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Wednesday, 29 March 2006
When the night closes in


My apartment is about 15 kilometres (and 30 minutes drive) from East Midlands airport. This airport has special dispensation to allow freight planes to land at all hours of the day and night. Normally this doesn’t affect me, but ever so often night planes taking off in a Southerly direction fly at low altitude (below clouds) over my apartment.  In the wee hours of 7 March it was particularly bad and I phoned to complain.  The number to do so is 0871-919 9000.  There is the option of leaving a recorded message for them, as you will not get through to an operator.  If you do so you may wish to spell your surname, especially if you speak with a foreign accent. Two weeks and one day after my complaint I received a reply. It lists two planes which took off from the airport at about 12:30 am, both operated by the European Air Transport company.

Please be assured these aircraft were operating in accordance with all requirements.

At Nottingham East Midlands Airport the majority of aircraft flying at night operate in support of the express freight industry. These organisations operate a system of overnight delivery, typically for business customers and in order to fulfil the very exactign operational deadlines that are inherent with this type of operation, flying at night is essential. However we would wish to reassure you that in conjunction with our airline colleagues we will continue to bear down on all aspects of aircraft noise.

We are concious of the impact that aircraft noise can have and we have a very substantial programme of work in this area. Our amelioration measures in this area include:

  • The installation of a computerised system of noise and track monitoring
  • The introduction of substantially revised noise abatement procedures
  • The introduction of a night levy for ‘noisy’ aircraft
  • Discounts for day time cargo operations by large aircraft
  • The development and introduction of a noise penalty scheme for operations during the night time period

We believe that, in combination, these measures represent a substantial programme of work and reflect the very high priority that the Airport places on the control of aircraft noise. Having said this we do still need to hear your concerns if aircraft cause disturbance in the future.

Please accept the Airport’s apologies for the disturbance you have suffered.

Yours sincerely
Neil Robinson
Divisional Manager (Environment)

Last night I phoned to complain four or five times between the hours of 12:15 and 12:50 am.  I counted six planes at regular intervals and they all flew at low altitude over my apartment.  I will expect a reply again in about two weeks, but in any case I will probably respond to Mr Robinson’s letter and point out how vacuous it is.  It is the perfect model of a letter which wants to appear concerned but which does not commit to anything, and which does not advise me of my rights to pursue my complaint via escalation procedures. I was slightly suprised to read that the airport won recognition for its environmental measures, but then I noticed that there was no press release after the annual audit in October/November last year.  Why the silence I wonder.

Posted by bigblue on 29/03/2006 at 09:57 PM
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Tuesday, 28 March 2006
Night train


This is the late train to Tunbridge Wells.

Yesterday The Times published a dubious article suggesting that Germans are smarter than Brits. Maybe the average German is smarter than the average Briton, but the research mentioned in the article was conducted by Professor Richard Lynn. Given last year’s controversy there must be some doubts about his latest argument. 

There is a new blog devoted to covering the Unrest in France (providing continual English-language coverage of the young workers’ revolt in France).  I was intrigued to see that the blog is organised by the libertarian community in Britain, and wondered what a libertarian is in this country.  It seems that they are anarchists.

Posted by bigblue on 28/03/2006 at 09:18 PM
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Billie the cat

billy the cat

This is another photo of my sister’s cat Billie.

I was somewhat surprised to see that a programme on BBC2 tonight, Gypsy Wars features someone that I met just over two years ago

Irish gypsies have descended on the picture postcard village of Cottenham. They’ve settled on the orchard owned by conservationist Joanna Gordon-Clark. Now she’s determined to get it back - in the face of threats of violence and intimidation.

In Cottenham, Middle England has begun the fight back against the traveller invasions. Some strong language.

Joanna claims that the gypsys have deserted their nomadic conservationist tradition. I remember Joanna as a softie with a hard outer shell.  I hope that she (and all the other subjects) survive this fly in the wall reality TV documentary with their dignity intact.

Posted by bigblue on 28/03/2006 at 12:09 AM
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Friday, 24 March 2006


Spotted on the door going out of the Montien Thai restaurant in Westerham, Kent.  There are photos of many such signs, menus, etc. in Flickr. I assumed that this could be a sign that the restaurant is run by genuine Thai people, but I noticed the ingredients in this place are typically English: tomatoes, mange tout, and my pet hate of English restaurant food, the baby sweetcorn.

I see from the website that there is a sister restaurant in Sevenoaks.  I don’t think I’ll try it in a hurry. My experience of the Thai Rainbow Restaurant in Ashby-de-la-Zouch was far more favourable.

Posted by bigblue on 24/03/2006 at 10:03 PM
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
Spring is now probably imminent


For oft, when on my couch I lie
  In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
  Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


After my last unfortunate prediction we have had a spell of cold weather and even some snow. Finally however the daffodils are making a late appearance, even if these ones do so with their chins on their chests.

Posted by bigblue on 22/03/2006 at 10:40 PM
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Tuesday, 21 March 2006
Rolling and Shaking

Trucks at night

I did not take the above photographs while driving, unlike (cough cough) some other people do from time  to time.  Perhaps I should clarify: I did not take these photographs. I found them, discarded like a rag in a bin, at a service station on the M1 motorway.

In fact everything you wanted to know (but were too afraid to ask) about wheelie bins, Measham, renovating your house, cats, and even our workplace can be found over in Bimbles Around Britain.  This is from the same person who is our local expert on megalithic housing estates.

For the rest of the British blogosphere there is always the latest Roundup of British Blogs.

Posted by bigblue on 21/03/2006 at 12:29 AM
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Thursday, 16 March 2006
Time the Avenger

Swadlincote hall

When I saw the slogan below the clock on the town hall I thought of the Pretender’s song:

Nobody’s perfect
Not even a perfect stranger ...

Time, time, hear the bells chime
Over the harbor and the city
Time, one more vodka and lime
To help paralyze that tiny little tick, tick, tick ...

The town fathers (and mothers, if indeed they were involved) of Swadlincote are more likely to have had in mind the words of the scoundrel Lord Byron when choosing a slogan for their clock:

Oh Time! the beautifier of the dead, adorer of the ruin, comforter and only healer when the heart hath bled… Time, the avenger!

The Swadlincote Town Hall was built in 1861 by public subscription, on West Street which is the High Street of Swadlincote.

According to the Swadlincote History Trail (pdf link) site:

In the Domesday Book of 1086, Swadlincote is recorded as just a small village in the more important parish of Church Gresley. Now, however, Swadlincote is South Derbyshire?s largest town. The population at the beginning of the 21st
century was around 30,000 people.

The use of the word town is, perhaps, misleading. Swadlincote is made up of three separate settlements - Swadlincote, Church Gresley and Newhall. These combine with the parishes of Woodville and Castle Gresley to form a band of development across the southern part of the District - lying between Burton on Trent in the west and Ashby de la Zouch in the east.

There are some interesting photos of Swadlincote at the Derby Photos site, including a better quality summertime version of the one above.

Swadlincote has produced the photographer Chris Waller. His catalogue on SamizPhot is here.  I was somewhat surprised however to see that there are no photos tagged Swadlincote on Flickr (at the time of writing). They hide themselves well.

Posted by bigblue on 16/03/2006 at 09:03 PM
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Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Carphone Warehouse Posters

I just wanted to say that I think the posters at a well known mobile phone company have looked really good lately. I hope that the person responsible is being well rewarded.

Link du jour: Goocam, which combines a Google map with open/unprotected CCTV camera streams found using Google searches.

Posted by bigblue on 15/03/2006 at 09:46 PM
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