Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Eating at the O2 before a gig...

I was back at the O2 a short while ago for the War of the Worlds show, I couldn't help but notice how long the queues for the restaurants still were.

When I went to my first "proper" event at the O2 Arena, Andrea Bocelli, I did eat at a restaurant but only after a fairly long wait.

There were two factors with that concert though, first was that a fair number of the food places weren't yet open. The other was that the top level of seating wasn't in use and the floor was seating. So less places to eat, but less people to feed.

The War of the Worlds show seemed to be playing to a packed arena, though once again the floor was seating which will mean less people than a standing show.

I got there early because I was out and about that day so had plenty of time to mooch around and see how it was doing. A lot more places to eat are now open, but they still weren't coping at all well. There were huge queues and lots of seemingly fed up people trying to find somewhere to eat. And this was at about 5.30pm, an hour before the doors opened, two and a half hours before the show.

It's confirmed my opinion that to try and eat at the O2 before a concert is madness and something I'll never want to try again. Thankfully for this most recent visit I'd had a big lunch in town and was just after a hot dog, or two, which were in plentiful supply without an epic queue.

There's still so much room at the O2, presumably where the Super Casino was meant to go, and I wonder why they don't open more restaurants. A lot of potential trade was being lost and bad feelings generated by the lack of facilities.

As for the show itself well I thought it was great. It was a touch too loud (consider that I love seeing bands like Motorhead live when I say that), the band overpowered the singer(s) through many of the songs. It was an impressive spectacle though, the huge video screen, floating Richard Burton head and the martian walker over the stage. I'm not sure I'd want to see it again but I really enjoyed it. The LP was such a part of my childhood and it was wonderful to see it all presented in a new way.

It also got me wondering... At times it felt like watching a movie with a real orchestra providing the soundtrack. I would love to watch Star Wars like that!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Return to National Tyres and Autocare Greenwich

Back in may I had the rear tyres on my car replaced by National Tyres in Greenwich, you can read about my experience of that here.

Within the last week or so one of those tyres has kept going down leading to me doing a a few minutes on a foot pump before taking the car anywhere.

Strangely enough someone commented on my post about National Tyres a few weeks ago letting me know that the mystery guarantee meant that they would fix or replace any damaged tyres.

So I gave them a call, was told that that was indeed the case so off I went.

Then the whole Deju-Vu feeling kicked in...

I dropped off the car and was told it would take about 30 to 45 minutes. So I stroll down to Greenwich and nose around the market and some shops, which was all rather nice.

40 minutes after the drop off I call them up, it's just about to be looked at.

50 minutes after drop off I go back to them, the car's sat in the car park outside and hasn't been looked at yet.

I then sit there for another 30 minutes after which I finally get my car back.

The problem was indeed a puncture, a screw apparently. There wasn't any charge and they didn't even ask to look at my receipt.

So that side of things was good, and I feel a bit mean complaining. However given that I've had the same experience twice with completely inaccurate time frames being given out and my presence in the waiting room seemingly the trigger for the work to be done I do feel a bit fed up with them.

Presuming that the repair they did holds and the tyre doesn't let me down I can't, in all honesty, see me going back to them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Greenwich Council spend £3.2 million on publicity...

Once again Greenwich Watch has done itself proud.

Over a week ago they published a story about how Greenwich Council have increased their publicity spending by 300% in ten years.

The NewsShoper website have only now published their take on the story, you can read it here.

For Nigel, who questioned my description of Greenwich Watch as being excellent, here's another example of why I believe Greenwich Watch are doing a great job. Far from spreading "malicious, petty and outrageously partisan gossip" they got there first with the story and they got it right.

One thing that NewsShopper have revealed is the scale of the spending in Greenwich. Sure £3.2 million (yes million) sounds like an awful lot of money but it sounds even more when you read that Bexley, Bromley and Croydon combined only managed to spend around £2.5 million.

Remember that after spending £3.2 million (I'll say it again because it's such a huge number) on publicity Greenwich is the Council that is clawing back a few tens of thousands from schools that have underspent their budget.

This is basically another reason why I don't like the political situation in Greenwich. The Council will get away with this with a Spokesman also trying to claim to NewsShopper that they don't spend any more on publicity. Well maybe not compared to last year but when you're looking at a 300% increase in 10 years from the same ruling body that's stretching the truth at best and a lie at worst.

Sure an opposition Councillor is quoted as attacking the council about it but mumbling about it isn't enough. They should be out there going door to door telling the voters of Greenwich where our money is going. They should be printing leaflets and popping them into people's doors. Being in opposition isn't just about campaigning in those areas where you might win just before an election but actively challenging the ruling body all of the time.

It does actually pain me that as a life long Labour supported I'm wishing that the opposition parties were working harder to bring this Labour lead Council to account. Unfortunately Greenwich Council is rubbish and I've got to set aside my own political loyalties and be honest about it.

Finally I wonder if NewsShopper would have even carried the story had not Greenwich Watch got there first?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A kidnapping in Charlton?

I've had an email from Mel.

I was so glad to see the section about crime on your blogg - because i have been trying to get information from the met today and they do not have any information on Kidnapp in Charlton recently there was a notice board like the one you have on site it was just off Wyncliffe road do you happen to have any info on this or a photograph of the board.

That's the first I've heard of it, I've not read of it anywhere.

I sometimes use that road when I go up to the Blackheath Standard but I've not been up there for a while what with all the Christmas hurry going on. I'll try and check it out sometime soon. Does anyone else have any ideas about this?

How to dispose of your green waste in January

For a while I've been worried about how we were meant to throw away our "green" waste in January when the new rubbish collection system comes in.

I didn't want to just go throwing rotting meat and vegetables into my green bin, that would not only stink but it's got to be a health risk.

Well one part of the solution is that we're all going to get a "kitchen caddy". A green flip top plastic thing apparently. Food waste can be kept in that until we put it into the bin.

The next, and real, part was tucked away in the new issue of Greenwich Time.

Food waste can be wrapped in newspaper, kitchen towel or paper bags to soak up the moisture and absorb smells. Do not us plastic bags because they're not biodegradable and can't be composted with the food.

So it sounds like the newspaper is the one I'll be using. I'll be joining Greenwich Council in filling Greenwich Time with cr*p :)

I'm pretty sure that you can get biodegradable bin bags, I wonder what would happen if I used them? Would the bin men refuse to collect the bin? I'll have a look in the shops and see what I can get and then I'll give the Council a call to see if they're acceptable.

However the idea of using newspaper, which I'm going to recycle anyway, is very appealing if it can keep the smell and hygiene under control.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Recycling Facilities at Sainsburys

When the Greenwich Sainsburys reopened I was disappointed to note that the bins for recycling juice cartons and small electrical items had been removed (read about that here).

I also said that I had contacted Sainsburys but hadn't heard back from them. Well I chased them up again and they did indeed give me some answers, though they weren't very good ones.

Basically the managed that they're looking into replacing some of the bins at the new recycling point with carton and electrical ones. The ideas have been passed to their head office and they are "awaiting some guidance."

The reason they give for the removal of the free standing bins was that people were filling them with things that they weren't meant for and there was a lot of fly tipping around them, which they say is harder with the bins behind the locked gates. I'm not so sure about that, the last time I was there there was still a whole lot of rubbish just left there.

So basically selfish idiots who don't care how their actions impact on other people have once again lead to those of us who do try and care loosing things that we found useful.

I hope that the bins do return, or Sainsburys stop selling juice in cartons that they won't provide recycling points for and shift to plastic containers for which they do.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The "Excellent" Greenwich Watch

I received a comment the other day about a posts where I described the Greenwich Watch web site as excellent. Nigel said that GW was a one dimensional rant that mistakenly believes spreading malicious, petty and outrageously partisan gossip and sniping amounts to a noble and considered crusade against injustice.

Further more he added I had thought better of you Charlton.

So I thought that I'd say a little bit about GW and Greenwich Council.

Basically I've come to the conclusion that Greenwich Council are rubbish. They're an embarrassment to the Labour Party and I say that as a lifelong Labour supporter, well until the last election anyway.

Even without GW I've had enough personal experience with the Council to draw my own conclusions. I'll point out a few highlights:As for Greenwich Watch, well yes I do feel that they do cross the line at times and can enter rant mode.

However they also perform an absolutely invaluable service by making me aware of things that the Council are up to that otherwise I probably wouldn't know.

Let's look back at some of the highlights from GW from the last month and a bit:
  • Reporting that Peter Brooks, the deputy leader of the Council, has failed to attend any of the meetings of the London City Airport Consultative Committee for the last four years. This is even worse considering that he's actually meant to be representing the people of Thamesmead who live under the airports flight path and there's been a consultation about planned expansion to the airport.
  • Reporting that Peter Brooks, when questioned about his failure to attend the meetings, claimed that he did send apologies, despite the failure of the official minutes to show any such apologies for absence, and that there was nothing of impact to Greenwich that was to be discussed. Hello? 40,000 extra flights a year? Being the councillor for 1000s of people living about a mile from the runway?
  • Reminding us that the Council hasn't deemed it appropriate to hold a full council meeting prior to November for four months.
  • Revealing that at that meeting Chris Roberts even voted against extending it so as to be able to cover all the issues that had built up.
  • Exposing that the Council is clawing back money from schools that underspent their budget, and pointing out again that the Council saw fit to spend £90,000 on the box at the O2.
And those are the highlights from just one month. All seem to boil down to things that can't be ignored as being gossip. Did the Peter Brooks actually attend those meetings during the time there was a consultation about expanding the air port? No. Did he say that there wasn't anything of impact to Greenwich that would be discussed? Yes. Did the Council really put off holding a full meeting for four months? Yes.

Those are all things that I don't think I read from any source other than Greenwich Watch. That includes the local Tory party with, for example, Councillor Nigel Fletcher posting far more often about issues with National Government than anything local.

So that's why I think Greenwich Watch is excellent. Looking beneath the spin and bile with which they sometimes treat the Council there's cold hard facts that reinforce to me that the Council are best inept and at worst corrupt. Maybe this happens in every London Borough. However GW tell me about it.

I can even forgive some of the disdain with with Greenwich Watch treats the Council. I know a little about what they get up to and after seeing an advert on a bus boasting about the school results for the borough even I launched into a 10 minute rant to my partner about how they were spinning the truth. It's easy to get angry with the way that they are.

So anyway, I believe Greenwich Watch to be excellent and read it regularly. I can recommend it to everyone and frequently do.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sainsburys Revisited

I went back to Sainsburys the other day and was disappointed to discover that not only has the recycling bin for cartons failed to return but the one that they had put back for electrical items has also disappeared.

Following my first visit to the re-opened store I did email Sainsburys asking if the carton bin was going to be coming back. I was told that I would get a response from the store manager, I never did.

It does make you feel that despite superficial efforts to appear to be green Sainsburys really doesn't care very much for the idea. It certainly doesn't take complaints about the matter seriously.

I've now got the very awkward choice of either throwing my electrical items (which admittedly are few) and juice cartons (which are many) in the bin or going to ASDA to do it. And If I'm going to ASDA why not shop there? Now much as I really dislike the local ASDA store the idea of throwing all the cartons away when I know that I can recycle them seems like the greater of the ills.

So I might be becoming a reluctant ASDA customer...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Win tickets to see Led Zep, well if you hear about it anyway...

The Council are running a competition to win tickets to see the Led Zeppelin show at the O2 from their (our?) corporate box.

So how did I discover this piece of hot news?

Perhaps the Time newspaper? No.

Or I'm on the Council's E-Alert email list that gives all the latest news, maybe through that? No.

I found out about it from a comment made to a post on the excellent Greenwich Watch web site.

Details of the competition can be found here.

I should point out that there is a link to the competition from the Council's Home Page, how many people check that often though? You'd have thought that this is exactly the sort of thing for which the e-mail alert system was made for. Maybe it's just too busy offering scraps from the O2 to deal with this sort of thing.

Anyway five pairs of tickets are on offer. How many seats does the box have? I wonder who else will be going...

The Pointer Sisters (not) at the O2

I've commented before how AEG appear to use Greenwich Council to provide bums on seats for concerts or events that apparently haven't sold out.

Well once again on Tuesday someone at the O2 must have counted up how many tickets were sold for the Pointer Sisters gig in the IndigO2 and panicked somewhat. As if by magic a rapid response unit at the Council sent out an email offering free tickets to Greenwich Card holders.

It's nice to see they can be rapid about some things, unlike they are with us mere Council Tax payers complaining about burglar alarms.

Anyway today I find another email waiting for me, last nights gig was cancelled, at "very short notice."

They then go on to say "GreenwichCard negotiates and passes on offers from organisations such as AEG in good faith - so obviously we cannot take responsibility for late cancellations etc. Please be assured we are concerned about this and will be checking with AEG at The O2 to find out what happened."

So I wonder if it was actually cancelled a bit before the Council were told about it, if indeed they were told about it. That might be about as miffed with AEG as they dare to sound. Well perhaps miffed enough so as to get them to lay on free drinks in the Council's Executive Suite?

From AEGs point of view there might have been a fair few extra punters at the O2 wondering around with nothing to do after a cancelled gig, except spend money in the bars, restaurants or cinema....

So will the Council keep on accepting the scraps that AEG/The O2 throw them and making it sound like we're getting a great deal or might this mark a change in the relationship?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cutty Sark Update

The News Shopper web site has put a story up with an update on what's happening at the Cutty Sark, read it here.

Thankfully, as I hoped when it happened, it doesn't sound like the fire did too much damage at all. Basically the Iron Work appears to be fine and only about 10% of the planks were charred by the flames.

A couple of things were lost but they're apparently not original features of the ship and one of them isn't going to be replaced.

So all told it was an incredibly lucky escape. Hopefully some good will come out of the fire, maybe those of us who are local(ish) to the ship will realise how special she is and how lucky we are to have her in Greenwich.

Anyhow good news that's perked me up on a cold Monday morning :)

Foo Fighters at the O2

So last night I went off to go and see the Foo Fighters playing at the O2. I don't want to go into too much detail about the band other than to say that they were really rather good, as per usual.

However I will talk about the O2 for a bit. I've been to the Arena a couple of times now, once for the opening night and again for Andrea Bocelli. This time I was sat high up along the side. The sides are really steep, I worried for a moment what would happen if I slipped, it looks possible to roll all the way down and fall over the edge. I'm sure it's impossible though. What the steep sides did do was to give us a fantastic view of the stage. The sound quality was great as well.

I went with a friend who's not been there before and he was impressed with the Arena itself and also the easy access to food and drink facilities as well as the loos. However he's not been to the revamped Wembley Stadium or Arena so he's not totally up to date on the O2s competition.

All told I think the O2 Arena is a great Arena venue. Sure I'd rather see the bands in a small club but that's just not going to happen. The O2 makes Arena concerts about as good as they can be.

The only slight downer to the evening were the smokers. I popped out to the loos at one point and suddenly a female member of staff burst in and demanded that whoever was smoking stop, they'd set off a smoke alarm and it was claimed the management were on the verge of evacuating the venue. Maybe that was a bit exaggerated but to be honest I can see the management panicking when a smoke alarm goes off in the loo. Sure it's probably a smoker but can they risk it?

Also a woman in the row in front of us was smoking. She was trying to do it furtively, bending down in her seat with one hand covering the end of the fag. Was she really so stupid as to think that she could do it and not be noticed?

A part of me was angry that people were flouting the rules and making me smell of smoke, something I thought I'd never have to go through again at gigs.

A bigger part actually felt quite sad and sorry for those individuals who are so hooked on their addiction and lack sufficient self control so that that have to skulk off somewhere like a teenager at school for a crafty fag somewhere.

It's not big, it's not clever and it makes you look like a real idiot.

Anyhow a top venue and a top band.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sainsburys Open Again!

Yay!

I managed to only go to ASDA once during the time it was closed, that was bad enough, I'm happy to see Sainsburys open again.

So what did I think?

Well the first thing I noticed is that the recycling bin for juice and milk cartons hasn't reappeared. There's a new run of recycling points for all sorts of things and a pink wheely bin for electrical things but no bin for cartons. I wasn't impressed. I'll try contacting them and asking if it's going to make a reappearance.

What about the changes inside?

Well the store seems strangely simultaneously bigger and smaller. It all seems much brighter than it used to be. Maybe it's just that I've never noticed the roof before but I noticed it this time. All big and curving over your head with what seemed to be a fair amount of glass windows.

So that's why it's bigger, why smaller?

I can't quite put my finger on why. Many, if not all, of the aisles have been moved about and maybe that's it. Perhaps there's less space between the sides, or maybe they're shorter. A very strange effect anyway.

I didn't notice anything new that made me think "oo, that's good." There's no new take-away or cooked food counter for example. However there wasn't a queue when I got to the tills, zoom, straight through I went. That's despite the shop actually feeling quite busy too. Could there be any marketing logic for making people spend longer around the shelves on the off chance they'll pick up an impulse purchase but quicker at the tills so their last impression is positive? Could they have made the layout a bit cluttered on purpose?

Oh and one final thing at least for today they weren't giving out carrier bags, they were giving out free "bag for life" things. These are tough plastic bags that they'll replace if/when they wear out. In the future they will be charging for them.

Although I admit that's a good idea I can't help but miss the old carrier bags. I used to use them for my recycling. I'll have to get some of the clear bags from the council. Though the idea of getting bags with the express purpose of then just recycling them somehow seems less "green" than reusing the side effect of my normal shop for the same purpose.

Anyhow, welcome back!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Police to talk with gang leaders

Apparently it's bad blogging form to just post up a link to an article elsewhere and then give a few opinionated comments about it.

Oh well.

It's Friday and I'm waiting for some work to finish so I'll do it anyway.

According to the BBC, click here, the Police are to hold talks with several south London gangs. Greenwich is one of the Councils involved.

Now on the one hand it's worked in America so there's got to be something to it.

On the other is it just giving the little scruts the attention, profile and "respect" that some say they are after? Without the guns and violence the closest those gang members would get to a senior police officer would be passing them by in the Police Station as they're dragged to the cells for stealing cheap cider from Morrisons. So they listen to some big guy rapping about rolling with his gun packing homies, think they're in down town LA rather than SE7 and start popping caps in peoples bottoms.

So anyway you end up with feral children with no hopes or dreams, other than perhaps to end up as another "fallen soldier" when someone from the postcode next door takes a dislike to them. Then they begin to get attention and one to one chats with big and important people. Is that really going to encourage them to stop playing silly sods or will it just reward them and incite them to keep on doing what they do?

I also wonder how bad the gang situation really is? Is it really that serious or is it just the latest thing that the media like to go on about?

There's meant to be the gang at the top of the hill, the Cherry Boys, and Woolwich has a few too. There's also been one incident of gun shots within a couple of minutes walk from me. I can say that I'm hearing about it far more now than I used to but I don't think I'm actually seeing any more evidence of it.

I still feel pretty safe around here and toddle around without too much concern. Head in the sand?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Smoke on the water

There's a big fire at the Olympic site in Statford, click here for some more information on it.

I popped out to have a look and there's an awful lot of smoke and it's heading south from the fire and passing over Charlton.

It looks quite nasty and I hope that no one's been hurt.

Looking to Statford from down by the river.

Looking up the hill, a very dark sky.

Trying to give some impression of how the sky looks, to the left of the antigallican it's blue, to the right it's black. It looks a lot more impressive than it does in the photo.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Charlton vs. Cardiff City

Did anyone else notice how noisy and rowdy the fans seemed after yesterday's football match? Normally the crowds coming and going are really good and if I'm elsewhere in my flat it's easy for them to slip in and out of the stadium without attracting my attention at all.

Yesterday was a bit different. There was a fair bit of noise and singing going on, there seemed to be police shouting at the crowd getting them to stop pushing and stay back and the crowd were singing back slightly offensive ditties about the de Menezes case.

I can't help but wonder if these were the Cardiff City fans, that would explain the difference in behaviour. They also had just seem their team get a 3-0 drubbing so perhaps they weren't in the best of moods.

However even though the crowd seemed rowdy by usual standards they weren't really a problem. I don't think anything's been broken and it didn't seem to be anything more serious than a bit of shouting and pushing.

It says a lot about how well behaved the fans that come here are that yesterday was the worse I've ever witnessed them behave and it really wasn't that bad at all.

Sure I have to move my car when the games are on but living so close is an interesting experience.

The idiots who were at the "party" in the club thing on Charlton Church Road and were still shouting at top volume to each other in drunken voices at 12.30am were far more of an annoyance.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Blackheath Railway Tunnel

If you're observant as you walk up to Blackheath from Charlton as you enter the Standard you'll notice a gap in the run of houses on your left along Charlton Road. Looking off to your right you'll see that there's a road, Invicate Road, running almost directly opposite it. It looks almost as if the road used to cross Charlton Road and run between the houses.

If you check it out on Google Earth you'll see it really clearly indeed. There's a very obvious gap running in a straight line all the way south to Shooters Hill Road.

It puzzled me when I noticed this at first and I wondered if it might be some old road or railway that had been removed.

However a Google Earth session shows that the north end of the gap lines up with where the rail tunnel emerges back above ground. It's also easy to image a curve linking up the southern end with the entrance into the tunnel to the east of Blackheath station.

As far as I know that railway has always been in a tunnel. However could the gap above it be because it was dug using the cut and cover technique? That is rather than tunnelling you dig a big trench and then build a roof before covering it back over.

Looking around on the internet I can find mention of some kind of accident in the tunnel in 1850 but with no details. The station dates back to 1849 so that does suggest that the railway never ran above ground.

Does anyone know?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sainsburys closing for a while

The Sainsburys store in the Millennium Retail park is closing soon, in fact if I read the sign right I think that today was it's last day. I think that it's closing for about two weeks. I did get a leaflet about it but I think I filed it with my recycling.

The store's being refurbished with a new bakery, amongst other things, being added to it. Again the leaflet had all the information but I can't find it...

Basically I can't shop there for a couple of weeks. So what's an average Sainsburys shopper to do? Well logic would say that I should go to ASDA, it is after all actually closer to me. However for some reason I've never liked ASDA, what they sell just doesn't seem as good. I do know that in the end one's Supermaket preferences are really pretty arbitrary and that they're all much of a muchness. So in the end I know I'll be fine.

I will be looking forward to it reopening though, oh yes.

One thing that does appear to have gone from the store already are the recycling facilities. My blue bins already full up (three households, one bin) with a week to go before it's collected. I get in the habit of taking my extra stuff shopping with me and popping it into the bins at Sainsburys, plus they had a bin for recycling juice cartons of which I produce a lot.

Left with a few bags I headed up the hill to the recycling bins that I knew were in the village. However they don't have the one for taking the juice cartons, which is a shame.

If I'd remembered by own posts I'd have recalled that ASDA does have a juice carton bin. So it looks like ASDA will be my best bet for the next couple of weeks.

I do hope all the bins return to Sainsburys though. Once the recycling collection shifts to weekly I won't need to take my regular recycling down there but I will still need to dispose of those waxed cartons.

Oh and on the subject of recycling someone has been popped bags of it into the normal green bin. Odds on it being one of my neighbours who seeing the blue bin full couldn't be bothered to take it somewhere else and just binned it, which is kind of a shame. Again that'll be fixed by weekly blue bin collection so it'll be over soon.

Blackheath Fireworks!

So last night I was up in Blackheath watching the fireworks. As usual it was excellent, I really enjoyed the show.

We were told by the announcer that we'd be seeing some things that had never been seen anywhere before, I'm not too sure what they were though. There were jets of flames that were "dancing" to the music, a huge wheel suspended by a crane letting off fireworks and some odd dancing light things that I couldn't quite see properly from our position. I'd have loved to have seen those dancing lights up close, they look really rather nice from what I could see of them.

So basically another great show. A huge pat on the back to Greenwich Council, Lewisham Council and everyone else involved in both putting it together and keeping it free.

Getting home was nice and easy too. We tried to stop at the Royal Standard pub in Blackheath for a drink but while it wasn't actually packed there was a huge queue for the bar. I think a lot of people were ordering food and/or hot drinks so there was a fair wait for service. We gave up in the end and returned later in the evening when it had calmed down somewhat.

Anyway a great evening and if you've never been to the show you've got to give it a try one year.




Friday, November 02, 2007

Blackheath Fireworks Tomorrow!

Well it's that time of year and there's the big firework show up at Blackheath tomorrow night at 8pm.

If you've never been before then let me just say that it's a really good show. I've been to a fair few shows over the years and this one is one of the best, it's also free!

I know that I knock Greenwich Council a fair bit but they, along with Lewisham Council, deserve a big pat on the back for putting the show on.

Here are the links to the two Councils' pages about the show:
Greenwich
Lewisham

Lewisham have by far the better page, a fair bit more information and a mention of the company, Festival Fireworks, who are helping put the show on.

Not content with having a lazy minimal page Greenwich Council seem to rise to the occasion and also squeeze in some some ineptitude too.

The map link they provide is this.

As far as I can recall the show centres around here, about half a mile to the east.

Let's face it, it's a stonkingly big fireworks show, half a mile isn't a lot. However I don't think it would have taken much effort to get the map right.

Edited to Add:An anonymous poster has said that the organisers are advising people to get there for 7.30 for the "warm up". Not sure quite what they will be but it's sound advice and I'll be heading up there a bit earlier than I would otherwise have done.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Council touting more tickets for the O2

The Council are once again selling tickets in their (our?) corporate box for events at the O2.

This time it's the Disneyland Adventure, which I think is some kind of show on ice.

Greenwich Card holders can try to "win" the chance to buy the tickets. The "lucky" winners can then pay the Council £40 for the tickets, which is the same price as the most expensive tickets that anyone can buy through Ticketmaster for the same event.

Is it really much of an offer or a competition if you're paying the price of the most expensive tickets?

The full email is below, once again they've not given people much time to respond to it:

Latest offer from GreenwichCard...

Come down to The O2 to see the Disneyland Adventure featuring The Incredibles, along with Syndrome, Frozone and Edna Mode.

GreenwichCard is offering you the chance to watch your favourite superheroes from Greenwich Council's corporate suite on Thursday 18 October at 7.30pm; Friday 19 October at 7.30pm; Saturday 20 October at 12noon or Tuesday 23 October at 2.30pm. Tickets are £40 each and there is a maximum of four per person.

To have a chance of winning please email greenwichcard@greenwich.gov.uk telling us how many tickets you would like for which show, and including a daytime contact telephone number.

Deadline is 12noon on Tuesday 16 October. We will draw the winning names out of a hat and inform the winners on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Royal Standard, Blackheath

I don't often comment about pubs, that's not because I don't go to them but just because I either drink away from the area or find a pub and stick to it.

Anyway I've been to the Royal Standard in Blackheath a few times now and I'm quite taken with it. It used to seem a bit grotty to me but recently it's undergone a bit of an overhaul and some nice seats, tables and a new menu has come in.

Between my friends and I we've had a few of the meals and in particular we can recommend the Sausages & Mash (which comes in a big Yorkshire pudding) and the Thai Curry (though the prawn cracker is comes with is a touch on the bizarre side). Basically it all seems to be good solid pub fare.

There's a few ales & bitter, including Speckled Hen and Spitfire, on tap too which considering I'm not a big lager fan is a good thing to find.

Looking back I think I've visited it at a variety of times and never found it too crowded.

So a thumbs up from me anyway, and that about sums up the Royal Standard.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Going Up


Shooters Hill is really pretty high. Well I had the chance the other day to go even higher. I'm not too sure if I can say what I did but suffice to say it was an excellent opportunity that I couldn't turn down.

It was a bit of a shame that it was a bit misty, however that did add a mysterious and somewhat romantic air to London lying out before you. I could see all around me too, from looking into town to the north west, the airport to the north, the Dartford Bridge to the east and the greenery to the south.

One thing that did hit me is that there's a very visible ridge/valley edge before the land drops down to the river Thames. In Charlton you walk up that hill to get from the Station to the Village, in Greenwich park the observatory is perched on it. You can just about make it out in the photograph above, it runs almost through the middle. At the bottom of that hill it's all very flat indeed.

I could see down into Charlton, the stadium seemed hidden but I could see the tower block next to it.

All in all an amazing sight. What with one thing and another I'm beginning to get a little jaded about my Charlton life. It's nice to have a different view of things and to be reminded that we do live in an amazing city.

It was all very peaceful and I could have stayed there for hours just watching the city and the sun go down. However there was a man with keys who wanted to go home for his dinner so I had to leave. A memorable day.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Recyle juice and milk cartons!

A little piece of news hidden away in the Greenwich Time magazine is that you can now recycle juice and milk cartons in Greenwich. I think it deserved a bit more of a fanfare than that, this is great news!

I get through a lot of juice in a week and it always bothered me that you couldn't recycle the cartons, apparently that's because they contain a mix of some kind of plastic and aluminium.

Well now they've got some special machines that can deal with them. It sounds like they mince them up and are able to separate out the plastic and the metal.

However you can't just throw them in with your regular recycling, you have to take them to some special black bins. At the moment the ones nearest here are at ASDA, Sainsburys and on Plumstead Common opposite the Co-Op.

I'll be heading off on to do my shopping later and will be taking my first batch of cartons with me.

After having to say some really bad things about the Council it's nice to be able to say something positive about them :)

Alarm update update

Well the alarm has finally stopped having sounded since Friday.

I'm not sure if the Council actually did something or if, like so much of the area, it realised it was never going to get any attention and just gave up.

I'd like to think that maybe I played a part in getting it stopped and just helped the area a tiny bit. I'll be writing a letter to the council complaining about the incorrect information on their web site so that's another small thing that I can do to make that little bit of a difference.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Alarm Update

OK the alarm's still going off. Great.

The noise team did actually call me back but were about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

They said they believed that the house was owned by a housing association called Simba Homes, they didn't have an emergency contact number though so couldn't do anything more.

A quick Google search brought up a Simba Homes based in Artillery Place just around the corner, no phone number though.

All the Council said that I could do would be to call them back tomorrow.

Alarms and noisy neighbours

It's not been a good few days.

There's been a burglar alarm going off in my road since Friday. On Friday I thought that it was coming from somewhere distant, it wasn't until Saturday Morning as I went out that I realised it was from the boarded up house.

Saturday evening I came home and passed the house again, it was still going off. So I called the Council's Noise Line.

I was put through to some sort of call centre and told that I would be called back in 10 to 15 minutes, I was doubtful, but they did deliver, well in part.

While waiting I read the Council's page on Burglar alarms, you can read that here.

Well when they called me I was firstly told that the "noise team" was more of a noise person and that no one could be sent out to witness the alarm going off.

"So what can I do?" I asked, call back Sunday after 1pm I was told.

Now on the web site it says When the noise team receives a complaint of a burglar alarm sounding, it tries to contact the keyholders. So I asked about that. I was told that the Council don't have a list of keyholders but that the police do. So that part of the page was nonsense.

They wouldn't contact the police for me either but said it was a good idea when I offered to.

So I call the police. It turns out that they don't have a list and will only attend a property when it looks like there's been a break in, which wasn't the case at the boarded up house. They said that the Council do have the list of keyholders for alarmed properties.

So I phone the noise individual back. She seemed surprised that the police didn't have a list of keyholders and again confirmed that they didn't. Apparently they haven't implemented the piece of legislation that says that they should, I need to try and find out if that's compulsory for a local authority.

I let her know that the web page was nonsense and completely inaccurate, she said she'd raise it with her management and it would be updated within a week. I'll be keeping an eye on that.... She says that all I can do is to call back at 1pm on Sunday.

So the alarm continues to sound all night through to Sunday morning. Thankfully I can't hear it from my bedroom only from my lounge, I pity those that are closer to it.

Anyway skip to Sunday... The alarm's still going off, my call goes to the call centre thingy and I wait for the team to call me back. Half an hour later I'm still waiting, I've got things to do so I've got to go out. Hopefully they'll get back to me at some point today...

To cap all this off my neighbours downstairs have woken me both Friday and Saturday nights by coming in and playing loud music. Friday it was 1.30am and Saturday it was 2.15am. I had to stamp on the floor a few times to get them to turn it down, even then it went to the level that I could still hear the bass tapping away and I just couldn't get back to sleep. After an hour last night I gave up and watched TV until 4am (with headphones!) and then finally managed to pass out.

I need to say something, but it's not easy. It's much easier to tackle something like the Council where it's impersonal.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Council's advertising for the O2...

I got an email the other day from the Council...

Catch Motown star Kiki Dee live in concert at Greenwich's indigO2 on 2 October for just £5.

The 1960s singer, who sang the hit 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart', is heading a fabulous line-up of new talent.

To book your tickets call the indigO2 ticket hotline on 0844 844 0002; or book online at http://www.aeglive.co.uk or http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

Find out about all the other great events taking place in Greenwich by using our new what's on calendar at:
http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/events


My first reaction was that the O2 was short of people again and that the Council had been drafted in to provide some bums on seats. Another example of the Council being given scraps by the O2 when it suited them.

However that's not quite the case.

The £5 tickets are available to anyone not just Greenwich residents, it's no special discount or offer that they're telling us about.

Instead the council are now using their email e-alert system, that we pay for with our Council Tax, to provide advertising for the O2.

Someone might argue back that the Council are just informing us about an event in the borough, which is kind of true but it's not an event the council or local residents have any special part in.

I hope that this isn't the start of a trend and I hope that the Council got paid for the service, well with something other than free tickets for some councillors anyway.

Bombs in Charlton

A bomb from WW2 was found the other day in Charlton, it was apparently just behind Matalan. You can read about it here.

Also this week another bomb was found in St Pauls Cray (map, it was just sitting in a copse of trees.

That got me thinking about what it would have been like here during the war. I've done some shallow research on it in the past and it is quite interesting, and it explains the nasty state of Charlton Station too.

As best as I can understand the land between Woolwich Road and the river used to be mainly industrial, as such it was a target for bombing by the Germans. Location wise this area also would have suffered because it was near the docks, night bombing was never very accurate and the river would be followed for navigation.

Later still when the V1 flying bombs, Doodlebugs, started coming over the SE of London suffered again. There was a very cunning plan to use German spies who were actually working for us to decrease the accuracy of the things. The spies would radio Germany with reports on where the bombs were coming down and they'd exaggerate saying that they flew over London and hit to the NW of the city. So the Germans reduced the flying time of the bombs, which made them come down early, to the SE of the city. Hello Charlton...

In particular the station was hit by one of those things. Well I believe that it was one of those things, some claim that it was a V2 that did it but most reports have it as a V1. Apparently it blew the station apart damaging the shop that was next to it. It seems that it wasn't until the 1960's that the current monstrosity was built, I wonder what they did in the years in between...

There's a run of newer houses to the south of the station. When I first found out about the bomb hit I wondered if they were replacements for older houses that were damaged in the strike. I don't think that's the case though. Charlton Station used to have goods facilities, a set of sidings to the north of the station. They were taken away in the 60s, leaving the hole for the news homes.

However as you do go walking around the area you will occasionally see a run of older houses and then suddenly in the middle something much newer, I often wonder if that is the real sign of bomb damage from the war.

There's plenty of information out there on the net, some photos too, if you're interested. Here's some places to start:

http://www.virtualtours.co.uk/charlton/tour.html
Some old photos of Charlton, it includes one of the damaged station and another of the Siemens cable factory that was another local bomb victim during the war (a V2 I think).

http://www.kentrail.co.uk/Charlton.htm
More information about Charlton Station than you can shake a stick at. However it does get it's V1s and V2s confused giving a much higher speed to the V1 than it was capable of. The V1 was the noisy slow one that flew like a plane.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Charlton Take Away, Indian and Bangladeshi

It's the Mobo awards down at the O2 and there's football on the tele, so I did neither and stayed at home with a curry and a rather nice pint of beer.

Years ago when I moved here a friend, who used to live close by, told me about a take away that was meant to be very good. It was the Charlton Take Away in Wellington Gardens that she was talking about. I took a look at it and decided, for some reason, that it looked a bit dodgy and never went there.

A couple of weeks ago they popped a new menu through my door, so I thought I really should give them a go. Tonight was the night.

I popped around there and ordered a Chicken Jalfrezzi with a garlic naan and pilau rice.

The Jalfrezzi was nice, better than average I'd say. However it was in a really thick sauce, which struck me as being a bit odd somehow. Tasty, but not tasty. Just thick.

The rice was unfortunately rather bland, it looked like it had been bleached with the colours in it faded.

The naan was good though.

I'm probably making it all sound worse than it was, it was good. It wasn't badly priced either, all that I had came to £9.

In the end I didn't think that it was as nice as The Coriander though. However the Coriander is a touch more expensive and I can walk to the Charlton Take Away to collect my order myself, swings and round-a-bouts.

I'm also left wondering if the foil tins, as used by the Charlton Take Away, are any more environmentally friendly than the plastic pots used by the Coriander. Does anyone know?

A final conclusion? A wavering thumb that's hedging towards pointing up enough for me to want to try them again some time.

Greenwich Primary Schools top the London league...

...for truancy.

After the spin that the Council put on the GCSE results in the Time magazine I wonder how they're going to handle this.

News Shopper reports that Greenwich has the highest level of primary school truancy in London and the second highest in the country (3 times the national average). For secondary school we're the second highest in London.

Let's just boil down the article to a couple of figures for the autumn term.

Compared to the 2005 autumn term the 2006 one saw an increase of 1.3% in primary school truancy and 3% in secondary (those secondary school kids must be pipped at not being as bad as their primary school counterparts but they're pulling their socks up!).

What was Greenwich's response to the figures.

"School attendance figures are rising across the borough."

Erm, no they're not. Maybe the spring and summer terms of 2007 (the 2006 academic year) were really bad and they've dropped since then.

Sadly the Department for Children, Schools and Families (formerly the DfES) are stopping collecting and publishing those truancy statistics. Autumn 2006 is the last set they'll publish.

If all you heard from the Council was "school attendance figures are rising" you'd think things were great, it's only when you hear that we were the worst in London that you begin to worry. I get a nasty feeling it's going to become so much easier for the Council to hide the true scale of the problem.

I'm confident that we'll see the local opposition parties taking the Council to task over this...

If you want to see some figures about how Greenwich really does in terms of education compared to the rest of the country then look here for some nice easy to read sets of figures.

For example it's dead easy to tell that in 2006 Greenwich was 6% points behind the London average for literacy at age 11.

Greenwich Council make a lot of noise about how education is getting better here, but don't let that blind you from the fact that we're still below average. (I'll put that in bold as it's the important point from all of this)

One final thing, how are the Council treating the teachers they're relying on to improve things? Well I do know that they used to pay them early in December to help them out over the expensive Christmas period, as do many other companies. They're not going to anymore though, they've got to wait until the end of December. I wonder if other Council staff and Councillors have the same treatment...

Prezzo, the return...

A while ago I went to the Prezzo Restaurant by the Odeon Cinema at the Millennium Retail Park, read about that visit here.

Tonight I went back to give it another try and both of us thought that the meals were better. I had cray fish tails with spaghetti (Spaghetii con Mazzancolle) and my companion had fusilli with bacon and chicken (Fusilli alla Rusticana).

I'll keep this brief, if you want the full details then do read about my first visit as linked to above. Basically the service was very good and both main courses were filling and tasty.

So I think it's two thumbs up from us.

Once again it was quiet though, the cinema was too, I hope it can stay above water. It's nice to have a third option besides Nandos and Pizza Hut.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Activity at the boarded up house...

There's a house near me that's been boarded up for months, ever since it was attacked for the second time by a group of "lads".

I walked past it earlier and there were signs of activity, the door had been opened. So I'm presuming that something's going on there now.

Which is good, an empty house isn't any good for anybody.

I do wonder what's going on there though. A friend asked me about it a while ago, I think he was pondering doing a buy to let thing with it, and I had to say I had no idea about it's situation. As an aside I'm not sure where I stand on the buy-to-let thing, while we need rental homes it does drive up property prices something silly.

I'm hoping that it is going to be fixed up and that we'll get some nice people in there.

By "nice" what I mean is just some people who want to live around here and will give a damn about the street. People who will give just a bit of TLC to the house. Then hopefully some of that will rub off on the area, each small candle lights a corner of the dark and all that.

Also it will just be so nice to walk past a home rather than a boarded up shell.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More people provided to the O2

As reported and well commented upon by The Last Bus Home the Council are offering 1000 free tickets for Greenwich Card holders to go and watch the Turbo Tennis at the O2 tomorrow.

So basically the show didn't sell out, by a lot. The maximum capacity of the arena is 20000, there'll be less than that because the centre area will be used by the tennis.

So what are the O2 to do? It sounds like there might even be TV cameras there. The O2 can't look empty! That would be disastrous. So they get the Council to provide 1000 extra people to help fill the holes, oh and to spend some money at the food & drink stands too. It'll also be fairly discrete too, it's all done via email rather than some bigger and more public offer in the media's eye.

This isn't the first time that the Council has happily served up locals to help the O2 out, oh no, it seems that the 500 half King Tut tickets had the same motivation. Read about that here.

Thinking of those tickets doesn't the 1000 free ones for the tennis make 500 half price ones (for those who jumped through some really high hoops) seem really pathetic.

Grumble.

I guess in the end getting free tickets is indeed a good thing, if I were free tomorrow I might have gone. However there's an unpleasant and growing taste in my mouth that rather than us benefiting from hard bargaining by the Council and a grateful O2 for their support we're being served up to the O2 as and when they need us, and entirely on their own terms.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cleansweep have done a clean sweep!

Well at some point today the sofa that was dumped in the street has been removed. The pile of carpet that it was sitting on seemed to have been taken yesterday.

So a big pat on the back for Cleansweep. I was told it would be done within three days and it was, hurrah!

Greenwich Time's take on the exam results

Well the council haven't managed to shift the sofa from the road or offer easy to get hold of cheap tickets for the King tut exhibition but they have been hard at it and got another issue of Greenwich Time out.

I'm sure there's a few great Greenwich Councilisms in there but what jumped out right away where the exam results that they published.

For the A-Levels they give an average for "Greenwich Borough", one for "National" and a row that compares Greenwich to that national.

Basically on A-Levels Greenwich did OK. The A to E pass rate is above the national average and has gone up this year compared to last. The more important A to C pass rate went up but only by less than half of the rise experienced nationally. The result of that being that we were 6.8% below the national average but we're now 7.7% below.

All told not bad though.

The GSCS results are printed a bit differently. There's no "National" row and no simple +/- figure for how far above or below that average we are. What there is, rather confusingly, is a row labelled "LA Average". I'm taking that to mean "Local Authority Average" and it seems to calculate out.

So why so open with the A Level results and so weasely with the GCSE ones?

Could it be to do with the big "Star Pupils" headline boast? Lot's of talk about how great Greenwich is doing compared to last year. They're quite proud to say that the increase in A to C grades was 3.7%, 6 times the national average.

However what they won't do is talk about how the grades themselves, not the increase, compare to the national average.

So how did we really do?

Well that doesn't seem to be a simple question. I can't seem to find a simple figure for the national average of kids getting 5 A to C grades. What I can find is the tougher average of those kids getting 5 A to Cs including English and maths, that's the standard Government measure now.

Greenwich Time doesn't use that measure, the measure that you'll see printed just about everywhere else. So why's that then? Why not use the the apparently standard measure? Why not let us easily see how we compare to the rest of the country? Is everything not quite so rosy if you do?

I've have found the official results for Greenwich, it's here.

The National Average for kids getting 5 A to Cs including English and Maths is 45.8%.

The Greenwich Average is 31.4% (see that here).

Looking back and comparing Greenwich Results with the national average also shows up a few interesting things.

2006: National 45.3%, Greenwich 31.3%
2005: National 44.3%, Greenwich 34%
2004: National 42.6%, Greenwich 29.5%
2003: National 41.9%, Greenwich 26.2%

So yes Greenwich is getting better compared to 2003 but we're way below average, not that you'd know it from the figures the council give you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Someone got tickets for King Tut

Pat's emailed me again confirming that she did manage to get half price tickets for the King Tut exhibition. She had a bit of a story to tell too:

Good news is, I got two tickets. Had to jump through hoops to get them though and was 20 minutes late back to work, oops!
Complete shambles at the Dome with all being told to queue at one window and despite the precise timing on the email it did not open until the natives began to get very restless. I wasn't the only one there that was stressing about having to get back to work. It appeared that there was going to be some rather more important visitors to the area and they wanted a captive but disgruntled looking crowd for their press photo's.

Got home to find that I'd been sent an email to congratulate me on being one of the first 500 applicants.....timed at 10.30 this morning. We can't all sit in front of a computer all day in case Greenwich decide to respond!


The bit about them wanting a captive crowd is interesting, today's the day the Led Zeppelin concert was announced and it'll be at the O2. Maybe there was some announcement thing going on there and the management at the O2 didn't want the place to appear to be empty, which I'm pretty sure that it would be most lunchtimes.

That really would explain the very tight and silly time window, they wanted to overlap with whatever they had in mind.

It would also explain the rush, the gig might only have been confirmed the other day. Also remember that the exhibition doesn't open until November, over a month and a half away, if there was no other motive behind the half price tickets then they had plenty of time.

Over 120,000 tickets have already been sold for the exhibition (well so say the organisers). 500 half price ones is a tiny amount and a small price for them to pay in order to get some decent photos for whatever they were up to.

And what of Greenwich Council's role in this? They like to talk up about how great AEG have been and how "together" they've been a part of revitalising the O2/Dome.

It's beginning to look like the Council has been used and residents made to jump through hoops just for some PR exercise. Aren't Greenwich meant to be serving their residents rather than serving them up on a plate to big business? You would have thought that they could at least have haggled and got the tickets for free.

Great.

Still I'm sure the exhibition is going to be great, I'll definitely be going at some point.

Oh and the sofa and carpet are (or were) still out in the street. I'm really not in too great a mood with the powers that be right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Charlton's fly tipping is going up market!

I'm sure that there's some ancient tradition or charter that says that a London street must have a mattress dumped somewhere along it. Charlton's following on with it's take on Parisian pavement culture with a similar move to take the street rubbish up market too.

A sofa has appeared dumped on Floyd Road.

There's a bit more to this... At some point over the last week a load of carpet appeared there, I presume that someone's having some fitted. The binmen appear to have refused to take it, which is pretty understandable in my opinion. The sofa is now parked on top of the carpet.

I've got no idea if the same selfish idiots that dumped the carpet on the street are responsible for the sofa or if someone is trying to make someone else look guilty.

I have been proactive about this and contacted Cleansweep, the Council service that deals with this sort of thing. Fingers crossed it'll be dealt with soon, I really would like to be able to say something nice about the council after quite a few negative posts about them.

I do wonder what state it's going to be in in the morning...

Update on the King Tut Tickets

I've heard from Pat who's emailed the address given in the email from Greenwich Council.

There's been no reply, so what's Pat to do? Turn up and hope that he's within the first 500 that emailed and potentially waste a lunch hour?

If anyone has had any sort of response I'd really appreciate it if they can let me know...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Half price Tutankhamun tickets

Greenwich Council return with another cracking offer for Greenwich Card holders (cough).

GreenwichCard has teamed up with The O2 to offer GreenwichCard holders an exclusive opportunity to buy half price tickets for the opening week.

The first 500 cardholders to email tutrsvp@aegworldwide.co.uk will receive half price tickets when they bring their card to The O2 box office on Wednesday 12 September at 1pm. You must arrive no later than 1.30pm in order to purchase your half price tickets.

Full price adult tickets cost £15 and entry for children is £7.50.

Restrictions apply:
1) offer only good for opening week tickets for valid GCH carriers
2) offer cannot be combined with any other offer
3) only cardholders that have RSVP'd for the offer and arrive in person on 12 September between 1pm and 1.30pm are eligible.

For more information visit http://www.visitlondon.com/tut


OK so you've got two days notice to hit a half hour window at the O2.

Who exactly is this offer aimed at? Surely I'm not alone in thinking that you've got to jump through some real hoops to get this deal. I'm sure that many people won't be able to get to the O2 to claim it.

The exhibition doesn't open until November, you'd have thought that either some more notice or a bigger time slot could have been arranged.

Anyhow if you can jump those hoops that the Council have put up then get down to the O2 and get some of those cheap tickets.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Well Hall Pleasaunce

As I've already said I tried to go to Eltham Palace yesterday. Well to be precise I did go to Eltham Palace, it just wasn't open.

So I made a plan B and got back on the road. Plan B required the locating and purchasing of some food, so we stopped on the way from Eltham to the A2 when we saw a Co-Op.

Over the road was a little park that looked interesting, it was Well Hall Pleasaunce and it was very interesting.

There used to be a manor house there that was home to the daughter of Thomas Moore amongst others. Later still E. Nesbit, the author of the Railway Children amongst others, lived in a house built on the site of the manor house.

That later house has now been demolished as well. What's left however is a rather interesting moat and next to is a barn that dates back to the 16th Century. The barn is now apparently a pub and while we were there a Wedding was going on. The park around the barn and moat all seemed rather attractive and pleasant to be in while we had our lunch.

We only had time for a brief stop as Plan B needed seeing to but I think we'll go back with a proper picnic and explore the place properly.

The park apparently has an active group of supporters, they have a web site here that has some more information about the park and what they do.

My camera decided that it's batteries were flat but I did manage to get a couple of photos out of it.

All things told a very pleasant surprise.

The gardens where we had our lunch.
The 16th Century Barn.

Eltham Palace...

...is closed on Saturdays.

I know that now. I didn't know it when I went there today.

The opening hours are:

1 Apr-31 Oct
10am-5pm Mon, Tue, Wed, & Sun.

1 Nov-23 Dec
11am-4pm Mon, Tue, Wed, & Sun.

Closed 24 Dec-2 Feb

3 Feb-20 Mar
11am-4pm Mon, Tue, Wed, & Sun.

However I did find a nice surprise not too far away, more on that later.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Council are now selling tickets to see Prince...

I think that most people know that the Council spent about £95,000 on having a corporate box at the O2 for one year.

About a month ago the council ran a competition to win tickets in the box to see a Prince concert. Only Greenwich Card holders could enter and I mused at the time they were trying to get more people to buy a card to offset the extravagance of the box.

Well they've taken another step now, they're actually selling tickets for the corporate box.

This is the announcement:

GreenwichCard is offering you an exclusive chance to see Prince perform at his sold-out concert on 16 September.

Fifteen tickets for prime seats in the Council's box are available for £31.20 per ticket. There will be a maximum of two tickets per person.

For your chance to snap up your tickets, simply email greenwichcard@greenwich.gov.uk indicating how many you would like to buy and your GreenwichCard number before noon on Monday 10 September. The lucky winners will be contacted by 5pm that day.

Find out more about GreenwichCard offers by following the link below:

http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/LeisureCulture/GreenwichCard/NewPromotions/O2TicketsWithGreenwichCard.htm


On the one hand surely it's a good thing that they're making some money out of the box that they spent so much of our council tax on.

On the other is it legal? Remember that the Council has already got and paid for these seats.

I also can't help but wonder what happened to the tickets for all the other nights...

You'll also note that the offer is more than a bit weird. There's 15 tickets on offer and you can apply for a maximum of 2 tickets. So are they expecting someone to go on their own? On the web page they refer to the "lucky seven people", 7*2 = 14, doesn't it?

Does anyone out there know how many seats the box has? I wonder who's going to be in the other ones.

If anyone does get tickets and go please let me know who was in there with you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Taking a step into the Daily Mail Zone...

...which is a bit like the Twilight Zone, only far scarier.

It seems all quiet in Charlton at the moment. I've had a bit of a break and not a lot seems to be happening right now. So, as happens at times like this, my mind turns to bigger things.

I was talking recently with some friends who are teachers within Greenwich. It turns out they've had a training course and in it were advised to refer to Britain and not Great Britain when talking about our country.

Uh?

Great Britain is the name of our country, it says so on our passports, so it must be true. They're going to be misleading and misinforming a whole generation of Greenwich children. What are they going to think when they see a passport or "team GB" at some sporting event?

Great doesn't imply anything to do with us claiming that we're fab or anything, even the French call us "Grande-Bretagne". It's got a lot more to do with our size as the largest part of the British Isles and Brittany in France, England's rulers became French speaking after 1066 and needed to differentiate between the two bits on either side of the channel.

To take my final step into the Daily Mail Zone, it's "political correctness gone mad"!

I'm hoping something more Charlton related will pop up soon.....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's Football Season again

I'm not a follower of football, it's an entire tide to life that just used to sweep me by. I now have to pay a bit more attention to it, if not my car gets towed away when Charlton play at home.

There's been a few matches now and I'm getting back into the swing of keeping an eye on what's happening.

However couldn't it be made easier?

I'm sure that Charlton used to pop a letter through local doors giving the dates of home matches, I certainly didn't get one this year. The little sign up by the station isn't much use as it's often only updated a few days before a match.

I'm lucky, I can get into the habit of checking on the internet for what's going on.

On that matter does anyone know of an online calendar in a format suitable for use in iCal on a Mac? At the moment watch the fixtures page and manually update my diary. Oh how easy it would be if they just offered one on the internet. Maybe I should suggest that to them.

As for last nights match well it all seemed rather subdued, perhaps it wasn't that important a game? I was pottering around at home and hardly noticed the fans coming or going. I've got to say they usually are very well behaved and no trouble at all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

All Quiet on the Charlton Front...

...or not as the case may be.

There's a club near my house, well I think it's a club. It tends to host Country & Western music nights on Fridays and what seems to be Weddings or Birthdays on a Saturday (I've heard Hi Ho Silver Lining way too many times now, it must be a tradition, or an old charter, or something).

All's usually fine, they wrap up at for midnight on the Saturday and they're usually pretty good about it too.

However last Saturday they were going on until about 12.25am. Then add in the noise of people leaving and it was about 12:45am until it quietened down. I wasn't too happy, I had an early start the next day.

I'm tempted to complain but it seems that my only official route is to lodge a request to investigate their license, which is really rather serious, and not called for yet in my opinion. Perhaps a quick anonymous letter to them asking them to stick with their licensing limits, which I believe say that they must stop at midnight.

I'll see how they go over the next few weeks. Saturday's DJ was particularly rubbish, I wasn't listening for that long and I heard way too many fluffed links between records. Hopefully it was a one off.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Greenwich's Corporate Box Tickets for the O2

The Council are holding a competition to win seats in their Corporate Box at the O2 for two of the Prince concerts.

GreenwichCard holders have a unique opportunity to use Greenwich Council's Corporate Box at The 02 to see Prince in concert on 17 August.

There are seven pairs of tickets up for grabs.

For a chance to enter this amazing competition, please email your name, address, telephone number and GreenwichCard number to Greenwichcard@greenwich.gov.uk.

Cut-off for competition entries is Monday 13 August at midday. Winners will be notified by 4pm on that day.

GreenwichCard holders will also have a second chance to win tickets for the box to see Prince on September 16 - so if you don't already have a GreenwichCard now is the time to get one!

Find out how to get a GreenwichCard and check other promotions by following the link below:
http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/LeisureCulture/GreenwichCard/


So that's why the Council spent £95,000 of our money on that corporate box, to encourage people to get a Greenwich Card. A card costs between £1 and £2, so let's average it at £1.50. If they can get about 63,000 new people to sign up for one they might cover the costs of the suite!

I do try not to be cynical about the Council, I really really do. I keep telling myself "inept, not corrupt." However I do note that the competition was announced after Greenwich Watch announced they were taking a summer break....

Anyhow if you've got a card then enter the competition, it would be nice to get some residents into the corporate box. Then when you read about the Council cutting more services or giving up on giving up on collecting another large chunk of the rent arrears you know where your Council Tax is going.

Charlton Chic

Watch out Paris here comes Charlton! We've entered the age of the pavement cafe and Charlton's never far behind the curve of fashion and culture.

The valley cafe's popped a table on the street outside it's window.

While I'm on the subject of the cafe they do do a very good cooked breakfast, a great thing the morning after the night before.

Shooting in Charlton

There's a board up in Charlton Church Lane about a shooting that happened there in the early hours of Saturday the 14th of July. It doesn't sound like anyone was hurt, shots were fired and the shooters fled.

The News Shopper web site is also carrying a story about another shooting at the same place, on a Saturday and at the same time. Click here to see it.

So were there two incidents or one? Have News Shopper got the date wrong? Any ideas?

Anyway I'm not sure how I feel about this. It should be rather frightening but for some reason I don't feel too phased by it. Am I viewing it with the correct sense of proportion or somehow in denial about it?

I also wonder if this is connected with the gang situation that is rumoured to be rife in SE London.

I'm sure that you're all bright enough to realise that if you did see or hear anything, absolutely anything, about this then you should be phoning the police. As for me I really don't recall a thing, I think I was sound asleep at the time as I had an early start the next day.

Thanks go out to John-Paul for sending me an email about the notice a few days ago, it's much appreciated.

Edited to add: I emailed the newspaper and they've confirmed that there was only one shooting on the 14th of July. They've fixed the story to make clear that they're not talking about Saturday just gone but one several weeks ago. Nice to see them move so quickly to clarify things. Hopefully someone out there knows something and can help the police out.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Red Bull Air Race - Where the free tickets went

If anyone's been reading this for a while they'll know that I've been very curious as to what Greenwich Council was doing with the free tickets that it was given by Red Bull.

Well another local local blog, the last bus home, has got the answers, click here to see them.

On the positive side the tickets did appear to end up with the public, the majority to individuals rather than community groups.

However what I find annoying is this response:
"The Council was concerned that not many residents would be aware of the Red Bull website and so would miss an opportunity to get tickets. For this reason, the Council proactively wrote to groups offering tickets and then advertised them on the Greenwich Council website and in the Greenwich Time newspaper"

I don't believe that anyone can really call the Council Proactive. I first became aware of the free tickets at the end of May when I looked at Red Bulls web site. Sure Greenwich Time had mentioned about a week or so before that that the race was coming but it didn't say a word about the free tickets.

A month later they do mention them in the "newspaper", they say they're going to community groups. The only way that you'd know that the public can register for what would be left over would be to have gone to Red Bull web site or to have done a search on the Council's web site.

Now remember that they'd already made the decision about a draw for the remaning tickets a month before, why didn't they say something? Why give the impression that only community groups would get them?

Finally a few days before the race they send out an email saying that members of the public can get those free tickets independently of any community group. That is, I believe, the first time that they proactively told anyone about it.

The only way you seemed to be able to find out that you could register for tickets was on various web sites, by email or through word of mouth. Given how much room the Council can find in Greenwich Time to spin and stretch the truth about what they're up to they didn't seem able to find a few lines to give the details to their residents.

To see the Council even admitting that finding out about the tickets on the web might be hard for some people and then blatantly failing to try and communicate properly to non-residents groups just makes me really angry. I've had quite a few people who are obviously IT literate tell me that they only got tickets because I posted about them. How many people unfairly missed out on their chances because they don't use the web or email?

Shame on you Greenwich Council!

I'm so happy that word got out to enough people to make sure that all the tickets were taken.

Red Bull Air Race Final

Sunday was the day of the final of the Red Bull air race and I and some of my friends had tickets, so off we went. After seeing the practice session last Friday I was really looking forward to it, even more than I was already.

So how was it?

Well I thought it was great!

We were up in the grandstands on the O2 side of the river, the view was great and we weren't too squished either. One minor complaint was that we couldn't see the start (which was also the end) gate. However we were right in front of a particularly tricky, and therefore interesting, section of the course so in all honesty I wouldn't have moved if offered a view of the missing gate.

There were a pair of commentators, a Brit and an American. The Brit was an idiot, a snow boarding "dude" who didn't really seem to know much of what was going on. I think the biggest contribution to the day he made was pointing out that pilots are the opposite of bananas. He also used the word "uber" to describe some attribute of the planes involved, speed I think, and that's a "cool dude"/geek type of phrase that for some reason irritates me. His American companion knew what he was talking about but was far more laid back, some might say dull. All things told though when you were getting into the final heats and it was getting rather tense and exciting they did seem to get into the swing of things, or maybe we were so into it that we were prepared to overlook their short comings.

The racing itself was great and we went from knowing nothing about how it worked at all to being able to spot when the planes were close or actually did pick up a penalty for doing something wrong. We also got to recognise some of the different flying styles of the main pilots, which is nice to do.

In the end the final was between a Brit, Paul Bonhomme, and an American, Mike Mangold. It really was pretty tense and we were getting really rather into it. Bonhomme managed a time that was on the fast side of average but not as quick as the fastest times of the day. Mangold then pipped him by a second.

Anyway as said we were getting really rather excited and involved. We could tell that Bonhomme's run wasn't a great run and Mangold was aggressively pushing himself. Those last dozen seconds watching Mangold and the timer count up were fantastic.

I'm really not into sports, I don't follow or watch anything. So I guess this was my first real sporting event and I loved it and felt like I understood it.

So great stuff!

I've heard some complaints about the day. One of those was about the price, £20 for a standing ticket. We paid £50 to have a seat in the Grandstand. The standing tickets were about 2/3 the price of what I paid for a standing ticket at an air show a couple of weeks ago and there were no transport hassles like I had for that. We were happy to pay the extra chunk for a seat as one of our number wasn't a huge plan fan and didn't want to be on her feet all day long. The seat gave me the best view I've ever had at an airshow and really let me get into the race. It's also what I paid for a gig that lasted less than two hours at the O2 a few weeks ago. I think that it was pretty good value, so did my friends, we all really enjoyed the day.

Aside from the race we also had some helicopters putting on a demonstration and doing some very impressive things. If you've not picked it up I'm a bit of a plane fan and what they were doing really was rather good. Maybe it would have meant less to someone else though.

We also had the Red Devils parachute team jumping and landing in the Thames, brief but still rather good.

At the end of the racing and after waiting ten or so minutes for the crowds to die down we had an easy exit from the racing area and strolled down to the Pilot Inn. We then had a few very pleasant hours with some beers in the sunshine, a very nice end to the race.

So we all had a great day and were very happy with what we go for our money. We'd certainly do it again if it were to come back to the Thames.

I've got a few more photos that I'll post up. I didn't take any of the planes racing as I had some of those from Friday and my friend had a proper camera with a decent zoom lens.





Saturday, July 28, 2007

Charlton on the big screen...

...well almost.

There's a new movie coming out called Flood which is based on the book of the same name, click here to see the book or here to see the movie's web site. The movie web site has a trailer on it.

Basically the book's about a big flood hitting London. It's quite a funny disaster story, one of those things where the situation keeps getting worse and worse. A new scene will be described and you just know that what you're reading about will shortly blow up/sink/collide with something/go horribly wrong in some way and make the whole situation even worse than it was.

I really enjoyed the book because it seems pretty well researched and it was mainly about London, it had lots of interesting little facts about the town that I'd never heard before.

The movie seems to have changed things around. It seems to focus on a handful of main characters who have the chance to save the day, where as the book has many people in it each giving a different view point and many of whom do little things to help. A big plot point of the book is also that the oil refineries in the Thames Estuary explode and the flood carries the burning petrol and oil up the river into London. That doesn't seem to be happening in the trailer at all so maybe it's just been dropped as too expensive to film and just one disaster too many.

Anyway many parts of the book happen along the river around here and the Thames barrier seems to play an even bigger part in the film than the book so there's bound to be many shots of the river side area of Charlton. I think it's worth a look anyway.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Red Bull Air Race 2nd Practice Day

They were out practising for the air race again today and this time I didn't think "I'll go down there later", I went down there ASAP.

It really was rather impressive, very impressive in fact. I've got tickets for Sunday and I'm really looking forward to it.

One thing that I couldn't work out was if it's going to be possible to see if for free. It looks like they're going to close off the Thames Path for paying spectators right down to the Yacht Club on the southern end of the peninsula. Beyond that you might be able to get down to the river, for example at the Anchor & Hope pub (click here for a map) but I'm not sure what the views will be like. It's beyond the end of the course.

Anyway here's some photos from this morning:
The boys (and girl) in blue are on full alert.

This is the southern end of the course, I think the barge is about here.