Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Nocturnal monochrome

Darkness falls earlier than at any other time of year. Work is pressing - it cannot be put off for the evening for delivery the next working day. So today and yesterday, my walk had to be done in darkness. In place of the standard kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom) I took a fixed focal-length 24mm f/2 old-school Nikkor, a lovely piece of metal and glass. All photos hand-held or with camera balanced on a post or wall, 3,200 ISO, 1/10 to 1/2 second, between f/2 and f/5.6.

Below: the corner of ulica Trombity and ul. Kórnicka. Nice starburst from the street lights.


Below: the far end of ul. Dawidowska on the Jeziorki side of the tracks. Will this quiet footpath be turned into a busy four-lane thoroughfare linking Zamienie via a new railway viaduct with ul. Puławska?


Below: ul. Dawidowska between ul. Buszycka and ul. Nawłocka. It would be a great shame to lose the rural charm of this corner of Jeziorki.


Below: the view from the far end of our garden.


Below: looking north-east from ul. Hołubcowa across the fields.


Below: a quiet moment on ul. Baletowa - the level-crossing gates are down a few hundred metres along the road.


Below: looking south across ul. Sporna towards ul. Baletowa in Dawidy.


Below: the S7 extension climbs to cross the tunnel over ul. Baletowa, the upright posts await the acoustic screens to be put in place.


Below: the S7/S7/S79 junction, Węzeł Lotnisko, looking east. Note the low-mounted lighting under the flight-path.


One colour photo - this is the southern end of the S79 - for the past eight years this stump, south of the S2 junction, has stood here, unused, terminating in a cabbage field. Every night since the rest of the S79 opened to traffic, this stump of road has been illuminated by these lights - how much electricity has been wasted?


This time last year:
The Darkest is upon us

This time two years ago:
The Body - A Guide for Occupants

This time six years ago:
Extreme weather and the British climate

This time eight years ago:
Cheaper public transport for Varsovians

This time nine years ago:
Swans on ice

This time ten years ago:
Cars

This time 11 years year:
What's the English for kombinować?

This time 13 years ago:
The demographics of jazz

This time 14 years ago:
A day in Poznań

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Short roads to nowhere

Two days walking around the S7 extension - yesterday's stroll was marred by the disappearance from my camera's memory card of all but two photos. Never mind - I go again, this time with added snow.

Today I will be focusing on questionable bits of building which add to costs and whose benefits won't be seen for years if ever.

Below: I have written back in September about this stump running east from Węzeł (junction) Zamienie. Four lanes of asphalt extend 134 metres from the roundabout visible on the horizon, with a pavement along one side. In the foreground, a slip-road runs off to the right to connect the service road that runs parallel to the S7 extension up as far as ulica Baletowa in Dawidy. Note the five street lamps.


But where will it go? Below: looking east towards the railway line, 210 metres away and Jezorki beyond. There lies ul. Dawidowska. This is ul. Dawidowska. It suggests that the two ends of the street will one day be joined by a second railway viaduct, less than 400 metres south of the existing one on ul. Karczunkowska. Plus, the fact that there are two lanes in both directions suggest not only that any new viaduct is likely to be that wide, but that ul. Dawidowska in Jeziorki - a very quiet and rustic residential street - will be significantly widened and turned into a major thoroughfare.


Across the viaduct that lies at the heart of Węzeł Zamienie, on the Zamienie side, the same phenomenon can be observed - a short stump of dual carriageway leading - as yet - nowhere. Below: looking west from the top of the roundabout that lies on the border of Zamienie and Dawidy Bankowe. It runs about 50 metres before coming to an abrupt stop at the walls of the local sewage treatment plant. 


Below: looking east at the roundabout from the other end of this stump, with the Action warehouse to the right. 


So before the planned route from Jancewicze to Mysiadło via Zamienie and Jeziorki can be built, a sewage treatment plant needs to be relocated and a bridge placed over a main railway line. In other words, in some highly unspecified time in the future. Until then, nearly 200 metres of dual carriageway with attendant infrastructure will have been built, to sit underutilised for - who knows? Decades? 

Now, southward, along the western service road running parallel to the S7 between Zamienie and Nowa Wola. This was once ul. Wróbelka (lit. 'little sparrow street'); I guess the service road will get the same name. Ul. Wróbelka used to lead from Zamienie to Zgorzała - now sliced apart from each other with just two viaducts to link them, one a footbridge, the other open to all traffic.

Walking along this stretch of service road, I'm shocked at how many access roads have had to be built here. The reason is clear - by law, builders of all new roads must give access to each plot running off them. Now, the S7 cuts the land here like a chainsaw going through dense muscle fibre. 

Below: this is the local authority map son which I've marked the route of the S7 extension between Zamienie (top left) and Zgorzała (bottom right). The thin blue lines show the boundaries of each plot. This is fascinating, as you can see that as of the most recent update, there are still chunks of expressway that are still not legally in state ownership! Click to enlarge, or visit Lesznowola.e-mapa.net.


You can see how narrow and long the plots are. Many are still in agricultural use; the farmers living in Zgorzała are no longer able to cultivate their land easily; they will have to go round the long way to reach the far end of their land. Below: this is how it looks in practice. Each plot is just ten metres wide. Many have been consolidated into larger plots - but not in the eyes of the law. Many are fallow and have not been cultivated for years. But even so, each ten-metre-wide plot gets its own access road.


The stump to the hump - even if it's not currently in agricultural use, but used for storage of soil for construction purposes (below), it has its own access road, too flimsy for use by heavy earth-moving trucks or diggers.


I climb it to get this photo (below) to show the absurdity of the situation. You can see how many there are - with several yet to be completed at the northern end. Each access road has to go over the drainage ditch, with a tunnel running under it.


So - there we are. If you want to know why building motorways over flat terrain is so expensive - this is why. While I'm here, more from Węzeł Zamienie as it nears completion. Below: signage is up. Looking towards ul. Arakowa, Zamienie.


Below: looking towards the footbridge taking shape 500 metres to the south of the main (pedestrian-free) viaduct over the S7 extension.


Below: looking north towards Węzeł Lotnisko; still plenty to do. Open to traffic this time next year? All depends on Section B, between Lesznowola and Tarczyn - still a muddy gash across the landscape.


Below: looking at Węzeł Zamienie from the roundabout on the boundary between Zamienie (to the right) and Dawidy Bankowe (to the left). Turn here for Warsaw, Kraków and Zgorzała.


Waiting now just for lane markings - the viaduct over the S7 extension.


This time last year:
Mole control

This time two years ago:
Poland's education paradox

This time three years ago:
What I was going to say at COP24 (but didn't)

This time four years ago:
Milton Keynes

This time five years ago:
Warsaw by night, early winter

This time eight years ago:
Burn less gas and do Ukraine a favour

This time 11 years ago:
Early evening atmosphere

This time 13 years ago:
Toponyms - how many names has Jeziorki?

This time 14 years ago:
On the road to Białystok

Friday, 3 December 2021

Gratitude and peace of mind

Around a year ago, Jens had discovered that his battle against cancer had been won; when I spoke to him this summer, he said that his latest visit to the oncologist had shown him to be clear. I asked him whether he felt gratitude. "To whom? For what? Gratitude to the same God that had given me the cancer in the first place?"

A profound observation, but one rooted in the traditional notion of a deity that is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. A deity that has become easy to reject; a deity that is to a great extent the product of religion as a form of social control.

We live our lives on the edge of chaos; some of it is man-made, some natural in cause. "God" does not impose chaos upon us to "try us", nor is chaos "the work of the devil". Chaos just is - an integral part of an imperfect Universe that's on its infinitely long road toward perfection. The world is less chaotic than it was; as Thomas Hobbes put it back in 1651, one lived in "continuall feare, and danger of violent death: And the life of man [was] solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and short." We live longer, more peaceful richer, and far more connected lives than our forefathers did 370 years ago.

Is it up to us where and when we live, or mere chance? Does karma play a part in the misfortunes that befall us? Or do we retrospectively attach our misdeeds to misfortunes after they have happened?

The past has happened - you cannot unhappen it. But gratitude for that which has come right, for that which could have been a disaster but wasn't, is a mighty balm. 

The future hasn't yet happened - can you influence it? Unless you have survived a life-threatening illness or accident, you live with 'Schrodinger's Health'. You are both healthy and nursing an as-yet undiagnosed condition until the moment the doctor opens the box to look. 

Can a positive and grateful attitude to life influence outcomes? I believe it can. Don't set too much store by the demands of the ego; a comfortable life is within reach, eschew the temptations of trying to live a luxurious life. Attempts to do so lead to a spiral of materialism ("Shall I replace my two-year-old Mercedes C-Class Coupe with a Porsche or wait for the new C-Class Coupe?"); once in that spiral you are never satisfied with life. (That was sort-of-OK once, but given the extended carbon footprint that the luxury-loving community produce, this behaviour is now morally reprehensible.)

Meditating upon the theme of gratitude for what you have enjoyed - not materially, but in terms of moments of sublime conscious experiences - is a helpful strategy. I express my gratitude to the Universe as I brush my teeth twice or three times each day; if I realise that I didn't, brushing automatically, I start again, this time focusing on those grateful thoughts. It really helps.

This time five years ago:
Early winter travels: Warsaw-Kraków-Poznań-Warsaw

This time six years ago:
Patriotism and nationalism: what's the difference?

This time seven years ago:
Poland's progress in the international rankings

This time eight years ago:
The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index for 2013

Also this time nine years ago:
Poland's rapid advance up the education league table: PISA 2013

This time ten years ago:
Life expectancy across the EU: more comparisons


Thursday, 2 December 2021

In town on a sunny December day

Two meetings in town - the sun is shining, my train (which started its journey in Piaseczno, two stops down the line) isn't crowded and it's on time. Below: looking up the line from W-wa Jeziorki station towards Warsaw, with the post-industrial office zone nicknamed Mordor (Służewiec actually) on the horizon. 


My meetings over, it's time to return home, getting my daily paces in by strolling around a city that these days I visit a couple of times a month. For a weekday afternoon in December, the pavements are curiously empty. Meanwhile, the skyline is continually changing as new offices near completion. Below: looking west along ulica Świętokrzyska.


Below: the Sezam building was completed and opened in 2018. The glass wall reflects the Palace of Culture. Notice how few people there are milling about.
 

To the east of the Palace of Culture rises Warsaw's new Museum of Modern Art, which was meant to have been completed two months ago. Will it open as promised in 2023? Doubt it. Somehow private-sector projects have a far better track-record of opening in time.


Below: Pasaż Wiecha, a pedestrian precinct running parallel to ul. Marszałkowska. In the middle distance, Widok Towers near completion. At pavement level this is where Bar Zodiak, famous in the late-communist era, once stood - now its place is taken by a KFC/Burger King/Pizza Hut franchise.


Below: on the way home, I stop off at W-wa Zachodnia to check progress. The roof over the covered sections of the long-distance platforms is coming on nicely, the footbridge spanning the station is also progressing (though not structurally connected at the northern end). 


My train also passed W-wa Główna station, where the footbridge is in a more advanced stage but still not open to pedestrians. We are entering a difficult state in our history; Omicron and Russia's military build up, Lukashenka's artificial refugee crisis on Poland's border - may it all come right.

This time two years ago:
Night time's the right time for snapping Warsaw
[including the Sezam building, all lit up]

This time three years ago:
Autumnal travel woes

This time four years ago:
Thoughts on Polish hypochondria

This time nine years ago:
Blogging resumes as Orange gets its act together

This time ten years ago:
The meaning of Clarkson 

This time 11 years ago: 
A bad day on the railway

This time 12 years ago:
In which I walk to work

This time 14 years ago:
Act 1, Scene 1, a blasted heath

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Reversing polarity

It occurred to me just the other night that for nearly all of my life, I have slept with my head facing north and my feet facing south. From my childhood bedroom in Croft Gardens, Hanwell, in adolescence on Cleveland Road, West Ealing; early adulthood on Ribchester Avenue, Perivale; then in Poland on ulica Gajdy, Pyry through to ul. Trombity in Jeziorki, and even on my działka in Jakubowizna - it has ever been thus. 

I woke up in the middle of the night and the thought suddenly struck me - "What if I put my pillow at the foot of the bed, turned the duvet around by 180 degrees with the buttons at the other end?"

I did so, and fell asleep. Result? More interesting dreams! I repeated this the following night, and indeed last night - and my dream diary suddenly expanded to fill an entire side, rather than the more usual one-third to a half-page of recollections. I rarely recall a first dream (anything before 2am). Now I have captured a couple. So far, so good - I shall continue to monitor this situation.

Is there any science behind this, I wonder? Or anything else? I check online - and come across this fascinating piece from the Times of India:

"It is important to sleep in the right direction. It is usually said that you must avoid sleeping with your head pointing north, at any cost. It is actually true and there are several reasons which back this up. We all know that earth and human body, both have magnetic fields of their own. Magnetic fields on the Earth are concentrated in the North and the South Pole. When you sleep with your head pointing north, your body’s magnetic field interferes with that of earth. This can fluctuate your blood pressure and can even cause heart problems. You heart needs to work harder to overcome this. If you are elderly or already a heart patient, then you might be at a higher risk of getting a hemorrhage or paralytic stroke. In fact, you can check yourself that lie down horizontally, your pulse rate drops.

"Another reason is that our blood contains a lot of iron. When we sleep facing north, the magnetic pull of the direction attracts iron, which gets accumulated in the brain. This is the reason why many people complain of getting a headache when they wake up. Sleeping with your head pointing north can also disrupt your blood circulation and lead to disturbed sleep. In order to prevent such a scenario, it is better to avoid sleeping with your head pointing north. Sleeping with your head pointing south reverses the negative effects of north direction and thus, protects you from several health problems. It keeps your blood pressure under check and also maintains a steady blood circulation."

No scientific - or indeed spiritual - citations were given; just an unspoken assertion that this is how it is. The Vastu Shastra - and indeed Chinese Feng Shui - are said to be united in denouncing the head-north, feet-south sleeping position in favour of feet-north, head-south. 

Wow. I did not know that. Having stumbled by accident on something that the two most populous civilisations on earth have held to be true for millennia is an eye-opener! [Another interesting piece here.]

And this question: "How many times have you heard that sleeping facing north is harmful?" - honest answer - not once in 64 years. And the Western riposte to the Vastu Shastra or Feng Shui - the scientific method, based on repeatable experimentation testing hypotheses, and put to peer review? Well - "To date, there is no scientific study that has proven the veracity of these theories. Everything we know so far about magnetism, and that is a lot, tells us that the influence of terrestrial magnetism on the body is absolutely nil, because the power of that field is very low, insufficient for us to realise it." [full article here]. Little point in scouring JAMA, The Lancet or Scientific American then.

I have always been blessed with good sleep, so I can't expect any better from sleeping head-south; but as I wrote the other night, sleep opens the portals to magical experiences - unrepeatable dreams that vary wildly in content, memorability and vividness, as well as setting and dramatis personae.

For the purpose of N=1 experimentation, it isn't possible to rotate my bed through 90 degrees to see how east-west or west-east sleeping configurations work out, as the position of the door and radiator in my room preclude arranging the bed that way. However there are two vacant bedrooms left by grown-up children that I could have an experimental sleep in just to check whether indeed sleeping with my head pointing east or west makes any difference.

I will write more on this as new stuff comes to light!

This time last year:
Solar-powered house

This time two years ago:
Jeziorki's ponds are drying up
[Happy to report the water level's much higher today]

This time five years ago:
Jeziorki - second track, second platform

This time six years ago:
Pitshanger Lane wins London's High Street of the Year award

This time eight years ago:
Trouble ahead in Ukraine.

This time 11 years ago:
Jeziorki, dawn, winter

This time 14 years ago:
Tuwim's Lokomotywa in English

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Twilight rambler

Welcome to Warsaw. Below: here we have the junction of two Warsaw streets - to the left, ulica Hołubcowa, to the right, ul. Sporna. Under the flight path to Runway 33 of Warsaw Okęcie airport there is little scope for development other than growing cabbages and carrots. Long may it stay this way! 


Sunset today was just before half past three. Not long before we hit the Plateau of Afternoon Darkness, that eight-day period when in Warsaw the sun will set at 15:23. No camera on today's walk - rain alternating with wet snow. All photographs taken with my Samsung Galaxy S20.

Further along ul. Sporna, heading east. Fields - some 80 hectares of mostly fallow land, some cultivated plots, stretch between the railway to the west, ul. Jeziorki to the east, ul. Baletowa to the south and ul. Farbiarska to the north.


Back on the asphalt - ul. Jeziorki, which runs through the district of Jeziorki. Very soon, this narrow street will be bunged up with traffic heading in both directions. No pavement. Not pleasant for pedestrians.


"I have trod the upward and the downward slope" - Tourist trail (szlak turystyczny) MZ-5142-z rises from ul. Dumki towards ul. Sarabandy, on its way from W-wa Dawidy to Ciszyca on the banks of the Vistula.


I pass the Dean's house, a corner of that 1950s Ivy League campus that's magically transported itself through space and time to 21st century Warsaw. Old books by the fire, a tumbler of single malt, and the encroaching darkness without ceases to be a woe...


Nice to get back to a warm home, put the kettle on and enjoy my uniquely Anglo-Polish beverage, namely Krakus-brand barszcz concentrate with a teaspoon of Marmite XO. Ideal for the time of year.

This time two years ago:
Late-November pictorial round-up

This time last year:
Artificial Intelligence vs Artificial Consciousness

This time four years ago:
Viaduct takes shape in the snow

This time seven years ago:
No in-work benefits for four years?

This time eight years ago:

This time nine years ago:
Another November without snow

This time ten years ago:
Snow-free November

This time 11 years ago:
Krakowskie Przedmieście in the snow

This time 12 years ago:
Ul. Poloneza closed for the building of the S2

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Where the two contracts end

Sundays means far fewer construction workers on the S7, so a good chance to see what progress is being made. I walk to ulica Baletowa then head up to where Polaqua's contract to build Odcinek  (stretch) A of the S7 meets the S79, opened to traffic in September 2013.

Below: photo taken from the service road, looking north towards where the S7 ends and the S79 begins. The S2 runs beneath the junction; a slip road joins the S2's eastbound carriageway with the S7's southbound carriageway (the lane nearest the camera). The lighting is mounted on low stanchions because this is where the flight path for Runway 33 crosses the expressway, and we don't want planes tripping over them. Incidentally, these lights come on at night every night since autumn 2013 even though no traffic uses the S79 north of the junction with the S2. Eight years' worth of wasted electricity and light bulbs.


Below: at the moment there remains a ten-metre gap between the two expressways, S79 to the left, the S7 extension south.


Below: the S7 extension is built to be more durable, with a concrete base.


Below: photo from two weeks ago, when the concrete machine was layin' it down - although this was the tail-end of the Independence Day public holiday, so it was left abandoned.


Below: this is where the service road running alongside the S7 extension meets the service road running alongside the S2 (behind me - the asphalt ends and paving stone begins).


Below: looking south along the S7 extension service-road; in the foreground ul. Baletowa and the tunnel under the expressway; in the distance, Węzeł [junction] Zamienie, on the horizon the new viaduct carrying ul. Dawidowska over the expressway. To the left posts for acoustic screens.


Views that we'll soon never see once those acoustic screens are in place. Below: looking east along ul. Baletowa towards ul. Puławska and the Las Kabacki forest beyond.


Below: looking west along ul. Baletowa towards Dawidy, Warsaw's border is where that distant traffic light shines red. Beyond that junction, Baletowa becomes ul. Warszawska.


Will the S7 extension be open by next November? At least to Lesznowola?

This time last year:
In praise of the Nikon D3500
[I still believe this is the best value-for-money digital camera to date]

This time two years ago:
Agnieszka Holland's Mr Jones reviewed

This time three years ago:
The Earth is flat

This time four years ago:
50th Anniversary of the Fiat 125p

This time five years ago:
Fidel Castro's death divides the world

This time six years ago:
London to Edinburgh by night bus

This time eight year ago:
The Regent's Canal, London

This time ten years ago:
An end to the entitlement way of thinking

This time 11 year:
West Ealing - drab and sad end of town

This time 12 years ago:
To Poznań by train

This time 14 years ago:
Late autumn drive-time 

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Comfort, discomfort and winter cold

The arc of history had provided us with continually improving quality of life, but it is the banishment of cold and damp that I remember as the biggest step improvement when growing up.

Winters in London in the 1960s were not that cold (with the exception of the winter of 1962-63, see below), but the housing stock was inadequate for the climate.


Our 1930s end-terrace home in Hanwell (on the right of the photo above) was typical in construction - built of two layers of London brick (9" x 4.5" x 3") with an air cavity between them. Single glazing. Up in the loft - no insulation. Colder winters, when they came, were uncomfortable. Heating the house with electricity was expensive, with three-bar electric heaters (such as this Belling, below) were the usual way of heating rooms. We had several of these. The corridors and staircase were cold. The bar heater was dangerous too. Once, a foam-rubber sofa cushion got too close, touching the wire guard. It soon filled the house with the stench of burnt rubber; the cushion with a blackened hole on the side revealing the foam within a reminder of how close we'd been to having a serious house fire.

Every British home once had one
From Electric Radiators Direct's History of Electric Heating

Having a bath was a thoroughly unpleasant experience; getting out of the hot water into a chilly room in which the only source of warmth was a paraffin heater (electric bar heaters were a definite safety risk in bathrooms!), shivering in towels. The small immersion heater was good for about six inches (15cm) of hot water; pour in any more and it would soon go cold.

Bedding was from the pre-duvet era - a bedsheet, a blanket or two, an eiderdown, a candlewick bedspread. Making the bed in the mornings was hard work, having to pull the bed away from the wall, tucking in the sheet and blanket and covering it neatly with the bedspread. And in winter, I'd regularly sleep with a woollen  'night jumper' (nocny sweterek) over my pyjama shirt, plus a hot-water bottle, which in our house was somehow called a maciek. The three-bar open electric fires were never left on at night after we'd gone to bed - too risky!

The cold was damp cold. Nothing like the glorious frosts that would often visit Warsaw - clear winter's days with blue skies and bright sunshine and minus 10C outside. In London in January it could often be plus 3C and rain, thick cloud cover, windy and damp. The uniform for boys at Oaklands Primary School included short flannel trousers, right up to the final year (fourth year juniors). So for three years in infants and three years in juniors, I'd be wearing shorts to school even in midwinter with snow on the ground - no exceptions, ever. Clothing for winter was inadequate. I can recall the sensation of my school scarf (striped green and white) wrapped around my neck and face, and breathing fog in through it. Damp wool. Damp gaberdine school raincoat. Wet shoes drying in the corridor at home.

In the late 1960s, my father installed a storage heater in the corridor. This drew cheap electricity at the night-time rate and heated a large block inside, which would continue to radiate heat all morning after it was switched off. A small improvement, mainly in heating bills.

All this changed when we moved from Hanwell to West Ealing, to a detached house with all the modern conveniences of the 1930s when it was built, including gas-fired central heating. My father would go on to replace it with a more modern system in 1975, but from 1970-'71, winters ceased to be physically uncomfortable. The bathroom was warm, there was plenty of hot water, and my father installed secondary glazing and loft insulation. By the time I was 13, winter was no longer associated with physical discomfort at home. Cosiness reigned. Warm radiators, hot baths in a warm bathroom. Duvets eventually replaced blankets and bedspreads, clothing and footwear became better designed for cold-weather comfort.

When I moved into my own house in November 1982, I had to go through the discomfort once again. The house was not at all well built; the wind from the west would howl in through the window bays and actually lift the carpet from my bedroom floor. My father was an immense help to me, installing gas-fired central heating, insulation in the loft and filling the cavity walls with foam. The following winters would not be so uncomfortable. 

Being cold and unable to warm yourself up is an unpleasant feeling; not something I'd wish on anyone. Decent housing must be well insulated - here in Poland houses are built from thick air-bricks forming a solid thermal barrier, and stuck onto the outside of the house is  typically some 200mm (eight inches) of expanded polystyrene foam. When well heated inside, even a night at -20C (and there have been many) holds no terrors inside such a house. In big Polish towns, blocks of flats are heated by district heating systems, which pipes hot water from power stations (which in the UK goes out into the atmosphere via huge cooling towers). The disadvantage of this is a lack of control - the sezon grzewczy (heating season) is determined arbitrarily by the administrator; to cool an overheated flat, simply open the winter

Not so on the działka, however; a kilowatt-hour of energy generated by gas is four to six times cheaper than one generated by electricity (unless you have solar panels). Year-round living in rural parts is still uncomfortable in winter.

It's nice to be warm as toast all winter long - but at what cost? Gas is much cheaper than electricity, yet gas comes from Russia, we're all at Putin's mercy. And the CO2 emissions. Time to put on an extra sweater and turn down the thermostat a notch...  At 19.5C the house is warm enough. At 18C, it's too cold for comfort - even in thermal vest, flannel shirt and woollen cardigan.

We should aim to remove sources of discomfort from our lives - live in comfort, but don't aim to live in luxury.

This time last year:
Frustration as completion of Chynów station draws near

This time three years ago:
London in verticals

This time four years ago:
Roadblock and railfreight

This time five years ago:
Sunny morning, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

This time six years ago:
Brentham Garden Suburb

This time seven years ago:
Ahead of the opening of the second line of the Warsaw Metro 

This time eight years ago:
Keep an eye on Ukraine...

This time nine years ago:
Płock by day, Płock by night 

This time ten years ago:
Warning ahead of railway timetable change

This time 13 years ago:
Some thoughts on recycling