A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
This is the London 2012 online shop for official Olympic goods. To be honest, I am not very impressed by the merchandise or its mediocre web design. Not only because I don’t like the angular Olympic logo and scary mascots, but also because those products are badly designed and look cheap (though price is not cheap).
A while ago, we missed our flight due to severe delay of a train to an airport. Next flight was 7 hours later. M was furious and insisted to go back home and to take the next day flight. But I wanted to fly on the day as we planned, and then I remembered about YOtel at the airport, and persuaded him to kill the time there.
Inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, YOtel is a mini-hotel chain and was launched by Simon Woodroffe, a founder of the sushi chain YO! Sushi using the Japanese style ‘kaiten’ conveyor belt in 1997, which has contributed Sushi boom in UK and now have its branches mainly in London but also in other UK cities, Europe, and Middle East. Currently YOtel are in four locations; London Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, Amsterdam Schipol Airport, and Times Square in New York.
YOtel Gatwick where we stayed, it was £70.34 for twin room for 4 hours (minimum stay), but it is much cheaper (£42.50), if you pay in advance online. It was worth it when we imagined of doing nothing but killing 7 hours at the airport. We walked through dim corridor lighten up in purple to our room. It was basic simple room with no window but pull up work desk, small chair, 2 bunks (one upper and one lower), and toilet & shower – it was like a cruise ship cabin. However, service was not bad. The room was equipped with flat screen TV and free WiFi. Hot drinks were free, and you can order food, beverages, snacks and amenities from their “TO GO” menu. The room was clean, and their beds with good quality sheets were quite comfortable to sleep. M was grumpy at first but became in a good mood after sleeping well. We could leave on the same day, without cancellation of a hotel room, and were on an itinerary as we planned – happy ending!
UK’s traffic has been paralyzed since Friday, due to the big freeze affecting Northern Europe (related article/past entry of my blog). It’s the busiest time of the year just before Christmas and the cold front came at the worst timing. The highest temperature in London has been just 1º, and there is no sign that the snow piled up on the street would melt away, at least until Christmas. London’s Heathrow airport, one of the busiest airport in the world, has been experiencing numerous flight cancellations and severe delays, and has been barely functioning. Thousands of desperate passengers have to bare with never-ending waiting on the floor of the airport, with a slightest hope of good news, that may not come for at least few more days.
Not only the air traffic, but rail networks have had severe disturbances such as delays and cancellations. Today at St Pancras International station, around 6,000 passengers of Eurostar have been waiting on a queue, stretching 1.2 miles/2km around the station, for seven hours under this freezing sky (video below/related article). There is no guarantee that they could get on the board today, though. For these poor passengers, Salvation Army‘s mobile canteen came on site, handing out hot tea and coffee for a little warmth (article).
There is nothing I can say but sorry to these people in the chaos. The government insists that this is the extreme weather that country hadn’t experienced for decades, but UK has encountered this severe cold winter three years in a row. According to a meteorologist on BBC news yesterday, this trend may continue despite the global warming… I hate cold!!
↑トラックの横転により、混雑する高速道路／An overturned lorry caused traffic jam on the M25
Well-known eccentric London Mayor Boris Johnson stunned UK with an astonishing speech at the Beijing Olympic closing ceremony, declaring ‘Ping pong is coming home!’, at the heart of Ping-Pong empire of the world (see details here). According to the mayor, ping-pong was invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century, and it was called “whiff whaff”. Later his claim has been attacked by the descendants of the world’s oldest sporting and games manufacturer “Jacques London“, who claim that their Jaques family was first to codify the game (see details here).
I am not sure what is the truth, but whatever the truth, it may be a good idea to play ping-pong to shed some calories off from your body, after having a pint of beer at a pub, under long daylight during London’s short but nice summer.
イギリスの冬は高緯度の割には温暖で、厳しい寒さに慣れていないので、大寒波が来ると途端に立ち往生してしまう。幸い私たちのフライトは1時間半遅れでヒースロー空港に到着したけれど、国内便、ヨーロッパ便を中心に、ヒースロー空港やガトウィック空港等でキャンセルが相次いで、人々の足に支障が出ている。鉄道の遅れも多く報告されており、12月19日から3日間運休して大ひんしゅくを買ったユーロスターは、7日にまた英仏海峡トンネルで止まってしまった。寒波が原因の事故も増えており、これ以上悪天候が続くと、道路徐氷用の塩不足も予想される。道路の凍結や雪で食物の供給も滞り、悪天候で消費も落ち込み、経済への打撃も深刻だ。多くの学校は休校になり、今週予定されている、義務教育修了時に受ける全国統一試験（GCSE/General Certificate of Secondary Education）にも支障が出る可能性もある。
We came back from Italy the other day. It has been very cold in UK due to the cold front from Russia staying in UK from mid-December, and it is the biggest chill since the winter of 1981/82. As we were used to mild Italian weather of around 10º for 2 weeks, we suffer with the chill quite badly. The sky has been always white and it has snowed some times everyday since we are back. I felt strange that less than 2-hour flight showed me the completely different views, when I saw the land just before our airplane touched down on Heathrow Airport (photo above).
British winter is rather mild although it is located in comparatively high latitude. The country is not used to severe cold weather and gets paralyzed when the big cold front hits. Luckily our flight arrived at Heathrow airport with 1 hour and half delay, but many flights, mainly domestic and short-haul flights, have been canceled and have been affecting people’s travel plans. Many delays of train lines also reported, and Eurostar broke down AGAIN on January 7th – it got huge criticism after notoriously three days of service were cancelled from December 22nd. The accidents and injuries related to the chill has been increasing, and it is predicted that salt stocks may run out if the cold weather stays long. Food supply has been disturbed due to the snow and icy roads. Consumer activities have dropped and UK economy has been hit hard. Many schools are closed, and it is anticipated that some students may fail to sit this week’s GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education), if weather prevents them taking the exam.
Although these reported chaos sound terrible, London functions relatively OK, except the mess on the streets and cancellations and delays of public transportations. However, it seems to me that UK has failed to prepare for the relatively mild cold front (for me) just below 0º temperature and has gone into such a mess. It is true that the winter is mild here, but the average winter temperature of around 5º (London) is not warm either, and the cold front, bigger or smaller, could happen anytime.
Met Office, the national weather service, has been heavily criticized for getting its forecasts wrong recently. Their forecast of a “Barbecue Summer” last year ended up heavy rainfall and the wettest July for almost 100 years. The organisation’s prediction of a mild winter in 2008-09 was also criticised after heavy snow fell last February and parts of southern England had their coldest night for 20 years in January. They issued the prediction of high probability of warm winter 2008/09 and again, they are wrong. The head of the Met Office is under attack, as he received a 25% pay rise and now is paid more than the Prime Minister during Met Office is harshly criticized of its incompetency.