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Posted by portugalpress on September 14, 2017

Battle at Waterloo

Waterloo station is the busiest station in London and the UK. Network Rail chose the holiday month of August to close many incoming lines whilst they upgrade and extend platforms, issuing dire warnings of travel disruption and suggesting people only travel if absolutely necessary.

They are spending £800 million (€1.1 billion) on the greatest package of improvements to the station since the 1930s and the work will be completed by December 2018. Engineers are working round the clock though to complete the main disruption by the end of August this year so that commuters and travellers from September onwards will see the benefits of longer, 10-carriage trains which will increase the overall capacity of the station by 30%.

Becky Lumlock, managing director of Network Rail, is confident that the work will be completed on time, saying “it is one of the most complex pieces of engineering we’ve done at Waterloo, and there are risks in that, but that’s all been built into the contingency planning”.

Eurostar trains used to depart from Waterloo and the ambitious plan includes bringing all of these platforms back into use. The numbers are truly stunning - on average, 600 passengers arrive at the station every minute at peak periods on normal working days and each year 100 million people enter or leave the station. Waterloo opened in 1848 and was never intended to be a terminus, hence its haphazard location and development.

The famous entrance was built as a Victory Arch, commemorating the end of World War I but perhaps the most important sight remains the huge four-faced platform clock. Romantic rendezvous beneath this impressive timepiece have long been popular and surely this was the place the Kinks had in mind for their 1967 hit Waterloo Sunset when they penned ‘Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night’! There are no plans to stop the clock during the refurbishment, unlike its neighbour, Big Ben, just across the Thames which is now silenced until 2021 by repair work.

Getting up and dirty

Fancy eating dinner in a treehouse? Well now, in the city that surely offers the greatest variety of gourmet experiences in the world, this too is an option!

‘Eat With Your Hands’ has opened in an East London park on a temporary platform three metres up amongst the trees. But there is another catch with the clue in the name - there is no cutlery and the Indian food on offer is, well, messy!

The aim is to immerse diners in Indian culture and there is no pandering to making the food easy to eat. Diners feel a sense of ritual as they arrive and have their hands washed in rose water before dining on three courses for an amazing £17 (€18.50).

London chefs Anjli Vyas and India Hamilton have created this temporary dining experience as part of the Shuffle Festival in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, which is supported by local resident and film director, Danny Boyle. Student Immie Rhodes took the messy challenge with her mother and sister and said afterwards: “The food’s amazing but I wish I had a fork and you’d hesitate to bring a first date.” Quite.

The return of the cereal killer

Readers of this column with good memories will recall a previous thrilling instalment detailing the establishment of a rather wonderful idea for a café serving, well, breakfast cereal of course. Set up in the teeth of sometimes violent opposition by anti-gentrification protestors, a chain of six cafés have sprung from the original Brick Lane location. It would seem, therefore, that more people are happy to pay up to £5.50 for a bowl of cereal than many imagined at the time.

What happens next in London when an unusual idea catches on? Someone makes a musical about it of course!

‘Spilt Milk’, written and directed by 24-year-old Jacob Dorrell has made its debut at The Other Place in Victoria, a theatre established by Andrew Lloyd Webber to discover young talent. Using an indie-pop-rock score, the show stars Tom Ling, Jennifer Hague and Matt Hayden, and is a fictional version of what happened when the original café opened in 2014.

The backlash from protestors features prominently in the story and original café founder, Alan Keery, said: “For us it is just what we do but I know we have a strange, interesting story that people are interested in. I’ve always been a fan of musicals so it is a dream come true.”

Dog days of summer

A little spare time and a lot of curiosity took your columnist on an unusual expedition one sunny afternoon - in search of a dog’s grave.

Giro was no ordinary dog. He was the faithful hound of Leopold von Hoesch who became German Ambassador to Great Britain in 1932. In February 1934, this unfortunate dog chewed through an electric cable in the garden of the German embassy at 9 Carlton Terrace and died. A heartbroken Von Hoesch had the dog buried and a tombstone erected which remains there to this day. As such it remains the only ‘nazi’ grave in London and, rather unfairly, Giro is referred to as ‘the nazi dog’!

Von Hoesch himself suffered an untimely death in 1936 at the age of 55 and had become very popular in Britain, working hard to maintain good relations between the two countries. He was on good terms with politicians and the royal family, but the clock was ticking against men of peace. He was replaced by the notorious Joachim von Ribbentrop, the first nazi to be hanged at Nuremberg after the war. When Von Hoesch died, his swastika draped coffin was carried through the London streets by red-coated British guardsmen and photographic records of this event send a shiver down the spine.

But Giro’s grave, bearing the words ‘a faithful companion’, is still there, nestled under a peaceful plane tree at the foot of the striking column to Prince Frederick, Grand Old Duke of York and eldest son of George III, of the Royal House of Hanover. It all seems rather fitting really.


Richard leads parallel lives with homes and business interests in London and Portugal. He provides consultancy services to leading businesses in insurance and financial services, property and media sectors. He has four sons, two dogs and enjoys a busy family life. He likes swimming, keeping fit and an outdoor life.



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