Friday, July 30

Cycling news

The London cycle hire scheme has started up and here is a video that explains how it works:
(The original video that I embedded has been removed by London Transport, this AlJazeera report is probably the best alternative):

I think it would be good to have a scheme like it in Portsmouth. I think a big issue might be vandalism we'll have to see how it goes. Watching the video suggests they have thought about everything and even the design of the bikes take into account the sort of use/abuse they might have.

Also this week, news that Velocity cycle shop in Portsmouth are moving to Cosham to bigger premises. That's good for Waterlooville folk since it is closer to home.
Also more cycle paths are cropping up around Waterlooville, I am losing track of them now!
Given the limited space, I guess the council are doing a good job, but it would be nice to see some real dedicated cycle paths in any new developments, with priority to cyclists.

Saturday, July 24

Havant Transition Network

Things are moving on in Havant Borough with a new environmental group. Havant Transition Network is based on the model of similar groups around the UK and started by Kinsale in Ireland.

The focus is on the transition from a dependency on oil and other fossil foils, localising food production, reduced energy consumption, local renewable energy and support for local business. Looks good to me.

They have organised a 'Trash Carnival' at Havant Park, Saturday, 14 August from 12 noon to 4pm.
The idea is to make sculptures from trash. But there will also be local producers, music, art workshops and other stuff.

Saturday, July 17

Steamboat Willy

Took the bus down to Pompey Green Fair today. There were some interesting stalls down there. But by far the most interesting thing was 'Steamboat Willy' a peddle powered hovercraft. Quite amazing to watch. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera, which I regret having seen it in action.
The craft is made from very light weight materials and volunteers getting on it were given instructions on how to get on it! They had to tread carefully because it is so delicate.
I can confirm it has no power sources although it is hard to believe.

Here's a Youtube video (not at the fair):

Steamboat Willy web site

Thursday, July 15

Support John Abraham

A few weeks/months ago I posted on the subject of John Abraham and his presentation about Moncktons claims about climate science. Monckton has launched a campaign against John and threatened legal action. There is a web page set up in New Zealand to support John and the universities fight:

Stick your name on it and help to stop Monckton from doing more damage to science.
Quite a varied bunch of people from all over the planet have already put their comments on.

Saturday, July 10

Newlands redesign

The latest news about the Newlands development suggests that the homes will be designed to a pseudo neo-classic specification by an architect that has connections with the Prince of Wales. The Prince is famous for his Poundbury town. However it is extremely doubtful that the Newlands development will be anything like Poundbury. The Prince of Wales has done many good things and his views about agriculture are good, but he doesn't have a clue about architecture. Poundbury may have some context in Dorset, but it would be ridiculous to build anything like it next door to the existing buildings of Waterlooville.

One thing to consider is what will happen to the Georgian or Edwardian facade of the Newlands houses in the future, once they have exchanged hands a few times. These buildings will not be listed and will have the minimal protection from alterations like any other building in the borough. This basically means that the architects vision of nice neat homes will eventually be destroyed when people start building plastic porches at the front, stick a satellite dish on the roof and a plastic conservatory in the back garden.

Waterlooville is not an area that is now rich in Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian architecture. It was once, but that has all either been demolished or extensively re-adapted and extended for modern use.
Yes there are the remains of Victorian/Georgian homes and commercial buildings in Waterlooville town centre, but you have to look at the top floors of the shops to see the nature of the original buildings, at ground level they are modern shops.  The vast majority of homes were built between the 1930s and 1970s. That period is the 'traditional' architecture of the area.

So the real choices for architecture have to be of that period or something completely new, not some fantasy vision that dates back to the Napoleonic or Crimean wars.

There is of course an alternative, Newlands could become a theme park or a gated community like Celebration in the USA of which much amusement and many TV documentaries are made. Celebration has strict rules about what colours can be used on homes and the community has an unelected town manager. With such strict rules and corporate management, Newlands could be kept like the architect designed it to be.

What will Waterlooville get?

Most likely standard box houses with token features that suggest some historical context, the windows will probably be plastic framed and the sandstone cornices will probably be replaced with plastic or concrete equivalents.  Yes it will satisfy some today, but it will likely ruin Waterloovilles image for the next hundred years, just like Waterloovilles town centre was ruined in the 1950s and 1960s.
Maybe if the area hadn't been massively developed in 50s/60s into a suburbia and the old Victorian/Georgian village of Waterlooville still existed, then just maybe the Newlands redesign would work. The reality though is far from that ludicrous ideological vision.

What does Waterlooville need?

The area desperately needs property that is built for the context of climate change and environmental sustainability. To do this, modern understanding of low energy construction, natural convection and the use of natural solar heating/cooling have to be built into the design of a building, traditional design does not fulfil that criteria. Any environmentally sustainable property will probably look different to anything built in the past if this essential criteria is met.

In fact the Newlands properties may contribute to their own demise because current building standards are not stringent enough to sufficiently reduce carbon emissions.

Monday, July 5

Windmill Bread

Still using up the flour from the visit to Bursledon Windmill. This is the third go at making some bread.
First go used just wholemeal windmill flour, it was OK but didn't rise much. Second go used half strong white and half wholemeal windmill flour.

This one is the third go, cooked it in the bowl, instead of a tin!
Risen really well. Nice.

Note that no bread making machine was used. Just my gentle hands, nature and the oven.