Places I Have Lived

August 2, 2010

The Wells, Epsom (bottom of hill)

The Wells, Epsom (top of hill)

So my entire childhood was spent living on The Wells a housing estate near Epsom surrounded by open countryside. Very nice.

Norfolk Terrace, UEA, Norwich

Mannington Hall, Saxthorpe, Norfolk (16th century cottage)

Central Norwich

Three years in Norfolk while I was at UEA. Norwich is a wonderful place to live and the middle year out in the sticks was unique – our front door had no lock and my bedroom window looked onto Mannington Hall.

Willesden Green, London

Ladywell, London

Swiss Cottage, London

Kingsbury, London

My flat rent years, moving on every 6 months. Some of those places were dull, dull dull! Swiss Cottage was good, though.

Great Holm, Milton keynes

Great Holm, Milton Keynes

I lived in two houses in MK, a city I love and enjoyed living in so watch what you say! While owning my first home there I also lived overseas for a couple of years as follows.

Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok

Lardphrao, Bankok

Lardphrao was 13km away from my office, which took 1-3 hours by car! Bagkok is my second home and I love the place.

Reigate, Surrey

Nice big house. Moved there for work and then changed job!

The Wells, Epsom

Back with my parents post divorce. Its a long story . . .

Station Approach, Epsom

Brand new shared ownership flat. Nice, but noisy and no parking.

Commonwealth Drive, Crawley

Unusually I rented my (brand new) house for 6 months and then bought it at a knock down price. I’m very happy here, so hope to stay a long time.

Summary: I’m a a suburban person at heart. I don’t see that as a negative. I love London and big cities, but I need to get out into the countryside regularly. Another feature is that three of my homes have been brand new and one was only five years old. I’m not a DIY enthusiast.  I think you should be able to move into a house and live in it – not spend all your life doing it up and then moving on!

Regrets: apart from Norwich I have never lived within walking distance of a decent pub!

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Memories of an Old Railwayman

February 3, 2010

Well, that’s me. I’m nearly 50 you know! Random memories occasionally pop into my head. Does anyone remember these international rail freight operations:

Transfesa Onion Traffic From time to time when I was driving around my sales patch in the mid 1980s I would come across one of these wagons, usually sitting in complete isolation in the middle of an otherwise empty freight yard. I think they were two axle affairs, coloured Transfesa blue and with slatted sides. Unusually these included gaps to allow air to circulate. They contained sacks of onions from Spain. Over a matter of days a chap in a van, presumably working for a vegetable wholesaler,  would arrive and take out a few bags.  When empty the van would make its way back to Spain.

I often wondered how this business was managed. Presumably someone in Spain had a list of British Rail terminals and would despatch a wagon and inform his customer. In those days Speedlink could transport the wagon from the Trainferry to the terminal.

Dry Ice The UK railway industry has been very backwards in offering services to carry refrigerated goods – although now there are a few new services carrying fresh fruit and veg from the continent via the Channel Tunnel. In the 1980s I seem to remember that chilled goods were transported from the continent and sometimes back to the continent in specialised wagons. These had no chiller units or temperature control. Instead they included a compartment which was filled with dry ice at the start of the journey. Hopefully by the end the product was still cold.

Nowadays chilled or frozen goods have to be continuously monitored and if the temperature falls outside a tight margin the product is considered unsaleable. Again, its hard to imagine that such a service worked, but it did.

Lastly – a quick apology. Sorry I haven’t posted for such a long time. But there is plenty to come in the next few weeks.


Welcome to Thailand!

August 11, 2009

Greenwich Thai Festival, last weekend, was excellent. Freshly barbecued prawns, mango and sticky rice, iced coffeee, smoothies, Thai music, lots of people smiling and having fun in the sun.

Mr Confident

Mr Confident

Miss Confident. Colud they be . . .? Surely not . . . This IS Thailand though.

Miss Confident. Could they be . . .? Surely not . . . This IS Thailand though.

More photos on my smugmug site.


Favourite Places

August 5, 2009

I love cities and I love the countryside. These are some of my favourite cities:

London – of course. The greatest city in the world. The nicest and safest place to simply wander around. Superb architecture. Excellent culture. Great food. Friendly people. I could never stay away for long.

Bangkok- of course. I confess I am addicted. Its like diving into a maelstrom of traffic, people, smells and heat. Bangkok is vibrant and exciting. The best part is obviously the people – incredibly friendly and usually smiling. Its quite a safe city. The food is superb. I love the oases of cool and calm such as the many 5* hotels, the river, and the temples. I will always go back. A year away from Bangkok is a bad year.

Norwich – “A Fine City”. Relaxed, good food, compact, great culture. Good university!

Lisbon –  I have had several business trips there and I love the place.  Very friendly. Compact. Decent food. Stunning views. The most fun tram system in Europe. Brilliant fado music.

Birmingham – but I could equally say Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, or Newcastle. The renaissance of the British city is an unnoticed success of the last 15 years, and one for which the government should take credit.

Also rans: Valencia, Prague, Singapore

Not placed:  Paris, Rome, Moscow


Journey to Work

July 31, 2009

How should I travel from Three Bridges to my office near Oxford Circus each day? There are lots of options:

1: Three Bridges to Victoria then Victoria line to Oxford Circus then walk.

  • Three Bridges – Victoria = 40 minutes
  • Victoria – Wells Street = 16 minutes including 5 minute walk
  • Two trains per hour from Three Bridges
  • BUT Victoria line horribly crowded – you have to wait for several trains to pass before you can squeeze on. Coming home is just as bad – see my last post!
  • Walking along Oxford Street in the morning is pleasant. Walking along Oxford Street in the afternoon is hell.

2: Three Bridges to City Thameslink then bus – Wardour Street then a short walk

  • Three Bridges – City Thameslink = 52 minutes
  • City Thameslink – Wells Street = 25 minutes including 5 minute walk
  • BUT only one suitable train from Three Bridges
  • Bus trip much nicer than tube
  • Walking across Oxford Street much easier

3: Three Bridges to London Bridge then tube and walk

  • Three Bridges – London Bridge = 39 minutes
  • London Bridge – Wells Street = 25 minutes including 15 minute walk
  • 2 trains per hour from Three Bridges
  • Jubilee line pretty busy
  • Walking along Oxford Street in the morning is OK

So, what to do? Pick and mix at the moment. Victoria is fine in the mornings, but really difficult in the evenings from Oxford Circus. I tend to go home via City Thameslink as I like the bus trip and the longer train journey gives me more time to read the new paper.


Welcome to Oxford Street

July 17, 2009

My journey home last night . . . .

Oxford Circus Station - 15th July 2009

Oxford Circus Station - 15th July 2009

I could not even get in to Oxford Street Station. After a wait in the crowd I took a slow bus to Charing Cross, a train to London Bridge and then crammed on to the most crowded Thameslink train I have ever seen. The guy in front of me started shouting really loud at passengers to move up. It was exceptionally hot, and took ages to crawl to Three Bridges.

Fortunately I have a huge variety of alternative routes to and from my new office. Victoria to Oxford Circus in the morning is survivable, but I think I will have to find a better way home!


Blogroll: Dave Hill

July 15, 2009

One of the handful of sites I visit every day. As it says on his Guardian profile:

Dave Hill is a novelist, blogger, occasional broadcaster and long-standing writer for the Guardian.

Dave keeps his ear to the ground and provides fair comment on a range of issues – particularly, of course, the day to day tribulations of mayor Boris Johnson and his diminishing team. But the blog is not just a political getto – it includes insights and comments on London life from a very warm and human perspective. I suspect the subject of chicken feed will feature a lot this week!


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