Flying Scotsmen

We expected much larger crowds to come out and see the newly refurbished Flying Scotsman coming through Hanwell at 9:00 this Saturday morning, but we enjoyed our 15 seconds of being part of the event (or was it just 10?) as we watched it cross the viaduct here in Hanwell.

I never thought we’d be a trainspotter, but there you have it.

Foragers At Work

IMG_20150918_123103-cNot bad for a 90 minute lunchtime foraging quickie: 2.5 kg deep red rose hips, a very large bag of apples and a bag of golden ripe pears, all courtesy of Elthorne Rough.


Great Expectations

DSC_0274Yoel replied and explained that there was “an unprecedented level of correspondence […] [expressing] concerns over this particular location.” He goes on explaining that we “face a serious issue with street drinking and the inevitable anti social behaviour that it causes in and around the [..] area …”

What’s the f* point, I wonder?

If nobody expects persons treated at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation site to be ex-drug users or ex-alcoholics, what’s the point?

I am also forever curious about the great expectations some people apparently have, and would have loved to find out if a group of former alcohol and drug abusers can live up to these. Are those people expected to roll around in the street, stark-naked? Shout obscenities? Lure the local primary school children into a life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll?

I think I might have wanted to join in, at least in the rolling-around naked whilst shouting obscenities part.

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An Open Letter

DSC_0304I reported twice, so far, on the local rejection of plans for converting a run-down small office block into a place of rehabilitation treatment for drug and alcohol addicts. [one] [two]

Today, even the local Councillor for the Labour party beats his chest with the successful defeat of such plans, in form of a locally distributed pamphlet. Enough is enough! If the man doesn’t come speak to me, I need to speak to the man. And so we did. A copy of our message follows:

Dear Cllr Yoel Gordon,

Thank you very much for your letter with news about The Studios, Hanwell. Please allow us to express our deep regret and most heartfelt resentment about this affair.

We expected the local conservative representative to jump onto this particular bandwagon, the bandwagon put into motion by the local well-to-do not-on-my-doorstep party. She did. From a representative of the Labour party, we expect awareness of the needs of the society as a whole, though.

Maybe also a little bit of common sense.

You, and your “defending the communities” are actively helping to build a society nobody in their right social mind can wish to live in. The “anywhere but here” approach is an outright antisocial policy. We do not wish to be associated with such a policy.

A much needed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility now needs to find another location (and probably face the same resentment again). In Cambridge Road, we are stuck with a derelict and (seemingly) partly unused office block, featuring a forecourt ideally suited for drug dealing in the evening hours. We almost wish the local dealers move their business there.



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No No No

DSC_0105No solicitation, some people write onto their letter boxes or front doors, No junk mail some others. You can even buy these as stickers or in engraved brass, and, quite possible, you can even buy these from a travelling door-to-door salesman.

It seems that I need to make my own sign though. It would go something like this:

No solicitation, none whatsoever.

This includes, but is not limited to, the sale or recommendation of goods (such as UPVC windows), services (such as tree pruning or gutter cleaning), or spiritual concepts (such as Christianity).

Followers of St Florian, in the very spirit of St Florian’s principle, are also kindly requested to go elsewhere.

Anita Kapoor, elected councillor for the Conservative Party (Elthorne Ward) now prides herself of having successfully campaigned against plans to convert a derelict local building into a local centre for rehabilitation of former drug users. In reality Anita will have jumped onto the bandwagon brought into motion by others, but I guess that’s what politicians do.  I told you about this campaign earlier.

I can only hope that the local junkies discover this excellent site really soon. The Studios, as the run-down small office block is known, has amble parking space, good mobile phone reception, a forecourt with space to mingle, meet and trade at all times of the day. The site is generally unoccupied outside main working hours, rarely checked out by the police, and offers a few dark corners for more private meetings.


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Petition Day

DSC_1454Ding-dong, the door bell goes, so I go and answer. Whether I’d sign her petition, the lady wonders. It’s against an application for change of use of the Studio office block nearby, which is to be converted into an alcohol and drugs centre – her words, not mine! No, she sais, she doesn’t know what that means either, but she thinks it could describe a place for rehabilitation and treatment, and fears that even ex-offenders might frequent it. Again, her words, not mine.

You hypocritical little weasel, I think to myself, and explain that I shall not sign her petition. Converting a run-down office block with dubious tenants into a place of rehabilitation and treatment is a fine thing, I explain, and petitioning against something while not even knowing what it means is hugely disagreeable. I suspect, I continue telling her, that in reality she is protesting against anything which might happen because it might happen on her doorstep.

I deny politely and close the door, and wish I hadn’t been quite so polite. What a hypocritical weasel, really! I can’t comprehend what kind of society people want, if it doesn’t include rehabilitation and treatment for those in need of such things. I find this mindset objectionable and highly antisocial.

Shame, shame, and shame again on all those not on my doorstep people.

I almost wish she comes again.


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A Surprise Icebreaker

DSC_0278One of my highlights of the week is my weekly shopping walk on an early Saturday morning. Weather permitting, I grab my over 20 year old wicker shopping basket and a couple of reusable cotton bags, and make my rounds:

First stop often is the Hanwell Fishmonger. They are open every day 8am to 8pm, offer a superb selection at very reasonable prices, and do a great job at gutting and cleaning. This past Saturday, for example, I bought a pair of Red Mullet and half a dozen of Scallops. I pay £11 and tell them that I’ll be back to collect things in about an hour.

The next stop is the West Ealing Farmers’ Market. I often buy cheese and meat here, and of course all kinds of herbs, fruit, veg and the ever-so delicious Isle of Wight tomatoes. This past Saturday, I bought fennel, spring onions and Victoria Plums.

The third stop is Cudi’s Food Store in West Ealing, the 24/7 multi-cultural super market with a great fruit and veg selection at very reasonable prices. This past Saturday, I was looking for prickly pears, but they had non. Instead, I found they had fresh Chanterelle Mushrooms. The real thing, a whole lot of them for just £4.99. Bargain, even if they might faintly glow in the dark.

The forth stop is Waitrose West Ealing, where I buy whatever remains on the list.

I will normally retrace my steps to find something which I forgot, or because I had to change plans slightly and now desperately need cherries or coriander or whatever, and I will finally stop by the Hanwell Fishmonger again and collect my purchase.

I am often approached by people commenting on my wicker basket. Most people carry plastic bags enough to cause a global plastic crisis all by themselves, and somehow envy the wicker basket, but come back in the following week for more plastic bags. Go figure.

Anyway, this past Saturday, I had a new experience: people always look at me and my basket, but this Saturday, they looked inside the basket and commented on the content. I could tell, because I was approached by three different people, commenting on and inquiring about the source of my Chanterelle (also known as Girolle) Mushrooms.

Who would have thought that a punnet of Chanterelles could be such an ice breaker with the otherwise rather reserved West Ealing shoppers? One lady in particular, who turned out to be German (married to an Italian named Mario), was positively excited about the prospect of affordable Chanterelles.

She made my day.


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Controlled Parking Zone?

parcometroThere’s a public hearing about a controlled parking zone (CPZ) in Hanwell town centre, are they nuts?

Oh no, they are not. Painting a few yellow lines, erecting a few new signs, and charging £75 per resident’s car per annum (£40 for a visitor’s permit), and cashing in on fines, is pretty attractive against any of the true solutions. Those include

a) create and maintain sufficient short-term car park space for shoppers and church goers or, more importantly,

b) make public transport so attractive that short term car parking problems go away.

This is not even a very well disguised money-making scheme for the council, given that there is no car park shortage in this area in the first place. The only occasional car parking problems arise from one of three local and easily identifiable sources:

  • Excessive praying at Our Lady and St Joseph can lead to a short-term car parking demand,
  • The car park at Gold’s Gym only takes a dozen or so cars, where the demand is probably three or four times that much at peak times, and
  • The Cambridge Yard building site brings work men during the day, and some stay in their cars over night.

Surely, church, gym and building site could be asked to make suitable provisions, and to encourage use of public transport. This is just the usual Ealing council hare-brained nonsense. All in favour of a cheap fund raiser for the council, without solving the actual problem, please vote Yes on the Hanwell CPZ Hearing.

Anyone with their head intact, please join me in saying No. You’ve got until December 23rd for the 120 seconds needed to fill in the form and return it in the free envelop provided.

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Something Fishy Tonight!

Hanwell Fish MongerThis blog gets hit by local searches, so allow me to recommend a new local business: the Hanwell Fishmonger, 111 Uxbridge Road, Hanwell.

They also have a website, Didn’t work for me when I tried, but maybe its a work in progress.

Just go in there. They offer the full spectrum of while and oil fish, cuttlefish and crustaceans. Their strength is in fresh whole fish, not so much in the omnipresent cod and haddock fillets. We had King Fish streaks and Sea Bream from them so far; very reasonably priced and delicious on both occasions. The boys behind the counter also know how to handle fish; I asked them gut and clean the Sea Breams for me, and they did a nice and neat job at it.

Supporting your local businesses rather than the big supermarket chains is vital for the upkeep (or restoration) of our town centres. A town and its community can’t thrive on used washing machine and used Rolls Royce traders alone, so I encourage everyone to support the local shops. Hanwell is not very glamorous, but offers a number of appealing local businesses: butchers, baker, grocers, florists, fish mongers, newsagents, hair dressers, a pharmacy, several cafes, an ice cream parlour, a great number of pubs and some restaurants, and many more.

One pound in every £7 spent in Britain is already spent at Tesco.

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King Fish a la Grecque

hanwellFishMongerHere’s a very nice and simple meal, ideal for summer, ideal to use vegetables from your own garden, and ideal to support your local fish monger (yes! Hanwell now has its own fish monger, hurray! You can’t miss it; it’s straight across the road from the Rolls Royce dealership, 111 Uxbridge Road).

So, they sell King fish, a large relative of the Mackerel. I bought two thick slices of 350g each, and prepared them like so:

Peel some nice firm potatoes. Here in the UK, we use Charlotte or Exquisa. Put in a pot, add a handful of flat leave parsley, a peeled shallot and a crushed glove of garlic. Half an inch of water and a teaspoon of salt. close the lid, bring to the boil and let steam until done; approximately 20 minutes. (Note I said “half an inch of water.” Do not drown your potatoes, as this just wash out the little flavour there is.)

Rummage through the garden. I found courgettes and cherry tomatoes. Cut the courgettes in chunks and fry them in a non-sticking pan – no fat, no salt – as hot as you dare to.

Meanwhile, clean the King fish steaks. Bring a generous amount of olive oil to moderate heat, season with a large amount of crushed black pepper (at least one tablespoon), two crushed gloves of garlic, one hot chilly, and lots of fresh thyme. Gently fry the fish steaks from both sides, about 4 minutes each side depending on the thickness. While frying, spoon some of the juices and fat over the top of the fish steak.

Toss your cherry tomatoes in with the courgettes, give them 5 minutes to heat but not to cook. Add a pinch of salt and and some fresh thyme, then remove from the heat.

Swiss chard would also have been nice, or fresh artichokes. Next time.

So, this is it. Remove the fish from the pan and plate out. Drizzle with lime juice and salt, add the steamed potatoes and some of the vegetables, and enjoy.

We never had King Fish before, but I certainly plan to have it again.


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Modern Times

Heritage Design Streetlights It appears that every local area improvement committee, at least in our area, is ruled by conservative people. I recall that we couldn’t prevent the vote for heritage design in a Hanwell Steering Commitee meeting that we attended some while ago, but the outcome is now visible to everyone, and makes me cringe every time.

Does it make sense to mount brand new street lights that follow a 130 year old design?

Yes, it might, wherever there is similar heritage to protect.

Hanwell, however, is no such place. If anything, Hanwell should display an air of Modernism and a forward-looking attitude.

A clean, elegant, modern design could have done a much better job at improving the looks of Hanwell Broadway. Note that I didn’t even discuss the fact that the chosen light use outdated luminaries technology, and are ill-fitted for modern street lighting control, supervision, and energy management systems. Surely, thinking beyond heritage design would just be asking too much.


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My Lucky Day

latymerSchool Good afternoon, Sir, I say, addressing the proprietor of M. S. Rayat & Sons, Tools and Hardware (and a million of related things), right here in the heart of W7.

The spring in my door handle is broken, I continue, would you have any replacement springs?

No, he replies, you must buy the whole pair of handles.

All right. A pair of handles then, please. I am not too fussed about the design as long as they are near enough.

He looks at me. He looks at the handle that I brought, and sais it might just be your lucky day.

Voila! He produces a brand new pair of mock-Edwardian door handles in an exact match to mine. £7, with screws, spindle, and all.

This gentlemen has only ever failed me once, in many inquiries. If you are in the area and require a tool, piece of hardware, ironmongery, or anything remotely like any of these, or something that you cannot even guess what it is and where it might be sold, please see your local business and my friend Mr. Rayat. It could be your lucky day.

The chain stores might have pretty young girls at the tills, but they won’t know what you mean, when you come in and describe an item by saying I don’t know what it is called but it is shaped like so (gesturing) and about that long (indicating), but must have a little hook at the end.

Or, if you ask for an exact replacement of a pair of mock-Edwardian door handles, as it happens. Fabulous.


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