Tuesday 26 October 2010


Of course the day I don't have my camera there is the most amazing sunrise over the peninsula. I had to get off the bus and capture it with my iPhone

A new paper

Last night in the Evening Standard there was an advertisement for a new paper; I suppose that as the Standard is London only and in the evening they don't see the start-up as direct competition.

Welcome the first new daily paper in a quarter of a century (or thereabouts). It's from the people who bring you the Independent and it's called "i".

A paper for "time-poor" people. My first reaction was - why would I pay 20p for something I can get for free? There were vouchers in the Evening Standard to get the paper for the rest of the week so I thought - why not? Of course today is Tuesday so there wasn't much point me taking Wednesday's voucher this morning, so I still paid 20p.

First reactions. A good size paper. Lasted me from waiting at the bus stop until just around Green Park. Unfortunately still not in the style of the London Lite with ink that doesn't come off on your fingers and a longer read means dirtier fingers! The layout is good - I liked the colour coded sections; I like the little "i" boxes with extra info and I liked the TV guide sorted by 'what you like to watch'.

I didn't much like the journalistic style I found it a little more informal than I would usually expect in a newspaper; in an article about mortgages "lending grew by a measly £1.6bn in September" - I think I expect less adjectives and adverbs in formal writing.

Pretty much my only complaint though. Not as much advertising as I thought there would be... not enough letters, but I suppose that is a bit much to ask in your first edition!!

I did found a read more of the non-news pages than I do with the Metro... I've got today's Metro so at some point I shall do a more detailed comparison - I wouldn't go out of my way to buy "i" but if I have 20p and a passing a newsagent...

Sunday 24 October 2010

Nightmare journeys

This week was a terrible week for anyone who uses the Underground. On Monday there was a power failure which left commuters on the Jubilee Line trapped in tunnels and having to eventually walk back to stations. The same thing happened the following day on the Victoria Line. Then on Wednesday there were sever delays and disruptions due to failures, over-running engineering works and trains taken out of service.

On Thursday a cracked rail was discovered early morning just before the morning rush hour on the Jubilee Line near Green Park. This closed large parts of the line for most of the day and the severe delays continued well into the evening rush hour.

My boss and I arrived at Green Park around 7pm. The indicator boards on the platform were empty. We sat down to read our Evening Standards (that is how few people were bothering with the tube on Thursday night, there were still copies of the Evening Standard left at that hour!). We sat there, and sat there. Every so often the PA system would spring into life and apologise to customers - at which point my boss muttered "Apology not accepted". After about 20 minutes a train eventually turned up... and crawled down the line. An hour after I left the office I arrived at Green Park... this on the same evening that I sat waiting for a train and read that the fares are going up in January.

Giant planets

I was recently sent details of some filming of giant helium filled planets down at the Observatory in Greenwich. I don't usually share this sort of story 'after the event' as it were - but the You Tube video is amazing!

Shame to have missed this as it looks totally amazing... I don't have Sky so I shan't see the TV show either - but it looks well worth watching if you have the right channel!

The press release is below:

To celebrate the launch of Sky 3D, Europe’s first 3D TV channel, spectacular scenes from its forthcoming 3D premiere of The Universe: 7 Wonders of the Solar System were brought to life above London’s Royal Greenwich Observatory. 

Nine helium filled ‘planets’ measuring between two and six metres in diameter were floated and illuminated above London’s skyline creating a unique spectacle ahead of the screening of the new programme from History™.

The Universe: 7 Wonders of the Solar System is the first episode from a new series of the popular History series The Universe and will be screened in 3D. The programme is part of the 3D entertainment line up for Sky’s ground breaking 3D channel, which launched on 1 October 2010. Viewers will be transported to the outer regions of space from the comfort of their sofa on Sunday 24 October at 9pm on Sky 3D.

John Cassy, Sky 3D’s Channel Director comments: “The phenomenal universe we live in has captured the imagination of generations for centuries and we wanted to add yet another dimension. It’s taken a team of 17 people over 100 hours to recreate the Solar System over the London skyline, with the impressive Jupiter dominating this celebration of ‘The Universe’ on Sky 3D.’

Sky’s groundbreaking new 3D channel is Europe’s first domestic 3D TV channel offering a variety of movies, documentaries, sports arts and entertainment. The channel is available through all existing Sky+HD boxes and compatible with all ‘active’ and ‘passive’ 3D TVs being produced by LG, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic.

The Universe: 7 Wonders of the Solar System will screen on Sky 3D, channel 217, on Sunday 24 October at 9pm.

Friday 15 October 2010

Letting sleeping cats lie

Cass and Tink have had a busy week. Getting into things that they oughtn't get into, going places they oughtn't to go and generally getting into trouble where they can find it. Pretty much being kittens.

Now it is time for the little brothers to curl up together and take a nap.

Calling time

If you were going to go to the expense of buying tickets for a concert, if you were going to go to the trouble of travelling to the venue, the least that you would want is to see the entire show.

This would, by all accounts, be quite difficult if you were going to see Guns 'n' Roses at the O2 this week. The band is famous for arriving late for performances - making your way from the inside of the main arena at the O2 back to North Greenwich underground station would probably leave you with no way back to Central London as the last tube going west leaves just after quarter past midnight. Granted you can still go East until gone 1am - and provided that the Blackwall Tunnel is open you can still get the 108 to East London - failing that there are always a reasonable amount of licensed taxis on the taxi rank.

However, I cannot take any venue seriously that has to warn customers to leave early in case they get stranded.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Sight and vision

Yesterday it was time to visit the optician. I used to go every year after the repeated bouts of optic neuritis but as that hadn't bothered me for some time the frequency of my visits had decreased to every two years. This time I wasn't just going to get my eyes checked but to have a contact lenses assessment. I didn't approach this with much optimism due to a) I'm very squeamish about putting things in my eyes (eye drops are enough hard work) and b) the sensory problems in my fingertips might make it difficult. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The eye check went off very well. My prescription is unchanged (for the first time ever in the twenty or so years I've been wearing glasses) and all the other health checks got the green light. Time for the contact lenses. The first time the optician puts them in for you... it took a few tries as I kept flinching each time she came near my eye - and then, wow! Amazing! Total clarity for entire field of vision... which with the modern predilection for small thin glasses you just don't get with spectacles. Easy (almost). Time for me to go and be 'trained' by the dispensing optician, who made it look so easy taking the lenses in and out without even the aid of a mirror.

Not so easy for me. The lack of feeling in my finger tips didn't really seem to hinder my efforts... my comfort with sticking things in my eye was the problem. You have to put them in and take them out three times before they let you go! I spent over two hours at the optician in total - but I will be able to start my free trial - as soon as the lenses turn up that is, with a little practice I think I could be a convert!

Monday 4 October 2010

London Conversations

Optimistic man at bus stop: Is the tube strike still on do you know?
Me: Oh yes, very much so.
Deflated man at bus stop: Of course it is, silly me.

Objective achieved by unions, chaos on Monday morning.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday 3 October 2010

Coffee break

Crop circles in my coffee cup!

Tube strike - the sequel

From 7pm tonight the staff of two of the unions that staff the underground are going on strike... again. Just what you need to start the week, as if Mondays weren't enough to deal with!

As usual keep an eye on TFL's website for travel info.

If you have a smartphone keep an eye on Twitter by doing a search for '#tubestrike' - if not helpful you'll feel better for knowing others are in the same boat!

Proof reading?

I received an email this morning with a discount code - the terms and conditions at the bottom of the page were very interesting!