The data diaries: The life of a Higher Ed data analyst (in graphics)

Behind every group of new students are a group of people employed to count, collect, store, and analyse trends within a university. We often sit in a department called planning and are [no-doubt] regarded as the ‘data-police’ by Dons and students alike.

Loathe it or like it, metrics in Higher Education (HE) are here to stay. This has resulted in increased demand and pressure to accurately report, predict and monitor patterns of student and staff behaviour. Great for planners’ job prospects, but not for the prevention of grey hairs.

With this in mind and an attempt to begin Spring 2017 with some solidarity and cheer with fellow analysts – today we will examine scenarios from a typical day – and, naturally, just for a bit of fun we will be doing this in a simplified graphic form.

Scenario 1: The dreaded data request

Data request

Scenario 2:  The Work: a gantt chart

Scenario 3: Top offenders in stifling productivity

Scenario 4: The data cycle balance: theory VS the reality



Scenario 5: Chances of having work assigned


Scenario 6: Frequently cited jargon

Scenario 7: Bittersweet success 


If the cold winter’s backlog of data demands and the prospect of another round of data returns leave you feeling a little overwhelmed – I hope that today’s feature has made you smile. Any resolutions or tips for handling these scenarios are of course all welcome.


Pubs and Tipples in East Ham

I decided that 2016 was the year for me to explore pubs within the radius of East Ham.

I am a relative newcomer to the area and have never been sure of where I can go to grab a quick tipple. So this year a new resolution has been to brave the local boozers and find out for myself. Besides, nothing incentivises research better than a fine glass of red wine.

I have tried out the pubs in the area that are within walking distance or a bus ride away. Having firmly stuck to my new year’s resolution (obviously, like I always do), here’s the lowdown.

Ruskin Arms

Located in East Ham North on the ‘Curry Mile’ this place is situated in a decent spot. Legend has it that it used to be home to a vast crowd of bikers and rockers and was even the starting platform for Iron Maiden.


Nowadays you won’t see so many bikers. In 2016 the Ruskin Arm is a no-frills pub with a decent selection of lagers, ciders and ales. Food is available (but I have not tried it due to the temptation of nearby curry houses). It also hosts a quiz night, karaoke and occasionally a swanky jazz evening. There is also a hotel if you enjoy yourself so much that you can’t make it home.

Located in East Ham North on the ‘Curry Mile’ this place is situated in a decent spot. Legend has it that it used to be home to a vast crowd of bikers and rockers and was even the starting platform for Iron Maiden.

The Boleyn Tavern

Entertainment-wise the Boleyn (pronounced ‘Bow-lin’) hosts a quiz, bingo and a karaoke night. This place is a ‘looker’ as well: it has a very attractive billiard room at the back with cut glass and some nice old wood features.


I am still stinging from coming last in the pub quiz (eh hem, twice), but all in all, my verdict is that it’s a lovely grand old pub that should be checked out. The ladies who run the bar are also really friendly and have everything under control – so don’t mess! This is probably front contender for a close range local. A bargain £3 for a frozen pizza too, although maybe a wider pub grub selection could tempt me more.

Golden Fleece

This is a bus ride on the 104, 474 or 101, so not within walking distance, but it really is a lovely pub no more than fifteen minutes away and so deserves a mention. It has lovely views looking out onto Wanstead Flats, and its own beer garden and playground area so you can bring the family. Craft beer is on sale too. You could easily forget you are in London here – the grub even comes with a smiley face…


Forest Tavern

Crossing into up-and-coming hipster-ville, the Forest Tavern boasts an array of activities including music nights and dominoes. Plenty of real ale is also on offer for those that way inclined. Again, this is a bus ride away (route 58 or 330), but is nice for some Sunday socialising and a good value roast. For more info on this one check out East Blam.

Denmark Arms

The Denmark Arms, like the Boleyn, has an interesting Victorian interior. Its beautiful hanging baskets are an asset to East Ham High Street, which, let’s face it, can be a little aesthetically challenged! The pub is opposite Newham Town Hall and is a grade 2 listed building built in 1890, though the lack of gentile lamp shades slightly lets this Victorian-esque vibe down. I was tempted in by the Kate Bush music, but went out again as it was so very loud! Offers a rock-and-roll night and a space for band practice upstairs.

The future of East Ham pubbage

On a serious note, come the moment when West Ham leave the area and go on to their shiny new Stratford stadium and surroundings, it will be interesting to find out how the above will fare without the regular influx of gold from footie fans.


It could be a time of positive change, but this won’t happen without your support.

If you don’t want to go it alone, a few locals meet regularly for socials and often try these pubs. Check out their East Ham Social for more details on upcoming meet-ups.

Green Street, E13: A Bucket list

Back many centuries ago Green Street’s primary purpose was to separate the parishes East Ham and West Ham. Today, however, it caters to a hugely diverse population and is home to a number of amenities and hidden gems worth checking out next time you visit.

‘The borough is a lively, vibrant and exciting place, and Green Street is a real jewel’. Robin Wales.

Curry houses, restaurants and eateries. The bustling street comprises of a vibrant mix of people and cultures; Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, British, Afro-Caribbean, African and Eastern European. This has resulted in a wide variety of restaurants on tap. From personal experience: Vijay’s Chawalla is great for vegetarians who fancy some Indian cuisine. Himalaya – offering traditional Pakistani dishes – offers the option of a quick snack on the outside or the choice to go inside and have a dish. Nathan’s pie shop, alternatively, is good for some ‘east end’ pie and mash. There are many other places to try, and we are all ears. Let us know.

East Shopping Centre. This is touted as Europe’s very first boutique Asian shopping centre and is a very recent addition to the street. Asian inspired clothes and jewellery in all shades of the rainbow are to be found here and if you get hungry there is a food court selling all things from spices to a chocolate shop. Prepare to be dazzled!GreenStreetBollywoodFootball Links. The Boleyn has been the home of West Ham FC since 1904. The turrets at the front of the stadium have been modelled on those appearing on the club crest and a harp back to its supposed links with Royalty (local legend has it that Henry VIII built a castle on Green Street for his then lover and second wife Anne Boleyn.). Also worth seeing is the statue called ‘The Champions’. This depicts the famous 1966 victory scene with Bobby Moore. Make the most of the footie links here however, as West Ham are due to relocate to Stratford at the end the season (May 2016)

Queen’s Market. This market sells a range of exotic vegetables and household objects and has been part of the local community for over a century. It is now open seven days a week. Recently it was host to the first Green Street festival and (despite the rain) boasted an explosion of colours and culture.

GreenStreetA few other gems– Other items of interest to see are the Boleyn Tavern: despite this place being touted as a football pub (you’ve been warned avoid on match day) it boasts a splendid Victorian interior to look at. Alternatively, if you also want to escape the misery of grey Barking Road in the winter (we have all been there), the Boleyn cinema can transport you to the hot and spicy world of Bollywood splendor (subtitles included). Finally, Newham Bookshop, one of East London’s leading independent bookshops, is also worth dropping in on as it offers an increasingly unique exposure to good olde decent paperback books as well as hosting a range of literary events.

Fifty Years of Newham: Rising in the East

Today East Ham is host to a big party celebrating 50 years of Newham. To mark its half centenary we lake a trip down memory lane and look at some Newham trivia.

Mayor's Newham Carnival

On 1st April 1965 East Ham merged with with West Ham to make a borough called Newham. This heralded the start of a borough which in its short lifetime has accomplished some serious highs and lows. Newham was once heralded as the 4th worst place to live in Britain. BUT since then it has hosted an Olympics and is currently attracting billions of investment as an area that is being billed as a new ‘heart‘ of London.

So let’s take a look at some details about this borough to celebrate its birthday: the good, the bad and the ugly…

  1. It has the biggest variety of transport options out of all London boroughs – you can get around via a cycle superhighway, the Docklands light railway, the overground, the train, the tube, an aeroplane or cable car, Phew. With Crossrail set to open in 2019 this borough will only build on its easy links to the city and beyond.
  2. Newham was the first borough to have a Labour controlled council in Britain and the council has been controlled by the Labour party since 1964!
  3. More than 300 different languages are spoken throughout Newham making it the most ethnically diverse borough in Britain.
  4. The docks in Newham were once the largest in the world.
  5. Much of the borough was destroyed in the blitz but then was rebuilt in the 1960s
  6. Some of the best green spaces in the capital can been found in Newham. Forest Lane Park and Central Park have both received the national standard of excellence for parks and green spaces in England. Oh yeah and the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier park and Newham City farm are pretty unique as well – but they always get the limelight.
  7. Before the borough was merged – Green Street was the outer most point of East London. East Ham was in Essex.
  8. By 2025 £22 billion will have been invested in Newham regenerating the area creating 100,000 new jobs and 35,000 new homes.
  9. Newham has the youngest population in the whole of Britain.
  10. Newham has the 3rd highest child poverty rate in Britain
  11. The London Olympic stadium is the lightest stadium (in weight) ever built.


12. Farming in Newham used to be the major source of employment. Reflect on that next time you travel up busy Barking road!
13. The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the biggest piece of public art in London
14. 100,000 local men (many escaping unemployment) served in the armed forces during WW1
15. Dick Tuplin began his career as a thief in Plaistow.


So there you have it. Just a little bit of trivia on the borough of Newham. Have fun today + enjoy the party.

My predictions are that Newham could be a London borough that is in for a lot of changes in the next fifty years…

East Ham – six historical facts

To celebrate six months of living in East Ham this blog offers a look at some historical facts about my new hood.

Today East Ham is a multi-cultural hotpot of activity – hard to believe it was once a desolate marsh-land and forest. Here are six interesting facts about how it has evolved to be the outer city bustling suburb that we know today

1. The name ‘East Ham’ has Anglo-Saxon roots

In Anglo-Saxon England the word meant ‘hamme’ meant village or low-lying pasture and this is where the ‘Ham’ part derives from.  The former part of the town’s name came after the Norman Conquest when the manor was divided between (East and West) and the title East Ham was coined.

2. In 1066 East Ham was worth £10

If William the Conqueror had come to East Ham in 1066 he would have been able to purchase the whole of East Ham for £10. At this price William could have brought 8 cattle and 22 pigs, 59 acres meadow with woodland, 38 villagers, 30 smallholders and 3 slaves.

3.Tudor royalty haunts East Ham

Local legend has it that Henry VIII built a castle on Green Street for his then lover and second wife Anne Boleyn.  In 1904 West Ham built their grounds on the area and hence the name: Boleyn Ground.  In 1904 West Ham introduced the castle in the background to reference the fact the land they played on was home to an old Tudor castle.

Boleyn Castle.previewWestHam

4. In the 19th Century East Ham was famous for potato growing

Today East Ham is famous for its South Indian restaurants, but it was once famous for its output of potatoes and turnips.  A farm named Plashet Hall during the earlier 19th century even earned the nickname Potato Hall.

5. Between 1851 and 1911 East Ham’s population grew by 7585%

During the 1890s East Ham was growing faster than any other town of its size in England. The reason in part was due to railways reaching the area. In 1858 East Ham railway station opened. This was followed by the connection of East Ham station to the District Line in 1902.  From 1851 to 1911 the population of East Ham grew from 1,737 to 133,487 (7585 %)

6. 36 bombs were dropped on East Ham in World War 2

East Ham suffered heavy bombing during WW2. In 1939 nearly 16,000 residents were evacuated and 32,000 from neighbouring West Ham. Today on November 11th the community remembers those who died at the Cenotaph in Central Park.

So there we have it – five facts about how East Ham community has evolved, changed and stood strong over the past 1000 years. Will royalty reside in this place ever again? Time to bring on the next millennium to find out!

Five monumental changes to London in the past 200 years

Within 200 years London has changed physically, culturally and economically on an unprecedented scale. Today I’m going to consider some of the developments that are responsible for shaping and driving these changes.

  • The Tube 

The tube resulted in the dramatic expansion of London, encompassing former outer-London villages and towns into the city. In 1863 the Metropolitan Railway opened and was the first ever underground railway ever built. A ride on this with the compulsory top hat would have taken you between Paddington and Farringdon. Featured image 150 years later London underground is one of the most extensive in the world. The tube carries up to 4 million a day on 11 lines and there are over 270 stations: opening up London to people from all walks of life.

  • Sewers

The development of a sewer network has made a huge contribution to the health London. In the 1850s around 150 million tonnes of sewage were flushed into the Thames a year. This had disastrous consequences for public health. In summer 1858 Parliament had to be suspended because of the vile smell in the Thames, which has been named the ‘Great Stink’.  Parliament subsequently passed an enabling act to raise £3m to build a network of giant intercepting sewers. This network has been much improved and extended over the years. Today if want any ideas on how to get parliament moving on a policy it might be worth taking inspiration from this event…..

  • Skyscrapers

In 1800 not one skyscraper existed. Today these very much define the ‘look’ of London. In 2014 the Greater London area contains the most skyscrapers of any metropolitan area in the European Union, including Paris. My chart below shows them in all their various shapes and sizes. With hundreds of new skyscrapers in the pipeline and a hunger for high-rise living, London is undoubtedly a city on the rise. Skyscrapers

  • Containerisation

In the 1970s the development of containerisation did nothing for the docklands in the East of London. The docklands was in fact once home to the world’s largest port. The end of this came suddenly when London’s docks were unable to accommodate the much larger vessels needed by containerisation and the shipping industry moved to deep-water ports such as Tilbury and Felixstowe.  The docklands were abandoned. Since the 1980s and 1990s, however, rapid developments have taken place in the Docks. The clearest symbol is Canary Wharf that constructed Britain’s tallest building and established a second major financial centre in London. The opening of London city airport, the 02 arena, the Excel exhibition centre and Crossrail are also some of the £££ developments that have taken place in the last 20 years in London’s docklands.

  • Flat space

In the 2011 census 52% of all homes in London were flats. Hard to believe that the word ‘flat’ was unknown in London before the 1860s. In fact once upon a time in London, everyone who could afford it occupied an entire house – even if a small one. During the later part of the 19th century, however, both urban growth and the increase in population meant that more imaginative housing concepts were needed and the idea of renting a flat became popular. Since then, living in a box – I mean flat – in London has been all the rage and more and more people are able to live in London as a result. So there we have it a few key things that have changed the face of  London in the last 200 years. What will happen next? underground housing, skyscraper towns OR oystered Marty Mcfly hoverboards …..

World food day: food for thought London

Today is world food day. This blog explores some tasty truths about London’s relationship with food and offers three simple tips on things you could do to reduce food wastage.

London has recently been hailed by the Guardian as ‘food capital of the world’. The capital regularly hosts a number of international and themed food festivals and is home to numerous restaurants. Yes, people in this capital love their food:

  • There are around 6,000 restaurants in London
  • There are 65 Michelin started restaurants in London, including four with three stars and eight with two stars.
  • 30,000 people in London rent allotments to grow food.
  • A recent study showed that Londoners dine out nearly four times a week. (This doesn’t include me..!)

Among all of this Londoners are wasting unforgivable amounts of food. Britons alone buy 7 million more tones of food than they consume. So I’d say it’s time to take action and here are three very simple tips on how you can reduce food wastage.

  • Buy ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables – size and shape do not matter

When was the last time you put something like this in your mouth? And why not? Did you know that produce grown in the UK that does not meet standards in shape or size or is slightly blemished is often simply ploughed back into the ground even though it is edible. In fact as much as 40% of crop is rejected on this premise.


So the next time you reject something that looks like this remember size and shape doesn’t matter it’s what it does for you on the inside.

  • FIFO it

It stands for First In, First Out. When you are filling your fridge, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer and put new products in the back at the bottom. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires.

  • Look at what you throw away

Monitor what you throw away. A recent report shows that UK families throw away 24 meals a month. This is around £60 a month. Tossing half a loaf of bread each week? Maybe it’s time to start freezing that half that loaf the moment you buy it so it doesn’t go stale before you’re able to eat it.

I do hope you like the ugly carrot pic. Please tweet me your mishapen food @NaomiDrink

Goodbye Kilburn: A few fond facts

On Saturday I depart from Kilburn for pastures new. Before I do, as a personal tribute here are some of the favourite facts I have learned about this part of town.

I’d rather walk down Kilburn High Road than the King’s Road – than any road in London

Zadie Smith, English Novelist

Quite the compliment. Kilburn is situated in NW London and is a little on the rough-side of its slightly well-to-do neighbours West Hampstead and Maida Vale. Sure, getting past the bus stop outside of Poundland on Saturday requires some assertive people dodging – but no place I have lived has ever provided me with quite so much entertainment as the Kilburn High Road  (‘KHR’).

When I first moved here four years ago I was sceptical of all of the hustle and bustle. This weekend with a twinge of sadness I shall say goodbye to all of this. So before I depart here are some facts you all should know about Kilburn.

  • ‘It’s full of Irish people’ – Not quite

Kilburn is well known for its Irish inhabitants (it does host the largest Irish population in London).  On a typical Saturday night The Sir Colin Campbell and The Kingdom pubs blast out Irish music and a pint of Guinness never far away.

Let’s not turn a blind-eye, however, to the fact that Kilburn is also host to people of Afro-Caribbean, Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds.  In fact, in the census of 2011 White Irish only made up 5% of the whole Kilburn Population (The interactive chart I put together gives a breakdown)


Kilburn has a Mosque, a Synagogue, Catholic, Presbyterian and Evangelical Churches, and there is a large Hindu temple in next-door Willesden.  Make no mistake, this place is host to a number of different cultures, NOT just to those from across the Irish sea.

  • True story: Kilburn High Road is an ancient Celtic route

Before the numerous Woody Grills and ‘Kilburn Kebabs’ popped up KHR was part of an essential commercial infrastructure. The road actually dates back to pre-roman times and acted as an essential route connecting Canterbury with St Albans. When the Romans came the road was paved for the first (and last?!) time and was named Watling Street.

Warrior Queen Boudicia travelled down the High Road to seek vengeance on the Romans for brutally raping her daughters. Her subsequent defeat at what is known as ‘the battle of Watling Street’ marked the end of resistance to Roman rule in Britain in the southern half of England (a period that lasted until 410 AD).

The road fell into disrepair after the Romans left. The importance of KHR to the Roman Empire is still honoured today by a paving stone near the station. Given the high turnover of shops and people – can’t help but think that perhaps this is the most permanent and reflective thing ever to have parked on the high road.


  • Hit me with your Kilburn stick – Kilburn today

Let be clear, Kilburn’s only claim to fame isn’t 2000+ years old. There are many facts of today which are well worth a note:

  • Sir Bradley Wiggins /Wiggo the first Britain to win the Tour de France and Gold at the 2012 Olympics grew up in Kilburn.
  • Ian Dury fronted a band called Kilburn and the High Roads before he became lead singer for the Blockheads (famous for ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’ and ‘What a waste’).
  • The massive Art Deco building/mini empire state building on the high road was originally a cinema when it first opened in 1937 and was the biggest in Europe. It seats over 4,000 people. The building is now owned by a non-denominational Christian church.
  • Kilburn even has its own university: The strap line is: ‘a tiny experimental university’. Weekly classes are held asking ‘What does Kilburn do?’ and ‘Does Kilburn even exist?’. Well, it had better exist as otherwise I’m owed a massive council tax rebate, but these are very important questions the community can discuss at length should they so wish.

So there we have it, Kilburn has much to offer – even if you are only passing through for the day or for a time in your life. Granted I won’t miss the police sirens streaming past my flat late at night, but such sounds are even now weirdly comforting. I have never felt alone here.

Goodbye Kilburn. Next stop: East.