Aircraft condensation trails begin to return

Stuck in my garden office, finishing my submissions to Historic England for Grade II listing of Surrey Heath milestones, I noticed two things. The much enjoyed clear blue skies of the last weeks may not be so clear in the weeks ahead, and being diverted by the range of birds visiting the bird bath outside my office window – more on this in the next blog post.

Aircraft condensation trails are returning to the sky over our house. Not yet in great numbers, but a reminder that the clear blue skies of recent times won’t last forever.

Goldman Sachs: “arguably London is the Artificial Intelligence capital of the world”

Serendipity is wonderful thing, don’t you agree.

It’s the Internet that provides most of my serendipity experiences, and here’s one such that provides an understanding of technology markets.

Jo Hannaford, of Goldman Sachs, describes technology innovation in Europe, saying that in the Kings Cross area of London, the closeness of the Crick Institute for cancer research, the Alan Turing institute for artificial intelligence, Google Deepmind, and the not too far away Facebook London site, constitute a thriving tech hub that she says it can be argued is the artificial intelligence capital of the world.

There are other technology hubs in Europe that she mentions. These “Exchanges at Goldman Sachs“provide great primers by experts on the state of technology and business.

Click on the image below to link to the YouTube discussion.


Reckon actors soon to arrive at Netflix film set off Deepcut Bridge Road

Noting, at the end of January, that Netflix are constructing a film set in Deepcut, it looks as though the set build is near completion and that actors will arrive soon.

See HERE for my earlier article, in which I mentioned that the film set is a recreation of a medieval village, the building of which completes in March, after which filming begins, lasting till September 2019. The film is in the Netflix Cursed series, and here’s what they say the film is about it,

In this fresh take on the Arthurian legend, teenager Nimue joins forces with mercenary Arthur on a quest to find Merlin and deliver an ancient sword.

Here are my latest photos of the site, taken yesterday. Expanding my photo of the film set you can see there are wooden tiles on one the buildings, and there’s a door into the closed set, so we’re unlikely to see any of the scenes of the film. The direction sign is sending all the film trucks via Frith Hill Road, many of the trucks can be seen through the hedgerows.

The changing centre of Birmingham

At the end of February we travelled by train to Birmingham for a family gathering. Just four of us, we are not a big family.

Dear wife attended a meeting of a society at which she’s a member, and afterwards we all met up for afternoon tea. A couple of us walked from where we met at New Street station along New Street up to the City Council House to view the changes to Centenary Square.

What changes they are. The old central library building [see photo], an eyesore from the moment it was built, is no more. The new library is a big improvement – now called the Library of Birmingham, although I’m not a fan of the exterior cladding.

Chamberlain Square, Paradise Circus, and Centenary Square have all dramatically changed. My how Birmingham does love reinventing itself. The Registry Office, where we were married, is also now demolished. Such are the changes that I hardly remember what was there before. Although the Hall of Memory, of which more later, retains it’s place, and is, thankfully, not crowded in by the new buildings. From the new Library’s viewing platforms you can see how things are changing.

I took some photos, pretty poor ones I’m afraid, that show some of the changes. As there were hoardings everywhere, taking photos was awkward. Better to view the photos in the BBC article Will Birmingham’s boom benefit all?


Netflix film set off Deepcut Bridge Road in Surrey Heath

What I’m writing here isn’t news to many of you, whom I know are both more curious than me, and also better at knowing about local goings on.

Anyway, here goes. There’s a film set being built on the Ministry of Defence land at Frith Hill, just off Deepcut Bridge Road in Surrey Heath. Today I walked past the site and took the photo below.

A bit of googling reveals that it’s a site for a Netflix film in their Cursed series, and here’s what they say the film is about it,

In this fresh take on the Arthurian legend, teenager Nimue joins forces with mercenary Arthur on a quest to find Merlin and deliver an ancient sword.

The film set is a recreation of a medieval village, the building of which completes in March, after which filming begins, lasting till September 2019.

Top 10 Country GDP Ranking History 1960 – 2017

Here’s a fascinating dynamic animated graphic from the The Visual Capitalist website.

It shows the GDP ranking history of the top ten countries for 57 years, fro 1960 to 2017. The GDP [Gross Domestic Product] data is from the World Bank.

The points I note from this graphic are that the UK, and France jockey for position over the years. The absence of Germany in the early years is due to them only providing their GDP data to the World Bank from 1970.

The rise of and fall of Japan is to some degree a reflection in currency movement. All the data is in dollars. China’s rise in the ranking in is such a short period is staggering. It’s similarly intersting to see India rising up the ranking, and also to see Italy’s fall.

You’d be surprised that just two companies dominate the global eyewear market

In The Guardian’s Long Read article on, The spectacular power of the Big Lens, it’s hugely informative on an industry that most of us rely on, eyewear. [My spare glasses in photo]

In the article I learned from the article’s author that,

The lenses in my glasses – and yours too, most likely – are made by Essilor, a French multinational that controls almost half of the world’s prescription lens business and has acquired more than 250 other companies in the past 20 years.


There is a good chance, meanwhile, that your frames are made by Luxottica, an Italian company with an unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels and retail outlets ……. such as Ray-Ban, Vogue, Prada, Oliver Peoples, and Oakley all owned by Luxottica, and John Lewis Opticians run by Luxottica, or Sunglass Hut also owned by Luxottica.

and, now they are becoming one company.

On 1 March 2018, regulators in the EU and the US gave permission for the world’s largest optical companies to form a single corporation, which will be known as EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be a monopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the frames.

I’d imagine that the majority of us would have imagined that there’s as much a multiplicity of manufactures as their opticians in the country. Not so, which is what I learned from the article.

I started wearing glasses in my early thirties, and have subsequently had numerous different frames and lenses. Currently, my lenses are Varifocal, an Essilor brand, in a Silhoutte frame, which is an independent Austrian company, and jolly expensive they are too. I only moved away from Specsavers as their range of rimless frames was limited.

It wasn’t long ago that we collected all our many spectacle cases and specs, and recycled them. They’d built up on drawers through our house. Now I’ve only kept the last two prescriptions. The photo is of one of them.

West End only Surrey Heath location for Heathrow consultation events

Delivered, yesterday, by our ‘postie’, is Heathrow’s leaflet on the upcoming Public Consultations on it’s preferred expansion scheme for airport capacity in the South East.

The website on the consultation will be live from tommorrow morning – bet you can’t wait to visit.

Of the forty locations for consultation events, just one is in Surrey Heath, and that’ll be at Tringham Hall, Benner Lane, West End, GU24 9JP, on Saturday March 10th, between 10am to 4.0pm.

Here’s the middle pages of the Heathrow Consultation leaflet, [Click on images to expand].

The U.K. Tops Forbes’ Best Countries For Business 2018

Forbes is an American business magazine and website. They are well known for publishing lists and rankings.

In their annual ranking of the Best Countries For Business 2018, the United Kingdom is ranked top of the 153 countries analysed. The opening paragraph of the article says,

After the United Kingdom narrowly voted last year to leave the European Union, predictions swirled that the British economy would collapse. Yes, the pound plummeted 9% versus the dollar the day after the surprise result and remains down, but the economy as a whole has held up relatively well. Gross domestic product grew 1.8% in 2016, a tick behind only Germany’s 1.9% growth among the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Economic growth has continued in 2017, home prices are up and unemployment has sunk to a 42-year low at 4.3%.

The ranking table has the Top Ten Best Countries for Business 2018 as,

  1. UK
  2. New Zealand
  3. Netherlands
  4. Sweden
  5. Canada
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Denmark
  8. Ireland
  9. Singapore
  10. Switzerland

The USA are ranked 12th, Germany 13th, Japan 21st, and France 22nd, with China coming a lowly 66th in the table of 153 countries.

UK maintains its ranking in Legatum Prosperity Index 2017

In the 11th edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index, the world’s leading global measure of economic and social wellbeing, Britain remains in 10th place in the the rankings of 149 countries [See image of top 20. Click on image to link to the Rankings Table]. Much to delve into.

Britain’s position is driven by a Business Environment which is the best in Europe and fifth best in the world. Our Economic Quality has also begun to recover since the financial crash, and now sits ahead of both Canada and the US.

Overall, the Index finds a number of surprising global, regional and national trends in economic and social wellbeing, including an alarming deterioration in global security and a widening gap between the most and least prosperous nations.

Commenting on the publication of this year’s edition of the Prosperity Index, the Legatum Institute’s CEO, Philippa Stroud, said:

“It is encouraging to see the UK’s ranking unchanged since the momentous referendum last year. This year’s Index demonstrates that Britain has built the best Business Environment in Europe, and the fifth best in the world. Combined with world-class Governance, it suggests that the UK’s prosperity has been built on solid foundations, as it prepares for a future outside of the EU.”

2017 Prosperity Index – Key Findings

  • Norway has regained the number one spot from New Zealand
  • The UK has maintained its tenth place in the rankings
  • The world has become less safe and secure
  • The greatest gains in prosperity have come from the Asia-Pacific region
  • Governance improved in every region in 2017, with Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa rising fastest
  • Western European prosperity overtook North America for the first time in the Index
  • India is catching up with China
  • Latin America is showing the most concentrated declines in prosperity
  • The Nordic and Anglosphere nations have enjoyed the highest overall prosperity in the world.