# Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I have been following the Royal Mail Twitter tag with interest over the past few days to try and gauge how badly the service has been affected by the recent bad weather. As someone who uses both Royal Mail business collections and deliveries, 15 inches of snow in the local area has meant 3 days without business collections and 4 days without receiving mail. With the snow starting to disappear both were working yesterday but there are obviously massive delays within the Royal Mail network as mail has backed up at the sorting office.

Looking at the various comments on Twitter there seem to be a lot of people awaiting parcels and getting frustrated because there is no snow in their local area, hence in their mind no reason for delay. I wonder how many of them have taken into account where there parcel is being dispatched from and the fact that many areas have been cut off completely for several days. It seems obvious to me that in many cases mail has to move through regions with problems in order to reach them but judging by the general opinions I have seen, people do not understand this.

I do also find it interesting that many people are of the opinion that the postmen refuse to deliver in these difficult conditions when in fact they are simply not allowed out to deliver mail due to health and safety rules. In all I think Royal Mail are getting a fairly bad press at a time when I am also waiting for deliveries from 2 major courier companies, Royal Mail has delivered to me but a week later still nothing from the couriers.

posted on Wednesday, December 08, 2010 11:57:07 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, December 07, 2010

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This is interesting its a soft drink that claims to burn calories. Called Aspire the cranberry flavoured drink claims to burn 209 calories within three hours of drinking it. It does this because caffeine and green tea when combined with amino acid and ginger create a thermogenic effect where the body generates more heat in order to digest food. The drink has only been tested on 20 people so it is not clear whether it could be used as part of a weigh loss plan. Personally I think you are better of eating less and exercising but if you want to try this its available from Holland and Barrett at a cost of £1.59 for a 250ml can.

posted on Tuesday, December 07, 2010 10:23:04 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, December 06, 2010

Over the past week the snow has been causing all sorts of problems which is hardly surprising since we have had 15 inches of it in Sevenoaks. With that amount of snow I think people expect roads to be blocked and train services to be cancelled. The situation has been that no trains have been running out of Sevenoaks at all for nearly four days with the service just starting to get back to normal.

South Eastern who run the line have been getting a very bad press as a result. The main problem, however, seems to be the fact that they have not given their customers any information. Rather than tell people there have been no trains running their website and the National Rail website were for most of the time showing all services as running normally. This resulted in frustrated commuters turning up at the station expecting a train service when there was none. In fact the only reliable information available has come from Twitter where customers have been venting their frustration.

The one TV interview with South Eastern’s Sarah Boundy failed to address the problems. She highlighted the fact that South Eastern have a new website that was able to cope with the increased traffic. Unfortunately she missed the point that a new website is not very useful if it doesn’t contain up to date information. It took South Eastern two days to change the site to indicate which routes were running by which time customers had already stopped trusting the information given. All in all this has been a complete disaster for South Eastern. It will be interesting to see if they learn from the experience.

posted on Monday, December 06, 2010 8:59:19 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article McDonalds has launched its own degree course for its managers. The course which is accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University is a two year foundation degree in managing business operations. It is a customised version of Manchester Metropolitan University's management development programme and allows McDonald’s employees to get a recognised qualification without leaving their jobs. The course will be a combination of classroom study, e-learning and training in the workplace.

posted on Monday, December 06, 2010 8:40:58 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, December 05, 2010

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If you are looking for something a little more unusual for your garden then you might be interested in this black petunia. Called Black Velvet it has been developed using natural breeding techniques to turn the petals a dark colour. They will be on sale next spring for around £2 to £3 a plant.

posted on Sunday, December 05, 2010 12:47:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, December 04, 2010

Some of the largest drug and cosmetics firms have backed plans to cut animal testing. AstraZeneca, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and L'Oreal have endorsed an initiative to end the use of animals in research and safety testing. Instead they believe the future of safety testing for new drugs and chemical products lies in new technologies that use cell culture and computer models. It has long been argues that animals are poor models for testing drugs and products to be used by humans because their biology is different, however, scientists maintain that animal testing is an important safety step.

posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 1:30:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

This is a slightly odd story. It’s an incident where a man left £80,000 in a carrier bag on top his car and drove off losing the money. The cash appears to have vanished and the man reported a case of lost property. The situation is now being treated as theft by police. If you find a bag full of cash in Westcliff on Sea, Essex then you might want to contact Essex police.

posted on Saturday, December 04, 2010 1:28:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, December 03, 2010

That's’ according to this article which highlights how reliant the birds are upon human intervention. The birds have been brought back from the brink of extinction by a programme to install nest boxes. However, without a continued conservation effort the birds could be at risk. Between the 1930s and 1980s numbers of barn owls fell by as much as 70% with only 4,000 breeding pairs of birds. It is thought that the installation of nest boxes has now halted the decline and in some cases it has been reversed. Barn owls are largely reliant on areas of ungrazed and unmown grassland where their favourite food field voles like to live. With less of this type of habitat available barn owls tend to hunt alongside roadside verges which is unfortunately a risky pursuit with large numbers being killed by cars every year. Whilst the nestbox scheme is encouraging it appears it needs to be an ongoing project in order to save the species.

posted on Friday, December 03, 2010 2:35:02 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, December 02, 2010

Log Cabin

I thought we had a lot of snow yesterday but today we must have at least 18 inches in the garden today. You can get an idea of the conditions from the picture of our log cabin. It is now more than knee deep and in places where it has drifted much deeper. Currently no trains are going out of Sevenoaks station and the car is stuck in the drive. Even if we could get it out the roads are simply too dangerous. A walk into town yesterday found that most of the shops were shut and our local Co-op whilst open is limiting bread to one loaf per person. Personally judging by the state of the roads I’m surprised they have had a bread delivery at all. This is certainly the most snow I have in Sevenoaks in my lifetime and the bad news is its still snowing. I have a feeling it might just get worse before it gets better.

posted on Thursday, December 02, 2010 10:48:36 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, December 01, 2010

According to this article Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding is selling for more than £100 on Ebay. The pudding is unusual because it has a whole candied orange inside it. It was on sale for £13.99 at Waitrose but having proved very popular it quickly sold out. It appears, however, that it is much sought after and people are prepared to pay a lot more than the original value for one. It does look nice but I’m not sure I would pay that much for it.

posted on Wednesday, December 01, 2010 8:35:56 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback