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Thursday, 15 June 2006


I haven’t seen many of the World Cup matches, and was unfortunately only able to catch today’s England vs TnT match live on the radio, in the car. It was probably for the better: even if they have secured their place in the second phase of the competition in the shortest possible time, it was not a confidence-building performance.  YouTube has some interesting World Cup videos (current and historical) including the Brazil 1970 Best Team goal ever.

Posted by bigblue on 15/06/2006 at 11:58 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (5) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

I took this photograph last week when I went into London. I was intrigued to find out what Nelson’s Column was being obscured for so did a web search, and found on the Mayor’s site that

A major restoration of London landmark Nelson’s Column is currently underway. Scaffolding has been erected to the full height of the monument enabling restorers to access the entire column and the statue of Nelson itself.
This is only the third time the whole monument has undergone restoration. Previous restoration work to the entire monument took place in 1968 and in 1986, although the statue of Nelson at the top of the column has been cleaned on several occasions.

Recent inspections found that the column was in sound condition and cleaner than in the past, but recommended maintenance and conservation work to preserve the column’s condition for future generations.

This work will include local repairs to the stonework; cleaning back of areas of corrosion and protection of bronze with wax; general cleaning to remove pigeon guano, and pigeon proofing of minor areas. Nelson’s Column is Grade 1 listed and is normally inspected every two years to assess the condition of the sculpture, the granite column and the bronze.

There will be no disruption to traffic and the restoration will be undertaken to cause as little disruption as possible to other activities in the square, which remains open to business as usual, including the café, toilets and lifts.

Restoration work began at the end of April and will finish in July 2006, in time for the second Trafalgar Square Festival.

According to Wikipedia, the square

commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars. The original name was to have been “King William the Fourth’s Square”, but George Ledwell Taylor suggested the name “Trafalgar Square”.

The area had been the site of the King’s Mews since the time of Edward I. In the 1820s the Prince Regent engaged the landscape architect John Nash to redevelop the area. Nash cleared the square as part of his Charing Cross Improvement Scheme. The present architecture of the square is due to Sir Charles Barry and was completed in 1845.

The square is a popular site for political demonstrations, is the site of Nelson’s Column, and related sculptures of note.

The square is currently an area of dispute between the Mayor of London (Ken Livingstone) and Westminster Council (controlled by the Conservative Party). The Nelson Mandela Statue Fund has proposed to place a statue of Mandela by Ian Walters at the North Terrace of the square. This is strongly supported by the Mayor, but permission was declined by Westminster Council who proposed that the statue be placed in Parliament Square instead.  There is some background to the story at Blink (Black Information Link).  Recent reports in The Scotsman and The Independent suggest that agreement may have now been reached to place the statue in Parliament Square, by the end of the year (3 years after it was supposed to have been erected in Trafalgar Square).  Parliament Square currently contains a number of other statues, of dead war generals, one of whom (Jan Christian Smuts) was a war-time Prime Minister of South Africa. Jan Smuts had fought against Britain in the South African War (1899 - 1902), but later served in both World War Cabinets for Britain.  The Wikipedia article (linked to above) overstates Jan Smuts role in the formation of the League of Nations (pre-World War II precursor to the United Nations).

Posted by bigblue on 14/06/2006 at 08:20 PM
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Tuesday, 13 June 2006
The Thames

The Thames

The weather has been generally good again in Surrey today, although there were isolated showers. Blame those who wash their cars (mea culpa) or water their plants (you know who you are). 

I took this photograph last week when I went into London.  Today I worked from home. I had quite a lot of reading to do to prepare myself for my new project.

Posted by bigblue on 13/06/2006 at 10:16 PM
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Monday, 12 June 2006

slow road sign

Things may be a bit slow this week - I started a new job today. It looks like I might be based in Uxbridge from next month for some time. Today was induction day. Tomorrow I will be sitting on the bench.  Not the best day for it, but I won’t complain. I’ll sleep late, have a late breakfast with brewed coffee, catch up on my admin and reading, enjoy the sunshine… My last month of unemployment should have been like that but I had a lot to do (mainly packing, unpacking and driving around the country) so I couldn’t really relax properly.

I will be thinking of my mate Carles who is on step 1 of 18 (ways to make a baby).

Posted by bigblue on 12/06/2006 at 08:54 PM
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Sunday, 11 June 2006
World Cup Football

German football fan

Imagine my surprise when I fetched bluemeanie from school on Friday, to find her sporting this (smudged) German flag on her left cheek. It seems that at her very international school you have a smorgasbord of choice, and can become a fan of one team just for a particular match. Hence she would be supporting Germany against Costa Rica, supporting Trinidad against Sweden, etc.

This morning bluemeanie, Aurelie, Johanna and I went to the Handel House Museum in London.  This is the house at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair, where Jimmy Hendrix lived in 1968 and 1969. It is also (of course) where the composer George Frideric Handel lived from 1723 until his death in 1759. The museum was fascinating.

Posted by bigblue on 11/06/2006 at 10:54 PM
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Saturday, 10 June 2006
Danger - cliff edge

M25 Surrey

Here’s another view of the M25 motorway, from the North Downs near Oxted. The warning sign is interesting, because one would have to climb over two barbed wire-topped fences in order to have a chance of falling over the cliff edge. I was hoping to re-watch The Italian Job this weekend, but don’t think I will have time. The movie ends with a real cliffhanger, and after seeing it for the first time I spent many days contemplating the best way to evacuate a car that was stuck over the edge of a cliff. Popular Mechanics (who else) have actually documented what to do in that worst case scenario.

Posted by bigblue on 10/06/2006 at 10:50 PM
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Friday, 09 June 2006
M25 Accident

M25 traffic

This is the M25 at about 7pm this evening, showing congestion near Junction 8 (Reigate) on the anti-clockwise carriageway.  According to traffic reports, there was an accident earlier today when a lorry carrying bleach exploded. This caused this carriageway to be completely closed for several hours. According to the news report

Neil Owen, from Surrey Fire and Rescue, told BBC News: “Looking at the lorry, it’s actually sort of totally written-off.

By 7pm, as you can see, traffic was flowing again but was still heavy. Earlier the accident had also caused congestion on the clockwise carriageway (probably due to rubber-knecking), but after warnings were broadcast on the radio to stay away from this route it became unnaturally quiet for a Friday evening.

Finkangel reports on another accident on the A23, and provides a later update.

Posted by bigblue on 09/06/2006 at 10:38 PM
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Street Child

street child

This is a photograph I took in Point Road, Durban, last year that I have submitted for Photo Friday (theme: Poverty).

According to a The Childrens’ Institute at the University of Cape Town:

Child poverty is a major issue of concern in South Africa, and a legacy of Apartheid policies of underdevelopment. The lack of resources to adequately care for children and provide for their development has significant policy implications. Poverty not only aggravates the consequences of illnesses such as HIV-infections and AIDS, but also places great demands on the State to deliver basic services that address poverty and reduce inequity. The State’s capacity and will to reduce poverty and create jobs has serious implications for children.

The Department of Social Development released a first draft baseline document in July 2003 for the development of a national policy for families. The document states that 59% of children aged 0 – 17 are poor, and that:
Poverty affects children by reducing their chances of living beyond their first five years, by stunting their growth, rendering them vulnerable to infectious diseases and disabling injury, reducing their confidence and hope in the future, and limit (sic) their education capacity for developing to their full intellectual potential.
This poverty rate is based on estimates of household income using the Income and Expenditure Survey of 1999. However, according to Streak (2001, 23) “These child poverty estimates are conservative. An alternative analysis suggests that when income poverty is defined in the absolute sense – as a situation in which a child does not have the income needed to meet his or her basic needs - the child poverty rate in South Africa is even higher – about 70%.”

Not only is poverty widespread but inequality is also marked and growing. Inequality between and within provinces is marked with African families, families headed by women, families affected by HIV, and families in rural areas being most impoverished.

The children in my photograph live on the street, and would presumably not be included in any statistics on household poverty.

Posted by bigblue on 09/06/2006 at 10:06 AM
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