The Anonymous Widower

Booking A Train From London To The Hague

Just out of curiosity, I looked at how much it would cost me to go from St. Pancras to The Hague next Wednesday, the 30th of January.

So I looked up on the Belgian Rail web site called  They offer two routes.

You can go to Brussels Midi, where you take a train to Essen in Germany and then another one to Rosendaal in The Netherlands, from where you get a Dutch train to The Hague. For this Grand Tour of the Low Countries you will pay £114.42.

Alternatively, you can take the Thalys from Brussels to Rotterdam and then take the train to The Hague. It will be 17 minutes quicker, but you can’t book it in Second Class, so it’ll cost you £188.75 in First.

I have done the single leg in the past for under £100  and I can book it for about £60 by means of easyJet.

So who would use the train from London to The Hague?

Not this enthusiast for rail travel, for a start!

It’s all double-Dutch to me!



January 27, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

A Mini Tablet Computer With A Built-In Printer

My little tablet computer, which is a Samsung Tab 2 with a seven inch screen. I use it to answer e-mails, keep a list of tasks and details of my drugs and INR results.

It does the job well, but it doesn’t handle all scenarios.

Say I was an architect working on a new house.  I could make notes as I walked round the site and type them up later to give to the builder, who may not be very computer literate. But that is more hassle than I need.

Imagine though being able to write on a pad of paper, perhaps a few centimetres across, with a standard ball point pen and then give the paper copy to the builder.  This is how many people work, using Post-it notes for the purpose.

Suppose though, that the pad fitted over the screen of the tablet computer and that could capture what was written as an image, so that when I got back to the office, I could download the various images to my computer for safe keeping.

In the late 1980s, I saw a demonstration of a system, where signatures were captured, that had been written by a standard ball point pen, through a thick pad of paper.

So the technology has existed for some time.

This idea has potential and all of the technology exists somewhere.

As with the double-sided credit card holder, I want one.  And I want one now!

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Computing, World | , | 3 Comments

The Warning That Was Ignored

On the BBC web site, there is this article about the sinking of the ferry Princess Victoria on the 31st January 1951.

The BBC article gives a full time-line of the sinking of the ferry until she sent her last radio message at 13:58. But it leaves out anything of what happened later.

As a child for a few years I lived in Felixstowe and I can still remember the dark marks on the walls of the houses in Langer Road, showing how high the North Sea Floods of 1953 rose later on that fateful day, killing some 38 people in that end of the town.

Many more died in The Netherlands and Flanders.

Sad that the sinking of the Princess Victoria was, it seems inconceivable today, that the warning wasn’t heeded and so many deaths and damage occurred.

I hope we have learned from what happened that night.

January 27, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment


I’ve never knowingly tasted quinoa, but it does come up occasionally on the gluten-free lists I belong to.

I was thus drawn to this article about the grain in the Guardian. The title

Quinoa: good, evil, or just really complicated?

Probably sums it all up well.

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Food | | Leave a comment

Win The Toss, Win The Game

They’ve just said this, on the cricket commentary of the last game of the one-day series between England and India, as all games have been won by the side winning the toss.

I’ve always thought that the toss has too much influence.

Perhaps it would be better, if the first toss in a series was done say the day before the first match in a broadcast ceremony.  And then after that the toss would alternate.

But then what do I know about cricket?

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment

Peer-to-Peer Lending In Estonia

My Zopa alert found this article from a website called European Voice.

It gives this view on Estonian banking.

Banking is the economy’s biggest weakness. It offers stingy, fee-ridden savings products and over-priced loans with nasty hidden costs. Intermediaries gain colossal profits, especially when they are greedy and reckless. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do, the taxpayer picks up the bill. Apart from that, it works fine.

It then goes on to show how things are changing through a company called Isepankur.

The writer has in fact invested some of his savings, by loaning to Estonian borrowers. This is his experience so far.

My net average return (like most Isepankur lenders) is about 17%. I have so far lent €1,570 to about 50 borrowers, in amounts ranging from €5 to €25. I have received €60 back in repaid capital and €24 in interest. I also got €0.06 in ‘penalties’ (my share in a small fine levied on a borrower called ‘Lillekas’ who paid a few days late).

I don’t think it will be many years, before the peer-to-peer lenders are available in many countries.

Who’d be a retail banker?

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Finance, World | , | Leave a comment

Looking For A Double-Sided Card Holder

I spent some time yesterday, looking for a new credit card holder, that meets the specification I laid down in this post.

I was unsuccessful, although an assistant in Selfridges said, he’d got a leather one and used a safety pin clipped in it, to identify the side to use.

January 27, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Credit Card Transactions

Yesterday, I used my credit cards, twice. I used my Visa card to buy a present in Selfridges and also bought my supper in Marks and Spencer using my John Lewis Partnership card.

Checking my on-line accounts this morning, neither of the transactions have been added.  Why not?

In these days of instance pin checking and information, surely the information, should be in my statement, immediately I’ve used the card!

After all, it would be a big security check, for users.

On the other hand, where your partner has a card on your account, it could be major source of friction in a relationship.

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Finance | | Leave a comment

Living In The Toilet

This article on the BBC, shows how even the smallest buildings in London are being converted into homes and other uses. The opening paragraph says it all.

Converting abandoned public toilets in London into flats and businesses is providing a solution to rising property prices for some.

I don’t think it’s just about property prices. The conversions that I’ve seen both in the article and on the television, seem to be stylish and are good adverts for their designers and architects.

Remember too, that many of these buildings were very well built in the Victorian era and are still sound buildings. After all we’ve seen offices and warehouses transformed into stylish dwellings, so why not the smaller ones too?

January 27, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments