Thursday, 27 August 2015

I am forgiving any bee that has ever and will ever stung me

Seriously, what does it have to happen in order people to realize how serious this problem is?!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bournemouth and Jurassic Coast


1406 - The very first mention of La Bournemowthe in  Christchurch cartulary. Bournemowthe was purely a geographic reference to the uninhabited area around the mouth of the small river which, in turn, drained the heathland between the towns of Poole and Christchurch.

1810 - Captain in the Dorset Yeomanry Lewis Tregonwell and his wife visit Bourne during their holiday; they liked that area of heathland with nice sea views so much that they decided to build a house next to the mouth of the River Bourne (which runs through the Lower Gardens today). That was called The Mansion and was the first house in Bournemouth and it survives to this day as a wing of the Royal Exeter Hotel.

1831 -  A travel guide published in this year calls the place "Bourne Cliffe" or "Tregonwell's Bourne"

1832 - Lewis Tregonwell dies. Statue of Captain Lewis Tregonwell can be seen outside Bournemouth International Centre on Exeter Road.

1841 - The Spas of England, published in this year, mentions town as "Bourne"

1844 - Start of works on building St.Peter's church - the founding mother church of Bournemouth. 

1851 - Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, dies and is buried in the churchyard of  St.Peter's church

1856 - The first version of the Bournemouth Pier - just a wooden jetty

1870 - After getting a spa and railway connections, Bournemouth is recognized as town

1879 - St.Peter's church completed. Remains of Lewis Tregonwell are in its vault.

1881 - built Built as the Mont Dore Hotel, today Bournemouth Town Hall

1889Boscombe Pier opened

1893 - Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra formed (it is based in Poole nowadays)

1895 -  The Boscombe Grand Theatre opened (O2 Academy today)

1901 - East Cliff Hall completed. It was built by Merton Russell-Cotes, then the owner of the Royal Bath Hotel, as a birthday present for his wife Annie. It was built in the northeast section of his hotel's garden.

1902 - The Boscombe Grand Theatre made a concert hall and renamed to Boscombe Hippodrome

1908 - The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum established in East Cliff Hall

1911 -  Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation synagogue built

1929Pavilion Theatre opened

1960s -  Boscombe Hippodrome renamed to Starkers Royal Arcade Ballrooms, which was visited by acts such as Pink Floyd, Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Hawkwind, The Faces and David Bowie.

1973 - Tolkien dies in September at his home in Bournemouth

1982 - Starkers Royal Arcade Ballrooms renamed to Academy Nightclub

1984 - The Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) completed. It is a national conference and music venue.

2007 - In survey by First Direct, Bournemouth was found to be the happiest place in the UK, with 82% of people questioned saying they were happy with their lives

2009 - Academy Nightclub becomes O2 Academy

Hotel Miramar - writer J. R. R. Tolkien, spent 30 years taking holidays in Bournemouth, staying in the same room at this hotel

Poole Bay is a bay in the English Channel, on the coast of Dorset in southern England, which runs from the mouth of Poole Harbour in the west, to Hengistbury Head in the east.

Hengistbury Head - a narrow peninsula that forms the southern shore of Christchurch Harbour. It is a local nature reserve and the site of a Bronze Age settlement

Jurassic Coast

- 96 miles (155 km) of coastline designated a World Heritage Site


877 - The town is first mentioned in historical texts in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

- fishing and quarrying (Purbeck marble, Purbeck stone)

1833 -  Princess Victoria, later to become queen visits luxury hotel opened by MP William Morton Pitt in the early 19th century; The building was later renamed the Royal Victoria Hotel, now the building has been converted into flats and a bar and nightclub in the left and right wings respectively.

Old Harry Rocks
Peveril Point with National Coastwatch Institution Lookout
Durlston Country Park

The rest of Jurassic coast 

Lulworth Cove
Stair Hole


Thursday, 20 August 2015

Stop poaching now!

Some grim facts:

- since 2010, official figures show that on average almost 35000 elephants a year have been killed across Africa
- in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, numbers have plummeted from as many as 55000 to just 13000 in four years
- kilogram of ivory is now worth more than a kilogram of gold
- some terrorist organizations kill elephants to help pay for the weapons it needs to conduct atrocities - Africa's elephants could soon be extinct
- animal that has existed for four million years could be gone in the wild in a few decades

(source: Evening Standard)

Giants Club: President lights the fire that puts Kenya at forefront of Africa’s battle against ivory poachers

It was discovered that chimpanzee meat was on sale in the Midlands as part of a black market in exotic meats. Chimp meat can fetch more than £20 per kilogram.
(Evening Standard, 25/06/2015)

Digital detoxing

Take a proper break — you’ll be much more productive if you do
(by ROHAN SILVA, Evening Standard,  Monday 3 August 2015)

...taking a proper break every once in a while helps you be more creative and clear-headed when you get back.’s a sign of wisdom, not weakness, to be able to switch off from work now and again.

In Tech City today, “digital detoxes” are increasingly popular, with technologists unplugging from digital devices to give their brains a rest.

Monday, 17 August 2015

River Lea walk from Pickett's Lock to Springfield Park

Past Sunday Katia and me took bus 102 from Muswell Hill to Edmonton Green. From there we walked through Edmonton, down St. Martins Rd, Monmouth Rd, Montagu Rd, Pickett's Lock Lane to Pickett's Lock at River Lea Navigation.

On the way downstream we saw anglers and couple of barges. There were many ripe blackberries on the side of the walk so we treated ourselves with sweet fruit. We witnessed the shanty town erected behind the fence enclosing William Girling reservoir. Further down, just before the North Circular Road bridge we passed the London Waste facilities - a huge building with high chimney I always check out when driving on North Circular.

Our first break was at Stonebridge Lock where we rested on a bench in front of the Waterside Centre. It was amusing watching one young lad passing the lock and mooring his barge. He left his little dog at the lock and the puppy was looking across the water and was looking how to get on the other side and reunite with his owner. Young man had to walk back and show puppy that it had to cross the bridge.

We continued the walk, passed Tottenham Marshes, under Ferry Lane where we saw the place where Pymmes Brook joins river Lea. Here we had another break. 

Section of the river adjacent to Warwick reservoirs, down to Springfield Park is packed with barges. We saw remains of two cranes which I guess used to be used for moving goods from barges onto bank. One wall had interesting mural - a man in a sleeping position with animals in boats within him, Above it was some gallery space with a one-day pop-up pizza restaurant!

We left river just before Springfield Park and walked up the Spring Hill to Clapton Common where we took the bus home, via Finsbury Park, Holloway Rd and Archway.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Roman roads in England

When I was about to move to Huntingdon in UK, I was using online resources to read about my future place of residence and many times I would come across a word Ermine. First, the company I was starting job with was located in Ermine Business Park. This business park was next to Ermine Road which connects Huntingdon with Great Stukeley, the nearby village to the north-west. Then, when reading about Huntingdon on Wikipedia I found that "The town has a well-preserved medieval bridge that used to serve as the main route of Ermine Street over the river." And then I discovered that Ermine Street used to be one of the main roads of Roman England and that many major roads in England actually follow old Roman routes. If some road has unusually long straight sections, the chances are it follows some ancient way.

Ermine Street goes from London to York via Royston, Huntingdon and Lincoln. If we look at its sections, they are clearly very straight like:

  • Kingsland Road (part of A10 road in London)
  • Stoke Newington Road (part of A10 road in London)
  • Stamford Hill (part of A10 road in London)
  • A10 from Enfield to Puckeridge (A10 bypasses Ware)
  • A10 from Puckeridge to Buntingford
  • A10 from Buntingford to Royston
  • A1198 from Royston to Godmanchester and Huntingdon
  • A1 from Alconbury to Norman Cross
  • etc...

Section of A10 connecting London's City with Royston in Hertfordshire is a part of Ermine Road

Straight A1198 road between Royston and Huntingdon follows Roman Ermine way 

When I was later living in Cambridge, I was curious whether any of its main ways was also following some old route. Quite straight sections are:

  • road going from Balsham to Fulborn 
  • Mill Road 
  • Parkside
  • Sidney Street
  • Bridge Street
  • Castle Street
  • Huntingdon Road
  • section of A14 connecting Cambridge and Huntingdon
  • section of A14 going from Brampton to Thrapston
  • etc...

And this is not just coincidence - these sections are part of old Roman Via Deviana which was connecting Colchester (the oldest town in Britain) and Chester.

Roman Via Deviana connects Cambridge and Huntingdon

And now question for Londoners: have you ever noticed how straight is the route made of Edgware Road, Maida Vale, Kilburn High Road...connecting central London with Edgware (and going further north-west)...? Yes, you are right...that's an old Roman road - Watling Street, connecting Canterbury with St. Albans.

Edgware Road is part of Roman Watling Street

Roman traces across England are impressive. Without Roman legacy, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Kier and other road construction companies would have much harder job to do.