Sunday, August 12, 2012


I must confess that I have had my doubts overturned. The run up to the Olympics were a bit of a nightmare as to what living as close as I do, was going to be like. Although I would be working from home, I was  dreading it. I have found that the anticipation of how it was going to be was a lot worse than how it actually was.

For a start, we didn't get the traffic chaos that was predicted, the public transport worked well. Yes Straford, especially the area around the station was always jammed packed with people either coming out of or going into the Olympic park, but it was jammed with good natured people who smiled and seemed very happy to be there. The atmosphere has been fantastic. Out of the 10 days I have worked from home, 4 of them I went out for lunch and it was so nice being out. I know Stratford has a bad reputaion, but I have always felt safe here and especially so while the Olympics have been going on. People from all walks of life and countries have been walking around enjoying the area. Straford park has been holding an open air event with a massive screen showing the Olympics. I popped in there on Friday evening and it was really nice to watch all different nationalities giving the 4 x 100 metre mens GB team a cheer, even though they had been disqualified. I can only imagine that when Bolt ran it must have been electric along with all the team GB participants.

I have especially loved the cheering and the noise of the crowd at the events and the fact that no matter where the athlete came from, if they won they got a good reception. Yes I have loved every minute. I have the paralympics to go and then I shall miss it all very much.

So for my part, I award a gold medal to team GB, all the emergency services, armed services and volunteers who have helped to make the Olympics terrific. Mitt Romney, eat your heart out!!!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Opening Ceremony

I actually thought it was fab, as far as I am concerned Danny Boyle got it just right. I have heard people say it was too British, while one Tory MP called it multicultural crap.

Personally, I don't see how our Olympic ceremony can be called too British, there were lots of dancers from all different races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. The immigration of people from the Caribbean was positively celebrated, our NHS and industrial age were well represented and as Brits, we 'got' the humour.

I especially loved the Bond/Liz scenario, and it was quite funny to look out of my daughters window and see the helicopter hovering over the stadium and watch the parachutists jump out. Good on the queen for being a good sport, shame she never smiled much and picked her finger nails, but she is 86 and has just finished a grueling jubilee tour. I especially found the Emili Sande rendition of Abide me me very emotional.

Yes Mr Boyle, you got it right. It made me proud to be British, and of course, playing Bubbles made me proud to be an East London Girl

Bits I loved
Emili Sande
The cauldron
Using the waterways to deliver the torch
Lighting of the cauldron by our future athletes

Bits that drove me mad
The procession took too long
The BBC cut out a lot of the fireworks
My Dad having to leave my daughters early because he was tired (Bless him, this is why I had to rely on the BBC to see the fireworks although I heard them alright!!!)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A visit to the Olympic Park

Today I visited the Olympic park. I went in April to see a water polo test event but the park wasn't quite finished and the flowers were yet to bloom.

It is a different story now, the gardeners have worked miracles considering the awful weather we have had and along the banks of the Waterworks river and the River Lea it is a riot of colour.

I will leave you with some photo's

My Grandchildren. Kai and Sian

And the Gloriana was moored there too!!!

I can't wait for the park to open to the public in July 2013. This will be my local park and  I think we are very lucky to have it

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Less than 24 hours.

Well here we are, less than 24 hours away from the greatest show on earth. Now I have all my systems in place to work from home I am looking forward to it, because if this week is anything to go by Stratford is going to be very very busy.

The Olympic lanes came into force on Wednesday so a bus was out of the question. The cars through Maryland point were nose to tail and queued up all along Forest Lane, a sight we only ever see during school  term time, and recently hardly at all. My local train station has been opened, but will now be closed from tomorrow. They had dress rehearsals on Monday and Wednesday so Stratford station was rammed with people with lots of staff shooing us all this way and that. People telling us which side to cross the road, police, soldiers and Olympic volunteers everywhere. To be honest it has been getting on my nerves, but now I am getting into the spirit of the games.

Tomorrow evening, Dad and I will be going over to my daughters flat, where we will watch the opening ceremony on the T.V then the fireworks from her balcony. I am about to raise a union flag in our front window to cheer on team GB and Sunday, I have Olympic park tickets so I will be taking the grandchildren over in their team GB t-shirts to soak up some of the atmosphere. If I ever find my camera (I think it has been de-materialised by a poltergeist) I will post plenty of photo's, if not, it will be inferior phone pics.

Oh and 2 weeks of bliss. The bliss? Not having to wear make up as I have relocated my desk to the back living room............Happy Olympics everyone.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Water Chariots

When it was announced, that a contract had been awarded to Water Chariots to ferry passengers from Tottenham Hale (4 miles) and Lime House Basin (2.5 miles) to the Olympic Park I was quite excited.

There used to be a trip boat based at Bromley by Bow which I had travelled on and really enjoyed, but due to regulations with regards to disabled passengers it was sold and now operates from the river Lee.

I have walked along the canal and have seen all the water chariot stops being erected and thought how lovely it would be to finally take my grandchildren on a boat that cruised and went through locks. Something Kai and Sian have missed out on. So the big announcement came on the news tonight, from today Water Chariots are operating and the price? £95 return for adults and £50 return for under 18's. Good job I was sitting down. Everyone is up in arms, THAT is a total rip off and they have been urged to rethink their prices but so far have refused, although they have said they will look at them again after the Olympics. Those journey's are roughtly £3 by DLR or £7 by train.

I know that diesel is expensive, but really?  Sadly, as much as I like boats, that is a price I am not prepared to pay. It is greedy. For a family of 4 that would be the hugely expensive sum of £290. 3 trips would buy a family of 4 a week on a narrow boat in low season. It would serve them right if all their trips remain empty. Take my advice, walk along the canal, it is just as nice and far cheaper. They are starting a blog soon and I for one, will be leaving a comment.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Weird Dream

I have just been reading a post at Ayak's Turkish delight and it reminded me of a weird dream I once had.

I was taking Prozak at the time and it had a tendency to give me vivid colourful dreams. In this particular dream, I was the proud owner of a narrow boat and I was encouraging my Dad to come on a trip with me. The only way onto this boat was to jump down the plug hole (?) which I did and so started this wonderful journey a lot like one of those twisty slides you find at an aqua park. At one point I was splashed in the face by some bleach smelling water so I called back to my Dad 'Don't worry Dad, I bleached the sink earlier'. I had my arms out as I swished this way and that down the drain pipe to the boat all the time calling out a very excited 'Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' I woke at the point I popped out of the bottom so have no idea if I landed on a boat or not. It actually put me in a happy mood for the day and even now brings a smile to my face as I remember it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bloody Virus

I have a virus. It started with aches and a tickly cough and then progressed to blocked sinuses and the most horrendous headache, I took some annual leave as I didn't want to go sick and began to feel a little better, then Tuesday exhaustion set in along with a terrible sore throat and aching joints. I have had flu twice in my life, and this feels like flu, but I do get a flu jab as I care for my Dad. I have had to bite the bullet and go sick. I had some sick leave a few weeks ago due to some minor surgery and I feel guilty. With what is going on at work, I shouldn't. There will be no medals for being a hero when they come to outsource me, but I feel guilty because I like my work colleagues and mostly my work falls to them when I am not there. But if I pass this on, it's not fair either.

I also get bored at home, it's fine if I have the energy to do the washing, cooking and cleaning, but I hung some washing out earlier and then went to sleep for half an hour!! I feel like an old crock.

There is my Dad. I love him to bits, but he has got to the stage where he repeats all the same old stories and I feel very ungracious if I finish them for him so I smile and nod in all the right places. There go I in 20 years time and I hope my daughter doesn't get as impatient with me as I sometimes do with my Dad. One day when he is not here I will long to hear his old war evacuation and RAF stories.

To add to my sorry state, the doorbell rang earlier and there standing on the doorstep with a large box was a rather handsome young postman. He recoiled when I opened the door and I took the parcel squeaked 'thank you' and came in. Then I passsed a mirror and there I am pasty faced with all my hair standing on end. (so much for easy style short hair) so that explains the recoil, I don't suppose he often meets the wild woman of Borneo on his rounds.......

So what to do with myself? Daytime T.V? Erm I think I would rather pull my own teeth out (but perhaps not as I have quite a few missing already) I think I will get a book out, I have a new Mo Hayder that I have just started. Yes that should do nicely until I drop off again.............................................

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Olympic landlords

On the local news this evening, they ran a report saying that landlords in this area are giving tenants 2 weeks notice so that they can prepare to rent out their properties during the Olympics for as much as £5000 a week!! Why doesn't that surprise me? What does surprise me is that they are allowed to get away with it.

I am, what is termed as, a reluctant landlord, I would rather sell my property but can't, but I can't afford to keep it empty either.  I HAVE to give 2 months notice if I want my tenant to leave, but the said landlords are giving 2 weeks notice and the tenants are going. Why don't they just stay put? Newham council  license ALL landlords in the borough, this is so they can keep a check on standards. Rents here are very expensive, about £350 per week for a 3 bed property. Surely if a tenant is given such little notice they can complain to the council and they then must be able to look at the landlords license and take it away. They have a team of officers who visit privately rented properties and they have taken quite a few to court because of poor standards. Surely not sticking to the terms of the lease is a poor standard?

The estate agents reckon, if they all the landlords evict their tenants to cash in on the Olympics, then at the end of them, there will be a glut of properties which will bring the rents down. If that happens, then I reckon it serves the greedy gits right.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The woes of work

I have worked in the higher education sector for 16 and a half years now. The sad thing is, that for a teaching establishment, we have not kept up with technology. I work in telecommunications, but telecommunications is changing rapidly. We now have unified communications, where basically all calls terminate to an I.P address, SKYPE, cloud, all this terminology is above my head and I don't like it.

Recently, our relatively new VC has decided that he is going to tout our services and share them, he has put a tender out and has now invited 5 companies to review our processes and then possibly sell our services. The VC says, to do this, the university will create a new company, we will all have our contracts transferred to that company and as and when an organisation likes the way we do things, they will then 'buy' into our services. We are all up for grabs with the exception of the core VC's office (no surprises there then!). Under current TUPE laws, apart from our pensions (which for us is currently very good, but this is mainly due to the fact it is part of our pay deal) for the first 2 years, our terms and conditions remain the same. The government are encouraging universities and local authorities to share services by offering some incentives, namely, no VAT on services shared and also they are to be 'not for profit'.

Why then, have companies like CAPITA, Xchanging, BT Global and 2 others (One of which we are all pretty certain will be awared the contract as they conducted a process review some months ago and apart from the morality of it, it is totally contrary to procurement legislation, but that's another story) been allowed to put in a bid? All these are' for profit' organisations so where does the 'not for profit' apply?

I have been through more reviews than I have had hot dinners. I have seen people come in and conduct reviews and then suddenly they have gone. All of this is done in the name of saving money but every time another highly paid 'consultant' comes in with their psychobabble ideas, it costs us lots of money and nothing changes.

I accept we need to save money, we owe HEFC a lot due to the jiggery pokery of the previous head honcho. We have always accepted this, but while departments have been cut to the bone and courses cut, the executive group have expanded their number with highly paid staff. For instance
We used to have 1 company secretary that did it all,  now we have 1 company secretary and 2 deputies because the comapny secretary can't do everything the previous one did.
We have an executive officer, god knows what he does as we never had one before, but apprently he is as important as the Vice Chancellor, who also has a deputy Vice Chancellor and deputy Chief Executive. He has also replaced his office manager with an executive assistant who doesn't manage anyone and is on a higher grade of pay (and who worked with him at a previous university. Surprise, surprise)
We also have a director of 'Institutional effectiveness' who is going to recruit for a deputy director, no idea what she does because we didn't have one of those either.

We need to save money and quite honestly, if we got rid of all the exec's we didn't have before, you could save a million right there. Because even though we are skint, they still got paid their 10% bonuses on top of their eye wateringly large salaries, while admin staff have had their jobs regraded under HERA and a lot have been down graded.

I have been through a lot in that place but I have never felt despair. And I feel it every day, it comes off of people in waves and it's very unsettling and disturbing. I have a job, I suppose I should be grateful and in a lot of respects, I am. My colleagues are fantastic people, they are worth a million of the VC.

I have been sending out my C.V, but at 50+ I don't hold out much hope......................................

Todays slimming world Recipe

Chorizo Chicken and Pasta (9 syns) for 4 people (Or 2 greedy ones)

2 Chicken Breasts (Skin removed and Diced)
100g Chopped Chorizo
30g Pasta Tubes or twists
1 Tin of chopped Tomato's
Carton of Passata
1 large Onion
Garlic (Fresh or Granules)
2 Knorr stock pots (1 Extra beef and 1 Chicken)
2 Teaspoons of Smoked Paprika
Black pepper to taste
No salt as the stock cubes are salty enough

1.Fry chopped Chorizo in a dry large pan and then add onions and (if using fresh) garlic
2.Keep stirring and when onions are cooked add chicken and stir until brown and partly cooked
3. Add chopped tinned tomato's, passata, paprika, garlic (if using granules)and stock pots
4. Stir all together and simmer for about 25 minutes
5. Cook pasta as per packet instructions
6. Once Pasta is cooked add to chicken mixture stir together and serve with a nice side salad or if you are not eating healthily some garlic bread.

I always make loads so I can take some into work. It chills well, but I have never tried freezing it.

Friday, May 04, 2012

London Prepares

Tonight, I took my Dad to the Olympic park as part of the London Prepares events. Many years ago, he played and refereed water polo, of which the rules can be found here.

The event tonight was the ladies tournament between Great Briatin,  The USA, Hungary and Australia. before the start of the game my Dad became a bit emotional, I asked him what was wrong and he answered one word 'Memories'

We got there early to go through the 'airport style security' and it is airport style, coats off, pockets emptied and everything through an x-ray machine, while we go through a metal detector. A joke from my Dad as he put his walking stick in the tray to the security officer 'Thats my gun really' very nearly got him pulled aside. It wasn't funny and I indicated to the guard that he was joking, but just for a second there I really thought he was going to call the police over. My dad and his humour could well have scuppered our evening. The security officer could see he is old so thankfully took it as a joke but not before a stern look and a bit of a telling off. Naughty Daddy!!

The park isn't quite finished but we walked around and I got the opportunity to see Orbit

Below are some photo's

Once the park is open, apparently you will be able to go to the top in a lift to a viewing platform and then come down the stairs that wind around the structure, I think it would be far more exciting if we could come down on a coconut mat, as I affectionately call it the Stratford Helter Skelter. As you can see, it is huge and it dominates the skyline and personally I think it would make a great roller coaster ride, but this is modern art........

The Aquatic Centre. I love the shape of this

Dad in front of the water polo arena which will be removed after the Olympics

The new planting. On the left you can see part of the Bow back rivers which surround the site and have really benefitted from a massive clean up. These are going to be a wonderful display of Alliums in a few weeks

Inside the water polo arena this one is for Jaq in case she is home sick. The US ladies Team

GBR Ladies Team

Amazing seeing as most of this land was badly contaminated and will be a legacy left after the Olympics

                                                                 The stadium

I am glad I have been into the park as I wasn't able to get tickets for the actual Olympics and although I am not looking forward to the disruption, I am looking forward to being able to stroll down there once they are finished with a nice picnic with the kids and maybe take a water taxi along the canal.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Tarted Up

As you know, in less than a 100 days I will have the Olympics on my doorstep. As part of this, Stratford has gone through a big period of regeneration. I know I moan, but we do have this.

I am not a designer type of girl, I am the wrong size for a start, but it is a pretty amazing place and is fantastic for going out to in the evening with friends. there is a huge choice of places to eat and then onto the cinema or casino later.

 One of the other features almost completed is The Shoal. They have cut down perfectly good trees for this sculpture and the photo below (taken yesterday) is just a part of it. Personally, I think it is hideous, but then there is no accounting for taste is there?

Tomorrow I am going to the Olympic park for a water polo pre event. As a Newham resident I get a 2 day priority for tickets. We have to be there an hour and a half before the event to go through 'airport style security' but hopefully we will be allowed to take a look around the park and take photo's. If so I will post some over the weekend.

The Shoal

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

All Inclusive

I have never been tempted by an all inclusive holiday. When Christine was small I may have tried one as they do certainly have their uses, but they just weren't available then. My only experience of all inclusive was of two holidays Christine and I took when Kai was a toddler to Corfu. We actually stayed in room only accommodation, but the hotel was slap bang in between 3 all inclusive resorts.

Of an evening, we used to go out to find somewhere to eat for dinner and there wouldn't be a soul about, as a consequence, there were very few restaurants and bars suitable to take Kai to and speaking to the locals, many bars had closed because there were no customers walking about of an evening, they were all tucked up in their all inclusives.

When I took my first holiday to St Lucia I was asked if I was going all inclusive. When I said no I was looked at as if I had grown another head. I was warned of dire consequences of walking around St Lucia  at night. 2 women alone, oh the horror. I was bound to be mugged or kidnapped or in the worst case scenario, killed. I was so horrified I was dreading the holiday.

I had a fantastic time once I'd relaxed. The people of St Lucia were wonderful. One evening we went to a street party in Groselet. It was rammed packed with people, mostly St Lucians. There were stalls selling Caribbean food and the famous rum punch. The music was loud and  people were dancing, St Lucians were genuinely happy that we were enjoying ourselves. Of course we got some hassle from the men but a polite rebuff and they were cool. I remember later on sitting on a step having a rest when I saw a boy of about 8 with his younger brother and sister trying to get a drink from some of the stalls. Every stall owner was telling him no so I called him over and asked if he wanted a drink and he answered very politely that he did, I gave him 20 EC dollars and told him to get a drink for himself and his brother and sister. 20 EC dollars wasn't a lot, it was about £5 but it was quite a bit for 3 drinks but I expected  not to see any change. 5 minutes later, the boy returned with his brother and sister and held out the change to me, it actually makes me well up when I think of it, I thought it was such a polite thing to do, that I told him to keep it. To see his little face light up was wonderful and he and his brother and sister skipped off, they were about 6 and 4 and as the little girl skipped away she turned back to me with the most wonderful smile and mouthed one word, Thank you. All inclusive takes that away from an area.

I returned to St Lucia when my daughter got married. My son in laws parents retired back there, they arranged a party for the Saturday in their villiage of Canaries which is surrounded by all inclusive hotels, the only tourists they saw were the ones going through on their organised tours. All the villiage were invited (but not all came) and at the beginning of the party, they sat at one end of the garden and we sat the other until I just went along and shook everyones hand and introduced myself with my niece, nephew, sister and brother in law behind me doing the same. That was a fantastic party I can tell you, and on a boat trip later in the week they remembered us and kept the vendors selling dodgy goods away from us.

No, I understand a need for all inclusive, but it's not for me.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Under Siege #2

Of all the things I am dreading about the Olympics, this is what I am dreading most.

About 5 months ago, I dreamt that my Dad and I were walking along the Greenway past the Olympic stadium and I heard this awful screaming noise, I looked up and I saw a plane crash into the ground and then come sliding towards us and it was coming very fast. I woke up screaming 'RUN RUN' because this is what I was screaming to my Dad in the dream but he wasn't running because he couldn't (and actually, in real life, cant). I know it was a dream, and of all the dreams I have had, good and bad, none of them have come true. But then last month, I read an article about proposals to put surface to air missiles at Shooters Hill and Blackheath to secure against any terroist attacks during the Olympics. This creeped me out, I can tell you.

It then got me seriously thinking about what would happen in the unlikely event they would need to be deployed. The Olympic park is surrounded by houses, apartments, shopping centre's and busy main roads, and it frightened me to think that they would seriously consider it at all.

Now they are talking about putting missiles on blocks of flats. How the hell can they justify that? I know we cannot be complacement and need to take security seriously, but really, how can this be a viable solution?

Tell me where I can protest because I am not happy and in fact rather scared. Yes it's unlikely, but so were the attacks on the world trade centre............................

I have no choice but to be in Stratford during the Olympics and I now seriously wish I did.

London Marathon

A few years ago I took Kai, who was then 4, to meet my cousin at the London Marathon. His wife was running and we decided to meet at Embankment tube to watch her go past. Kai really loved the fact that he could jump up and down, make as much noise as he liked and be generally boisterous as the wheel chairs and runners went past. I loved it too. Being at the 25th mile, I found it really wonderful when someone went past really flagging and the roar of the crowd perked them up to the finish. The atmosphere at the London Marathon is something truely magnificent. It was with this in mind, that this year I decided to go again and take Sian, who is now 4, along too.

I packed some food and off we set to the O2 to pick up the Thames Clipper Service to Embankment. Any excuse to get on a boat, plus you can get a nice coffee and they have toilets on board.

We found a nice little spot by the Tattershall castle and waited for the first of the competitors to arrive. About 20 minutes later the first of the wheelchair users came through, I encouraged Sian to make some noise, but she told me she was shy. By about wheelchair user number 10 she was clapping but obviously bored. Come 11.15 she was hopping from foot to foot as she wanted to go to the toilet. The Tattershall Castle didn't open till midday and there is a distinct lack of toilet facilities, coupled with the fact we were unable to cross the road. I must admit that she was good, albeit I got a dirty look from her every 10 minutes, but Sian is a madam, I am used to it.

Eventually, we got on the Tattershall castle and used their toilets, and out of guilt, I bought a drink. £8.55 for 3 H2O's, so we stayed there and used their toilet to our hearts content. After an hour or so, we decided to go back to watch the marathon but it was obvious that Sian wasn't going to enjoy it at all, so off we went back onto the clipper and went to Greenwich instead. We were supposed to have rain, but the weather stayed fair and we got to sit in the Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark. In all I think we had a good time, it's hard to tell with Sian. Kai is very protective of her so was happy to go along with what she wanted. I will leave you with some pics.
One of the wheelchair racers
One of the athletes
Kayakathon which takes place on the same day
London Eye from the Thames Clipper
One of the other athletes

Trent and Mersey Canal

I have been meaning to write this blog for ages and due to one thing and another have just not got around to it. In March,  I spent a week cruising the Trent and Mersey Canal. We couldn't have been luckier with the weather. Every day was blue skies and sunshine, so much so that I  returned with a lovely healthy glow. We hired a boat from Aqua Narrowboats who advertise luxury boats and it was a lovely lovely boat. We cruised to Great Heywood and while there, my best friend Sharon came for the day with Paul and Alfie.

On our first afternoon, we went through Fradley Junction where there are 5 locks close together, as it was a Sunday and wonderful weather to boot, every lock we entered was surrounded by people watching us go up through them, there was my poor friend Chris struggling with locks gates (and occassionally she was offered, and accepted, help) and my poor friend Sue getting more and more embarrassed at being stared at. At one stage, she turned to me and said under her breath ' What are all these people looking at?' to which I replied, 'They are watching to see if we are going to sink the boat'. Thankfully I didn't but they had lots of questions and at one stage a lady asked if she could come on board and have a look, which we allowed. She was very impressed with the facilities and we gave her Aqua's number so hopefully she persuaded her husband to give it a go.

I was remembering our first ever narrow boat holiday, which you can read about in the archives, and laughing at the fact that if we saw a narrowboat approaching way up the canal, we would all go into spasms of panic and usually end up across the canal. This time I was complimented on my steering in tight corners, mostly by ladies. (Why is it that most of the ladies do the locks while the men steer?) The men tended to give 'advice' like: You should be in reverse now. Me : I am.....but I take it all in good part and realise they are only trying to help. One lady in her boat on a private mooring just past Hunts lock stood with hands on her hips, shaking her head while we had the audacity to moor up opposite, but after a hot day cruising I was tired and wanted to eat in the pub back up the canal. Shame she wasn't in her boat the next morning, when returning from the rubbish point, Sue and I saw that the boat had come off it's mooring in the front and was spread across the canal. Chris, who was still on the boat, was totally oblivious to the fact and only noticed after I ran back to the boat calling her name and got her to throw me the rope. Mrs hands on hips, head shaker would have positively had a fit seeing that we missed clumping her boat with our bow by about 2 inches.

Here are some pics of our Trent and Mersey adventure

misty morning
Fradley Junction

Carved Bench showing some history
A Dragonfly bench
Sue and Chris relaxing after a busy day

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dangerous Dog

Yesterday in our street This happened.

I presume the police didn't look at their intelligence, because this dog has been complained about by quite a few of the neighbours as being dangerous.

Last year, my dad heard a commotion outside his house and called the police, because there was quite a bit of screaming going on. A young couple, just walking down the street had noticed a dog running towards them which then sunk it's teeth into the young mans thigh and wouldn't let go. It did this without any provocation and just came out of nowhere. Eventually the girl managed to get the dog off and as my dad stepped outside he saw it running up the road and go into a house, which, unfortunately he couldn't identify. By the time the police arrived, the dog and the couple had gone. Then later last year, another neighbour had his dog bitten by the same offending 'pitbull' type.

The street is busy in the mornings, with nursery/infant/junior school children walking to the school at the top of the road and I suppose we can be thankful that the police decided to raid this house after the school kids were safely tucked up in school.

Until I saw  this video  (Warning: This is a very graphic and unpleasant video) on the news of the attack taking place, I didn't think I had even seen this dog, but then I remembered about 18 months ago walking up the street to visit a friend and seeing a young man walking towards me with a brindle (what I thought) staffy pup. It was walking beside him without a lead and I remarked to the man, what a lovely dog he was and how intelligent it must be to be walking at heel without a lead at such a young age. I bent down and gave it a pat which it happily accepted with a wagging tail.

Yesterday, it took 4 bullets to kill it, and for anyone who has watched this video, you can see why. It had been trained to be vicious and nasty and to hang on to it's quarry. It is pitiful to see the police beating,  I mean really beating, that dog to try and get it off of their colleagues, but what could they do?. I am not blaming the police, they had no choice. Who I blame is the owner. He has been arrested on  charges relating to kidnap and GBH and the dangerous dogs act and I hope they throw the book at him. I cannot imagine what kind of life that dog must have had to make it so vicious.

And I hope the 5 injured police officers make a speedy recovery

Sunday, March 18, 2012

York Minster

Friends of mine are in York for the weekend and it brought to mind a little tale

A good few years back, my parents were approaching their 50th wedding anniversary so my sister and I decided to buy them a trip on the Orient Express. It was a day trip to York, starting in the morning with breakfast on the train, then an afternoons guided tour of the Minster then back on the Orient express for dinner. We planned this in great secrecy to present them on the day, and were very happy with our gift.

2 weeks before the trip, my sister and myself visited my parents for lunch and while we were sitting around the table, my Dad started to tell us a tale of his about during the war. He was an aircraft mechanic and after fixing a Mosquito aircraft he was treated to a low flying flight by the pilot to check that the repair was ok. They flew along the railway and peeled off at a pub scaring all the locals, who ran out of the pub, to see what  all the noise was about. On the way back, the pilot decided to take a trip over York Minster and my Dad was describing how beautiful it looked and how he had never been inside and had always wanted to. At this point, I felt a very hard swift kick under the table and looked over at my sister who was trying silently to cuss me for opening my mouth, which I had not. I, in turn, was kicking her back and trying to descreetly shake my head to let her know this.

When we presented the tickets to them a few weeks later, my Dad was so overcome he burst into tears. When he had calmed down, he said. 'You didn't have to do this, I wasn't dropping hints' and just couldn't believe that, in fact, we had bought the tickets at least 6 months earlier so make sure they got on the trip.

We often muse on this, my sister and me. Perhaps he picked up our phychic thought waves, who knows?

Menu of the day

Today is leg of lamb day. The kids are coming over and I begged my son-in-law Petrus for his tips on doing his 'thing' with it. He has Caribbean parents and he does some wonderful things with meat.

The night before cooking get a:
Nice leg of Lamb.
Stab it all over (wonderfully theraputic, especially if you have someone in mind LOL)
Mix together:
Black Pepper
All Purpose seasoning
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Thyme
Garlic (fresh, but granules if not)
Water to make it into a paste

Once it's all mixed, massage it into the meat, taking extra care to poke it into those stab wounds. Leave it to marinate overnight then in the morning, seal the tray with foil and cook in a low oven for at least 5 hours. Once it has cooked, you should be able to lift it by the bone and shake the meat off so you can wrap it in foil and leave it to rest.

Thank you Petrus.

Days gone by.

I grew up in the east end of London, not very, but close enough, to the docks to know a docker or two. My Dad spent most of his working life working for a ships stores, providing supplies of all sorts to the ships that berthed in the royal docks, cruise liners and even the British Antarctic survey team. We were surrounded by a thriving community

What I remember most about those days, was the freedom I had to play in the streets and to disappear on Sundays over the park (Both being a good 2 miles away) with the kids who lived in the street and not coming back until dinner time. We had no mobile phones or much of anything really. If we played in the street, it was a rare car that interrupted our play. There were the Pikes, the Mansfields, Smiths, Bucklands. we all played together, silly games like tin can tommy and hide and seek. Most of their Mums were referred to as Auntie.

I look at my Grandson, Kai, who is 8 now and realise he has just started to be allowed to go to the shop on his own or to the local community centre, all within sight of his Mum's 5th floor balcony and worry. Will he be street savvy enough to resist the lure of gangs or to remain under the radar of bullies? As much as his Mum and Dad try and instill confidence in him, it's not until he is presented with these things will he know about them, because lets face it, someone can tell you, but it's not the same as the actual experience. At 8 I was travelling on buses and trains by myself, walking up to Forest Gate to buy books. Getting on the bus to meet my Mum at the factory ( in Leyton) she worked in as a surprise.

We met a lady on holiday who worked for an organisation in Manchester who tried to encourage the kids to play together outside without their parents intervention, because, she said, the fear of crime was actually far worse than the crimes that were really being committed.

Kids in the 60's were still (occasionally) abducted or went missing, there were still paedophiles in our communities and still gangs, but for some reason it was never a problem letting us out to play.

I wonder, what kind of adults will our grandchildren grow up to be ? And worse, how will their children learn to rely on their own intiative?


I have finally joined the 21st century and got internet access at home. My lovely 87 year old dad, with whom I live, has viewed it with great suspicion. If it wasn't for the fact that I will have to work from home during the Olympics, I wouldn't even have it. But work have kindly supplied the laptop and the hub arrived on Friday so I brought it home to set it up.

This morning, I took the laptop into the back living room to check that the signal is good enough, we live in an old Victorian house with thick solid internal walls, and my phone was showing a drop in signal in that room. I placed it on my lap and started tapping away when Dad walked past and made a flippant comment about it not being able to play Beethoven's 9th symphony. I went onto Youtube and searched for it. His face was a picture when his favorite bit started playing. It's witchcraft that's what it is............................

Friday, March 16, 2012

Under Siege

Hello people, been ages hasn't it? So much has been happening lately, I just don't know where the time has gone.

Anyway, we are a few months away from the Olympics and I don't want to be a killjoy, but living just a 10 minute walk away from the stadium it is beginning to feel like we Newham residents are under seige. The disruption of the last few years has been, at times, quite horrendous. Road closures, pavements dug up, gridlock traffic, it really doesn't bode well for the forthcoming big event.

The most noticable difference is as you come into Stratford from the city, where once it was industrial and depressing, that part of the high street is now lined with shiney new luxury apartments. They are not selling, of course, they are not. They are currently at a premuim price because they overlook the Olympic park. They are also built in a no car zone, so although the developers proudly tell you they are suitable for wheelchair users, they are only suitable for wheelchair users who do not have a motobilty car. I am sure there are some, but not many. The logic astounds me.

Rumours abound, yes we have a lovely new  Westfield shopping centre, but apparently from June they are going to close their doors to cars, buses and Taxi's. In all fairness it is right beside the train station. Then there is the residents car parking, most of it is permit parking, with the first car being free, but some roads that don't have resident permits are going to have temporary permits. Really only an idot would try to come in by car anyway.

But on the bright side, it is only for 4 weeks, and I have been granted permission to work from home (in bed, in the garden) Bow back rivers have had a massive clean up and it is lovely to walk around there now and we will be left with a wonderful swimming pool which will be open to the public afterwards.Also being a Newham resident we get a 2 day window where we are able to buy pre event tickets before anyone else. I have bought some to take my Dad to see the waterpolo as he used to play back in the day

I am dreading it now, but I know I will deal with it when it happens and will probably go along to soak up some of the atmosphere even if I can't get a ticket!!