Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “spain”

A 3-day old Baby Barn Owl and Adult Barn Owl. Would you recognise them?


Would you know what this was if you were shown this? Not sure that I would. And might you guess that it would grow up to be like this? The baby barn owl was taken in Benalmadena Costa at the top fot eh cable car ride and the adult barn owl at Painshill Park in Cobham

3 day old baby barn owl

Baby Barn Owl

1K4A1248

Adult Barn Owl

Who Will Win Euro 2016? Predictions after Day 6


After day 6 and some frantic games with perhaps unexpected results is anything clearer after a few teams have played 2 matches?  The Bookmakers somewhat surprisingly to me have France as the favourites 7/2 with Germany the same.

  1. France are unlikely to win the tournament and have laboured to beat 2 average teams Albania and Romania, and can consider themselves lucky to have 6 points. They have not impressed going forward and look suspect in defence to good wide play.  Semi-final place beckons.
  2. Germany looked a complete team and are potentially a winner. However their soporific and uninspiring performance against Poland did not suggest a Euro 2016 winner tag just yet.
  3. Spain at 4/1 would be a brave bet after their opening game last minute victory over a stubborn but utterly boring and negative Czech republic.
  4. The bookmakers then have 2 more surprise odds, with England at 7/1 and Italy 10/1. England looked average against Russia, who we now know are one of the weakest sides at euro 2016, and were fortunate to beat Wales 2-1 having had a really poor first half. Sterling and Kane did not cover themselves with glory and were simply dreadful. Hart looks suspect.  Italy however looked good and strong and had a far more positive ethos than in recent years and were good value for the victory over Belgium.
  5. From the others Croatia looked a solid side, but probably not a contender for the crown and Portugal disappointed enormously against Iceland.

Allowing for the quirks of the draw the 4 teams I expect to see in the semi-finals are Germany, Italy, Spain and France. A Germany v Italy final might be the outcome. With Italy to win. 

IMG_4415IMG_4426

 

A Shadow That Is Wearing Shoes


An unusual and unintended photo taken in Madrid. The shoes appear to be part of the shadow.

Shoes on a shadow

A shadow that is wearing shoes

Painting Of Corpus Christi Festival Benalmadena Pueblo By Vincent Van B


Corpus Christi is the Catholic holiday in honour of the presence of the body of Christ in the holy water. It is celebrated throughout Spain and is held in either May or June depending on when Easter occurs. To calculate the next Corpus Christi date, look for the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday (the eighth Sunday after Easter) and you’ll know when the fiesta is set to begin in towns and villages throughout Andalucia.

This is a painting from Benalmadena Pueblo by Vincent Van B from Corpus Christi 2016. Today it is still typical to carpet the streets of towns and villages with greenery for the solemn Corpus Christi processions. This adds a special ambiance to the processions. The Corpus Christi parades also tend to attract all the local authorities, and in some cases, military personnel as well.

What can be seen here is not the petals that adorn the smaller streets but the greenery that is essentially decorative only.

Painting of Corpus Christi

10 Reasons To Go To Benalmadena Costa


3 day old baby barn owl

1. You can see 3 day old Baby Barn Owls after going up in a cable car to the top of a mountain. You can also see incredible views

IMG_3742

2. You can see Leopards in Funegirola Biopark. One of the few zoo type environments that I might bother with.

IMG_3747

IMG_4025

3. You can see Kestrels also at the top of the mountain

IMG_4067

IMG_4081

4. The fresh oranges taste like….fresh oranges. buy them daily.

IMG_4101

5. The artists along the promenade do amazing portraits for really a low price and their speed is incredible

IMG_4102

IMG_4117

6. The night cruises from the Marina are fairly cheap and the feel of the summer wind on a boat in the night time is a lovely feeling

IMG_4134

IMG_4135

7. The nuts cooked in Mijas smell divine and taste just as good. A small bag costs only a few euros

IMG_4137

IMG_4138

8. Mijas is an example of a pueblo, and although a little touristy if you go at the wrong times when the coach parties descend, there are many occasions when you can almost have the town to yourselves. Coffee in the square is a nice treat

IMG_4143

IMG_4149

9. The exchange rate with the Euro is good currently and Spain is a cheap country to visit for UK folks

Mijas at night

10. Mijas at night is an interesting place

Reflections on 24 Hours in Madrid


Central Madrid is a fascinating place and full of fascinating people. In some regards it is like Amsterdam in that one can walk to most places with a little bit of planning. Despite daytime temperatures being as high as 16 degrees celsius, many locals dressed in warm coats suggesting that Madrid was a suburb of Antarctica. Smoking was it seems obligatory with no actual need to buy cigarettes as breathing the air in certain places would contain just as much nicotine. I am surprised that there these many cigarettes left in Madrid. Getting from Madrid Barajas Airport is painless taking around 20-25 minutes and costing in March 2016 a fixed fare of €30 and the taxi drivers do not seem to expect a tip.

FullSizeRender-2

Epidemic of smoking in Madrid

The one thing to get used to very quickly is that Spanish locals tend to push and shove more than other Europeans and I doubt a word exists for ” to queue” in the Spanish dictionary. A nice facet was that many locals did not or chose not to speak English, meaning that it was essential to at least try and convey questions in Spanish. I like this. Why should we expect the world to speak our language and make little attempt to speak theirs?

The day seems to start late for most citizens of Madrid and the streets and parks are almost empty at 11 am which makes early visiting a good option. A downside is the plethora of mostly dreadful accordion players and other “musicians” making a fearsome noise totally unwanted, then waving various sized containers in your face for money. I would happily donate to stop them playing but that seems a little mean.

FullSizeRender

Parque Del Buen Retiro

Madrid is a busy city and most pavements and walkways even in the parks are crowded and  do not expect the Spanish to be fast walkers. Plenty of cafes and bars, and various eating places. There is another curious Spanish habit, in that they do not like their food hot in temperature. Even when food starts hot it is often served on cold plates, such as my omelette in the hotel this morning.

Madrid does seem to be divided into two very different parts. The city centre shopping area in and around Gran Via is incredibly busy and in fact I can only recall the pavements of Hong Kong being busier and almost impassable at times. Everyone carries it seems a dozen shopping bags and the entrance to Primark looks like a football crowd. In contrast the parks may get busy but are essentially beautiful places to walk and very relaxing. At the end of Gran Via however one reaches Plaza Espana with some interesting monuments and areas of grass to relax on. One statue has to be seen from a couple of directions to avoid giving the wrong impression of what is intended to be conveyed, which is the pouring of water!

IMG_2371

Very easy to get the wrong impression of this statue in Plaza Espana

IMG_2372

Plaza Espana

IMG_2373

The Dark Horses look like Ring Wraiths from Lord of the Rings with reflections

 

There are so many places to visit that a simple article cannot begin to make many recommendations, however I would make two specific ones:

  1. To avoid Gran Via, in the day unless shopping or the need for food outlets like KFC, MacDonalds and Burger King, are on your Madrid agenda, as the place is packed. Nightime it becomes a place where there are lively bars, with many choosing to sit out on the pavements.
  2. Spend a morning walking around Parque Del Buen Retiro on the Eastern side of central Madrid. This is a huge park with many avenues and monuments, and a large lake, making it popular with walkers and runners. The earlier you visit the less crowded it will be, and with a plentiful supply of cafes a few coffees and ice creams may get consumed. It may be a better and cheaper option also for breakfast, as I paid 19 euros for my hotel breakfast ( which was a less than astounding meal option, and in my opinion an extortionate price).
  3. Take a nighttime walk to see some of the many monuments lit up

There are three things that almost automatically appear on the table here in restaurants. An ashtray, orange juice (freshly squeezed) and a bowl of crisps. What appears less often is a waiter to take the order, it is true that a certain degree of Mañana does pervade Spain, and such thing as a ” quick meal” almost certainly also will have no specific word in the Spanish dictionary.

IMG_0963.JPG

Essential Spanish Meal Ingredients

Just walking around you will see many curious sights, and the price you pay in cafes is generally mostly determined by the ” people watching” quality of where the cafe is sited. While having lunch today a young well dressed male, maybe 18 years, stopped at one of the lunch tables and tore out the middle pages of the drinks menu. It occupied me for 10 minutes trying to fathom what his purpose was, and in fact I will never know as he scurried off in a furtive manner clutching his piece of paper. Small kiosks exist to sell drinks and sweets generically all over Spain, but here in Madrid there are also specific kiosks to sell cigarettes. An older woman was inside and when a customer came up she opened a small window to conduct her business, the window was maybe the size of a cat flap. Curious behaviour.

The general feeling of Madrid though is of a happy and relaxed place with no immediate visual sign of any work actually going on. Are there things I do not like about Madrid? The plethora of the fast food restaurants in nice areas is a little irritating.

IMG_2382

KFC along Gran Via. Not the pavement cafe of choice for everyone

On the other hand prices are mostly very low by UK standards, for example this beer at a pavement cafe in a street just off Gran Via cost    €1.65

IMG_2387Two favourite places emerged to visit when I return to Madrid. Parque Del Buen Retiro is an essential walk and stop for coffee, and Plaza Espana at the end of the day when the sub starts to set to see the monuments and the water grace the views. The reflections are simply astonishing.

FullSizeRender-1

One of the many walks in Parque Del Buen Retiro

Night time is when Madrid really seems to come to life with numerous bars and restaurants and a good time to take a walk to see some of the sights by night when they convey totally different impressions.

IMG_2389

Plaza de la Independencia at night

FullSizeRender-2

Plaza de la Independencia

FullSizeRender-1

Plaza de la Independencia in daytime

At the entrance to Parque Del Buen Retiro is Plaza de la Independencia, as seen above in the day and by night. For Spain it is surprisingly easy to cross these huge wide roads around the Plaza without too much fear of death.The Plaza de la Independencia is a central square in the Spanish capital, Madrid. It sits at the intersection of Calle de Alcalá, Calle de Alfonso XII, Calle de Serrano, Calle de Salustiano Olozaga, and the Paseo de Mexico, making it the single biggest area for busy traffic that I came across. One word of warning is that the restaurants around the Plaza seem enticing but are highly priced in comparison with those even 50-100 yards away, and of course in Madrid as in most of Spain, the price you pay relates mostly to the views and people watching and has little correlation with the food quality or service. To pay  €17.50 for an average hamburger is excessive. As this was one of my favourite areas adorning the entrance to Parque Del Buen Retiro , a little history seems reasonable. The square was opened in 1778 during the reign of King Carlos III and has survived rather well in the interim.

Eating fruit in Spain is always a good option and the small shops that sell frozen yoghurt with toppings always have a good selection of kiwi, strawberries, pineapple and mango.

IMG_0965

Fresh Strawberries in Spain

 

Should Football Managers Harangue Officials on the pitch? Tommy Williams and Kingstonian


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.

Angry Tommy Williams Kingstonian manager confronts the officials at half time. Why is this acceptable?

Angry Tommy Williams Kingstonian manager confronts the officials at half time. Why is this acceptable?

Ricky Sappleton


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.

Ricky Sappleton

Ricky Sappleton

Ricky Sappleton

Ricky Sappleton

Ricky Sappleton

Ricky Sappleton

Ricky Sappleton

Ricky Sappleton

Environmental Enforcement in Wimbledon. What is happening to my world?


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?

IMG_0123

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?

IMG_0126

IMG_0124 IMG_0125

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”

http://news.merton.gov.uk/2014/10/24/merton-council-tells-smokers-to-watch-their-butt/

With their website explaining in graphic detail how to pay the £75 fine.

http://www.merton.gov.uk/environment/fixedpenaltynotices.htm

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.

http://blog.kingdom.co.uk/2014/04/kingdom-part-of-merton-councils-zero.html

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.

http://www.wimbledonguardian.co.uk/news/11863279.Merton_Council_cuts_back_Sunday_street_cleaning_to_combat___1_2m_overspend/

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fixed-penalty-notices-issuing-and-enforcement-by-councils

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.

graffiti
littering
fly-posting
nuisance parking (people selling or repairing cars on the road)
dog control offences
abandoned vehicles
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. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fixed-penalty-notices-issuing-and-enforcement-by-councils

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. 

Drowning Practice in New Malden


A few evening photos on a very wet and damp evening. A local road and a rahter spooky alley way walk

IMG_0110 IMG_0111 IMG_0114 IMG_0115 IMG_0116 IMG_0117

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: