Although we drank French wine, of course

I’ve blogged so many times about the service-and-gastronomy wonder that is the Ealing Park Tavern that it’s just getting redundant. But we were there again last night. We met PC there, along with C’s brother and his girlfriend who are visiting London. It was nice to meet them: we had a good time and a great meal. I had guinea fowl on haggis and barley risotto (the Scottish theme due to yesterday being Saint Andrew’s Day, no doubt) and it was delicious. We all shared a plate of British cheeses afterwards, which the French visitors had to grudgingly admit were delicious.

Step back

I don’t travel to work every day, so a monthly train pass wouldn’t be economical for me. Almost exactly a year ago, I therefore rejoiced when the National Rail train station at Ealing Broadway replaced their old ticket machines and put in shiny, new ones that took cards.

One day later I was already blogging about how those new machines were breaking down. All in all, though, my ticket-buying experiences in the last year have been much better than they were previously. The new machines worked pretty well, and I never had to worry about having the right change.

I was, however, very confused a week ago when even newer machines were put into the station. They seem to operate in the same way as the old ones did, and don’t offer any different functionality that I can see except that they print out the tickets a little quicker. Fine.

The problem is that they took out the four old machines and replaced them with three of the new ones. So, the queues are longer again. Especially on a day like yesterday, when one of them was – surprise, surprise – out of order.

First Great Western’s web site says that there will eventually be ten of the new machines. I hope that happens soon.

The social life

PC and the Colombian came over last night. We had some sausage and bean stew (which started out as bean soup, but good cooks know how to react on the fly), a couple of bottles of vino, and a few good laughs.

Today, SWMNBN and I took advantage of a half-price Sunday lunch offer atCharlotte’s Place, one of Ealing’s finer restaurants.  It was excellent, as always.

Weekends are nice when you don’t really have anything to do, but you wind up doing a bit anyway.

Good things in Ealing

Three sessions of physio and my back feels normal again. The massage and spinal work did some good, but the best things were all the exercises he gave me to prevent future injury. If anyone in Ealing needs some physio, Greg atEaling Physiotherapy was professional, helpful, and a good laugh. I was really pleased with the whole operation there.

On my walk back home I stopped for a cappuccino at Munson’s. They were playing blues music, the pastries looked really fresh, and the benches were cozy. My coffee was incredibly delicious. Stopping in reminded me how great it is at Munson’s. If you’re in Ealing, it’s a café that’s worth the short stroll.

Marketing

As in previous years, part of the Ealing Summer festival is a French Gourmet Market that runs for a weekend on Ealing Green. It came in handy for stocking up for yesterday’s BBQ, and we got three types of bread, two types of cheese, and two types of olives there. Tonight we went over for supper: a big serving of pommes de terre au lard et cidre.

Love For Sale

After work (and the rain) yesterday, we went over to Walpole Park to take in a bit more of the Ealing Summer festival. After the blues day on Sunday, they follow up with several evenings of jazz in tents in the park. We watched the Ken McCarthy Quintet’s set last night, which was a really loose and pleasant performance.

The addition of some tasty festival food (jerk chicken and rice for SWMNBN, and vegetable tagine for me) and beer (Greene King are sponsors) made it a nice thing to do. Bless Ealing and their summer festival, making it seem like a proper community ’round here.

Labour wins in Ealing, and I’ve got that soggy feeling

We got home last night, walked to our polling station to vote, then stopped at the Red Lion on the way back to eat. The cold light of morning now shows thatthe Labour party hung on to Ealing Southall, but the Liberal Democrats significantly reduced the margin.

My attention is already on to new and pressing concerns, however: namely,how not to get washed away (Maidenhead, in Berkshire, is where I work). Getting from the train station to the office – a bus trp of 10 minutes – took an hour this morning because of flash flooding and the resultant traffic chaos.

It’s as good a reason as any other

I’m afraid that neither Nigel Bakhai nor Tony Lit, respectively the Liberal Democrat and Conservative contenders for the Ealing Southall parliamentary by-election on Thursday, are likely to get my vote. This is not on the issues, particularly. It’s on the fact that these two candidates have absolutely carpet-bombed our letterbox with printed material every day in the last couple of weeks. It’s all lame, negative, and much of it is made to appear (cheekily, I hope) as thought it’s some sort of fact-reporting community newspaper. The sheer oppressive volume of it is annoying and discouraging.

Also, I quite like the idea of a West London tram, which both of these candidates are against. Trams have worked really well in lots of other cities I’ve been to.

 

Free chocolate? Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner

EDIT: damn, an editing/saving glitch, and I lost much of this post. Anyway, there was a political leaflet through my door today from the local Official Monster Facing Loony Party candidate who visited me last week, John Cartwright. It’s a funny leaflet.

John CARTWRIGHT

Official Monster Raving Loony Party

  • Protect Civil Liberties
  • No detention without trial
  • Stop Extraordinary Rendition
  • Repeal the oppressive and counter-productive “Anti-Terror” Laws
  • Stop Imperialist Aggression
  • Stop Interference in Somalia
  • Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Support the independence of North Korea and its right to self-defence
  • Welcome the Cultural and Economic Benefits of Immigration
  • Withdraw from the European Union
  • Free chocolate for pensioners, students and the unemployed

[on the reverse]

I am standing in this by-election so that the people of Ealing Southall constituency can have the opportunity to vote for the policies of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

I have been a candidate in 13 local elections in Croydon, the last 2 general elections in Croydon Central, and the by-election last year in Bromley & Chislehurst. I am not local to Ealing, but this lack of local experience is outweighed by the brilliance of my policies and the charisma of my personality. Southall should have an MP who will maintain the struggle against the imperialist bourgeoisie, rather than a party careerist who will follow the dictates of his party’s leadership.

“The Official Monster Raving Loony Party wants to build a diverse, pluralist, and tolerant democratic society in which there is mutual respect for a wide variety of different cultures, lifestyles and viewpoints. Anybody who dares to suggest otherwise should be ruthlessly exterminated.”

Confused By Elections

You’ll recall that I blogged recently about a burst of political activity in Ealing, where I live, because our previous Labour MP passed away.

The political intrigue, while perhaps on a small scale, is heating up. Labour has selected a candidate who, if he wins, will be the eldest MP ever elected. Immediately after his announcement, five councillors defected to the Conservative party. A couple of the people who were standing as independents are now saying they want their supporters to vote for other parties (but it’s too late for them to come off the ballot).

There are several blogs about the by-election, some of which are linked in comments on my previous posts. If you really care, the Wikipedia page on the by-election is a pretty good summary of how we got here and who’s standing.  There are some interesting parties (you can find out more about each at the Wikipedia link):

  • Monster Raving Loony – their candidate visited me. They stand for raving loonyism. And getting out of Iraq, I think.
  • English Democrats – they want a devolved English parliament, like the Scots do
  • Respect – focus on anti-Iraq conflict and anti-privitisation
  • Green – focus no the environment
  • Christian Party – pro-life, anti-gay
  • UK Independence – anti-EU involvement

Of the three larger parties, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives seem to be focusing on the same things: keeping the streets cleaner,  more law and order, and no west London tram. The Lib Dem seems to have the most info on his web page (and he’s the one who commented on my blog, and who has a Facebook entry, oooh). The Conservative doesn’t have much on policy that I can see. The Labour site for Ealing has nothing at all that I can find.

I find Ealing streets plenty clean. I don’t think the area is crime-ridden or needs more ASBOs. And I rather like the idea of a tram: I’ve seen this work really well in lots of other cities around the world. But I’m going to have to do a lot more thinking about this one.

We got our voting cards yesterday. The vote is on July 19th. I hope it’s an interesting election.