Tuesday, 23 January 2018

(Mantel) Piece de resistance

I think this is the highlight and the centrepiece of my new house:
 The dining room fireplace...
Fireplace from Newhaven tip (£10), cleaned and restored by Jim - but in excellent condition to start with, under its layers of white gloss paint. Brass skirt thingy from the marquee at Braunston. 'Teapot brown' oblong tiles from the V&A collection (£90 a metre!); Victorian decorative tiles bought on the works outing to Cleethorpes, 2015; oak shelf made by Pete Boyce (designed by me!); brackets by Yesterhome, all beautifully put together by Jim.

I love it to bits.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Promised me a river

One of the things I've got involved with because of my job is the Foundation Year Network (they're working on the website), and because I can't resist a committee, I got myself elected (unopposed, I think) to their executive last year. We meet at various institutions where the network has a presence, and yesterday this provided an opportunity for the boss (who currently chairs the executive) and me to take a trip Up That London, as it is obligatory here to call any journey to the capital. Our hosts were Kings College, and we were to meet in the River Room, which we were assured had a stunning view of the Thames.
Well, it probably did, before they put the scaffold up.

It was a lovely bright, dry (if cold) day in London, a welcome contrast to the slushy Sheffield I'd walked through to the station for the 0729 train. In the afternoon, the FYN held a workshop, in which I participated in the traditional fashion:
A good time was had by all, and I was particularly impressed by the college's monogrammed Wedgewood plates.

The boss being a fell runner, and me as you know a keenish walker, there was no question of us taking the tube for the scant mile and three quarters from St Pancras to the Strand. What with my walk down to the station in the morning, I clocked up over six miles over the course of the day. We left it a bit late getting away though and had to stride out fairly briskly, not helped by starting off in the wrong direction and someone putting a building site whereof Google knew not. Now, here's an interesting thing - we each had Google maps on our identical iPhones, set up for the same destination, and they were giving us different ETAs. Does Google/iPhone take account of your walking speed (as measured in the past) when estimating how long a journey will take?

Anyway, we beat Google's estimate(s) fairly comfortably, and had a most civilised return journey.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

And a ghost of one

This stopped me in my tracks yesterday morning, revealed behind the facsia of an abandoned shop.
I think I've worked out what it once said. Can you make it out?

Saturday, 6 January 2018

A good sign

Well, I liked it.

Friday, 5 January 2018

In brackets

My latest set of brackets arrived today.
These will hold up the mantelshelves in the front room and the dining room.

Like their plainer counterparts in the kitchen
(and bathroom), they're from Yesterhome, and cast in Birmingham. They're not cheap, but they are really nicely finished. Service is good too - easy to order on the website, postage at standard Royal Mail rates, and dispatched quickly. The ornate brackets were out of stock when I first looked, so I ticked the box saying 'email me when they're back in' without much hope, but just before Christmas I got the email to say ther were available again.

It tool me ages to track down some decent brackets, so if you're on the lookout, Yesterhome are definitely worth a try. They have all sorts of other tempting stuff as well...

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Through pit and loft

That building is of course Sheffield University's Arts Tower - and as well as seeing it from my study window and passing it on the way to the office, I forgot to mention that I've taught in its basement too. Rather churlishly, we tend not to like its windowless lecture theatres - especially as last semester they were too small for what we were trying to do.

Built in the sixties, and opened in 1966, the tower did, as the name suggests, originally house all the Arts departments. Sadly, they have outgrown it, and although Architecture and Landscape still have the privilege of occupying the upper floors (and I, once, have had the privilege of visiting them), the rest of the building is largely given over to offices now, with HR on the 5th and 6th floors being my most frequent destination (after the basement).

It's the tallest University building in England (Glasgow pips it to the British crown) and was until 2009 the tallest building in Sheffield. What it is most famous for, though, is this:

The Arts Tower Paternoster lift is reputedly the largest in the  world. It has 38 'cars' whcih can each take two people. Paternosters were popular in Europe from the early 20th century, but fell out of favour in the 1970s. In Britain, they were particularly popular in university buildings, but over the years there numbers have declined, largely, it seems, over safety concerns - which, to be honest, are understandable. Until last year there were three remaining in the UK, all in universities; now there are two - the University of Leicester have just closed theirs, and will replace it with a conventional lift, citing not safety but the impossibility of getting spare parts for it - something I guess will chime with historic boaters. Sheffield's however was completely refurbished - with added safety features - in 2009, and the university website assures readers that it will be in operation 'for many years to come'.

I confess I was quite trepidacious about using it at first, until - on that visit to Landscape - my boss said, 'I suppose it's a bit like getting on and off a boat' and I thought, I suppose it is, a bit, really - and have quite taken to it since. I was slightly disconcerted on when occasion when, after I had safely disembarked, the lift stopped, leaving my colleague in the next car coming up peeping up from below ground level. She did eventually clamber out - I'm not sure I would have dared in case it had started again.
Rather like the waterways system, it's a refreshing reminder that 'health and safety' hasn't actually gone mad (see 'most popular posts'), and we are still trusted to do slightly dangerous things (and very dangerous things, like driving cars). We even trust students to do it! So long may the Arts Tower Paternoster continue.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Perspective

It may not be to everyone's taste, but as sixties buildings go, I think this is rather lovely. I can see it from my house, and I walk right past it on the way to work every day.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

En route

We broke our journey down to Newhaven with a short detour off the M1, to visit somewhere we usually only see at the height of summer.
It was all looking quite festive - they'd had quite a lot of snow, although the roads were clear by the time we got there.
I finally bought Pete and Irene (of Renfrew, and Rat, and James Loader, and Lucy...) the dinner I'd promised since they so enhanced our enjoyment - nay, survival - of the Thames in 2016. Enjoyable as that was, it was a bonus addition to the main purpose of the detour... to collect a piece of oak:
Pete's photo
Beautifully cut and finished by Pete from my very technical drawing:
Which was emailed to him in exactly the form you see it here.

No prizes for guessing where that's destined for (especially if you look at the photo file names :-)

Monday, 1 January 2018

Northern grit

When we set off for Sussex on Friday, it was snowing, and had been for some of the night. Big, wet flakes, settling on un-gritted roads. We took the roundabout, more contoury, less hilly, route out of Walkley and set off on our usual route via the A61. We crept along fine until we got to the other side of Woodseats but then the traffic started to back up. In the distance we could see a bus slewing, failing to get up the hill to (at?) Meadowhead. We sat, and sat, and debated whether to turn around and go another way, and then the queue of traffic moved a little, then stopped again. Then another couple of vehicles moved forwards, and then we could see what was happening.
Two men - as far as I know just local members of the public, with a bucket and shovel, were spreading grit from the bunker half way up the hill, walking back and forth with it, and making the difference that enabled the traffic - including the buses - get up the hill.
Now, that might happen in London, but I'm not so sure.