November 2009

I am catching up with December and November before I do an end of year post.

Visited London at the start of November for a few days. I had been shortlisted in two categories of the Architect’s Eye photography competition which I talked about in my October post so decided to take in the event to announce the winners. I also had an invite to meet my local MP at parliament. I flew into London City airport for the first time as I landed a reasonable rate from BA compared to the budget airlines that only fly to the outlying airports and it made a significant difference being able to get right onto the Underground network.

I stayed at the Ashburn Hotel in Kensington which is really well located near attractions such as the Natural History Museum and the V&A. The natural history museum now includes the recently opened Darwin Centre by Scandinavian architects CF Møller. The natural History museum is an amazing place for kids and adults with an amazing dinosaur section featuring a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex. I would have been absolutely enthralled as a kid seeing this. I was short of time to go into the Darwin Centre but took some time to visit the atrium space with its huge egg like insertion.

Darwin Centre

Arrived in London on Sunday night and ook the opportunity to see Russell Brand at the Royal Albert Hall. I had never been inside the Albert Hall and I am always keen to experience buildings while they are in full use to truly appreciate them. At £15 a ticket i thought I would see if he could make me laugh. To be honest, much against my expectations, he was hilarious. He talked at length about the Andrew Sachs controversy and his great escape at the MTV music awards when Kanye West stole the headlines. He also expanded on some of his script which was censored for the awards which may have resulted in him never working in America again! Everyone needs to have a sense of humour though, his humour is generally harmless and I find historically more accepted and popular mainstream British comedians 10 times more offensive.

The Albert Hall is a great venue, I would love to see some music there and kicking myself for missing Echo and the Bunnymen doing the whole of ocean rain with a full orchestra.

Spent Monday around Camden Market, having a drink in Amy Winehouses local, The Hawley Arms. Walked through Primrose Hill and St John’s Wood, Crossed the famous crossing at Abbey Road and headed for dinner at Gordon Ramsay‘s The Warrington. I am not a food critic so I won’t go into any great detail, but it was the most expensive dinner I had in my 4 days in London and definitely nowhere near the best!

Tuesday Morning spent at the Natural History Museum before heading to meet my MP, Tom Clarke, at the parliament buildings in the afternoon. It was a priviledge to be shown around the halls and sit in on the House of commons and the House of Lords. I was shown into the House of Lords viewing area and watched proceedings for a while before having to meet up again. when i turned to leave I realised i had been shown in a concealed entrance and had no clue exactly where it was again so i had to stealthily walk along the wall pressing gently as I went along hoping the door would simply push open which eventually, much to my relief, it did! I was treated to coffee and sandwiches in the Pugin room and sat in on the Justice Minister for a while before leaving.

Dinner in Covent Garden at Clos Maggiore was outstanding and second best meal of my visit to Launceston Place where I went the next day. I looked out Launceston Place after watching their junior sous chef, Steve Groves,  win Masterchef, and i wasn’t disappointed. After dinner at clos maggiore, it was up to the West End to see Warhorse, a truly amazing piece of theatre featuring huge puppet horses as the main characters, it follows the fortunes of a horse reared on a farm and sent to the Western Front only to be captured by a German officer.

A visit to the Saatchi’s new home and the Chipperfield exhibition at the design Museum before attending the Architects Eye event rounded off my visit to London. Unlucky in winning anything, I enjoyed the event and met some fellow architects with a keen interest in Photography.

I dashed up to Scotland early on Thursday morning in time for the official opening of Cumbernauld Village Children’s House. This is the last of the new build programme for North Lanarkshire council, however, we are progressing  the extension and refurbishment of an existing property in Coatbridge, images of which I posted in my October post.

main entrance

Cumbernauld Children’s House has been one of the most controversial of the four completed houses, being set in a conservation village. There had been quite fierce opposition to the proposals, however, now the project is complete, the neighbours seem to have accepted the presence of the building and realise that a lot of effort has been made to produce a quality facility within the village. I cannot praise the local authority and those directly involved enough in their vision and investment these buildings. Seeing the change over the past 5 years in the accommodation that is provided is amazing and it is a joy to see the new residents provided with proper care which I think will help provide foundations for positive outcomes for their futures.

Courtyard Garden

Courtyard Garden

The rest of November inolved a lot of working. Developing proposals for a new ‘Y’ Camus in Cumbernauld and work progessing quickly at Wellwynd Church in Airdrie.

Wellwynd Church, Steelwork Erection

Wellwynd Church, Steelwork Erection

This has been a tough, busy and interesting year!

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