Category Archives: Urban Exploration

The Bridge Cafe, Oban, Scotland

No, not at the bridge above, the cafe is in Oban town, a few miles further on from the steel edifice pictured over the title.

The cafe is a complete hidden gem.

Lovely town Oban, but the cafes in town are tourist places and frankly not so all wonderful as they might be.

However hidden away in the unprepossessing environs of an industrial estate that borders on urban-explorable in parts, beside a little green=painted iron bridge near the back of Tesco, is a delightful little cafe.

The owners have created a chic friendly cafe where the discerning will know they have stumbled upon L’Ecosse Profonde (Urbain) – i.e. the “Real” (Urban) Scotland – and can enjoy great value tasty cafe food and drink. No pretensions (unlike my prose), just clean, lightly assembled design from simple components. Excellent. They also have toilets one need not be afraid to use – no really it is a real plus marks.

So, 100 percent recommended. Go out of your way to this less obvious place and get a decent repas instead of tourist-priced auto-fodder. Enjoy living like a local and watching ducks with the Mums.

See the webpage here http://www.bridgecafeoban.co.uk

Trip Advisor apparently calls it a hidden gem – well, YES IT REALLY IS!

It is at
3 Soroba Ln, Oban PA34 4HX
Phone 01631 566697
Opening time on the website – its a daytime place.

I have no commercial connection with the cafe and gain nothing from posting this other than the good feeling that I am telling people about a lovely business that deserves lots of nice customers.

Google stuff about it here https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Bridge+Cafe/@56.4095754,-5.4705996,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x81d13b63895b882!8m2!3d56.4095754!4d-5.4705996

 

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Scotland trip 2017

The world may be your oyster, but Scotland is a pearl.

Inveraray, Oban, The Trossachs, Speyside, Loch Fyne, Loch Awe, Lock Tay, The Spey, The Tay, Loch Long, Dunbar…

Scotland is awesome.

All pictures in this blog article are Copyright 2017 by me, except two, which are Copyright 2017 by my Wife, which said exceptional photographs I use here with her permission. None of the images in this article/webpage/blog post may be used without our respective permissions. All Rights Reserved.

One picture is from Yorkshire, England (The 1930’s “No Parking” sign).

 

What if reality is really a giant pinball game?

Never mind the matrix, if you can get security clearance (you will need a genuine reason like attending some sort of event there) take a walk through the Genome Campus at Hinxton, Cambridge, England.

There are numerous chromed spheres, each slightly tweaked to represent various stages of life. The one with a hole represents the stage at which it becomes apparent that we are coelenterates, a biological taxonomical classification meaning we have a gut that opens at the mouth and exits the other end.

The effect of this tableau of embryonic development is to make the long slopes, interspersed by post-modernist buildings, appear as a giant pinball machine, giving a slightly science-fiction sense of unease that things might just roll down and bowl one over or a huge flipper whack out of the sides.

Oldies like me will remember the blob thing in “The Prisoner” TV series. Well here in Hinxton Big brother definitely is watching and don’t even think what escaped chimera might just be lurking up the next level. Best enjoyed at dusk when it becomes eerily empty.

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Eltham Palace, London, England

Eltham Palace was a Royal Palace that fell out of use and into ruin. The very wealthy (and nice – I know as I happen to have met one of them) Courtauld family completely renovated it in the 1930’s. So here is what you could achieve if you were incredibly wealthy and had impeccable taste in the 1930’s. If you love 30’s style and are ever in London, England this house is a must see. You may feel that entrance charges to attractions are a bit expensive, and often I would agree. However in this case the interior is so wonderful I really think it is worth it. A visit here is an education for anyone who seriously loves architectural interiors. Take heed however it is NOT open on Saturdays. Link here http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/eltham-palace-and-gardens/

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Disappearing Cambridge

Mill Road is changing. We have lost the incredibly historic CB1 Internet Cafe with the very old computers on display, we have lost the atmospheric and odd Jaffa Net Cafe with its Hookah Pipe tent, and today I noticed the iconic Cambridge Resale is no more as a physical shop. They are, according to the notice on the old shop door, a website only now (their website needs updating as it says they have a shop, which apparently now, they don’t). At least they have kept their typeface, which they have had as long as I can remember.

I appreciate that change is inevitable, but what I miss is the informality that makes a place interesting. If property prices mean a place just becomes gentrified housing and clone chain coffeeshops, then have not all the things than made the area unique, interesting and desirable (and so property prices high) not been driven out? I don’t want run-down “interesting” slums, but nor do I want empty soul-less endless gated communities that separate people as that is deeply un-Christian, and unsurprisingly therefore, not nice. Does gentrification have within it the seeds of its own destruction? Signs of the (end) times maybe…

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Ely Cathedral Octagonal Lantern

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In church architecture, the circle represents Heaven and the square represents Earth. Thus many steeples on churches are octagonal, representing that the church is midway between Earth and Heaven, pointing the way for the believer to follow. Ely Cathedral has an octagonal lantern atop its transept for a similar reason. A very good book about the symbolism and meaning of church architecture by the way is called “How to read a church” by Dr.Richard Taylor.

I consider Ely to be one of the finest Cathedrals in the world, having visited about 40 of them. Here is my somewhat abstract photograph of Ely’s lantern and a view of the nave, which I consider to have at each end the two finest Norman arches in Europe.

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Here are three nice movies about this ancient building, an edifice which I am blessed to see every day as the view from my home.

 

Rare Bedford CA Camper van

This early 60’s version of the Bedford CA van, coach-built as a camper with an unusual roof looks like a converted ice-cream van because the same van body pretty much was indeed used to make many ice cream vans. Of this exact variation of the camper however there were very very few made, and this one is possibly the only survivor. I think it is quite pretty. Ichthus church likes the fishy hood ornament 🙂

Lighthouse mystery

No-one has ever been able to tell me definitively what was the function of the mysterious “Lighthouse” on top of the very narrow and old “flat iron”-shaped building on the corner of Pentonville Road in London England, opposite Kings Cross rail station. I have done a little research but have always drawn a blank.

There is an internet article (here <–click) that suggests the structure was some kind of an advert for an Oyster House – a place where people went to eat oysters. the building was built in 1888 and it’s unclear how long the lighthouse-shaped tower has been on top of it. The oldest picture they could come up with was 1955 from the background of the film “The Ladykillers.”

Here’s the lighthouse thing inset in my little montage of photos I took maybe about 5 to 7  years ago.

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So I was delighted to spot a frame of film from 1948 (so says the BBC in their documentary about the Flying Scotsman train (that was based at Kings Cross rail station) that clearly shows the structure was there in 1948. Sadly it is no clearer what it’s purpose was from the old still than my more recent photo. Stills below ↓

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CB1 Internet cafe closed

The first internet cafe in the UK (actual physical cafe as opposed to the electronic bulletin board called cybercafe) closed at Christmas 2015 and did not re-open after the holiday. A local shopkeeper told me that although the staff wished to carry on after the manager had left, the owner was thinking of leasing out the premises for something more profitable. How sad if we lose this atmospheric bit of our history. Already a chain cafe (Costa) has opened on the other side of the street, and the middle eastern Jaffanet cafe a few doors down has closed. Mill Road Cambridge is gradually turning from a fabulous eclectic mix of independent businesses into clone-street like all our towns slowly losing individuality. I do hope the owner of CB1 re-opens the cafe as it originally was, but sadly that seems a little unlikely.