Wednesday 28 February 2007

Saving the planet... and more weather

Today was my big trip off to Earls Court (2)... location of the eagerly anticipated "Innovations for the Built Environment" event - EcoBuild, CityScape, Regenex, FutureBuild and Building for Heatlh.I'm exhausted after all that walking around! Every aspect of sustainable construction you can think of was covered (and probably quite a few that you can't). I managed to collect three bags of literature, with the promise of much more in the post.

I was delighted to find it was tipping down with rain again today when it came time to leave for work. I decided to use my pretty pink umbrella which came free with a magazine. Totally useless. Didn't even make it to the end of the street before being blown inside out and snapping one of the struts!

My semi-obsession with busses on the 486 route continues. I was about an hour later today, but the bus was STILL a double decker AND I saw a double decker going the other way. It all points to the retirement of single deckers on that route.

My other semi-obsession, the Jubilee Line, was in fine form this morning. We stopped and started all the way to Bermondsey - I'd read the entire Metro by this point - and when we got to London Bridge we stopped. For AGES. The driver eventually came on to apologise for the delay - singal failure at Baker Street. Another five minutes. I decided to give up and go a different way. When I got upstairs the signal failure had moved to Bond Street. And there it stayed causing minor delays. I really felt the need to reiterate to TfL their own definititions of delays. If my trains ceases to travel AT ALL I think that there is a 'noticeable impact on my journey'! I decided to go to Bank to pick up the Distric Line and continue to Earls Court. Forgetting that in the Bank/Monument dual station scenario the District Line is actually at Monument and therefore involves a rather hefty trek!

The argument between Virgin Media and Sky over carriage fees still has to be resolved - with only hours to go before the deadline... although according to Digital Spy Virign are offering to go to arbitration. However - the pure unadulterated arrogance of VM continues - with their conviction that there will be no 'loss of content' and that having Lost available 'on demand' come August will fix it all. I'll know what happens by then, you Numpties!

Tuesday 27 February 2007

My transport

Just whipped off to the TfL website to check how the Jubliee Line is doing before I go home. I don't usually bother to do this, only this afternoon the Jubilee Line sent me a text message to say that there were 'minor delays'. Well - guess what, nearly three hours later - there are STILL minor delays!

Today's given reason is a person taken ill on a train earlier at Canary Wharf. I do not see why this has to delay the trains! Why does the ill person not GET OFF the train and let the train go on it's merry way. On the subject of people being taken ill on the train though - I do wish that somebody would correct the grammar of the PA announcer at Green Park. He insits that an "earlier person taken ill on the train" is a reason for delay. At which point a mental image of an earlier person (perhaps a caveman, or a knight in armour) always pops in to my head.

I hold out little hope for my journey even when TfL claims that a good service operates. My oft stated opinion that TfL must have a different definition of a 'good service' than mine is, in fact, true. A 'good service' equate to no noticable impact on your journey. You have to get down to 'severe delays' before they will sanction you taking another route! On this basis I disagree that last night when I arrived at Green Park a 'good service' was operating on the Jubilee Line. I arrived on the platform to see the indicator board stating 7 minutes until a train. As the stated journey time between Green Park and North Greenwich is 19 mintues this meant that a third of my journey time would be spent on the platform waiting for a train! I call that a minor delay as I had a 'noticeably longer journey time'.

When I did get to North Greenwich I noted that all four escalators were actually in service between the bus station and the ticket hall - which is how it should be as two have only been in service for a month! It didn't last thought... back down to three again this morning!

The new escalators are part of the big 'O2' facelift to the area around what most of us still call 'The Dome'. This includes closing off about half of the car park back in Febraury, and making it available to season ticket holders only on weekdays. Now considering the cost of it, I'm not sure why anybody else would want to pay to park there on a weekday, but that is beside the point. The point is that since they have fenced off the large area of the car park - NO WORK appears to have been done. I can see why car drivers are annoyed.

There was the usual degree of chaos in the Bus Station... there are three main stops which serve a variety of routes. The busses I want irritatingly leave from two different stops - the 422 shares with the 108 as they run the same route past the old hospital and the 486 shares with the 161 and tthe 472 as they run the same route through the peninsula. I get really annoyed with the 486 as what usually happens is that all the people waiting for the 472 and the 161 don't bother to move their arses to let passengers onto the 486 and it all turns into a massive scramble. Maybe it will get better if the 486 is really running double deckers now!

Finally leaving the bus station we encountered the 'hole in the road' which seems to have taken residence along East Parkway. It is of such size that the busses have to give way to each other to progress in opposite directions. I'm not sure what purpose the hole serves, but soon it will be elevated to having capital letters!

Cranky plumbing and wet weather

The first thing I noticed when I got up this morning was that it was raining. Heavily. Oh well, I thought, I'm going to take a shower anyway so at least my hair won't get wet!

So I went and argued with the shower. I prefer to take a bath, but doing my bit to preserve water I try and limit my baths to the weekend. All weekend I had trouble getting hot water... either the rest of the house had used it all up (!) or the heating hadn't been on long enough. This morning I had trouble getting cold water! No matter what I tried the water remained absolutely scalding. Ah well.

The good news was, by the time I finally left the house it had stopped raining. Hurrah!

For the second day in a row the bus turned up just as I arrived at the stop. For the third journey in a row the usual single decker is replaced by a brand new double decker. I'm not sure if this means that there are now only double deckers on the 486 route or it is just one big cosmic coincidence?

I picked up a Metro as usual - but most of it was what I read last night in the Evening Standard - which is why I don't usually bother with the Standard. That and the fact that it is 50p!

Large portions of the paper were devoted to the Oscars (which happened too late to make yesterday's edition). Was fairly uninterested as I've not seen any of the films that won - and don't even plan to see most of them! It did amuse me that the Best Supporting Actress was won by a singer who was rejected from American Idol 2004 - shows what reality TV knows, eh?!

Another story that caught my eye is the proposal to make driving test more difficult for teenagers - the proposal is to give greater emphasis on road safety. Not before time I shouldn't think, given some of the fankly bizarre driving I see at the weekends in and around the areas where I live.

The Mayor of London and his colleagues are after spending our money again (well, I assume that it is tax payers money - perhaps they are getting a grant?) - the idea is to put up sculptures to 'encircle' the capital. Like the 'Angel of the North' the paper said. Presumably in concept, not design?! I'd have said like the City of London - ever noticed the dragons holding their shields as you enter the city?

Life is great if you catch a bus in London - apparently bus fare dodgers are costing TfL £1m a week. That's a lot of fares! The blame apparently falls at the doors (quite literally) of the Bendy Busses... with only one of their three sets of doors requiring passengers to show evidence of a fare. Ban the Bendy Busses! Nobody likes them, and all they do is cause traffic chaos... oh, apart from that brief interlude where they used to burst into flames!

So, if you're not fare dodging on a bus how do you get around London? On the famous underground? Hmm. When it works. Some enterprising students have come up with an ingenious idea - a version of the tube map which shows walking distances between stations. I've lived in and around London my whole life, so I know my way around above and below ground, but it always amazes me the insane tube journeys people will take when they don't know it would be quicker to walk! Check out the map

The Sky/Virgin row doesn't seem to have been resolved (see yesterday's blog entry Virgin Rant). Rich (my fiance) and I were watching Sunday's TV (Lost and 24) on videotape last night and finally saw the scene from Lost which was used incessently for advertising a while back. I'm sure you know the one where Jack shouts "If you've got something to watch, go watch it"... to which wittly replied "She can't, she's on Virgin Media"!

Monday 26 February 2007

Virgin Media Rant

I just have to get this off my chest. Virgin Media

For those of you who missed it - the contract between Virign and Sky for the 'basic' package (Sky One, Sky News, Sky Sports News) runs out at the end of this month (Thursday). Talks to renew this have broken down. Nobody is sure why as the reasons given differ depending on who is doing the reporting.

The fact of the matter is - if you visit their website - Virgin blame Sky (unequivocably) and don't seem to think that it matters that they are about to lose Sky One et al. They seem to think that they have enough to offer that nobody will mind! THINK AGAIN YOU MORONS

I don't think that 'pay per view' and 'TV on demand' from last year makes up for missing the end of Stargate SG-1 (forever) the last few episodes of this series of Atlantis and the most of the series of Lost and 24.

I would dump them for Sky if I could... but unfortunately trees block the signal to my house. I can't help but wonder if NTL would have been as cavalier as Virgin... who don't seem to give a moment's thought to their customers.

If you are an NTL/Telewest/Virgin customer - let them know what you think! They have a thread on Virgin Forum

Monday Morning Blues

If there is one thing I'm never going to get the hang of it's Monday mornings! It always takes me twice as long to get up and get going... still, at least I did all my ironing yesterday and so didn't have to fight the ironing board this morning!

Very oddly the bus arrived at the bus stop just as I got there. Unprecedented! Even though I thought that I had left late I still somehow managed to get to the office by 7:45... luckily still remembered the door code (which they changed on Friday).

Found Friday's post sitting unopened in the conference room (why?!) and got myself started.

The only amusing thing that happened this morning was whilst walking along Piccadilly I saw the Army out exercising their horses... apart from the ones at the front and the back each horse with a rider was 'towing' a riderless horse. It looked a bit strange really.

I think people must be about to move into the fourth floor office... there is a great deal of hammering and drilling going on up there. It is really getting on my nerves - all morning *bash* *drill* - oh, for a quiet life!