Now regular readers will be aware of my interest in architecture and a passion I have for great buildings. I’m particularly fond of skyscrapers and bridges, especially ones built in the last century. One of my greatest joys is visiting one from my ‘must see’ list for the first time. The day C and I cycled (yes it’s true) up to the Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco and stood at its mid-point taking in the beauty of the engineering and the stunning views was one of the most glorious days of my life. Sad I know. But as well as grand structures I also like beautifully designed smaller buildings especially family homes, offices and public facilities. But the flip side of admiring lovely architecture is that I can’t help but notice and complain about really ugly buildings or incongruous planning allowing buildings to sit uncomfortably in a particular setting and I especially hate to see public buildings fall into disrepair. So having moaned in the past about some particularly horrible examples of these in the Teddington area I thought it was time for an update.
Regular readers may be coming to the conclusion that I’m a frustrated wannabe architect masquerading as a marketing guy. Damn you’re good. Anyway here’s the latest in an occasional series of postings inspired by my irresistible desire to write about buildings that I come across. You may remember in a recent posting I was going on about how I found nearby Twickenhan to be a pleasant few lanes down by the river spoiled by a scruffy High St that would shame Slough and a hideously ugly office block slap bang in the centre of the town. I scoffed, as I tend to do, because the High St here in Teddington is chock full of interesting shops, restaurants and bars and 20 times more attractive in my view. However, as is also my want, I was talking the truth but not the whole truth. You see Teddington has a slab ugly building sister itself…in fact two.
Nah not rugby HQ, I’ve been thinking about the town itself. Most readers will know that we’ve found a place inTeddington which is our UK base now. And we’re very happy here. The beautiful river Thames and the famous lock is just down the road. Our little town has loads of nice bars and restaurants and more interior design shops than you can shake an Alessi-designed spatula at. We’ve got some great food stores within easy reach and loads of activities for daughter R to get involved with. Just down the road is lovely Bushy Park and across the river historic Richmond Park. And down the river is lively Kingston just 5-10 minutes away and nearby Hampton Court whilst upstream is attractive Strawberry Hill, where C works, St Margarets where daughter S and live and just across the river from them Richmond town itself which is about as prettily dramatic as any place in the Greater London area. It has everything really. And in the middle of all this terrific area nestled by the Thames is the blight that is Twickenham, a town with a famous stadium nearby and not a lot else.
It’s a while since I did one of those lists of things that really inspire me (I can hear the groans out there already) but a new book bought for me by my daughter S and son-in-law I has got me sharpening the old list pencil again. The book is ‘1001 Buildings You MUST See Before You DIE‘. It’s one of those cliched and improbable titles – I imagine it would take many years of travelling the 7 continents just to take in all the buildings listed, let alone all the other things people think you should see whilst still breathing (sports stadia, works of art, great views, classic hotels etc). It’s also a bit of a stretch – I’m not convinced that I really can’t meet my maker until I’ve been to visit either Preston or Dublin’s Central Bus Stations or the Park Hill housing estate in Sheffield or the former zeppelin hangars which have been converted into the rather ugly Central Market Halls in Riga, Latvia. But there are some stunning buildings around the world which I’ve been lucky enough to visit and many, many more I’d love to see before that bucket gets kicked.