? (it's really annoying that flours in the UK aren't graded like they are in France, from T40 to T100)

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Stanstead and City granted expansion: what does it mean for Heathrow?

In the news yesterday:
Stansted and City airports get the expansion go ahead | Greenpeace UK

So, where does that leave us?

It looks like the government (and the councils) are not serious about the green agenda but are rather happy to listen to the aviation lobbies.

Heathrow expansion (the current plan is a third runway between the A4 and M4, requiring to bulldoze 700 homes, effectively razing Sipson) is probably the most controversial: because it's the busiest airport but also the worst location (Westerly winds prevalence means its flight paths send planes droning over no less than 2 MILLIONS of residents.
The most enraging is that both the Government (the Dft) and BAA have been consistently lying and breaking promises over the years.

I think the solution is to do what worked elsewhere: instead of talking about Heathrow not being competitive compared to
other European capitals, conveniently forgeting that only London has
FIVE international airports, the DfT should plan (do they know the meaning of the word though?) ahead and do what many other capitals done by relocating their airport.
Of course, they should also invest in rail: read Lyon-Paris vs. Manchester-London (from Euroblog by Jon Worth)

Read also:

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Big brother is coming to a road near you

specs speed cameraThe latest news in private life intrusion:
Drivers will have no escape from new speed cameras (Times, via BoingBoing)

Specs3 Cameras will be installed (at a cost of £300k per zone) and read your licence plate, calculate your average speed and fine you accordingly.

Of course, it's for our benefit as trials have shown that "[O]n the M1 the number of casualties halved after average-speed cameras were introduced".

But not only moving at a uniform pace is soporific and watching your tachimeter more than the car in front potentially dangerous, what are the authorities going to do with the data?

Where are the safeguards to prevent misuse? Already, the London congestion charge road tax camera images can be seen by the police in virtue of terrorism prevention...

As a reader commented:
Panopticon (n) A prison so contructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen.....
a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Stating the obvious: Heathrow expansion will pollute more, stating the obvious helps:
BBC NEWS | England | London | Third runway will 'damage health' (06/10/08)

"If the third runway goes ahead, if we get that extra both air and
ground traffic that will arise out of that, then it is absolutely
certain that nitrogen dioxide levels will go way beyond what they ought
to be for the sake of human health."

Why is that important?

Because, as a spokesman for the Department of Health (DfT) said: "The government
has always been clear that expansion at Heathrow could not go ahead
unless strict local environmental conditions could be met."

Read also: Listen to the Heathrow expansion lobbies...

In a nutshell:
  • lobbies speaking about the economicimpact of Heathrow expansion are not basing their statements on any reliable economic impact study
  • the DfT, BAA and BA are in collusion to preserve their own interests and not that of Londoners or the country
  • when they talk about Heathrow not being competitive compared to other European capitals, they conveniently forget that only London has FIVE international airports and that many other capitals have successfully relocated their airport

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Raw milk and cheese

Interesting post on raw milk and cheese:
Caseophile: The Slow Food Summer University and raw milk

The key takeaways are:
- jury based assesment can be manipulated (just in case you did not suspect this already)
- dairies working with raw milk have some challenges, but not necessarily where you thought
- skimming and homogeneising milk has some negative impacts (conforms to common sense)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lyon-Paris vs. Manchester-London (from Euroblog by Jon Worth)

I could not have articulated this better than Jon Worth in his Lyon-Paris vs. Manchester-London post.

This compares the two segments and how they are served by air and rail: guess who wins?

Just another statistic: on the London-Paris segment, the Eurostar has a 70% share on passengers (and they're carbon neutral). How many airplanes does it displace?

I guess this further proves the point that the Heathrow expansion case is flawed.

Read also my other related posts:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thought of the day...

Why does it seem all the world's problems (GM food, Irak+Terrorism, financial unregulation, etc...) come from USA but no solution does?

For too long, lobbies have done their best to obliterate indirect costs, either related to health (e.g. GMO, tobacco), ecology (e.g. CO2, endengered species) and what we see is just the need to take those costs into account, via oil prices or litigation.

We would not be there if the US Government had regulated earlier with sustainability as a principle.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Some Heathrow news...

A collection of interesting news items over the last couple of weeks...

Firstly, it seems politicians are starting to get their head about the anger caused by the unabated Heathrow expansion pushed by BAA and the DfT:

Government body calls for Heathrow review (RTT, 19/09/08)
Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister said: “First the environment
agency now the SDC, how many more of the Government’s own advisers have
to tell Gordon Brown that he has got it wrong on Heathrow expansion?
“The economic case for expanding Heathrow seems to hinge on a
future of cheaper flights and ever-growing demand. But none of these
assumptions seem to take account of rising oil costs, the economic
downturn or the government’s own CO2 targets.
“No serious attempt has been made to compare the benefits of a
third runway with other transport solutions such as high speed rail for
which there is great demand on Scotland and the North.

“It’s five years since the airports white paper was published and
it is looking increasingly irrelevant to the nation’s transport needs.

“Brown should order an independent study that looks at the full
impact of expanding Heathrow on all sectors of the economy – and
compares it to the alternatives. There must be more to UK transport
policy than what is good for BAA.”

Did he read my previous posts on the subject???  The Sustainable Development Commission report is here.

Tories promise to shelve plans for third runway (RTT, 29/09/08)

"shadow transport secretary Theresa Villers said a Tory Government would
spend £20billion on a high-speed rail line between London’s St Pancras,
where the Eurostar is based, and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds."

I couldn't agree more!

Boris Johnson has smelt the opportunity and resurrected the plans for a new airport in the estuary:
Boris Johnson airs plan for Heathrow-on-Sea (Times Online 10/02/08).  Makes total sense to me, as it's not that much more expensive than a third runway and a much better location. Unfortunately, short-sighted politicians have stalled it so far:

"Since the 1960s, 13 major cities including Paris, Milan and New York have
moved their airports further out. In Hong Kong, the government spent six
years and $20 billion building an airport on an artificial island and
linking it by bullet train to the city.In Britain, however, similar proposals have repeatedly been blocked. In the
1970s a scheme to build an airport on Maplin Sands near Southend-on-Sea in
Essex was abandoned because of a shortage of public funds."

(Image from "Scrap Heathrow and build a £30bn airport on an island, says Boris Johnson", Daily Mail 22/09/08)

PS: just to confirm that the company running Heathrow isn't up to the job:
Bacteria leaks and lost passengers among Heathrow breaches (RTT, 28/09/08)
CAA supports forced sell off of BAA airports

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What do you think of low cost carriers?

Saw this post today and commented on my own experience:
bmi baby: cheap but not cheerful AccMan

I've never been found of low cost carriers: yes, they're cheap. Except that you find out after that you need to pay for food, luggage, make your way to remote airports, etc...

And the service is poor. That's actually not true: there's no service.

Furthermore, they're quite bad for the economy and the environment: I don't believe we should have stag parties in Estonia or elsewhere just because it's cheap.

Without low cost carriers, would BAA scream to expand Heathrow? Do we actually need another runway or would it be better to improve the rail links to allow people to spend time in the UK???

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Waterloo plans mean no end of misery for commuters

Read today on Rail bosses reveal radical revamp plan for Waterloo. I guess this means the former Eurostar terminal won't be useable by commuters trains before long: what a disgrace! (read Londonist: What Next For Waterloo? for more).

It's about time someone sorts out Waterloo: one of the businest station, the passenger flows are chaotic and platforms are too short for longer trains.

Also, the partition erected some 30 years ago (?) removes the perspective (see photo) and makes the station really ugly.

An underground concourse and the removal of the partition would be good news indeed, let's just hope we'll get it sooner than later. I would not bet on this though....

Tags: london, waterloo, trains, railways, UK, transportation,

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Richmond on the crime map

The Beeb reports that a new crime map has been launched.

From the Met web site, it looks really good (see picture).

However, reports more burglaries than the national average -so all is not rosy:

London Borough of Richmond upon ThamesEnglish average
Crime statistics are per 1,000 of the population within the local authority area. Learn more


Violence against the person11.416.7
Robbery offences2.21.2
Theft of a motor vehicle offences2.32.9
Sexual offences0.70.9
Burglary dwelling offences5.74.3
Theft from a vehicle offences8.57.6

Airplanes noise common sense?

Why can't simple measures like they're implementing in Paris help with noise:
  • Increase the altitude by 300 m and come down quicker: this would reduce the noise by 50% within 10-25 km!
  • Tax aircraft movements between 1800 and 2200 (there's a strict curfew for Paris airport) between 2200 and 0600) and allocate this tax income to neighbouring residents for sound-proofing their homes.
Answer? Because the Department of Transport has aligned itsefl very closely with BAA and BA and has absolutely no interest for local residents' welfare.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Free range children?

Are we too protective of our kids?
Are we living in an overly clean environment?

I've been wondering awhile about those questions, so when I read those, they certainly added fuel to my thoughts:

Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone
This post on the blog Free Range Kids discusses about how much independence to give children: it's something I often discuss and sometimes argue about with my wife.
  • Should my 4 year old go to the post box on the corner of our street, just one house away, on her own -with us watching from the window? We think so.
  • Should my 7 year old be allowed to open the oven unsupervised to prick a cake with a sharp cooking knife and check if the clafoutis is ready? I think so, my wife disagrees.
  • From what age can they walk about a mile to school -unsupervised? 8? 10? 15???

Apparently unrelated are allergies. They seemed no provisions for allergic kids when I was at school and now everyone's going nuts about it. Nuts and a growing list of things are banned from kids parties.
As I've written here, we're exposed to more pollutants like diesel and many chemicals and many suspect there are links to cancers, asthma, allergies, etc...

As I've written here, I think we shold eat more un-pasteurised foods. This article from the Beeb seems to confirm this: Farm pregnancy 'cuts asthma risk'

My conclusions? Should we be less protective of our children, while reducing the chemicals ingestion and exposure and eating more natural stuff? I think so.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

ITV news: bloggers tour

Great tour of the ITV studios in Camden with a few bloggers, thanks to the team.

I am sure Miss Geeky will relate all the technical details -she had a bit of a nice camera to take pictures. The other bloggers there were The Brinkster, Ben Locker and AboutMayfair.

We watch the news with Alastair Stewart and Salma being made from the gallery (the room where they mix all the programmes, with the director, the engineers, the autocue girl....).

I'll post my own photo later...

Live blogging from ITV studios later today...

I've been invited by ITV to tour their studios and watch the London Tonight 6 PM news.

I'll be blogging live from the studios later today...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some news on those level crossings...

I've blogged numerous times on the North Sheen station footbridge, because to my mind it's simply daft that we can't access the station from both sides of the level crossing.

It's also quite dangerous, especially with all those kids crossing itevery day. And not accessible.

And, since you can be stuck for over 12 minutes behind it, it's a traffic hog, especially when it breaks down.

Read all my previous posts on the infamous North Sheen footbridge and level crossing.

Apparently, it's not going to improve: in order to provide Heathrow with better train services (hello world, is this a planning mistake or is it deliberate to try curb car emissions so that planes can continue to pollute for free?) this level crossing (and Mortlake, Barnes...) could be down for up to 45 mn in one hour.

Read on the article: MPs attack Airtrack.

This is a joke, they might as well close it for good and let us gridlocked!

PS: if you did not click on all the links above, do check this one: HEATHROW – ARETIREMENTPLAN by Town and Country Planning.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Does the DoH really think it's going to solve the obesity epidemic by sanitising the language?

Sometimes political correctness drives me over the edge:
Nothing To Do With Arbroath: British government bans the word 'obese' to describe overweight children

Does using euphemism help solving the issue?

At a time when "Obesity 'threatens future of NHS'" (The cost to the NHS is £480m each year - 1.5 per cent of NHS expenditure) and in a country where "UK women are now officially the fattest in Europe", it seems to me that not telling fat people the only solution is eat less and exercice more (since most of obesity causes are self inflicted).

Sure that's quite harsh. But then society is harsher on speeding drivers and smokers, even though Obesity Deadlier Than Smoking (and car accidents).

It maybe extreme, but social pressure helps combatting obesity, just as smoking is no longuer socially accepted even though it was the norm 20 years ago.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Commuting Humour

Read two amusing posts today:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Economic case for Heathrow expansion 'flawed'

An article in the RTT needs little to be added to:
Economic case for Heathrow expansion 'flawed' (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)

The Friends of the Earht have commissionned a report to the Stockholm Environment Institute was commissioned: see their press release here.

The report was written by Elizabeth A. Stanton and Frank Ackerman from the Stockholm Environment Institute - US Centre. A link to the full report is

From the RTT site:

The report found three major flaws in the assessment of these benefits and called for an independent review:

  • The passenger demand projections are uncertain - for example they rely on fares falling because the cost of oil per barrel is predicted to fall from an assumed $65 in 2006 to $53 in 2030. Oil is currently around $130 a barrel and experts predict will not fall below this before the end of 2016.
  • Foreign passengers changing planes in the UK are counted as a benefit to the UK economy - but this is against HM Treasury guidance on project appraisal. In 2005 nearly 30 per cent of Heathrow passengers were travellers simply changing planes.
  • It assumes “doing nothing” is the only alternative to airport expansion ignoring alternatives with less environmental impact like switching short haul passengers to rail travel, investing in video conferencing or limiting transfer passengers.
This comes as little surprise, after the government commissioned a study on the future of transportation by no one else than the former BA boss: The Eddington Transport Study.

Strangely, although it's successful everywhere else in Europe, he did recommend against high speed link (see my previous post: Finally, high speed train gets national coverage).

Just to repeat myself: looking at Heathrow in isolation is at best misleading since there are 4 other international aiports in London (plus spare capacity in Portsmouth, Midlands, ect, all easily reachable by high-speed train if there was any) and it is dishonest because it doesn't look into alternative transport modes.

But then, the DfT, BA and BAA are forming a ménage a trois to protect the commercial interests of BA and BAA...

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Restaurant review: TAS

It's not often I enjoy a good and fairly priced restaurant in London. But it's exactely what we came across last week-end when we went to have dinner at Tas, a Turkish eaterie on The Cut, close to Waterloo station -perfect to finish a day of rambling through the capital and visit some attractions such as Tate Modern.

We had several dishes, all quite pleasing: a lentil soup, grilled chicken, hummous, falafel, tabouleh salads, etc... All mediteranean dishes, simple and honest, washed with a good rosé (Don Jacobo Rijoa, £15.35).

Best news was the price: the menus are less than a tenner, making it possible to eat for under £20, a rare feat. Even the teenagers we had with us were pleased!!!

Highly recommended!

33 The Cut
Waterloo, London SE1 8LF
020 7928 1444

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Finally, high speed train gets national coverage

The 2M group, representing the 2 millions people living under the Heathrow airport flight path (LHR is the airport annoying the most people in Europe) has managed to get great coverage:

Evening Standard: £30bn rail link to put Sheffield within three hours of Paris
BBC: Proposals for speed rail link
and more...

Read also this well research page: High Speed Rail to the North on andTHE IMPACT OF HIGH SPEED RAIL ON HEATHROW AIRPORT on Greengauge21.

From the 2M Group website:

High Speed North - Joining up Britain
2M Group has published a new study which looks at how a new high speed
rail network could link major cities throughout the UK and provide
direct routes to Europe.

The proposals would join Heathrow to this new rail network – removing the need for most domestic flights.

It would link UK cities to Europe with, in many cases, a travelling time of less than four hours.

The proposals have been published by 2M as part of its contribution to the growing debate on alternatives to aviation growth.

pdf icon High Speed North – Joining up Britain (515 kb)

You can also download some of the more detailed workings of the report's author.

pdf icon Principles of high speed rail (126 kb)

Read my previous posts on the subject under the tag Heathrow.

Finally, listen to this BBC report showing the collusion between the DfT, BA and BAA:

Heathrow plans 'not biased'

Friday, July 18, 2008

Today, I've solved the energy crisis (Friday post)!

See my commentary on
Rob Enderle's post: The Desk That Could Save Your Life.

Actually, I think I've solved several problems:
  • reduce dependency on (foreign) oil and other fossile energy sources via a totally renewable (read "breeding) source
  • reduce NHS deficit and combat obesity epidemic
  • solve back problems of office workers
  • provide new-age management metrics
  • and many more!