STRATFORD CENTRE: Six people hurt in fight and acid attack near shopping mall

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.

SOURCES:

Alia Ropun.

upday for Samsung UK http://www.upday.com/en/

“Six hurt in ‘acid attack’ at Stratford Centre in London” – Alan McGuinness and Ian Francis, Sky News/Sky UK (24 September 2017) http://news.sky.com/story/six-hurt-after-being-sprayed-with-noxious-substance-at-westfield-in-stratford-11050889

“Acid attack on school-run mother in Newham” – BBC News/BBC (4 May 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13282439

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Stratford Centre, Stratford” – N. Chadwick, geograph (20 January 2009) http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1128397

 

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A MILLION MILES TOGETHER: UK Olympic gold champion at launch of Newham keep fit drive

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Newham Council

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.”

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Pam, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/salsapam
Newham London, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/NewhamLondon
“Newham’s Olympic hero spearheads Million Miles Together Challenge” – Newham London/Newham Council (30 September 2016) https://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/News/Newham’s-Olympic-hero-spearheads-Million-Miles-Together-Challenge.aspx
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Christine Ohuruogu, October 2008.jpg” – Nick J Webb, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (16 October 2008) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christine_Ohuruogu,_October_2008.jpg

PEARLS OF EXCELLENCE: Newham Business Awards this October

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via the Newham Mag

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.

SOURCES:
“Awards are just the business” – The Newham Mag, Newham Council [Issue 345] (15 July 2016)
“ABOUT NCC” – Newham Chamber of Commerce http://www.newhamchamber.com/about-ncc/
IMAGE CREDIT:
Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/photos/award/

RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015: Newham’s Fanzone

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via the Newham Mag

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.

SOURCE:
“Thousands give fanzone a try” – The Newham Mag – News/Newham Council [Issue 327], 23 October 2015
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

COUNCIL LICENSING: Illegally sold alcohol confiscated from Newham stores

Local authorities in the east London council area of Newham have recently reported a successful crackdown on convenience stores selling unlicensed alcohol, making several thousand pounds worth of seizures, reports the council publication The Newham Mag.

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.

English: No Street Drinking allowed
English: No Street Drinking allowed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

 

SOURCES:
“Alcohol seized from stores” – The Newham Mag – Issue 308, Newham Council (30 January 2015)
“Premises alcohol and entertainment licence” – Newham London, Newham Council http://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/Services/Premises-alcohol-and-entertainment-licence.aspx?l1=100002&l2=200063
“Anti-social behaviour growing, says official survey” – David Barrett, The Telegraph/Telegraph Media Group Limited (11 April 2013) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9988026/Anti-social-behaviour-growing-says-official-survey.html
“1,700 litres of alcohol seized from Forest Gate off-licence” – Sophie Morton, Newham Recorder/Archant Community Media Ltd/London24 (9 January 2015) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/1_700_litres_of_alcohol_seized_from_forest_gate_off_licence_1_3911023
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Streetdrinking24102008148.jpg” – J D Mack, Wikimedia Commons (24 October 2008) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Streetdrinking24102008148.jpg

NEWHAM COUNCIL: Campaign launched to support safety equipment in Newham’s workplaces

Newham Council, which governs the east London borough of Newham, has offered its support to a citywide campaign to remind businesses and employers generally of the importance of installing life-saving equipment in their premises, the Council’s official publication The Newham Mag has reported.

The Shockingly Easy campaign, organised by the London Ambulance Service, is encouraging companies to place a defibrillator in offices and warehouses. This electronic device can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a company employee or visitor suffering cardiac 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 Stratford Shopping Centre. He said to The 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.

Deutsch: Defibrillator im Rettungsdienst
Deutsch: Defibrillator im Rettungsdienst (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The council have already come on board with the Shockingly Easy campaign themselves by having defibrillation equipment put into place at their main offices at Newham Dockside, near Canning Town in 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 hospital cardiac arrests in 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 the National 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.

SOURCES:
“Shockingly easy way to save life” – The Newham Mag [Issue 305], Newham Council (5 December 2014)
“Shockingly Easy campaign” – London Ambulance Service NHS Trust/NHS http://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/calling_999/emergency_heart_care/cardiac_arrest/defibrillator_accreditation.aspx
“Defibrillators for Newham businesses” – London Ambulance Service NHS Trust/NHS (17 October 2014) http://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/news/news_releases_and_statements/defibrillators_for_newham_buin.aspx
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Biphasischer Defibrillator.jpg” – Jack99, Wikimedia Commons (10 June 2006) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Biphasischer_Defibrillator.jpg

BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: Vijay turns 30

Say R.I.P. to your amazing twenties

As you enter your boring thirties

Say goodbye to your crazy ways

Say hello to monotonous days

Bid adieu to irresponsibility

As you strive towards accountability

Don’t worry, I am just fooling around

Don’t let this rhyme bring you down

You will have the best time at thirty

So chill out, relax and take it easy

Happy 30th birthday

(c) MyNiceProfile.com

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. 

(c) gifovea.tumblr.com via Giphy

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.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“30th Birthday Poems” – WishesMessages.com/Valuetivity http://wishesmessages.com/30th-birthday-poems/
IMAGE CREDITS:
“LOOP ANIMATED GIF” – gifovea.tumblr.com via Giphy http://giphy.com/gifs/5BKL0c6zQYWYg
“Happy Birthday 30th” – MyNiceProfile.com http://www.myniceprofile.com/happy-birthday-123299.html
piZap http://pizap.com/
The Half-Eaten Mind/Vijay Shah, Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/110818734@N02

LEE VALLEY: School’s out, have fun

The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, which manages tourist attractions and sports centres along a 26-mile stretch of the River Lee (usually spelt ‘Lea’) in Essex and Hertfordshire, is offering special activities to families in the east London area. Children starting their summer holidays can now take part in a variety of fun and exciting activities such as BMX bike riding, tennis and hockey at special summer holiday prices.

(c) LVRPA via V. Shah/Half-Eaten Mind/Flickr

The LVRPA are 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 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 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 and Leyton – 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 parents are encouraged to book places early as spots are limited.

At the Lee Valley VeloPark at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, would-be Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trotts and bike-mad kids generally can try out different styles of cycling at the specially designed park and courses. You can choose from holiday clubs specialising in BMX, mountain biking, road or track cycling. Children will learn to build their confidence on two wheels and also learn how to safely handle their bikes with adult supervision. They will be pumping their pedals and tackling berms on the BMX 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 the UK cycling team. Prices start from £4.00.

If you are looking to keep your kids occupied the whole day, both the VeloPark and the nearby Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre are organising sports activities day camps at £30 per child per day. Inspire your child to be the next Olympian by enrolling them on the camp where they will get to enjoy a fun-filled day trying their hands at three Olympic sports – BMX, tennis and hockey – in the former home of London 2012. With the help of experienced coaches, 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 the unpredictable British weather. The centre has four indoor courts, which can be hired 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 gentle knockabout or competitive matches that would make Nadal or Sharapova sweat. 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 are an easy introduction to this masterful sport 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 a healthy session 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, the London Aquatics Centre, the Arcelor-Mittal Orbit – which resembles a hookah pipe and is Britain’s tallest sculpture – and the Copper Box Arena. Shoppers can visit the nearby brand-new Westfield Stratford City E20 and Stratford Shopping Centre, while culture vultures can travel out a bit to visit the kid-friendly Discovery Centre and see performances at the Theatre Royal. Stratford DLR, 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 meadows alongside the 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, including handling the reins, to learning how to halt, steer and walk alongside your 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 the Lee 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.

English: Lee Valley Ice Centre An Ice Rink on ...
English: Lee Valley Ice Centre An Ice Rink on Lea Bridge Road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For families able to travel beyond the M25, the neighbouring counties of Essex and Hertfordshire have some exciting events being staged by LVRPA over the summer. The Lee Valley Park Farms 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 a squidgy donut” before riding a tractor to the site’s operational dairy farm where they can learn where our milk and cheese come from. Parents of Peppa Pig 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’s Lee Valley White Water Centre is recommended for 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 or hydrospeeding the onsite rapids, for that ultimate foamy thrill chase. If they don’t fancy getting wet, that’s no problem. The less aquatically-inclined are treated to 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 in Broxbourne, 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 and pedalos all available for hire. Both centres are situated in the 1,000 acre Lee Valley Park, where there are opportunities for chilled-out picnics, nature walks or just some peaceful ‘me time’.

English: River Lea, River Lee Country Park, pa...
English: River Lea, River Lee Country Park, part of the 10,000 acre Lee Valley Regional Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you wish to find out more, ask about 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 article was provided by publicity from the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

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.

Tel: +44 (0)1992 462 085

Website: visitleevalley.org.uk

 

SOURCE:
“School’s out, have fun in the Lee Valley” – Lee Valley, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (leaflet)
IMAGE CREDITS:
“2014-07-12 16.57.39” – Vijay Shah, Half-Eaten Mind, Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/110818734@N02/
“File:Lee Valley Ice Centre.JPG” –  Danny Robinson, Wikimedia Commons [via geograph.org.uk] (15 April 2007) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lee_Valley_Ice_Centre.JPG
“File:River lee Country Park.jpg” – LeeValleyRegionalPark, Wikimedia Commons (16 December 2009) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:River_lee_Country_Park.jpg

 

PHOTO MOMENT: Stratford, Shoreditch Boxpark and Fady Elsayed

with Anjali Shah (photographer & contributor)

On the 26th May 2014, which was a Bank Holiday Monday, the Half-Eaten Mind along with a select crew of family visited the Shoreditch Boxpark, off Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London E2, to attend the ‘Busk in the Box‘ music concert compered by DJ Hussain. The event is normally held at this venue about every weekend, but not withstanding the great music on offer, we came especially for my youngest sister Anjali, who wanted to meet her idol, the film actor Fady Elsayed, star of the epic inner-city film “My Brother the Devil” about two British Arab brothers and their struggles with drugs, poverty and sexuality.

The gig played host to a lineup of young and unknown songsters from as far away as Leicester and Brighton , who arrived at this intimate gig to perform at one of London’s more leftfield shopping centres, a collection of pop-up shops that are all the rage in hip alternative London – along with a DJ set playing a footstomping run of house music and dubstep during the breaks between musicians. We stayed from 1-3 pm soaking up the sounds of young undiscovered pop/R&B talents before visiting a local chicken shop serving its clientele the most generous portions of chips and wings this side of the Bow Flyover.

My two sisters particularly enjoyed speaking with Fady about his career and getting photos taken with him and the younger one was also exceptionally lucky to receive a special gift from the thespian, an actual script taken from the film, complete with pen marks and dog ears.

This Photo Moment consists of the work of two budding photographers in our family, myself and Anjali. In addition to the Busk in the Box event I also took some pictures of the Stratford Broadway area while waiting for a bus into Tower Hamlets and some locales near the venue. My sister did many locales there as well.

SHOREDITCH BOXPARK: www.boxpark.co.uk/

#BUSKTHEBOX: http://www.boxpark.co.uk/event/buskthebox5/

FADY ELSAYED @ TWITTER: https://twitter.com/iFadyElsayed

FADY ELSAYED @ INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/ifadyelsayed

 

The 44 Broadway building in Stratford, London. This was taken while I was waiting for my sister to arrive to go to Shoreditch.

The front entrance of the Stratford Shopping Centre with the Samuel Gurney memorial obelisk in Stratford Broadway, London. I took this picture while waiting for a bus into Tower Hamlets.

The sign of the Cafe in the Courtyard, a business near the Stratford town hall in London.

A trio of traditional red phoneboxes next to the town hall building in Stratford.

The entrance sign of the Shoreditch Boxpark, an alternative style shopping mall off Bethnal Green Road.

Niketown billboard – Magista

Modern tower block in Bethnal Green.

Eighties poster designed by Josh Stika. Seen on the first level of Boxpark near where we were attending the concert.

My family enjoying the music. We also got to see “My Brother the Devil” film actor Fady Elsayed.

Performance at Hussain’s Busk in the Box by singer James.

Performance at the Busk in the Box concert by singer Leanne.

Promo leaflet handed out by Leanne to me and my brother Suraj after her performance finished.

Hype on The End flyer for a nightclub event handed out by James.

The back of the Hype on The End leaflet featuring a crown logo belonging to Minikingz. This was probably the record label or company behind the rave.

The script sample given by actor Fady Elsayed to my sister Anjali as a gift. She is a very big fan of his.

‘ Create-Attack ‘ trainers and spiders display found outside Niketown store at Boxpark.

Levy Safes Co. Locksmiths street art.

Padlocks or in this case ‘love locks’ affixed to a mesh fence just outside the Boxpark. A tradition exported from continental Europe. I took this picture as we were leaving the concert to get some food to eat and collect my niece.

You dirty rat: Street art on archways along Sclater Street, Bethnal Green.

A motley crew of stickers, street art and regular graffiti leading towards Bethnal Green Road.

My mum and sister with Fady Elsayed for a photo opportunity. Photo by Anjali Shah.

Fady with Anjali. Photo by Anjali Shah.

A shipping crate with the BoxPark Busk in the Park logos and details. Photo by Anjali Shah.

The entrance to Niketown at Boxpark. By Anjali Shah.

‘Dare to Own the Street’ another of Nike’s legendary advertising at their Shoreditch outlet.

Hussain’s House DJ set with the obligatory hashtag for Twitterers. Much of the musical magic emanated from here. By Anjali Shah.

The Falafelicious café where my brother got some chips before we settled down for the concert.

Footwear display by Nike. Just keep photographing it. By Anjali Shah.

WHERE WE SNAPPED:

Next to the Town Hall, The Broadway, Stratford, E15, London, England, UK.

Shoreditch BOXPARK, Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E2, London, England, UK.

 

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PITMAN TRAINING: Vital Skills for Stratford Jobseekers

East London’s job hunters now have a new ally in the search for better career prospects. The Pitman Training Centre in Stratford is currently offering a two-day workshop for local jobseekers who are concerned that they are being held back by a lack of skills in jobsearching and employability.

Pitman Training are a nationwide training organisation offering courses in office-based careers. They specialise in secretarial skills, keyboard skills, accounts, information technology and provide specialised courses dealing with Microsoft packages. Pitman operate through convenient training locations and allow you to study at your own pace to gain certification. Not surprisingly, they have gained a foothold in east London, where much of the population are economically disadvantaged and both need and desire new skills to help them improve their situations.

(c) Pitman Training
The Berkeley Business Centre in Stratford, where Pitman’s workshops will be held (c) Free Office Finder

This special workshop will be held at the Berkeley Business Centre (not far from Stratford’s popular shopping district) and is designed with jobseekers in mind. If you live in the east London area especially, and are having trouble getting employers to notice your CV, or want to improve your current earnings, or even to acquire some helpful advice…then you could give the workshop a try.

Topics covered will include:

  • Selling yourself as an ideal candidate to prospective employers.
  • Writing the CV that gets noticed.
  • Finding jobs on the net i.e. online recruitment firms.
  • Interview techniques.
  • Self-development and adopting a ‘can-do’ attitude.
  • Using networking skills.
  • Utilising real-life and online social networks for career changes and advancement.
  • Making yourself more visible to recruiters.

Over the two days, you will receive guidance from experts in the field to tackle the increasingly tough job vacancy market. Although exact details of what will happen over the workshop’s duration are not available to the Half-Eaten Mind, it can be safely assumed that there will be presentations, group exercises and classroom teaching especially designed to help students hook that elusive vacancy.

When the UK job market is being pummelled by both the credit crunch and the Eurozone crisis, and as employers place more emphasis on IT and ‘soft’ skills, companies like Pitman Training will prove a valuable lifeline for those who are looking to get back into work or want to broaden their horizons.

To book a place at Pitman’s workshop in Stratford, you can call them direct on 0203 130 0778. Alternatively drop in for a quick chat at Pitman Training Centre Stratford, 2nd floor, Berkeley Business Centre, 44 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1XH.

For more information – visit http://www.pitman-training.com/locations/pitman-training-stratford