This was a starter on a menu in Glasgow Marriott. An unusual option. I chose it and ate it. Delicious . But can anyone work out what it is?
Berlin is a fascinating city with history and architecture to rival any city in the world. The question is given the high prices is it worth a visit in the autumn?
Unfortunately the greatness of the place and the short days with darkness coming from 4.30 pm meant I would not be positive in spending money to come here.
The city was wet and muddy meaning that walking through Tiergarten was not a pleasure . Queues everywhere to get into any historical building and few smiles to be seen. Prices were also expensive. In a small cafe not in a popular area a cheeseburger cost 10€ and a large Americano coffee 5.90€.
In a lesson for other cities though there were few cars to be seen in the city centre.
On the positive side a good transportation system and decent if wet and muddy pedestrian walkways.
Would I return again in autumn? Definitely not. Cities like Riga and Prague offer far more for far less at this time of year .
The street art is not too shabby though tucked away in small side streets.
Amsterdam is in my opinion the most photogenic city in Europe and maybe the world. Despite having been there with cameras numerous times there are always things to photograph and see. With only my I Phone this time the weather changes were immense ranging from snowing to sun in 15 minutes and cloud formations to match.
This time however I took more than a passing interest in the amsterdam graffiti, or graffiti art depending upon how one visualises this option. Graffiti was everywhere including in the urinals that adorn the canals. One knows they are urinals before entering them from the odour de latrine that they ooze for many yards. The question that resonated in my head was who painted the graffiti in them, why did they do it and even how did they do it?
The Graffiti on the walls was far more eloquent and spoke to a lot of thought before painting. I have posted many blogs already on Amsterdam and the risk is repetition, so I have attempted to minimise anything previously photographed and take views or views from angles that are new. Like Penguin graffiti. A real new experience for me.
The place was wet and this was easily determined by how much rain fell on one’s head but if that judgement felt unsound then the standing water on the tram tracks gave a better explanation.
Vondelpark is always beautiful but less so on a grey day, however with a little sun it begins to show its charm. However the muddy paths showed again how wet the last few days had been.
Even Central Station joined in the fun looking grand in the warm light with the clouds looking like they were dancing in the sky.
Amsterdam is truly a beautiful city and just an hour walking along the canals it does not matter so much which direction one walks, just remembering that the canals are best thought of as onion rings outside each other and eventually leading to Central Station.
And if you cycle there which has its positives and negatives in terms of enjoyment and death risk, it might not be so easy to remember where you left your bicycle.Unless you left it next to the penguin graffiti in which case it might still be there. Maybe
Paradiso is a world famous music venue but one would never know that from the outside. An old church converted into a music venue in which many famous names have played. Including Lady Gaga, Duran Duran, Joy Division, David Bowie, Suede and Rolling Stones, amongst hundreds.
A few hours is never enough to form cogent opinions on anything. Australia seems a vibrant enough place, hot, it was 37 c in the Olympic Park area and very crowded. An evening walking around Sydney Harbour was not unlike a football crowd leaving a major stadium. But what memories remain?
Australians clearly like their lager, Crown lager was a good example, but I saw no evidence of the kind of drunkeness that one might see on the streets of London or Newcastle. In fact warning posters cited large fines for drunken behaviours. But folks were clearly enjoying themselves around Sydney Harbour drinking wine in couples or in groups. Many huge hotels line the harbour area and the streets around. An eclectic mix of different mainly small restaurants and food wagons. Sad to report but my dinner that night consisted solely of ice cream bought in the Guylian Chocolate cafe. Thoroughly recommended. A single red telephone box adorned the corner of a street. Remaining on the ice cream topic there were many more examples of nice ice creams that one might see in the UK. A greater variety for example of Magnums.
The harbour in addition to being lined by people, wine, noise, ice creams and magnums, also was lined by plentiful small boats and a huge cruise liner , Carnival Spirit, docked at the terminal right in the harbour. Interesting food such as little what I termed ” Domino cakes” also was available. Despite all this lively atmosphere there was also another side to the city with evidence of homeless folks and begging. It was very difficult to say if they were genuine as the beds and the begging seemed somewhat co-ordinated. But left a sad feeling nonetheless.
Away from the central city is the Olympic Park home to the 2000 Olympic games. A large area with hotels and not much else. ANZ stadium is home to many concerts including that weekend Taylor Swift.
Sydney was selected as the host city for the 2000 games in 1993. Teams from 199 countries participated. The United States won the most medals with 93, while Australia came in 4th with 58. The games cost was estimated to be A$6.6 billion. The Games received near-universal acclaim, with the organisation, volunteers, sportsmanship and Australian public being lauded in the international media.
Last and not least the mysterious Australian Barbie.
Sydney Olympic Park
As a football fan I see plenty of occasions each game where the officials get it wrong and sometimes badly so. Having said that players and managers also are culpable of making errors plenty of times in any given game. I do however take a view that officials should be allowed to do their jobs with the expectation that they will not be perfect and certainly should be protected from on-pitch haranguing and demonstrations of anger on the pitch itself. At the recent Met Police v Kingstonian game at half time, immediately before which Met Police had scored direct from a corner, the officials were approached by the Kingstonian manager Tommy Williams clearly angry at some percieved error of judgement, and in a finger waving manner. We all in non-league should have respect for the officials and I personally cannot condone this behaviour. I am sure there are other views out there and it would be interesting to hear them.
Ricky Sappleton is a Jamaican born forward playing in 2015-16 for Kingstonian. having joined last summer from Billericay. Having started of with QPR he made one first team appearance for Leicester City before moving to non league . A giant of a forward with strength as a clear attribute he is not slow either and a few action shots from the Met Police 2 Kingstonian game show this nicely.
Firstly please share this post with friends and colleagues. What I am about to describe is a worrying trend and one that I would not like to see expanding. A kind of “legal ” vigilante going under the euphemism of ” Environmental Enforcement”. OK. Picture the scenario. A short one hour visit to Wimbledon and returning to the train station and about to enter. What did I visualise?
I am appalled. There are three I will call them officers with the gentle demeanour of harsh traffic wardens crossed with prison wardens who are ticketing folks under the name of environmental enforcement. Their crimes? Seems throwing cigarette ends anywhere than some specific receptacle. Fixed penalty fines of 75£ or 80£. Those being questioned had a poor grasp of the English language. Apparently this is a criminal offence to throw cigarette ends away like this as one officer explained.
My views on this were heavily influenced by recent reports that police no longer routinely investigate burglaries. And around 10 yards away a homeless man was prostrate and sleeping and would have been a better beneficiary of their wise input and assistance. One might also argue that folks needing help such as this man might be better recipients of environmental protection than inadvertent or even deliberate throwing of cigarette ends on the ground outside a station . Am I right to be angry about this?
After a little research tonight it seems Merton Council have a zero tolerance to littering, or so they say. The wording from their website tells us this
“Due to the high number of pedestrians visiting the town centre, Wimbledon has the highest rate of cigarette litter in Merton with over 1,500 FPNs being issued since June. As well as taking a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement, the council works to educate residents and visitors to the borough about environmental crime and the likelihood that they will be fined £75 for littering”
With their website explaining in graphic detail how to pay the £75 fine.
What however is worrying is that there is no right of appeal against a fixed penalty notice. So we all understand the situation that littering is not a good thing and the majority of us would agree that we should do it. However there are limits. And those limits to me are exceeded by seeing in practice that people who were it seems unaware of this draconian zero tolerance to cigarette ends, and we are not talking about littering huge amounts of kebab shop waste or newspapers on the streets, but cigarette ends, are being fined what seems an excessive amount. Furthermore to see a homeless man prostrate, rather curiously by a gritting bin, and these environmental enforcement officers take no action in the 15 minutes that I observed them was to say the least disheartening. That ” society” , well the council , cares more extracting punitive fines than humane care, speaks volumes.
The next aspect that we need to address is the actual environmental enforcement officers. Their attire of a kind of jump suit more often associated with prison, with their waists surrounded by more equipment than many would need to climb Mount Everest or contain a whole ward of rioting patients in Broadmoor, seems excessive to say the least. Together with mounted CCTV on their uniforms. I am sure Neil Armstrong had less equipment when he set foot on the moon with Apollo 11 in july 1969.
Many or even most of these officers it seems are supplied by a company called Kingdom. A press release from March 2014 stated that the council’s own enforcement officers will work alongside the Kingdom enforcement team from the end of April as they go out and about around Merton to make sure the borough is kept litter-free. Kingdom’s team is led by ” experts with an ex-military and police background”. Quite why this is so necessary to deal with ordinary folks who have thrown cigarette ends on the ground is not so clear. They issue these fixed penalty notices to those breaking the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Where it however gets more interesting is that Merton Council has come under fire for reducing street cleaning in town centres on Sundays – while spending nearly £130,000 a year on four environment enforcement officers. So photographs published in March 2015 show far worse littering caused by the overflowing of these bins than I certainly visualised on the pavements of Wimbledon. In fact I saw nothing other than the poor homeless man. There is a lot of information provided by the government on how councils can issue FPNs and also how they should use the funds accrued.
The same site above lists the various offences for which FPNs can be given and it is immediately obvious that some of these are serious and should be punished in a punitive manner, however in the context cigarette ends must be at the lower if not lowest end of the spectrum.
nuisance parking (people selling or repairing cars on the road)
dog control offences
leafleting without permission on land where leafleting is restricted (‘designated land’)
failing to nominate a key holder or give the council key holder details in an alarm notification area
failing to provide a waste carrier licence (for businesses transporting their own waste)
failing to provide a waste transfer note when moving non-hazardous waste
There is a world of difference between for example “littering” with an abandoned vehicle and a cigarette end. Yet the difference in fine amounts is surprisingly small. £200 for abandoning a car and £75 for abandoning a cigarette end. The money must also be put to specified uses.
Councils must use income from FPNs as set out :
Offence FPN money can be spent on functions relating to:
Litter – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Graffiti – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Dog control -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Fly-posting -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Unauthorised distribution of free printed material on designated land- Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
So what I am left wondering is what training is given to these officers, what degree of latitude do they have in not administering a FPN, if they have any targets, and of course how much money is raised and exactly to what purpose is it put. There is clear guidance on publishing not only the enforcement strategy but also to how the money will be used.
So in my world there would be some degree of spectrum here on exactly what constitutes a littering offence and throwing a single cigarette end does not equate to toxic pollution of the planet. Maybe also these officers can not only look at the bigger picture, but as today adopt a more humane approach. To have allowed that homeless man to remain on the ground lying prostrate would not be their greatest achievement in their day. Littering does have context and we need to be careful not to be too literal and punitive. If Merton Council want and feel they should adopt a zero tolerance approach, then this should be reflected in not only this aspect but all aspects of their work. Finally what exactly are they doing with the money, that was not happening before? I have developed a zero tolerance approach to not knowing the answers to these reasonable questions.
I am just impressed by what a few lessons in GCSE photography have taught the 15 year old. Here you see the original photograph and what was created with about 20 minutes work. Soon she will be wanting paid commissions…and why not
Brentford came into this game on the back of a four game winning run and faced a physical Hull side with the menacing Steve Bruce prowling on the touchline. The simple reality were that Bees had a few chances in the first 10 minutes of which they should have taken at least one, but then the first half somewhat became an even game. The second half Hull upped the ante and made some decent substitutions and took the game away from Brentford with a combination of good technique and excellent finishing. David button would not reflect upon this game as his best for Brentford and the second Hull goal would usually not have happened with a spilling of the ball to the feel of the hull striker. hull however are an excellent side and move top of the championship after this victory and i would be unsurprised to see them there next May.
There was no shame in losing to the better side. The Brentford perfomance was good and the team are improving game by game. Do we have any concerns? Not really. Maybe the substitutions did not help last night. Taking Toumani off for me is never a good thing for whatever reason. KK runs a lot, has good positional ability but frankly lacks the technique for a good championship player and without being negative I can see him on his way to League 1-2 level in due course. Ryan woods looks younger each game but improves each game with immense workrate. Yennaris has settled, in my view surprisingly, at right back and also improves each game, but maybe still could elevate his general work rate. Some of his central defending was also excellent last night leading me to wonder if he might also be an option there.
Griffin Park under floodlights is something I will miss as there always is a special atmosphere and a midweek crowd on a dull and damp night of 9200 is excellent. Lastly it was good to see Sam Saunders back on the bench. He will play cameo roles one suspects but a good option to have.