Over 100 London schools ditch the car on World Car Free Day to improve the Capital’s air

“Walking and cycling to school is a great way to get active and tackle London’s toxic air crisis. On this World Car Free Day, and beyond, I would encourage as many Londoners as possible to give up four wheels in favour of going by foot or by bike”

Will Norman

Walking and Cycling Commissioner

Over 100 schools from 18 boroughs will be marking World Car Free Day today by encouraging parents and carers to substitute their car journeys to school with walking or cycling as part of TfL’s sustainable travel to school programme, STARS, to improve air quality in the Capital.

A number of schools across London have set up ‘car-free zones’ near their school gates, while others have ‘park and stride’ spots where parents park a distance from the school gate and walk the rest of the way.

There will also be ‘walking buses’ where children join an organised walk to school, picking up ‘passengers’ on the way as they learn about looking after the environment.

According to the Mayor of London’s research into the health impacts of cars in London, air pollution is a significant health issue with some of the worst pollution hotspots being around schools located on busy and congested roads.


Today’s event follows concerns around the increase in air pollution and congestion on London’s roads. The school run is a major source of traffic and air pollution with school journeys accounting for half the traffic in London between 8:00 and 9:00am during school terms.

The Mayor’s ambitious draft Transport Strategy sets out plans for improving air quality in London by reducing emissions from buses so that all double-deckers operating in the central Ultra Low Emission Zone comply with Euro VI Standard by 2019, ensuring no diesel taxis are granted a first time license in London from 1 January 2018, working to make London’s entire road transport system zero emission by 2050 at the latest and reducing car use on the journey to school.

The Mayor is also launching the toughest emission standard of any city in the world when the T-charge begins on 23rd October. The vast majority of pre-2006 vehicles will need to pay an additional £10 Emissions Surcharge to travel in the central London Congestion Charge zone.

Important first step

This is an important first step to implementing the Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will affect many more vehicles and is expected to reduce NOx emissions by around 50%.

TfL’s STARS programme has been hugely successful in helping primary and secondary school children adopt safe and sustainable ways of travelling, such as cycling, walking and public transport.

Now in its tenth year, the scheme has grown from 180 schools in 2007 to 1,430 in 2017, achieving an average of a 6% decrease in car use.

Just two ten minute walks a day can improve health and wellbeing and reduce the dangers of developing a range of health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Great way to get active

Will Norman, Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: ‘Walking and cycling to school is a great way to get active and tackle London’s toxic air crisis.

‘On this World Car Free Day, and beyond, I would encourage as many Londoners as possible to give up four wheels in favour of going by foot or by bike.’

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: ‘Together with the Mayor and working with boroughs we are reducing congestion and improving air quality.

‘It’s great to see our future generations using our STARS programme and World Car Free Day to make the school run green.’

Safer and easier

Tompion Platt, Head of Policy and Communications, Living Streets, said: ‘Making it safer and easier for more families to walk to school is critical to improving air quality around the school gate.

‘Creating safe walking routes, introducing walk to school initiatives and closing school streets to traffic during drop off and pick up times are some of the ways we’re helping schools and parents to ditch the car and choose to walk.’

For further details on the STARS accreditation scheme and the full range of programmes TfL offers to schools and young people, visit tfl.gov.uk/stars or tfl.gov.uk/younglondon.


Transport for London begins search for supplier to build new generation of DLR trains

Customers on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) are set to benefit from new walk-through air-conditioned trains from 2022.

The new trains, which will increase capacity by over 30%, will be more reliable and provide customers with real time information, air-conditioning and mobile device charging points.

Significant redevelopment is taking place in and around the Docklands area which the DLR serves; in the Royal Docks alone, up to 36,500 jobs and 7,000 homes are being created. To support this growth, TfL will replace two thirds of the existing trains, some of which are 25 years old, and order an additional ten new trains to provide even more capacity.

Danny Price, TfL’s Director of DLR, said: ‘These new trains will enable us to increase capacity on the DLR by 30 %, significantly improving the comfort, reliability and quality of our service for customers. Ordering them now ensures that we get the best value for money in the long term and can support continuing growth in east London. We intend to go out to tender later this year with the new trains entering service from 2022.’

Passenger use is set to continue to grow when the DLR network interchanges with the Elizabeth line from 2018. Services between central London, Shenfield and Abbey Wood will interchange with the DLR at several stations – Canary Wharf, West India Quay, Stratford and Custom House – where new platforms, a new ticket hall and entrance are being constructed.

TfL has published a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) seeking expressions of interest from the train manufacturing industry to build the new trains with improved performance and reliability. A formal Invitation to Tender is expected to be issued in later this year and a contract awarded in Summer 2018.

The DLR celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year. It began operating on 31 August 1987, initially running with just 11 trains serving 15 stations. In its first year of operation it carried 6.7m people. Today, the railway – which is entirely step-free – has 45 stations, 38km of track and 56 trains and carries 122 million passengers a year.

Decreased Awareness – Wake-up London!!

In today’s heightened security we are becoming less aware of what’s going on around us, people wearing headphones and walking along looking at their phones. Everyone on the train is completely oblivious of what’s going on around them, people don’t notice when an elderly or pregnant person boards and may need a seat, how are we going to notice a suspicious bag or unattended baggage?
Could Parsons Green have been avoided if someone had noticed the bag and asked the question ‘whose bag is this?’ and got everyone to move away? We’re far too British to dare ask and too engrossed in tech to even notice.

Things need to change, we need to be more aware, look up from your phone and look around the carriage someone might need your seat, someone may be acting suspiciously or a bag that’s been left, there could be a commotion nearby that if you’re aware of could save your life.

Wake-up Londoners your life may depend on it. See a bag alone? Shout out whose bag is this, if no-one answers get well away and encourage others to aswell. See it, say it, sorted.

More reading 

H-O-T Protocol

See it, say it, sorted


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Better addressing enhances customer experience, delivers business efficiency, drives growth and supports the social and economic development of countries.

With what3words, everyone and everywhere now has an address.

Gin and Tonic Cake

Great for afternoon tea or a summer celebration, and perhaps the only time it’s acceptable to have gin and tonic for elevenses.

For the gin and tonic syrup
150ml tonic water
100g sugar and 30 juniper berries, crushed
30ml gin

For the sponge
300g soft butter
300g golden caster sugar
approx 40 juniper berries, crushed finely
grated zest of one lemon and one lime
6 medium free-range eggs
300g self-raising flour with a teaspoon of baking powder sifted in

For the gin and tonic lemon curd:

40ml gin
250g of good quality shop bought lemon curd

For the lemon and lime butter cream
200g soft butter
Zest of one lemon and one limes, 1 tablespoon of each juice
450g icing sugar

Edible flowers are available from Sainsbury’s in the fresh herb section


Line two 8 inch round cake tins with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan.

Make your gin and tonic syrup ready for the cake once baked;

Bring the tonic water, sugar and juniper berries to the boil, and then allow the liquid to reduce to about half of the original volume. Leave to cool, strain out the berries and add the gin to the syrup.

For the sponge: Cream the butter, sugar, crushed juniper berries and lemon and lime zest together until very pale and fluffy.

Slowly beat in the eggs until combined.

Gently mix or fold in the flour gently until just incorporated.

Spoon into the cake tins, half the batter in each and bake for approximately 25-35 minutes, to test a skewer or knife should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes then turn out and remove the paper.

Pierce some holes over the cake with a skewer or cocktail stick and generously douse in the gin and tonic syrup by brushing over liberally with a pastry brush. Leave to cool completely.

For the gin and tonic lemon curd: stir the gin into the shop bought lemon curd.

For the butter cream: Beat the soft butter, zests and juice of the lemon and limes with the icing sugar. A hand whisk or free-standing mixer is easiest to do this or if not, lots of elbow grease!

To assemble the cake, slice each cake in half again through the centre to create two layers per sponge, so you have 4 layers in total.

Layer up with a spread of the curd over each layer and a spread of the buttercream between each of the sponges.

Top with a little more buttercream and decorate as you wish. I used crystallised edible flowers and candied lemon and lime pieces. If you prefer keep it simple and add a little more fresh lemon and lime zest.

Optional for decoration:

For the candied lemon and limes:

Slice a lemon and a lime into slices, roughly 4-5mm thick.

Gently bring to the boil 100ml water with 100g of caster sugar. When simmering, lay the slices into the sugar syrup and simmer gently for xx minutes.

Recipe for the Edible crystalised flowers:

Beat one egg white until foamy and paint the petals of your flowers carefully making sure you get in between all the nooks and crannies.

Dust over with fine white caster sugar and leave to set for at least 24 hours on a piece of parchment, so they set hard and dry. These should last for up to two weeks. Alternatively use fresh edible flowers as they are.


Turbo Gin & Tonic


35ml Gin (Gin Foundry uses Sipsmith at Junipalooza)

10ml Sandows Cold Brew Coffee

Tonic water

Lemon peel to garnish


Pour the gin over ice into a Collins glass.

Add the cold brew coffee, then top up with tonic water and garnish with a long lemon peel.

We recommend either using a classic gin or a citrus forward gin in a Turbo G&T – the coffee wants to dominate the mix and you need either some fresh acidity or big punchy juniper core to balance it out.

So who’s excited about their first Turbo G&T then?

Better than Baked Beans

2 tsp Oil
2 Onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 Rashers of streaky bacons cut into largish pieces
2 tsp Brown Sugar
2 x 400g cans Chopped Tomatoes
200ml stock from a cube
2 x 410g cans Cannellini, Butter or Haricot Beans in water drained and rinsed

Heat the slow cooker (if required).
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions and bacon until the onions soften and just starting to turn golden, stir in the sugar, tomatoes and stock and some seasoning.
Put all into the Slow Cooker and stir in the beans.

Cook on low for 9-10 hours

Serve on hot buttered toast.


Pimp your Gin and Tonic

If you’re partial to a gin and tonic, then here’s a product we know you’ll love. Personalising your drinks is all the rage at the moment, so these new botanical packs from OriGINario are just the thing.


There are four contrasting styles each one adds an intriguing slant to your G&T.

Floral – roses and lemongrass
Mediterranean – lemon and orange peel
Spiced – star anise and clove
Traditional – juniper berries and Brazilian pepper

Either pair your botanical pack with a complementary gin that is similar in style, or go leftfield and choose a contrasting style – either way, the result will be a cut above your average G&T! Once you’ve made your drink, simply add the contents of the pack, and you’ll notice a fresh hit of aromatics that takes your G&T to the next level.

Available for £16.95 from the Whisky Exchange

Sharish Blue Magic Gin

bright blue Portuguese gin from the Sharish range. The only difference from the regular Sharish is the magnificent colour that comes from all natural extracts of the Clitoria Ternatea flower, also known as Asian pigeonwings, bluebellvine, or the blue pea. According to the producer this Gin has a magical touch. When tonic water is added and both liquids are mixed it will transform into a light pink hue! In Sharish Blue Magic delightful notes of strawberry and fresh raspberries give it a sweet, refreshing flavour. Warming notes of coriander and cinnamon develop behind the juicy fruit and there are traces of citrus and other sweet spices from the botanicals that include juniper, coriander, angelica root, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, lemon peel, strawberry and raspberry.

I no longer have patience

I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.

 José Micard