Elizabeth Tower

Government Satisfaction?

Recent Surveys have suggested that the countries satisfaction with the way the government has been handling the Coronavirus pandemic is poor. Is this a good measure of Government Satisfaction?

This is not just the country of England, but also Scotland.

The Great British media

Many of these statements have, surprise surprise, come from the media and media surveys. 

My challenge, is are they being controversial with their questions? Are they specifically designed to court discussion and disagreement? Or are they trying to divide us?

You could suggest that I am doing the very same thing with this blog post. To a degree I am, but my thoughts are more with the understanding the truth. To get past what I call “lies, damn lies and statistics”.


Not the question. Not the time

I would consider the dissatisfaction statement as dubious.

I actually believe that the question should read “Are you tired of Coronavirus restrictions?”

I would be stunned if anyone replied “No” to such a question.

People being tired of of restrictions, will likely want to kick out at the people imposing those restrictions. This is just normal human nature.


Mistakes have been made

Don’t get me wrong, the leaders have made mistakes (at least in my opinion). Would this statement be true if another colour of government was in place? Again, in my opinion, the answer would still be Yes, they have.

Government at all levels and all countries have undoubtedly struggled. There is no rule book or guidelines for this. The government departments and advisors have also been error prone.

How much more?

If you are anything like me, you are now utterly sick and tired of the restrictions. You want your life back. Freedoms returned. 

However, let’s be honest with ourselves. It is extremely unlikely that we would be very far from where we are now whoever was in charge. 

This is a virus. Nature perhaps fighting back. The challenge the leaders face is one of nature v economy.

Difficult Judgements

There are no right and wrong answers, only finely balanced judgements.

They do say that if you never make a decision in your life, you will never make an incorrect one. This is an undeniable truth.

I, for one, am extremely grateful that I am not having to make these judgements and decisions.

So having said all of that, let’s revisit the question. Is the question about satisfaction on the pandemic handling really fair? I would suggest to you it is not.

You may be unhappy with the restrictions. It is likely you are frustrated. We all are.

Just remember, no one has had to make these precise judgements before. I would never attack the leaders whilst I believe they are trying to do the right thing.

It is still not time to resume politics in its true form until this pandemic is over.


Join our mailing list

Photo by Adi Ulici on Unsplash


Eagle and Tun

What Price For Progress

If we want new, Old has to give way – What price for progress?

Much has been said about the new rail line, HS2. It is a controversial project with many people in support and many against. So I ask – What price for progress?

For me, I don’t think it is needed. A new station will eventually be built just a few miles away from my abode, but it will be of little benefit to myself. Partly because the reduction in time onboard the train will be eaten up by the increased journey time at both ends. However, that is my personal view for what it is worth and not actually related to the blog!

We need to accept that some of the project at least will be built. My musings on here today are more about the cost of the project. 

When I say cost, I do not refer to money (it is blatantly obvious that no one knows how much it will cost). I refer to the other costs. The landscape, the noise and most of all, the loss of two great pubs (1 is reported as being a mistake!). 

We only have so much space in our cities, so whenever we want something new, something old usually has to give way. 

For HS2, much has been demolished.

In Birmingham, a pub called the Eagle and Tun has been demolished to make way for the new Curzon street station.

Whilst you woulnever call this an upmarket pub, it had a rich heritage.

Inside the Eagle and TunIt first welcomed drinkers during the reign of Queen Victoria and is famous for appearing on the cover of UB40’s ‘Best of’ album as well as being used in the video for the track Red Red Wine.

In august of 2019, Ed Sheeran also shot a music video in the pub.

The pub itself had real age and character about it. It closed in 2008 but was rescued by the last landlord and restored using his own money.

Red brick architecture with large windows outside. Inside there were original glazed tiles on the walls, traditional bench seating and a large bar.

Above the bar on shelves were dusty musical instruments.

I was lucky enough to visit the Eagle on Tun shortly before it closed its doors for good in early January 2020. Even in its death knell, the beer was well kept.

Bree Louise

At the other end of the line, the Bree Louise near Euston station was forced to close. The pub, named after the owners daughter who died at the age of 12, was a multi award winning boozer.

A firm favourite amongst locals and known as Euston’s best kept secret known for its great ale, lack of football, no fruit machines and no music. It was a real gem for real ale drinkers and craft lovers alike. It was a real London pub.

Whilst many pubs are closing, it is notable that such historic pubs serving great beer and with a rich history are often thriving.

There will be without doubt other business and architecture casualties in the building of this new rail line.

I think it is fair to say, that the arguments and the business case for such a rail line are dubious at best. The costs in financial terms are incredible and likely to rise. The benefits only for a few in order to shave a few minutes from their journey.

The real cost

The cost however to the country’s landscape, heritage and architecture is immense.

I am not certain why we feel the need to flatten such places and put up in their place glass monstrosities.

To elaborate further on the destruction and loss, my research tells me the following is a list of the countries losses –

  • 900 Homes
  • 1,000 businesses
  • 27 Community facilities
  • 60 Irreplaceable ancient woodlands
  • Estimated 2,380 jobs lost permanently (claimed that 2,340 will be created)

Additionally, HS2 state that

  • 58 million tons of landfill waste will be created
  • 9 rivers will need to be diverted

Will we have anything for visitors to see?

It makes me wonder what the future holds for the country. People travel from a-far to experience our heritage and culture. Let’s hope we can keep some for them to see.

So, What price for progress?


Join our mailing list
Number 73 London bus

Crossing London

In past blogs, I have spoken about slowing the pace of life. Putting to one side the trinkets of modern life i.e. the mobile phone or laptops and taking time to observe. This blog, entitled ‘Crossing London’, continues this thought process.

Places to be, people to see

More times than I care to remember have I had to travel across London from one station to another. At first I was proud at the speed that I could make the journey. My destination and timetable all encompassing.

As the number of trips I undertake dwindles, to be replaced by leisure trips, my attitude has changed. I now make this journey in a very leisurely fashion.


The change first happened when I found myself with time to spare and I chose the number 73 bus to travel from Victoria to St Pancras in place of the over crowded Victoria line tube. This was a revelation.

Rather than dark tunnels, uniform corridors and crowds, I was treated to the wonderful sites of London. Monuments, parks, churches and architecture. I witnessed locals and visitors alike going about the business of the day. In place of the uniformity of the tube corridors, I relished the apparent randomness of life above ground.

Regular route

One of my regular cross London journeys is from Paddington station to St Pancras station. Whenever time and weather permit I elect to walk.

The most direct route for this would see you turn left out of Paddington and head towards Edgware road tube station. A gentle right onto Marylebone road. Then straight onto Euston Road until St Pancras.

Sights to see

As you walk you will see many sights. Westminster Magistrates court, Marylebone station. Baker street, Madame Tussauds, The Royal academy of music, Regents park, Great Portland street, Euston station, and the British library to name but a few. All that in just 45 minutes!

Introduce ‘Random’ to your life

I rarely walk that route! Infact, I rarely walk the same route twice.

I love nothing more than exploring en-route. Whilst keeping the tall landmarks in mind, it is easy to navigate a general direction without becoming lost.

The streets, shops, and pubs of Fitzrovia, Marylebone, and Bloomsbury. These are sites that you won’t see on the bus or any tour. You most certainly won’t see them on the tube.

The journey not only gives me exercise, it also gives me variety and interest. In my view, that is an unbeatable combination.

You can always stand under someone’s armpit staring through the windows onto the dark walls of the underground, or you can walk or use the bus. As you may determine, you know my preference.

Not Just in London – everywhere

I speak here of London, but the same can be said of very many cities. You rarely have to go far from your normal route to find a very different scene. In my local neighbourhood, there is a road into the city centre. It is long and straight. Boring almost. Just a few yards to one side, a canal runs in parallel. This is a far more attractive and interesting walk.

My plea

This weeks plea is therefore one of the simplest and cheapest that I have ever made.

Be aware of your surroundings. Give yourself time to walk and explore. As I explain in the above text, you need not wander too far off route.

Not only will you get exercise but you will see and experience more than you would if you follow the same old routes and routines.

It doesn’t just have to be Crossing London!


Why not join our mailing list

Photo by Alex Totaro on Unsplash

Pragmatic Question

Covid Pragmatism

It seems very rare these days that pragmatism and common sense raise their head above the parapet. When Covid is concerned, such an event is even rarer. I have seen Covid Pragmatism.

At the time of writing this post, the UK Government are considering the subject of Christmas. Specifically if restrictions can be lifted for the festive period.

There are surely conflicting opinions on this topic.

Warnings about the cost of relaxation

Warnings have been issued that for every 1 day we relax restrictions over Christmas, 5 days of additional restrictions will need to be endured. Is that a price worth paying?


Today I have seen 2 separate online surveys on this very subject.

The first was a fairly generic question asking on the opinion of Christmas and asking if people would give it up this year.

The second, was a very specific question. Given the 1 day of relaxation costing 5 days of extra restrictions, how many days of relaxation would you like. The results, at the time I completed the survey, we extremely pragmatic. Over 42% of respondents said 0 (zero) with 1,2 & 3 days each polling around 20% of the responses.


This is the general public being pragmatic.

I perhaps conclude that this is pragmatic because it aligns with my opinion. However, It tells us much about what people are thinking.

Will the United Kingdom give up its hard earn’t position on COVID for a day or 2 of rule relaxation, or, is it better to carry on and restore normality sooner?

So much has been given

The public have given much this year. Most assuredly it has been challenging and emotional for most people. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

In my opinion, it would be foolish to give up on the hard work. Indeed, I believe it would be dangerous.

With positive news around vaccines, we have much to look forward to. The fabled light at the end of the tunnel really exists and it is becoming brighter by the day.

We must not be short sighted.

What will our leaders do?

The big unknown is what the Government will do. Given the second survey I spoke of was a YouGov poll, you would hope that they are taking notice of public opinion. As a result of this, I must ask, “will they act on it?”. Will COVID Pragmatism be a thing?


Join our mailing list

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

StPancras Roof

St Pancras

As we rush around with our ever so busy lives, many are almost blind to some of their surroundings. St Pancras is a classic example.

Railway Stations

Some of the most overlooked buildings are railways stations. This is odd, as we visit them so frequently.

There are many fantastic examples to behold. Newcastle central with its curving roof, Glasgow central with its dark wooden interior. There are also many small stations that are loved and cared for by the local residents.

They are part of our rich heritage.

St Pancras

One of the stations that I visit regularly in normal times is London St  Pancras international. During my time, I have seen changes beyond anything you could ever have imagined at this station. Like so many, it has a rich history and at times was nearly lost.


Opened in 1868 the station is considered to be one of the wonders of Victorian engineering. As well as this, the hotel which fronts the station is a wonderous architectural building and instantly recognisable.

The station today, is a magnificent building that stands as a visitor attraction in its own right and is so much more than a train station. It was not always this way.

The station was built by the Midland Railway Company (MRC) to be the terminal station of the Midland Railway which connects the Midlands cities of Sheffield, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and many others to the capital city.

St Pancras is the younger relative of London Kings Cross by just 15 years. It opened in 1868.

Designed and built by William Henry Barlow (Chief Engineer), Rowland Mason Ordish (Station Layout) and George Gilbert Scott (Architect for the hotel and station accommodation) the station had an unusual feature that until recently, few people new about.

Challenging construction

The station had to fit in a tight and complex space. In the days of its construction, railway lines could not enter the centre of London (which is why London has a circle of terminal stations around it) . There was also the Metropolitan railway below .  Other challenges included the Regents canal, the little known River fleet and not mention the gas works.

If you visit the station now, you will note that the Midland mainline platforms (1-4) and the Eurostar platforms are significantly above the street level. This was the level of the original station. The shops and café’s below, occupy space which previously had a very different use.

The Roof

One of the most striking and magnificent features of the station must surely be the roof of the main shed.

The roof is made up of 25 arched trusses each weighing 55 tons. At the time the station was constructed, these formed the largest single span roof in the world.


During the redevelopment, the station bed was cut to expose the area below. The station bed, was originally held in place by 688 cast iron columns so that the trains could pass over the regents canal and avoid an incline to the first station along the route; Kentish Town.

The area that was exposed and now forms the main concourse of the station beautifully highlights a number of these cast iron posts along with some ingenious modern engineering that allows for some movement and vibration of the main concrete slab.

This concourse area was primarily used as a barrel store used by the brewers from Burton on Trent. Indeed, the distance between the pillars was specifically chosen to match those of a number of beer barrels.

Local Materials

What many people do not realise, is that many of the materials used to construct the station were sourced from locations along the route. This was done to highlight the skills and products that were available in the areas served by the Midlands Railway route.

Much of the iron work was manufactured by the Butterley Company using minerals found in the Erewash valley. Many of the red bricks were supplied by a Nottingham brick company.

Inside the main shed, other than the stunning roof, the large clock is almost as recognisable as the station itself. However, this is not the original clock. The original was removed in 1968.


The St Pancras of the 80’s and 90’s was something of a depressing place. The building was stained from years of steam and diesel trains. The grime of the roof meant it was rarely a bright place. It was perhaps this appearance that led it to being used in the opening scenes of Porridge starring Ronnie Barker as Fletcher.

The stations future was in some serious doubt until the Government announced that St Pancras was the preferred terminal station for the channel tunnel.

Those who travelled through the station during the late 90’s and early 2000’s were to witness and amazing transformation. From a personal perspective, the landscape immediately around the station was transformed into a bewildering array of construction sites and concrete. It was amazing to see this slowly transform into what we have today. The old gas cylinders once synonymous with the final approach to a dark and dirty station have been transformed. Open public spaces and the features of the Regent canal all blend into a clean, modern area.

As the builders hoardings were slowly removed, we were introduced to the new St Pancras. A station truly fit for the international gateway that it is today. It is now most assuredly a fantastic place in which to arrive. No longer a station, but an attraction in its own right.


The station is now twinned with Grand Central station in New York which has an equally stunning architecture. They make a good pairing.

My plea.

This weeks plea to my audience is so very simple.

Take a few moments in your life to slow down a little. Look around. Lift your gaze from the mobile phone in your hand and appreciate your surroundings.

In the UK, we are blessed with such glorious architecture. It surrounds us for so much of the time. Please take a little time to appreciate it and the history that it represents.

St Pancras is a truly fantastic example of what the human race can achieve!


Why not join our mailing list



For many, Autumn is a sublime time of the year. I am not in disagreement with these people.

As the weather cools, nature entertains and cheers us with a stunning display of colours. A rich mix of Browns, Yellows and reds. These colours are contrasted against the bright blue sky of the autumnal sunshine. The air becomes crisp and fresh.

As summer clothes are swapped for winter attire, the cacophony of natural colours are matched by bright scarves and hats of people walking through nature.


This autumnal showcase is, alas, short-lived. The vibrant colours fade to a dull brown and disappear leaving trees devoid of foliage and colour.

Gone is the greens of summer, and the reds, yellows and browns of autumn. As the warmth of summer is replaced with the chill of winter, the human race prepares itself for the short days and long nights that accompany the winter season. The flower buds of spring seem somewhat distant.

Whilst I do love the few weeks of colour, I am reminded that it signals the start of the long, cold, dark winter evenings. I find these evenings something of a challenge. I am not a homely person, I like to be out. However, this year I must learn to love my home.

More challenging than ever

This year, I fear will be more challenging than most. Coronavirus and being seperated from friends and family will be a hard addition to the normal challenges.

Gaps in the photo album

There will no doubt be events that will be missing from the calendar that can never be replaced. Moments in life that will not be captured and remembered. I have in mind the parents that may miss out on a school carol service or nativity play. These moments can not be recreated at a later date and will be missing from the photo album forever.

The festive celebrations will, for many be subdued and challenging. We know not what form these celebrations will take. Due to this lack of knowledge, preparing ourselves for it to be different is a must.

Some of the activities that we partake in over the festive period will take on more significance and importance. More joy must be extracted from the simple activities such as decorating the tree. The giving and receiving of gifts. The music. Remembering the true meaning of the festive period.

Remember those that may struggle

More than that, we must remember and support those people who may be alone. Those that struggle through the dark evenings in the best of times.

I truly hope that the community spirit that was so welcome and prevalent earlier in the year will return. Once more, the local community becomes more important than ever before.

I for one, look to the next couple of months with a sense of unease. I feel strong mentally at the moment and I hope that I can maintain this. However, we must look out for people who struggle. We must help each other. Together, as a community, we will work our way through this.

It would be true to say, that we never really know what the future holds. This autumn, that statement is more relevant than ever. Undoubtedly there will be difficulties that need to be overcome. Overcome them we surely must.

As always, I have a plea to you all.

Obtain joy and satisfaction from every place that you can. Allow yourself to be entertained and cheered by the simple things. Use the technology that is all encompassing in our world for good. Focus on the local community, the people on the street where you live. Always remember that the smallest acts of kindness will make a real difference to people. Please remember that your small actions really matter.

You perhaps think that this post is mis-timed. However, the normal routines of winter will need to be thought about and planned. We need to think ahead. Identify those that may need help. As a result, we need to start now.

And Remember..

Following autumn and winter, Spring and summer will surely follow.


Why not join our mailing list