The Anonymous Widower

Is It Legal To Take Inflated Balloons On A London Bus?

I took this picture today by London Bridge.

Balloons On a London Bus

It clearly shows that some of the passengers have inflated balloons.

Is this legal?

I ask the question, as when C and I were students at Liverpool University in the 1960s, the buses there displayed a notice that clearly stated that the carrying of inflated balloons was not allowed.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

London Bridge Is Nearly There!

A few months ago I showed a picture of the new railway bridge at London Bridge over Borough Market.

Here are some new pictures, that I took today.

It looks like Thameslink will be on time.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

My Dustmen Do Sundays

As I left this morning, a Hackney Council truck was outside with its flashers blinking.  It had wire sides and seemed to be collecting junk like old sofas and other furniture bought years ago in places like MFI. The driver turned up after a few minutes and I asked him if he’d mind taking an old wooden shelf that I’d left outside my house, hoping someone would steal. But the shelf was obviously too poor to even half-hinch for firewood! But the driver said “No problem, Guv” and chucked it on the truck.

So what happeneded to the renowned jobsworths, who wouldn’t take anything unless you obeyed a set of rules that weren’t published?

July 10, 2011 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

Do We Mislead Tourists?

I travelled to London Bridge today and on the train I met a couple of ladies from New Zealand, who were trying to get to the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall.  But their hotel had told them to go to London Bridge to see something similar by the London Dungeon. I put them on a Jubilee Line train to Westminster.

I also met an Australian tourist and her family going to the London Dungeon.  I suppose they had kids, but at least I was able to point out Borough Market and Sothwark Cathedral.  Let’s hope that when London Bridge Quarter gets finished, they put up some decent information.

At least though I saw this outside the Globe Theatre a few street’s away.

I have a simple tourism rule.  I don’t pay to go into anything, unless it’s National or special interest museum. I’ve never been to Madam Tussauds, the London Dungeon or any of the other places in London setup to relieve tourists of their money.  These places are not an asset to London, just as others of a similar ilk aren’t in Paris, Amsterdam and New York.

Many of the best tourist sites in London are free and all some require are a London Travelcard or Oystercard. Here’s my favourite top ten.

  1. The front at the top of any London double deck bus. Favourites include a 24 from Victoria to Hampstead and the two heritage routes  (9 and 15).  I like to play bus roulette and get on the first that turns up.
  2. The British Museum.  It’s worth going in, just to see the roof and have a nice coffee. Special exhibitions are extra, but the main museum is free, althougth they do like the occassional donation. When it’s not too busy, you can handle some of the exhibits.  I’ve seen little girls, and big ones for that matter, in Roman necklaces.
  3. The Olympic Park.  But go before June 2012, as I suspect you’ll find views will be shut off for security before the Olympics.
  4. The Imperal War Museum.
  5. The Kensington Museums; Science, Natural History and V & A. There’s even a good Carluccio’s nearby.
  6. The Victoria and Albert Embankments.  At low tide, look for the beach at Tower Bridge.
  7. The North and East London Lines on the London Overground.  They connect lots of small, good museums, Hampstead Heath, Kew Gardens and Crystal Palace.  There is also a superb panorama of London in several places.
  8. The Docklands Light Railway.  Take it from Bank to Canary Wharf and on to the Thames Barrier.
  9. St. Pancras Station.  Even the French think it’s the best railway station in the world.  It may not be by next year, as King’s Cross may outshine its neighbour.
  10. Green, Victoria and St. James’s Parks.
  11. The Regent’s and all the other canals that take you from Islington to Stratford and Docklands.

I suspect this list will grow. 

I did like this bike though.

Mobile Low Carbon Tourist Office

Is this the first mobile low carbon tourist office?

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Sport, Transport, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Brando Was An Inventor

Marlon Brando was an inventor.

Why not?

Everybody has it in them to invent something!  Unfortunately, some never invent anything that makes them any money.  But even if it doesn’t, they still probably get some satisfaction and enjoy showing others how it will improve their lives.

There’s a list of patents down to celebrities here. It’s quite surprising and includes Abraham Lincoln.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

What Are We To Do With Lancaster House?

Lancaster House is one of London’s most prestigious buildings, but it is treated like the way many of my parents generation treated the front room; for special occasions only. And you don’t let those outside the great and good in. Although to be fair, it is used for quality films.

So the news this morning in The Times, that the Government is thinking of transferring the property to the National Trust, is to be welcomed.

It would appear that the Trust would still allow it to be used for films, such as The King’s Speech, in addition to being open to the public, but also they would use the house to display some of the important works of art in government collections.

After all, Somerset House has undergone quite a transformation in the last few years, since C used to go there to the Principal Registry, which has now moved to an anonymous block in Holborn.  It is now a gallery, half is part of King’s College and there is an ice rink in the winter, to name just some of its important uses. It is also used as a film set.

So a good precedent has been set.

If we do the right thing with Lancaster House, we should follow that with sorting out Marlborough House.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Alan Shadrake Freed By Singapore

Alan Shadrake, who has been imprisoned in Singapore for writing a book critical of their use of the death penalty has been freed according to this report on the BBC.

He has been immediately deported back to the UK.

This is a story that will be worth following.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

What Is It About English Footballers and Penalties?

Even the English women went out yesterday after a penalty shoot-out. Read about it in The Independent.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | News, Sport | | Leave a comment

Australia Proposes a Carbon Tax

Australia depends heavily on coal, which is the fuel that in my view should be banned beause of the large amounts of carbon dioxide it emits when it is burned. Because of the hydrogen in natural gas, when you burn that you get less carbon dioxide for the same energy.  But in truth, it would be better if we didn’t burn fossil fuels.

So I was very surprised that the Australian Prime Minister has announced a carbon tax. It doesn’t appear to be popular.

Australia is one of the world’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases per head of population.

The country relies on coal for 80% of its electricity generation, and is a major coal exporter.

The energy industry and the political opposition have mounted a vociferous campaign against a carbon tax, with protests in all of Australia’s major cities in March.

Critics argue a levy would damage economic competitiveness.

Opinion polls show roughly 60% of voters against the policy.

The government hopes to win them over by spending some of the cash raised by the carbon tax to compensate households for higher energy bills.

It is promising tax cuts for low and middle-income households, as well as increased state pension and welfare payments.

At least it is a start and the United States, China, Europe and the other polluting country should follow suit.

July 10, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

John Major Talks Sense Again

I told a story yesterday about John Major and today he pops up on the BBC’s web site talking about Scotland and its political relationship with England.

Here’s an extract.

In a rare intervention into politics, former Prime Minister Sir John Major calls for the Scottish Parliament to be given powers to control everything except foreign affairs, defence and the economy.

Sir John warned against the dangers of devolution before the 1997 election. Today he calls for what some call “devo max”.

If you are wondering why the former Tory leader’s dressing in tartan, he explains that in return the English (and, of course, the Conservative Party) would see the end of the hated Barnett formula which gives Scotland more money to spend and a cut in the number of Scottish (usually Labour) MPs.

This may not seem like a live issue today, but it will be in the run-up to the next election. Scotland’s re-elected First Minister Alex Salmond has always believed that the Tories were most likely to give him at least some of what he wanted.

This is how Sir John puts it:

“The present quasi-federalist settlement with Scotland is unsustainable. Each year of devolution has moved Scotland further from England. Scottish ambition is fraying English tolerance. This is a tie that will snap – unless the issue is resolved.

“The union between England and Scotland cannot be maintained by constant aggravation in Scotland and appeasement in London. I believe it is time to confront the argument head on.

 Everybody should read the full article, as it talks a lot of sense.

I particularly liked this comment by a reader on the report.

Major speech by a major politician
How on earth, gold help us, did we ever end up with New Labour

 So let’s hope the British Parliament does the sane thing in the next few weeks and makes sure that they control the country and not the owners of a few newspapers.

At least none of these proprietors are no Berlusconi!

July 10, 2011 Posted by | News, World | , , | 1 Comment