ugly duckling buildings

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.

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ITV crap and local update

Well it’s been a few weeks without a posting. I felt compelled to write something…anything having spent the last 15 minutes watching ITV’s latest Sunday night concept programme ‘Off Their Rockers’. Apparently some fu**wit in the commissioning department was convinced that getting OAPs to do Candid Camera type stuff would have us rolling off our sofas with hysterical laughter. I’ve seen more comedy on the World at War.

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Just as they promised…

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Well they forewarned us that the re-tarmac work on the road outside would be done at night and at 9pm yesterday the road was closed and the heavy equipment was moved in. This monster started ripping up the tarmac literally on the section of road which has been resurfaced 3 times in the last few weeks. I’d driven back from Yorkshire yesterday evening after spending the week-end with our good friends L & S. I was pretty bushed and still not feeling 100% right after a recent spell of tonsillitis. So last night’s activity was the last thing I needed. I went to bed around  midnight but was still listening to the racket at 1pm.  It wasn’t quiet work – they had several lorries being loaded with the ripped up tarmac and pile driving gear to cut through the road stuff around the grids and other iron works (see picture below). I’m amazed they can get away with this through the night but more than anything I’m staggered that so much effort and cost has gone into repairing the road surface over recent weeks knowing that this major re-surfacing was imminent. At some point the cost gets passed back to us; local residents and consumers. It’s a bloody scandal but nobody seems to care other than me. Tonight they’ll finish off the work outside our home, I hope. Then I’ll give it 4 weeks before some other company comes along to rip the road up again. Sigh. Here’s that bloody pile driving JCB that drives me to distraction – I can’t wait till we meet again

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Road’s up….again

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Well this is going to be more of a miserable grumble than an insightful bit of writing. A few weeks ago I wrote that the road outside our apartment was being dug up to replace the gas main (expected work timescale, 7 weeks). This was just a few weeks after they’d dug up the near side to repair a burst water main. Well this past week I’ve been suffering from tonsillitis from hell and it’s been truly uncomfortable. Just to make sure I didn’t suffer silently, the utilities guys only came back to dig up half the huge gas main hole they dug the other week. What the problem was I don’t know but the secondary work’s taken a full week to complete. You can see a shot of the re-repaired section above with the earlier re-laid section to the left and the nearside repairs under the white lines. So we’ve had road works banging away for at least 8 of the last 12 weeks. Then today we spotted some new signs up along Sandy Lane confirming that road works to replace the damaged road surface would commence 1 March, with most work being done at night to limit disturbance. To whom? It’s not much of a consolation if your bedroom overlooks the bloody works. Sigh….is it just me or does this incessant series of road works seem deliberately scheduled for maximum annoyance, especially to me? Wasn’t there some Gov’t initiative to prevent this and fine errant utility companies for mis-scheduling the works? It sounds a bit New Labour. I’d better be careful what I wish for – was urban living really better with John Prescott in charge? Er no.

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empty shops

I’ve started to notice an unwelcome trend developing on our high street in Teddington – the blight of the empty shop. It’s only a few at the moment but these things have a habit of escalating until you end up with the situation that developed in Buckingham where the town centre ended up being populated by a few banks, a couple of pubs and barbers/hairdressers, an growing clutch of charity shops and the rest just lying empty.  The few remaining shops actually selling fresh and new products were seen off by the opening of a Tesco express which hoovered up the last bit of town centre trade not already  attracted to its superstore no more than half a mile away on the town’s ring road. Before we’d left the town had lost its only clothes shop, hardware store, toy shop, book store, wine shop, two out of the last 3 jewellers and of course its Woolworths. It’s nothing like as bad in Teddington which remains bustling and has a varied shopping scene but I pass by a few shops every day and hardly ever see a soul in some of them.  Have you noticed something similar in your town and wonder how a few of them manage to survive?

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twickenham

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.

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