Posts

Ossulstone (deceased)

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The pecking order of what passed for local government in the olde days was the Counties or shires, the Hundreds and, in the basement, parishes. There were some bespoke arrangements, the City of London being one. If you read my last post, you will know that the City was girdled by the River and Middlesex, which was eventually subsumed as the Great Wen sprawled across the surrounding countryside, building on fields and subsuming towns and villages. So what happened to the Middlesex Hundreds? Firstly, a bit more on Hundreds. No one seems very sure what they were originally based on. Possibly, it referred to a hundred hides, being the area of land needed to support an ordinary family or, later, several of them. Alternatively it could have been related to an obligation to provide one hundred armed men when required. In the northern counties settled by the Danes, the equivalent of the Hundreds ‘Wapentakes’ which to my ear lends some support to that idea. Whatever; as time went on it,

Middlesex : The Virtual County

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  You know what a County is. Maybe. In fact there are two types, administrative counties and ceremonial or geographic counties, and also ‘pseudo’ counties, an optional embellishment of a postal address but nothing else.  The first of these gets you a Council with an attendant goody bag. Things like a bin collection or a parking permit. The second just does pomp & show. Berkshire is a good example. There is no Berkshire County Council, it was abolished in1998, leaving in its wake only a ‘Lieutenancy’, just one more chance for an old and well-heeled white man to dress up and pretend to be important. You can probably think of several more, because people care about their counties. Huntingdonshire, Westmoreland, Bedfordshire etc. You also know ‘Middlesex’ but, unlike the rest, it doesn’t fit, mainly because while it did exist, it doesn’t now. Unlike places Cornwall, Northumberland or Yorkshire that demand some allegiance, no one seems too bothered. Yet it is all around us, like shape

Lambourn Valley & The North Wessex Downs (East)

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  Link to GPX File of the Route This route takes you from Newbury, up the valley of the River Lambourn before heading up towards the scarp of the North Wessex Downs. It is then downhill most of the way back to Newbury. It is all on roads which, once you are out of Newbury, are small and quiet. The road beside the river is fairly flat, and the climb up to the scarp isn’t as arduous as you might expect. Highlights are the water meadows of the Lambourn, a classic chalk country stream; then an exhilarating roller coaster ride over the open country of the chalk ridge. This countryside has been settled for a long time. There are old hill forts and traces of the Romans although you won’t see much of them from the bike. What you will see is a wonderful variety of English vernacular buildings going back over 500 years. A.  Newbury  Heading north from the station, you cross the Kennet on the Town Bridge. Built in the 1770’s, it is the oldest of several in Newbury. When the river was canalised

On pyschogeography. Without enthusiasm.

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I am interested in places. Mostly real places, I want to know what lies on the other side of the metaphorical hill. Sometimes they are not real, landscapes of the imagination of an author or game designer perhaps. The  blog builds on this interest. Some of those who paddle in the same pool, use the term ‘psychogeography’ to describe the borderlands between real and imagined places, embellishing them with myths and patterns.  I don't like the term, which simply seems intellectually pretentious, and the content, which sometimes strays too far into the realm of pure invention. In essence Psychogeography seeks to substitute a canvas of fragmented impressions for the simplified vision of a two dimensional map. Maps are indeed problematic. We are often reminded not to confuse them with the territory they seek to represent. Labels and boundaries are tricky impositions. The symbols and lines in an OS map do not appear on the ground, you don’t find the green dotted lines on an OS Map on

The World - Dubai

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  I have never been to Dubai but a quick glance at the map tells me that its is small, dry and built up. If you want to buy good land for development, it will cost you a lot. So a major property company with links to the rulers, Nakheel’, came up with the brilliant wheeze of inventing new land, by dumping lots of sand  on the sea bed, just off the coast, to create artificial islands for new housing, hotels and whatnot.  It took enough sand to fill over 150 major sports stadia to create 300 islands, representing almost every country on the globe and arranged to look like a world map. The only one missing was Israel. This is Dubai after all . The World?  Nakheel had tried this trick before. The oldest and best known scheme is Palm Jumeirah, which seen from the air looks like a palm tree sticking into the sea, with housing built on each of its ‘fronds’. To that extent at least, the scheme was a success. Palm Jumeirah Even so, the new scheme was no small challenge. As it turned out the m

The World - At Sea

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 Fed up with the constraints of being anchored to a place that constrains your capacity for perpetual self-indulgence? And that comes without the trappings of Nationality, a Government and inhabitants that do not reach your own height of greatness? ‘The World’ is a Ocean Liner. It looks like a cruise ship but doesn’t see itself as a cruise ship. You can’t rent a cabin on this beast. Rather, you have to buy a 'residence' outright in order to become part of an exclusive community, railed off from the trials, tribulations and petty discomforts of the rest of planet by a wall of money. Security, anonymity and privacy are watchwords. It is even hard to establish who lives on it. There aren’t many. While conventional liners carry thousands of people, ‘The World’ is inhabited by only a few hundreds at most. CNN called it ‘a floating city of millionaires’ and said that stepping onto it 'feels like boarding a 21st-century Titanic, such is its scale and grandeur.…...this gleaming