Granite, Concrete and Steel

My most recent posts have been delayed because I went for a short trip to my old home town of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, which has recently undergone its latest bout of “regeneration”. It now has a shiny, new £15m bus station, which the Council appears to be very proud of. To me it just looks like scaled down version of the granite, concrete and steel identikit structures built all over London in recent years.The architects have won awards (but then haven’t they all) and it looks great in the photos. Having been there on a wet Saturday, it already looked dirty and overcrowded to me – difficult to believe it had only been open less than a year.

Google shows lots of images of the old and new bus stations, but there are pages devoted to the old station and the new station.

The old station is a creature of its time and looks very shabby, but then that what happens when buildings aren’t well maintained and allowed to rot. I’m not sure replacing a dated cliché with a modern cliché is that much of an improvement, especially when the new one appears to be functionally worse than its predecessor. The old station stood more than 40 years – while I probably won’t be around in another 40, I have a sneaking suspicion that the new station won’t be either.

While in Hanley I was able to treat myself to a visit to a fine example of a old-school bookshop – Webberley’s – which has recently celebrated its centenary. It’s actually more than just a bookshop, and it was always the place to get art supplies etc that no one else seemed to stock, long before they were just a few clicks away on the internet. The room full of jigsaw puzzles is almost overwhelming and I already regret not coming away with the Stoke-on-Trent version on Monopoly. I did come out with a couple of books that I doubt I would have found on the shelves anywhere else, and a Pilot Parallel Pen Set for a bargain price. To be fair the nearby Waterstones is better than many, but if Webberley’s were ever to close, it would be a tragedy.

I’ll finish with one further example of granite, concrete and steel design (hereafter abbreviated to “GCS”). I will preface this by saying that I have nothing against this style of design per se, other than it is now overused in a way that’s often unsympathetic to the location – in many cases real granite (shipped from China or not) may not even be present (or steel for that matter) but most readers will know the style I mean. This is one of the entrances to Hanley’s Central Forest Park, a place that’s has lots of changes over the years (I’m showing my age now but I can remember when it first opened). The entrances were less grandiose back then, but I suppose this is meant to be the gateway from the City Centre, so justifies something more elaborate now. I actually quite like it.


Recent Links January 28, 2014

My first attempt at creating a link summary using Delicious Curator.

Resources Page

A shorter post this week. I’m working on a Resources Page which has a series of links to sites that I find useful or interesting. The list is mainly an import of the sites I read on Tiny Tiny RSS.

I’m not impressed with the way WordPress manages links, so it comes as no surprise that this feature is now deprecated in new installs. If there was any easy way to categorize batches of links quickly I would have finished by now.

In putting the page together I had to set up a page template and a custom theme (the latter because the Jetpack Custom CSS editor wouldn’t play nice). Now both are done I suppose it will be easier to make my own modifications in future.

According to the Internet, this is a Lifestyle Blog, rather than a Niche Blog. Also according to the Internet (and I’m paraphrasing now), if you want to be read, then you should set up a Niche Blog and not a Lifestyle Blog. This is a tremendous relief. I’d hate to think anyone was actually reading this.

What will I be posting about?

This blog won’t have a specific theme, but will feature anything that interests me.

I enjoy messing around with computers and other technology. Microsoft has managed to simultaneously create the worst version of Windows ever, along with the worst version of Office, so one day I may write all that down – but only when I can bring some coherence to the rant. I’ve dabbled with Macs, but have never been impressed enough to make the switch. I’ve fiddled with Linux and set up servers running OpenBSD (yes, it’s obscure, but now is not the time to explain) – so HOWTOs may follow. When it comes to phones I’m happy with Android, although if that didn’t exist I’d probably use an iPhone and be happy with it – I just prefer to use the operating system that allows me most flexibility, and for me that’s Android, even if that means spending more time configuring things that most people would want to do. So if I find useful stuff on Android it may crop up here. I have no illusions about Google – at the moment I use their services as a necessary evil. I’ve spent too much time playing computer games, and still dabble from time to time, but if and until Valve release Half Life 2 Episode 3 don’t expect to see much on games here.

I take a lot of photos, mostly as visual notes for work, but also of anything that I spot on my travels. Photography used to be a serious hobby of mine, and I have a large number of 35mm slides that I plan to scan one day. When that happens they will feature here. A long time ago I turned my number one hobby – gardening – into my work, and over the years that has meant I’ve wanted to spend less of my leisure time one it. However, as many of the photos I take are of horticultural subjects, that’s how this interest will manifest here.

I like Movies and TV, mostly Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Crime Dramas, so they will make an appearance. I spend a lot of time listening to music (classical and contemporary) so that may feature too – some videos have already been posted. I don’t read as much as I should, but as completing a book is a Big Thing for me it could prompt me to post here.

“Procrastination is the Thief of Time” – and to avoid my time being stolen I have invested substantial amounts of it looking at ways of improving my personal productivity. I’m still waiting for the investment to pay off, but I have picked up some useful tips on the way, and they may feature here too. One unexpected consequence of looking into efficient ways of pulling together information has been to rediscover the seductive charms of pens, ink and paper. My Pinterest account is a bit of a giveaway on that, and there will posts on this subject. I’m not sure I’m glad I fell down that particular rabbit hole.

As more posts appear, so will the Categories and Tags, which are shown at the foot of the site. RSS feeds for both categories and feeds are available at and respectively. If you are clever enough to be using an RSS reader you should be able to work out what to do. With the mention of RSS comes the opportunity to take a pop at Google for shutting down Google Reader (I now use Tiny Tiny RSS) so here is the obligatory Downfall video: