London – VIJAY SHAH via ANTHONY JORDAN and Newham Recorder
Officers with the Metropolitan Police Service, the police body that keeps law and order over most of the city of London, have apologised after a police account on social media network Twitter shared a smiling selfie of two cops at the scene of a fatal stabbing in Stratford, east London.
Two police officers attached to Forest Gate police station were attending the scene of the attack on Beniamin Pieknyi, 21 years old from Romania, who was ambushed by a group of youths following an argument and murdered this past Tuesday. They took a selfie outside the old Stratford Shopping Centre and shared it on the Forest Gate North MPS Twitter account.
Twitter users slammed the tasteless photo and the Forest Gate police were heavily criticised. The tweet was subsequently deleted and police later offered their apologies, stating “We apologise for any offence caused by the ‘selfie’ picture that was posted from the scene of a serious crime this morning. The officers showed a lack of judgement and sensitivity in posting this and they will be spoken to and reminded of how to use social media responsibly.”
Police have urged potential witnesses to the attack on Mr. Pieknyi to get in touch with them on +44 (0) 20 8721 4005 quoting CAD 7391/20 March or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
London – VIJAY SHAH via ALEX SHAW and Newham Recorder
As the city of London struggles to house its growing population amidst a housing crisis and soaring rents and house prices, a new housing project underway in the district of Stratford has come in for criticism after it was revealed that only twenty-five per cent of the available stock will be marketed as affordable, the local community newspaper Newham Recorder reported.
The Legacy Wharf complex, being designed by Bellway Homes, is being promoted as an ideal site for first-time buyers to move into an up-and-coming part of east London, only a few minutes from the centre of the city. But only around 50 of the 196 flats (apartments) planned for the site will be classed as affordable, meaning that people on average city wages (around GBP £28,000/USD $38,788) will be able to successfully purchase them.
Legacy Wharf, which is expected to be ready this spring, claims to offer a variety of apartments for different budgets, especially for first-time buyers, young professionals and families. The development, located in Stratford’s Cooks Road will also have an on-site gym, children’s play facilities and even a concierge service, but the starting price for a one-bedroom flat there will start at GBP £365,000 (USD $505,631). The Bellway development will consist of a selection of one-, two- and three-bedroom living units, with some properties being available to buy via the UK government’s Help to Buy scheme, which aims to help first-time homeowners get their foot on the housing ladder.
Bellway did not comment on the limited amount of affordable housing offered at Legacy Wharf, which is being built in one of the poorest areas of London, where rapid gentrification have caused even low-grade ex-local housing authority homes to cost several hundred thousand of pounds. However Emma Denton, the firm’s sales director designate told the Newham Recorder“Homebuyers will have a great opportunity to invest in this revamped area of Stratford at Legacy Wharf,”
Many parts of east London have changed rapidly in recent years as new apartment blocks and villages have sprung up catering to young professionals and working families with jobs in central London, alongside foreign investors looking for the next property portfolio golden egg, but developers in the city have been criticised for not providing enough flats affordable to the vast majority of Londoners, particularly those on benefits or average incomes.
London – VIJAY SHAH via ALIA ROPUN, ALAN MCGUINNESS, IAN FRANCIS and Sky News
Six men were reported injured after a ‘noxious substance’ was thrown in a street fight near the Stratford Centre shopping arcade in Stratford, east London yesterday at around 8 pm, Sky News said today.
The incident occurred near to a Subway restaurant on the Broadway, close to Stratford’s bus station and the Westfield Stratford City retail complex. Three of the individuals needed hospital treatment after having a chemical thrown on them during the mêlée between two separate groups of males, Sky News reported. A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.
Shoppers saw one man in agony as friends called for help by shouting “it is an acid attack, his skin is burning”. People rushed to the scene with water to ease the man’s chemical burns, according to the broadcaster.
One eyewitness, an assistant manager of a local Burger King restaurant who only gave his name as Hossen, told Sky News that he saw a victim and another male believed to be the victim’s friend, run into his restaurant and then to its washroom, desperate to wash off the corrosive chemical. Hossen said “There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them”
The area where the fight took place was quickly cordoned off and treatment offered to the victims. Police, paramedics and fire crews all attended within 10 minutes. Paul Gibson, an assistant director of operations with the London Ambulance Service, said: “We treated six patients in total and took three to London hospitals”.
Stratford administratively falls under the London Borough of Newham, and the borough’s police chief superintendent, Ade Adelekan, said: “I would like to be very clear concerning this incident.
“What initially may have been perceived as a number of random attacks has, on closer inspection, been found to be one incident involving two groups of males”.
Sky News reports that none of the men suffered serious harm in the street fight.
Attacks on people by assailants with chemicals such as sulphuric acid, bleach and drain cleaner were once associated with honour attacks in places like South Asia, but have become increasingly common in London, due to the ease of buying and carrying around dangerous chemicals, and the punishment for such attacks is less severe than assaults with knives or guns.
In June, 21-year-old student and model Resham Khan was travelling in Newham’s Beckton area with her cousin, Jameel Mukhtar, when an assailant flung acid in their faces while they were waiting at traffic lights. Even as far as back as 2011, a mother had acid splashed at her while walking her two children home from school in Upton Park. Latest figures published by the Evening Standard suggest a quarter of all acid attacks in London this year have occurred within Newham’s boundaries.
British Olympic champion and gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu returned to her home borough of Newham to help the council’s special keep fit drive Million Miles Together Challenge, which officially launches today and is designed to encourage residents to be more active.
The challenge encourages people to go out and get involved in activities such as running, sports, jogging, yoga and dance to help Newham collectively achieve a million miles in a hundred days. The former 400 metres World Champion and the borough’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales, came together yesterday (Friday 30th October) to announce that they would both be participating.
Ohuruogu became a role model for the nation after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, before picking up a silver in her native country in London 2012, which was partly held in the Newham district of Stratford’s purpose-built Olympic Stadium. She recently collected a bronze in this year’s games in Rio de Janeiro, where Team GB walked away with the second highest medal haul of all nations that took part.
The Million Miles Together Challenge involves people signing up to the Million Miles Together website. There they can record all the physical activity they take part in, which is then converted into mileage. By Sunday 8th January 2017, it is hoped that Newham’s residents will have collected a million miles between them – the equivalent of a return trip to the moon.
In addition to Ohuruogu and the local government, the challenge is also been supported by the borough’s eight Community Neighbourhood Teams. The Teams, which encourage members of their respective community areas to get involved in social events and initiatives, have been tasked with getting at least 1,500 people signed up to the health drive per community neighbourhood. The drive is also been sponsored by London City Airport.
In an interview with the council, Olympic champion Ohuruogu, who was born in Stratford on the 17th May, 1984 said “I’m really excited to be involved in Million Miles Together. It’s fantastic that Newham will be the first Council in the whole of the UK to take on this challenge.
“I love that this challenge is for everyone, of any age, any level of health and fitness. It’s not just about sport and anyone can take part.
“It is an opportunity to take part in something I believe offers a fresh, new and creative approach to an age old problem of getting people to lead fitter and healthier lives. Both the Council and I are committed to helping inspire people to get more active, and initiatives like this are a positive step in the right direction.”
Councillor Ken Clark, cabinet member for building communities, public affairs, regeneration and planning, said: “Million Miles Together is a fantastic initiative that will give people the impetus they need to get active.
“As well as helping Newham reach its million miles target they will also be able to see and feel the benefits in their own health.
“I am delighted Christine has added her support to the initiative as she is an inspirational figure for many people across the borough. I will also be joining the Mayor and many of my council colleagues in taking part and I hope as many others also join in.”
While often labelled as one of the poorest areas of London, the east London borough of Newham is also a place where people aim to rise above the difficulties of deprivation, and one way where it is obvious is within the Newham business community. Newham is home to hundreds of small and medium-size businesses, ranging from decorators with white vans through independently owned boutiques and restaurants, through to major national businesses such as Tesco and the Wetherspoons gastropub chain. The borough is home to a long tradition of independent entrepreneurship stretching from the ‘rag-and-bone’ men of days gone past to modern web designers and consultants operating out of their bedrooms, providing services to thousands of people and companies inside and outside the London region.
Now Newham businesses have a chance to place themselves on the local stage and show that Newham is a great place to trade and reach out to customers with the help of the Newham Business Awards, happening this October. The Awards, which aim to recognise the achievements of local businesses, and are being sponsored by the borough’s council, will take place at the Old Town Hall in Stratford on the 13th October 2015. Stratford is one of east London’s modern business success stories. The district is home to two shopping centres, the Stratford Shopping Centre, and the newer Westfield Stratford City, which formed part of the Olympic legacy regeneration bequeathed to Newham after the London Games of 2012. Stratford is also home to hundreds of companies mainly involved in the retail and services sectors.
The Newham Business Awards are taking on nominations in ten categories, including business and business person of the year, innovation, e-commerce, new business, green business, sole trader and micro-business, training ad education, and community involvement.
The awards are being organised by the Newham Chamber of Commerce, which is located at the Stratford Town Hall, a Victorian historical building close to the district’s retail area, and are receiving heavy backing from businesses such as Asper’s, the operator of the wildly popular Asper’s Casino in Westfield, London City Airport, local newspaper the Newham Recorder, Tate and Lyle, a sugar and sweetener manufacturer who maintain a factory in the Silvertown area of southern Newham, alongside the local government representation.
Speaking with council publication the Newham Mag, the borough’s chamber secretary John James said “With 7,500 new businesses established here during the past five years, there are pearls of excellence worthy of the community’s attention.”
Councillor Joy Laguda, who met recently with members of the Chamber of Commerce, added: “We are pleased to be able to recognise businesses and especially the efforts of young entrepreneurs”
The Newham Chamber of Commerce was established in 1967, shortly after the borough was created from the merger of two earlier areas, West Ham and East Ham. As the official business voice of the new borough, the NCC sought to give a voice to local businesses and traders and strengthen their cause through support and representation. The NCC has close links with local government and regularly campaigns on local and city-wide issues affecting business, such as increased Thames crossings and a possible Crossrail 2 train link through Newham to neighbouring Barking. The chamber now has 200 members with 800 business people receiving its news via email.
“Awards are just the business” – The Newham Mag, Newham Council [Issue 345] (15 July 2016)
As one of the ‘host cities’ for the Rugby World Cup of 2015, the London borough of Newham has pulled out all the stops to welcome the sport’s fans from across the world to watch and celebrate the dozens of great teams taking part, from Australia to Samoa. As part of the celebrations, the borough has opened a special Fanzone at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Almost 70,000 sports fans from all over the world visited the Park where they were able to view the matches on big screens and join in on fun activities. The Fanzone has proven to be a huge success for Newham, as it builds on its legacy from the London 2012 Olympics, the council magazine Newham Mag has reported.
The park, situated in a heavily redeveloped area of Stratford, near Newham’s borders with Tower Hamlets and Hackney boroughs, saw a footfall of 200,000 global visitors as a whole, many of which had booked tickets to watch RWC matches at the showpiece Olympic Stadium. So far four Tournament matches have been played at the stadium, with one more still to go.
Newham’s Mayor, Sir Robin Wales told the Newham Mag “When we were awarded the honour of hosting Rugby World Cup 2015,we said we would put on a great party and we have proved it”
The rugby tournament is now in its semi-final stages, although home country fans were left disappointed by the England team’s dismal dropout in the early stages. Despite this, there is still great enthusiasm and pride that the RWC has made its mark in east London. Attention has now switched from the main matches at the Olympic Stadium and the park to other fanzones set up outside Newham in Trafalgar Square, central London, and the home of Greater London rugby, Twickenham, as the Newham Fanzone temporarily shut up shop for the rest of the World Cup.
The Stratford Fanzone will return in earnest on the 30 October 2015, when the ultimate Bronze Final of the World Cup kicks off at the Olympic Stadium.
“Thousands give fanzone a try” – The Newham Mag – News/Newham Council [Issue 327], 23 October 2015
The magazine reports that more than 2,200 litres of spirits and other alcoholic beverages were confiscated by Newham Council‘s licensing team, which is responsible for the authorisation of local shopkeepers to sell alcohol to residents. The team has regularly carried out surprise inspections of stores believed to be selling drink under the table without the legally required licence, before authorising raids to seize the unlicensed stock and punish offenders through the legal system.
Licensing officers visited several stores and seized quantities of cider, beers and spirits either because the stores had no legal permission to sell alcohol on their premises or because they were selling drinks that had an alcoholic content above what was allowed on their licence.
Around 500 litres of unlicensed spirits were pulled off the shelves at Vanesh Super Store, a corner store located on Bramall Close in Stratford. Early last year the same shop, also known as Vana’s Superstore, had its alcohol licence revoked by the council after its employees failed to follow ‘Challenge 21‘ guidance following a test purchase using a young person. The Challenge 21 rules prohibit the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of eighteen and staff are expected to ask for age identification before handing over the goods.
In another confiscation which happened shortly before Christmas, 1,700 litres of alcohol was seized from Forest Gate Food and Wine, a grocery and mobile top-up shop on the Woodgrange Road in Forest Gate, near the border with Waltham Forest borough. This store was also caught out following a test purchase carried out by the council using an undercover police officer. The anonymous officer was able to buy extra-strength beer which had been imported from Poland, though Forest Gate Food and Wine’s licence did not allow them to sell these products. Pictures from the raid on December 20 showed council officers with a van packed with crates of alcohol, mainly stout and high-strength beer. Crates of Guinness stout, Dragon Stout from Jamaica, and the imported high-strength beverages branded Debowe and Perla from Poland were observed by a staff photographer from the Newham Recorder who witnessed the raid in Forest Gate.
Councillor Ian Corbett, the Newham mayoral adviser for environment and leisure, spoke with The Newham Mag. “Irresponsible off-licences can make the lives of residents miserable. Selling high strength alcohol without permission can often result in anti-social behaviour” he said.
Under Newham’s licensing rules, premises such as nightclubs and stores that wish to sell alcohol to customers must have a ‘premises licence’, on which a fee is paid to the council. The licensee is then required to display a licence notice on their premises and also make an announcement of licensing in the local newspaper. They may also have to inform certain parties, such as the police, fire and rescue and other departments in the council to allay any safety or crime concerns.
Anti-social behaviour and violence fuelled by alcohol is an ongoing problem in both Newham and the wider London area, causing residents to be fearful of going out at night or in visiting popular entertainment venues. A survey for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2013 reported that nearly a third of respondents said they were the victim of ‘yobbish’ behaviour or anti-social activities within the past year, often by troublemakers under the influence of alcohol. Eighty-one per cent felt that anti-social behaviour had gone up in England and Wales, reported the Telegraph.
Newham Council are planning to bring further action and prosecutions against the business owners caught in the latest licensing sting.
“Alcohol seized from stores” – The Newham Mag – Issue 308, Newham Council (30 January 2015)
Newham Council, which governs the eastLondon borough of Newham, has offered its support to a citywide campaign to remind businesses and employers generally of the importance of installinglife-savingequipment in their premises, the Council’s official publicationThe Newham Maghas reported.
The Shockingly Easy campaign, organised by theLondon Ambulance Service, is encouraging companies to place a defibrillator in offices and warehouses. Thiselectronic devicecan mean the difference between life and death in the event of a company employee or visitor sufferingcardiac arrest(heart attack). The machine comes with two pads which are applied to the chest when a cardiac incident occurs, and uses electricity to shock the heart into restarting and pumping blood normally again.
A representative of Newham Council,Cllr. Clive Furness, who is the council’s mayoral advisor for adults and health, helped launch the safety drive’s activities in Newham at a special ceremony in StratfordShopping Centre. He said toThe Newham Mag“I urge every business to get a defibrillator. It is vital that these life-saving machines are within easy reach of anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest. It could save their life.” The event demonstrated how to use the equipment, including purchase and installation, as well as staff training in their use. The event also offered opportunities for businesses to get their equipment safety accredited with the Ambulance Service and dispelled many myths currently surrounding defibrillators.
The council have already come on board with the Shockingly Easy campaign themselves by havingdefibrillationequipment put into place at theirmain officesat Newham Dockside, nearCanning Townin the south of the borough, and councillors are hoping that this will set an example for other private and government organisations to follow suit.
The Stratford event saw ambulance crews with a retinue of resuscitation dummies and defibrillators take over the public plaza inside the shopping centre to show local businesses and shoppers how to use the equipment and save a colleague’s life in as little as five minutes. The London Ambulance Service’s chairman, Richard Hunt CBE, said: “Our latest data shows that there were 304 out of hospitalcardiac arrestsin Newham in a year and 43 of these occurred in the street and locations like workplaces, gyms, shops, public transport and places of worship.”
“When you have a cardiac arrest your heart stops, blood is no longer being pumped around the body and you are clinically dead.
“It’s crucial that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR– chest compressions and rescue breaths) and defibrillation is given to the patient in the first three to four minutes.”
That event took place on the Wednesday 22nd October, but the quest to get more businesses installing this vital piece of kit on their premises is gathering pace with a similar phase of campaigning gaining the support of the council for Bromley borough, which lies south of the river Thames and Newham.
The London Ambulance Service, an emergency service organisation under the umbrella of theNational Health Service, is responsible for running most of the ambulances and emergency vehicles that serve the capital’s hospitals and save thousands of lives every year. Their campaign aims to get a thousand defibrillators fitted at shops, businesses and gyms across London. The service states that only 28% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest at a public place survive without immediate medical intervention, but using a defibrillator means that the survival rate can jump to 80%. The service gives figures that around 10,000 cardiac arrests occur every year in the whole of London, a rate of 27 a day.
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body, and can be a result of heart attack, choking or trauma.
A cardiac arrest is different to a heart attack which happens when an artery becomes obstructed, restricting the flow of blood to the heart. The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain, though there are other symptoms. If left untreated it can lead to a cardiac arrest, which is when the heart stops beating.
“Shockingly easy way to save life” – The Newham Mag [Issue 305], Newham Council (5 December 2014)
Yesterday, Saturday 4th October 2014, I officially kissed my eventful years of being a twenty-something goodbye and said “Oh hi…er…Hello” to my third decade and thirtieth year of milling around on this green, green planet. Needless to say, while you cannot have a cat in hell’s chance of stopping the advances of age, it still was a bit of shock to me. I am actually going to be 30. Thirty!!. That’s a big chunky number. Part of me was telling myself that now I’ve reached the big Three-Zero, maturity and reflection on life was the name of the game, then there was a part of me that felt almost geriatric. Fair enough that I already got my first few white hairs some years back and being tall brings some aches and pains, but this morning I woke up with some noticeable leg cramps. I’m surprised I wasn’t dreaming of dusty suitcases from trips to the hospital, long post office queues and those god-awful 50+ life insurance adverts that infest daytime TV. But thirty is hardly old-age pensioner. It is a decade that will hopefully bring big changes into my life. Marriage, settling down and starting a family, being hired into a better-paid position (hopefully in the media), moving into my first flat,…and many smaller milestones that will turn when and whether. Being thirty is a transition point, a halfway house between the carefree and carelessness of youth and the responsibility, organisation and enhanced maturity of older adulthood.
My thirtieth birthday was a small and private affair with family, with of course many well wishes from friends and acquaintances new and old, and special greetings messages from the extended family in Mauritius. On Friday night (the 3rd of October) I visited my mother, who is recovering from a recent leg operation, to see how she was doing and to have a special dinner with the family. We ordered the food from a local takeaway and I made sure to get my favourite. A lamb doner kebab. This one was tasty but did reek of onions. Sadly there was no cake but I got lots of dosh and a gift box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and most importantly the love and best wishes of my family together. My 5-year-old niece even pulled out a little gift from her jacket pocket as she came to hug me and wish me a happy birthday in advance. The gift was a small blue toy car. She must have chosen it especially for me. Once I get a decent-sized place of my own to live in, her toy auto is going on the mantelpiece or shelf. I then went with my niece and my sister to her place, where I spent a short while with her and her husband, before heading off to my home.
Come the big day I was as happy as Larry. I don’t know who Larry is, but I was feeling great. On Facebook, I arranged with my brothers to go to the nearby Westfield Stratford City shopping centre to go bowling and then later, the cinema. It started off a bit crazy though. My brother didn’t have his phone with him as it was in a repair shop having its speaker fixed. He had been having no end of problems with that phone. While chatting to him on Facebook, I had also forgotten to say to him exactly where we were going to meet up as Stratford is a big place. Cue me waiting like a bum at the area’s bus station for one and a half hours wondering where the hell my brother was. He had been dropped off by car and was also planning to get some clothes shopping in, with the money he received for his own birthday, which falls one week before mine. After frantically Whatsapp messaging my other siblings to try to get to the bottom of this missing persons inquiry, I decided to head up the short walk across the glass-sided bridge to the Westfield shopping district. I started hunting around the nearby clothes shops to see if I could spot the missing brother. No luck. I scanned the crowds, hoping for a glimpse of him. Nah, not happening. Then something told me to head to the Vue cinema that sits on the third floor of the shopping mall. I thought it unlikely he would be there, but I took a chance anyway. Long story short, once I arrived at the picture house, I saw my brother on the balcony of the cinema’s courtyard. He had borrowed another shopper’s phone and was calling home. At the same time as I saw him, one of my sisters messaged me to say where he was. A very strange and almost psychic experience I think. Thankfully we was reunited and went to the bowling alley. All Star Lanes, which is based a very short walk from the cinema, is basically a bowling alley for all ages. It also has an American diner-themed cocktail and milkshake bar with a restaurant serving typical diner food. We booked our lane for the two of us (my other brother was sorting out transport to arrive later to watch the movie). Unfortunately we were told by reception that there would be a twenty minute wait before the lane would be free to use and they armed with a buzzer that looked like an oversized car alarm key. Me and bro decided to kill time by going to the clothes shops. We visited adidas, Topman while my brother tried to find a hoodie he liked. We saw a lot of cool and ridiculous stuff. Ridiculous in both price and aesthetic appeal. Sadly brother could not find the hoodie he wanted. The buzzer apparently went off, but I felt and heard nothing, though I was holding it in my hand to the point my palms were sweaty and probably fusing with the plastic.
We reported back to All Stars and because we had missed the buzz, we had to wait another ten minutes. Me and little brother went to the milkshake bar and ordered a shake each. He ordered vanilla, I got one flavoured with Oreos, in keeping with the American theme. Well mainly really because I have a primal weakness for Oreo-flavoured milky beverages. It was delicious. I was even scooping out the cookie dough like sludge from the bottom of the glass with my straw and eating it because, blimey, it was THAT good. Me and little bro had the third lane from the left and while he was a bowling veteran, this embarrassingly was my first time. I even had to figure out which fingers went into which holes in the ball. I had fortunately played enough bowling of the virtual variety that that experience helped me pick the real thing very quickly. Although little bro triumphed over me, beating my score of 74 points with his haul of 96, we both managed to do I think around three strikes combined, with myself demolishing all the pins on my third go on the lane. It was quite stuffy in the alley though and not even the ice-cold shake could cool me down, but it was a brilliant time.
We sauntered around some more outlets selling designer garments. This time we hit up the Nike Shop and admired their sportswear, their mind-boggling array of trainers, including a ‘trophy case’ display of them pinned to a wall. We saw lurid pink ones, technologically-advanced ones, stylish ones and even ones with holograms and ones that were fitted in material that looked like the metallic skins of bluebottle flies. I saw a few Nike brand basketballs lying around and was tempted to dribble like the great Shaquille and score a triple-pointer. But being booted kicking and screaming (haha, booted) out of Nike by security is not the best way to remember your 30th birthday.
Towards the end of the night, my other brother finally arrived after catching a train from further east and we had booked our tickets. The film we got into was “A Walk Among The Tombstones” starring Liam Neeson. Obviously as it’s a new film, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I will say that he plays a washed-out former policeman. Divorced and trying to stay sober, he operates as a private detective. A drug trafficker calls on his services to help locate the kidnappers who took his wife. If you are planning to see this film, keep an eye for TJ. He’s hilarious.
My thirtieth birthday may not have been as monumental as other peoples’, but it was a tight family affair. It put a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Reading the many social media messages from my friends and family, plus the texts and calls was the real icing on my birthday cake. Thank you to everyone who made it special. You all made my thirties much, much sweeter.
P.S. For the Half-Eaten Mind’s regular readers on WordPress who were wondering what happened to my usual Saturday article, now you know why!!
Here is a small selection of pictures from my birthday:-
Photo 1: A birthday ‘e-card’ made by my cousin Vipul using some of my Facebook pictures. The theme he ran with was ‘shisha’. One of my hobbies, although it’s been a while since I made an acquantaince with a hookah (stupid snigger). If you’re wondering, my usual flavour is double apple, but I’ve done everything colour in the flavour rainbow, from chocolate to melon.
Photo 2: The toy sports car (Cadillac…Lambo?) gifted to me by my niece Shaniya.
Photo 3: An ‘old chap’ greeting card given by my sister and her family. She just loves to call me ‘grandpa’ now *rolls eyes* *laughs*. I really like the vintage look though, even if it makes me feel a smidgen dessicated.
Photo 4: Another greeting card from my Mum and siblings. Nice blue metallic finish that matches well with Shaniya’s car in Photo 2. I’m seeing stars!!
Photos 5 and 6: Some night time pictures I took of the buildings at Westfield Centre in Stratford City as we waited for my other brother to arrive. The shopping centre does look amazing at dusk.
TheLVRPAare offering a huge choice of affordable sports programmes to keep children occupied during the long six-week break. You can choose from hour-long taster sessions in four types of cycling, one-day sports activity camps and training sessions for cycling, hockey and tennis, as part of the Olympic legacy events being hosted atQueen Elizabeth Olympic Parkin Stratford,Newham, east London – to encourage children and adults to make sports an important part of their lives. The Authority also has other events running in Hertfordshire, Essex andLeyton – all within easy driving distance. Visitors to the Home Counties sites, near the leafy park that straddles the River Lee, can also experience water rafting, kayaking, rambling, boating, pony treks, farms and ice-skating rinks in a friendly and natural setting, perfect during these long summer days. Interested parentsare encouragedto book places early as spotsare limited.
At the Lee ValleyVeloParkat the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, would-beBradley Wiggins, LauraTrottsand bike-mad kids generally cantry outdifferent styles of cycling at thespecially designedpark and courses. You can choose from holiday clubs specialising inBMX, mountain biking, road or track cycling. Children will learn to build their confidence on two wheelsand alsolearn how to safely handle their bikes with adult supervision. They will be pumping their pedals and tackling berms on theBMX track, developing the control of a road bike on the flat and how to execute safe climbs and descents on mountain bikes. They can even discover the secrets of velodrome racing, just like theUK cyclingteam. Prices start from £4.00.
If you are looking to keep your kids occupiedthe wholeday, both theVeloParkand the nearby Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre are organising sports activities day camps at £30 per child per day. Inspire your childto bethe next Olympian by enrolling them on the camp where they will get to enjoy a fun-filled day trying their hands at threeOlympic sports– BMX, tennis and hockey – in the former home of London 2012. With the help ofexperiencedcoaches, kids can learn the basics of these sports and help them pick up the skills that could make them into future Olympic champions. The Day Camps are open to children of all ages.
The Hockey & Tennis Centre are also offering tennis-only sessions to inspire kids in the spirit of that greatest tennis tournament of all, Wimbledon. The centre has both outdoor as well as indoor courts so you do not have to worry about theunpredictableBritish weather. The centre has four indoor courts, whichcan behired from £15 per session. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, you can book one of the six outdoor courts from only £8 per session, whether it is for a gentleknockaboutor competitive matches that would makeNadalorSharapovasweat. The courts are available for use seven days a week. Kids can also join up on a special five-day ‘mini tennis camp’ for indoor tennis. With experienced coaches from the sport and a different focus in every session, the camps arean easyintroduction to thismasterfulsport for young ones aged from five to eight years. The mini tennis camps run from Monday to Friday, 10.00 am to 12.00 noon and cost £55 per participating child.
After ahealthysession at the tennis courts, you can visit local attractions in Stratford and the Olympic Park. Highlights include the ‘Tumbling Bay’ playground, picturesque open spaces perfect for picnics and leisurely walks, theLondon Aquatics Centre, theArcelor-MittalOrbit– which resembles a hookah pipe and is Britain’s tallest sculpture – and the Copper Box Arena. Shoppers can visit the nearby brand-newWestfield Stratford CityE20and Stratford Shopping Centre, while culture vultures can travel out a bit to visit the kid-friendlyDiscovery Centreand see performances at the Theatre Royal. StratfordDLR, Tube and bus stations are close by, enabling links to all parts of London and beyond.
If you love horse-riding, have a go at the leisurely pony treks at the Lee Valley Riding Centre in Leyton, a short bus ride away from Stratford. Enjoy the great outdoors and meet like-minded pony enthusiasts while trekking through the meadowsalongsidethe River Lee. The event is open to all families with children, regardless of any riding experience. The friendly and relaxing sessions are also a chance to learn about horse-riding,includinghandling the reins, to learning how to halt, steer and walkalongsideyour noble steed. The sessions cost £25 per person.
If this summer is proving a bit on the hot side for you, why not cool down with some ice-skating at theLee Valley Ice Centre, also in Leyton. There are daily public skating sessions or for the newcomer, the Ice Centre has special classes to learn the basics from skating experts. Ice-skating costs £8.90 per child, which includes the price for hiring a pair of skates.
For families able to travel beyond theM25, the neighbouring counties of Essex and Hertfordshire have some exciting events being staged byLVRPAover the summer. TheLee Valley ParkFarms in Waltham Abbey are offering full days of fun where children can get up close and personal with farmyard animals such as ducklings, sheep and even exotic wildlife like tamarin monkeys and meerkats. After bonding with animals, children can also let off some pent-up excitement at the nearby Hilltop Adventure Zone, where they can have tonnes of fun “aiming for the sky on the giant jumping pillow, whizzing down the slope of the toboggan run in asquidgydonut” before riding a tractor to the site’s operational dairy farm where they can learn where our milk and cheese come from. Parents ofPeppaPig fans have a special treat on the 30th July 2014. Tickets to the farm cost £8 per child, but you can get a 10% discount if you book online.
Waltham Cross’sLee Valley White Water Centreis recommendedfor those who want a soaking wet adrenaline rush. This venue played host to the canoe slalom events at the London Olympics of two years ago and is now the permanent home of the Team GB Canoe Slalom team. Children on the summer break can have a go at basic canoeing on the centre’s manmade lake for only a fiver, in one of their special ‘Go Canoeing’ courses. The braver children can take part in a hot dog session, rafting orhydrospeedingtheonsiterapids, for thatultimatefoamy thrill chase. If they don’t fancy getting wet, that’s no problem. The lessaquatically-inclinedare treatedto seeing paddlers in action and daredevil rafters tearing up the waterways at the Olympic-grade course. The white water events cost from £30 per person and there are age restrictions for some of the more demanding water sports.
If you want to feel a splash without going at full speed, there are calmer water events at the Lee Valley Boat Centre inBroxbourne, a sleepy commuter town deep within Hertfordshire. Only ten minutes’ drive from the valley’s White Water Centre, it is the perfect place to enjoy some gentle boating and a relaxing day out for tired parents and children. There are a choice of rowing boats, motorised vessels andpedalosall available for hire. Both centresare situatedin the 1,000 acre Lee Valley Park, where there are opportunities for chilled-out picnics, nature walks or just some peaceful ‘me time’.
If you wish to find out more,askabout courses or available places, or to make bookings/reservations, the following are addresses and the official Lee Valley tourism website. All information made available in this articlewas providedby publicity from theLee Valley Regional ParkAuthority.
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre
Eton Manor, Leadmill Lane, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London E20 3AD.
Tel: 08456 770 604
Lee Valley VeloPark
Abercrombie Road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London E20 3AB.
Tel: 08456 770 603
Lee Valley Riding Centre
Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, London E10 7QL.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8556 2629
Lee Valley Ice Centre
Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, London E10 7QL.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8533 3154
Lee Valley Park Farms
Stubbins Hall Lane, Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 2EF.
Tel: +44 (0)1992 892 781
Lee Valley White Water Centre
Station Road, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, EN9 1AB.
Tel: 08456 770 606
Lee Valley Boat Centre
Old Nazeing Road, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, EN10 6LX.