Ed's London

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bruce Kraus South Side Parking

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published (Wednesday 10 February 2016) an article on a proposal by Bruce Kraus to make the South Side a nightlife magnet. Bruce, it’s been a magnet sine the 80’s once Mario’s Saloon moved in. I lived here all my 63 years and went through these issues then as now.  
He wants an extension for paid street parking. A change is proposed to eliminate free parking at metered spots by changing the time from 6PM to midnight. First, this will drive parkers to residential spots. A question I have is will this extension apply to the South Side Works. Aren’t they a part of the South Side?
To discourage parking from going to residential spots he wants to use the Second Avenue Parking Garage. I support the idea of using this garage for people coming to the South Side with a free shuttle. But in real life they will try and park as close to a bar as they can. And hey, don’t they get free parking at the First National Bank lot? And what plans are forthcoming for workers serving these people Bruce is trying to covet? The free shuttle stops after they get out of work.
Additional questions that will never get an answer:
Will the police tag and tow cars from fire hydrants one Friday and Saturday night?
Will the police tag and tow cars parked at stop signs and wheelchair ramps?
Will permit parking enforcement be enforced more frequently?
I should be a lawyer as I can ask questions when I already know the answers.
One last item. I don’t know if the city ever denied a liquor license from coming in to the South Side from another borough, but if they have they are hypocrites.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

US Airways - American Airways, OK. But British Airways?

Historically, US Airways has flown from Charlotte to London-Heathrow on Flight 730 with a return on Flight 731. They still do but you would never know. Actually, US flew to Gatwick until last year. I loved Gatwick and will miss it.

Looking at a flight from 1 September with a return on 8 September (as an example) I found that:

From Pittsburgh I cannot make a RT journey that way I had been doing so for many years. Yes, Flight 730 does go to LHR but no longer direct as it stops in Raleigh-Durham. Flight 731 does fly back direct to Charlotte but I have to assume that if you originated in Raleigh you would have to transfer in Charlotte on the return.

I can find no flights originating in Pittsburgh via Charlotte or Philadelphia. All flights go to a different city even if they stop in Philly along the way. Going from Pittsburgh to Charlotte or Philly no longer is offered despite being available.

The US Airways website shows that all flights departing the US are British Airways with only a few being American Airlines despite being married to one another.  

Many of the flights offered from Pittsburgh take me to Orlando. What was once a seven-hour flight is now over 17 hours. It seems that my planned trip for May 2015 is in turmoil. I can see how US Airways was made to drop their flights as American is the major airline in this merger. But why cut flights to have BA add more. Obviously there is a lot of information I do not know and it is confusing.  And don’t even get me writing about price. I see that flights that were $1,200 RT are not $1,900. YIKES!

I was going to write US Airways and have them explain this to me but what has happened is done and in place. The merger may be very well better for them but as a customer it is making flying less enjoyable. Is this a conspiracy? Well, I am still going. It will be more money and I am not sure if I can use my miles. But I do have more options to fly out of different cities and flying BA makes you feel that you’re one step closer to London. If anyone has something to say or add to this please send me an e-mail to edvidunas @ gmail dot com.   

Cheers, Ed

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Popeye's Pub- London

Back in the 1980’s when I started to visit London a bit more frequently I found a nice pub that was not really out of the way but as it was several minutes walk south from Victoria Station not many tourists would venture there. It was a shame really as the pub was at the entrance to Pimlico, which is very posh. The pub was not posh. Today it is a high-end restaurant befitting the area but back then it was the place I wanted to be.

The Ebury Arms was a typical London boozer. The bar was a large wood wrap-around in the middle of a large saloon floor. It displayed several wood hand pulls with fancy beer emblems that Andy Cap would have easily known. Also typical for this type of pub was the pool table and never ending playing of American country music. County music is even today very popular and may be why I am drawn to London. Well, that and the beer, fish and chips, Hyde Park Corner and pretty much everything in between. The Ebury was a tenant pub meaning the landlord” lived with his family upstairs. They had a dog as well.

One evening as I had a pint in my hand and Jonny Cash in my ear I saw the landlord’s daughter coming down the stairs. Following just steps behind her was the pooch. I think it was a Jack Russell. I also think it had a storied life. Once on the saloon floor the dog started running around the bar as though he was chasing a pub mouse. I never saw what he was after but he seemed intent on getting it. I have to give him thumb, err, paw-up for trying as he only had three legs. And that’s not all.

In addition to missing a front leg he had an eye patch over one. The tail was either totally missing or partially bitten off. He was also missing a chunk of butt on his hindquarter. I sat there and wondered what he must have gone though during his life.  Did he earn these “badges” over time or was he in one really big fight where he took several blows but came out top dog? I wanted to name him Popeye.

Sadly, the pub and Popeye are long gone. Now the Ebury has wine glasses and white tablecloths. To bring a tear in my other eye Jonny Cash is no longer sharing the room with cigarette smoke.  I still find London pubs what have a live-in dog or cat and a mouse every now and then. You will not find smoke anymore but Jonny still sings at the Dickens in Southwark SE1 and so many pubs still have piano night and sing-a-longs. Should you find an “olde” London pub like this take time to look around and see what is vanishing at an alarming rate. Think of Andy and Popeye and the tears in my eyes when I see them being converted or torn down. Cheers to them all.    

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Paddington to Heathrow Trains

For years I have traveled to London from Pittsburgh thru Charlotte to Gatwick. US Airways has pulled out of Gatwick and now lands at Heathrow where their Philadelphia flight has always landed. I will miss Gatwick in many ways but I am not opposed to Heathrow. My first time coming in to Heathrow in February 2014 was great. Signage in the departure hall was well placed and getting the Heathrow Connect train to Paddington could not have been easier. I was a little surprised how far I had to walk from the elevator to the platform but I had the wherewithal to have luggage on wheels. Departure day was another matter.

From the taxi rank at Paddington I made my way to the platform after buying a ticket to the airport. All passengers need to use the elevators if they have luggage. as escalators are luggage free. Safety issue I am told. As the elevator door opened I found myself on a platform. I saw signs for the tube and other trains but nothing that said Heathrow Express or Connect. I was on platform 12 and couldn’t remember if this is where I came in upon arrival. It was also 6:30AM and I was the only person on the platform. After a while a few people did wander through but they where off to parts unknown. I was perplexed. Was I at the right platform and how do I find the others? I found nothing and a few people who had ID badges had no idea. One person said the Connect usually stops at this platform. Usually? Well, that certainly put me to ease. As the first train of the day was to come in the monitor sparked to life and I say that I was on the correct platform and that I would be departing the Twilight Zone shortly.

Painted markings on the floor for the tube was great as were the platform numbering. But I thought the signage for the Connect and Express was very poor. Or I could have just not seen the signs. If anyone can confirm that my observation was correct or if I need to specs, please make a comment. I will be back but you can be sure that I will take better note of my locations.   

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Hour in London

A few London pubs that I follow on Twitter have started offering discounts on pints of beer in the late afternoon or evening. Although not called happy hour as American bars do, they offer these specials until closing. As the cost of a pint keeps increasing I welcome the discount at these pubs and will frequent them. Well, I do that now as they are very good pubs with excellent conditioned ale.

But I have to ask if this trend is being undertaken do to loss of trade as a result of the higher cost of putting a pale in a pint? For some of the pubs I do not think this is the case as they already have a brisk trade of loyal punters. So, my question to the pubs of London: why? In addition, is this happening beyond London in other parts of the country?

Not that I really need an answer but I do welcome this action in some of my favorite pubs. The two that know do this are the Gunmaker Arms in Clerkenwell and the Wenlock Arms in Hockston. Thank you publicans.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Flying with US Airways Miles

When I visited London in January 2013 I was able to use some of my miles and a small amount of cash. I looked ahead to see what I would need to come over for the Steeler's game in September and once more for my birthday in January 2014. All three trips would require 30,000 miles and not more than $200 for a round-trip flight. Now that I am planning a trip the miles have gone to 60,000 RT with about $240. My two up-coming (almost) free flights with US Airways has been cut down to one. Dam.

Well, the September flight for the game is not going to happen for a few reasons so that leaves January. But I have found that the entire month of February 2014 is available for 17,500 miles each way. This is great as I can save a lot of miles if and when another month opens for the same amount. But there are restrictions Any day doing February will charge me 71,500 one-way but getting a flight on a particular day is the challenge. I have to fly into Heathrow as US Airways pulled out of Gatwick. I have a choice of traveling through Philadelphia which I do not want to do as it is too large and my connecting flight is "miles" from my point of touch-down. I prefer Charlotte. US Airways does not.

Most of the days I select to fly to or from Charlotte are sold out. In order to be in London for the Battersea Beer Festival I can only depart on the second of February and I have only two days that I can return without going past my available time off from work. Dam work. But I can still get in a nine day visit. Last January was sixteen days and I wanted to stay longer. Philadelphia gives me more flight options but I just hate navigating that airport. It's not real that bad but can be stressful if your lay-over is short due to the hike to the connecting flight. Been there, done that, good god never again.

It is nice to be able snag a very cheap flight on any day of the month but not very nice when the airline says we have no seat for you. I do understand that airlines have to set restrictions, after all I am not exactly chairman's preferred. The chairman doesn't even know who I am. But what is available to me is something that I can work with and I am excited to be able to be making plans to come back to the city that I love. It does help that I am very flexible with my schedule.

One other item that I am trying to factor into my planing is the return city I want to use to get back to Pittsburgh. I prefer Charlotte Airport and I can get a flight that will get my home airport at 6 PM. But I leave London at 10 AM. Getting to Heathrow may not be bad but not having been to Heathrow in 20 years I need to find my way like a newbie. The flight to Philly departs at noon, which takes a lot of stress off me. But the flight to Pittsburgh lands at 8 PM. That's 1:00 AM to my body and I still need to drive home.  I find London to be calming an stress free but trying to get there and back is what I thing made me loose my hair.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Passport Control Reform

There is a lot of talk in the United States and Mexico about reforming the immigration policy of the United States. I say Mexico, as they appear to not like what we do. I wasn’t sure that they had a say in the matter but it seems that so many do. One phrase that gets tossed around is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean but some view it as allowing people coming in the United States illegally to stay. I would ask; why would somebody come into a country illegally? There can be several answers to that but the obvious answer is opportunity. This is why so many people fled Europe in the 1800 and 1900’s to come to America. This is a big reason to this day. But the one element to immigration that applies to everyone coming into any country is that the receiving country has the right to say no. Yet some in my country (as well as from other countries) seem to think that the United States should not say no. I have a question for those having that opinion.

Before I ask my question, please remember that I am keeping my opinion out of this conversation. The question is being directed to those in the just say no camp, but the kick em out camp may have something to say as well. At long last, here is my question. If you are in favor of allowing undocumented workers to remain in the United Sates (under a variety of scenarios) what is your opinion of Passport Control at entry ports in the United States?

Being connected by land to Canada and Mexico, it is easy to simply walk into the States. Once here “visitors” can benefit from what we have to offer in the way of work, health care, education, etc. It is different when you come in off a plane or boat. Once you set foot on America you encounter a uniformed sentry who wants to know who you are and why you’re here. When I land overseas I am asked how long I plan to stay and will I be working. My answer that never gets a smile in return is “not long enough and don’t work at the office so why start now”. Countries want to know who is coming to the party. If you had a party at home and saw a stranger, wouldn’t you ask him how he got in? I think this a small part of the debate that is missing. I am not sure how my ending sentence should read. If we allow those coming in illegally should we allow those coming in with a passport? How do we tell one yes and the other no? So many people want to come and work here but are denied before they leave home. How do we bring parity to everyone?