... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022


Not quite in the league of Herbie quizzes, but whilst waiting for a very slow volunteer to ring up my purchases in Oxfam, I idly glanced around and alighted on this. Unfortunately it was behind a pile of sofas so the angle from which I could photograph it was rather constrained, hence the reflections.

I am terrible at identifying locations, but it looks vaguely familiar even to me. I'm not saying where I think it is though as I may be wildly and embarassingly wrong. I will write it on a slip of paper and put it in a sealed envelope, and reveal my guess only if the Herbies (for it is bound to be they) confirm it. Please feel free to tell me though if you get in before Kath and Neil.

Only four days in and a waterways-related post. I'm as surprised as you are.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Spring springs

A photo - admittedly very carefully framed - of my garden, where I was sitting out in the sun on Saturday for the first time this year.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

A tin hut in Philadelphia

That's the Philadelphia on the borders of Upperthorpe and Netherthorpe, of course, but none the less picturesque for that. Photographed on the way back from coffee in Kelham Island (yes, I know), where they served a perfectly nice buttermilk and chocolate chip scone, and insisted on calling it a cookie.  Kelham Island for you.

Friday, 18 March 2022

It's been a while

Two years to the day, in fact.

On Friday 13th of March 2020, I was having a pint (or two) and a packet of crisps (or possible two) in a packed Blake. It was a worrying time. Earlier that evening, just as I had been about to leave work, t'Boss had called me into his office. It was quite likely, he said, that lectures might be suspended from the following week. Could I please check if any of our teaching sessions were formally timetabled as lectures.

Other than the Death in Venice-evoking posters that were appearing over campus, this was the first real sense that something significant, that might really affect us, might really be happening. Yes, of course I would. First thing Monday. Then I went off up the pub for a prearranged drink with my neighbour from round the corner. 

For some reason I took my iPad with me. While Margi was at the bar, I idly checked my emails. At twenty to eight, the VC had sent an email saying that all face to face teaching would be suspended from Monday.  

We weren't meant to go into the office on Monday; but that morning - March 16th - we had the first of what must now be thousands of online meetings, and I could see that many perople were in the office. So I walked over - basically, just to do it properly; to say goodbye knowingly. I left a note for myself on my desk, that said the date and 'au revoir'. I don't think it occurred to me that I wouldn't see it again until the October, and then only briefly.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

So last Sunday, exactly two years after my last visit, I popped back into the Blake. It felt good.


Monday, 25 October 2021

Sunday, 26 September 2021


Fuchsias were one of the things in the garden I grew up with, so I tended to think of them (I think it was the solidly reliable 'Beacon' variety) as rather ordinary everyday plants. It was only as an adult, after a break from them, that I came to love and appreciate the delicate exoticism of the hardy varieties, and the cheerful blowsiness of the showier ones. Also, they are one of the few plants I can propagate. I have roughly forty different plants in my not very large garden, and  that includes eight different varieties of fuchsia; some small in pots, and some threatening to take the place over.

As I have no idea what any of them is called, I've created an index of photos and given each a letter, so that I'll be able to identify my cuttings. And here are those that were in flower last week when I photographed them.

The first two are from cuttings brought from Newhaven, the second one originally from when the man over the road was trimming his and we picked some bits up off the pavement. It's hardy and will grow massive given the chance. The top one is possibly my very favourite. Again it grows very big, but has the most delicate flowers.

These next two are plants I bought in Tescos a couple of years back. They've never got very big, but cuttings I took from them in the spring seem to be doing OK.
In a pot I have two fancier, double and trailing ones. These are also from Newhaven cuttings and arrived with me via Braunston a few years back. We had to put them in the shade of the hedge every afternoon. Now it's the frost getting them that worries me, so I tuck them up against the house and wrap them up for the winter. The other one is darker but didn't have any flowers last week.

And finally, the monster. This was from the garden centre in 2019. It was a faitly well-established plant then, but has grown madly since, and in quite a sprawly way. I'm planning to cut it back hard this year (which will require a saw) and I'm pretty confident it will recover. It's other main feature is that its leaves are a very bright green, almost yellow when new, in contrats to the others' darker leaves. Being as it's so vigorous, I planned to take a lot of cuttings to put in troughs in the front garden next year.  Sometimes I pot cuttings up straight away, and sometimes I root them in water. I put these in water, and not only did they not root, they were all dead within a few weeks, all at once. I have never known that to happen before. So I'm a bit mystified by that but there's plenty more where they came from so I'll try some more in water and some in pots.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Hallam Tower(s) redux?

I ought to have a photo of the old Hallam Tower Hotel. I could see it from my window for the four years I lived on Manchester Road. Unfortunately, the one time I posted about it, the photos have disappeared. I mused then on whether it would be demolished, or end up as luxury flats. The one answer I didn't expect was 'both'.

Demolition began shortly after I moved away in 2017. And now it is essentially being rebuilt as flats (sorry, luxury apartments and penthouses), with the bottom two storeys of the original building remaining, and an additional two storeys on top, looking very similar to the old building. I wonder if that is a planning permission thing. I haven't checked, but I'd have thought it unlikely that a building like that, there, would have got permission today - it always did look very out of place - but like for like replacement can't be objected to.

It is, apparently, 'Sheffield's most iconic address.' 

The developers'/agent's pointlessly overengineered website says it is 'set in the heart of one of Sheffield's most exclusive postcodes'. 'One of' is doing quite a lot of work here, as S10 - nice as it is - certainly is not exclusive of students, and I can think of more expensive (and student-free) areas. 

Interestingly, the website studiedly gives the impression that this is a conversion of the hotel rather than a new building, with phrases like 'leading architects have considered every detail within this once celebrity-adorned hotel building' and 'the signature luxury style shines throughout the once majestic and renowned Hallam Towers Hotel' (I have read the website so you don't have to). On the plus side, they will have great views.

So here is the new block of flats going up, as incongruous in its setting as the building it replaces. Somewhere along the way the Hallam Tower Hotel has become Hallam Towers, plural. I am (mercifully) seeing only one actual tower block in the 'artist's' impression. I presume there is some market research that suggests that 'towers' sounds less sinister or overbearing than 'tower'.

The CGI interiors have a retro look to them (and an entrance lobby of audacious vulgarity), but I'm not seeing any fluted teak, without which it can never be a worthwhile recreation.

I think this comes under the heading of buildings you might not want to see demolished, but definitely don't want to see rebuilt.