Skip to main content
Eurostar

I had hoped to have been able to fly myself to Brussels yesterday but the 'summer' weather made this impossible.



With a 24-hour PPR (prior permission) required for the flight plan, I had spent £17.00 on a call to the Met Office to speak to a forecaster for a stronger idea of what Friday morning’s weather might be and I have to confess, he was spot on. Heavy showers and high winds, which forced me to take ‘Plan B’, the Eurostar from Ashford, a convenient, more expensive and longer journey than simply hopping in my aircraft and starting the engine.

What surprised me at the Eurostar check-in at Ashford International Station at 08:45 in the morning was that only one person was on duty, with a row of empty positions next to him. People in the lengthening queue, include me, were starting to mutter with annoyance. After all, at this time of the day, one might have thought that Eurostar might be able to organise more than one ticket desk?

When I finally reached the front of the line, I asked the stressed, middle-aged man behind the desk why he was all alone. “The other person is on breakfast”, he told me, and “we’ve been here since two this morning”. “But only two people to manage the Eurostar rush-hour”, I asked incredulously, “Isn’t that ridiculous”? “We’re always understaffed”, he replied, “We just have to cope”.

The train to Brussels was five minutes late; this is England after all, and although it was a very civilised journey with polite service, I had to beg several times for a cup of coffee, which took roughly half the journey before it arrived and I managed to throw it all over my notes and mobile phone. On arrival in Belgium, Brussels station was only ten minutes away from the restaurant, the Portofino, where I was to have my meeting and on the way home, I just managed to squeeze back on the 4’ O’clock train back to Ashford.

One thing I did notice on the train is that at 300km/hr the GPRS signals from my mobile phone have trouble keeping up. More accurately, I think we were moving so quickly between the cellular masts that my Sony P900 phone was having problems finding a consistent signal to pick up my email ‘On the fly’.

Working my way home from Ashford on my motorcycle via Canterbury, I was horrified to see how bad the traffic congestion problem has become in recent years. Canterbury at rush hour is the equal or worse of the infamous Wandsworth ‘one-way’ system in London and the Deputy Prime Minister urgently needs a sanity check, if he believes that he can squeeze a million more homes into the flood-plain between the two towns. He and his planners are completely out of their minds. The infrastructure and the environment simply won’t accommodate such a grand plan without burying what’s left of the Kent countryside under more concrete.

Anyway, today is Saturday and I was supposed to be revalidating my instrument weather (IMC) rating between Lydd and Le Touquet. A kind of blindfold driving exercise, with a friendly but frequently sarcastic examiner in the right seat, as I make attempts to shoot instrument approaches onto a runway on instruments alone. The weather has however struck again and there’s a howling gale outside, so the exercise is cancelled until Tuesday, which is fine by me. The low cloud would be fine but the wind would make it very difficult indeed and I’d probably end up back at Brussels by mistake, so instead, I'll try and pedal my mountain bike along the sea wall to Reculvers against the gale.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…