Monday, 31 May 2010

Would the Muppet with the cigarette please leave the building

Just spent an interesting 25 minutes standing on the pavement outside the Travelodge.

I’d come back from a wander round the town and the first thing I thought as I entered the hotel was, that smells like something burning.

However, given the hotel appeared to have a quite sophisticated fire alarm system, and it wasn’t going off, I didn’t really think much about it.

I hadn’t even taken my jacket off inside my room when I was deafened by the alarm suddenly going off (with an attractive red flashing light to accompany it).

Hmm, that probably was burning I smelt then.

Everyone wandered out of the hotel to the assembly point (a Travelodge employee holding an “Assembly point” sign gaffer taped to two long poles!) where the fire brigade had already arrived and were assessing the situation.

After 25 minutes we were allowed back in (most of the time waiting had been spent with the fire brigade using a big fan to try and clear the smell from reception)

Turned out that someone had been smoking in their room, out the window, and had managed to drop their cigarette (still lit) into the bins below and set them smouldering. Interestingly, the fire brigade thought it might have been going for some time before the alarm was raised, which would indicate that whoever dropped their cigarette wasn’t going to own up to it!

Perhaps they know what happens to people Travelodge catch smoking in their hotels. Still at least, unlike Newcastle, they weren’t trying to cook...

I should add, as a post script, that the staff at the Travelodge were exceptionally professional, perfectly calm, and as helpful as they could possibly be, despite the chaos happening around them.

Dis-Jointed planning

I booked the travel for my trip to Norwich in the middle of March, at the time the really cheap tickets were released.

The journey back on Friday no problem, all booked. However, I couldn’t find any cheap tickets for the journey up on the Monday.

I knew that given it was the bank holiday it might be a little more problematic to get up, but it’s only when I checked the tickets available and realised that they were nearly five times as expensive as the cheap ticket that I suspected something more complicated was going on.

So how was it recommending I make my journey from Liverpool Street to Norwich (bearing in mind the sensible answer is the hourly direct train).

First walk from Liverpool Street Railway Station to the Underground. Catch the tube to Kings Cross St Pancras. Walk from the tube station to Kings Cross. Catch the train from Kings Cross to Peterborough. Change at Peterborough for a train to Ely (changing part way for a replacement bus). Change at Ely for another train across to Norwich (changing part way again for a replacement bus).

If that was the suggested route, what where they doing to the direct route to make that more complicated.

Today I found out!

From Norwich, so the reverse was true from London, catch the train to a random station between Colchester and Romford. Get off there at take a 45 minute coach ride to a random tube station at the far end of the Central line. Catch the central line into Liverpool Street.

All well and good.

Except large parts of the central line were closed for engineering works meaning that there was a heavily reduced service and yet more replacement busses.

Can someone remind me of this the next time I book to start a holiday during a Bank Holiday Weekend!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

You can ignore the rules sometimes,

Whilst I try not to stereotype a nation, there are times when the populous kind of force it on you.

The Germans are stereotyped as being sticklers for rules and always obeyning by them.

It’s not always the case, but today I found that one rule appears to be golden.

  • You must only cross the road when the green man in showing.

  • Not even if there is a gap in the vehicles that you can see you can make it across in.

  • Not even if there is nothing coming for a while.

  • Not even if there is nothing in sight.

  • Not even if all the roads are closed due to a marathon taking place, no vehicles will be down this street for the next five hours and it’s not on the course of the marathon.

Yet, despite this, the locals were still carefully waiting at every junction for the Green Man. It was at this point that I finally decided that I had to put my foot down, or in this case forward, and actually cross the completely empty roads before I lost it with the locals.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

For a nation so healthy

One thing that has really struck me is the number of adverts of cigarettes that there are up in Dusseldorf.

I’ve become accustom to not seeing advertising for tobacco in the UK since it was banned a couple of few years ago, so you do notice it when you see it elsewhere.

What’s also noticeable is the bizarre split between the advertising messages and the German health warnings.

One brand was happily advertising (for no apparent reason in English) “Life tastes better with [Brand name]”. I’d be intrigued to see the scientific research for that one. Could they actually provide evidence that you can taste things better if you smoke, I thought the general scientific consensus was that smoking dulled your taste buds, but then again, when was the last time that someone working in marketing actually paid attention to the science!

So whilst the brands are getting as close as they legally can to telling you that smoking is good for you, the Government health warnings are a little less ambiguous.

“Sie Rauchen, Sie Toten!” quite literally “You smoke, You Die”, and no matter what the manufacturers might want to argue there is 100% scientific proof that everyone who smokes will die, eventually (death may not be caused by a smoking related disease)