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Admiring the Britannia on the last day of the Easter holiday. It’s an interesting tour: a glimpse into a world where hierarchy must be emphasised in everything from crockery to wall panelling to drink, otherwise the illusion might slip.
We’d spent some time in York, having fun and looking at trains.
This might look like boys activities, but we all enjoyed it. Back home, the Stockbridge Arts Club had it’s first meeting. It’s a foil to our partner’s “Book Group” and might take a little while to find it’s core purpose…
Waiting for a train in Dundee, thinking about what the new station might be.
You meet more interesting people on the train.
With youthful energy he told us about building landing strips for Spitfires on Gold Beach after the Normandy landings. He’ll have told the stories before, obviously, but the way he told them made them sound fresh and gripping, none more so than his recollections of listening to Churchill’s ‘We will fight them on the beaches’ speech in a bombed out West Ham. Too young, but filled with hate, he signed up and went to war.
He got off at Berwick, his new home. It all sounds serious but he was mostly a man for joke filled tales of adventures and scrapes. A pleasure and privilege to have met him.
With my colleagues for breakfast at Duck & Waffle 40 storeys up the Heron Tower. Planning the future of our business. Impressive neighbours peer in the window.
Work is busy. The weather is cold and grey. Sketching will remain an indoor activity for the next month or so. This limits any outdoor views to what’s right in front of the coffee shop window as I eat breakfast. I think this is called a TX4, from the London Taxi Company.
The weirdest way to travel remains the sleeper. In the bar at the start of the journey you can just glimpse the romance of rail travel from bygone days. Seven hours later you join the rest who’ve hardly slept to queue for a shower in Euston station.
At the Edinburgh Urban Design panel in the City Chambers. Former Provosts watch over the group to remind us to do the best for this amazing city. I’m a back seat driver on this one, so I watch David H doing his professional presentations in Edinburgh… …and on Grosvenor Street in London.
Alan Hamilton in Hemma at lunchtime.
We’re wrestling with the potential of some big brick buildings just now so I’m on the trail of the lauded examples. Designing buildings is hard, so it’s worth learning from those who’ve done it well, recently.These are round the back of Kings Cross. Two big blocks, by Maccreanor Lavington and PRP.There’s lots to admire: consistency, bold entrances, roof lines, grand changes in scale, well considered materials and junctions. Using decent quality brick to begin with, even.
On the way to Leeds in the morning I caught up with this odd looking engine.
She (he?) pulls the Caledonian Sleeper up from Edinburgh in the colours of the English, Scottish and Welsh Railway, which I understand is owned by the Germans.
It’s more fun on the train when you bring the family. We all went to London to help celebrate HTA’s first birthday. The bairns got a first experience of family holidays in big cities: traipsing around, sore feet, trying to find somewhere cheap enough that we could have a meal each…
From the terrace of the House of Lords, our man Mike De’Ath launched the Housing Forum’s report into how to better provide low cost housing.As he talked about it I was thinking ‘what’s more important than this?’. A society that has some making huge capital gains on rising house prices whilst others can’t afford to either rent or buy is a divided society heading for disruption.
The night before I stayed locally and bumped into some folk from the Berkeley Group in a bar on the Thames, beneath some unashamedly unaffordable housing. I knew Berkeley were ahead on customer service, but nice of them to go to the length of filling the pub in their development with their own friendly staff. The characters of the people matched their brand differentiation too.The train home from Brighton after the CIH conference after talking about institutional private rent, a part of the answer.This my view of London as I arrive. It’s the capital of the world now, or so I’m told. About 80% of the new jobs created in the UK in the last few years were in the south east, but I’m sure a good proportion of the other 20% is people servicing the London economy from the rest of the UK, like we do. If a twin track housing market with the majority priced out is divisive, a twin track economy is equally so.
Appraisals are a colossal waste of everyone’s time, says Forbes magazine. Everyone gets one in HTA, except some of the board. I don’t think they should miss out, so I did one.