Monday, April 11, 2016

Cuba beer in short supply

I'm glad I went to Cuba when I did, in Sept 2015. The main reason I went was because I knew that relationships between Cuba and the USA were improving and that Americans would be flocking to Cuba once the travel restrictions were lifted. And the lifting of the embargoes etc would mean that American products would be flooding in, and there would be a lot of development as well as the threat of the old cars being sold and exported from Cuba.

One thing I didn't envisage was a shortage of beer! Apparently the influx of American visitors to Cuba has led to this shortage. Also there is an increase in private restaurants and bars, which also need beer.

The state owned brewer, Cerveceria Bucanero produces two beers, Cristal and Bucanero.

I preferred the Bucanero.

Another beer I tried was Presidente, but this is imported from the Dominican Republic.

See article in City AM on 11 April 2016, "Tourist boom straining Cuban beer industry" by Francesca Washtell :

"The influx of American tourists into Cuba may have worked wonders for its travel and leisure industry, but the boom has taken a toll on the country’s main brewer.

In recent weeks beer sellers have been running out of the Caribbean island’s two favourite brands, Cristal and Bucanero.

The shortages have been fuelled by the increase in American visitors, as well as a rise in the number of private bars, reported Reuters.

Cerveceria Bucanero, the state-owned brewer which produces both brands, is a joint venture with the world’s largest brewer, Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Bucanero will need a new plant to keep pace the demand from tourists and private restaurants.

Cuba’s visitor numbers swelled to a record 3.5m in 2015, up 17 per cent from 2014. The number of American tourists, referred to locally as “Yanquis”, rose 77 per cent to 161,000 last year, after travel restrictions were eased in early 2015.

Small restaurants have also added strain to the country’s beer market. Their numbers have blossomed since President Raul Castro formalised changes designed to remove the Communist state from many small-scale economic activities five years ago. They have since become popular with both tourists and local residents.

In March, Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced it would become the first US-based hospitality company to enter the Cuba in nearly 60 years, after it received authorisation from the US Treasury to run three hotels - Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Quinta Avenida and Hotel Santa Isabel - on the island.

The US embassy was reestablished in Cuba in August 2015, following an agreement between US president Barack Obama and Raul Castro to reinstate diplomatic relations between the two countries in December 2014.

Obama became the first sitting president in 88 years to visit the country last month."

Battersea power station chimneys

When I saw Battersea power station in December 2015, three of the four iconic chimneys were still standing. I had read that they were going to be replaced or restored as part of the development of the old power station.

I was surprised when I was sitting on a train from Victoria in April 2016 and as the train went past the end of the luxury flats that obscure the view of the power station, I noticed there was only one chimney. I didn't have my camera with me, just the lousy camera on my phone, but I managed to get a couple of photos.

The Dec 2015 view from across the river -

And the current view, from the Dogs and Cats Home -

I googled the chimneys and found a website giving the history and story of the chimneys. This group,which includes Setia and Sime Darby from Malaysia, are "committed to rebuilding all four chimneys, from the base upwards, using the same methods as before, so that they will be identical, only stronger, safer, and secure for generations to come. The famous chimneys will rise from the ashes and be put to use once again – not to release smoke or dangerous gasses into the atmosphere, but as flues for harmless water vapour emission and air intake.". And "These iconic chimneys, so definitively imprinted on the south London landscape, are central to our design, our planning and our brand interests."

A page on the chimney update says "Battersea Power Station's four chimneys are iconic structures that are instantly recognisable and a much-loved feature of London's skyline. We are incredibly proud of the chimneys, and they are at the heart of the vibrant new neighbourhood we are creating. All four chimneys are on schedule to be fully rebuilt in late Summer 2016. Painting of the four chimneys is expected to then commence in Spring 2017". So it looks like the work is on schedule.

This page has some interesting information, about how the chimneys will be carefully dismantled and then rebuilt. The work is taking place with the approval of Historic England.

I look forward to seeing all four chimneys back in place in 2017!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Obesity in Malaysia

Obesity has been a growing problem in Malaysia for some years now.

STAR December 9, 2010
Malaysia has the highest rate of obesity in SE Asia , and 6th in Asia.

Malaysia was listed behind Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan in the list of Asian countries with the highest percentage of obese people.

Malaysians eat too much fried, oily and high fat food and not enough vegetables and fruits.

STAR October 29, 2011
We have highest number of obese people in region
Malaysians are the fattest in Southeast Asia

STAR November 15, 2011
M’sians think obesity not a disease – that’s the big problem


STAR January 18, 2013

Malaysia is now the fattest country in SE Asia

Malaysia is the fattest country in South-East Asia with its obesity rate on the rise.


And the latest news was in The Star on 2 April 2016 :

Putrajaya tops obese list

It has been long known that Malaysia is the fattest country in South-East Asia. Now, it has been proven that the administrative capital of Putrajaya has the highest rate of overweight and obese people in the country.

Findings from the 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) placed Putrajaya as the city with the highest percentage of overweight, obese and abdominally obese people in the country.

....two out of every five of Malaysia’s civil servants may be obese.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Woolwich town hall

A friend told me he will be attending a wedding later in the year in Woolwich Town Hall and that it is a lovely building. So I googled it and then went for a visit.

The town hall comes under the royal borough of Greenwich and is a magnificent listed building. A listed building in the United Kingdom is one that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. It was built in Edwardian Baroque style using Portland Stone. The hall opened in 1906.

Statue of Queen Victoria looking down on the hall. The Victoria Hall is used for exhibitions and counting votes at elections. The Edwardian room is used for weddings and there is also a register office for weddings and civil partnerships.Looking up at the ceiling-

Along the sides are 'statues' of various kings, Here are Henry VII & VIII -