Sunday, 18 April 2021

The View from a Hidden Glen: Part 1 - Turn across the A9 at a set of wheelie bins

Glen Bruar Lodge, near Blair Atholl in Perthshire is the home of dear friends Mike and Kate Colling. Mike returned there recently and shared this view. It is illustrated with drawings made when Sian and I were lucky enough to share this special place in 2017.


From the real world the view is dull as ditch water. 

Heading north towards Inverness on the A9, some eight miles north of Pitlochry one turns across the carriage way at a set of wheelie bins parked at lay-by 43. But turn here and one is immediately down the rabbit hole. Or rather, up the rabbit hole. Straight up, literally straight up at a 25% gradient on very rough and ready road. But this is just an initiation test. A first bark with little bite behind it. 

Crest the first brow and moor opens up ahead, dull russet after winters snows and winds have taken their toll. An honour guard of young stags greet us this late March afternoon, as the sun dips and shadows lengthen. Some still hold last years antlers, others have cast them early, and wander bare headed in search of nourishment to enable this year’s growth to replace the fallen set.



A realm of magic


Press on three miles, gently climbing by the wide moor, and then, at the crest drop into our hidden glen. Another view, this time a realm of magic, clever contours unfolding views around each curve and dip. Snow holds still on our high peaks, and in the corries and gullies sheltered from the morning sun. Past the new hydro turbine house, and six miles of healing scars upon the moor. Six miles of buried pipe, politically correctly hidden from our ecosystems view. Hidden solely from them and us. A few hinds, a collection of coveys of grouse and the two luckiest people on God’s earth. And that is it for nine miles of unfolding glen. A thing of multi coloured and many-hued beauty.

One last corner on the track, that by this time clings to edge of sheer drop down to river 60 feet below, and home comes into view. The lodge, in perfect contrast to the glen, is slightly ugly. Not a carbuncle, but more an unfavoured child. It is, or rather was, white. Centuries of liming and whitewashing have laid layer upon layer of outer skin. 

Lunch on the Hills

The last was applied in 1991 and so rather like Williams cuffs and collars the white has frayed at the edges and collected dirt. It is a military building, a little like a small child's fort. Two square turrets adorn either end, with a one-story central link between. When seen from above one realises just how higgledy piggeldy it is. It is a building that like the best stories has grown with the telling. Each passing generation it seems has added its own particular contribution. Inside it is scruffy and unloved, but very lovable. A central corridor that kinks as it descends the house. Each turret holds a child’s room, with hospital beds taken as mementoes from the war when Bruar and its castles played their role as hospital for the wounded returning from the front.


A view from a child's fort

A place that like the best stories has grown with the telling


Friday, 16 April 2021

CURVACEOUS SLOUGH - Part 2, The Slug - 'improve pedestrian permeability'...

THE BUS STATION. 


Improve pedestrian permeability

The bus station was completed in 2011 and features a striking, curved aluminium clad canopy designed by Bblur Architecture. Locals weren’t impressed and nicknamed it the Slug. Bblur, who is also responsible for the Curve, has taken the stylistic ‘language’ of the bus station and applied it across the street (the every busy A4)

 It was a warm sunny day as I sat down to draw ‘the Slug’. As I did so a friendly bus driver looked over my shoulder and was more complementary about my drawing than my subject. Not as good as High Wycombe (bus station) he said and went on to list the poor Slug’s short comings, also referenced in Wikipedia: the absence of public lavatories, lack of adequate seating areas and lack of warm waiting areas. People say the shape of the building channels rainwater into the main waiting area. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Slough

 

More upbeat was Matthew Bedward founding partner of Bblur who designed this shelter, 

“We took the opportunity to significantly improve pedestrian permeability between the train station and the town centre. Our client tasked us to create a memorable front door for Slough. The form of the building derives from the idea of different wavelengths of light inspired by Astronomer Royal, William Herschel’s discovery of infra-red waves in 1800 while a resident of Slough.”

 

Nice one Matthew and Amy Freerson, editor-at-large for Dezeen magazine is equally enthusiastic: 

It will create an identifiable place within Slough that is a celebration of public transport and is a memorable first and last impression of Slough.

 

For a well written and balance view head over to https://thebeautyoftransport.com/2015/10/21/a-tale-of-two-bus-stations-slough-uk/ Thebeautyoftransport is remarkable source of all things related to transport by Daniel Wright, a freelance transport writer. His blog is well worth a visit. 

 

Discovering Daniel’s work was a bonus as I was pulling my tawdry piece together. Daniel describes his rich work as: ‘Transport design, transport architecture, and transport's influence on art and culture. Part travelogue, part history, all transport (but sometimes tangentially so)’.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

A VIEW FROM THE SMOKED FISH STALL

Der Räucherlachshändler vom Borough Market 

Dear friend Mikaelovic Muller ran a very successful stall in Borough Market. Aside from selling from his pitch in Borough Market Mike supplied a number of top notch restaurants with fabulously tasty smoked salmon.

Mike begins his view across the counter with some introductory words from Mark Riddaway, editor and publisher of Market Life,  about the purpose of Borough Market.


And goes on to add some observations of his  own..

 

" Borough is London's most famous market, it's a wonderfully chaotic place populated by a kaleidoscope cast of traders bound by a common thread - the ability to shine a light into the deep canyon that too often separates us from the source of our food. 

In recent decades, the increasingly monolithic, impersonal nature of the British food industry has cut us off from the world of farmers, fishermen and cheesemakers......it's all too easy to presume that you're eating something pure and wholesome when really it's fifty percent ultra-processed rubbish and fifty percent marketing.

You can be gulled into thinking that all salmon is a bit slimy, that cheddar cheese is a dull, plasticised mass and that carrots don't taste of very much. And in extreme circumstances, as history has shown, you can be led to believe that you're eating British beef when you're actually eating Romanian horse."

 

Nowadays in the UK we tend to taste as much with our eyes as with our mouths. 


An interesting experiment is to conduct a blind tasting of a variety of big supermarket "own label" products, say cheeses, and try to determine what they are through taste and texture alone. Is it cheese and if so what type, or is it actually ham?! Everything tastes pretty much the same and that's even before COVID. 


Eat less, eat better and pay more for quality is where we should all be headed - a cultural shift in line with the priorities of our friends in Europe. Great food should not just happen in expensive restaurants, it can and should be a daily event at home.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

A VIEW ACROSS A GARDEN IN MARBLEHEAD MA.

John Bonner, artist and filmmaker set me an interesting challenge when I approached him for a piece view for the  'View from' series. He said, "I'll describe the view in words and you can translate these words into a picture." "I'll send a photo after you've done the picture"

Here is the text and the photograph John sent afterwards later. By the way, do enjoy John's short films here  

....waiting for the actors to make their entrance


A view from...

We both noticed it. At night. When the motion detector flood light is triggered by a rabbit. The fieldstone path leads from our back window to the wooden garden gate, set in a stone wall made by cattle farmers over a hundred years ago. Beyond is only the blackness of the forest. The flood is attached to our cedar-sided shed, on the left, and the area it illuminates, comprising the gate, the wall, and the path through the lawn, look uncannily like a stage set. Perhaps it’s the way the background appears to be black, but it’s as if the curtain has just risen, revealing a tableau lit by single light. 

We find ourselves waiting for the actors to make their entrance.

John Bonner 

Here is the actual scene -  John's photo




AGAIN John's YouTube channel Art Stories. Shameless and unsolicited plug:)










Monday, 5 April 2021

CURVACEOUS SLOUGH: Part I

Named ‘Best Public Service Building

It’s entrance rather looks like your Gran’s radiogram has flown into the front of a glass and steel squidgy thing. 

Slough like most exciting towns of today as its fair share of architectural novelties. The Curve a modern confection; glass steel and a curious floor plan. It squats at the junction of the A4 and the road south to Windsor. Slightly to the east cringes its neighbour, Our Lady Immaculate & St. Ethelbert, built in 1910. 

 The Curve, which opened in 2015, serves many functions, library information centre gathering place with lots of recreational activities. The £22m project is the heart of a £400m scheme to regenerate the town centre. This fearless initiative called the Heart of Slough, includes new homes, offices and improved transport facilities. 

Named ‘Best Public Service Building’ at the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) excellence awards in March 2017, when the plans for The Curve were announced there was controversy. 
Not all bad though: This delightful comment from Mahboob Sabar of Manor Park. 

 This is a crucial development and will no doubt help boost tourism to our lovely town. I have served the local community as a grocer for many years, watching the winds of change shape Slough into an international hub of commerce. We are fortunate to be living so close to Windsor and London, we too can take pride in our architecture! As an immigrant in the 1970's working on the shopfloor at the Mars factory, I ate my first Mar's bar taking satisfaction this was a home-grown product. Slough will always be close to my heart! 


Bravo Mahboob! 

Extract and Copyright 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

A VIEW OF CHICHESTER HARBOUR - Sunrise from Langstone


Tom's daily walk....

Tom Bowman and I have travelled all over South America when we were colleagues at Microsoft. And later, when we were both working at the BBC, on one jaunt we were both stranded in HK, then Dubai and then Istanbul.  The world ground to a halt from the dust cloud in 2010.  

Now there's less travel and more time to think and write. Thank you Tom.

Chichester Harbour, early hours at Langstone

It’s usually first light when I set off down the track and across the fields to the Chichester Harbour shore at Langstone. Just before the sun appears, the birds in the hedgerow look at you quizzically and a little proprietorially, the path is their domain it seems at that hour. 

A corner of the harbour I like is by the Royal Oak, reputed to have been an 18th century resting place for smugglers including the notorious Hawkhurst Gang.  From here at low tide you can see the remains of the Wadeway, the path across to Hayling Island used when the ferry wasn’t running. It predates the railway, and the later road bridge, perhaps all the way back to before the Romans.  No-one fancies it today!

Langstone with its pretty cottages, sometimes sandbagged against high water, old mill and associated pond and gorgeous views is a popular spot.  

Best time to be there if you prefer it quiet is right around dawn.  Sometimes you will be totally alone with just the ever-changing view and resident and migratory birds for company.  But there is an early morning community of regulars.  Some are now on first name terms, maybe won over by my fussing over their dog, others are still on comment about the weather or just nodding terms. The early hours allow for more private hobbies, like the middle-aged mum who sits and draws or writes under the same oak tree every week.

Tarry at home for another hour before setting out though and the shore front is transformed with runners, multiple dogs and even prams.  Some people add to the human detritus along the shore, others are dedicated to keeping the place clean. Aside from high summer the litter pickers have it under control.  The birds don’t seem to mind too much either way.

Some mornings I can walk east along the shore as far as Emsworth and hardly see a soul.  Often though I’ll take the track beside the woods and fields of Warblington Conservation Area, past the Saxon era church and the ruins of a castle destroyed by the parliamentarians in the civil war.

Time to get home for breakfast.


Walk with Tom most days right here <link>


Friday, 26 March 2021

A VIEW FROM THE FLIGHT DECK PART 3: A ROOM WITH A VIEW

My good friend Dave who piloted Boeing 747s concludes his absorbing three-part part story, “A view from the flight deck”; absorbing insights and an incident or two.


ILLUSTRATION: A 747-400 AT NARITA
Dave comments:
"I used to go to Narita at least once a month for seven years.  In winter time, and it being a morning, departure from NRT, the sun would start off behind you, gradually move along the horizon on the left side, go down for a while (we got to 1448 nm from the North Pole), then come up as you approached Europe from St Petersburg and as you got towards LHR it would set again before landing". 
 


 

Now and then we would be treated to some spectacular Aurora over the northern latitudes. Over the tropics we would get some energetic light shows from massive thunderstorms, especially during monsoon season over India and Africa. On occasion had to deviate up to a hundred miles to get around them – some of which were monsters, over 60000 feet to the tops, which could cause major problems even for a  jumbo. Altogether best avoided and first-class passengers don’t like having aerial tours of the cabin unexpectedly.

 

The best views are the ones coming into faraway places. 

Places like Sydney, Vancouver and San Francisco with their harbours, landings into islands where the runway, often built out into the sea, sometimes seemed bigger than the island itself and of course the old airport in Hong Kong with its low approach over the local population…. the view just before landing was always more dramatic from the passenger cabin. 

 

 As for the hours spent up the front during cruise, when everything was going smoothly and no storms or turbulence to cope with, most of the time was idled away with magazines/papers, or, for the more dedicated, time read the manuals to refresh technical knowledge.  

 

It was officially sanctioned by the authorities that in quiet phases of flight one pilot could push his seat back clear of the controls and take a nap as it was considered better than both pilots staying half awake.  Cabin crew are required to check on the crew every 30 mins in cruise (just in case) and consequently an awful lot of tea is drunk.

 

In the days before the 9/11 lock-in, passengers would also come up for a visit and ask inane questions but it was fun and kept us busy.  I once had 7 children and some adults in the cockpit of a 777 (which was much larger than the jumbo) and keeping them from twiddling things was like playing whack-a-mole.

 

I spent over 6500 hours doing about 650 flights on the jumbo and never had any major technical problems. It was a superbly reliable aircraft and was built to withstand everything thrown at it.  

 

 

Modern aircraft are so well designed and built that the biggest problems were, and are, nearly always caused by people….. mostly from passengers on board but sometimes caused by external events….

 

INCIDENT REPORT 9/11  

I was on the way to San Diego coming up over Greenland when we got the message that US airspace had shut and then Canada also weren’t letting flights in. Nothing we could do but turn back and so after 10 hours airborne we ended up back in Gatwick.

The hardest part of that day was going around the passenger cabin pretending not to know what had happened and explaining that we weren’t being given any updates.  I’m not a good liar but it was a case of having to. Some very worried people got off that evening.

 

Editor’s Note:

 

Dave, thank you very much for three great pieces! The jumbo was, is a great plane and your writing has brought the whole experience of flying one to life - GREAT VIEWS!

TB

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

A VIEW FROM A BALCONY IN DUBAI


Lockdown creates many opportunities to reach out to old friends. 

Reconnecting with Paul James now living in Dubai was a bonus, and naturally I asked for his view...

 

Friday, 19 March 2021

A VIEW FROM THE FLIGHT DECK PART 2: IMPORTANT PREP AND GAFAs



 

Continuing the series ‘A view from’ my good friend Dave who piloted Boeing 747’s resumes his three-part part story, ‘A view from the flight deck’, fascinating insights and an incident or two. The average person works 1645 hours a year. Dave’s time on Jumbo Jets equated to 3.95 working years.

 

Preparing for flight comes in two stages as for any aircraft type – the planning stage in the office where all aspects are considered – weather, passengers, cargo, aircraft technical status, fuel requirements, etc.  Once these have been decided each crew member has designated tasks and, once at the aircraft, one person will inspect the aircraft externally, which can take over 20 minutes, and liaise with the engineers, refueller and ground crew. The other crew will carry out the flight deck preparation brief the cabin crew.  

 

The actual flight deck prep takes two people about 30 mins on the older jumbos but only requires one of the pilots on the -400 … much quicker as many of the systems are automated and just required setting up rather than going round testing each one.  The remaining time is then devoted to setting up the navigation computers for the proposed flight, dealing with air traffic control and then figuring out how to get out to the runway.  Getting around some airports is sometimes much more difficult than actually flying there in the first place, particularly in the USA. Making a wrong turn in a jumbo can be quite embarrassing. Once these basics have been accomplished it’s then time to brief each other and agree a plan.

All that takes about an hour.  

 

View from the cockpit…. Same as any other airplane except that there was a lot more time to take it in and to realize there is a lot of this planet with apparently not much going on.

 

We used to refer to certain desolate areas as the ‘GAFA’s…

1.              The ‘Great Arctic Fuck All’ for the frozen wastes of northern Canada

2.              The ‘Great Australian Fuck All’ for a large part of the Aussi mainland…. 

around four hours of not much at all changing…...and Siberia, en route to Japan, was another case entirely…. eight hours of even less.  Always felt sorry for the poor Russian controllers shivering away on the ground below.

 

A lot of long-haul flights occur at night, so the view was mostly darkness and not much to look out for apart from other aircraft. Particularly so over Africa where there was no effective air traffic control from Algeria to Zimbabwe. We spoke to each other on a special frequency and offset our individual navigation systems to avoid any close encounters.

 

 

 INCIDENT REPORT I

Shortly after settling down into cruise on a full flight from Jamaica to Gatwick, and the purser came in and told me a passenger was having a fit.  Two minutes later his heart had stopped and two nurses were giving him CPR. He then died.

We had no choice but to divert to nearest suitable airport which was in Puerto Rico.  Dumped 45 tonnes of fuel into the Caribbean sky and landed in San Juan with 400 people in the middle of the night and no US visas. 

The coroner was called to certify the dead man dead* but he was drunk and crashed on the way to the airport. He eventually arrived and we deplaned the young man. (He was a 24 year-old drugs ‘mule’ and the little bags of cocaine had burst in his stomach).

However, having spent four hours on the ground and refuelled, the crew had now run out of duty hours available and we couldn’t get back to UK legally so the only option was to return to Montego Bay.  Another 45 tonnes of fuel dumped over the Caribbean.

On disembarking a few of the passengers thanked us for a lovely flight hoped to see us again soon (that day).

 

INCIDENT REPORT II

 On a flight from Heathrow to Beijing we had an escorted Chinese passenger being returned under extradition and handcuffed to two Border Agents but, being a half empty flight, a whole cabin section had been closed off for them.  Flying up over the Baltic Sea a young woman had worked out what was happening and decided to free the convict and attacked the border agents.  

 

The cabin crew pulled her off but the captain (a good friend) decided we didn’t need another eight hours of disruption and so we dumped a load of fuel and landed in Helsinki. Two Finnish special forces guys boarded the aircraft at the rear door and I escorted them up to meet the ‘problem’ at which point she turned round and kicked one of them in the veg department.  Her feet didn’t touch the floor again but most of the rest of her body did on the way to a black van.  She had to make her own way back to UK and her family were charged £25000 for the refueling.  

Saturday, 13 March 2021

A VIEW FROM THE FLIGHT DECK – Part 1

My good friend Dave who flew Boeing 747’s begins a three-part part story; He shares fascinating insights and an incident or two.

A big beast on all counts and required a good deal of respect and forethought.


First impressions?  It’s big in every direction, except the flight deck, which has to be the same size as any other commercial airliner.  Each of the pilots has to be able to reach all the important bits from either seat. Earlier 747s had three crew; two pilots, and an engineer, because the flight deck was quite complicated with old-style technology – especially the flight engineer’s station. The newer 747-400 was a 2-crew aircraft and much more refined… and quieter.

 

The flight deck itself is about 25 feet above the ground (third floor of a townhouse!) so the first sensation is how high up you are. There are no opening windows in the cockpit and it’s a long walk down to the ground, so a horn is fitted to the nose gear bay to attract attention.

 

Taxi-ing the aircraft requires mental adjustment from previous aircraft because the sensation of speed is much reduced and a groundspeed monitor (speedo) is used to stop you going too fast around the taxiways. Making turns is also an art as the aircraft pivots about the main wheels which are about 90 feet behind the person steering them.

 

For the same reasons, taking off for the first time felt very strange as it felt as if you weren’t accelerating and had to be confirmed by use of instruments.  Also on previous smaller aircraft, the engines were relatively close by and the noise became part of your feedback of aircraft behaviour but the jumbo engines are much further away and so engine instruments (like car engine rpm) were a more important part of instrument flying.

 

Landing a jumbo is equally challenging as the main wheels are touching down about 90 feet behind the cockpit and the pilots are still about 50 feet above the ground.  Then there’s the necessity to bring 250 tons doing 150mph to a stop in less than the available tarmac in front.  There are sixteen big tyres to do the job.




 

Now we come to the size and weight of the 747.  A big beast on all counts and required a good deal of respect and forethought. The   747-400 weighs just under 400 tonnes fully loaded, of which nearly half is fuel – some even carried in the tailplane.  Take-off speeds are around 160 knots which translates to 180 mph and at hot and high airports where the air is less dense, like Johannesburg for instance, the actual (True) speed is over 200 mph to get airborne.

 

Once in the air the handling is beautifully balanced…. I was once told by a training captain to “treat her like a lady and she will respond to your wishes” i.e., she doesn’t like to be thrown around. 

 

INCIDENT REPORT   

 

A favourite. In Kingston I was taking over a flight from London to fly it on to Mo’ Bay.  The inbound crew had had a problem with a drunk loud-mouthed British couple and requested the police on arrival. Just before landing the man had attempted to steal some belongings of a neighbouring passenger.

 

Jamaican police are not small fellows and I observed the man was being escorted down the steps and then he swaggered off to the terminal.

 

Back at the airport the next day I spoke to a lovely BA operations girl and asked what had happened to him.  His girlfriend was being escorted back to the UK on my flight and the boyfriend was now residing in Kingston jail.  A white man.  She said the first thing that the other ‘guests’ do is to punch out their teeth… so the white honky can’t bite…. She then added, with a giggle, that his girlfriend might not want him back. 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

A VIEW FROM... ANNAGASSAN

Annagassan Port, County Louth, Ireland on a beautiful February morning.   

Annagassan is on the truly and thankfully undiscovered east coast of Ireland, there’s still plenty of activity at the port and if you look closely enough you might even see one or two fishing boats out on the water.  This is an area steeped in Viking history and as you look out you can see the Cooley and Mourne Mountains sweeping down into the sea (as the song goes).


Low Water at Annagassan

When I moved here people thought I was mad and now think I’d be mad to ever leave.  Some say....’wow from London, Sydney, Singapore, New York to here’ and I’m like ‘yeah amazing right, how lucky am I’.

 

When the world gets crazy or things get jumbled I come here and often realise I’ve been holding my breath.... for how long I wonder ?! now I’m here I can EXHAAAAALE.  From home to the port is an 8-minute walk/2 minute drive.  I’m always keen to walk myself and the dogs the whole way, they however love nothing better than to jump in the car so we can whizz down here as fast as possible.  I mean why waste valuable time walking when you could be spending more time at the sea.  


Currently closed, the Glyde will open its doors soon we hope


 

Sometimes we’re completely alone like this morning.... just us, the sound of the sea and the birds.  Other times we meet friends including the four-legged kind.  Whether the tide is in or out it’s our sanctuary and I feel blessed to be here.


My thanks to dear friend and former colleague Aileen Markey. 

She now runs https://unglu-d.ie 

Unglu-d

Are you a Coeliac or Gluten Intolerant ?...Unglu-d is the place for you. We’re a dedicated gluten free business designed to help if you’re new to a gluten free diet or on the diet for some time and looking for new ideas. We have our own range of products, run introductory baking classes and also share news on products, recipes and events.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

MAKE MINE A SEAGRAM’S

From a photograph by PJ Leher   https://www.instagram.com/pjlehrer


If

 you stub your toe on the miracles of Modernist architecture sooner or later you’ll discover Mies van der Rohe, (1886 – 1969) the Prussian titan of the Modernist movement, last director of the Bauhaus, a man for modern times. Get this far and you’ll find the Seagram Building! A black shimmering lovely that lives at 375 Park Av. New York  

 

Completed in 1958, it is a proud 515 feet tall, designed as the corporate headquarters of Seagram and Son, the Canadian distillers. The CEO’s daughter Phyliss Lambert gave ‘Mies’ (that is how we refer to him by the way) an unlimited budget. What she and her dad got was one of the most influential buildings in the canon of American architecture. Oh, and at a cost of $41 million it was the world’s most expensive skyscraper at the time of its completion. 

 

T

he building’s 38-story structure combines a steel moment frame, a steel and reinforced concrete core for lateral stiffness. In terms of its construction approach, it grabbed a number of ‘firsts’ for the use of concrete and steel.

 

The Seagram Building and the Lever House across Park Avenue set the architectural style for New York City skyscraper for several decades. Lever House was covered here in October https://draft.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/5255565130713497508/4663686501684903198

 

Joseph Seagram sold the building in 1979, today it is owned by Aby J. Rosen the West German-born American real estate tycoon who lives in New York City. As the co-founder of RFR Holding, which owns a portfolio of 71 properties across the US. I am sure the Seagram Building is a favourite, not least because it has three restaurants. Perhaps Aby gets a discount?

 


M

ies called his buildings "skin and bones" architecture. He was always concerned with expressing the spirit of the modern era. He is often associated with his fondness for the aphorisms, "less is more" and "God is in the details".

 

Mies van der Rohe did a lot of impressive work in Germany in the early part of the 20th century; until he left 1937. The Bauhaus was closed in 1933, having been raided by the Gestapo in April of that year. 

 

He settled in Chicago and worked from his studio there for his entire 31-year career in the US. He created over 40 significant buildings in the US and Canada. Returning to Germany in 1968 he designed the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

 

Best-ever profile here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Mies_van_der_Rohe

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

GUEST WRITER FROM NY: Room with a view on First Avenue

A view down 1st Av.

Actually, our entire apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan looks out on First Avenue.  

We are high enough that we are out of the fray, but low enough that we can still follow all the activity on our very busy street.  The view is so entertaining that we often joke about putting a camera on our windowsill so we can stream the action.

There is always construction work

Typically, we see restaurants, construction and fire trucks.  

But once a year we have a front row seat for the best block party in the world - the New York City Marathon.  The thickness of the crowds cheering on First Avenue creates a wall of noise that inspires runners who are beginning to tire by mile 17.  A fun time is had by all.

BLM Protests in 2020


But 2020 was different.  BLM protests in the spring.  

No marathon in the fall.  And First Avenue turned into a food court as restaurants added outdoor seating and moved into the street. 

Outdoor dining right across the street


On the other hand, the Fresh Direct delivery trucks are still waking us before 6:00 a.m. every morning.  Some things never change. ;-)

Thursday, 18 February 2021

SLOUGH: How very convenient




It is wonderful to read so many good things being said about Slough these days. 

 

Left unsung, so far, is its disposition towards toilets. With so much being made of our disappearing public toilets across the country Slough seems to be bucking this trend.

 

I discovered a loo in the churchyard of Saint Laurence. It (the loo) stands more towards the back of the churchyard, but nicely close to an impressive Victorian marble monument to some of the dear departed of the local area. This seems like another good reason to bless the town in Slough.

 

Taunya Lovell Banks, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, examines this issue of loo disappearances at a global level. In her thirty-four-page paper entitled the The Disappearing Public Toilet is downloadable here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3450873

 

Although more recently ‘The government has taken a number of steps recently to increase provision of ‘Changing Places’ toilets for disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. The government has also encouraged councils to open up public toilets following the COVID lockdown; and the government is increasing business rate relief for public toilets’

 

Extract from https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/toilet-provision-for-men-and-women-call-for-evidence/toilet-provision-for-men-and-women-call-for-evidence