The BBC has done a blind tasting test of the tap water from various parts of the United Kingdom.
I don’t drink much water directly, although I do drink a lot of it in cups of tea all day.
I was brought up in London and I suspect that the water I drink now in Hackney is vaguely similar to that I had sixty years ago in Enfield. It’s probably exactly the same to that we had in the Barbican, as that area is only a kiolmetre or so away and I can see the flats from the corner of my road.
I certainly will drink it again, if there is nothing else, which is something I hardly ever did, whilst living away from London.
Except for the four years or so, that I lived in Liverpool, I’ve always lived in hard water areas. In fact, at one time, I lived in Melbourn near Cambridge, which in the 1970s reputedly had the hardest water in England. It also had quite a few sets of twins and the doctor thought there was a connection.
It’s funny, though but a few months ago after a couple of days in Liverpool, the tastes and smells around my mouth were quite different. It was almost if they were much fresher. But that could have been the Liverpudlian sea air.
Incidentally, one of the waters they tasted was from Woodbridge in Suffolk, where C and I lived for twenty or so years. The water didn’t come out well in the taste test! But I do remember C, who was an obsessive water drinker, saying she didn’t like the water, when we moved to Newmarket. She used to drink masses of bottled water, although usually insisted on tap water in a restaurant.
Last night was cold and we only got a few flurries of snow.
But my gas kept coming through the pipe and the electricity kept coming through the wires.
For most of the last forty years, the worry was could the gas tanker get through the snow to the remote houses I lived in, in Suffolk.
As I don’t drive any more, I wasn’t tempted to venture out in the snow towards Sussex.
I suspect some of those who did, are regretting their actions. After all, these days, there is no excuse not to know that bad weather in on the way.
I also wonder how many of those were commuting home from work. I’ve never understood why anybody commutes, as I’ve worked at home since 1970!
Yesterday, I took the train to Huddersfield to see the two Towns share a goal-less draw.
I went via Manchester Piccadilly, as I wanted to have a decent lunch in Carluccio’s at the station, where I know the wi-fi is also excellent, as it incidentally was on Virgin’s trains and in their First Class lounge at Euston. The same can’t be said for their food and drink offering on the trains at the weekend.
It was very cold outside and as I passed through Highbury and Islington station to get to Euston, it was actually trying to snow.
It may seem strange to get to Huddersfield via Manchester, but then there are four trains about every hour on that route. They are new trains, but are only three coaches and often are completely full with standing everywhere. It was a classic case of the Treasury deciding how many coaches should have been bought for the Trans Pennine route and then dividing it by three to fit their budget. It’s a pleasant enough half-hour route though through the Pennines as this picture shows.
Although, the cleaner at Piccadilly was a bit slapdash.
I feel right to blame the cleaner, as he actually came into the carriage whilst I was waiting to sit down.
I should point out that these Trans Pennine trains, illustrate some of what is wrong with the layout of Piccadilly station, which was probably designed by a Scouser with a bizarre sense of humour, to get at their rival city. These trains turn up at all sorts of places in the station and are often the second or even the third train on the platform, counting from the concourse. I think it was the third yesterday. It must be a nightmare for staff to get passengers on the right train. But I’ve changed trains at Piccadlly so many times now, that I know the traps the station sets for you. Hopefully things will get better with the Northern Hub works. But this won’t be fully implemented until 2018.
At present. there are two solutions for passengers to avoid the problems; allow plenty of time and have drink or a meal in the station or take another route. For Huddersfield yesterday, I could have gone via Leeds, but that would have meant a walk up the hill in the cold to get a meal, as Leeds station doesn’t have a restaurant only snack bars.
The journey on to Huddersfield was enlivened with one of those bizarre incidents that seem to happen to me. A screw fell out of the bottom of my camera onto the floor. In crawling around the floor looking for it, I was assisted by a retired lady doctor from Hull, who like me had gone to Liverpool University. We must have looked an odd pair. I’ve now got the problem of finding a screw for the camera. Or should that be an independent camera shop?
Huddersfield station is not your ordinary drab station, as the picture shows.
It is a Grade 1 listed building and actually contains two pubs. Pevsner described it as one of the best early railway stations in England. The statue by the way is Harold Wilson. The football ground is a twenty-minute walk downhill from the station and despite Huddersfield Town not being on television very often, the ground is well-known to viewers because of Rugby League.
The John Smith’s Stadium was one of the first modern grounds to be built in recent years. As the picture shows, the view is good and I’d rate it one of the best seats for visiting supporters along with Barnsley, Burnley or Wolverhampton. You would never describe it as pokey or restricted like Charlton or QPR, although the stewards were complaining of the cold. So that must have been bad!
A steward incidentally told me that Ipswich had attracted a thousand fans. This must be quite a lot considering the distance from Suffolk and the weather. But on the other hand Ipswich, Suffolk and the football club must have one of the largest diaspora of any part of the UK.
A double award-winner at last year’s Brits, Ed Sheeran suddenly went white with fear at this year’s show.
“I’ve lost my phone,” he said, panic building as he patted down the pockets on his suit.
“It’s not locked. It has the whole of my new record on it. And it has quite a few phone numbers that shouldn’t be released.
“That’s not good, is it?”
I suppose many will excuse him, as he is from Suffolk, a county that the locals often pair with silly. But generally, they are just using it as self-promotion.
In this post I mused on the decline of hedgehogs and felt that foxes were to blame.
I’ve just found this article on the web from the Epping Forest Hedgehog Rescue. They are in no doubt, that foxes are cutting the number of hedgehogs.
I can also think back to the 1980s and 1990s, when I used to live in East Suffolk, just north of Ipswich. In that area, foxes were not a common sight, and I never actually saw one, although I did smell them, just as I smell them on my doorstep here in Hackney.
When I moved to Newmarket, foxes were much more numerous and hardly a day passed, without seeing one on the stud.
So what is the difference between East and West Suffolk. In the east, they used to hunt hares with hounds, whereas in the west, they hunted foxes. So I suspect that any fox in East Suffolk, got short shrift from farmers and gamekeepers, as they knew the hunt wouldn’t do anything about them.
As I said in the previous post, I never saw a hedgehog in West Suffolk, but in the East, I at least saw the occasional one.
Thinking about the problem more, you don’t see much traditional fox food in London. There are no rabbits or hares, so that just leaves hedgehogs and squirrels. Even scavenging round here isn’t a good idea, as we all have wheely bins.
So I suppose, once the foxes learned to kill hedgehogs, it was just passed on through the generations.
I believe, that must do something about foxes, if we want to save the hedgehog.
I say mine, although, of course, I have had nothing to do in any way with its creation. Except perhaps some of my taxes have helped to build it.
Opposite, where we used to live in Cromwell Tower in the Barbican, was a space that was originally to be used for an exhibition centre. The Barbican Centre was still being built in those days and I hardly ever remember us going to the cinema at the time.
The Barbican Centre has had a cinema for some time, but now part of the exhibition centre has been converted into a delightful two screen cinema. I say delightful, as I’ve never been to a cinema with such a well-designed foyer/bar/restaurant, where I had a bottle of Aspall cyder before going into a cinema with such a great feeling. Sight lines were superb, seats were extremely comfortable and small things like lighting and the low-angled stairs, made it so very easy to get to your seat.
The film I saw was I, Anna, which as part of it was shot in the Barbican, was a very appropriate film for an introduction to the new cinema.
The film has it faults with dialogue and some of the continuity, but overall I’d give it four out of five.
It was however rather strange to see the end of the film in part of the Barbican, that C, myself and our children would have known extremely well. But the film brought back memories of very happy times for the years around 1970.
As to the cinema, I’d give a massive ten out of ten.
I also of course got two Suffolk beauties in an enjoyable evening; the sultrily beautiful Charlotte Rampling and the delicious cyder.
The evening was only spoilt by coming home to hear the terrible news from Connecticut.
The 2011 Census results have started to be published and this report on the BBC, asks if Norwich is the most godless place in Britain.
This surprised me, as I always thought the city had more churches than most conurbations of its size.
But then there are plenty of people from Suffolk, who would suggest reasons for this statistic. Many would not be repeatable.
Apparently, some idiot has come up with the idea of calling Suffolk, the curious county. It’s reported here on the BBC.
I don’t like it. The two words that sum up Suffolk for me are independent and forgotten.
Independent because Suffolk people go about their own business and do things their own way. Look at any list of those born in or associated with Suffolk and you won’t find many team players, but you’ll find people like Thomas Wolsey, Bernie Ecclestone and Boudica and a fair selection of artistic greats like Benjamin Britten, Peter Hall, John Constable, Elizabeth Frink, Edward Fitzgerald, Charlotte Rampling, Maggi Hambling and Thomas Gainsborough.
The independent streak has also shown itself through history.
- Ipswich was always losing its borough charter, as they’d always sell food to the other side in the various civil wars.
- My father knew more than he revealed about the defence of the county during World War 2 and said that no-one bothered that Suffolk wouldn’t fight to send the Germans home. Even if some of the stories I’ve heard paid scant notice to the Geneva Convention.
- Suffolk is one of the few counties in England which bucked the trend to fizzy lager in the 1970s and could be described as one of the mainstays of real ale and cider.
- It’s the only county in England with its own breed of horse, cattle and sheep.
- I was conceived and partly brought up in Felixstowe and have watched a sleep dock, grow against the odds into one of the most important ports in the world. Could the success be down to Suffolk independence, as they never received the assistance and government money that other ports did?
But then all Suffolk’s successes are always down to the people own ends and vision.
Forgotten because that is how government and many people in the UK, treat the county. Just look at how they fought to get decent roads to connect the county to London and the Midlands, or how Suffolk has only got a University in recent years.
So Suffolk is independent and forgotten! But curious never!
Today marks twenty-five years since the Great Storm. I wrote about my personal experiences of the storm here.
One point, is today the BBC is reporting from Sussex. In Suffolk, we probably got it as bad as anywhere, with a lot of the county without power for two weeks and forests like Rendlesham were completely devastated.
But of course, at the time, the BBC didn’t have a local radio or television station in Suffolk. Yet again, another example of Suffolk being left to its own devices.
Ipswich is an independent town in the very independent county of Suffolk and it has always been thus for both of them. Today though it is reported, that they are launching a campaign to ban cheap super strength alcohol. It’s all here in the East Anglian Daily Times. I heard of it on Radio 5 and they said it was the first town in England to do so.
Let’s hope it all succeeds in its objectives.
I suppose the real problem is to get all of the small off-licences to comply.