The Anonymous Widower

Is A Mobile Phone A Dog And Bone With Legs?

My father, who was not really a real Cockney, as you couldn’t quite hear Bow Bells from where he was born, was a regular user of rhyming slang.

I was writing a message to someone and suggested we text each other.

I then realised that I’d never heard rhyming slang for mobile phone, which led me to the title of this post.

This page supports the use of Obi Wan Kenobi.

June 18, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Where Are The 33cL Water Bottles?

In the UK, I generally carry a small bottle of water. Usually, it’s a 33cL Evian or if I’ve been on a train a 33cL Harrogate.

As the pictures show, these bottles are smaller than the 50cL ones that you have to use on the Continent. On my recent trip, I never managed to find a smaller bottle.

I prefer the smaller bottles, as there is less to carry. And they fit my jacket pocket!

I would have thought that there might be an economic advantage for both consumers and retailers in the smaller bottle. Not knowing the costs of production, I can’t do a full calculation.

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Food, World | , | 2 Comments

Amber Rudd Puts Onshore Wind Out Of Its Misery

I don’t like onshore wind farms so I was pleased to see this announcement by Amber Rudd on the BBC, which is titled Earlier end to subsidies for new UK onshore wind farms.

Onshore wind blights the countryside and you have to use a lot of subsidy to make a development viable.

But, I mainly don’t like the concept of wind power, because it is too mechanical, as opposed to solar, where you put up a panel and its control system and you get electricity.

Solar’s other big advantage is just emerging and that is the ability to link it to an intelligent battery such as the Tesla Powerwall to provide an independent power system for a building or something remote that needs good clean energy.

In a few years time, I predict that all new houses will have solar panels on the roof and the next generation of storage battery in the garage. Coupled with increases in insulation quality, I also think, we’ll see the likes of Barratt advertising houses with no external gas and only a stand-by  electricity connection, for use on the dullest days.

The big energy companies won’t like it! But surely this is the sign of a good idea?

My energy usage isn’t high, but when the solar/battery powerplant drops in price sufficiently, I’ll fit one!

June 18, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans

The title of this post comes from Noel Coward’s wartime comic song – Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans.

Generally, the Germany has got more visitor-friendly and on this trip their restaurant menus have improved beyond recognition for coeliacs and other allergy sufferers.

But there is one thing, where the reality does not live up to the German reputation for good design, reliability and efficiency.

Deutsche Bann, their trains and some stations just doesn’t cut the mustard. Or whatever they say in Germany.

In a related area, the local trams, metros and buses I’ve used are much better, even if in some cities, the maps and information aren’t up to the standard of the better cities like Munich or Leipzig!

On the train from Brunswick to Osnabruck, I was talking with a commuter and he was saying his commute was often late.

Service Frequency

One thing you notice in Germany, as that on important main-line routes, trains are not as frequent, as you’d find in say France, Italy or the UK, which seems to have the most frequent trains in Europe.

Comparing Berlin-Hamburg with the London-Liverpool route I know well, shows that for direct trains, the cost is about the same and there is one train an hour on both routes. But Liverpool also has two extra trains each hour, which are only a few minutes slower with a change at Crewe.

But the journeys on this trip, where I was doing an hour or so journey on a main line, I usually had the choice of just one train every two hours.

So when planning a train trip in Germany, make sure you plan well and never rely on if you miss a train, they’ll be another one along soon!

I have found that it is often better to take the slower regional trains, as I did several times on this trip, as although they are slower, many are double-deck and you can hide yourself upstairs and watch the countryside go by.

But I think German regional trains are more under control of the individual state or area, rather than Deutsche Bahn.

If this is the case and coupled with the often excellent interchanges at stations to trams and buses, this must be a good argument for local control of train services. But then as a Londonder could I believe anything else?

Finger-Aching Ticketing

The German automatic ticketing machines work well, but be prepared to wear out your fingers.

I counted that to buy a simple ticket from Liepzig to Braunschweig took a dozen menu choices and that didn’t count typing in the names.

Train Design

Increasingly, in the UK, our trains are a level step from train to platform and vice-versa. Look at this wide easy-entry door on a Class 378 train.

Wide Easy-Entry Doors

Regularly you see wheelchair-users push themselves across. This is a typical entrance to a Deutsche Bahn IC train.

A Big Step Up

With my eye-sight, I sometimes miss my footing and in Germany, I worry about putting my foot in the often big gap between train and platform, which is never level.

As to wheelchair users in Germany they must despair. I thought that EU disability regulations meant trains had to be disabled-friendly.

On-Train Information

Nearly all the trains had displays for traffic announcement, but the information was a bit thin. As the Belgians were more comprehensive, I suspect it’s just the way they’ve programmed the system.

When you are a tourist in an area you don’t know well, you really do need adequate warning of your station. With Deutsche Bahn you don’t get it every time!

I shall finish this rant later!

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Surely Taking Your Children To Syria Is Child Abuse?

I’m no lawyer, but I did live with one of East Anglia’s finest children’s barristers for forty years and for at least twenty of those years, C was at the top of her profession.

So to my trained-by-association legal mind, if you take your children to a war zone, like Syria, you’re putting your children in danger and that in my view and probably would in C’s mind, be akin to child abuse and should get the mother, father or guardian into Court.

As well as the case of the three Bradford sisters on their way to Syria and possible oblivion, we also have the case of the attack on the pregnant woman in Peckham.

In the second case someone has been charged and will appear in Court today.

As the Authorities knew something was up with the Bradford sisters, why was nothing done to sort the problem earlier, when they went to Manchester Airport the first time?

When I went out on Eurostar on my way to Kassel, there was a lady about fifty, who was travelling with a young girl of about four. The lady got a minute or so’s questioning from Immigration at St.Pancras. Which was quite right, as C was often in Court trying to get children produced that had been sneaked out of the Jurisdiction. I seem to have read that immigration rules have been tightened to make taking children out of the country, against one parent’s wishes more difficult.

Perhaps, if they were tightened again, it might stop a repeat of the case of the Bradford sisters and their nine children.

June 18, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment