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 - Fotolia.com. 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

http://www.bbc.co.uk/home/images/main_promo/bbc2/airplane_pollution_wt_r_1.jpgSometimes, 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: richmondtransits.blog/railways