Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is this the world's biggest Special K?

UPDATE: apparently not. @MySpecialK_UK has tweeted me a competitor, here: but there's no ruler, and the hand that's holding it could be tiny. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flights and Fights: Inside the Low Cost Airlines

Hope you might catch my programme on BBC Two tonight: Flights and Fights - 9pm. 

I have written about my experiences making the film here, and there's more background here, and a feature for the BBC News website here.

Here are some of our publicity shots for the film: 

And here's one from behind the scenes: 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Gates' family holiday

Now this is what I call an imaginative family holiday. It comes with the ultimate in classy holiday videos - complete with sophisticated graphics to explain financial points.

Bill and Melinda Gates took "the kids" down the Panama Canal.

Bill had read a history of the Canal before they arrived. And as you can see here, he was allowed to operate the "Windows-based computers" that open the locks.

I'm just sorry the video didn't make use of the palindrome, which would have fitted nicely:

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama

Saturday, June 15, 2013

London bus routes never change

A hundred and thirteen years after this picture was taken the 33 bus still crosses Hammersmith Bridge every ten minutes or so.

The bicycles are probably safer today, but the effect is balanced by having to cycle among more traffic.

It looks like the wooden boards have been covered with sand here. Today, they're covered with tarmac which is alway getting potholed and revealing the boards beneath.

Source: via John on Pinterest

This bridge, completed in 1887, was the second on the site. According to Wikipedia, it cost £82,000 - a great investment, if true.

Here are some pics I took of the bridge one evening, and the flyover which now dominates the Hammersmith side.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Heathrow plan: who would suffer from a Stanwell Moor runway?


The plans submitted to the Davies Commission by Heathrow Airport yesterday put the Stanwell Moor runway a little further south than I'd estimated on the map below, but not much. 

If you click on the map for a bigger view, the runway would be just to the left of the words "King George" on the reservoir label on the left side of the map, at Stanwell Moor. 

The incoming flight path would therefore be parallel to my black line, but further south. It would go through the word "Whitton" and would be directly above Richmond Park, crossing the road in the park between Roehampton Gate and Richmond Gate at its most southerly point - in other words, slap bang through the middle of the park.

If you look at the table at the bottom of the BBC's feature on the Heathrow submission, of the three runway options Heathrow discusses, from the point of view of passenger capacity, noise impact and cost, I fear this one must look the best bet to them. 

(The rest of this was posted on June 8:)

Last week the Standard and the Independent ran a story about a new plan for Heathrow - to build a third runway south west of the existing two, near - or possibly instead of - the village of Stanwell Moor.

Understandably, residents were appalled at the idea. And they wouldn't be the only ones affected. 

Most planes at Heathrow land and take off from East to West because of the typical wind direction. That means residents to the East of the runways suffer the most noise. (Taking off, planes can turn much closer to the airport than the distance needed to line up to the runway when landing - so takeoff noise is dispersed over a wider area than landing noise.)

The Standard story noted that "there could be more noise over Feltham, Twickenham, Ham, Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common."

My black line on Google Maps shows where the flightpath would run. Although I'm making a guess about the exact position of the runway, there's not much choice as it would need to be a significant distance south of the existing southern runway, but, presumably north of the reservoir next to the village (click on it to make the map bigger):  

That puts the flightpath straight above the A316 bridge at Richmond, then almost directly above Richmond town centre; a little south of the Upper Richmond Road towards East Sheen; and then just North of Sheen Gate at Richmond Park. 

Bad news, in other words, for anyone living in Richmond, or on the supposedly desirable 'Park side' of the Upper Richmond Road in that stretch.

My line isn't going to be accurate every day (even if I knew the position of the runway) because wind conditions make planes fly in at an angle to the direct flightpath. But the line would certainly cover areas affected by extra noise. 

The only consolation is that according to the most recent report in the Independent, the runway "would be used exclusively by smaller jets – the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 series – which are quieter than wide-bodied aircraft."

Oh, and that it's still just an idea. We know how long it takes to make these things happen. I confidently expect to have been deaf for years before any new runway opens.