Tag Archives: Greenwich

Off-topic: Thames Clippers – what are they good for?

Just one in my occasional series of London commuting hell posts – and inspired by Jon Worth’s travelogues!

I work in Westminster, and last night I was going to Greenwich for a concert at the Royal Naval College. I thought, I know, I’ll get the Thames Clipper. I would be keen to use the river to commute regularly, if it wasn’t so expensive, as I live near the river and my office is near Westminster Pier. So it seemed a good opportunity to try it out. I looked up the times on the Thames Clipper website and found one went at 18.10 which fitted perfectly with my timing for the evening. I got to Westminster Pier at about 18.00 to find there was nowhere to buy a ticket. OK, I thought, I’m sure they sell them on the boat. I went down to the pier and couldn’t quite work out which boarding point I was supposed to be at, as there were two for Greenwich and neither mentioned Thames Clippers. I waited till 18.20, but no boat came, though I could see two that looked like the Thames Clippers waiting over at the London Eye pier. There was no-one around to ask, no information about timetables etc and the pier was dark and deserted. So I went and got the tube.

Transport in London is undoubtedly a nightmare, and with us in the South-east been forced to depend on Southeastern and the Jubilee line, we have our fair share of problems. The river offers a solution, but on last night’s experience, I won’t be trying that again. The final irony was that as I arrived at North Greenwich and went to get a bus to Greenwich town centre, one of the giant screens outside the O2 was covered in an advert for…Thames Clippers.

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Hunting for the perfect house

It’s all about the house-hunting today I’m afraid. Excited as I am about getting out there and describing to people what the EU does for them, I need somewhere to live and no-one is going to help me with that! So evenings this week are spent trailing around estate agents and visiting places. I was down in East Greenwich yesterday and back there again today. I’ve also hatched a plan with the people where I am lodging about renting their place, if I can find someone to share with.  So a few irons in the fire and I hope that before too long I’ll have something sorted out. I seem to be a difficult customer for two reasons – I’m looking for an unfurnished place and so much seems to be furnished and also I have the cats, and very few landlords want pets. I can understand not wanting them in a furnshed place, but I don’t see the issue in an unfurnished place – after all it’s my furniture they’ll be scratching. So the search goes on and my best hope is a cat-loving landlord (which is the bonus of the houseboat).

There are some great EU stories around today. As someone trying to bring pets into this country, I’m becoming very familiar with the pet passport scheme, which is now being extended to horses. There have been rules in place before (there need to be for all those Irish racehorses to come over here and win all the major races!) but now they will be based on a microchip, like for cats, dogs and ferrets, rather than a hand-drawn outline. There’s also a food safety aspect to this, less in the UK because we don’t eat each much horsemeat, but they do in lots of other countries. I’ve never had horsemeat, and I suppose I should try it one day, just not to make a snap judgement, though I can’t say it appeals.

Another story I liked was that Love Hearts, refreshers and Double Lollies, among other things, will soon be free of e-numbers as Swizzlers Matlow are going to stop using additives that are not EU-approved. As a bit of a fizzy sweet addict, I think that’s a move in the right direction. There’s no reason that sweets shouldn’t be as natural as possible – frankly, they taste better when they are and it does mitigate the guilt a little!!

I’m off to a meeting this afternoon for the national end of the “For Diversity. Against Discrimination” campaign. There’s A nice circularity about that meeting – my first press conference as a spokesperson was the launch of this campaign in 2003, when Commissioner Diamantopoulou was photographed with the crash test dummies used in the launch ads. The thing that this campaign has got right is the emphasis on national differentiation. So often (generally because of resources) we organise a campaign centrally, usually focused on Brussels, and that just isn’t the way to get to people. Media and advertising are so different from one Member State to another. In one, humour might work well, where as that might put people off in another. Something we always have to keep in mind.

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