25 August 2008

What defines a city? Is it the architecture, the people, location, reputation or football team? Maybe some or all of these. One thing that has had passions running high in the people of Sheffield recently was the proposed demolition of the twin cooling towers at Tinsley.

The towers have been an announcement to those travelling on the M1 that you have reached Sheffield.  Built in the 1940’s along with five other towers as part of a cooling system for the Blackburn Meadows Power Station.  They preceded the motorway by two decades and all but the remaining two towers were demolished in the 1980’s.  The pair remained as engineers didn’t have the expertise at the time to remove them safely.

For three years local artists Tom Keeley and Tom James  have spearheaded a campaign to save the towers with plans to use them as spaces for public art.  A gift shop was set up selling their art which featured the twin towers and  pieces priced at £35 in the shop have been sold for ten times that on ebay.   Discussions with e.on and Sheffield Council were promising but in the end the decision was taken to demolish the towers to make way for a biomass power station.

In the early hours of Sunday 24th August the towers were demolished.  But like the people of Sheffield they weren’t going to go without a fight, the controlled explosions failed to destroy one of the towers outright although it eventually collapsed in on itself a few hours later.

I've been ambivalent about the towers. Maybe if I had been born and bred in Sheffield I might have been more passionate about them. I loved their shape but on a bad day they just were just plain ugly and concrete isn't my favourite material when it comes to architecture of any kind. But they served their purpose at the time and it will be strange to drive home from Newcastle in a couple of weeks with no iconic markers to herald our return.


Yesterday has to have been my laziest day since Boxing Day (I'm establishing a tradition that on the day after Christmas I stay in bed all day and start delving into the pile of books I have inevitably been gifted whilst the family fend for themselves and live on the left overs of our Christmas Feast). Yesterday though, the excuse was the luxury of a long Bank Holiday weekend and the need to just collapse in a heap.

I did manage to raise myself and the rest of the family at around 4.30 to do some blackberry picking. We set off in the car heading towards our usual spot at Handley. Unfortunately the berries weren't ripe enough to pick, so we drove home the long way round. I've recently noticed a newly erected sign on the outskirts of the town saying 'Dronfield Nature Park' so we decided to go there and see what that was all about. The park is on a site that used to be the local (unofficial) tip. A pond has been constructed and a short walk around the site with signs detailing the insects, birds and wildlife that are likely to be spotted. It's a little oasis right on the edge of town and really peaceful, and I don't think many people have cottoned on to the fact that it's there yet. As for the wild life we managed to spot a Pond Skater but that was about it so far.

To our delight there were loads of blackberry bushes there too and we managed to pick enough to make a lovely pie (which Jenny made for us later) and some mini blackberry crumbles for the freezer.

Once home and feeling more energised, Jenny, Becky and I hit the kitchen, but more about that here

24 August 2008

Jenny's exam results are in!

Maths A* - taken last year
Psychology A* - taken last year
Physics A*
Chemistry A*
Biology A*
Graphics A*

English A
English Literature A
Spanish A
History A

Maths AS Level - A

Art - D

As you can imagine she and we are thrilled with those results. She's starting A-levels in Further Maths, Physics and English Language in September as well as the second part of her Maths A Level. She's hoping to go to University in two years time to study computer linguistics, specialising in artificial intelligence. Unless she changes her mind ... again!

We took the girls into Chesterfield for a chinese meal last night to celebrate and then came home and cracked open the bottle of champagne that Rue bought us a couple of years back for Christmas. (We'd been waiting for a suitable occassion and you don't get better than this!).

We're very proud parents!

On a totally unrelated note, I've been meaning to put this up for ages, it's almost worth a trip to the cinema in itself:

Why music? What they said!!  

20 August 2008

I seem to be spending my evenings unwinding by working my way through a pile of books that have accrued on my bedside table. So, there is yet another update to the book page. I have had the nocturnal pleasure of both Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle this week and I have to say they were both great!

I've almost finished writing up our Italian Sojourn and am hoping to have that uploaded by the end of the week.




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