Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

Larnaca Grand Mosque

November 4, 2019

Walked along the seafront, past Larnaca Castle, then retraced my steps to Larnaca Castle then looked inside Grand Mosque.

Not worth visiting. The exterior interesting, the interior not.

Larnaca Medieval Castle worth paying a visit, the Grand Mosque not.

Larnaca Medieval Castle

October 19, 2019

I have often walked past, Monday of last week on a trip to Larnaca first time I have entered the 12th century Byzantine Castle.

Inside a walled garden, open air theatre and museum.

Stunning views from the ramparts, easy to see why it was built in this strategic location.

Designing cities for people not developers

April 10, 2019

What I have seen and spent what seems to be a lifetime fighting, is corrupt town halls pandering to greedy developers, fast bucks, palms greased, with result every town looks the same, the same corporate chains dominate the town centre, the same corporate chains find in every ghastly shopping centre.

This neither brings in visitors nor is popular with locals who see familiar landmarks destroyed, lose their sense of place, money is drained out of the local economy, then large chains close, go bust, expanded on debt, leaving behind desolation, as we have seen with BHS, House of Fraser, Debenhams and many other zombie companies kept afloat by their banks.

Corrupt town planners who have not a clue what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function love big development. Big development lots of money sloshing around, some of which finds its way into the wrong pockets.

A few examples illustrates failure of good town centre design and planning.

Sincil Street runs parallel to the High Street in Lincoln. A street of Victorian buildings, local indie businesses, or was. Up until a few years ago, Sincil Street between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon was busier than the High Street, the High Street the same corporate chains find anywhere and everywhere. Now Sincil Street is being destroyed, the local council acting in cahoots with the local coop, local businesses driven out, chains brought in, Victorian building destroyed.

Enter the picture Lincoln BIG and Visit Lincoln. Both are hyping the chains, it gets worse Visit Lincoln being paid to do so.

Many towns now have businesses development groups, accountable to no one, act for and controlled by big businesses, not one vote per business, based upon the size of local business tax.

Experience Guildford employs Town Rangers, no one knows what purpose they serve other than to deliver a glossy A4 newssheet to local businesses which goes straight in the bin. They also subsidise the town centre car parks at Christmas, the one time of the year when the car parks are full to overflowing.

Latest examples of Lincoln BIG, take selfies and post on instagram, install an app that has access to data on phone and if use default facebook log in access to facebook data and that of friends

Ask any local businesses what is killing them. High rents, high local business taxes. The local coop owns the properties hikes the rents, Lincoln BIG exacts a levy on top of the local business taxes. Local businesses see no benefits.

Visit Lincoln masquerades as a tourism body, acts as a quasi-PR agency, is paid to hype the corporate chains moving into and destroying the character of Sincil Street.

Fake-Left Guardian had an article describing the dire state of Sheffield. The local council responded with eight tweets, big development taking place, corporate chains listed, same chains find anywhere. The same Sheffield City Council that destroyed thousands if not tens of thousands of street trees, harassed and criminalised protesters.

Empty two-coach Northern Fail train Lincoln to Sheffield, hour and twenty minutes only starts to fill as nears Sheffield passing through small towns like Worksop, making the point, not worth visiting for corporate chains find anywhere.

One of the chains mentioned, 200 Degrees, a small coffee chain serving mediocre coffee, the same chain hyped by Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG.

Oh the irony, when Sheffield has a thriving coffee scene and 200 Degrees empty.

In Sheffield Union St, coffee shop, co-working space, pop up kitchen, community hub located in an occupied building, Now Then, an interesting magazine, supported by local community and local businesses, published by a not-for-profit.

Farnborough destroyed half its town centre for a superstore, an estate of social houses surrounded a grassy green destroyed for the car park. A 17th century inn destroyed for a drive-thru McDonald’s.

Wastegate, chain eateries and a superstore on the edge of Aldershot town centre, destroyed the town centre now boarded-up retail units and the chain eateries pulling out from Wastegate.

In the centre of Guildford Tunsgate Quarter, a sterile shopping centre, boarded-up units, same crap cooperate chains find in every ghastly shopping centre across the country, devoid of people. The only use, provides a handy short cut. One of the crap corporate chains Cosy Club, a fake 1930s bar, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake, Visit Guildford promoted on twitter over a dozen times.

Contrast with North Laine in Brighton, three long streets, similar Victorian street scene as Sincil Street in Lincoln, local indie businesses, butcher, baker cheesemonger, bookshops, music shops, coffee shops, restaurants, worker coops, not a chain in sight, always busy.

When all places look the same they become soul destroying, we lose our sense of place, alienation sets in.

We need to green our cities, protect our existing green spaces.

In Farnborough they are destroying the remaining green space for development, in Sheffield tens of thousands of street trees have been cut down.

City centres should be pedestrianised, delivery vehicles park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart and trolley.

Cities generate data, the data should be used as a common good. Citizens may consent to access to their data receiving benefits in return, the data randomised and made available to local businesses.

The city should support and encourage local businesses and local coops, encourage to network with each other

Citizens need to seize control of their local Town Halls, open to public participation, network with other citizen-controlled Town Halls. No more one party states.

There is not a conflict with locals and tourists. There is only conflict when lose businesses serving locals and replace with businesses selling overpriced tourist tat, when AirBnB moves in, rents are hiked, but that is a problem of over-tourism lack of regulation, rather than tourism per se.

At the time of the English Civil War, the Diggers asked the question: who owns the space? The space they were asking of was land, who owns the land?

They saw God created Man and Woman as equal, the land was owned by everyone and no one, it was a common wealth. 

The question is as pertinent today. Who owns the space, who owns the public parks, public space, the empty buildings, the data we generate?

Space is not static, something to be owned. It is dynamic, only has meaning if used, lived on, shared, enjoyed. Derelict buildings we must occupy, put to use on behalf of the community, fight the loss of community space.

Heritage Open Day Lincoln Cathedral

September 15, 2018

Heritage Open Day, the one day of the year free entry to Lincoln Cathedral, unless of course attend a service.

Rather than walk up the High Street, up The Strait, up Steep Hill, I took a different route. Along Sincil Street (sadly trashed by the local Council in cahoots with the local Coop), over the River Witham, up past The Collection, then Well Lane which brings out on Steep Hill a little past Base Camp.

To my pleasant surprise, a farmers market in Castle Hill, held the third Saturday of the month.

Spending time on the market meant I had very little time to wander around Lincoln Cathedral.

I noticed seats laid out, each labelled. Front row, County Council chief executive, chairman, and other County Council jobsworth, then rows Lincoln City Council, then RAF, then cadets, and almost as an afterthought, a few seats for the public.

I asked. A Battle of Britain Commemorative Service 3 pm on Sunday.

Where then the seats for Veterans? And was the priority not wrong? Should not the worthless parasites be at the back, Veterans on the front row, followed by RAF?

Inquiries were made. Veterans were not even aware of the Service.

Trinity Market

May 5, 2018

Trinity Square, with Hull Minster centre stage.  More strange fountains, this time squares in the square, water flows upwards, flows to the edge.

On one side, Trinity Market.

Trinity Market, a recently refurbished Edwardian market, 1902 the oldest covered market in Hull. Stripped back exposing the iron columns and girders, open and airy.

They have attempted to create something like Borough Market in London, artisan food and other independent traders.

Contrast with grim failing markets elsewhere, too often destroyed for redvelopement.

Contrast with Central Market off Sincil Street in Lincoln. Grim an understatement, Coop and the City Council have done their damnedest to destroy the market and the surrounding area. Empty stalls, trash, one of the few stalls worth visiting a spice stall, closed at the weekend.

Trinity Market shows what could be if local councils had vision.  Develop for local quality businesses, not as Lincoln, destroy an area, invite in chains.

It was in Trinity Market I found Caffeinated, as the name implies, a coffee stall.

One area of Trinity Market has bench seats. An area to sit and relax and enjoy the food on offer.

As I was leaving, a noticed a stage being set up, therefore I assume live music in the evening.

Angel Coffee House revisited

April 29, 2018

When I last visited Angel Coffee House a year or so ago, it was grim, a dreadful place, noisy, sofas black with ingrained dirt, cushions with stuffing falling out, and the coffee awful, the bags of coffee stacked on the shelves well past its best.

Not a place I would recommend to anyone. I had been in better squats.

Shortly thereafter it closed, the place gutted.

I was told following refurbishment it had improved.

I would not usually return to somewhere this bad, but as I was passing by, I thought with much trepidation I would try.

The interior much improved, clean, very light and airy due to whitewashed walls.

The walls provide an excellent back drop to use as an art gallery, and many coffee shops are now doubling as art galleries.

I do not know for how long, an excellent exhibition of art by Charlotte Jane Kessler.

My eye was caught by kaffee form coffee cups. It looked like an exhibition of pottery.  I knew what it was, the first time though I have seen, let alone held and examined. Nor did smell of coffee as I expected. Nor as I expected a rough surface. No, smooth. The cups surprisingly light.

Kaffee form coffee cups are made of recycled coffee grounds. They are used for serving coffee. I asked could I have a coffee in one, was told no. If used, and if break, can be composted.

These coffee cups though are very expensive, espresso cup and saucer 15 euros, cappuccino cup and saucer 20 euros, which is why not likely to find in use in a coffee shop any time soon.  There is also a takeaway cup 15 euros, which puts in the same ballpark as KeepCup.

A coffee shop. How was the coffee?

It was better than before. It would have had to have been very bad to have been worse than before. OK, not great, not undrinkable, weak and insipid. And they did at least ask, did I wish for chocolate dumped on top. As mentioned in the current issue of Caffeine, chocolate is dumped on cappuccino to hide a multiplicity of barista sins. They need to examine their extraction and weigh the coffee not guess. If I was to give a ballpark, I would say not quite as good as 200 Degrees house blend, and it is not great.

The coffee is sourced from Forge in Sheffield.

Forge have committed the cardinal sin of what no reputable roastery would do, try to poach business from other coffee shops, not when they are sourcing from one of the best coffee roasteries in the country.

Angel Coffee House still has a fair way to go, but at least is heading in the right direction.

If compare with coffee shops in Lincoln, not in the same league as Coffee AromaMadame Waffle or Makushi aka Base Camp on Steep Hill, but better than Coffee Bobbins which was recently awarded best tea or coffee shop in Lincolnshire by Good Taste Lincolnshire (which makes a farce of awards) and of course far better than any of the corporate chains, Costa, tax-dodging Caffé Nero or Starbucks.

Press preview International Bomber Command Centre

January 17, 2018

My last visit to International Bomber Command Centre, muddy approach, shell of a building, hard hat, steel-tipped boots, hi-vis vests for access.

Today, a loose gravel approach to the finished building.

Not yet officially open, today was to give the media a glimpse.

Walking in, after passing through an open plan reception, a large auditorium, large screen, various interactive and static displays.

The interactive displays, students dressed the part, speaking what it was like, based upon recorded first hand accounts.

The interactive displays in the prison cells in the old Victorian Prison in Lincoln Castle give an idea of what to expect.

For the Centre, to collect these first hand accounts, was literally a race against time.

Since the first hand accounts were collected, of people in their nineties, a third of those who gave these first hand accounts are sadly no longer with us.

The static displays, a pair of flying boots, a lamp, playing cards.

The playing cards, on each card, hand written account of a bombing raid.

Dominating the room a large display.

On the large screen, bombing targets lit up. At first I thought, not many, that was until I noticed a scrolling bar. What was being shown was nightly raids, night by night.

A warning, a film was to be shown, almost like warning of an air raid.

Was this a warning to evacuate the room? Maybe.

Too loud.

Then I could see why so loud, when an Avro Lancaster took off, then the bombs dropped, then a building on fire, then footage from the air of the destroyed buildings, presumably taken by the Germans, then the lost people wandering the streets.

I was privileged to be able to watch this in a room on my own, well almost on my own, a BBC film crew and one veteran of WWII Bomber Command.

The impact would not have been the same in a room full of people.

To describe as emotional would be an understatement.

I later congratulated the Centre Director Nicky Barr and said she should she be very proud of what she has created.

She said that even though she had created, the first time she watched, it was a very emotive experience.

There are other smaller rooms, including dining room, with coffee, San Remo espresso machine and associated kitchen.

Not today, but when up and running, will be serving a special blend of coffee and tea created for the Centre by Stokes. They will also have on sale bags of the coffee and tea.

The Centre is not only a visitor centre, it will also be a research centre with archive material.

The Centre tells the story from all sides, the crew on the ground, the aircrew, and the Germans who were bombed.

What is the point some may say.

Syria. Look what Assad has done to Syria, bombed-out buildings, the only way he can retain control of Syria is to kill his own people, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.

Yemen. Corrupt House of Saud carrying out genocide in Yemen, weapons supplied courtesy of British arms companies.

Upon the Earth Under the Clouds

November 3, 2017

Upon the Earth, Under the Clouds, a documentary on Danae Stratou’s large scale installation in Elefsis, with music by Brian Eno.

Wandering around Athens.

Awake in the morning with breakfast with a stunning view of The Acropolis,  and Olympian Temple of Zeus.

During the day, walk around The Acropolis, climb the Hill of the Muses with stunning views over Athens and out to sea, walk along the Koine Road, visit Library of Hadrian, the Ancient Agora, walk the streets of Plaka and Monastiraki, visit the National Garden, discover some amazing coffee shops where served by champion baristas, in one Little Tree, a bookshop cum coffee shop, latest book by Yanis Varoufakis.

Danae Stratou artist wife of Yanis Varoufakis.

Many thanks to Yanis Varoufakis for mention of this documentary.

Lincoln Heritage Day

September 10, 2017

Heritage Open Day is when buildings not normally open are open to the public, or with the example of Lincoln Cathedral, the entrance fee is waived.

There was though something extra. A guided walk following the route of The Battle of Lincoln.

I would have participated yesterday. Heavy rain put paid. I caught the end of the walk opposite Norman House on Steep Hill. I apologised for not joining the walk and learnt there would be  a repeat on Sunday.

Thus I was outside The Museum of Lincolnshire Life for an interesting walk.

As we finished up outside the Visitor Information Centre, to see if they had anything useful on The Battle of Lincoln, they do not, apart from 1217 The Battle of Lincoln, a Ladybird-style book aimed at children.

I did though find a collection of miniature knights. These were used by the artists to show what their full-sized Knight would look like. What will happen to these I do not know. They should be given permanent exhibition space somewhere.

It was unfortunate the Knights were removed last week. A huge mistake. Typical bureaucratic thinking. They have proved to be highly popular and should have remained in the street until at least the end of September, if not longer.

I picked up a programme for the Lincoln Book Festival. Small, with emphasis on quality. Contrast with the Guildford Book Festival, large with the emphasis on hyped authors.

I would love to go to the talk on Mona Lisa.

After the walk, I wandered to Stokes Lawn Café. A mistake, I should have walked down Steep Hill to Makushi.

It was then through the Castle Grounds, visit the Castle Shop, which is worth a visit. Usually such places house tourist tat. Lincoln castle must be the exception. I have never visited before. Worth a visit.

I picked up a copy Magna Carta by David Starkey. I am no great fan of his, but this was the best book on display.  I wanted it, not only for Magna Carta, but also the life of King John.

A bad King. He was forced by the Barons to sign, strictly speaking, place his seal on Magna Carta. What most do not realise, it was almost immediately reneged upon, annulled by The Pope, a French Invasion followed, and led on his death to the decisive Battle of Lincoln, the route I had just followed.

Appalling the amount of damage caused by Graduation in the Castle Grounds last week.

It had been cold and windy all afternoon, now rain.

I headed for Lincoln Cathedral.

Lincoln Heritage Day

September 9, 2017

Coolish, heavy rain.

Today Lincoln Heritage Day, various places open that not normally open, or for example Lincoln Cathedral free entry.  There was also a guided walk following route of the Battle of Lincoln.

Unfortunately heavy rain put paid to plans.

Starbucks in the High Street closed. The bad news, only for renovation. Use the opportunity to find coffee shops serving decent coffee, then do not return.

I looked in Mono Records, Bird’s Yard, then as I left, heavy rain.

I sheltered for a while in Makushi, then as the rain eased off in a potter shop.

Contrary to the sign in the window of the potter shop,  not mini-Knights these are miniature Knights.

The intention had been, maybe lunch at Bailgate Deli, join the guided walk, then as rain fell, free entry to Lincoln Cathedral. But rain put paid to that.

I had looked in the archaeological centre to ask of the walk, as they were leading it.  Lincolnshire Echo did not give full information.

On my way up Steep Hill, I met the guided walk, I apologised to the leader and learnt it would also take place on Sunday.

I had hoped for lunch at Bailgate Deli, but too late.

I walked back down Steep Hill to Pimento tea rooms. Excellent for tea and cakes, but food is not good.

It was then continue back down Steep Hill, too late for anything, a cappuccino in Madame Waffle.

I am still finding miniature Knights.