The Anonymous Widower

The Beer In Spain Makes Up For The Lack Of Rain

Before I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I used to like my beer. For a few years afterwards, I could drink bottles of Guinness from Park Royal, but like the brewery they are now history.

But in this trip to Spain, I have drunk four different gluten-free beers and as I post this, I’m seinking a bottle of Estrella Damm Daura and very reasonable it is too!

I used to get it from Waitrose, but her upstairs got it replaced with the aptly named Celia.

One day, I intend to share a bed with a Celia, whilst we drink appropriately bamed bottles.

I’ll add that to my bucket list!

By the way Cecelias need not apply!

I

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Coeliac, Food | , | Leave a comment

Governor LePage Is Angry At Being Called A Racist

According to this article on the BBC, Governor LePage is angry at being called a racist. I’m angry too, at how such a man got to be the Governor of a US State.

The man and those who voted for him are an effing disgrace! And incredibly stupid too!

June 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Rail Improvements Between Hastings and London

With four bids to run the new Southeastern franchise, in a few months we will be able to see a bit clearly what will happen to the train service between Hastings and London. The two latest franchises to be awarded in East Anglia and South West London etc. have both gone to companies willing to spend almost a billion pounds on new trains, which will bring more services and seats, wi-fi and 4G to the resp3ctive framchise areas. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new incumbent spends a similar amount and Network Rail chips in a couple of hundred million to make sure that passengers see a real benefit.

As far as Hastings is concerned, we could see the following.

  1. A faster service to Ashford.
  2. St. Pancras in 70 minutes.
  3. A fast service from Brighton to Hastings.
  4. A rail by-pass through an Eastbourne Parkway station.

We might even see a Brighton to St. Pancras srvice via Hastings, Ashford, Ebbsfleet and Stratford.

In the medium term the following could happen.

  1. A link to Crossrail at Ebbsfleet.
  2. A link to Cambridge/Stansted services at Stratford of only a few metres.
  3. A South Coast Express from Bournemouth to Ashford.

Who knows where companies spening a billion pounds on infrastructure and trains will go.

Anber Rudd is the key, as she sits like the Queen Bee in the middle.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

I’m thinking of going to the States around the 19th to 21st of August to see the most amazing solar eclipse of the Century. It goes through major cities like St. Louis, Kansas City and Charlestown. The latter looks the best and I can manage it without driving. Anybody fancy tagging along?

June 22, 2017 Posted by | World | | 2 Comments

Fruit And Veg Farmers Facing Migrant Labour Shortages

This the tutle of an article on the BBC.

It makes some ontrtesting points blaming the weak pound and Brexit.

Perhaps twenty years aho, I read an article in a msgazine about a team of engineers and scientists working on developing an automatic apple-picking machine.

The article finishes by saying in a couple of decades, we’d only be eating fruit that could be harvested by machine.

We don’t seem to be there yet!

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Business, Food | Leave a comment

Alliance Delayed In Opening London Blackpool Service

Accordinh to this article in Global Rail News, Allisnce will have to delay opening its six times a day, three-hour aervice.

A three hour service will mean that a train leaving Blackpool at 6 will be back in the town at 12 and then again at 18:00. So one train will give three return trips a day, if you add in some minutes for turning the train.

So six trains per day will need just two trains.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | 2 Comments

A Week North Of Seville

This holiday is proving to be a disaster. Only one reason; the heat. It is 30 now and it’s seven on the morning. Yesterday, it was 44 in the day. We’re only about twenty miles from the fires in Portugal and the fire fighting helocopters are going overhead. I think prudence says make a run for it! I’ll see after today! Everything else like food, room, people and puppies is fine. Yes puppies! Three Portuguese water dogs.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | World | 1 Comment

Bimodal Flirting

This sounds like something that goes on in bars, which are friendly to both LGBT and straight people.

But it isn’t.

The innovative Swiss train manufacturer has just unveiled their first bimodal Flirt train in the Aosta area of Italy, where it will enter service.

One of the other places where bomodal flirting will happen is East Anglia, as the trains will serve routes between and from Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Nowich.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gas Should Be Banned In All Buildings With Multiple Occupation

I am now remembering more and more of the conversations I had in the 1960s, with fellow engineers, whilst I was working at ICI Plastics Division at Welwyn Garden City.

I arrived just after the explosion in Polythene Plant No 6 at Wilton had killed two plant operators. That and the dark shadow  of the Flixborough disaster changed the way the company looked at process design. My role was to do the dynamic calculations to make sure that the mathematics of the plant were safe and correct. In the design of one new plant, we looked at all possible combinations of vessels to make sure we were designing the best plant.

If this work led me to any personal conclusions, it was how dangerous gases like hydrogen and methane can be. I remember that it was found by investigators that the Six Plant explosion was caused by perhaps a couple of kilograms of ethylene gas that ignited and did a large amount of damage.

The Section I worked in, had actually installed an IBM 1800 process control computer on this plant and I heard rumours it went up in the air and when it came down, it continued to work.

Since then, I have only lived in one flat that relied on gas for cooking and that was a flat that was converted when we lived there from town gas to natural gas.

We nearly had a serious fire there, when one of the children got the matches from the gas stove and set fire to a duvet. Luckily, I smelt burning and put out the fire.

Our first real place to live was in Cromwell Tower in the Barbican. This is my thoughts as I expressed them in an e-mail to the BBC. They intended to put me on air, but the previous more important interview overran.

My late wife and myself brought our three children up in a high-rise 1960s block in the Barbican.

For safety there were escape passages everywhere, as I suspect there were in Grenfell Tower.

These passages would be ideal places for gas to seep and propagate the fire.

In my view, no tower block is safe with a gas supply, as a leak compromises safety.

According to The Times, the new gas supply was an unprotected  steel pipe up the stairwell installed by National Grid! Talking to an engineer with lots of experience of pipework on oil rigs, could it just have buckled and fractured in the heat? If so, that is criminal!

Sprinklers wouldn’t have contained the resulting gas fire and the intense heat got the cladding to burn.

Note that. I joined ICI in the 1960s and worked on process design, just after a series of serious gas-related explosions in UK chemical plants. All those stories about Flixborough and other disasters told over pints of beer have come back to me.

I’ve never trusted gas in a house, and my next dwelling will probably be an all-electric flat.

Gas should never be allowed in any multiple-occupation dwelling.

This will never be made law, as so many people swear by their gas cookers and the Big Six Gas companies would lobby against it.

 

June 16, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts On The Tragedy At Grenfell Tower

As a family, C, myself and our three boys used to live in a tower block. Admittedly, Cromwell Tower was an upmarket tower in the Barbican. I wrote about the tower in Cromwell Tower.

Cromwell Tower was designed around a concrete core in a brutalist style in the 1960s, just like Grenfell Tower.

Cromwell Tower had a network of passages that allowed escape to the floors underneath. I suspect that Grenfell Tower had similar passages.

But there were differences.

  • Cromwell Tower had a higher standard of interior finish.
  • Every flat in Cromwell Tower has a wide airy balcony.
  • Cromwell Tower has no gas.
  • Cromwell Tower was designed for high net worth tenants, whereas Grenfell Tower was a Council block.

As both blocks were designed around the same time, I suspect that they were designed to the same set of regulations.

So why did Grenfell Tower catch fire?

These are possible reasons.

Gas

I don’t like gas, as one thing I remember from working at ICI in the 1960s, is that how powerful a gas explosion can be.

Naked gas flames also are a major cause of asthma, as they create oxides of nitrogen.

But if wee had had gas in Cromwell Tower and there had been a leak, the escape passages would have been an ideal way for the gas to spread through the tower.

For these and other reasons, I believe strongly, that all multiple occupancy housing should not be connected to a gas supply.

I’ve also heard that view from a Chief Fire Officer in Suffolk.

The Design And Execution Of The Upgrade

Was it done to high enough standards.

The Cladding

\Suspicion is falling on the cladding of the building.

Smoking

How friendly was the building to smokers?

Have we really learned the lessons of the past?

The Summerland Disaster

In 1971, over fifty people were killed in a fire on the Isle of Man in the Summerland Disaster. This is Wikipedia’s summary.

The Summerland disaster occurred when a fire spread through the Summerland leisure centre in Douglas on the Isle of Man on the night of 2 August 1973. Between fifty and fifty-three people were killed and eighty seriously injured

I know it wasn’t a tower block, but I think that there are common issues.

Under Background this is said.

Summerland was opened on 25 May 1971. It was a climate-controlled building covering 3.5 acres (1.4 ha) on Douglas’s waterfront, consisting of 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2) of floor area at a cost of £2 million. The building’s hull and the interior were designed by two different architects—they did not match their planning to each other and thereby created a venue with significant fire risks that were only to become apparent later.

So did the architects of the upgrade do a proper job? Did they have any co-operation with the original architects.

The same Background section also says this.

Summerland was designed to accommodate up to 10,000 tourists and comprised a dance area, five floors of holiday games, restaurants and public bars. It was a 1960s concrete design incorporating advanced controlled internal climate, built with novel construction techniques using new plastic materials. The street frontage and part of the roof was clad in Oroglas, a transparent acrylic glass sheeting.

Note the use of Oroglas cladding, which is still made today.

At the time of the Summerland disaster, I was working at ICI Plastics, who made a similar acrylic sheet called Perspex. As I look around my kitchen, I see various applications of this or similar plastics.

In several places in one ICI chemical works, Perspex windows were used, as there was the occasional small explosion and you didn’t want to shower people in glass fragments.  But they were clearly marked Perspex Window – Fire Hazard.

So the problems of acrylic were clearly known at the time and yet, acrylic sheet was used to clad the building. One ICI Perspex expert told me, that Perspex shouldn’t be used to clad buildings.

So was the cladding itself a fire risk at Grenfell Tower because an inappropriate material was used, just as at Summerland?

Under Fire, this is said.

The fire started around 7:30 p.m. on 2 August 1973, and was caused by three boys who were smoking in a small, disused kiosk adjacent to the centre’s miniature golf course.

So was smoking, one of the causes of the fire, just as it was in the Summerland disaster?

We don’t seem to have learned much from the Summerland disaster.

Conclusion

I’m led back to gas being the cause of the original fire, as there is nothing energetic enough to cause such a fierce fire.

It is also stated in various media articles, that there were problems with the gas.

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment