Sunday, February 27, 2022


As you can see from the photos above, click on either for a larger version The works to Pier Square in Erith are now proceeding a pace after much delay. The works on our scheduled to be finished in around a month. This will be just in time for spring and the increase in visitors to Erith Pier. This is a somewhat little known yet. Absolutely excellent local amenity. I am hopeful that once the works are completed, alongside the Riverside gardens improvements, it will make the riverfront at Erith and even more pleasant place to spend time once the weather improves. I would also be hopeful that the Erith Pier Festival can once again be held late in the summer. I recall that the first event was expected to attract somewhere in the region of 400 people, but in reality over 4,000 visitors attended. It would be nice to see a large event post Covid take place, and I cannot think of a better place than the pier in the warm weather.

There have been some occasions in the past where I've commented that in crisis where mobile phone communications and computer data cannot get through due to natural disasters or conflict, radio will always get through. Though this has proved sadly true in the current conflict in the Ukraine. Whilst the Russians have crashed many Ukraine computers and jammed their mobile phone systems, resistance fighters in Ukraine have managed to communicate with the outside world with what many consider to be an outdated method of communication - Shortwave radio. For decades Shortwave radio was the main way to send long distance communications prior to fibre optic cabling and satellites. Now that the Russians have effectively jammed those methods of communication, what some would consider old fashioned methods of communication including Shortwave radio have come back into widespread use. I have a couple of recordings of Ukrainian resistance fighters jamming Russian military communication frequencies with what some would consider pirate broadcasts. On one occasion, a military communication channel used by the Russians was jammed using a recording of "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley. The Ukrainian jammers obviously had a sense of humour. What this does underline is that what may be considered an old-fashioned communications method is still viable in the 21st century. What do you think? Email me and let me know -

Academics at Tel Aviv University in Israel have found that recent Android-based Samsung phones shipped with design flaws that allow the extraction of secret cryptographic keys. Android smartphones, which pretty much all use Arm-compatible silicon, rely on a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) supported by Arm's TrustZone technology to keep sensitive security functions isolated from normal applications. These TEEs run their own operating system, TrustZone Operating System (TZOS), and it's up to vendors to implement the cryptographic functions within TZOS. Samsung took a number of shortcuts whilst implementing the security encryption feature, and researchers have recently uncovered this. The feature is called Keymaster TASamsung failed to implement Keymaster TA properly in its Galaxy S8, S9, S10, S20, and S21 phones. The researchers reverse engineered the Keymaster app and showed they could conduct an Initialization Vector (IV) reuse attack to obtain the keys from the hardware-protected key software. In all, the researchers estimate 100 million Samsung devices were vulnerable when they identified the encryption flaw last year. However, they responsibly disclosed their findings to Samsung in May 2021, which led to the August 2021 assignment of the vulnerability, and a patch for affected devices. If you have an affected smartphone, and have not taken the latest software updates, you would be strongly advised to do so without delay, as the security of your device may well be compromised without them. 

Last August I reported on how Bexley Council were looking for a new operator for Barnehurst Golf Club. According to the advert for the lease, the course offers the following:- "Set in approximately 45 acres, this 9 hole course is situated in Bexleyheath, within the M25 and just 18 miles from Central London. The course was originally laid out in 1904 and designed by Open winner James Braid. It is set in a mature landscape extending to 2,372 yards and includes a great variety of holes which are suitable for beginners and more advanced players alike. The course also includes a practice putting green and an automated irrigation system to greens. The clubhouse has been recently redecorated and comes equipped to allow the new operator to start trading immediately. Alongside the course and clubhouse, there is a recently built 16 bay floodlit driving range. Matthew Lynwood of Faybrook Consulting who are handling the letting on behalf of the London Borough of Bexley commented: “It is rare to bring to the market such a fantastically located quality golf facility within Greater London. The course is steeped in history, golf holes are set in mature woodlands and the property includes a recently built covered range. “As you play the course you enjoy fantastic views over the River Thames and beyond into Essex as well as far reaching views into Kent. It is a gem set in a great landscape yet surrounded by dense residential areas. It truly presents an opportunity for an operator to manage a busy and successful business which is able to attract beginners to the game as well as providing a challenge to more advanced players.” Coincidentally a report on London's golf courses was published last autumn. According to the study, Britain is home to a quarter of all the golf courses in Europe, with one in 20 found in London, despite the capital making up just 0.65% of the UK’s total land area. The 43 publicly owned golf courses in London take up just under 1,600 hectares (3,950 acres) of land in Greater London, bigger than the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, which has a population of 185,000. The borough of Enfield alone contains seven courses, but the council receives just £13,500 from Enfield golf club each year to rent its 39-hectare golf course – less than the typical annual rent for a two-bedroom flat in the area. In a recent article in the Guardian, Russell Curtis, an architect and the author of “Golf Belt”, a new study of how London’s golf courses could help address the housing crisis, said he was not calling for all the capital’s golf courses to be turned into housing, but that some courses could be made more accessible to the capital’s residents if they became allotments, biodiverse green space, sports facilities or even urban farms. “This is not a war on golf,” said Curtis in the Guardian article. “There surely has to be a way of improving the social utility and accessibility of golf courses to benefit the wider population. The redevelopment of golf courses is always presented as a binary choice between beautiful green fields or concrete, but there’s a model in the middle where you could provide new homes and social infrastructure while achieving biodiversity gain.” All things considered, Bexley Council faced quite a challenge to recruit a new operator for the historic golf course, and last week they announced that the contract to run the course had been awarded to a company called American Golf. The official announcement reads as follows:- "American Golf has been named as the new operator for Barnehurst Golf Club with plans underway to re-open the site in spring 2022. The plans submitted include a substantial investment for the site which has been closed since the start of the pandemic in 2020. New additions will include an Il Corso Sports Bar and Lounge, a refurbished driving range with Toptracer technology, and a state of the art retail space with custom fit technology, planned for later this year. American Golf owns an expanding portfolio of leisure sites across the UK including golf courses, high tech ranges, food and beverage and adventure golf. They are also the UK’s leading golf retailer with 95 stores nationwide. As American Golf’s first municipal site Barnehurst Golf Club will extend the brand’s vision to make golf accessible to everyone. It plans to work with the Council to introduce schools and clubs to the wider enjoyment of golf. Cabinet Member for Places, Cllr Peter Craske said: This is excellent news for the borough. Having such an established name running the course is exactly what is needed to help it develop and grow into a key golfing venue. The new operators are already brimming with ideas for the site and I’m looking forward to seeing them start work.” American Golf’s CEO, Gary Favell, said: We are looking forward to being part of the Barnehurst community and to welcoming past and new members to the club when we open our doors in Spring. “The acquisition of Barnehurst Golf Club supports our wider vision to make golf accessible and fun for everyone. We want to break down the barriers to entry and to inspire as many people as possible to try golf for the first time. We are looking forward to announcing details around membership in the coming weeks.” Future proposals include an ‘adventure golf’ course, subject to the usual planning application process".

Following my article on 5G mobile signal provision in the local area last week, I received the following message on Tuesday morning from mobile service provider EE:- "We're making some essential improvements to our network in Bexley which might affect your service from 23-Feb for 6 days. We apologise in advance for any disruption this causes - we'll work as quickly as we can. If you do experience any disruption make sure you enable WiFi Calling on your phone so you can still make calls and send text messages. Follow this link to find out how: Thanks".

For anyone who uses the A2 to travel further down into Kent and towards the coast, there is one landmark which to my mind really stands out. That is the cafe adjacent to the A2 by the Gravesend turning. Nell's cafe has been on the site for around 70 years, and it has is in all that time. Been widely used by travellers. Truck drivers especially love the place; in fact until relatively recently, Nell's cafe had the distinction of being one of the very few independently owned and run cafes on the British motorway system which was open 24/7. Nowadays, it opens 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. I can recall on several occasions back in the day when I worked for Radio Caroline, when on the way back from the south coast, a group of Caroline staff and volunteers would head into Nell's cafe for a meal in the early hours of the morning. I can recall on one occasion having a full roast dinner with a pint mug of tea at about 3:00 a.m. The place had and has a very strong reputation for good food served at reasonable prices. One thing I found out whilst doing some research for this article was that the cafe has been featured in a number of TV shows and even a couple of movies. I suppose this should not have really surprised me as the place is very distinctive and would definitely make a good background for many sorts of productions. The latest of which is apparently a new comedy-horror series called The Baby. The Sky and HBO co-production is being produced by global content company SISTER, whose credits include the critically acclaimed Chernobyl and Gangs of London series. The cafe has also been a major location featured in several episodes of the BBC TV series "Killing Eve", and as well as this, Series two of Sky One’s Temple and the second series of Idris Elba’s comedy "In the Long Run" both utilised this cafĂ© for certain scenes. 2015’s BBC drama The Interceptor also shot at Nell’s while it also featured during a special version of ITV's Long Lost Family. Neighbours star and, more recently, the Masked Singer winner Natalie Imbruglia filmed a music video there.

Talking of food related news, Did you know that last week was National Chip Week? National Chip Week is a brainchild of AHDB Potatoes, formerly known as The Potato Council. The council is a trade organisation focused on potato industry development in Great Britain. The week is one of the council’s annual awareness campaigns to encourage more people to eat chips and dispel its myths. The oldest evidence of chips in history was in 1680 in Belgium. They replaced fish during the winter months. Rivers would freeze preventing fishing. Potatoes were cut into fish shapes and deep fried. Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to England from America in the 1800s. In 1817, a cookbook published by William Kitchiner included a recipe for chips. “The Oldest Fish & Chip Shop in the World” that opened in Yeadom near Leeds in 1867 claims to be the first “Chippie,” although there is controversy about this: It was Charles Dickens’ “A Tale Of Two Cities” that first made a clear reference to chips. In the 1860s, the first fish and chip shop opened for business in Mossley, Oldham, Lancashire. During the same time period, Joseph Malin, a Jewish immigrant, started his shop on Cleveland Way, offering fish and chips. Between the 19th century and 20th century, fish and chips grew in popularity across the United Kingdom, becoming one of the populace’s favorite meals. During the Second World War, fish and chips played an important role. It was one of the non-rationed foods, complementing soldiers’ and the British people’s diets. Fish and chips are still one of the top ten most popular British dishes today. “A dash of vinegar on the chip shop claim” in The Guardian. Chippies also opened soon in London and Oldham. Fish and chips played an important role in keeping Brits fed during the Second World War. It was one of the few non-rationed foods. Another interesting role in the war: It was the code word during D-Day landings. A soldier would call out “fish” and wait (hope) to hear “chips.”

The photo above- click on it to see a larger view, was taken by me on Saturday afternoon. A couple of readers had alerted me to the fact that the long empty and overgrown wasteland space adjacent to Bexley college and opposite the refurbished Carnegie Library in Walnut Tree Road, Erith had been cleared by contractors. This piece of land has to my knowledge been empty and abandoned since around 1980. It was formerly part of the site of Erith tramshed. Since then it has been overgrown with weeds and infested with very large rats. I have made some enquiries, and one of my very reliable sources has informed me that the site will be used for housing. Here is the official announcement:- "We have recently exchanged contracts with BexleyCo and the vegetation is being cleared to enable access for site surveys to be undertaken.  BexleyCo will be submitting a planning application for a residential scheme on the site in due course". Thanks to regular reader Ian for bringing this to my attention. More on this story in the future,

More woes in respect of the Woolwich Ferry. Transport for London published the following announcement a couple of days ago:- "Changes to the Woolwich Ferry operating hours - Until further notice, Woolwich Ferry will operate a one-boat service on Monday to Saturday from 07:00 to 18:00 and on Sunday from 11:30 to 18:30. Until Monday 28 March 2022. Industrial action on the Woolwich Ferry every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There is planned industrial action with no service on the Woolwich Ferry every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On foot, use the Woolwich Foot Tunnel or the DLR service between King George V and Woolwich Arsenal. For drivers, use alternative river crossings at Dartford, Blackwall and Rotherhithe".

Following my article last week about how Erith Station was the fourth least used railway station in South East London / North Kent, I was sent the following video from a train and transport enthusiast. It features the comings and goings ot trains at the aforementioned station, and is a quite relaxing bit of "Slow Television" - it does strike me though that the station is somewhat overdue for maintenance - the state of the footbridge over the tracks is especially poor - it needs the rust chipped from it, a couple of coats of red oxide primer, and a generous layer of new gloss paint. What do you think? Email me at

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