jeudi 24 janvier 2013
There's no doubt that snow tyres can give as much grip as that experienced in a 4*4 and there would be a significant saving on salt needed to grit the roads whenever snow is forecast.
'But we're not as cold as France or Switzerland?' I hear you cry.
Generally, the cold in the UK is damper than in northern parts of continental Europe and melts quicker but in recent years - 2011, in particular - the snow lay on the ground for at least a week at the end of November.
Driving in the snow is frightening enough with snow tyres, especially when descending a steep hill, which may also be icy. You just have to forget your brake!
Any measures to make the use of the roads safer in winter should be adopted and made a legal requirement. Driving on summer tyres in winter is madness...
lundi 20 février 2012
lundi 16 janvier 2012
mercredi 15 juin 2011
Last Thursday, 09 June, was a great day. Jerome, a friend from church who is also a corporate pilot working out of Geneva, invited me to accompany him on a day-trip to Alsace.
From Geneva, the 330km-long road to Colmar in Alsace is pretty straight and runs parallel with the sloping vineyards that flank Lake Léman. After 170 km the Bernese Oberland, which has to rank amongst some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery, is visible in the far distance over to the right. Make sure you open your window when you pass the NESPRESSO factory just before Berne (coming from the south) for some delightful aromas, which should also wake you up. As you're on a Swiss road, you just need the vignette costing CHF 40 a year, which entitles you to use all of the Swiss motorway network. So no expensive toll roads, which you encounter from here on the road to the Ardèche via Lyon.
'Bah the Ardèche! Best thing to do is drive through it!' Jerome remarked as we sat back and marvelled at the beauty of God’s creation whilst listening to a lifetime's collection of Genesis and Peter Gabriel CDs.
I can only agree and as Jerome is a Frenchman he must be in a position to judge!
Last September, we drove to the Ardèche for a two-night stay. When we arrived at the hotel at about 2.30 pm on the Sunday, everything was mysteriously locked up! Mein host, who later strutted around the restaurant with the mischievous half-grin of Basil Fawlty, arrived at 5.45 pm after his Sunday lunch and siesta. Too bad for the unfortunate French chap who'd been walking all day and had left his belongings in the hotel after breakfast as he subsequently missed his connection to Paris.
As in Fawlty Towers, the wines on offer were appalling - yet we were a stone's throw from Tain l'Hermitage where the excellent Crozes Hermitage is grown!! – and the food was decidedly canteen/ school dinners.
Personally, I don't think you can compare the Ardèche with Alsace, where you'll always find a warm welcome.
After arriving in Bergheim at noon, we had lunch at Chez Norbert, http://www.cheznorbert.com/ where the service and food were excellent and I’ve never seen such a varied collection of 150 cl bottles of eau-de-vie – there must have been sixty! Three courses for two with wine, beers and coffees came to just €69 so top quality at bargain basement prices, which just about sums up Alsace!
Not wanting to imbibe too much before a visiting a favourite vintner, Koeberlé-Kreyer in nearby Rodern, http://koeberle.kreyer.free.fr/, we declined the lemon sorbet accompanied by a glass of marc de Gewurtztraminer for arrosage purposes and opted for the non-alcoholic rhubarb and raspberry sorbet. Alas, these arrived with two small glasses of 45 % kircsh. Well, when in Alsace do like the ........
But Alsace isn't really French or German, though some Alsacians may claim to be French. It has the best of both countries, which is perhaps why it is so unique. When I first visited le val de Villé,
http://www.ot-valdeville.fr/, for a two-week holiday in July 1982 I never wanted to leave.
Certainly returning to work in London on the smelly, overcrowded 7.47 from Ascot after this trip wasn't easy. So, thanks Dad – it was your idea that we went to Alsace in the first place.
Now, almost 30 years later I'm hooked on Alsace. It just has everything: great people, superb wines, flavoursome beers - producing half of France's beer, and fairytale scenery. The climate in Colmar is the second hottest in France, after Bordeaux. Any one of its picturesque Medieval villages with half-timbered houses nestling amidst a sea of vines would be a great place in which to retire.
Hence the necessity of regular visits!
jeudi 26 mai 2011
So what is actually being done about malaria? I hear you ask.
Well, quite a lot actually. Especially as winning the fight against malaria is crucial to achieving six of the eight Millennium Development Goals. Since 1998, efforts to defeat malaria, which is both preventable and treatable, have been coordinated by the Roll Back Malaria partnership (RBM) in Geneva. Comprising malaria-endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, non-governmental and community-based organisations, research and academic institutions and foundations, RBM exemplifies the cross-sectoral collaboration needed to defeat malaria. Its structures guide and facilitate every step in effective global malaria control.
After the first World Malaria Day in April 2008 and Ban Ki-Moon’s prioritising of malaria control as a global public health issue, world leaders and the global malaria community launched the ambitious Global Malaria Action Plan – GMAP - at the September 2008 MDG Malaria Summit in New York.
The GMAP, a global framework for action around which partners can coordinate their efforts, presents: (i) a comprehensive overview of the global malaria landscape ; (ii) an evidence-based approach to deliver effective prevention and treatment to all people at risk ; and (iii) an estimate of the annual funding needs to achieve the goals of the RBM Partnership for 2010, 2015 and beyond.
The GMAP outlines RBM's vision for a substantial and sustained reduction in the burden of malaria in the near and mid-term, and the eventual global eradication of malaria in the long term, when new tools, such as a vaccine, make eradication possible.
Anyway, the targets of the GMAP are to:
Achieve universal coverage (of anti-malarials such as insecticide-treated bednets etc.);
Reduce global malaria cases from 2000 levels by 50% in 2010 and by 75% in 2015;
Reduce global malaria deaths from 2000 levels by 50% in 2010 and to near zero preventable deaths in 2015;
Eliminate malaria in 8-10 countries by 2015 and afterwards in all countries in the pre-elimination phase today; and
In the long term, eradicate malaria world-wide by reducing the global incidence to zero through progressive elimination in countries.
To achieve these targets, the GMAP outlines a three-part global strategy:
control malaria to reduce the current burden and sustain control as long as necessary;
eliminate malaria over time country by country; and
research new tools and approaches to support global control and elimination efforts.
Barriers to the implementation of GMAP are resource gaps : to scale up interventions; produce and deliver nets and treatments; and develop endemic countries' capacity to control malaria. Promotion of new initiatives and solutions and assessment of their impact by monitoring malaria cases is also crucial.
The GMAP is the universal roadmap to ensure nationwide malaria control and elimination.
In April 2009 an exciting initiative, the Affordable Medicine Facility for malaria, the AMFm, was launched in Oslo. One of the main building blocks of GMAP, the AMFm will put affordable life-saving malaria drugs within reach of millions of people, especially children, in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Industry on the African continent, where malaria costs businesses and economies $12 billion annually in lost productivity and accounts for almost 20% of all child deaths, is also getting its act together and playing a crucial role in malaria control.
The report Business Investing in Malaria Control: Economic Returns and a Healthy Workforce for Africa – authored and published by RBM and launched at the World Economic Forum Africa in Cape Town on May 5th, 2011 – examined evidence from case studies in Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and Mozambique. It revealed that the benefits to companies of implementing effective malaria control programs for their workers are significant.
In Zambia, for example, combined data from Zambia Sugar, Mopani Copper Mines and Konkola Copper Mines showed that spending an average of just $34 per employee per year over the period from 2000-2009 on malaria control, resulted in a 94% drop in malaria related lost work days per year. The economic return for these companies was very significant. Investing in malaria control brought these companies an internal rate of return (IRR) of 28% annually (IRR is a rate to measure and compare the profitability of investments).
So, the future of the malaria landscape looks a lot brighter than it did 10 years ago and it's all to play for!
Sources: Roll Back Malaria partnership, WHO, Geneva