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Wednesday, 20 July 2005
Copper Chrome Arsenic

CCA

Of the chemicals mentioned in the heading above, arsenic is the most worrying as it is highly toxic. These are not the materials one would expect a children’s playground to be constructed out of, and yet the wooden chips on the playground in the photograph above, are of an arsenic green colour.  Unfortunately the wood used in children’s playgrounds is often treated with a Copper Chrome and Arsenic (CCA) formula to make it more resilient to weathering.  This material has now been partially banned from such use by the European Union.  Unfortunately (although the HSE claim the risk is very low) these regulations do not apply to playgrounds where the materials are already in use.  I found an interesting article on the dangers of CCA at this US site.  There are also several articles on CCA at YourLawyer.com.  They do not seem to share the complacency of the HSE

If we had the data we have now (on arsenic-treated wood) it never would’ve been approved in the first place.

There is also a lot of information on CCA at the Ban CCA webisite

The local authority responsible for the Home Park Play Area (the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead) has helpfully put up a sign with a telephone number to call if you have any concerns or wish to report anything to them.  I phoned them yesterday to enquire if they were aware of the dangers of CCA and to report my suspicions about the Home Park Play Area.  They were pretty friendly over the phone. They were unaware of the issue of CCA (and that it had been banned for new playground use from the middle of last year under EU directives). They promised to investigate my concerns about this playground and to phone me back with feedback.

Posted by bigblue on 20/07/2005 at 12:58 AM
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Monday, 18 July 2005
Marching to Pretoria

Christian Victor

This statue can be found in Windsor, next to the castle. The plaque at the base of the statue reads:

Christian Victor
Captain Brevet Major Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Elder son of Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein
Grandson of Victoria
Queen of Great Britain and Ireland Empress of India
Born at Windsor Castle Ap 14 1867 Died at Pretoria Oct 29 1900
Erected by his friends in admiration of his qualities
as a man and a soldier

According to Pinetreeweb, adapted from the book Queen Victoria of Great Britain: Grandmother of Europe, her Children and Grandchildren:

Prince Christian Victor (Major, His Highness Prince Christian Victor Albert Ludwig Ernst Anton, heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, G.C.B., G.C.V.O.) was a grandson of Queen Victoria, the son of Princess Helena, daughter of the Queen. He was born at Windsor Castle 14th April 1867 and died of enteric fever at Pretoria (while serving in the South African War) on 29th October 1900. Aged 33.

The Prince was commissioned in the 60th King’s Royal Rifles in 1888 and served later in the 4th King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He served at Hazara 1891 (Medal and Bar, Mentioned in Despatches), Mirzanai 1891 (Bar), Ashanti 1895 (Star, Mentioned in Despatches), Nile 1898 (Medal, 4th class of the, Mentioned in Despatches).

Princess Helena’s first child ... was named Christian Victor and was known in the family as “Christle”. He was followed by a brother that was born in February 26, 1869, and who was named Albert. Many of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren had Prince Albert’s name but only Princess Helena’s son was called by that name.

“Christle” was the first member of the Royal Family to attend to school instead of being educated by a tutor at home. He studied at Wellington College which made Queen Victoria very happy since Prince Albert had helped to establish this institution many years before.. At Wellington he played for the college First Eleven in 1883 and was captain of the cricket team in 1885. He also studied at Magdalene College, Oxford and at Sandhurst, where he was captain of the cricket team. “Christle’s” brother, Albert, returned to Germany to inherit the dukedom of Schleswig Holstein Sonderburg Augustenburg, since his cousin,  Duke Ernest Gunther, was unlikely to produce a heir.

“Christle” became an army officer in the 60th King’s Royal Rifles in 1888. He fought under Lord Horatio Kitchener in 1898 when the British troops defeated the Dervishes at Omdurman near Khartoum and recovered the Sudan. He participated also in the Ashanti Expedition to Ghana. In 1900 he served in the Boer War under Lord Frederick Roberts. In October while ...  in Pretoria, he came down with malaria and died on October 29 after receiving the Holy Communion in the presence of Lord Roberts and Prince Francis of Teck. He was interred in the Pretoria cemetery on November 1st., 1900. During his funeral a Boer woman commented: “They are burying their Prince in British soil; the English intend to remain in this land”. His grave is marked with a granite cross and a cast iron railing.

The links have been added by me.  The countries where these imperial wars were fought - Sudan, Afghanistan, South Africa - suffered from them and under colonialism. Many of these regions had colonial wars that lasted on and off for decades, and the legacy of the period is still with them today.  In the past 20 years all three have been sites of armed conflict, and in the case of Afghanistan and Sudan this continues today.

Posted by bigblue on 18/07/2005 at 09:48 PM
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Sunday, 17 July 2005
Why a bird?

kingfisher

Why not?

I’m not sure what bird this is, but there was a pair of them catching fish in the Thames near Runnymead today. What type of bird are you?

Edit: Mart advises that this bird is a tern.

Posted by bigblue on 17/07/2005 at 12:41 AM
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Saturday, 16 July 2005
Mort

death

This statue, from a chapel in the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral is the splitting image of that character in the Terry Pratchett novels: Mort.

Tomorrow is the release date of the latest JK Rowling book. According to Wikipedia, Terry Pratchett was the UK’s best selling author before JK Rowling came along. Strange that, perhaps they mean that he was the best selling UK author of fantasy books until JK Rowling came along.  Rowling is the first author to become a billionaire. The fate of the future JKR’s does not look so hot.


And of course the current Pope of the Roman Catholic church is not a fan of Harry, as he wrote the following to a German critic of the books:

It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.

His letter, in German, is available here.

Posted by bigblue on 16/07/2005 at 12:48 AM
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Thursday, 14 July 2005
Ciao bella

fields

This field is just outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch. I went out to take photographs of the sunset, but some clouds came over and smothered the sun, so there was no sunset. 

Last week on Tuesday I spent the day in Disneyland Paris with my daughter and neice. It is normal term time in France and I was looking forward to a relatively quiet visit.  It seems however that some other European countries were on holiday and so (besides for the ubiquitous Americans) there were a few Dutch visitors and lots and lots of Italians, young and old. It was quite an experience. Disneyland prides itself on orderly queues that keep moving. Italians pride themselves on being able to push through queues with a brazen panache.  We departed for Disneyland from the Chatalet Les Halles train station where we attempted to buy tickets for the park. It is cheaper to buy your entrance ticket with your rail ticket this way, however they were out of tickets. 

“We have no more park tickets!”, shouted the ticket seller giving me a withering foxtrot oscar glare that made me want to apologise for asking, as well as for deigning to be an alien in Paris. I suspect that British people go in such large numbers to France to experience antiservice as a form of repressed masochism. Let’s say you are not into leather and whips, but fancy the occassional public beating, where could be better to experience it?

When we entered the park we joined the queue for tickets. At the front of the queue were five booths, and the queue was making steady progress. When we got within a handcount of the front of the queue this Italian man came through the queue, pushing past everyone without an apology or even acknowlegement of our presence.  It was still early in the morning and we demured. At the time I also could not imagine that he was simply jumping the entire queue. He looked as if he was joining his family at the front of the queue: he did it with complete confidence and purpose. Once at the front of the queue he headed for the next available booth and enquired of the ticketseller whether this was the correct place to buy a ticket for the park. On getting an affirmative he turned around and called his family to join him from the back of the 30-strong queue. Which they did, with complete lack of shame.

Within the park it was a bit of a free-for-all. Italian kids simply joined queues at the back and walked past everyone to the front. We were all too polite to stop them (except for other Italians, who seemed to be the only ones with the bravado to put an arm in front of the overtakers and say stop!.

These experiences came to mind when I watched the short presentation European or Italian? which Carles sent me the link of today.

Posted by bigblue on 14/07/2005 at 09:29 PM
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Wednesday, 13 July 2005
David Salomons

Salomons

This is a lake in the grounds of the Salomons Centre in Tunbridge Wells in Kent.  On Sunday we had a large family gathering here. It is also apparently a popular local wedding venue.

The centre is based in the family home of David Solomons, who was Lord Mayor of London in the 19th Century. Prior to being the family seat, it was known as Broomhill. There is a portrait of David in the National Portrait Gallery in London.  There is a short history of this man here

On the island in the lake there appears to be an example of a small folly.

Posted by bigblue on 13/07/2005 at 11:58 PM
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Tuesday, 12 July 2005
Basilica par nuit

sacre coeur

Here’s another shot of Sacre Coeur in Montmatre, Paris, taken at night.  The name of the hill on which the basilica is situated derives from an earlier name, Mont des Martyrs, so called because of the martyring of Christians in the year 272.  The hill has an interesting history, also being the site of the founding of the Jesuit order in 1534.  Of course the basilica looks very beautiful and striking with it’s light colouring. However from close up one notices that it does not appear to be made from stone but from cement.  It was built between 1876 and 1912 by public subscription.

Posted by bigblue on 12/07/2005 at 11:50 PM
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Unplaqued

wall

I should have taken a photo of the nearby plaque, or written down the words on it. The words on the plaque described how there was a firing squad here sometime, perhaps during World War I or II. Some people were blind-folded and lined against the wall, and then shot. I can’t remember if they were French or German, soldiers or civilians. This wall is situated in the 18eme, on rue du Chevalier de la Barre, not far in place and time from where this interesting story takes place.

Posted by bigblue on 12/07/2005 at 12:29 AM
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