Saturday, 3 December 2011


The light has been relentlessly grey this week, with the weather on the verge of rain pretty much every day. I was on strike on Wednesday (does this man never work?) but for once chose to spend the day at home (all right, in bed). Let the young 'uns freeze their butts on the picket line.

Talking of impassable barriers, one of my old lunchtime haunts, the so-called Valley Garden, is still closed for "improvements", and my heart sinks whenever I look over the fence to see (a) the sort of "improvements" that are going on and (b) the wonderful autumnal scenes that are going waste. Not to mention the fruit: when my daughter was a toddler at the university day nursery we used to go for lunchtime walks in the Valley Garden and pick the apples, that otherwise would have rotted in the grass. She tells me she still sometimes dreams about our Secret Magic Garden.

The contrast is rather lacking in this "over the fence" picture, but the yellows and oranges are still worth the effort. What is needed is a natural reflector of some kind. Hmmm... Turn around 180 degrees, and that is precisely what you have. The Students' Union swimming pool is clad in corrugated metal sheets, that give an eery "interior" feel to the immediate surroundings. It's like being in one of those giant studios that are used for photographing cars.

You wouldn't think it was the same day.


Martin said...

I remember the Viewpoint campaign we ran to save the garden from permanent closure. Sorry to hear that it's closed once again.

Mike C. said...

Actually, Martin, the Valley Garden has been closed since this post:

That was in November 2008!!

It looks like they've almost finished (greenhouses removed, paths and bridges "improved", etc.) but I don't expect it will re-open much before Spring 2012. That's THREE (and probably four) February Frog Frenzies I'll have missed in the pond.

And it'll be years before it scruffs up enough to worth photographing again.



Tony_C said...

Another place they've "improved" is the Town Centre Gardens, Stevenage (“the Duck Pond”, to you and me, Mike). In this case, "improvement" means levelling all the varied shrubbery which made it such a delightful place, and creating a flat expanse of lawn and paving. The clue to understanding why this is considered an "improvement" is in the panning camera concealed under tinted glass and mounted just above the underpass leading into the gardens from the Town Centre, allowing Big Brother to monitor every square inch.

Mike C. said...


I remember I used to go fishing in the Duck Pond when I was in junior school with my friend John -- incredibly, he caught a large Perch and what seemed like an enormous Tench (to a 9 year old) in there. I doubt there are many (any?) fish in there now.

Surveillance is a way of life, these days -- apparently we have more CCTV cameras per person in Britain than anywhere else. It seems that whenever you look up, a camera is looking down.


Tony_C said...

"apparently we have more CCTV cameras per person in Britain than anywhere else"

Yep. And guess what part of the UK has the highest density? It covers Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth. It’s not all bad though, as I used the CCTV evidence to refute a charge of assaulting the police a coupla years back, AND I got to keep the vid!

"I doubt there are many (any?) fish in there now."

Plenty. And they’re ALL under surveillance!

[Checkword: excirion - a fundamental particle, the smallest quantun of excitement which can exist indepaendently]

Mike C. said...

Are there really lots of fish in there now? I'm amazed. I was imagining it looking about as dead as a puddle on a petrol station forecourt, surrounded by blazing lights and swivelling cameras. Maybe that's just Southampton Docks...