It appears me and M are not the only things to come over from Canada recently. The BBC has a report on milk in plastic bags coming to our supermarkets soon. The technology correspondent makes a bit of a pigs ear out of putting the milk bag into its dispenser and pouring it, but I can totally understand. The first time I came across milk in a bag at the M’s family house near Toronto I was flummoxed too, however the way they use it is to have a small plastic jug with the top of the milk bag sticking out the top – then to use the milk you snip a small triangle off the corner of the bag and voila! Pourable milk.
It will be interesting to see if it catches on here, as the environmental benefits of less packaging are high. The downside is that the plastic bags are more susceptible to breaking when you take them home – plus I can just see some gangs of kids finding it hilarious to throw the bags at people to watch them explode! More news as it happens…
One of the things that’s struck me now that I’ve returned to the UK is the huge focus on being green. For example books on how to be ecological at home, reducing your carbon footprint and generally feeling better about yourself by helping the environment fill the shelves at the local bookstores. We can only hope they used recycled paper. Combined with the rapidly increasing extortion happening at British petrol pumps it’s now even more sensible to use public transport, in theory at least. In practice the now privately owned railways seem to enjoy creating ever more complex and confusing ways to charge us more, especially at rush hour. Government subsidies anyone?
At least this was what I thought until we wanted to make a trip up to Norfolk to see the family this weekend. Hiring a car for a long weekend would have cost us at least £100 before we even got to insurance and the petrol – so much for easycar then. Not sure what to expect I headed over to the National Rail site, central search facility of all the local rail services. A bit of searching later, and I’d managed to find a few six quid advanced singles between London and Norwich – giving a round trip price of £24 for the two of us*. Amazing and totally unexpected, especially as we were leaving two days later.
Our green pound well spent, we enjoyed a wonderful long weekend with the Norfolk and Suffolk parts of the family. Full of the wonders of highly changeable British weather, inquisitive ducks, potty training nephews and the chance to expand Miette’s experience of English culture with a classic spotted dick. More wine, vicar?
*For comparison, my sister is coming down to London during rush hour from the same station and is paying £40 for a return – almost four times the cost. Plus we had the bonus of seeing Piers from The New Statesman seeing someone off from the platform. Splendid.
Folks in London should head down to Trafalgar Square to see what it’s like all green and grassy. The few photos I’ve seen look amazing, it totally changes the way the square works and just makes me think that more public places need grass. Other than the fact it’ll be a mud bath within a few days of course as soon as it rains. I love this current push for all things green, makes a nice change from fighting ‘terror’ – or creating it by scaring everyone into thinking we’re all going to die any minute.
In related London land news – a squatter has been granted the right to stay on his little piece of Hampstead Heath. Harry Hallowes has lived on this piece of land, estimated worth £2m (that’s ~$4m at current crappy exchange rates), for 20 years now and so has gained squatters rights of ownership on it. This strikes me as a classically English resolution to the problem. Nice to see that his plot didn’t accidentally burn down, like happens over here with some landlord’s properties on a regular basis…
Tony Blair has just announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Great Britain. It was just over ten years ago as we watched him get voted him and a new era in our history started. However you feel about Blair now, I feel that he’s done well for our country over all that time and he reflects that in his leaving speech. One can only wish that Clinton or Gore had been in power on this side of the world instead of Bush, then I’m sure the whole world would be a more positive place now.
Hopefully the next Labour leader will do as well, whoever it is. Personally I hope that I still feel about them as I have with Blair, that it would be possible to sit down with them over a pint of beer and discuss the world openly without avoidance and hyperbole – something no American has believed for almost eight years.
Ah, it’s always fun to see my sweet homeland through the eyes of a foreigner – especially when that foreigner is looking at sweets. [From metafilter]
So yesterday I flew back to England, which turned out to be quite lucky since Heathrow domestic flights were cancelled yesterday and again today due to fog. Yep. Traditional English fog, something that ‘rarely happens’ according to Heathrow spokes-folks, is blanketing the whole country. So all things considered our flight got off quite lightly with only a half hour delay, something that we were all glad of. Oh, and Charlie Rose was on our plane.
It’s nice to be back catching up with the folks, eating Pizza Express pizza and also watching Brit-TV again in between fighting the jet lag. So many wonderful new shows to catch up on… and of course the Doctor Who Christmas special in a few days. Yay!
A very boring title I’m afraid – that time of year when my braincells are currently trying to re-group and remember how to function. Just got back to Camberley after hanging out with Chris and his chums in Golders Green for most of the last week. This was my first visit that far north in London and it was quite loverley – a relaxed residential haven that only takes about 30 minutes to get you into Leicester Square. Golders Green is also remarkable for a London suburb that doesn’t have amazingly restrictive parking, definately a blessing (and a quick thanks to mum for lending me her car there).
New Years Eve was again spent at Whirl-y-gig, a hippy, trancey dancey thing where you bring your own booze and is consequently a very cheap night out. The crowd there is very chilled and friendly indeed, totally luverley and I met a lot of really nice folk, both random and mates of Chris.
Now the excitement has started to wear off with the hangover and I’m faced with the reality of a month closing down my affairs in New York City and preparing for another chapter in my life to start – Matt the World Traveller. Hmm… all sounds a bit Harry Potter to me (of which I have to say the third book in the series is the best so far, but the film is unmitigated shite – go see Lord of the Rings instead, it’s wonderful).
2001 highlights and thanx to (in no particular order):
- Alexa – for teaching me so much about photography and everything else.
- Culebra – a small island off Puerto Rico where I saw turtles laying their eggs on my most amazing night ever so far (and thanks to Tim for getting us there).
- Aimi – for fun, support and a great cooked breakfast.
- Alicia – for re-awakening my wander lust even if I wasn’t ready to wander at that time.
- Max & Kelle – for being them and being there.
- Chris – for chilled out fun and conversations about nothing and everything.
- AccuWeather – for teaching me so much, with special thanks to Parsh Mehta, Martin Sheridan, Jim Greco and Brian Amamoto.
- Quidnunc – for laying me off, a double edged sword that’s made me get my shit together again.
- Guiliani – for showing why he’s always been the right Mayor for New York – calm, competent and caring (even if he’s not so keen on dancing). My thoughts are still with all those who lost loved ones on September 11th.
- And all my family – for just being them.
ps, this website can now only be reached through ultrahi.tripod.com (not matthewhobbs.net or sushification.com). I realized I was spending a bomb on owning names I didn’t really use so I stopped paying and a few months later Network Solutions actually noticed!
Well, as you can guess from the fact I’m typing the plane landed safely… No sleep though, apart from the 20 minutes I caught during Hedwig and the Angry Inch (which I had just been starting to enjoy when I dozed off).
So I’ve been staying in a little hotel near to Oxford town center with most of my family – eight of us have descended to break the peace and celebrate my nan’s 84th birthday. We just had a wonderful (and extremely large) dinner at the Boot pub, just outside of Oxford. The walls have many different shoes from different celebrities such as Gary Linneker and the Bee Gees scattered around. Nice place.