A Quick Guide To Newcastle Upon Tyne.

My football team Newcastle United won promotion to the English Premier League last night and as a coincidence, I came across this great post about the city I consider to be my home.

Now a top destination for the finer things in life, Newcastle is a hub of premium restaurants, specialist bars and vibrant nightclubs. Art galleries, cinemas and museums further contribute to a fantastic, family-friendly destination saturated in culture.

via Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK — Mohamad Al Karbi

Posted in Architecture, Culture, Life, Northumberland and Durham, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Vulture Stone at Gobekli Tepe – A monument to a cosmic disaster.

Many of us are familiar with the use of ancient civilisations making monuments that in some way link up to either our calendar, the sun, moon or stars.  From the stone circles in the British Isles the Mayan temples in Central America, ancient civilisations often focussed much of their wealth, manpower and engineering to either worship or make calculations that were vital in providing a real or imagined sense of control over their existence.

New research recently published in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry by experts at Edinburgh University have made something of a breakthrough of two stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey.   Rather than trying to help predict the seasons or the motions of heavenly bodies however, it has been discovered that instead the stone carvings remember a cosmic disaster which occurred in our planet 13,000 years ago.

The markings suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit Earth at the exact same time that the last great ice age struck which went on to change the entire course of human history.   Great creatures such as Woolly Mammoths became extinct and changes in the climate and environment led to the rise of the first human civilisations.

It has been speculated for many years that the last Ice-Age which is also known as the Younger Dryas was caused by a cometary impact. The Vulture stone for the first time gives something of a contemporary record of this event.

The Vulture stone is covered in carvings of animals and the popularist pseudo-archeologist Graham Hancock was the first to theorise that the carvings actually depict constellations in the sky as well as a comet.

Constellations on The Vulture Stone

Constellations on The Vulture Stone

However, when engineers studied animal carvings made on a pillar – known as the vulture stone – at Gobekli Tepe they discovered that the creatures were actually astronomical symbols which represented constellations and the comet.

Using a computer programme to show where the constellations would have appeared above Turkey thousands of years ago, they were able to pinpoint the comet strike to 10,950BC, the exact time the Younger Dryas begins according to ice core data from Greenland.

Why is the Younger Dryas seen as such a crucial period in the growth of civilisations? Before the comet struck Earths, large areas of the Middle East was covered by wild wheat and barley and this allowed nomadic hunters in the region to establish permanent base camps.  When the comet struck however, things became much harder for these communities who were only ever a bad harvest or natural disaster away from being wiped out.

The difficult climate conditions following the impact forced communities to come together and work out new ways of maintaining the crops, through watering and selective breeding. Thus farming began, allowing the rise of the first towns.

The new research suggests that the people of Gobekli Tepe recognised this terrible planetary disaster was in some way the beginnings of a new and more advanced way of living as we today might remember anniversaries of independence or wars against tyranny.   Alternatively, it might be a monument to one of the hardest periods that humanity ever had to face and that for millennia the peoples in Turkey remembered it like we might remember The Black Death or the terrible fatalities of the World Wars.


The-Vulture-Stone at Gobekli Tepe in Anatolia, Turkey.

The-Vulture-Stone at Gobekli Tepe in Anatolia, Turkey.

Dr Martin Sweatman, who was one of the leading figures in the investigation states:

“Our work serves to reinforce that physical evidence. What is happening here is the process of paradigm change.  It appears Göbekli Tepe was, among other things, an observatory for monitoring the night sky.  One of its pillars seems to have served as a memorial to this devastating event – probably the worst day in history since the end of the ice age.

Gobekli Tepe, is thought to be the world’s oldest temple site, which dates from around 9,000BC, predating Stonehenge by millennia.

Researchers believe the images were intended as a record of the cataclysmic event, and that a further carving showing a headless man may indicate human disaster and extensive loss of life.

Scientists believe that carvings on the pillars also indicates that the long-term changes in Earth’s rotational axis was recorded at this time using an early form of writing, and that Gobekli Tepe was an observatory for meteors and comets.

Earth Axis Tilt

A depiction of how the axis of Planet Earth has shifted causing huge changes to the environment.

Incredibly, aside from being an incredible monument, the Vulture Stone still provides us with an important message for current astronomy and science which the finding also supports a theory that Earth is likely to experience periods when comet strikes are more likely, owing to the planet’s orbit intersecting orbiting rings of comet fragments in space.

But despite the ancient age of the pillars, Dr Sweatman does not believe it is the earliest example of astronomy in the archaeological record.

“Many palaeolithic cave paintings and artefacts with similar animal symbols and other repeated symbols suggest astronomy could be very ancient indeed,” he said.

“If you consider that, according to astronomers, this giant comet probably arrived in the inner solar system some 20 to 30 thousand years ago, and it would have been a very visible and dominant feature of the night sky, it is hard to see how ancient people could have ignored this given the likely consequences.”

Posted in history, News, Science and Engineering | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

North Korea – The Bad Hair Day Country

All these years that I have been blogging and only around 2 or 3 countries have never visited my blog.  This is my concerted effort to get 1 viewer from one such country, North Korea. If this doesn’t work then I’m just going to go to Seoul airport and have some cool young lady squirt gel in my face…. or something.

I’m not sure if it is the same today but one of the things that I used to do at school when it was too wet or snowy in the winter was hang around shady school corridors and classrooms at break and trade cards.

There were a whole host of cards to collect and swap. Top Trumps were always the best.  Nothing to do with controversial president but you could collect cards on various subjects and them play them.  Whether they were cars, planes, space vehicles, weapons, animals or whatever, some had high scoring attributes and some were a sure way thing to lose a game.

Lots of people collected football stickers or other themes that involved buying packs of 6 stickers to fill up a 500 sticker album and whatever the theme of publisher, it was always guaranteed that you’d end up with multiple copies of the same lousy and generally ugly player from Spurs when what you really needed was the shiny foil club badge of St Mirren.

On a totally different level for the more demented children amongst us and I very much include myself in this were the Garbage Pail Gang.  They were cards of mutated and utterly unlovely characters that were very opposite of the then popular Cabbage Patch Kids.

There were all sorts of freaky characters that boys used to like and girls used to find largely gross.   I never actually expected however that one day, one of these characters would actually be in control of a whole country, even if it is pretty much the worst country.

Watching the news recently, it dawned on me where I had seen North Korean President Kim Jong-un before.


He is surely the spitting image of Adam Bomb who I hadn’t seen since around 1986.  They both have the same obese appearance which is made worse by a stupid hair cut.  Fantastically, they both seem to like nuclear weapons.   In the defence of Adam Bomb, his hair cut just looks stupid because of a thermo-nuclear explosion coming out of his head.

Kim Jong-un has no such excuse.  You’d think all those generals that follow him around taking notes and laughing at his jokes might have pointed it out to him?

Hair-cuts are just one of, well everything that is tightly regulated in North Korea.   Men and women can both choose from 15 approved hair-cuts although a small amount of personalised deviation is not unknown.


Going from the above, it doesn’t look like women have to bad a deal when it comes to the cut of their hair.  As opposed to the unfortunate men of North Korea who just seem to have an awful choice.    I don’t think I would do very well in North Korea, my hair hasn’t been 2cm short since about 1974.


In the spirit of this light-hearted piece, I’ve just noticed that the chap in the middle of the poster above in the red shirt, looks rather like Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party.


Interestingly, no men are allowed to have the same hair-cut as their president.  I’m sure this is a relief to millions of men in North Korea.   I could say that a small part of me would be disappointed at not being able to look like a real-life Dr. Evil but that would be a lie.

Maybe it is a presidential thing as you don’t see many in the USA with a Trump hairstyle either.

A hair salon in North London was visited by officials from the North Korean Embassy after they used a poster of the glorious leader to advertise cheese, I mean hair cuts.   I know lots of people are executed or disappear in North Korea but obviously, somehow, the spaced out barber keeps his job purge after purge.


Thinking about it, I think I prefer Dr. Evil to Kim Jong-un who in comparison is just the diet coke of evil.



Dr Evil and Mr Bigglesworth.


It’s nice to see that the Garbage Pail Kids are still going strong.   In a way, maybe we should be grateful Kim Jong-un is the only wacko in charge as the world would be in real trouble if either of those below ever got elected.




Posted in Funny & Humour, Life, News, Opinion, Popular Culture | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An Easter Walk

On Easter Sunday, I went to Church and I took my iPad so thought you might like to see some of the photos which I took.

Walk through the Bluebells

The walk to Church starts with a trail through the woods, at this time everywhere is covered in a lush carpet of Bluebells.

The village cricket ground. The field is still quite lush but you can see the area where the wickets will go is already rock hard and flat.

The village cricket ground. The field is still quite lush but you can see the area where the wickets will go is already rock hard and flat.

Following the cricket ground is a large park with 6 or 7 football pitches.  The goals stay up permanently but the netting and flags appear only for the Sunday League football fixtures.

Following the cricket ground is a large park with 6 or 7 football pitches. The goals stay up permanently but the netting and flags appear only for the Sunday League football fixtures.

First sight of the church

Partway down the park, the church steeple comes into view. The beautiful church bells however can be heard from twice as far away.

All Saints Church, Leavesden.

Interior Photo

I took these photos after the 90 minute service to celebrate Easter, the most important event in the church calendar as opposed to Christmas, the most important event in the commercial and consumerist calendar!


All Saints Church was designed by the same man responsible for the Houses of Parliament!

The Altar and Quire, the church choir sit on both sides and I've skilfully managed not to fit either side in very well.

The Altar and Quire, the church choir sit on both sides and I’ve skilfully managed not to fit either side in very well.

The Lady Chapel, a smaller and more intimate chapel within the larger church.

The Lady Chapel, a smaller and more intimate chapel within the larger church.

The church is beautifully decorated with a variety of spring time flowers on all the windows and pillars.

The church is beautifully decorated with a variety of spring time flowers on all the windows and pillars.

Saint Alban, one of the most prominent early British Christians who was martyred by the Romans at what is now the beautiful city of St Albans.  The Abbey Cathedral there is incredibly beautiful.

Saint Alban, one of the most prominent early British Christians who was martyred by the Romans at what is now the beautiful city of St Albans. The Abbey Cathedral there is incredibly beautiful and I happen to do day tours to this lovely old city!


Looking down the nave from the font back to the altar.

On the way out, I bought some flowers to leave with my mother.  The old ones on the left I left a month earlier at her birthday.

On the way out, I bought some flowers to leave with my mother. The old ones on the left I left a month earlier at her birthday.


Posted in Life, Photography, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

One ha’penny, two ha’penny, hot cross buns!

Hot Cross Buns are one of those delicious treats that you can have at Easter.  Until just a few years ago, they could only be found within a week or two of Easter but these days hundreds of millions are consumed from early Spring if not sooner.

Hot Cross Buns are a primarily British culinary tradition but are also common in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and parts of the USA but for those unfamiliar with them, why are they so popular?


The tradition of baking bread marked with a cross is linked has a long history.  Romans would often have a cross in their bread but it is thought that this was to assist with portioning up the larger loaf into individual servings. The pagan Saxons would bake cross buns at the beginning of spring.   Anglo-Saxons also had a variety of Hot Cross bun but as pagans the cross represented the rebirth of the world after winter and the four quarters of the moon, as well as the four seasons and the wheel of life.

As with most later sophisticated religions, Christianity was not above repurposing popular and ingrained traditions of local people and the cross obviously has very religious connotations.

In recent decades, a theory has come to light that Hot Cross Buns really took off due to a monk in the 14th century Abbey at St. Albans, a beautiful Cathedral just a few minutes away from where I write this.

St Albans Cathedral

Standing on a hill St Albans Abbey overlooks the old Roman city.

According to some historians, it wasn’t until Tudor times that it was inescapably connected to Christian celebrations. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the London Clerk of Markets issued a decree forbidding the sale of spiced buns except at burials, at Christmas or on Good Friday.

The Church of England likes to set the distinctive baked goods, perhaps not unsurprisingly in a Christian context. They are historically eaten on Good Friday, and the symbolism is evident.

“You have got the bread, as per the communion, you have got the spices that represent the spices Jesus was wrapped in the tomb, and you have got the cross. They are fairly full of Christian symbolism,” says Steve Jenkins, Church of England spokesman.


But the Oxford English Dictionary’s first reference to hot cross buns is only from 1733. It’s in the form of the ditty: “Good Friday comes this Month, the old woman runs, With one or two a Penny hot cross Bunns.”

The fact that the words of the famous song appear in this reference does rather suggest that the term may have been around a while before that, but any history of the bun wanders into conjecture, says food historian Ivan Day, who runs the Historic Food website.

“The trouble with any folk food, any traditional food, is that no-one tended to write about them in the very early period.”

These people talk about hot cross buns being eaten for breakfast in London. Unlike contemporary buns, where the cross is piped lines of pastry, the original cross was cut into the bun.

Some of the earlier traditions included keeping bread baked on Good Friday to grate and use as a medicine in later years. It was believed that the buns would never go mouldy and they were sometimes nailed up in the house as a good luck charm.

Other old Easter customs like the tanzy, a bitter herb-flavoured cake, and a fig porridge have died out.”In the hot cross bun, you do have a surviving fossil of these customs,” says Mr Day. It cannot be proven, but the provenance of the buns may be more connected to Jewish Passover – with its sharing of unleavened bread as part of wider ritual – than Roman, Saxon, or pagan customs.

It wasn’t too long ago that street-sellers would sing out a special song for Hot Cross Buns.
‘Hot cross buns, hot cross buns!
One ha’penny, two ha’penny, hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons,
One ha’penny, two ha’penny, hot cross buns!’


In the East End of London there is a pub called The Widows Son, named after a widow who lived in a cottage at the site in the 1820s. The widow baked hot cross buns for her sailor son who was scheduled to return home from the sea on Good Friday. Sadly he must have died at sea as he never returned home, but the widow refused to give up hope for his return and continued to bake a hot cross bun for him every year, hanging it in her kitchen with the buns from previous years.

When the widow died, the buns were found hanging from a beam in the cottage and the story has been kept alive by the pub landlords ever since a pub was built on the site in 1848.


Hot Cross Buns in Widows Sun.jpg

Some of the many ancient Hot Cross Buns in The Widows Sun Pub.  The black ones haven’t gone bad…. there was a fire in the 1980s and some buns suffered from the smoke!


To this day, every Good Friday, the ceremony of the Widow’s Bun is celebrated and members of the Royal Navy come to The Widows Son pub to place a new hot cross bun into a net hung above the bar. Legend has it that the buns baked on Good Friday will not spoil.


Whilst I can’t comment on the accuracy of the legend, it must be said that I have 3 Hot Cross Buns from last Easter; there used to be 4 but I ate one a few weeks ago and very nice it was too.

Happy Easter!

Posted in Heritage, history, Life, London, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments


As always, I have been really very busy this spring but when I haven’t been busy then I have been engrossed in Taboo.   It’s set in the Georgian times but to call it a costume drama would be rather selling it short.

Lots of people have perceptions that 19th Century Britain and indeed 16th-21st Century Britain is all a heady mix of Downton Abbey and Notting Hill.     If not Downton then perhaps some desperate Dickensian poverty or brutal East London gangs.  The truth is that life is always a little bit of both and whilst the 19th Century did indeed enjoy unimaginable wealth and luxury for some and filthy slums for others, what really characterises this century isn’t that or religion or engineering but trade and mercantilism; the pursuit of wealth by big business.  It’s not the purvue of 21st century organisations and in fact the most powerful big business the world has ever known is likely to be the Honourable East India Company though their actions were often not quite honourable.


It is in this world that Taboo is set, written by Steven Knight who is most famous for his gritty drama Peaky Blinders set in his native Birmingham of times past.

It’s 1814, and we’re in London when out of a dismal palette of grey skies, mud and darkness appears a forboding hooded figure in a boat on stormy seas.  This man is James Delaney. We also swiftly learn he is a thought-to-be-dead son, just returned from Africa, turning up at the funeral of his recently-dead father. Delaney, it transpires, has been left a certain piece of land in the will in British North America, now Canada.   The land is highly prized and contested as it is between Britain, America and various other interested parties it is beyond priceless.

This sets up a three-way war: between James Delaney (who is fantastically portrayed by Tom Hardy) who is determined to keep what is his, his half-sister (played by Oona Chaplin,  and her husband, who feel they’ve been cheated out of it, and the East India Company, who will do whatever it takes to get it off him.

It’s a thoroughly gripping tale and it quickly becomes apparent that this is not in any way your average period drama.

Tom Hardy as James Delaney

Tom Hardy as James Delaney

James Delaney is a man who seemingly divides his time equally between grunting and making death threats, and sports the permanent expression of a man who is permanently chewing a wasp.   He makes his way through life by threatening violence and death as well as inflicting it.

In most episodes he can be found stating “I need a ship” and “I have use for you”.  Much of his life is also spent striding purposefully through the seedier parts of London in his battered Top Hat to some terrific theme music.    He also grunts, a lot.   As someone who doesn’t speak very much myself and is quite adept at communciating in a non-verbal manner, I very much appreciate his grunts.  Like an animal sound, there are several types of grunts and each has their own meaning.   You can see and hear just about every great grunt from James Delaney in the video below.


To get an idea of what James Delaney is like, if you can’t all ready gather then look no further than this summary list of deeds from a lawyer of the East India Company who want to buy the land from him. He has snapped the necks of officers, set fire to a ship “in an experiment with oil and mashed potatoes” , had “a fight with a bear in Chancery Lane”, tried to trade with Red Indians, plotted to steal gold from the Aztecs, snapped more necks, and slept with half the whores in London. There is also the strong suggestion that, while in Africa, he has become involved in some kind of black magic.   In fact he may only be alive due to black magic and seems to have the unnerving ability to tell when someone has died from the hidden secrets of Mother Nature.

As Taboo is basically financed by Tom Hardy who played a great part in the story as well, some of the other characters are less developed but that is only because Taboo is all about James Delaney.  However amongst all the other great characters and indeed actors is  Jonathan Pryce who as Sir Stuart Strange is the head of the Honourable East India Company.  Having had the pleasure of being just inches away from Mr. Pryce when he performed at The Globe theatre a year or two ago, I was looking forward to seeing him get his teeth stuck into such a juicy role and he is malevolently magnificent here.  Another highlight of most episodes of Taboo is to hear Sir Stuart Strange shout out the F-Word in a way that no-one else could ever come close to.

Jonathan Pryce as Sir Stuart Strange

Jonathan Pryce as Sir Stuart Strange

The F-Word is mentioned quite a lot in Taboo, there is no hiding behind civility and politeness here, this is the London of the streets and can appear in conversation at almost any time.

James Delaney is just as unique and we see him kill and maim many others.  In one of many classic scenes we learn of what he would do if 12 men were sent to bother him.“You send 12 men,” he tells her, “and I will send you 12 testicles in a bag.” This raises an intriguing question: what does he plan to do with the other 12 balls? Put them in a stew? Or is he threatening to remove one ball – and only one – from each of the men sent to kill him, sort of a like a warning shot? We never do find out.

It is one of the few threats that we never actually get the chance to see come to pass and this is a series where James Delaney seems to use evil supernatural powers to remotely attack a woman in her bed.

There are few if any moments of respite in Taboo, I remember being a little taken aback by a scene when James Delaney was walking along the Thames with a dog.   I honestly didn’t think that such a man would do such a thing,  perhaps though hopefully not, the fresh air and sounds of the river might take off his edge.   He even starts talking to a gentleman who he meets.

“The dogs around here,” he says, motioning to the mutt that’s happily joined Hardy for a mid-afternoon stroll, “live off the flesh of suicides jumping off Blackfriars’s Bridge.”

Phew, for a moment there I thought he was at risk of mellowing for a few minutes and that wouldn’t do as when you have enemies and schemers such as the Prince Regent no less on your back then you need every grunt that you can get your hands on.

The sets and costumes are as wonderful as the actors and dialogue and mention must be made of the superb soundtrack which you can sample a little of below.


Finally, here are some of my favourite quotes from the first series of Taboo.   A second series has been immediately commissioned so if you didn’t watch Taboo the first time around, it is well worth trying to find a way to catch up with it before the winter.


Coop: You promised to give me those names.
Delaney: I did? I must have lied.

Coop: Your Highness, there is little doubt in my mind that senior directors of the East India have done a deal with Delaney.
Prince Regent: Just fucking kill him!
Coop: If he dies, the Nootka goes to the Americans, as per his will.
Prince Regent: Fuck Nootka! Fuck wills, treaties. I’m the head of fucking state. And by the command of his majesty, kill him.


I need a ship. You have four hours.

Delaney [to Strange]


The things I did in Africa make your transactions look paltry. I witnessed and participated in darkness that you cannot conceive.

Delaney [to Strange]


I have a use for you.

Delaney [to Sir Strange]


I happen to like driving in nails. Takes your mind off the rain, and off of the sinking ship.

Delaney on securing African slaves below deck on an illegal slaver ship.


Brace: You stink of cow shit.
Delaney: It’s horse shit, actually.


Now we’ve screwed maharajahs, we’ve screwed moguls, and this man, this man is merely a London mongrel. So? Come on! Ideas?



If you shoot first and miss, your opponent can fire from as close a range as he desires.

If you shoot first and miss, your opponent can fire from as close a range as he desires.

My apologies – that was an excellent shot. I can only assume that your second is a Company man, since he failed to load a ball in your pistol. It would appear that my life is more precious than yours. Good day.

Delaney [to Thorne]


Strange: We had a fucking agreement! Common cause. Fucking snakes! Who tipped you off?
Lackey: Anonymous note.
Strange: Delaney! He’s turning London into his own private bear pit. And what are we? The bear? Or the dogs? Shit! And that fat pig-Prince Prinny, plays the fool so he can better play the game. I’ll pop him. I swear to God I’ll burst him like a pig’s bladder! Get a message to Coop; tell him we withdraw our negotiators from the India talks.

Atticus: What’s the smallest thing you’ve ever seen?
Delaney: Human kindness.


Strange: Where did he get the money to buy a ship? Jesus Christ, am I the only one in this company with a brain? They got to him first: either in Africa, or on the journey back to London. One of their agents approached him, briefed him, gave him money, and secured his services.
Lackey: Who did, sir?


Forgive me Father, for I have indeed sinned.


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Standing Up To Corporate Greed

I’ve written several posts on corporate tax dodgers and greed and this week, none was more surprised to be confronted by another example of this just a minute from where I live when I got on my local bus.

Imagine my surprise when my bus ticket increased from £10 to £15 overnight.  A figure so obscene and unjustified that my bus driver was angry enough to say he was disgusted and that someone should go to the local newspaper about it.  In fact the rise was so disproportionate that some passengers simply did not believe the driver that the price had increased so much which resulted in arguments.

I don’t mind prices going up by 2-3% a year or even sometimes 10% but whoever heard of a bus ticket going up 50% from one day to the next.   Whilst even this figure doesn’t bother me overly much as I simply claim it as a cost on by business travel, I thought it was very unfair to others in my neighbourhood who aren’t all as fortunate as myself.

This multi-journey ticket is also proportionately much cheaper than single or return tickets which are around £3.70.   Can you imagine paying $6 for a bus ticket of just 2 or 3 miles…. astonishing when just a few miles away in London you can have a bus journey lasting 8 or 10 miles for just £1.   Me thinks Arriva Buses are ripping off consumers.

So I went to the local newspaper who were more than interested in the story, so much so that it ended up being one of the most commented upon reports in the town this week.   Incredibly the spokeswoman for the rip-off Arriva Bus company doesn’t even try to deny the 50% increase and defends it as enhancing the service.

I see it as another purely money-grabbing exercise from this multi-national conglomerate…. this one from Germany.  I don’t know if they have ever been on their own buses but in the rush hour there is no room to even stand in comfort, let alone access wifi.  In the quieter day time periods, most of the passengers are so old and frail, they can barely beep their free bus-pass onto the card reader, I’ve never heard one person ask about wi-fi.  I have however heard lots of people complaining about the poor and now ever more expensive service.

You can see the report below!

Bus Ticket Rip-Off

My last bus ticket on the left costing £10, my new bus ticket on the right costing £15!!

A passenger is boycotting a bus firm after it hiked its prices by 50 per cent overnight.

Stephen Liddell, 43, has used the Arriva number 10 bus service, which goes from Woodside to Holywell Estate, for more than 10 years. For the past four years he has paid £10 for ten journeys, but when he boarded the bus yesterday he was shocked to discover that the price had risen to £15.

There was no prior warning and he said the bus driver agreed that the inflation was not justified.

He said: “I honestly think this could be the biggest ticket price rise in history. Arriva are absolutely taking the mick.

“The buses are no quicker or cleaner, and the drivers certainly aren’t getting a pay rise, so how can they actually justify this?

“The route is really popular with schoolchildren too so it seems strange that they’d increases the prices. I won’t be using the service in future because it doesn’t make any sense to – it’s cheaper for me to drive and park in town.”

Several bus routes have recently been axed in Watford, and Mr Liddell said sharp price increases will deter people from using public transport.

He said: “The bus companies have closed down several routes in Watford in the last few years – if they put the prices up 50 per cent overnight then who can blame residents for not using them. In the end, only those without alternatives will use the buses and then it will be too late to save the routes.

“The buses are always late too, and the traffic can be appalling in the busy periods; pricing out people from using the buses doesn’t seem to be a good idea to reduce congestion and help the environment.

“I also worry that many poorer people might not afford to be able to travel into town as much as they would like, which will impact on the wider community as well as their health and happiness.”

But an Arriva spokesperson, who claims they have not increased ticket prices for two years, said the price hike will “enhance” the service.

Rachel Knight said: “We are investing a significant sum of money across the Southern Counties region this year to enhance our fleet and services for our customers. As well as new vehicles, this means we can provide free wifi, USB charging points and the latest clean engines to deliver our ambitious environmental targets across Arriva and by 2020.

“We are also putting money into technology with the development of our apps, making paying on your smartphone and tracking a journey much easier. We have recently added the ability to purchase tickets online using a PayPal account, making it easier and more secure than ever before.

You can read the full report on the link below at the Watford Observer website.


Posted in Life, News, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments