The Anonymous Widower

In Bruges

I thought that I was passing the city, I should take a pit-stop in Bruges, with perhaps a gluten-free breakfast.

If you go to most cities in Germany, there is always a handy tourist office at the station.

As I didn’t know the city, I needed information on how to get from the station to the centre, which was a twenty minute walk.

If it hadn’t been for a helpful local man, who spoke impeccable English, I wouldn’t have found out that the buses were convenient, but you had to buy the tickets from the paper shop inside the station.

In addition, there wasn’t any visible staff at the station.

How tourist-friendly is that for a welcome to one of the most important sites in Belgium?

My gluten-free breakfast wasn’t very good either!

It came with ordinary bread and only the tea was good.

My argument is that if you advertise gluten-free, then make sure you can do it properly.

Finding a bus back to the station wasn’t easy to cap it all.

Conclusion

Don’t expect to turn up in Bruges on a train and spend a pleasant hour or two before moving on.

Unlike many cities in The Netherlands, Germany and Italy, the information lets you down.

 

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | Leave a comment

A Pit Stop At Hampstead Heath Station – 12th May 2018

I went for breakfast to a convenient Le Pain Quotidien near Hampstead Heath station.

In addition to the Heath, the station is within walking distance, to a large number of eateries and shops, including a very large M & S Simply Food.

There is also the Royal Free Hospital.

When I go to Hampstead Heath, I tend to go to Hampstead station in the High Street, then walk down the hill and go home from the London Overground station.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Do I Hoard Too Much Beer?

I have been buying the Marks and Spencer 0.5% Southwold Pale Ale.

With my body, the beer seems to be gluten-free and also the alcohol level is low enough to not affect my INR.

But am I buying to much, as the most I drink in a day is two?

I am only guarding against future shortages!

This behaviour seems to run in the family.

My mother used to tell this tale.

At the start of the Second World War, she asked her Dalstonian mother, if she was prepared for the inevitable rationing.

Her mother replied, that she’s been caught out in the Great War, so this time she’d already got a hundredweight of jam in the cellar and she had another hundredweight of sugar ready to make some more!

I doubt, there was a jam shortage in the Millbank household during the Second World War!

Perhaps, my prudence over beer shortages comes from my Dalstonian grandmother?

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , | 1 Comment

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Plans TfL ‘Junk Food’ Advert Ban

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

I don’t buy junk food, except for the odd bag of gluten-free chips from McDonalds, where there is nothing else I can find.

The move is to cut obesity in the capital.

I think a relately problem is the steadily-growing numbers of fast food shops in places like Kingsland High Street, near where I live?

  • They offer unhealthy food.
  • Few offer food for those like me, who have special needs.
  • They contribute largely to litter all over the place.
  • They are always dropping junk mail through my door.

Walk past these shops, just after school has finished and they are full of kids, stuffing themselves.

So what is Sadiq Khan doing to curb the numbers of the unhealthy places? Precisely, nothing!

In the BBC article, Karl Mercer the BBC corespondent says this.

It seems the mayor is trying to have his (low-calorie) cake and eat it.

Perhaps aware that high sugar, fat and salt ads bring in around £13m for TfL he says his new ban will not apply to companies – just to their less healthy products.

I think it is unworkable policy, that if it results in reduced advertising spend for TfL, could result in higher fares or Council Tax.

 

 

 

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Food, Health, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Scotland’s New Alcohol Pricing Laws

Scotland now has new alcohol pricing laws, as is detailed in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Scotland Ends Cheap Booze As Minimum Price Starts.

A minimum price on alcohol of fifty pence will certainly have effects, although my preferred drink of Suffolk-brewed low-alcohol gluten-free real ale from Marks and Spencer, which is just 0.25 units for a half-litre bottle at £2.60, would not be affected. I don’t think it’s even sold in Scotland, as it’s a very soft Sassenach drink.

I feel that the minimum pricing will either work very well or be a disastrous failure.

I think it depends on how law-abiding, the average Scot is!

The article in the Guardian is entitled Smoking Rate In UK Falls To Second-Lowest In Europe .

This is said.

In 2016, 15.8% of adults in the UK smoked, down from 17.2% in 2015, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Some 15.5% of adults currently smoke in England, rising to 18.1% in Northern Ireland, 17.7% in Scotland and 16.9% in Wales.

I suspect the Scottish government hope to see similar falls in the sales of alcohol, that the various smoking bans have brought.

If I walk into all the local shops round here, cheap booze is prominent, but I rarely see anybody drunk on the street and never on the buses.

On the other hand, I can’t help feeling that the higher booze prices will be just another tax on those, who can’t afford it.

 

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

Re-Use Rather Than Re-Cycle

I remember in the 1970s or 1980s hearing the Research Director of Pilkington on Radio 4, giving a defence of using glass as packaging.

He argued that one of the problems with glass coffee jars and sauce bottles was that after use and a quick wash, they looked like they could be refilled with new product. In those days, coffee jars were often used for the storage of small items like screws, clips and dry foods like rice and pasta.

Now we’ll buy a designer jars, like these from IKEA.

In those days a lot of milk and beer bottles were returned to the dairy or brewery, but are we going to send empty beer bottles back to some of the exotic places from where they came.

The Research Director argued, that the best thing to do with glass bottles was to smash them up and re-use for other purposes.

One of the uses he discussed was to use broken glass as an aggregate substitute in road construction. This does happen and I’ve read of by-passes being constructed on a bed of broken glass and seen broken glass being used under paving slabs.

Glass came from materials dug out of the ground and it’s going back under.

He also said that to create new bottles was cheaper, than reusing bottles, unless there was a direct link, like milk rounds from a dairy.

This morning on wake Wake Up To Money, they were discussing cutting the use of plastics. So I sent in the following text.

I wonder if black-plastic ready-meal trays could be replaced with a light-weight glass variant. Along with bottles, they would just be washed and crushed after use for aggregate. Several roads have been built on broken bottles.

It was read out.

Consider.

  • We drink a lot of beer that comes in glass bottles.  One of my beer bottles from Marks and Spencer weughs 280 grams.
  • They would be oven-proof, microwave-safe and freezable.
  • You could eat your meal out of the dish!
  • They might save on washing-up time.
  • They could go in the dry-recycling after a quick rinse.

But above all, they may have other uses.

I also suspect that the other pakaging could be similar.

Could a piece of plastic be glued to the tray in the same way?

My idea is probably total rubbish!

But some of Marks and Spencer’s pies already come in just an aluminium tray and a cardboard box.

They need to be cooked in an oven and are not microwavable.

The pie goes down the gullet and the aluminium tray and the cardboard box, go into the dry recycling.

One thing I will be right about, is to say that there are some clever packaging scientists and designers out there, trying to create a freezable ready-meal, that can be cooked in a microwave, that isn’t protected in anything that can’t go direct in the dry recycling.

 

 

 

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Charging For Single Use Plastic. Aluminium And Glass Drinks Containers

I’m all for this, but I feel we should look at how the empties are returned and refunds are obtained.

The Norwegians seem to have solved this by means of expensive machines, which give vouchers back.

But there must be something simpler.

A few of my thoughts.

Marking Chargeable Containers

All containers for which a deposit is made, should be clearly marked with symbol, which says that it is worth something to return.

Returning To Shops

Obviously, people will want to do this, but I suspect a lot of smaller shops will ask shoppers to take the empties elsewhere.

They might install a machine, but many shops couldn’t afford the expense.

Collecting For Charity Or Local Causes

Suppose, you had a simple steel bin with holes in the top, like those we had in Suffolk for bottles.

Anything that had the correct symbol could be put in the bin.

These bins would then be collected and sorted automatically at a large plant.

By weighing each bin and knowing its location and owner, it would be possible to apportion the refunds to the charity.

National charities might put recycling bins in car parks or prominent places.

But supposing, your area has a run down children’s playground, that everybody wants to improve.

A recycling bin is placed by the playground and everybody is asked to use it for bottles and other containers. All proceeds would go to the playground fund, with a collateral benefit, that the area of the playground wasn’t strewn with empty bottles.

Automatic Sorting Of Containers

If you have a large plant sorting the containers, it can do a better job, than the most expensive machine on the street.

  • It would be able to sort plastic, glass and aluminium containers.
  • I suspect technology exists to remove labels
  • Glass would probably be washed and crushed.
  • It could also sort out ordinary rubbish like fast food wrapping and boxes, newspapers and disposable nappies.
  • Any washing water would be collected and reused.

The plant would calculate the various combination of materials and if the weight of the rubbish would known, could calculate the return.

Extending The System

There must be other containers, that are also recyclable. In my cupboard, I have a large glass mayonnaise jar, which would probably be recyclable if washed and the top is removed.

So perhaps the system could accept this bottle without its top. It would be washed and crushed, so it could be used instead of quarried aggregate.

Conclusion

There are much better ways to handle the charge on a drink container.

I would reckon, that some of the biggest recycling organisations in the UK are working on a solution, that benefits us all and is as widespread as possible.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , | 5 Comments

Thoughts On Alcoholism

In the last month or so, I’ve done something that I’ve never done before in my life.

I’ve drunk perhaps half a bottle of beer when I’ve got up. Admittedly, I’d left the bottle half finished by my computer.

It was good.

In the 1960s, I could drink a lot of beer. I just seemed to need it.

About that time, I decided I needed to drink large amounts of fluids and swapped to tea and Coke.

My doctor understands my needs for fluids and the practice nurse has the same problem. The nurse puts it down to leaky skin, which he has.

I actually love walking in the rain, so that might help explain it. We all live by the laws of physics.

My father warned me off alcohol in a practical way, by giving me halves of Adnams down at Felixstowe Conservative Club, whilst we played snooker, when I was about fourteen.

My father drank a lot of fluids, but I never saw him drunk and most doctors would say he was a sensible drinker. Like me, he also drank a lot of tea!

He had a reason to control his drinking! His father had died from complications of being an alcoholic at 40, when my father was about twenty.

My grandfather had lived just around the corner from where I live now and my father had once told me, he had drunk large amounts of beer and had moved on to whisky.

Around 1900, there was very little to drink except beer, so did my grandfather’s need for fluids mean that he turned to what was available?

Now I like a good beer and know of its properties to slake a thirst when you’re dry. I’ve worked in foundries in the 1960s and beer was always available.

So is there a type of person, who needs a lot of fluids and if beer is available they turn to it. In some cases does this lead to alcoholism.

As to myself, I must have gluten-free beer and because I’m on Warfarin, I must keep my alcohol consumption down.

So I now drink a gluten-free beer, that is just 0.25 of a unit and tastes like real beer from Marks and Spencer.

But then it is real beer, as it is brewed in Southwold by Adnams.

My life has come full circle.

 

 

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Quick Fish Pie Supper

I like fish pies and there are several entries for fish pie. If I have time, I will cook my version of Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie.

But today, I found a new gluten-free fish pie in Marks and Spencer, so I had to try it.

I cooked it in the microwave and it was of a very different type to Jamie’s, being creamy rather than having a good proportion of vegetables. Although, both have a potato topping, rather than a pastry pie-crust.

It was well-worth buying, cooking and eating, at a cost of £3.80 for one.

Note the tomato sauce in the pictures. I’ve found some very dodgy fish pies and cooked some of my own, in my time, that needed it.

This one certainly did not!

Next time, I’ll cook it in the oven, although I think both methods will work, but you may get a different texture of pie.

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , , | 4 Comments

A New Curvy Path At Highbury Corner

The results of the consultation on Highbury Corner are on this page on the TfL web site.

Two options are presented for the arboretum in the middle of the roundabout.

  • 14 per cent chose Option 1 (keep the arboretum closed to the public)
  • 56 per cent chose Option 2 (open up the arboretum for public use)

I voted for Option 2, as it will be a more pleasant walk from bus to train station, on a new path through the trees.

Note.

  • The station is in the top-left with a large pedestrian area in front.
  • I would walk to the station along the leading through the trees

Both options include a new curvy path between the original arboretum and the pedestrian area in front of the pub and McDonalds.

One picture shows a possible cafe on the curvy path.

I like that idea! But no anonymous foreign-registered unhealthy tax-avoiding chain! Please!

 

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Food, Travel | , | Leave a comment