Category Archives: Travel

Please don’t drink the water!

My rose-tinted spectacles have been well and truly removed and I’m reconsidering my thoughts on a British seaside holiday!  A report this week tells how pollution levels at Britain’s most popular beaches reach a decade high as fears rise over tourism impact.

Tests have revealed that raw sewage is still spilling into the sea, despite water companies investing billions in improvements.  Blackpool alone could face losing £1bn in revenue unless improvements are made to sewer systems and more than 40 beaches are expected to fail when new standards are introduced in 2015.

Some of Britain’s most popular beaches, including Weston-Super-Mare, Exmouth and Blackpool, recorded the worst bathing water quality standards for more than a decade, according to a list obtained by The Sunday Times. 

In 2015, tougher standards are being introduced and will be partly based on this year’s results. At the worst beaches, signs will go up warning people not to swim.

Water companies need to make more efforts, as well as farmers and householders to protect beaches from becoming polluted and there needs to be more information on the times of sewage overflows.  The overflows, which operate during heavy rainfall, are one of the biggest causes of pollution flowing into the sea along Britain’s coastline. They are supposed to operate only three times in one bathing season, but some resorts can have more than 100 sewage spills during a wet summer. 

Brings a whole new meaning to the words “I’ve had a s**t holiday!”

Keep your eyes on the road

A recent study by insurance firm MoreTh>N has discovered that over a third of drivers, 34%, have had a prang or near miss in the UK as a result of taking their eyes off the road to admire a view.  And an admiring 14% have slammed on the brakes to get a longer look – typically reducing their speed by 27 mph.   Accidents resulting from these distractions cause an average £413.56 of damage each time.

And top of the list is the well-known tourist spot of Stonehenge where distracted motorists have more accidents passing here than any other British landmark.   A quarter of motorists, 26%, have been distracted by the pre-historic monument of Stonehenge near Amesbury, Wiltshire.

The Angel of the North, in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, is the second most dangerous landmark and the Blackpool Tower, in Lancashire, third.  A captivated 18% and 12% of motorists find their eyes drifting towards these sites as they pass.  Just over one in ten of these drivers, 11%, have had or nearly had an accident at these two beauty spots.

The top ten also includes the Scottish Highlands, the Houses of Parliament, Windsor Castle, Tower Bridge, and Clifton Suspension Bridge.  Cheddar Gorge and Severn Bridge complete the list.

So, in the words of Paul Evans from 1959, “Keep your mind on your drivin’, keep your hands on the wheel, keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead…”

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10 days radio silence

Аз се запътвам към Lozenets така там ще за известно време бъда тишина на радио за 10 дена на празник в България. Очаквам да споделя мислите си с вас отново при завръщането си!

or, in English:

I am off on holiday to Lozenets in Bulgaria for 10 days and so there will be radio silence from me for a while.   I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you again on my return! 

NB Look closely, that’s me on the terrace on the right on my last visit in 2010!

London Boosted

Following on from my previous post “Athletic Art“, I’ve managed to find a YouTube clip showing the double-decker bus that has been turned into a sculpture of an athlete doing push-ups – you can see it in action here, it’s so clever!  If you get the chance to pop along to Islington and see it for yourself, please send me your pictures!

Keeping it simple

This picture is doing the rounds on the social networks today – a great advert for the Glasgow subway I think – You may just go round in circles but at least you can’t get lost!

Athletic Art

This is my favourite image so far of the imminent London2012 Olympics!

A Czech artist has re-modelled a traditional London double-decker bus into a mechanical sculpture of an athlete doing push-ups to celebrate the Olympic Games opening in the British capital on Friday.

David Cerny bought the 1957 bus from an owner in the Netherlands, attached two huge arms, an electrical engine and a lot of wiring and suspension tools to make it into a piece of art named “London Boosted”.

Cerny, whose past works have enraged European politicians and sought to poke fun at rival artists, has installed the bus outside the Czech Olympic House in London’s Islington neighbourhood.

“There is one common exercise for every sportsman in the world, and that is push-ups,” Cerny said.  “It is training for sport activities but at the same time it is also punishment in armies and prisons. So the push-ups are a very universal physical activity…It is in a way very ironic.”

For regular travellers on this particular transport however, the irony might be the fact that there’s only one and not 3 identical buses there at the same time!

Steer clear of Beer!

Perhaps as a result of the lack of investment in recent years, a road in Devon has been closed indefinitely after part of it collapsed.  Cracks – thought to be caused by persistent rain – began to appear on Old Beer Road in Seaton on Wednesday and within 48 hours part of the road had collapsed and Devon County Council is now concerned more of the road could disappear.  Members of the public have been urged to stay away from the “potentially dangerous” road.

The council said the road had dropped by about 1m (about 3ft) in the past 24 hours and barriers had been put up to prevent any access. 

But perhaps more sinister forces are at work?  Surely it is no coincidence that the road collapsed on Friday 13th?  The curse of paraskevidekatriaphobia strikes again!

Let the train take the strain?

In the last week I have spent upwards of 40 hours on various trains, travelling around the country as part of my latest consultancy assignment.

It started last Thursday when, with about half an hour’s notice, I had to make my way from my home in Glasgow to a hotel at East Midlands Airport for a briefing at 8.30am the following day.   After discovering there are now no flights at all from Glasgow Airport to East Midlands Airport (despite the fact that I have done this journey before!), I had no option but to go by train.  This was my journey:

18:00 Get dropped off at Mount Florida Station for train to Glasgow Central and pick up tickets
18:40 Take train from Glasgow Central to Warrington Bank Quay – running 12 minutes late for no apparent reason
21:20 Arrive at Warrington Bank Quay and take a taxi (in the rain) to Warrington Central
22:03 Take train from Warrington Central to Nottingham, although this train was in fact running 20 minutes late – no explanation given
01:00 Arrive at Nottingham and take taxi to hotel at East Midlands Airport
01:30 Check into my room at the hotel

Fortunately my journey home the following night was made easier when one of my colleagues very kindly took me to Warrington Bank Quay so all I had to do (after a 3 hour drive) was to take one train back to Glasgow before getting home at some time around 10.30pm – exhausted and none too pleased to have to take the very same journey again two days later as I needed to be back in Nottingham for 09:00 on Monday morning!

I took a different route on Sunday, leaving home at 4:00pm and arriving at the hotel at 11.30pm.  The same colleague took me to Warrington Bank Quay the following afternoon and I arrived back home in Glasgow for a brief sleep at around 10:30pm before setting off again the next day (Tuesday), this time to Elgin!

Setting my alarm for 5:15am, I then caught the 7:06am to Inverness and then another train to Elgin, arriving at 11:41.  After a day of meetings I then returned home, via Aberdeen on this leg of the journey, and was back in my flat at about 10:00pm – extremely tired and emotional!!!

I know you’re mostly sitting down while on the train but it is an extremely stressful and tiring experience as people who commute regularly using this mode of transport will probably concur.  It would be less stressful if the train companies could make more of an effort to run the services on time so that you’re not scared of missing the various connections that might mean you being stranded miles from your final destination in the dead of night.  If they could also make sure there are enough carriages for the amount of people using the service that would also be helpful, thus avoiding the dreadful congestion on board and making the journey so much more comfortable for everyone! 

Moan over – perhaps next time I should just take the car?????

The transport of my youth updated

Those of you who know me well will know that “I don’t do buses”.  It is a very long time since I was forced through age, lack of money, and lack of alternatives to get from A to B other than by the good old Red London Bus.

It was however a fundamental part of growing up in a place like Twickenham, which is just outside of London, and we had our regular routes that we used to travel, always joking about the fact that you’d wait half an hour and 3 would all turn up at once.

The old hop-on, hop off buses were the ones I used most regularly and the No. 281 was the route that took me to college in Kingston, along past Twickenham Green, through Teddington High Street and over the bridge to the town centre.  There was always something exhilarating about standing on that platform as you approached your stop, the wind in your hair and the sense of danger lurking just around the corner.

It was a sad day then when these old-fashioned spectacles were replaced by the boxier, more modern version with automatic doors that make that horrible “whooshing” noise as they opened and closed (and don’t get me started on those ridiculous bendy buses!).

It was with delight then that I read this morning that a new version of the old hop-on, hop-off is being introduced on some routes from next week.  A sleeker, curvier version of its predecessor, it boasts 3 passenger doors and 2 sets of stairs to the upper deck. 


We are also going to see the return of the bus conductor on these routes – not to take fares but to supervise people getting on and off the rear platform, although I’m sure the PC brigade will have a field day on this one!  And, as it is topical of course, it is 15% more fuel-efficient than the existing hybrid buses and 40% more efficient than conventional double-deckers.       

With the current trend of remakes in the film industry, how long do you think it will be before someone decides to remake Summer Holiday, this time with Justin Bieber in the Cliff Richard role – heaven forbid!!!

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