Posts tagged: Slough

Roadworks On The Doorstep

Nobody likes roadworks. Yet, they are an everyday nuisance of modern life. Living next to the First Great Western mainline route between Paddington and the West has meant we are inflicted upon by the noise of trains going by on a regular basis from 6am until midnight. Just like the planes overhead flying out and in to Heathrow, you get used to and after a month or so acclimatise to their existence. However, when we moved in over three years ago we knew little of the impact Crossrail would have on our new home. Stoke Poges Lane has a bridge, affectionately named after a local factory landmark, Horlicks Bridge. The bestowed name from the GSK building nearby which many years ago produced the nightime beverage. It is tight for two regular vehicles to cross at the same time and when lorries approach the crossing, they have to wait to ensure they are given a clear passage. Network Rail own the bridge, rather than Slough Borough Council, so therefore have been in charge of the upgrade in preparation for the electrification of the line from Reading all the way to the capital. The bridge is to be removed in November and fully replaced with full size bridge in April. Meanwhile we have had to put up with roadworks which started about two weeks ago, with three way traffic lights controlling the flow of vehicles over the bridge.

Roadworks

While driving home from Wycombe this evening, I came up to the lights and waited for them to turn green as you do. A wait of ten minutes, maybe a little more. However, as the lights turned green, a driver had taken the risk and jumped the red light on the other side. Now most cars ahead of me decided this was just not on and decided to force the driver to stop just before the signal. Being the better person I decided to let the silver Golf pass, only to have a bright blue BMW behind me toot their horn for holding them up. I was trying to let the vehicle through, so then the rest of the traffic would have clear run at the bridge. Oh the impatience of some drivers. This reall does get my goat sometimes. Why is everybody in such a hurry. I am sure there was a Honda Jazz television advert from many years ago which ended with the lines – “Aren’t We All Just Trying To Get Somewhere…!”

EDL in Slough

I heard about the march at the start of the year and conveniently planned to be in Wycombe on the proposed day of the march. Unsure why Slough in particular was chosen but there was a heavy police presence around Salt Hill Park as I drove down Stoke Poges Lane heading to the M4 and out of the Slough around 10:30am on Saturday.

Once in the comfort of my parents house and a good twenty two miles away from Slough, I caught up with events on Twitter and later watched uploaded footage on YouTube

It is a shame they had to protest in the town I now call home, but I was glad to see a large contingent of offices from Thames Valley Police and other local constabularies plus a great counter protest from anti fascists. To be frank what was the point, particularly with such a small turnout on a weekend in a relatively small town. I can only think it was chosen due to the proximity to London. While I am sure the EDL leaders made a point to highlight the diversity in the town and the fact that white population are now in the minority here. Speaking to the owner of 2 Geezers, the barber shop I use, located on the High Street, there were more anti protestors than actual EDL protesters. The police decided to close the road in the afternoon, so most businesses just shut up shop at 3pm and went home.

Rat Running

Being a local Slough boy, I like to think I know the shortcuts around town. Growing up down the road in High Wycombe, I spent many evenings and weekends in the local town of Slough. In particular as there is still no Hindu temple in my home town, this was the closed with a place of worship.

Driving home on Thursday afternoon, I listen to the radio and tend to tart around the stations working my way down from national to local. I switched to Time 106.6 which had a local news bulletin, directly after the main news. Lansdowne Avenue is to be closed to traffic from Monday 13th onwards. This would have an adverse affect on not just my journey to work but general journeys from the flat, to town or the supermarket. While I would never use the road to rat run, it was a useful shortcut to take out the Stoke Poges Lane traffic light crossroads. I just feel residents got annoyed with the amount of traffic and in many cases, people forgot it was a residential area, rather than a main route and never reduced their driving speed.

The impact for me is an additional few minutes on top of my morning commute, which includes a lifetime waiting at the lights at the end of Stoke Poges Lane. The signage went up last week but I did not notice it covered in black bin bags until later this week. How will they police such a closure, I do not know, unless they plan to actually block the road off completely, which is very unlikely. My answer came the next day, when signs were added and the red and white blocks were placed on the road.

Lansdowne Avenue

A Bad Case Of The Mondays

My alarm goes off every week day morning at 5am sharp. I tend to actually get myself out of bed a few minutes later (sometimes up to ten). On this occasion, I just switched off my mobile phone alarm, rather than hitting the snooze function. (Actually it is a swipe up motion to snooze, swipe down to completely dismiss) I woke up at 5:45am and swore (quietly, so as not to wake my wife) at my DAB digital clock display. I was running late and I knew it! Now, I am sure to many people, 5:45am is probably anything but late, most of you are probably still sound asleep, knowing all too well that you have at least another hour (possibly more) in your warm bed. The concept of 5am probably is never on your radar. As a colleague once said to me, “There is only one five o’ clock in the day and that is hometime!”.

As usual, I rushed to get ready and after a quick breakfast, watching news on television and refreshing both the Metro and Daily Mail apps on my tablet, I went for a shower. I then headed out the door around 6:25am, I knew I was not going to catch my usual 6:35am service. In fact, by the time I walked to the station, I had watched the 6:47am service leave platform four. I had not fancied dashing for the train, when it was highly likely I would miss it. I then had to wait for the 07:04am service, the train I used to catch some two years ago and I believe I last caught this particular service was probably December 2011. As the sun was rising up to my right (the East) I decided to take a photograph with my aged HTC Desire and upload to my Instagram page (once in the office).

Sunrise

The only benefit on this occasion of catching this express service, it was one of the new trains (Adelantes) I took a seat at one of the tables and updated myself on the news via my Nexus 7. An excellent way to kill a train journey, even if it was less than fifteen minutes. However, we were kept waiting outside the station for a while before finally going through to platform nine. I rushed through to the main entrance, I usually skip the escalator and run up the stairs (missing one consecutive step in each stride to ensure speedy ascension). The place was rammed, it was 7:30am and I was in a long queue at the barrier. My season ticket does not scan. This the price I pay for a discount with my employer. The scheme is called Easit yet it is anything but easy! I then came up against some jobs-worth, who failed to believe, when I insisted that my paper season ticket would not scan and insisted I put it through the barrier. When it failed, with the usual “Seek Assistance” message, I smiled, before finally being let out. I knew there was a reason I usually fly through the station at 6:51am. I know, not to be late ever again. I then rushed out to catch my bus, to see it waiting at the stop, as I dashed across the road to the waiting bus, it signalled to leave and departed just as I reached the door. Touché, Stewarts Coaches have a timetable and they were going to stick to it and I have to respect their decision. Ultimately, if I had already been on the bus, I would not have wanted to be delayed while more passengers boarded. I resigned myself to the fact that next bus would be around in just over five minutes. In fact, the driver of the bus, was my usual driver for the 7:00am service (he had completed one circuit in the time it had taken for me to get to the station from Slough).

I settled onto the bus and switched over to the radio. I was ready to begin what would be yet another busy week in the office. Many people wonder why I get into the office before 7:30am each morning. I had answered my own question. Reading Station is quiet, my office is quiet (I am generally the first person to arrive not just in my department but probably the entire building). No further motivation was required, I would never leave the flat late again. The only benefit on this occasion had been the fact I had a meeting with the US team between 4pm and 5pm.

As soon as I was in the office, I put my frustrations onto the interweb, as we all do now. Posting on Twitter the annoyance of getting delayed and turning up at the office almost an hour later than usual. My dear friend Big Chris, responded later that afternoon. He agreed that there seemed no reason for the station to be so busy, the trains had been running without delay. Another of lives great mysteries forever to remain unresolved.

Big Chris Tweets

There Goes The Neighbourhood

To provide substantial evidence to support my previous post from almost a year ago (when I moved into the estate). I received the following letter from Slough Borough Council today. Something makes me think that the threat of a fine or prosecution will do little to deter my neighbours from such anti-social acts. Although it will be interesting to bump into any member of the so called Neighbourhood Enforcement Team. I doubt they will be around at 6am in the morning when I head off to the train station or around 7:30pm when I get back from the gym but us honest residents do live in hope! Which makes me wonder what type of covert surveillance they will be carrying out to catch the perpetrators. This is local government in the 21st century! When you have to, not just remind people to put their rubbish into bins but threaten to take them to court (at the most extreme) for not doing so. Come on people it really is not that much hard work!

Household Waste Storage

Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

This is probably news to most readers of my blog, I had told a few close friends but not made any formal announcements via Facebook, Twitter or even my online diary. I have moved to Slough. While I wait for you recover from this breaking news, let me go through my thinking process. (Or rather thinking processes) It may seem mad, but as always there is method in my madness.

Yes it would have made sense to move to Swindon but when that more permanent house purchase fell through in the autumn, it was time to re-think the plan. While I love being at home and living with my parents and three adorable sisters, it was time once again, to flow the nest. Unlike in 2000 (for University) and 2008 (for my job in Newbury) I was hoping not to be a boomerang. I was hoping to make the move as a stepping stone to married life and finally standing on my own two feet. As I leave my twenties behind at a crazy rate (a mere seven months left on the clock) I took some time to look at my situation and it was not good. I really needed to have my space again and gain my independence back. Sure, there is no doubt that I will miss the delicious home cooked food, the Sky (albeit standard definition) but most importantly the broadband connection. It was time and it was the right time.

Why Slough of all places? Well as you may or may not know I am a big fan of The Office but this would be a rather foolish criteria to move to a town. As usually it is location, location, location. The flat is fifteen minutes drive from High Wycombe. The same distance from Langley and smack bang on Junction 7 of the M4. There is just a ten minute walk from the flat into town, the gym and maybe five additional minutes to get to the train station. There are of course, the negative aspects, this is Slough. A town which was the focus of a now infamous poem written in 1937 and then went onto star in a BBC2 documentary (Let’s Make Slough Happy) which starred my friend, hospital radio DJ, Melanie! The Brunel Roundabout (you will know it, it appears in the opening titles of above forementioned BBC comedy series) is currently being rebuilt, so there are no traffic lights and the mentality is every man, woman or child for themselves. Not a major issue for me, during non-peak times but I am sure if I have to drive through at a weekend it will be something of a nightmare. The bus station is being rebuilt and the design currently visible looks rather futuristic and space age.

I switched my Google News feed from High Wycombe to Slough (I keep a section for local news, it good to know what is going down on your doorstep) and was shocked to find so many cases of fraud, rape and murder. I really had moved to the centre of criminal activity in Berkshire. Does it bother me? It does a little, even in the first days I have noticed a great number of police cars out on patrol. Do I feel unsafe? No, my flat is clean, well lit and secure. I have secure car parking (with a lot more expensive and sort after cars parked next to me) so I have no real issues there. I knew Slough was bad, but it was not until I actually started reading some of the stories that I gained a full understanding of how bad the town really is. Now sure, all towns have problems and it is unfair to label Slough has being at the extreme end of things, perhaps it is just a sharp contrast from my quiet home town of High Wycombe.

I know the next month or so will be difficult as I settle in but I am looking forward to the challenge of fending for myself once more. I am also making my small contribution to the planet by car sharing my journey to Swindon with James. Therefore I now only drive two days a week and am chauffeur driven for two days and still have the flexibility of Fridays working from home.

Sunset over Pickford Gardens

Tuesday 4th September 2007

A quiet weekend at home, nothing really planned. I had a few odd jobs to do in town in the morning, get my haircut, go to the bank. I left just before 9am and was back around 10.30am. Then, very much a coach potato Saturday in front of the television (or rather computer screen). I watched Football Focus and then Soccer Saturday, thanks to Sky Sports News (which is thankfully still broadcasting on Freeview, although I was told it was going to be pulled during the summer). In the afternoon before the football began, I watched The Simpsons Movie. Pav had sent me a care package, one DVD, which I received on Saturday morning. I had not seen the movie and was looking forward to it. My expectations were high, but then again I’m not a big fan of the series and my favourite character is Chief Clancy Wiggum. When the show is on television, be it Channel 4 or Sky One, I will watch it. It does make me laugh. I have most seasons, apart from the most recent three loaded on the XBox, thanks to MightyMouse. I was disappointed. Sure, there were a few good jokes and some funny scenes, but generally it did little to entertain. I think it was aimed at a younger audience, but I wanted to get something out of it. Towards the end it became rather predictable, which is a shame because that was one of the shows plus points, it was always completely unpredictable. I wanted more celebrity cameos, more multi-story plot lines, more emphasis on some of the smaller characters. Considering how long we had waited for a movie to be made, just adds to the feeling of being let down. The series brings together classic moments and lines. I find it difficult to remember anything apart from the ‘spider pig‘ segment but that is more due to it being over played on constant trailers before the movie was released.

One day on MSN a few weeks ago, Pav was telling me about a new spin off series based on the Terminator movies. I explained how disappointed I was in Terminator 3, which I saw on five in November 2004 (blogged on 16th in fact, shown on 14th). Looking through the archives I did not really give a review of the movie because I was just too shocked that it was already having it’s terrestrial network television premiere, having only been released on the big screen, the summer before. While the role of a female terminator was fantastic, it was just a rehash of the second movie with a few bigger special effects. The story was almost non-existent and the ending was pathetic. Such a shame a great franchise had come down to this. The spin off series is hoping to kick start interest in the story, perhaps get a whole new generation interested in the movies and fill up some air time before the fourth movie.

Included in my care package, was the pilot episode. Fantastic is one word I can use to describe the movie. It stays true to the end of the second movie (first sequel) and continues from there on in. I find it hard to believe that Sarah would get herself involved with another man, it just is not her nature. However, that aside, it was great, action packed. The beginning scene was very well done but you could clearly see that as it is a television series the budget is much smaller than a feature film. The highlight for me is Summer Glau, taking a role of Cameron Phillips. She is someone I should already be familiar with, as I have her television series Firefly and movie Serenity, sitting on my shelf, still unopened. I bought the movies back on Friday 12th January but still have not got around to watching it. As I explained at the time of purchase, I want to watch the series first, then watch the movie. I will find time, somewhere.

Yesterday I was in Slough, do not ask why! Two moments occurred which had me thinking, “I must mention that on my blog”. First, I was walking through the town centre and noticed a market stall set up in the pedestrianised area selling watches. Nothing new there. However, I then noticed the sign underneath, “Any wacth £15″. Come on, some one must have learnt how to spell the most basic of words. If your ensure, ask somebody! Then, on the drive home, I was behind a silver BMW X3. Nothing unusual there, of course. However, as we came up to a little puddle, the driver did his best to avoid it! I could not believe it! You buy a mini-SUV and still avoid a little splash of water on the road. These people make me mad. They make my blood boil!

Generally speaking I do not remember my dreams. I drift off sometime before 1am, listening to Anita. No, not a girlfriend, but the BBC Radio Five Live presenter. However for the few nights I have remembered my dreams, they have been extremely vivid and at times enlightening. Last night the dream was split in two halves. The first part I was driving through Reading down streets I had never seen before. I headed up a high incline, which hit something insane line 75%. Then the next part I remember was my car being lodged on the flat roof of a house and group of big burly guys helping lift it down to ground level. I then remember racing down some stairs into a doctor’s surgery reception. The receptionist was non other than Emma Rigby. You may know her better as Hannah from Hollyoaks. Very strange, but the dream continues, I try and arrange an appointment with my GP for some time in mid September. Then in a bit of a daze I woke up. My dream from Saturday evening, also had a Hollyoaks theme and starred Jennifer Biddall, better known as sultry eyed Jess Harris. However, I really think I should stop there before I go to far. All I can say, it is a good thing I cannot remember my dreams. They would make the worse possible topic for my blog. Unless of course you happen to be a Dream Reader!

Friday 12th January 2007

I am watching Neighbours. Something I can never do, because I would normally miss the 5.35pm edition as I’m still at work. I had a day off, to sort out the car situation. Everything came together and I can quite happily tick everything off the “to do” list. I live for days like this, although perhaps, today was a day from one of my nightmares. So, let me kick off the action. Last night I noted down the postcodes of all the specific locations I had to stop at over the course of the day and took this light blue Post-It note with me when I loaded the car. I dropped off my sister at school, but that was the familiarity of a normal standard day ended. I headed onto the bypass and towards my first destination, inputting the post code of the regional DVLA office, which thankfully is in Reading. Thanks to the TomTom I got there perfectly. Just before 9am, which meant a few minutes wait outside with a few other early risers. While I hate most government offices, there was a fresh approach here. A ticket system, similar to that found at your local deli counter in Tesco (or other supermarket chain). My number was 106 and I had a approximate fifteen wait, but it was more like ten. I requested the papers and asked how long the process took. Seven days. Great. I headed out, happy that my primary objective of the day had been completed. There were still a few more pending.

Next stop, The Oracle, in the town centre. My main reason was to book tickets in person for the cinema this evening but it was closed and would be until around 10.30am, too late for me. I headed over into the shopping mall itself. It was deserted with only a handful of the shops actually open, with late commuters making their way to their offices. I walked down to HMV and walked straight to the counter, to find out how much credit I had on my Gift Card. £20 was the reply from the assistance. I then asked about Firefly and Serenity. He was the man to ask, as he had seen both the movie and television series (in that reverse order). I suppose this part of the post goes out to Peter and Hussein. I have wanted to see the sci-fi movie for ages but turned down the DVD from Peter at work on the notion that I must see the television series first. This was on the suggestion of Mighty Mouse but I agree with him. In any case, this helpful sales assistant went off looking for the box set but it was nowhere to be found. It had apparently been a hot seller over Christmas. No joy, but I bought Serenity and would head over to the Friar Street store, the other side of town to check if they had it. I thanked the gentleman for his time, he had been extremely helpful. Even if he had dropped the minor bombshell that the movie was just the ‘best bits’ of the television series. Let me be the judge of that.

Next stop on the trail was Boots. I had been sent a replacement card over Christmas and had to get some points transferred across. Then I headed through WH Smith, to HMV. It was dead, there were three sales guys and absolutely no customers and classic Kylie from twenty years ago (yes, it truly has been that long!) playing on the PA system. I asked the girl at the counter about Firefly and straight away she took me to the TV drama section, F. It was the last box set in the store. The Oracle store had 52 on order but with no due date for delivery. I bought it. I have done it. Well not really, I am only half way there. I have to get around to watching the series and then movie.

Heading towards the car, I picked up some Chocolate and Vanilla danish pastries for Nige. I saw that the Vue cinema looked open (the show times for movies as screenings on the big red LED display behind the counter. However, as I headed towards the door. It was shut. Never mind, online booking as normal, not a major issue. I headed towards the car park. In another reply of Thursday lunchtime, I miss placed the ticket for the car park. Searching my wallets and pockets, only to find it eventually in my jacket pocket. Then I had to find my car, which was on Level One, not Two, Three or Four. This old age must be getting to me. I headed out into the dull grey Berkshire morning, inputting the next destination. Swallowfield.

I called Nige, just before I got to the magnificent Madejski Stadium, he was on his way and five minutes way, I consulted the TomTom, I was 15 minutes away. Result. The traffic was quiet and I made good progress. I was at the garage around 10.30am and we left some fourteen minutes later to head to Slough. This was never the way I had hoped for my Italian love affair to end. I must remember, that all is far, in love, war and motoring. Ironically, there was a foreign film on BBC4 last night. I did not watch, just noted it on the Radio Times web site.”The Long Goodbye”. How apt! The farewells would begin now.

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