Blog : Posts tagged with 'buildings'

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Days Out

In which we describe Portishead


Another lazy weekend this weekend. Wanting to get out of the house, though, we took a trip to Portishead.

It’s a strange town. A strangely-shaped town. Like Clevedon, it’s a seaside town that doesn’t look towards the sea. The harbour is lined tightly with recently-built classically-themed terraces, designed to look like Totterdown or Clifton, but packed in much more densely. Further south is a muddy bay, a headland looking across to Newport; and the remains of an old fortress, little more than lines of concrete in the clifftop grass. There is also, signs said, some Iron Age defensive works; but they are well-hidden by trees and my rusty eye couldn’t make them out.

Clevedon had a pier and an interesting bookshop; Portishead didn’t seem to have any similar attractions. We tried (and failed) to find the lighthouse marked on our map,* before going home, blown back by the wind off the sea.

* taking the map with us might have been a start

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Linkage

In which FP has been busy writing elsewhere


Another quick note, now I’m back from Riga.* Whilst I was away, one of my favourite websites – Nothing To See Here – posted an article by, er, me! It’s about Trinity Square Car Park in Gateshead, the car park which was made famous by the film Get Carter,** and is about to be knocked down to be replaced by another Tesco (even though Tesco already have a store that’s, literally, on the other side of the street). If you might be interested, go read the article. If you might want to see the car park, then run, don’t walk, to Gateshead.

* or Rīga, rather.

** The original, not the remake; although Stallone, who starred in the remake, has been campaigning for the building to be saved.

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Land Of Green Ginger

In which we go to Hull


Was over in the Republic of Hull at the weekend, and popped in a pub in the city centre, called Ye Olde White Harte.* It’s a very old pub indeed, full of tiny rooms and dark wood panelling, and it’s been on the site for around five hundred years or so. Back in the seventeeth century the Siege Of Hull, one of the opening skirmishes of the Civil War, kicked off in the upstairs room of the pub.**

I was in the pub to go to a meeting, in the aforesaid upstairs room, full of dark wood panelling, swords on the wall, and portraits of men in seventeeth-century styles. Just as you could imagine it being back in the civil war, in fact. We sat around having our meeting, just like the seventeenth-century city leaders plotting to change the government whilst downing jars of ale. But, of course, there was a little sign on the wall next to the swords: “found during the Victorian restoration”.

Like many buildings of its age, not much of the Olde White Harte is genuine. It might be a genuine sixteenth-century pub, but much of the interior will have been redone in the 19th century, if not since, to look like the modern ideal of a genuine sixteenth-century pub. For one thing, bars were only invented in the 19th century, in railway station refreshment rooms. I have no idea what it would have actually looked like when first built, but almost certainly not how it does today.

* I don’t see why they can’t call it the Old White Hart, but apparently it’s tradition or something.

** Well, they didn’t exactly start a bar-room fight with the King, but it was where the city leaders decided to bar the gates to the royal army.

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Sweaty

In which things get hot and sticky at the office


It’s still only spring, and it’s becoming rather clear that our new office was rather badly planned. It’s a two-person office, with lots of computers in it,* no windows, no air conditioning, and a door which, we’re told, must remain closed. The only concession to ventilation is a small extractor fan – the only incoming air is from the corridor. The fan itself was an after-thought, installed after the office secretary started campaigning for us.

It was only a mildly warm day outside today, but the office was already unbearable. I sat in a sleepy stupor all afternoon. In a couple of months, it’s going to be a danger to our health. I really must bring in a thermometer to see just how hot it gets in there.

* five at present.

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Security (part two)

In which a contractor doesn’t do the job properly


So, as I explained yesterday, the security contractor at the office has saddled us with three “incompatible” security systems, two of which probably are compatible after all, it’s just that he doesn’t know how to get them to work together. We complained to the office manager about it. “Well, if that’s what the contractor said, that’s what’s going to happen.”

The next day, our boss comes through to visit. “What’s this about us needing three different tags for the alarms?”

We told him what we’d been told.

“It’s a bloody stupid idea. I thought they were all going to work together.” Yes, so did we. “I don’t want to have to carry three tags on my keyring.” And he wanders off, grumbling about it.

The following day, we notice the Managing Director stalking about in our part of the building, looking at the security gadgets and making “hmmm…” noises. The office manager is following him around, trying to explain how wonderful these expensive systems we’ve commissioned are.

“…you’ll have one tag for these doors, one tag for the outside doors and gates, one tag for…”

“Why do we need three different tags for everything? Why can’t we just have one?”

“The contractor says that they won’t…”

“Well, I thought we were just going to have one tag that would do everything. I don’t want…”

I tuned out, but it was clear the way the conversation was going. What makes me sigh isn’t that we always prefer contractors who have worked for us before, even when their track record is hardly promising.* It’s that the management should have spotted this coming. The contractor did give the office manager a nice thick specifications document – did the manager bother to read it at all? Didn’t he bother to ask questions about the vague parts?

* This isn’t the first time the security contractor has fitted something and then not set it up properly, because although he’s agreed to fit the system we wanted he’s not willing to learn how to configure it.

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Security

In which we debate incompatibility


As part of all the building work that’s been going on at the office, we’ve been getting the security systems upgraded. A new alarm system, new motorised front gates,* and new electronic locks on most of the internal doors. All to be worked by RFID tags, kept on our keyrings and carried round all the time.

Now, being logical and sensible, we assumed that the company had specified either a single system, or compatible systems, so that we could use one single tag to unlock everything. And, as the contractor** started to install the hardware, we spotted that all the sensors we could see came from the same manufacturer. Very sensible.

We each get a tag the other week, and start using it to open and shut the front gates. Three days ago, the contractor pops his head round the door to say he’ll be issuing us with the rest of the tags, the ones for the indoor locks, soon.

“The rest of the tags? We’ve already got one.”

Apparently, we need separate ones for the outdoor locks, the indoor locks, and the alarm system itself. Because “the systems are from different manufacturers.”

“But they’re not from the same manufacturers! We’ve seen them, and they’re identical! If you hold an outdoor tag up to an indoor sensor, it recognises it!”

“No it doesn’t.”

I held my “outdoor tag” up to the newly-installed sensor by the office door. It bleeped, and flashed a little green light at me.

“Well, I can try to set it up so that that tag unlocks this door,” the contractor said. “But it won’t work.”

(to be continued, otherwise this post would get a bit long)

* Which is a Good Thing, because guess who’s job it is to unlock and open the old front gates every morning.

** Our usual security contractor, a friendly chap, who is very anal about making sure his cabling is put in and terminated neatly, but isn’t very good at setting up the security systems themselves properly.

Next part »

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