Monday, 18 September 2017

New version of Nottingham City Centre Map

This updated version has a number of changes. It includes more streets and marked locations.

There is a map template showing just the streets which others can use for free providing it is not used for profit.

The printed edition when I can afford it will include a map extending westwards to Beeston which I have yet to complete. In the meantime feedback is always welcome.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The little café which escaped me (and nearly everyone else)

I know what I said about more posts but when the café at Beeston Station steamed into view I had to give it a post all of its own.

Beeston railway station has a little café named, well, I'm not sure what. Type in Beeston Station cafe and two names come up: 'Rose Café' and 'Cafe 1839', the latter of which appears to be the current name as far as the new owner of the business is concerned, but, as of yet, there is no clear signage as to name.

At the end of the day a café's name matters little if the drinks and food are good, especially when it has a location as good as Beeston railway station (which suggests an obvious name 'The Station Café').

I took this pic yesterday when I went in search of the café. By chance this little train was leaving as I arrived. You can see a 'Cafe Open' sign to the right of the picture.

Cassy here has recently taken the café over, so it's still early days and she's trying to find her feet. It doesn't help being August, it being a holiday month. She's trying to make passengers and those meeting them more aware of her little café. If I had to describe it in a word it would be 'snug'. Four customers and it would be crowded, but there is the platform and that is where waiting passengers will probably want to be — an experience made immeasurably better with a cup of Cassy's coffee or hot chocolate and a generously filled panini.

There is another sign outside which again gives no indication as to name. I know I've just asked if the name really matters and I suspect, on reflection, it helps — why else would businesses spend a fortune on branding (and re-branding)?

A chance web-search found The Nottingham Food Blog's post for February 2013 and the then Beeston Station Rose Café, since when it has come and gone a few times. The above photograph comes from the post, which said:

Even before we left the station at Beeston I had spotted somewhere to get some food, and if it was not for the fact that we were heading to the Victoria for lunch I would most probably have stopped in there for a little snack. “Cafe Rose” nearly pulled me in with that little green star offering a Hot Roast Chicken and Stuffing roll for £2, further down the board there was the offer of Lasagne for £1.40, although it does say ‘from’ £1.40 so I wonder if you pay by the layer or by the bite? I will find out one day. Apart from all that the note that ‘All produce homemade’ made me happy that it was not just another generic coffee chain housed in the station.
I don't who is The Nottingham Food Blogger, but back in 2013 I was still in Lenton doing my Parkviews blog. If I can find a name I will add it. I would also like to know if he or she ever returned to taste the lasagne?
I suspect I am not the only person to stand on Beeston Station countless times and not notice the café. One of my all time favourite cafés is at Moor Street railway station in the centre of Birmingham. I love it best in from about October to March and I have had a visit in mind for a little while now, just to drink coffee, eat, write and look. Beeston Station has similar feel and how I would love for Sassy to have a larger café because in just one short meeting I established the fact that she has the temperament to run a cafe.
Well, now like me, you know about the little café at Beeston railway station. In a few minutes Cafe 1839 will makes its first appearance on my latest Beeston vertical map. I hope it stays there for a long time and I wish Sassy every success.
One final thought for Sassy to consider. How about one tasty signature item of food? — a bit like Jo's Pork Goulash at the Local not Global deli on Chilwell Road or Laura's poached eggs at Time for Tea on Wollaton Road — something which will bring customers in even they have no intention of catching or meeting a train.
A FOOTNOTE: 1839 is the year Beeston railway station opened. The reference to 1847 on the station building is to the year the building was erected.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Beeston Vertical A3 Map squeezes yet more on

Since my post last week, the next edition of the Beeston Vertical Map has been tweaked yet again to get more on. The Scouts are proving a challenge and may to have to wait until next time. My apologies. I have stretched and pulled the layout and this is the maps great strength the roads being mainly vertical and horizontal.  Usual rule. Click on the images to enlarge.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The latest version of my Beeston 'Vertical' Map will be printed soon. In the meantime... can see it here. To enlarge simply click onto the map. With every edition come more requests for inclusion and I really do my best — hence three Scout groups have been included. There are name changes to schools and cafés as well.

The map is created to be printed A3 portrait, so to include more shops, places and streets I would need to enlarge the size of the map/leaflet (easy enough, but cost is a big factor). This one has been tweaked. I will leave it to you to guess where. I will be sticking with my 'Beeston Vertical Map' because of its flexibility.

The lower 'box' is the map's cover side minus advertising boxes (this will be the first map to include advertising by Beeston businesses. Simon at Pixels & Graphics has been a supporter from the word go and I cannot thank him enough for his assistance over the past four years (yes, four years!). The first version was published in The Beestonian by Matt Turpin, then Judy Sleath, Chair of the Beeston & District Civic Society, got me to create a version for the 2015 Heritage Open Days. I'm sure we all know that a little support goes a long way.

And if you're wondering about what I said about no more posts bar one (about council tax exempt properties in Broxtowe Borough), then my maps will be the exception.  Feedback welcome.

I have another map in the pipeline which I am quite excited about. It's been in my head for a good couple of years and now I think I can do it. The map will have three insets showing bus links to Bulwell-Old Basford (River Leen), Borrowash–Derby (River Derwent) and Ilkeston–Langley Mill (Erewash–Cromford canals). These have yet to be added and I have yet to decide how. In the meantime this is what my Beeston Buses & Tram Water Walks Map looks like:

Saturday, 5 August 2017

One more post to come

Parking a blog is something I have now done several times - Parkviews about life and around Lenton Recreation Ground after seven years; Crocus Gallery which I did for a couple of years.  Looking back I would now describe the space in the now demolished Church Square, Lenton, as a 'pop up' community art gallery and then the West End Bowls blog, a local bowling club with Lenton and Radford community roots. I played with the Club for five years and was Secretary for three, until I resigned in 2014, the year we left Lenton for Beeston. I enjoyed them all.

It is now the turn of Beeston Week, with a final post I hope towards the end of September 2017 when I have current council tax exemptions data for Broxtowe which I will post without comment. 

I want to type up what I write, post an e-book I am working on to Amazon I've no idea when. I want to do it, then there is my 35 'History Bus' I want to write more about and My Wembley blog memoir - and I haven't mentioned my garden yet or playing bowls again next year, or seeing more of my friends.

So I am making a start of sorts now by parking Beeston Week - something I have enjoyed doing and have tried to park before without success. This time I am more determined! Just one more when I have the data.

My maps will stay here, so there will be some activity.

Robert Howard

Friday, 4 August 2017

A wander through border country aka Kegworth and Sutton Bonington

Last Saturday (29 July 2017) Susan and I took ourselves off to explore Kegworth and Sutton Bonington villages to check the accuracy of the map of I was working on with Nottingham University's Students' Union.  I posted a second draft of the map yesterday, completely changed from my first draft. I had not got anything wrong, it was just a case of seeing things differently.

We  have known about Kegworth Museum for a long time but never visited before. We were not disappointed. Notice the bus stop right outside, which is normally used by Trent-Barton's Nottingham SkyLink service, which is extended hourly Monday–Saturday daytime from East Midlands Airport to Loughborough, but the stop is temporarily out of use whilst the road bridge across the M1 between the A453 and Kegworth is closed. The good news is that Kegworth Museum is just a five minute walk from the Market Place.

The Museum is a wonderful eclectic mix of the everyday and far more besides. 

It is run by a small group of volunteers who keep the museum looking immaculate. I did not see a spect of dust.

This picture shows the upstairs exhibition area. They have a large collection of photographs which have been linked to reminiscences. We stayed well over an hour and left determined to return.

For a place the size of Kegworth to have a museum makes you wonder why towns like Beeston have never managed to have museums. The Museum is open Easter – September, Saturdays & Bank Holiday Mondays 10–1 and Sundays 1–4. Free admission.

We caught sight of this little bus three times during our visit. It was empty every time. The 865 is a Nottinghamshire County Council subsidised service which runs 4–5 times Monday–Saturday daytime in each direction. The destination blind showed 'Kegworth' on each occasion, which is a little confusing because journeys only call at Kegworth, never terminate. It actually runs between Normanton and the Clifton South tram terminus in Nottingham. It also calls at East Midlands Parkway Station. I am a great supporter of rural bus services and believe the need to be frequent and daily. However, I suspect even this 'little bus' is too large for the 865 and what is need is a more flexible 'bus-taxi' service like I have advocated for Beeston in blog earlier this year.

We went into Oliver's Cafe on the High Street for a light lunch. It looked (and was) clean and comfortable.

Whilst there we got chatting with Irene (who said that was her name, but she liked to be called Rene) who was hoping to see someone who did not arrive. In the course of our chat we found out that we had a few things in common. Last year she had a heart valve replacement operation at Nottingham City Hospital (like me in February this year). Her defect was found by a chance blood test at her GP and when she asked if, at 95, she was too old for the operation, the doctor replied '95 is just a number to us'.

Rene came from Teeside to live with family in Kegworth a few years ago and volunteered that she had been a English teacher until she retired and that she was 'a socialist'. She went on to tell us about her life as a teacher and growing up in Norton on the edge of Stockton-on-Tees. A remarkable woman by any measure who was great company for all too shorter time. Just over two hours in fact. As fellow socialists we hope that we will still be as lively and good company as Rene when we reach 95 (96 next month she told us).

I chose a delicious panini filled with Halloumi cheese, Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto. Susan had a beef sandwich. Oliver and his assistance were having the day off, so we were served by their mums. We will be going back. The cafe was small, but when it came to service and quality it packed a mighty punch.

One of the things I was not expecting in Kegworth was steep hills and we found a couple. This is one of them. Borough Street (I know it doesn't look 'steep' but I promise you my camera is lying).

We went down Borough Street in search of this pub, the Cap & Stocking, recommended by a student. We didn't go in, having not long left Oliver's cafe, but its looks nice enough.

Across from the pub is a council estate made up of houses like these. Good looking, substantial and a reminder of the fact that council houses were built in villages, even hamlets, and small towns as well as cities, often by Conservative councils. I had relatives in Great Chesterford, Essex, who lived a craft-style cottage-like council house, just a row, seemingly on the edge of nowhere until post-war housing went up on the other side of the road. It would be interesting to know the history of this nice looking estate. A question for our next visit to Kegworth Museum.

At the end of Borough Street we crossed Nottingham Road and stood watching a cricket match for ten minutes before moving on.

We climbed another hill towards the church and entered via the back gate, then up some steps, along a path through some trees to be confronted with this view of the church, our eyes drawn to the six tiny gravestones all dating from the 19th century. Best described I think as 'a thoughtful place'.

Round the front of the church and this view from under the Yew. 'Timeless' describes it best as far as I am concerned.

We bade farewell to Kegworth, vowing to return for a longer visit next time, and headed to Sutton Bonington, which is now home to the University of Nottingham's veterinary school as well as its long established agricultural college. Another place we will return to, but the need for tea and cake...

...pulled us onto what I had marked on the map as 'The Gallery & Tearoom'. In fact they when we arrived we quickly found out that they are in the process of a rebranding exercise. Their new name is above.

What we also found out that for the past five years one of the owners, Martin, has been creating an outdoor model railway. As you can see the railway has yet to catch up with the building's signage.

The important thing is that we found what we had come in search of — cake with Earl Grey tea! Everything you need on albeit overcast, barely warm English summer afternoon. We found out the Tearoom was busy with locals and welcomed students. We also learnt a thing or two about Martin and, later, a connection with Lucy in Beeston's 2 Little Magpies craft and gift shop. Both were students at Nottingham-Trent University at the same time, albeit in different years, studying theatre & costume design.

As we ate our delicious Victoria sponge cake Thome the Tank Engine kept calling at Soar Point Station. Maybe such a station once existed on the nearby Midland Mainline Railway which runs through the village, cutting it off from the University campus.

Martin told us students were always welcome and the indoor tearoom was where students came to escape the gaze of others. From now on I will think of this place as the 'Assignations Tearoom'

The art gallery is morphing into Bonington's Gift Shop and Tearooms which I think can be described as 'a destination in itself'. I will be going back for more cake and to take a photograph of a Trent-Barton Nottingham SkyLink bus as it passes by. During our visit we were busy eating or looking the other way when the SkyLinks zoomed by. Buses really are the agents of democracy and need to championed at every opportunity.

A walk down to Queens Road and you can catch a Trent-Barton SkyLink direct to Kegworth and Sutton Bonington once every hour during the daytime Monday–Saturday, or an Indigo from Beeston Interchange to The Green in Long Eaton, where you can change to a Nottingham SkyLink.

Anyone with in easy reach of a Nottingham SkyLink of Indigo bus really does have access to history and village England in a way many elsewhere can only dream of.

We came away from Kegworth Museum with three short walk leaflets determined to return on a Trent-Barton bus, perhaps in the company of others interested in a day out in what can fairly be called 'Border Country'. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Kegworth and Sutton Bonington Spider Map

I recently posted a map I have created for Nottingham University Students Union showing Kegworth village pubs and cafes etc. Below is my attempt at a 'spider map' which I prefer because it has allowed me to include Sutton Bonington village as well.

At the weekend my blog post will be about the visit last Saturday Susan and I made to the two villages so we could check out the first map. This map prints up really well A4 landscape — which is, of course 2 x A5 portrait pages.

I hope you find it of interest. Click on the map to enlarge.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Stapleford's 'Hemlock Room' — is it bad taste, funny or a point of view?

Yesterday morning I went to my dentist, who is based in Stapleford Care Centre. On the first floor there is this door...

...with a sign saying 'Hemlock Room'.  The other sign on the door says 'Sheila Gibson Unit'.

The Sheila Gibson Unit is what? Well, follow the above link and see for yourself.

My take on the name immediately was that someone was pissed off with the services offered by the Sheila Gibson Unit and was making a statement about them — hemlock is a poison, famously taken by Socrates.

At the other extreme it could be someone making a reference to the town's famous 'Hemlock Stone', but when you realise that the weblink says this is the 'Broxtowe Day Unit (which) offers a range of group and individual therapies for older adults diagnosed with a mental health condition' you may, like me, read the room name and wonder as to how it was chosen?

If the decision to call the it the 'Hemlock Room' is official then it is in bad taste and shows a lack of sensitivity towards older folk with mental health needs or am I just an over-sensitive oldie?

Oh I know posting this will flush out a few nasties keen to say all us oldies are past our sell by dates, so poisoning us all to death is a good idea and if the NHS wants to do it, yippee!

'Uneasy' probably best sums up how I feel about seeing a door in a 'Care Centre' labelled the 'Hemlock Room'.

Friday, 28 July 2017

From a 'beach' in Beeston to Dunkirk in four hours ten minutes

This post has minimal text, just captions as brief as I can make them. Anyone who knows me well will know that brevity does not come easy to me. This post is all about the pictures. At the end you will find a map of the route my walk followed.

'Beeston-on-Sands' has taken over the abandoned town bus station for the duration of the school holidays.  

Excluding Smith's, which sells new books, there is only Oxfam which sells second-hand books...

... 'Book Land' which sells remaindered books, now, as the sign says, either for £1 or £2. Most of the charity shops have small book sections, even the supermarkets now provide racking where customers can leave or pick up a book.

I bought Nottingham Transformed for £2. When published in 2006 the book cost £24.95. Its full of great photographs of Nottingham past and present as well as drawings of proposed future developments at the time of publication. Most of these aspirational visions of the city lost out to the financial crash.

The Sewing Box which is housed on Willoughby Street behind Barnsdales the Butchers, is now selling fabric. Mike Barnes, the owner, was just setting up his outside stall when he got his first customer...

...quickly followed by another. You can find The Sewing Box on my Beeston Vertical map.

Gourmet Delights closed on 2nd December last year. I did a blog at the time. It still stands empty.

You have a measure of how hard it is to let retail units on Beeston High Road when an estate agent as good as C P Walker & Son is forced to do this!

Odin's Table came and went in what seems a matter of months. Now it's another empty Beeston shop.

One person who is making a go of it is Lucy at 2 Little Magpies. Whilst have a wander around her lovely little craft and gift shop I came across these toddle 'London Bus' waistcoats. I have asked her to get me a price for a grown-up version.

I wonder how many folk have noticed the new housing going up behind Home Made Bakery?

It is a development by the long established local builder Hofton & Son on their old Roberts Yard site, comprising of a terrace of ten house. Visit their website to learn more. At £195,000 they are not cheap. Whilst I was taking this photograph Susan and I were invited to have a look around one of the houses. We wanted them to impress but they didn't.

What we did see from the Roberts Yard was the back of a development at the Broadgate end of Marlborough Road, where an old retail unit looks like it's being transformed into housing. The bamboo and fatsia look like they have been there forever.

Susan and I stopped at The Coffee House for a light lunch. It was until recently Mason & Mason, but has been 're-branded' by the owners. It is a cafe we have been visiting since it first opened in 2011. They do lovely salads and have a brunch menu that goes on into the afternoon. It was about 1pm when we sat down to Eggs Benedict and Egg Royale. They really do do a perfect poached egg.

After lunch Susan left me and I began my wander along Broadgate towards Dunkirk. This road sign at the junction of Broadgate and Broadgate Avenue remains in view thanks to the houseowner who trims his hedge to ensure passers by can still see the sign.

And its ditto for Peveril Road.

Along this stretch of Broadgate is a boundary marker dated 1933. To the left it is Beeston (now Broxtowe) and to the right the City of Nottingham (Lenton).
A part of me is loath to share the picture for fear of someone stealing it, but it's worth looking for

The Salthouse Lane road sign has no diligent householder to attend it, so in the absence of City Council care it has been lost from view (well almost)!

I like all my walks to have a bus nearby just in case I get tired or it begins to rain. In this case a Trent-Barton Indigo bus. Its driver has just let off a lady carrying two shopping bags and about to turn into Salthouse Lane. Perhaps she has been to Chilwell Retail Park (M&S Food) or Long Eaton Market rather than Beeston town centre? Someone said once that 'A bus is a community on wheels where people get to know one another and lives get exchanged'

Just beyond the bus is this row of lovely houses with pollarded trees.

At the University end of Broadgate another hidden road sign.

This entrance to part of Nottingham University has to be the best. To see it walk straight across from Broadgate and past the University's controlled west entrance and it's just don on the right.

A very different view of the University from Jubilee Avenue. Behind you is Florence Boot Hall. A few yards to the right and you are walking into Highfields Park.

The waterfall in Highfields Park is not always turned on, but it was last Tuesday. Back in the 1980s and into the 1990s all this was clean enough for me, my children and grandchildren to paddle in. Lack of care and maintenance as the City Council had to deal with budget cuts imposed by central government have seen it silt up...

...Now it's dogs who have all the fun. Off camera a little girl is crying because she can't join the dog!

I have included this picture as large as I can so that in the distance you can see a tram gliding by on a section of reserved track. Between the tram and the park is University Boulevard.

This is part of the footpath which hugs the north side of Highfields lake.

I wait to cross East Drive on the University Campus and into the Lakeside Arts Centre as a City Transport 34 bus goes by. The students have gone and it's coming up to 3.30pm but the bus has quite a few passengers. NCT have worked hard over many years to establish this route, so it is disappointing to see in County Council's August 2017 list of bus service changes that from September the 34 will run during term times only. 

Inside the Arts Centre a dinosaur grabs my attention. It's a free spinoff off the dinosaur exhibitiion currently on in Wollaton Hall.

To read the signage telling you more about the dinosaur, click on the image to enlarge.

In the Art Centre's cafe I sit for awhile sipping my Dandelion & Burdock (no ice) and catch a tram passing by. There can't be many better places to sit if you want to watch trams go by.

Outside I catch this pic of a tram as it glides past the Arts Centre on its way to Nottingham City Centre, Bulwell and Hucknall.

Then I crossed University Boulevard (or is it Beeston Road at this point?) and caught sight of the footpath beside Tottlebrook, which takes me to Dunkirk and my destination, a car repair bodyshop beside Beeston Cut, where I am having a dent and some scratches (of my own making) removed from our car.

Along sections I have to brush the blackberries away which dangle in front of me. I eat a good few as I go.

The footpath and Tottlebrook bend just before I reach Dunkirk. Not a sound apart from the brook and the birds which seem to occupy every tree and bush. 

Then I burst out onto Montpelier Road at its junction with Claude Street. Not quite a war zone, but look to the right (see pic below) as well and you can be forgiven for thinking that parts of Dunkirk are in need of attention and restoration.

As far as I'm concerned landlords, the University and the City Council are responsible, but a good few of what remaining locals there are blame 'students'.
Dunkirk housing stock is c.80% student housing and it forms part of historic Lenton — hence the City Council ward name, Dunkirk and Lenton (which I can say Susan and I are truly responsible for).

The arguments which rage around Brexit mirror the arguments which have raged around university expansion and accommodation since the 1980s. The incomers are blamed — not those who encouraged them to come in the first place, then failed to provide accommodation and the extra services and facilities needed to manage more people.

There are some lovely Victorian semis and terraces in Dunkirk, a good few of which are adorned with ceramic tiles like these. All different, put together by workman as it took their fancy on the day. I'm sure there is a dissertation on them waiting to researched and published.

My very last picture, and bleak as it appears, is my favourite. The end of Montplelier Road. To the left of this pic is a low railway bridge, as grubby as this broken window and broken panes of glass. Dunkirk gets more depressing every visit I make. Those who hang on, working to keep what community that's left alive are local heroes. Once I was one of them. Not any more. I imagine an independent Dunkirk, in charge of its own destiny (as I do every neighbourhood).