Thursday, July 19, 2012

London and a long bad, bad summer

I arrived in London more than a month ago and during all that time the weather had been far from what is expected of the summer months - warm days with plenty of sunshine. It's the same with the rest of the UK with many places experiencing unprecedented heavy rainfalls and flooding in many areas . It is said that this is the worst summer in the UK in living memory. That being the case much of my time is spent watching TV , something that is not my normal indulgence back home. On the plus side however I must admit that I quite enjoy the opportunity to just sit back and be able to watch the many sporting events that have been and are being televised 'live' over the sports channels. There was the exciting Euro Cup, the Queen's Cup and Wimbledon tennis championships, the Formula One, athletics championships , the on-going Tour de France and of course the much awaited Olympic Games that will kick off in about a week's time.

Watching the Tour de France I can't help but admire the cyclists on the 'tour' for their endurance and fitness , exhibiting such determination to be able to maintain the highly competitive level throughout the race, kilometer after kilometer, especially on the uphill stage day after day for the duration of the 'tour' which is three weeks with only two or three days of rest in between. I have done a number of marathons, trekked many mountains and cycled thousands of kilometers, over the years but compared to these super athletes I feel very small indeed. What they are doing is truly amazing and inspiring . I don't really quite follow the cycling sport as a whole but I am quite aware of the so-called 'Tour of Langkawi' that is held in Malaysia yearly and correct me if I am wrong if I say that no Malaysian had won the 'King of the Mountain ' stage when the race took place up Cameron Highlands or Genting Highlands. Why?!!. The question is difficult to answer but I think the reason is we don't train enough and do not have the right coaches to make the difference. We may have a long way to go but I guess we just got to keep on trying . After all Britain is still waiting for a local Wimbledon champion after more than 70 years . This time around we have Azizul, who has a good chance of clinching an Olympic medal in cycling . Let's pray for his success.

Despite the unfavourable weather I managed to do some cycling around the area where I am staying,Barking . The Park in Barking is ideal for recreational cycling, jogging or just walking and the area has a pleasant surrounding with a lake that is home to a fairly large number of swans, ducks and a group of birds that I am trying to identify . They fly, swim on the lake and also dive underwater. It is also home to a large colony of fairly tame squirrels that would even come to feed from your hands if you are patient enough to entice the nippy creatures. I cannot imagine these wonderful creatures having a free rein of these public areas without ending in some cooking pots had it been in Malaysia . Besides the more well known St. James Park and Hyde Park , there are many other parks and open areas in and around London that you can indulge in whatever physical activities you fancy and I can't help feeling angry to think of what is taking place back in Malaysia where the city fathers are replacing our green areas with concrete structures.

Developed countries of the west have lost much of their natural forests through developments and farming over the centuries but we in the equatorial regions should learn from these countries not to destroy these natural treasures. It is really sad to know that large tracks of forests in South East Asia and the Amazon in South America are being cleared and replaced with farms and other developments. I am happy that my new friend, Heinz from Ulm, Germany has booked a two-week holiday in Malaysia beginning in about 10 days time. Of course our Taman Negara in Pahang is one of the destinations for the family . I hope to be back in Malaysia to see them before they fly back to Germany.

On one of the rare days when the weather was kinder I managed to take a cycle tour of Central London visiting the iconic sights like Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the Tower Bridge. London is always a favourite for Malaysians and it was no surprise that I bumped into a Malaysian couple and their daughter in front of the Tourism Malaysian office in Trafalgar Square. Francis Ho, who is also a keen cyclist, is from Kuching  and is here to attend his daughter's graduation. As for the Queen, I opted to skip visiting her, as she was having a nap when I arrived at Buckingham Palace, he he!

Boris Johnson, the London Mayor is promoting cycling in London in a big way with many cycling programs lined up. I am glad to say that I managed to join an organised ride known as Sky Ride. Such 'rides' are regularly organised in London to promote the cycling culture. While progress is being made in that area there is much to be desired as the infrastructure for cycling in London and in the UK in general is still not in place and the general public not showing much enthusiasm . Cycling lanes in the city are still inadequate and where they exist, they share the same surface as buses and in many housing areas cars are parked on the cycling lanes. To appreciate the cycling culture, you need to go to Germany, Austria or the Netherlands and learn from their experience.

Athletes and Officials for the Olympics have began arriving in London and don't know when the Malaysian contingent would arrive . I hope to at least witness one of the cycling events where Malaysian cyclists take part if I can get hold of ticket/s to the events. I am counting on the Cycling Federation of Malaysia to give me some tickets. To purchase the tickets is just beyond me. Staying in London itself is proving to be impossible and I can't wait to go home.












Cycling at Barking Park










Barking Park










At the Park in Barking











The Royal Oak - one of the 'watering holes' in Barking










The Natural History Museum










The Cutty Sark - Greenwich










At the O2










London's familiar sight











With Francis Ho, his wife and daughter










'Nasi Lemak' anyone?





















In London to see the Queen










Many 'heads' rolled here












The fishmonger from Bangladesh










'Thorn' among the roses?










Olympic countdown at Trafalgar Square





















Chinatown










Busking





















'Makan time = Happy time'


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

hello abang nan, nice wtite up of london,latest news immigration officials r on strike,lucky that u went in earlier. enjoy your stay in u.k.nice photos too.send my salam to all your very close people and i cant forget aede,all the best aede. selamat menyambut ramazan.bye. deen j.b.Malaysia.

per head said...

I am sure it was a long summer, but I thought you would like that since it is always too cold and cloudy, I love summer because of the warm and hot weather

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