Tag Archives: Bangalore

We don’t want people to see Mill Street’s backside, top Oxford architect avers

WE FOLK IN Mill Street in Oxford tipped up to an inquiry by a government inspector on Thursday on whether or not Oxford City Council had perversely overturned a plan to build a three storey building at the bottom of houses numbers 17 to 41, here.

Well that is what Tony Brett, a LibDem councillor  reckoned.

If the inspector finds for the developers, that will mean Oxford City Council will have to pay costs to the developers for the monolithic wall.

The meeting was postponed because Oxford City Council forgot to send letters to us residents, and we understand, sub rosa that it duly got a bollocking from the inspector, Mrs Jane Miles. To be honest, the residents don’t really count in these matters – the law turns us into tokens. But wasn’t it always thus?

The Oxford Mail story  is misleading, because it got the story wrong in so many ways.

First of all, possibly pandering to some of its readers, the article suggested that we were all anti-student, we were NIMBYs – not in our back yard.  Personally, I am pro-student, even though I never have been a student, but I am a little concerned that the three storey building at the bottom of my back garden will be subject to big vibrations from freight trains, especially when Network Rail electrifies the line in the next five years. And also, the studes will find me at the bottom of their not quite garden.

But the most egregious statement came from Adrian James, the architect for the project, and who lives on the west side of Mill Street, in a place that kind of looks like an observatory.

As Oxford is known worldwide, and many visitors come here by train, they will be impressed by his design, rather than the “backside of houses”, said James.

I am taking pains with my back garden, and I rather resent this bit of spin.  One resident said that visitors will see the cemetery before the monolithic three storey wall. Which is true.  The monolithic three storey wall doesn’t look very nice at all, but hey, what do I know about design?

At one point, what seemed like a very bitter exchange happened between Murray Hancock, a civil servant for Ox Cit Coun and Nick Lyzba, representing the developers. Mrs Miles provoked the quarrel by asking about some jargon called “emerging policies”. It was beyond us plebs, I’m pleased to report.

Architect James seemed, at one point in the proceedings, to be arguing for a two storey building –  the developers already have approval for one of them. Nick Lyzba described arguments about sewage as a “red herring”. Surely, if anything, it is a canard (duck).  Thames Water hadn’t appealed, said Lyzba, but we are half convinced TW doesn’t know its arse from its elbow. James v douchsafed to me, in apersonal conversation, that he had once lived in number 44, my side of the road and the noise from the trains really disturbed his sleep.

Bellerbys, a college which according to one resident of Mill Street,  wants the building to house 16-18 year old students with one warden supervising the young geezers and geezerettes, all day and all night will have communal areas where the poor kids will have to smoke their tabs and hope the licensing laws allow them to get drunk.

Susanna Pressel, a Labour councillor for this area, made an impassioned speech accusing the developers of being greedy. She suggested that the architect and the developers had already a plan in place for a two storey version that was banged in not long after the three storey monolithic building was rejected.  That cheesed off Mr Lyzba, who denied it. Pressel said: “Look at the dates.”

I, personally, was impressed by Susanna’s  passion. The other councillor, also Labour, a Mr Colin Cook, did not attend. He is up for re-election soon. Nicola Blackwood, a Tory MP, didn’t seem to be around either, although her majority over the Lib Dems is only 176 votes up here in Olde Oxford Town.

Mrs Miles told those who attended that she would issue her decision in due course. She took the trouble to make a site visit, and also visit three houses in Mill Street, including mine. “Your house is very neat and tidy,” she said as she left.

That was nice. I do take the trouble to clear after myself. The cleaner only does two hours a week. 

I get on my electric bike – hey it’s fun

IT WAS a misty Sunday morning, misted particularly so by the fact that I was in North Parade’s Rose & Crown hostelry and I somehow lost my way, last night

Woke up and it wasn’t a Chelsea morning but realised I really needed to get my electric bike into gear and get going, as the Americans say.

I got a Smarta LX bike. It’s cute. But no manual. Don’t these guys realise that we need to read something to learn? Next photo, you’ll see me on my bike.  Don’t mention the solar panels. Or the centre of laundry excellence!

And does an electric bike really need nine gears? Anyway it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be – and it went up hills magnificently, and down dales. I reached my destination, maybe three or four miles away in twenty minutes or so, including fag break.  I’m  getting to like my electric bike.

The drongos appear to have righted the matter

VOLESOFT is now looking like its former self. I am way too old to want to have to mess about with CSS stylesheets, even though on the face of it, they’re easy enough. The picture above is of a huge banyan tree near Bangalore, India. Spot the monkey?

Bath is Aquae Svlis, wonder why?

THE ROMANS didn’t bother with Oxford – they lived on the hills, Oxford was and is a flood plain. But they didn’t half like Bath (Aquae Svlis) when they trudged down west.

First Western Direct, or whatever they’re called now, is a pretty crap railway but by dint of perseverence we had a train sandwich between two buses to get down to Bath. The tourists shunted from Oxford train station onto a bus looked suitably bemused, but we knuckled down to the journey, no problem!

Here, first of all, is The Huntsman, where we duly gave the talk we gave – a nice pub with a beautiful front and an upstairs room where the carpet was just that bit tacky. Are you wondering what we talked about? Go no further than Shiva Shakti Mandalam – the audience was wonderful, the occasion was sundar and we were so welcomed into Aquae Sulis it lifted our soul. If I have one, that is.

huntsman

Just round the corner was the Roman baths – the Centurions loved this stuff. Can’t think why.

soak
Bath is in a bowl, innit?

bathbowl

The compulsory bit of video is required, naturally. See if you can spot Alex Bennett asking a local copper for directions.

A sadhu from Hampi

THAT’S WHO HE is.

hampiguy

Only in Oxford, only in Oxford

OUTSIDE THE RANDOLPH HOTEL in Oxford, a purportedly five star hotel and opposite the Ashmolean, due to re-open real soon now, we spotted a different kind of marriage carriage.

randolph

Yes, an auto rickshaw – just like in Bangalore!

And then, outside the HSBC bank on Cornmarket, this! Sorry for the sound quality – watch the moves!

Robins fledge – a living nightmare

I WAS TRYING to work for TG Daily today but when I went out into my little back garden space a strange sight awaited me.

This little fledgling, probably a bit up more in intelligence than a bee, was gazing at me, wondering what was going to happen to it.

I hadn’t a clue myself – the Robin fledgling – and by the way the European Robin is way different from the American Robin – seemed to be dashing its brains in my little back area, trying to fledge.

The birds must just have fledged today. The parent were tirelessly and unceasingly trying to persuade the kids to flee the nest. Every time there was a little cheep, one of the parents came up with a tidbit to attempt to persuade it to fly.

Naturally a small mammal like me didn’t make things easier, crashing around as I did. I wish I’d videoed the sequence. Eventually the one trapped fledgling managed to get over the garden wall. But it won’t stop tweeting. Ah yes, Twitter. And twittering.

With a bit of luck, the Robin family will all fledge. There are few katz in this part of Oxford. The tigers were all killed by the ubergraduates.

Robins are way harder to rescue than bees, because relatively speaking they have higher intelligence. Probably more intelligence than humans. Must be tough to have been shoved out of the nest to make your own way in the world!