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Thursday, 05 October 2006
The Night Sky

The Night Sky

This was the night sky, as seen from Master Park in Oxted last night.

Actually I have blended two photographs: one with a 30 second exposure of an airplane flying over, and another with a half-second exposure, taken with my zoom lens, of the moon.

Posted by bigblue on 05/10/2006 at 07:03 AM
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Wednesday, 04 October 2006
Bigblue on TV too

bigblue on cctv

It seems that it wasn’t only bluemeanie who was on TV recently. A letter from Camden Council arrived, advising me of a Penalty Charge for failing to drive in the direction shown by the arrow on a blue sign in Great Russell Street, WC1, on 13 September 2006.  This was the evening that bluemeanie, Johanna and I went to see a BBC radio recording of Quote, Unquote.  It was chucking down buckets of rain when we left, and remember this as I drove out of the parking garage on Great Russell Street towards Bloomsbury Street.  This is the correct way to proceed down Great Russell Street.  Furthermore the main CCTV image shows me following another car down the road, while the alternative CCTV image (which doesn’t even show my vehicle) clearly shows us going the correct way down the road.

It is the usual traffic regulation wheeze: how much would it cost me in time and effort to contest this thing? Camden Council make it easy to calculate. If I paid the fine immediately it costs only £50.  If I delay or contest the charge, then the fine goes up to £100, and if I pay late (over 28 days) the charge is increased to £150.  I paid my £50, even though I suspect I did nothing wrong and the camera was simply pointing the other way down the street for a change.

Posted by bigblue on 04/10/2006 at 07:03 AM
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Tuesday, 03 October 2006
Parking Notice

Oxted parking notice

Ha! I have had a look at the notices that the new friendly parking attendants are dishing out in Oxted.  It seems that the “friendly” part is that they are not actually imposing fines (presumably only for a short and sweet honeymoon period). I didn’t get this myself: it’s on display at the car wash operated by those Bulgarian guys in Nutfield.  Click on the pic to enbiggen, otherwise it reads as follows:

Park responsibly and you won’t get a parking ticket

Warning! You have parked illegally.
If you park here in future when a parking restriction is in force, you could receive a parking ticket and have to pay a charge.
Double yellow lines are in force all the time, including Sundays and bank holidays. Single yellow lines are in force during the times show on the signs nearby.

Please park legally and safely in a parking bay or car park.

See we are friendly, we are not even going to issue a fine.

New parking service

Tandridge District Council, in partnership with Surrey County Council is now managing on street parking in the district.

The police will no longer be responsible for on street parking unless it involves dangerous or obstructive parking.

There will be no immediate change in the parking regulations, but our parking attendants will be more visible in the area.

They won’t actually deal with any serious issues.

Our aim is to make the parking attendants ambassadors for the Council, as well as responsbile for dealing with parking issues.

They will be able to provide directions, give advice to the public, and alert the relevant authority about potential safety hazards or defects to roads, footpaths or street lighting.

Oh yes, and they will impose fines too. Did we mention how much these might be?

Free parking in car parks

Don’t forget you can park in Tandridge District Council’s car parks for free, subject to restrictions. Please check signs for details.

Basically it’s only free after 9:30 am, and you will need to find a parking space. Did we mention that there’s a shortage?

For more information please call
Tandridge Parking Service on: 01883-732771
email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
or visit

Working to keep Tandridge moving.

I find it interesting that the pamphlet does not acknowledge a problem that needs to be addressed. If there is currently a problem due to illegal parking, why not state so? If there is no problem, then why bother with these so-called ambassadors at all? (Surely not just to keep an eye out for loose paving stones, and broken streetlamps). Perhaps it is a delicate matter because the very people that the Council intends to enforce the traffic regulations on are its major stakeholders, the local residents. It will be interesting to see how much money the Council raises in this way. There may be better ways to raise money, and there may be more serious infringements of the road regulations (e.g. to do with speed restrictions) but perhaps there are not easier regulations that han be enforced, to generate income, without invoking the ire of the local ratepayers.

Anyway I can’t wait to get out and meet these new ambassadors to the Council… I have a few questions for them.  Plus, is that my car that they have used as a demonstration of illegal parking??

Posted by bigblue on 03/10/2006 at 07:11 AM
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Monday, 02 October 2006
Five a Day

five fruit and veg a day

Last week at work these two people set up a display outside the cafetaria extolling the virtues of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. They also gave advice on determining the quantities of added salt and sugar in various foodstuffs, and handed out fresh fruit.  I order my weekly supply of fruit and vegetables from Riverford a local delivery service for organic fruit and vegetables. They deliver on a Tuesday, and you can adjust your order up to the Sunday before delivery after seeing what’s in this week’s box.  There are actually at least 6 versions of a “box”, depending on your requirements and it is also possible to buy individual items seperately. I even get my yoghurt from Riverford.

Posted by bigblue on 02/10/2006 at 07:23 AM
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Sunday, 01 October 2006
Bluemeanie on TV

bluemeanie on News 24

I have re-edited this entry because I had problems loading the video. First I loaded it to Google video because at just over 11 minutes it is over the 10 minute limit imposed by YouTube. After some problems there, I split the video into two parts and loaded it into YouTube. The first time I did so, I lost the sound of Part I, so had to redo it.  Anyway, the background to the issue is that Ofsted released a report into how the subject of Citizenship is being taught at schools in the UK:

One in four secondary schools in England is failing to offer pupils adequate lessons in citizenship, the education watchdog has warned.

Most citizenship teachers were non-specialists working “far from their normal comfort zone”, inspectors said.

They said guidelines for schools must be less ambiguous.

Citizenship became compulsory for pupils aged 11 to 16 in September 2002, but inspectors said only a minority of schools taught it “with enthusiasm”.

They had worked hard to make citizenship a key part of their curriculum.

“Others, also a minority, have done very little,” the report said.

See article: Citizenship lessons ‘inadequate’ (BBC).

Anyway, on Thursday night a taxi came and whisked bluemeanie off into London where she appeared on a panel discussion on the BBC News 24 channel, discussing the Ofsted report. Here is the excerpt. The first bit is the background piece (just over 4 minutes long).  The second part is the actual panel discussion on the item (Just over 9.5 minutes).

Part I: Teaching of Citizenship at Schools

Part II: Panel Discussion on this

Posted by bigblue on 01/10/2006 at 10:22 AM
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Indian Deli in Hounslow

Indian Deli in Hounslow

Ten years ago I lived in Cape Town and used to frequent a simple and inexpensive (good value) restaurant in Sea Point at least once a week, called Little Bombay. If I remember correctly, the owners of the restaurant had immigrated from Kenya (or somewhere else in East Africa). The prices were so reasonable I used to wonder how they made a living.  At the time Sea Point (once the epicentre of Cape Town’s restaurant and nightlife scene) was experiencing a bad patch due to the commercial and retail development of the harbour and the shift in the night scene to this new area.  This article from 1998 talks about the impact on Sea Point of the changing economic and social situation in Cape Town at that time, and even mentions Little Bombay (as having recently closed its doors).

I thought of Little Bombay on Friday night: of its excellent quality menu, of the cheap prices, of the formica tables and plastic chairs, of the gaudi plastic decorations, of the Hindu calendars and ornaments on the walls, of the elderly uncle who worked as a waiter and gave me detailed instructions on how to properly eat a Thali. The elderly uncle of the early years was later replaced by two young neices, who were better at customer relations (they never gave me instructions on how to eat my food). I thought of little Bombay because my colleague Ragu took me to his local vegetarian restaurant in Hounslow, The Indian Deli.  Lacking the tackiness of Little Bombay, the Indian Deli has the same excellent good-quality food and friendly service. Raghav told me that the owners of the restaurant are from Sri Lanka, having come to the United Kingdom as refugees.

I sampled the masala dosa while Rags had a buffet meal. We shared two desserts: both were sweet and creamy.

Posted by bigblue on 01/10/2006 at 07:24 AM
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Saturday, 30 September 2006
Oxted Parking - Nursery Road

Oxted Nursery Road

This photograph is the one that triggered the unpleasant incident with the man with yobbish tendencies. I took it in Nursery Way in Oxted. As a private road it does not appear on all maps (e.g. Streetmap) but it is visible on Google Earth), and I wonder if the friendly parking attendants will be able to enforce the private parking regulations on this road. If there is money to be generated in issuing parking tickets then I am sure that the answer is yes.

As I took this photograph I felt quite sorry for the motorists who had parked there. I had discovered that there was no parking available in the designated spaces in the town centre as they were all full. When the man came and suggested he would kick my teeth in, my compassion faded: I saw the immediate benefits of a zero tolerance approach to crime. Prosecute the bastards for parking on yellow lines, before they move onto more serious crimes, like kicking teeth!

On a more serious note, I was concerned that down this private road is a nursery school. If there was any urgent incident the car of the man with yobbish tendencies would potentially be blocking access by the emergencies services: fire department, ambulance, etc.

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2006 at 08:19 AM
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Oxted parking - Station Road East

Oxted Station Road East

This photograph shows 3 delivery vehicles and 2 cars parking contrary to parking regulations in Station Road East.  Shortly after I took the photograph a third car pulled into the space behind the white truck to make it 3-3.  When I took the photographs I had been hoping to see (and speak with) the local parking attendants at work. However they were only due to start the following day (28 September 2006).  Perhaps scenes like this are already a thing of the past.

It’s a wacky suggestion - but another way to alleviate the problem might be to provide more loading bays and parking spaces. If they ever get around to dismantling the unused gas cylinder, that might provide space for a few cars, or a multi-story garage.  Another suggestion would be to pedestrianise the high street, plant trees down the centre, and a cycle lane down one side.  I’m not sure what the traffic impact would be on the surrounding (residential) streets though, especially as it would probably mean reducing the total amount of parking available. Some space could be reserved for short-stay parking, taxis and loading bays.

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2006 at 07:55 AM
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