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 

Sunday 14 February 2021


There is plenty to be disheartened about. The temperature and weather at this time of year might heighten one’s despondency. However there at always reasons to be cheerful*.


One of the members of my 2019 Art in the Library sessions wrote me this marvellous update the other day.  Reprinted here by her kind permission with some of her mystical mono prints.


Dear Tim


Thank you for all the recent tips and blogs you have sent.  All so interesting and thought provoking, the trouble is I don't know where to start or do I mean 'stop'.  


There is so much I am interested in trying, and my daughter gave me an online art course for a Christmas present.  For my next painting project I am hoping to try printing/painting on silk.  Have done it with photography in the darkroom, so why not paint?


I am exploring 'art vs photography' - which inspired which??  Very interesting, especially when delving into the world of early camera-less photography.  Who benefitted from the Camera Obscura?  The artist or the photographer?  What can you do better with paint - what can a photograph capture that paint can't?   OOOooh it's all so interesting and time consuming - I love it!!  This is with my photography group. 


I am also following the Portrait Artist of the Year on Sky Arts - another aspect to explore.


 I have made two books recently - one of photographs taken on walks entitled 'Patterns in Nature' - the other entitled 'Monoprints' - attached a selection - which have since been distributed to friends and family.


Best to you and the rest!!


Thanks Linda



*“Reasons to be cheerful” Ian Dury and the Blockheads (1979)

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it

You're welcome we can spare it - yellow socks

To short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty

Going on forty - no electric shocks


Wednesday 10 February 2021


Light turns the stone and brickwork to Gold

Our Lady of Peace in the late winter sun.

Henry Bingham Towner (1909–1997) had set his heart and mind to becoming a priest. This never happened, why was not recorded. Instead he became an architect, opening his own practice in 1938 in Uckfield.

Towner is best known for designing churches in the south of England. One of Towner’s treasures is The Church of Our Lady of Peace situated is just East of Burnham village centre, blessed and opened in 1958.

When I visited it was a bright sunny afternoon although in December the promise of dusk was never far away. The honey-coloured brick and stone glowed in the light and the surrounding area was peaceful.

The story behind this church is wonderfully narrated on the website 

TAKING STOCK: Catholic Churches of England Wales. It opens with lovely summation:

'The church is in a stripped version of the loosely Basilican round-arched style so popular for Catholic churches in the interwar and early post- War years, although unusually with some Tudoresque touches. The interior has good original furnishings.  https://taking-stock.org.uk

TOWNER’S STORY https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Bingham_Towner

LINK  for the full history :https://taking-stock.org.uk/building/burnham-our-lady-of-peace/

LINK for church services https://ourladyofpeacerc.org/our-churches/#olop

*The epithet God’ Architect was given both to Augustus Pugin and Antonio Gaudi. Its award to Towner is in  the writer gift.

Saturday 6 February 2021


The best website to inspire jaunt planning is Modernism in Metro-land http://www.modernism-in-metroland.co.uk/about.html.   
Once on the site, click on Buildings click on Counties > click on Buckinghamshire. This activity gets you to the Community Centre in Amersham amongst other exciting places in the county . And within the erudite description provided for this building is a callout for the architect FB Pooley.


Fred Bernard Pooley, CBE (1962 to 1998) was the county architect for Buckinghamshire. Throughout his career as a supporter of middle ranking architects he insisted that their names were put on the buildings not just that of  the County Architect.

He was president of the RIBA for two years. Pooley establish Buckingham as a university town.

Pooley's schemes and dreams gave birth to the North Bucks new city, which was later to become Milton Keynes. Often it was then  referred to as Pooleyville.

His proposals for MK including the monorail. Sadly when the town was fully developed it was 'optimised' for the car, rather like Amersham, rather like the rest of Buckinghamshire.

Yes, Pooley's life was an architect's life well lived.