Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Imber (on the Salisbury Plains)

Pretty certain very few people will have been. This one's about my visit to Imber, an abandoned village.

In short, the War Office bought up lots of land around WW2 period, and eventually bought up all the land that the village of Imber was on, making the villagers tenants of the War Office effectively. They evicted the villagers although told them that they could come back after the war. They did leave, and they believed that it was part of the war effort. The village is not normally open to the public except a few times each year at most. I visited on April 10th 2009 on my way to London. Imber lies in the middle of the Salisbury Plains, far away from most other settlements. I got there taking the A36 down to Warminster and asking some locals (it's not signposted...) Unfortunately it was cold, wet and dull so that really didn't help. My bike was covered in mud by the time I left. (and was 2 hours late to London - although it was cleaner by then!)

Imber Road
The road leading up to Imber from Warminster. Everything looks normal here.

Military signs are red.

The sign saying when it's open this year.

Passed by a tank...

Military Firing Range - Keep Out.
Almost there...

Almost at the checkpoint, I mean.
This is the checkpoint - I imagine it would be manned normally. Imber is still a few (2?) miles from here.

Danger Unexploded Military Debris - Do Not Leave The Carriageway
These signs were everywhere I went.

My bike!
First long journey within a week of hopping onto it and I'm off to London! (mastered it by the time I got there, haha.)

The loooooong road.... 3 dead tanks in this picture, there was a 4th on the far left.

The Village of Imber

Imber Court (19th century building I think)

Some army guys having a chat.

Plenty of these UGLY fake-houses around.
Target practice or something I'm guessing...? I hate the fact they're in the middle of the village.

The church
This is something the army didn't take over. Thankfully.

One of the derelict houses (building 21)

Seagram's Farm to the left. Not sure what the one on the right is.
19th century buildings.

Inside building 21

Building 21 again.

I enjoyed my visit to Imber, it was quite an eye-opener. I'll be back here in the future, but I hope they do something nice with the village in the future. It's very sad the way it is at the moment.

More info:

That's it for now!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Pill and Portbury

Earlier today (now yesterday), I went out for a ride - I needed it. I wanted to take a long way round towards home, and I decided I'd want to see some of the River Avon. So I decided to head on the southern side into North Somerset and check out Pill and some roads I'd long forgotten about.

Pill is a village on the other side of the Avon and faces Shirehampton. It's a fair bit further downstream from the Suspension Bridge.

I've only got the river pictures here, there's a bit more to Pill than shown - about a railway bridge's worth - and not much else (by my standards anyway). However, it was a beautiful place, and offered an awesome view of the river and M5 bridge. There were many cyclists, both local kids riding around and also a group who had come from Bristol or somewhere more central. You can see the railway bridge in the distance of the first pic - it's the disused line that runs to Portishead.

Looking towards Pill

Portishead Crossing Club
a lovely maritime themed building

Portishead Crossing Club

Looking at the M5 bridge from Pill
(it carries the M5 from Portbury/Easton-in-Gordano to Avonmouth)

Looking upstream

Looking downstream
...where I read Chapter 8 of Town and Country Planning!

I then rode over to Portbury Dock (just because it was signposted and decided to out of curiosity.) This was where I saw the car park full of Chevrolet Matiz's.. don't think I've seen so many of the same car all in one place.

Chevrolet Matiz car park

Toyota Vehicle Refurbishment Centre
Another interesting stop.

When I went back home I decided to check this place out on Google Earth, after driving over the M5 bridge and seeing a massive car park full of white vans. See here. Pretty amazing. I was told several years ago at Bristol Parkway station, as a train full of vehicles went by that they were on their way to Avonmouth, for export to North America. This must be pretty similar.

That's it for now. Let's see where else I go sometime soon!

Whilst not doing revision...

Yesterday evening, me and Sherry went around St. Mary Redcliffe to Redcliffe Parade to try and listen to the bells of both Bristol Cathedral and the St. Mary Redcliffe - it can be done - but we were there at 9pm *and* 10pm and the St. Mary Redcliffe bells didn't sound so we can only assume they're not working for the time being. Ah well, maybe another day.

Anyway - some pictures:

Looking up towards Redcliffe from the floating harbour.

The Floating Harbour

Railway tracks near the Industrial Museum (facing the Habourside Developments).

Sherry being silly =P

The night view from Redcliffe Parade West.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


I shall never burden people around me to listen to me talk of how much I want a Vespa (or anything relating to it) ever again. I'll try and stick to it. Maybe until the day I get one. So this is just to put every last word I want to say about it until that day comes along.

Last night I realised I have been longing for my own Vespa f0r some 2 years, when I was searching for some old emails and stumbled upon some eBay enquiries I made on various Vespa parts. Something I remember very fondly, was telling dad one day I'd like to strip Ramsey bare of paint and give him a new shiny paint job (with some shiny chrome and bits) - he thought the idea was absurd. Whatever dad. One day...... one day...................

And later that night in bed, I lay there thinking about it - but in a much greater depth, the thoughts behind it, the meanings behind it, not scratching the surface in terms of what accessories I'd put on it (that list could be endless).

I thought about why I wanted it, what I'd do with it, what it would be like to have it, what kinds of responsibilities it would come with, what having it would mean,... and I cried. I went for my pal Sonic. I told him. I'm crying as I write this... and call me a pussy, I don't know why, but I am.

Trying to be honest to myself, I acknoledged that my desire to own a Vespa was a not really a want, and not really a need either, but rather somewhere in between. I believe that I'm a lot less materialistic these days than I used to be. I think that's come as something in the last year or so and I particularly realised how much I could be after my debt was partially paid off and I paid off my own credit card (which I worked very hard to pay off). I have wanted a Vespa, not because I enjoy a big brand or labels. Although it is true that I could settle for something less, I just didn't feel that anything else I could get would serve me for what I need. It is true that I want something a little stylish, but what I want, is to be "that guy that rode halfway across the country/Europe on a shopping scooter". Frankly, I can only associate that with a Vespa. Not a Suzuki Burgman, Honda, BMW motorbike or anything else. I want to see the country, not speed by it.

But more importantly, it is what the Vespa represents to me. It represents independence, freedom and a turn in my life. I would like it to be my own - in the sense that I get to decide what I do with it, what kinds of things I can put on it, if I decide to do a restoration on it or modify it, then so be it (of course I don't mind others riding it, it is from an ownership point of view here). I want something I can ride out on a Sunday which I can enjoy and not worry about crashing dad's bike. Dad has his Sunday ride, and I want mine (only mine won't just be used Sundays, it's what I intend to cherish). I feel it would contribute to who I am, something I can personalise and make my own, and something unique.

Today I counted my 300'th pound towards it... I'm quite proud. And I realised, on the day I'd have a grand in cash. That's my target... about £1200. That day is one I'm looking forward to, although I need to raise more than a grand initially. I am trying hard (even harder now, I haven't bothered replacing the many trousers that have holes in them) to save this money. Hope you guys can understand me being stingy, so don't you think for one moment I don't care about you guys, because you know I do and that's done in other ways =)

And finally, remember my memory of telling dad I'd like to give Ramsey a new paint job one day? I wouldn't mind a rust bucket to restore. But perhaps in the distant future rather than the near future! Dad can ride all the powerful motorcycles he ever wants, I'm happy with a little scooter that chugs along and has a few smoke clouds behind... Don't get me wrong, I appreciate everything and every way dad has contributed towards my licence, my skills, everything that I have and where I am now, but I don't think he should undermine my choice of transport. I loved Ramsey more than any other bike I've ridden (I was able to ride him for a mere 2 weeks after I got my licence due to some asshole driver crashing into me on Whiteladies) despite the fact he was slowest of them all, even more so since passing my test when I could carry people and it was sad to see him go. Dad saw it as an opportunity to get rid of him and take the money rather than an opportunity fix or replace him. That brings a tear to my eye... right now. *sob* He very very much loved by everyone that knew him (I know 3 others, I'm sure there are more) RIP Ramsey.. *sob*

I thought I'd share this with you guys,
You shouldn't hear me talk about it for a little while.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Homebound with a biccy (and Wells..)

Last few weeks have meant that I've been stuck somewhere with a book, pen and [lots of] paper. Can't say I'm the greatest fan of this period, because there's a month where I'm effectively homebound. In theory, if I'm out having fun, I've got the energy to revise... in theory, anyway.

Fortunately, that doesn't hold 100% true (it is, for the most part, 99% true, however, else I wouldn't be writing this). And so we went to Wells on the 29th April - a charming city. I didn't really intend on going there, but was simply going for a ride out on a very nice day (route: Clifton Suspension Bridge [B3129], Failand, Flax Bourton, [A370], Backwell, Congresbury, [B3133], Lower Langford, [A38], [A368], Burrington [B3134], Charterhouse, Priddy, [A39], Wells), thought we'd head into Somerset as we'd previously ventured into the Mendip Hills, Backwell and Cheddar and found it very nice (maybe I'll upload a few pics another time). With no aim, I was starting to get hungry when we were in the Mendips (where we saw a black sheep - I don't personally have a pic, Sherry does though), and thought we'd head to Wells to find some food. We ate at an Indian place, which was not bad. Wells was very pretty, and a bit of Wikipedia when we were home later told us that this lovely street contained many Grade 1 listed medieval buildings (many had been updated, but still!). What was strange was that the complete street was cobbled and it was like stepping back in time - with the addition of a few cars parked on the street.

I don't have a picture of Wells Cathedral as it didn't dawn on me to take my camera out until quite late in the day. However, I do have a lovely picture of it at night (not great, I know).

We missed out on the palace with a moat, as it was getting late, and couldn't be bothered to walk, however, there is always next time - I am thinking of stopping at Wells next time I head in a southerly direction. p.s. the journey back was horrible, a total lack of cat's eyes on the A37 made my journey rather hellish as I couldn't see where the road was without opening my visor due to the tiny specks of rain.

Step back a few days, and I'm back in Bristol now - I notice these geese on the UWE campus. It's lovely. The female has made a next in a flowerbed (I can only assume they picked that spot at night, since it's a fair bit from any water course/feature I know of - the stream that runs through Harry Stoke and the UWE campus, perhaps?). They're gone now, unfortunately.

That's all for now!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Reflective Essay I had to write for my course

Just handed in some piece of coursework into the Project Room.
On my way home now, but thought I'd share this reflective essay I've had to write.

p.s. looking forward to a nice weekend. Hopefully I can get lots of revision for my first exam in.

Reflect on prospects for employability:
This year I have tried to find a placement but I have not had much luck. In the meantime I have tried to further my interests in my field by joining English Heritage and the National Trust, since I find history and preservation interesting. I have also applied to join (perhaps a little bit late) the RTPI, so await a reply from them. Until a few months ago, I was still not certain which path I wanted to go down – the RICS or the RTPI.

Achieving effective learning:
This academic year, I have studied in a library a lot more (especially so during Easter). I found it the best place to go with a friend or two for some quiet study. It’s just amazing how a quiet bedroom and a quiet library compare – I think the fact everyone else is working is the motivation. That, and the fact I have a bed right next to my desk.

Coping with assessment:
I think I have tried to be better with my time management. A lot better. Occasionally, I still find that I’ve still got something to cover or mention in an assignment at the last minute, but it’s not as much, I prepared for it a lot more. It’s not ideal, but I generally started reading around the topics a lot, lot earlier this time. I still find my work tough, and I think it’s partially because I narrowly passed some of my modules last year, so lack the foundation here and there. That’s alright though – I have been sorting that out this year.

Benefits of working with others:
I’ve got my moments where I am really focused into my work (and also moments where I’m quite the opposite) – and I think I know when I can’t say I enjoyed my groupwork this year. At all. I found that I was more or less chairing and leading the group towards the marks in Inter-professional. Eventually I found I had to write a literature review, and having never written one before and getting it wrong twice, it meant that I just did not have time to focus my efforts on the group (I put some proper effort into the project for my own marks, as selfish as it may seem, I really can’t say I care about people who don’t put any effort in at all) or had any time to work on the project. It doesn’t bother me though – in the process, I taught myself (with my sister’s help) how to use InDesign publishing software and Photoshop and did a lot of that project in it. I thought my posters looked pretty good.

On the other hand, I quite enjoyed the groupwork earlier in the year in City and Regional Plan Making, where I worked with someone who really put in the effort to head the group. I was there to support him whenever he needed it. I felt it really worked, since he was willing to listen (shame that wasn’t the case in Inter-professional… at all.), he used your ideas, gave people a chance to talk, I genuinely enjoyed working with that him.

What are you going to do differently next year:
Next year, I am going to look at the way I approach assignments, especially the big ones. Because, quite simply, reading around the topic and then going back to the brief and then reading some more doesn’t seem to be working for me. I always seem to find I’ve missed out something and it’s all improperly bound together in the project room shortly before it’s due in. I think I lack some serious study skills, to name a few: skimming articles, how to write a report (I’ve done 2 now, and they’re both a bit sketchy) and most importantly: something that I always seem incompetent at – reading the question…!