Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A wintery city downhill walk a short bus ride away from Beeston

One of the frustrations of waiting to have open heart surgery is that I am slowing down at what appears to be an increasing pace. I can no longer manage more than the slightest of inclines, but on the flat and downhill I can still walk a mile or so if I pace myself — which is how I found myself trying to think of a walk I could manage, with Susan on hand to make sure that I didn't overdo it, and what follows is the walk we did yesterday.

From Beeston catch a 36, Y5, Indigo or L10 to Canning Circus (I only show Nottingham City Transport routes 35 and 36 because the walk is going to be added to my History from a 35 Bus map). We actually caught a beloved L10 from near our house up Wollaton Road, which also goes to Canning Circus and the Victoria Centre (hourly, Monday-Saturday daytime).

So, the map first and remember just click on any image to enlarge.

1. This is the beginning of  Newcastle Terrace. To the right of the lamp-post is a roadway to Newcastle Drive and The Park Estate. At this point you have your back to the now closed Canning Circus Police Station.

2. To the left are the backs of the houses on The Ropewalk and to the right you are looking down into The Park Estate and Newcastle Drive.

3. For about 100 yards at this point Newcastle Terrace, Newcastle Drive and The Ropewalk converge, separated by the small green to the left, which as a bench you sit on.

4. To the right of the scene in picture 3 (above) are railings through which you can look down onto the Park tunnel footpath. It was cold, damp and a slight mist clung to the footpath. 

You can find my version of a Park Tunnel walk on my old Lenton Parkviews blog which I posted in 2014. It's a bit like this one insomuch as there is a map and lots of pictures.

5. To the left of the scene in picture 4 (above) is this hanging garden and terrace.

6. The house you can just see in picture 5 (above) has this handsome plaque dated 1881 on its wall.

7. Standing on the pavement looking at the plaque you turn left and follow the footpath round and you will then have this view and you are now at the beginning of Park Terrace.

8. These delightful stuccoed houses can be seen in the distance from picture 7 (above). 

9. At this point turn round and look back and you will catch this view of on of a cluster of modern houses which line the right side of Park Terrace and are just visible in picture 7 (above).

10. At the end of the Terrace is this mix of building style and, out of view, at the end of this stretch of pavement is the beginning of this walk's high point.
11. You turn and see this, but the view gives no hint of what to expect.

12. The answer is countless steps down... 

13. and when you get to the bottom, turn and look up, and be glad you are not doing the walk from the Friar Lane and Nottingham Castle end!

14. The footsteps have taken you down to Park Valley (the name of the road) and as you turn left, a hundred yards in front is this arch across Lenton Road. At this point you turn left and up a slight hill, with the grounds of Nottingham Castle on your right.

15. As you come level with the castle's gatehouse (which is on the other side of the road), there is this sign which has only been in place a few months and someone I know who lives in The Park told me about.

I have to say it did make my chest puff out a bit because I was closely involved in the fight to have the ancient footway between Nottingham and Beeston via Lenton made a public right-of-way after The Park Estate claimed no such right-of-way existed and put a lockable gate at the point where Lenton and The Park meet. See this link to my old Lenton Parkviews blog and one of many posts I made about this matters.

16. These steps take you up to King Charles Street and back to The Ropewalk.

17. Nottingham Castle gatehouse can be treated as the end of the walk. You are on the very edge of the city centre at this point.

18. Not the best picture of Friar Lane. At this point you are looking down it towards the city centre and Old Market Square which, this week at least, is home to a very big Ferris wheel. From this point on you are always within sight of a café or eatery. Tuckers just across Maid Marian Way is a real workers favourite and does the best bacon butties, whilst a little further on, across the Square is Debenham's with its 3rd floor eatery, which offers excellent value and attracts lots of oldies and familes — always a good sign as far as I'm concerned.

Well, that's it, an unexpected city walk revealing a cityscape otherwise hidden from view. It took me 45 minutes and we lingered in quite a few places. Even in winter, with clinging damp and cold there was plenty to see. In the summer other vistas open up and it becomes a different kind of walk, but one thing I promise, whenever you do it, the view of The Park tunnel footpath and the steps will catch you attention.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

A Beeston ambler takes to the by-ways and hidden corners of our conurbation

My friend Richard, a fellow Beeston resident who used to be a near neighbour in Lenton, has started a quirky blog about walking around Greater Nottingham in less  than usual ways. His blog, https://ngandbeyond.wordpress.com, has just had its second post.

In his first post Richard stuck close to home and got no further than the main Nottingham University campus, but has already set me a task, which is to go in search the this statue of D H Lawrence:

His second post also stays close to home and finds Richard exploring Bramcote Ridge before heading west and onto the abandoned and overgrown Bramcote Hills Golf Course.

Richard begins by saying 'Bramcote Ridge is, perhaps surprisingly, something of a shrinking violet when considered in the context of the urban landscape to the west of Nottingham city centre – largely keeping itself to itself, but occasionally to be spotted peering hesitantly over the buildings of the surrounding area.'
In one opening paragraph you have the essence of Richard's style and humour, which I like, but then he is someone I regard as a friend and I like his take on life.
The above photograph also captures the kind of imagery you can expect if you read NG and Beyond.
Go and have a look for yourself. The world around you will start to look a little different I promise when you spend time in Richard's company.

Anna Soubry more May's opposition than Labour - a truth we cannot afford to ignore.

I have pondered over making this post, but Anna Soubry has been speaking more for me of late than Labour MPs over Europe, open borders and Donald Trump.
I am not about to vote Conservative, but a good few Labour MPs and Jeremy Corbyn appear intent on upsetting Labour voters at every opportunity. When a political party loses credibility with voters, then voters stop listening and that is happening to Labour right now!
All Labour voters know Corbyn is no position to whip MPs simply because of his own voting record as a Labour MP and I have voted for him twice, but there won't be a third time. It is a problem of his own making and he is making a habit of doing stupid things. How I wanted him to succeed, but he has become the architect of his own failure and, at some point, I hope he will recognise this.
In an e-mail to constituents today Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, has said:
'As I said before the EU Referendum, I will respect and honour the result and so will be voting for the Bill which will begin the process of our leaving the EU. I have said this for many months now. I appreciate and understand why so many constituents will be deeply disappointed by my decision and I know marginally more - will be very pleased. I believe almost everyone is getting somewhat bored by Brexit and wants us to get on with it.'

Of Trump she said:

'Like most constituents, I was appalled to learn that President Trump has decided to impose a temporary ban on people and refugees from a number of countries which are predominantly Muslim.  This ban has no moral or factual justification. There hasn't been a single terrorist attack since 9/11 in America involving anyone who emigrated from or whose parents emigrated from any of the 7 countries on Trump's list. However, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt are not included in the ban even though their citizens have mounted terrorist attacks on the USA. 

We can accordingly be sure Trump's ban is based entirely on prejudice and unjustified fear which he seeks to stoke and exploit - meanwhile it appears he's keen not to harm his own financial interests.  In any event it is deeply offensive and plain wrong to stereotype any faith, religion or race on the wicked actions of a tiny minority. 

Our deep rooted sense of tolerance in Broxtowe is best exemplified in our Deputy Mayor Halimah Khaled and her family.  Like the overwhelming majority of British Muslims, Halimah embodies our traditional values of family, hard work, being involved in your community, respect for the rule of law, and tolerance. Perhaps President Trump would like to meet Halimah ,who is a Conservative, when he comes to our country.'

Now I know Anna Soubry has her critics, but I do not fall into the camp which says she can't be right because she's a Tory. Only if life was that simple.
Those MPs in England thinking of voting against Article 50 may ignore Corbyn, but MPs like Anna Soubry get stronger by the day because they appear to be the opposition to the Government - not Labour. Listen to ordinary voters and they are giving up on us. Corbynistas appear to be living in a world of their own making - as do many of the Labour MPs who oppose him.
Harriet Harman's interview in The Guardian/Observer today only compounds my frustration. Once upon a time I was a fan, but she lost me when she did not support Robin Cook in opposing the invasion of Iraq. Read the interview and despair!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

What is there to disagree with? and what's missing!

I saw this yesterday and I liked it. If only the Labour Party could be as succinct about where it stands on all these issues. The only thing which disappoints is the fact that there is no mention of housing, which has always been my top issue.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Hail the Beeston Bramcote Buggy Bus (mobility scooters too) – rethinking community transport

Click on map to enlarge.

'Community buses' are not a new idea. They have been around for ages, some succeeded, others failed, but, as far as I know, the idea has yet to be tried in Beeston and Bramcote.

A community bus should not be confused with local council subsidised routes like Nottingham City Council's L10 and L11 routes, which serve part of the area covered by the above map and the County Council's subsidised routes 510 and 536. Why? Because they serve fixed routes and have timetables. Community buses are hail and ride services, with the flexibility to be door-to-door.

If you question their feasibility, then also ask why Uber are investing in such networks? 

Here are a couple of links to press reports:

Uber launches… a very small bus (The Guardian).

Uberville… one small town at a time (The Verge).

From the latter report this wonderful illustration:

A Beeston Bramcote Buggy Bus would not be cheaper than existing bus routes, but it would be more flexible in terms of it goes and frequency. I see this as a daily 8am–10pm community bus, in time it could start earlier and finish later. It could pick up outside schools in the morning and then drop parents off mid-afternoon when schools close. It might have to serve schools on a rota system at first with a fixed pick up/drop off point in Beeston (the Interchange and Lace Street behind The Cricketers pub on Wollaton Road).

There would also be room for mobility scooters on these little buses. Living in Lenton I used the little L5 Nottingham City Council LocalLink service. A small, comfortable flat-floored bus a bit like Dr Who's Tardis. Very roomy on the inside. If you re-arranged the seats Underground train style and they were all fold-up you could probably get six buggies onto one of these little Optare Alero buses (they date from 2009, so there are more modern versions now).

Anyone who remembers what is what like to use a bus in Beeston twenty years ago will know that Trent-Barton buses used to run along Abbey Road and Central Avenue. It was only with the coming of the tram that Imperial Road lost its bus terminus bay, then there was the wonderfully numbered 2000 which served Beeston Marina, Wollaton Road before headin off to Stapleford and sandiacre. The 1997 County Council bus map below shows twenty-two bus routes serving Beeston! Now there are ten and with the Y36 being withdrawn of 12 February, there will be nine Bus routes plus the tram.

The world of local public transport is about to change beyond recognition and the people of Beeston can either let companies like Uber take over or they can make sure that they have a community bus network which keeps the money local.

Seems to me this is the way forward for community transport in towns like Beeston is to bring buses and taxis together to form a flexible, but no more expensive, network in which you pay a premium to have a taxis to yourself and pay less if you are willing to share.

The Knoxville, Texas, approach seems sensible. You cap journey charges in overlapping designated areas and as you move into another area or across it you pay a further, albeit lower, charge.

It doesn't have to be Uber calling the shots, but they will if bus operators and local communities and their councils don't start working together!

To understand the economics of all this, simply read the article in The Verge about what is happening in one small town in America. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

My very first Beeston Cafes map lost and found, and how it's progressed

Until yesterday I thought I had lost this map. It was my very first attempt at a Beeston Cafes Map, prompted by the fact that a few members of the Beeston WEA Writing Class I then attended had got in the habit of having coffee and a sandwich together after the Thursday morning class.

As we increased in number, so we needed to move cafes and it was this which led to map, inspired by my love of bus maps and the fact that growing up in Wembley, the first map I learned to read was the London Transport Underground map.

It quickly morphed into a class flyer...

I left the class at the end of 2013 because Susan and I had decided them time had come for us to downsize from our large Victorian-semi in Lenton to something smaller in Chilwell or Beeston. I then changed the orientation of the map for another leaflet.

I then created an extended version of the map...

...and another.

There was no master plan or vision. I just kept tweeking the map. The next extension was the inclusion of Chilwell's Creative Corner at the High Road's junction with Cator Lane after I met Gary and Gail, the owners.

By now I was on a 9th version of the map and wanted to pull Beeston Lock onto the map so I could draw attention to the Beeston Canalside Heritage Centre project (which, at this point, still had to receive 2nd stage Lottery funding). Matt Turpin of The Beestonian also spoke about pulling the University into Beeston and Judy Sleath, the Chairman of Beeston Civic Society asked me if I could include blue plaque locations, so another, large version of the map came into being. It went from A4 to A3 and Judy funded the printing of 500 copies.

A 2015 Heritage Open Days version followed with Judy printing another 500 a month before the HODs.

A number of versions of this layout have subsequently been produced, but I always had in my head to create a vertical version because it would be easier to read and adapt, which is how a few months ago I arrived at this...

It hasn't taken me long to adapt this version, so that I could extend the map in the top left-hand corner...

As anyone who looks at this blog regularly will know I have created three versions of this map: the 'master' aimed at students, a 'heritage' version and a 'Beeston Nights' version, all of which can be found in the right-hand column. It has taken me three-and-a-half years to get this far and I have enjoyed creating the maps. Looking back, it is something I have been doing all my life, with my first map being published in 1976. Somewhere I have a copy.

All the maps have reverse text sides, the A3 ones with a Beeston Bus Map showing all the places you can reach by bus from Beeston (over a hundred). Again, you can find the latest version of the bus map in the right-hand column.

Anyway, that's it for now, all prompted by finding my very first Beeston Underground style map (which I had filed away on my computer in a directory labelled Beeston Writers).

Monday, 2 January 2017

A Nottingham City Centre Pocket Map two years on

This map dates from April 2014 and was printed as a hand-out to accompany my 35 History By Bus map and day. Afterwards I parked it, intending to re-work it when I got the opportunity. Looking at it nearly two years later it has stood the test time well and I already have ideas on how I can improve the map, which I see as a post-op project.

I have placed a copy, together with a list of the 60 locations shown on the map, in the right-hand column. To see see the map more clearly, click to enlarge.